Wednesday, July 2, 2014

When It's Not Right To Color in a State

states i've ridden in
How how much of a state does one have to experience before he or she can rightfully color it in on a map? Is it just to pass through, or to stay for a month?

Recently, Sash asked a similar question, about cities, on her Google+ page, and got some good responses.

The question came after she and I spent 17 days in Bakersfield, CA, with another 13 days left to go. While we spent a lot of time in our hotel room, building websites, writing articles for clients, and running social media campaigns, we've still managed to get out and see some of this town.

And we're not just talking about the national chains, even though we did patronize a few. We spent a few hours at Ethel's Old Corral Cafe, a divey little farmers joint on the outskirts of town. We also hung out at Guthrie's Alley Cat Bar in downtown, the Padre Hotel bar, Donna Kaye's Cafe, and a handful of taco shops. There's also my personal favorite, Lengthwise Brewery, in the Rosedale community.

But more than just bars and restaurants, we've been to San Joaquin Hospital a couple of times due to Sash's daughter having child-birth false alarms, as well as Fred Cummings Motorsports for service on our bikes. Our hotel bought us a month-pass at In-Shape Fitness because their own in-house gym was out of order (thanks to Sash's persistent complaints), and Sash and her daughter have been shopping all over town.

We'd like say that "we've been to Bakersfield".

Although, there's still a lot to Bakersfield that we've haven't experienced, I'm guessing that many residents here haven't experienced all there is to experience, either.

I remember a year ago, Sash and I stopped in the tiny town of Vaughn, NM along the US-285. About all there is to experience is Penny's Diner, a throwback to the old days of shiny single-wide trailers that serve up blue plate specials and homemade apple pie. If that's all there is to do, then is it right to say that we've been to Vaughn also?

The same could be asked of states.

On motorcycle forums, people often post graphics that illustrate which states and provinces they've ridden through. If you were to ride the very short 1-mile stretch of US-160 in the upper-left corner of New Mexico, could you rightfully color in the entire Land of Enchantment on your map?

If you did an Iron Butt ride via the super-slab, and blasted through three states, is right to color those in as well?

I recall motorcyclists complaining that just because someone bought their first motorcycle doesn't make them a "biker" or "rider". It just means they own a motorcycle.

I suppose it's the same thing.


  1. I guess it depends on what your purpose is. I tend to look at these maps as saying "I set foot in these states/provinces/cities" and not necessarily meaning anything more than that. For example you can hit 4 states in about a minute at Four Corners. Personally I'm okay with that. Others may consider that a kind of cheating. But where do you draw the line? 100 miles in the state? 5 days in the state? Like where is the line between owning a motorcycle and being a biker?

  2. My, personal, rule is if I enter a Southern border, I have to exit the northern border, If I enter a Western border, I have to cross the Eastern border. Just switch if the opposite applies.

    Alaska was different for obvious reasons of 1 way in and 1 way out. That only applies if you don't take the ferry out of Valdez back Juneau. I did ride all of Highways 1, 2, 3, and 4! Hawaii was different because you are on an island.

    To each their own when counting, but just because a person went to four corners doesn't mean they have ridden in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado!

  3. "How how much of a state does one have to experience before he or she can rightfully color it in on a map?"

    I'd say more than just clipping the corner but that's just me. I think that this is a pretty funny topic as I remember my kids asking the same thing some 20 years ago. They concluded >24 hours.

  4. I agree with Canajun, in that it depends on your purpose. I think it would be different for everyone.

    You can set foot in a state or town but it doesn't mean you know that state or town. If your purpose is to set foot in the place, color it in, if your purpose is to get to know it and you haven't, don't color it in.

    Did you have a glass of wine or drink the bottle? Either way you tasted it.

  5. Steve,

    I've never colored in states I've traveled through...but maybe I should start. I agree with most that i really depends on the individual. I would never question why someone else colored in a state...I'd just assume they visited it even for a short period of time.

    I think Trobairitz captured the sentiment the best, " Did you have a glass of wine or the drink the bottle? Either way you tasted it."


    Live Free. Ride Hard. Be Happy.

  6. I think I might have responded on the Google+ post but I will respond again since this page came up on my reader. I color the states and have a map on my blog. I also agree with Canajun, it depends on your purpose. I have crossed or visited at least a city in every state I have colored by bike. I don't yet have Texas colored even though I have been there by car and plane. Will have the last 4 southern states colored this Fall. For me it's more of a goal I have, not to impress others. Now that this came up I need to create one for Canada as I have almost crossed all the Canadian provinces too :-)

  7. Recently my job has had me in Jacksonville, Florida for weeks at a time. It's a different city with a different "vibe" than my home base of Tampa, Florida. I also know a little something about wines and know that the taste can vary year to year due to temperatures, moisture's and the amount of sun that reaches the grape (although to be honest I personally can't tell the difference). So to argue that you "taste" something seems a bit strange to me. Going to NYC is not the same as seeing Niagara Falls (from the NY state side), even though they are in the same state. I would argue that unless you eat where locals eat, drink where they drink and get off the beaten path some you have not "experienced" a location. The opposite border someone mentioned or at least 24 hours would qualify as visiting a state for me.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)