1. Since live in Florida, the very first place I visit is right up the coast from me...Sarasota, where I stop to check in with Peanut Butter and Jenny.
As you know, Florida is very apply name "The Sunshine State" and our main export is Sunshine, both in the form of Florida Citrus, and as a popular tourist destination. with 35 miles of silken beach front, and a rich cultural history, Sarasota is a popular location for the tourist crowd.
2. From Florida, we take a drive along the gulf coast but eventually leave it to head into Arkansas, where we visit with Cookie and her fur-sybs. Arkansas is known as the Natural State, and it is also a pretty good name for it. Arkansas is famous for its natural scenic beauty, clear lakes and streams, and abundant wildlife. Arkansas has 52 state parks, three national forests, five national parks, and the nation's first national River (the Buffalo National River, which meanders through the heart of the Ozarks, is America's first federally protected stream).
The apple blossom is the official state flower in Arkansas. It was once a major apple producing state and still has an Arkansas apple festival each year in the town of Lincoln, in Washington County.
3. Next we go to Texas, the "Lone Star State" where we visit Angus Mhor, our Pixie Bob furriend. The nickname originates from the star on the 1836 flag of the Republic of Texas. The world-famous "Lone Star" is also found on the Texas state flag, the great seal, the state quarter, and is recognized as the official state gemstone cut of Texas.
While many people think of the old west when they think of Texas, in the modern day world Texas is known for it's "Black Gold" - oil for an energy thirst nation.
While oil is no longer the predominant force behind Texas' economic development, in the century since Spindletop roared to life on the Texas Gulf Coast, oil has touched the lives of many Texans, and it continues to provide benefits to residents of the Lone Star State, as well as to people throughout the country.
4. From Texas, we take a long drive through New Mexico and Arizona to get to Las Vegas, Nevada, where I stop to visit with Fin, the famous author of House Cat Confidential. The so called "Silver State" Nevada became huge during the silver rush days of the id 1800's. At that time, silver was literally shoveled off the ground in Nevada. Heavy gray crusts of silver had formed on the surface of the desert over millions of years and were polished by dust and wind to the dull luster of a cow horn.
A big silver bed could be tens of meters wide and more than a kilometer long (worth $27,000 a ton in 1860's dollars). The territory of Nevada and surrounding states were picked clean of silver within a few decades.
Today, Nevada's economy is overwhelmingly based on tourism, especially following the legalization of gambling in 1931, and the resort industries that center around Las Vegas and to a lesser extent, Reno and Lake Tahoe. Gambling taxes are a primary source of state revenue, and service industries employ about half of Nevada's workers.
Much of Nevada's land - about 80% - is Federally owned and is given over to military and related use. Nellis Air Force Base and the Nevada Test Site have been the scene of much nuclear and aircraft testing; Yucca Mountain is slated to be the primary depository for U.S. nuclear wastes.
5. Leaving Fin to enjoy the lights of his home in so-called "Sin City", we head north through Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota, eventually arriving in St. Paul, Minnesota, there to visit with my Tuxi furriend, Theo.
St. Paul is one of the so called "Twin Cities". Minneapolis and St. Paul grew up side by side on the banks of the Mississippi River, while lumbering was the predominate industry in Minnesota in the late 18, and early 1900s. The river provided easy transportation for the huge logs that were cut from the Minnesota forest land.
Their economy has transformed though in the past 200 years from one based on raw materials to one based on finished products and services. Minnesota is part of the growing biomedical industry spawned by research and Rochester is home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic.
The principal economic sectors in Saint Paul are services, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, and government. Along with Minneapolis, Saint Paul is the site of one of the largest concentrations of high-technology firms in the United States and ranks among the major commercial centers between Chicago and the West Coast. The city is also among the two or three largest livestock and meatpacking centers in the nation. Sixteen of the Fortune 500 largest U.S. corporations are headquartered in the Twin Cities. The area is also home to 30 Fortune 1000 companies and several of the world's largest private companies. Local companies are involved in the manufacture of super computers, electronics, medical instruments, milling, machine production, food processing, and graphic arts.
Also known as the land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota remains a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, who enjoy the various fishing, hunting, hiking and boating activities around the state.
6. Much as I enjoy visiting with Theo and his brofurs, we must leave and head out on the next part of our road trip. We are going to Boone County, Iowa, where we stop to visit with Dazey and her family!
Iowa is called The Hawkeye State as a tribute to chief Black Hawk, leader of the Sauk Indians (relocated to Iowa after unsuccessful fighting of settlers). Also called The Corn State (90 percent of the land in Iowa is devoted to agriculture).
While we are there, Dazey arrange a trip for us to visit the Iowa Speeday! The Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa is a 7/8 mile long paved oval motor racing track in Newton, Iowa, approximately 30 miles (48 km) east of Des Moines. The track was designed with influence from Rusty Wallace and patterned after Richmond International Raceway, a short track where Wallace was very successful. It has over 25,000 permanent seats as well as a unique multi-tiered Recreational Vehicle viewing area along the backstretch.
The track opened in September 2006 with the Soy Biodiesel 250, won by Woody Howard, for the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Four Champions playoff. The Indy Racing League announced a race there on June 24, 2007, the Iowa Corn Indy 250, which was won by Dario Franchitti, who barely nipped Marco Andretti at the finish line. The track has secured a combined NASCAR Camping World East-West race where results will count towards both series' championships. That race delivered a dramatic battle between 17-year old Joey Logano from the Busch East Series, who defeated Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick, 1998 West Series champion, who represented the West Series at the end of the race. The track has been awarded a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in 2008, and a Nationwide Series race for 2009. An agreement has been reached with the IRL that will see three more years racing at Iowa from 2009 onwards.
7. That was very much fun. From the Hawkeye State we drive south to arrive in the Show Me State, Missouri, where we visit with Bhu. There are several stories concerning the origin of the "show me" slogan. The most widely known story gives credit to Missouri's U.S. Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver for coining the phrase in 1899. During a speech in Philadelphia, he said:
"I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."
The phrase is now used to describe the character of Missourians - not gullible - conservative and unwilling to believe without adequate evidence.
Missouri's economy rests chiefly on industry. Aerospace and transportation equipment are the main manufactures; food products, chemicals, printing and publishing, machinery, fabricated metals, and electrical equipment are also important. Coal in the west and north central sections, lead in the southeast, and zinc in the southwest are among the resources exploited by Missouri's mining concerns. Lead (Missouri has been the top U.S. producer), cement, and stone are the chief minerals produced.
Missouri remains important agriculturally; with over 100,000 farms, the state ranks second only to Texas. The most valuable farm products are soybeans, corn, cattle, hogs, wheat, and dairy items. The development of resorts in the Ozarks, including Branson and several lakes, has boosted tourism income.
Bhu's home in Columbia is fury pretty. It was a fury nice place to visit and we greatly enjoyed ourselves.
8. From Missouri, we head north again, driving though Illinois and Indiana to get to Michigan, where we visit with Zoey and the rest of "The Island Cats". Michigan is named the Great Lakes State, as it is situated in and surrounded on three sides by the Great Lakes.
The name Michigan is based on the Chippewa Indian word "meicigama" meaning great water, and refers to the Great Lake. Thirty-two counties in Michigan also have names drawn from Native American languages.
The Upper Peninsula is northern woods country, with what has been described as “ten months of winter and two months of poor sledding.” The abundance of furred animals and forests early attracted fur traders and lumberjacks. Animals were trapped out, virgin forests were stripped, and, in addition, pure copper and high-grade iron ore were rapidly wrested from the earth, so that virtually all of the Upper Peninsula's mines have been closed. Deer, bear, and other game in the forests, as well as abundant fish in streams and lakes, keep the area a rich hunting and fishing ground. Selective cutting and replanting of trees are now employed in the second-growth forests.
The Lower Peninsula is less wild, but in parts no less beautiful, than the Upper. Its forests were also cut over in the lumber boom of the late 19th cent., when Michigan was briefly the world leader in lumber production. The soil of these cut-over lands, unlike the productive earth in other areas of the Lower Peninsula, proved generally unsuitable for agriculture, and reforestation has been undertaken.
Abundant natural beauty and excellent fishing help to make tourism a major Michigan industry. Michigan's historic lack of manufacturing diversity has made it particularly susceptible to the fluctuations of the national economy, and in recent years it has tried to diversify, attracting high-technology industry and developing the service sector.
9. We leave the Michigan Peninsula to head to Ohio to visit with our good furriend, Mr. Hendrix. Ohio's nickname, the Buckeye State, comes from the many buckeye trees that once covered Ohio's hills and plains. The name buckeye stems from native Americans - Indians called the nut "hetuck" (meaning buck eye, as the markings on the nut resemble the eye of a deer).
Ohio has been one of the states that has been hard hit, economically, during current recession. Most of Ohio's economy involves farming or mining, although manufacturing is an important economic activity in Ohio as well. Coal is the number one source of income in the mining industry, followed by natural gas.
Ohio leads all of the other states in the production of building sandstone and in the production of lime, made from limestone to produce cement, chemicals, fertilizer and steel. Clays for bricks, tile, cement, pottery and stoneware are also mined in the state. The oldest mined product of the state is salt and the deepest salt mine (2,000 feet) in the country is found in Ohio. Other mined products are petroleum, sand and gravel, dolomite and gypsum.
Milk, hogs, eggs, beef and turkeys are all raised in the state. Sheep ar raised for mutton and wool and Ohio is the biggest wool-producing state east of the Mississippi River.
Health care is becoming a big industry in the state as well, with the Cleveland Clinic being one of the leading health care facilities in the world.
I was surprised to learn that the official Rock Song of Ohio is "Hang on Sloopy" - I did not know this! The Red Carnation is the official state flower.
10. We jump back in the car while humming "Hang on Sloopy" and head off to Pennsylvania, to visit with Tinker of The Cat Street Boyz.
Pennsylvania's nickname is The Keystone State because it was the middle colony of the original 13 colonies and because Pennsylvania has held a key position in the economic, social, and political development of the United States. The state song of Pennsylvania also mentions the state nickname in the second verse: "Birthplace of a mighty nation, Keystone of the land." The word keystone is from architecture, it describes the central wedge-shaped stone in an arch which holds all the other stones in place:
Three of America's most treasured documents were written in Pennsylvania: the US Constitution, the Declaration of independence, and the Gettysburg address.
Pennsylvania was once the nations leading steel producer, but the industry had declined dramatically in recent years. Heavy industry has declined in general, but the state still manufactures metal products, transportation equipment, food stuffs, machinery, chemicals, and a wide variety of plastic, rubber, stone, clay, and glass products.
The Pittsburgh and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, situated at opposite ends of the state and dominating the commercial and industrial life of their regions, present startling contrasts in production and culture. Other leading cities are Allentown, Bethlehem, Erie, Reading, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre.
11. From Pennsylvania, we head up into New York to stop in Buffalo and visit with Pride and his family. Pride's bean has just become a docent at the Buffalo Zoo, so of course we have to visit the zoo while we are there!
Buffalo is "The Queen City" of "The Empire State". New York is nicknamed The Empire State for its national and global significance. The origin of the nickname is unknown - some sources credit George Washington, who referred to New York state in December 1784 as "at present the seat of the Empire."
Buffalo is much smaller than the better known New York City, but it is still the second largest city in the State of New York, and is the 46th largest in the United States. Situated near the Canadian border, it is close to Niagara Falls and serves as both a gateway to the falls and to our neighbors to the North.
The city has a rich architectural history and here is a wonderful walking tour you can take of downtown Buffalo which is explains the fascinating history of many of the buildings were. Buffalo was once a major manufacturing city, but that has since declined dramatically. Today, Education, Health Services, Professional and Business Finance Areas comprise employment for most of Buffalo's residents.
Most popular accounts hold that the name "Buffalo" is a corruption of the French phrase beau fleuve, "beautiful river," a phrase said to have been exclaimed by French explorers upon seeing the Niagara River. This speculation, however, is contradicted by primary sources. French explorers actually referred to the Niagara River in print as Riviere aux Chevaux, "River of Horses." The earliest name origin theory to appear in print (1825) relates a story about stolen horsemeat being passed off as bison flesh, with the site of the illicit picnic henceforth remembered as "Buffalo," but the author who conveyed this tale expressed his skepticism. What is clear is that there were no bison in the area; that the settlement of Buffalo took its name from Buffalo Creek; and that Buffalo Creek first appeared on a map in 1759-1760. Although the Beau Fleuve theory is the least plausible of several theories, it is unlikely that Buffalo's true name origin can be conclusively established.
(There are Bisons in the Buffalo Zoo!)
12. From New York we drive through Pennsylvania again, and Delaware to get to Richmond, Virginia, where we stop off to see Sanjee and the rest of the Hotties. The state of Virginia was named after England's Queen Elizabeth I. In the early 1600's, all of North America that was not Spanish or French was then called "Virginia" in honor of "The Virgin Queen," and the earliest English colonial expeditions were sent by the Virginia Company of London. Virginia became the 10th state on June 25, 1788.
Richmond is the Capital of Virginia, and like all Virginia municipalities incorporated as cities, it is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and the Greater Richmond area. Surrounded by Henrico and Chesterfield counties, the city is located at the intersections of Interstate 95 and Interstate 64, and surrounded by Interstate 295 and Route 288 in central Virginia. The population was 200,123 in 2007, with an estimated population of 1,212,977 for the Richmond Metropolitan Area — making it the third largest in Virginia.
Richmond's economy is primarily driven by law, finance, and government with several notable legal and banking firms, as well as federal, state, and local governmental agencies, located in the downtown area. Richmond is one of twelve cities in the United States to be home to a Federal Reserve Bank. There are also nine Fortune 500, and thirteen Fortune 1000 companies in the city. Tourism is also important, as many historic sights are in or nearby the city.
Sanjee is Queen of Richmond and she have her chafer take us on a tour of the city. It is very beautiful at this time of year, with mild days and cool nights.
13. From Richmond, we head to North Carolina, the last stop on this road trip, where we stop to visit Maggie May.
North Carolina has the rather interesting nickname of the Tar Heel State, which seems to come from North Carolina's long history as a producer of naval stores (tar, pitch, rosin and turpentine from the state's extensive pine forests). North Carolina was a world leader in naval stores production from about 1720 to 1870.
Strawberry's are the official red berry of the state and are grown throughout North Carolina. There are even pick your own berry farms located around the state. Both Strawberries and Blueberries are important to the agricultural economy of North Carolina. Strawberries brought in over $19 million in 2005 and blueberries over $37 million in 2005. According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, North Carolina was ranked 3rd in the nation in 2006 in strawberry production, and 5th in blueberry production.
North Carolina leads the nation in the production of tobacco and is a major producer of textiles and furniture. It grows 40% of all U.S. tobacco, but the continuing trend is toward diversification. Broilers, hogs, turkeys, greenhouse products, sweet potatoes, corn, soybeans, peanuts, and eggs are important. Plentiful forests supply the thriving furniture and lumber industries. The state has long been a major textile manufacturer, producing cotton, synthetic, and silk goods as well as various kinds of knit items. Other leading manufactures are electrical machinery, computers, and chemicals; the Research Triangle complex near Chapel Hill has spurred high-tech manufacturing, as well as bringing federal jobs into the state. The state also has mineral resources: It leads the nation in the production of feldspar, mica, and lithium materials and produces substantial quantities of olivine, crushed granite, talc, clays, and phosphate rock. There are valuable coastal fisheries, with shrimp, menhaden, and crabs the principal catches. Charlotte developed in the 1980s into a major U.S. banking center, and related businesses have flourished in the area.
This has been a very exciting trip. Since we only get to see 13 states this time around, I look forward to another road trip in which I can discover more about the diversity of this fascinating country in which I live. I would also like to go visit my Canadian furriend someday and learn more about their homes.
I hope you enjoyed your journey along with me. Next week is St. Patrick's Day and we will have 13 cats purrading the Green as part of our celebration here at Diamond O'Reilly's Black Cat Pub!