The State Who Must Not Be Named (Fine, it’s Delaware)

I have a healthy respect for 49 of our 50 states. They bring their own unique colors to this beautiful tapestry we call America.

Except Delaware.

I’ve never been to Delaware. Begrudgingly I will one day I suppose. But you have my word it will be the last state of the 50 I visit, and I don’t for a minute feel bad about this.

A Journey to 50 States

Several years ago, Glen and I decided that we wanted to see all 50 states together because we are so gosh darn adorable it’s disgusting.

We already had a few checked off the list but wanted to see a bunch more before having kids, so we planned a two-week road trip from Massachusetts to Colorado. Sort of, we flew to Chicago and then drove to Colorado via Yellowstone National Park.

(We’ll circle back to you Indiana, sorry about that.)

The search for all 50 state license plates.
If you don’t take a picture in front of the bean in Chicago did you really even go to Chicago?

We had about 1,800 miles of driving to do so we played the license plate game along the way.

As kids we both played this game on road trips and had never found all 50 state license plates on one trip. Impossible as it may have seemed, with such a long trip it was worth a shot to achieve the ultimate childhood dream.

The License Plate Money Load

Driving from Illinois to Iowa didn’t give us a lot to work with, but about 10 Midwestern states were penciled into my little notepad by the time we hit Nebraska so it was a solid start.

Also, we saw the Field of Dreams in Iowa. That deserves a whole separate post. It was magical. Come back for that.

They built it. We came.

From Nebraska to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota things started to pick up in license plate land.

You know who loves Mount Rushmore? Everyone. Everyone except people from Delaware.

And everyone is right. Mount Rushmore is amazing. Also amazing, Crazy Horse. Did you know that Crazy Horse is way bigger than Mount Rushmore? I didn’t even know it existed until 2012. Thanks for nothing, education.

The search for all 50 state license plates.

Delaware Hates Nature

Thanks to the giant stone men in the sky, we had about 30 states on our list once we got into Montana. And you know who loves Yellowstone National Park? Everyone. Everyone except people from Delaware.

Massachusetts loves Yellowstone. And Florida. And Maine. And Alaska. And everyone from those states is correct. Yellowstone is out of control gorgeous. I’m still 90% sure that Old Faithful is remote-controlled, but that’s fine. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

This waterfall is 100% not remote-controlled though. That’s totally real and Bob Ross would have had a field day sitting in the spot we are sitting in this picture. So many happy trees.

(And so many license plates.)

I probably could have cooled it with the Harvard gear…

Hawaii Came to Play

Hawaii is always the white whale in the license plate game. No matter how many states you check off, if you are road tripping you never honestly expect to find the Rainbow State unless you’re, you know, IN the Rainbow State.

With that in mind, when we were walking back to our car from a hike in Yellowstone I had my eyes peeled for Delaware, but not for Hawaii. Yet right near our rental car was the white whale. A Hawaii license plate!!! I lost all of my chill.


And then I broke into dance. As we got a little closer I realized to my horror that there was a couple sitting in the car. I moonwalked away like it was NBD.

Dude, we got Hawaii…

Delaware < Rhode Island

From Wyoming to Colorado we added in 4 more states to round out our license plate list at a nice, even, 49…

I get it, Delaware, you’re a small state. But you know who you are bigger than? Rhode Island. And we found Rhode Island.

And you know who you are more contiguous than? Hawaii and Alaska. And we found Hawaii and Alaska.

We spent the next week in Colorado visiting Glen’s family/being crazy people looking at every license plate in Glen’s hometown. They mostly all said Colorado. Which is fair, it’s a big state.

It’s the Final Countdown

On the drive home from the airport in New Hampshire to our house in Massachusetts, we figured we were still on our road trip and could count Delaware if we saw it in the 40 minute drive time we had left.

We changed lanes, we tailgated, we challenged unwritten courtesy rules of the road. But alas, we pulled into our driveway Delawareless.

Nowadays whenever Glen and I see a Delaware license plate we shake our fists at it, remembering what could have been. We’ll go there eventually. But maybe if we wait long enough Virginia will annex it and solve the problem for us.

You know who loves Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone and America and dreams? Virginia.

Read More 50 States Travels:

Cleveland Rocks

48 Hours in Wisconsin

The New Yorkiest

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  1. Where to begin? I have lots to say about this so let’s get started, shall we? Firstly, I can drive out of my driveway to go to the store and complete the entire license plate game during that time. Twice. I live in Virginia Beach, which is part of the Hampton Roads area which encompasses Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton and Newport News. There are no fewer than 220,000 military from all the services stationed in this wide swath. Add in the several colleges in the area and you have beaucoup licenses plates from all over the states. There’s also a NATO base here so there’s even some foreign plates. Kind of takes the fun out of the game, eh?

    Secondly, I have made almost that exact trip you just enjoyed. It is awesome indeed. Got that same picture at the waterfall. I must have had gone to the same schools as you (a few years apart though) because I never heard about the Crazy Horse monument until I got out there. It’s taking forever to complete, but will be spectacular, n’est ce pas?

    Thirdly, I came with in a whisker of marrying a girl from Dover, Delaware whom I met in college (in Ohio, of all places). Needless to say I have been there many times as a youth. Believe me, you haven’t missed a thing. In fact, you can drive through it and still miss it. I ended up marrying a girl from California which is a pretty good trade off, don’t you think? She’s still with me after nearly 50 years, but it’s always touch and go on that score.

    Thirdly, I am a geography aficionado and an obnoxious one at that. My few friends will attest to that. That flaw in my character forces me to alert you to the fact that Delaware does not border Virginia so any attempt by us to annex it could ignite another civil war, albeit just a small one with Maryland Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But I’m pretty sure we could kick their butts because….well…. remember what I said about Hampton Roads?

    Fourthly, you are absolutely right, you are a gosh darn adorable couple. I’m disgusted.

    1. First of all, so much of this made me laugh. Second, kudos for calling out that geography fail. Let’s pretend that I didn’t forget to fact check this and instead felt like Virginia was just more likely to annex Delaware than Maryland. According to my lawyer friend who lives in the mid- Atlantic this is 100% accurate.

  2. Maybe this would work… Most credit card companies are based in Delaware, sooooo, every time you whip out that little piece of plastic to pay for your latte, socks or new tv, you’re visiting a little piece of Delaware. Down side? Every time you visit in this way there is payback…literally. But maybe this virtual visit is enough to complete your 50 state tour?

    1. That feels like a really strong argument… I’ll run it by my co-pilot and see if it passes. But he’ll probably get so worked up that we’re talking about Delaware that we won’t even be able to have the full conversation.

  3. This made me laugh out loud. I don’t have anything personally against Delaware, but I carry a massive grudge against California and Louisiana. Maybe our next road trip needs to be east instead of west since west seems to bring out my latent grudgy tendencies. 🙂

    1. Hahaha I’m so glad I’m not the only one with state grudges! I really want to know what California and Louisiana did to deserve your wrath.

  4. I loved this post so much! Hahaha at first I wasn’t sure what I was going into reading it and absolutely adored the way the post was actually all about Delaware and the game but told through the story of your road trip such a wonderful idea and it was great! Keep up the good work can’t wait to read more!

  5. I love traveling and it’s a goal of mine to visit all 50 states as well. This post was comical and informative. Great way to capture your road trip!

  6. You write so well and are so perfectly comedic in your delivery! I don’t love road trips at all and don’t think I ever will until all of my kids reach the age of adulthood. A car ride longer than ten minutes gets all four panties in a bundle. LOL. And FYI, I stink at geography and could probably only point out my lovely state of FL on a map! LOL…well, CA too..I’m embarrassed now…so I’ll leave it there…

    1. Thanks lady! This trip was pre-kids but my husband has grand plans of a RV trip with the kids in a few years… Which sounds both fun and mentally/physically/emotionally/spiritually demanding. High likelihood of great memories and bundled panties.

  7. This was so cute and well done. The whole time I was wondering what in the world you had against Delaware. Thank you for the laugh and the beautiful pictures of your American road trip.

  8. I loved playing the license plate game growing up too! I’m sorry you missed the Delaware plate! I live in Maryland- on the Eastern Shore and I see probably 100 DE plates going to and from work a day. So, id have that one covered.
    However, still to this day, I get super excited when finding a Hawaii plate, so I understand your dancing in excitement too lol

    1. Yay more license plate gamers! We’ll go for another road trip at some point and circle down south so we’ll catch it this time. Unless Delaware really is just trying to spite me.

  9. Love this. I was sent over by Anywhere with Autumn. I love your writing style, we have a lot in common – except you’re actually funny! Following – you had me at the subtle nod to Harry Potter in your blog title.
    Love Sam x

  10. How wonderful! We are studying the states with our kids this year and I would love for us to visit them all.

  11. So funny! And so true. I think DE is the most bland state possible. I’ve driven through it dozens of times and can’t even tell I’ve been there, so there’s that. It’s below NJ, and we all know how crappy how NJ is (oh wait, I live there…).

  12. Super fun post! Ha, the license plate game is the best! We play it all the time, I think it’s now just habit! Plus ya know they other day, I saw Delaware. I feel like the more “rare” one is Oregon, and Maine. Rarely see those here in Florida! I have been seeing Hawaii and Alaska a lot! Then again I’m in a touristy city so we see it all! 😂

    1. I’m so jealous that you see Hawaii plates a lot! This was my one and only. Not a lot of folks bringing their cars from Hawaii to New England these days… unfortunate really.

  13. Clearly Delaware can just go straight to hell. And now I’ve got a new game for the car, so maybe my heathens will stop asking me to play 20 Questions a million times.

  14. Too funny! I worked with a girl from Delaware for a time (way down in Texas!), so I guess I completely took for granted the unicorn status of her license plate. But 49 states — that’s an impressive feat!

  15. I was sent here by Erika of Dorky Mom Doodles, and for good reason I see. Hilarious. Poor Delaware. I grew up in Maryland about 15 minutes from the border of MD and DE. We would do our shopping in Dover because there’s no sales tax there. There’s also an international speedway there. The beaches are good, too. Other than that… there really isn’t much there to see!

    1. 1) How hilarious is Erika? 2) I’m glad you grew up in MD not Delaware. I’ve yet to get my first angry Delawarian response to this which is good because I don’t like confrontation. Thanks for stopping by! Just started following your blog too and looking forward to more laughs!

      1. Erika cracks me up! Most Delawarians probably don’t care much. My mom used to call it Slower Lower Delaware. I’m still not sure if she was talking about the people or their driving.

    1. We are more than happy to share our joke. The more people angrily shaking their fists at Delaware license plates the better, I say. (And thanks for reading!!)

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