VADNAIS HEIGHTS — Lori Spangler didn't plan to write a book about her travels to all 50 states, but after she was finished the suggestion of a friend caused her to do just that.
“Had I planned on writing the book, I would have taken better notes,” Spangler said.
But Spangler's journey to all 50 states is really a story of a life journey. It starts in Minnesota when Spangler visited the state fair in the Twin Cities, a two-and-a-half-hour trip seldom made from her family's rural southern Minnesota farm. Her journey continues with visiting family in the Midwest and a family trip to Montana when she was a teenager.
When Spangler decided to visit all 50 states when she was in her 30s, she had already visited 20 of them. She visited the next 30 over the next 14 years. The last state she visited was Hawaii, in 2010. She then spent five years writing a book about her travels.
Her self-published book, “Miles of Memories: One Woman's Journey to All 50 States” was released Aug. 23 by Mill City Press.
Spangler said the question she is asked most often is what her favorite state is, besides Minnesota, of course.
“Every state is great,” Spangler said. For history buffs, she would suggest travel to Philadelphia and Massachusetts. For outdoor hikers, she suggests Colorado, Montana and Vermont.
One of Spangler's favorite sights was the desk of Louisa May Alcott, where she wrote “Little Women” in 1868, in Concord, Massachusetts.
Spangler didn't know until after she completed her 50-state travels that there are actually clubs dedicated to the feat. Some 50-state clubbers have certain goals, like running a marathon in every state or visiting every state capitol.
What advice would Spangler give to people who are considering making it a goal to visit every state? “My advice to most people is 'Just do it',” Spangler said. “You don't need to stay at fancy places or expensive places.”
Some of her travels included extended days after business trips. Spangler is a corporate trainer and business coach. She also visited family and friends throughout her 50-state travels.
If Spangler could only visit one state again, it would be Oregon “because I have family there,” she said.
If people wonder why a map with Arkansas front and center is on the cover of her book, it is because she lived there for a short time. Spangler also lived in Colorado for a time. She has lived in Vadnais Heights for 16 years.
“Miles of Memories: One Woman's Journey to All 50 States” can be purchased on Amazon. For more information, visit www.LoriSpangler.com.