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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Waving My Geek Flag In The National Parks

Each visit to a National Park that is new to my wife and me unleashes my inner-geography geek. As we enter each parking lot, I scan license plates. How many different states will be represented?  And no matter how hard I resist doing so, a list begins forming. I'm neither proud nor ashamed of the list or the geek making it. But I have learned to accept my list-making impulses, embrace the geek, and make blog lemonade from these lemons. So ..

1. There were five cars in the first parking lot we entered in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Monday May 3. How many different states were represented? (Answers located at the end of this post; try not to look there first. How close were your guesses?)

2. Before we left that first parking lot approximately thirty minutes later, how many unique license plates were captured on my geeky list? 

3. Before we left the park for the day on May 3, how many unique license plates were on the same list? 

4. Before we left the park for good on Friday May 7, how many unique license plates were now on that same list?

5. What state license plate represented the vehicle that had traveled the farthest to visit GSMNP?  

I've now visited about half the National Parks. Except Hawaii - spotted only once, in Rocky Mountain National Park a few years back -  I'm beyond surprise anymore vis a vis what license plates I'll spot. Americans travel great distances to experience these treasures, as well they should. Which one is your favorite? Which is next on your list? Which have you returned to more than once? Next up for my wife and me is Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, new to both of us. If the Internet cooperates, there could be a dispatch from there. If you promise to guess the answers to #1-5 above before peeking below, I'll promise to not repeat the license plate schtick in that dispatch. I can't promise I won't be making a list, however.   

1.) = Five; 2.) = Thirteen; 3.) = Thirty-One; 4.) = Thirty-Four (full list available upon request; as if); 5.) = California


  1. Wow! That is awesome. I would not have guessed that many different states represented. I only got question #5 correct. Glad to hear about your travels....

    1. Ines; Thanks for the comment AND for your honest attempt to guess questions #1-4 without looking. And, BTW, one for five is a respectable batting average given how arbitrary these things can be.

  2. While you were counting states, I was taking pictures of wildflowers...I got 20 different ones and could have taken many more. I spent a lot of time looking for birds but need to up my skills. The plants are easier because they stay still.

  3. Good morning, Pat. I hope this finds you well and that you and Kim are enjoying your travels. For some reason, I've always found it interesting to look at license plates, particularly those from other states, as I've traveled. Funny that I would wind up working for the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission for 33 years. I have memories of a game my older brother created during family vacations driving to Florida. He would get to punch me in the arm each time we saw an out of state license plate. And I agreed. Well, my being young and naive, I never thought that once we left NJ most, if not all, license plates would be from out of state. Thankfully my parents caught on and stopped the game - after maybe 2 or 3 punches - lol. It's actually become something that my brother and I have laughed about over the years. And, Florida was, and still remains, a favorite travel destination. Hoping to return soon.
    And in response to your list, I actually got 2 of the 5 questions correct - #1 and #5. Purely guesses, but 40% is 40%.
    Be well .. stay safe. And Enjoy.

    1. Bob; Two for five is .400, i.e. more than respectable Ted Williams territory. Thanks for the comment, the story re you & your brother en route to Florida, and most of all, thanks for letting your geek flag fly high (along with me) re our mutually nerdy pre-occupation with license plates.