License plates and sunshine

our route – I think I could do it with my eyes closed….

We are all back up north – B, W, O, Ivy, and me. If I could, I’d stay up here forever, but there is something called money, and a job, that keeps me from doing just that. And, perhaps being up north might lose it’s luster if it weren’t an occasional treat like ice cream or chocolate. This is the place that grandpa built – it’s the place for family and more memories than I can write about for now. B’s sister will be joining us later this evening for a short visit and grandma will be coming up next week. It’ll be a good time.

We came up Sunday afternoon. We had planned to come up Sunday morning, but we just needed to take our time. I’d been at Beauty and Charm all week and W came home from football Saturday afternoon and wouldn’t move – he was so tired. He needed to pack for his scouting trip next week to the boundary waters trip in northern Minnesota, but he just lied there on his bed, so we let him sleep. He slept from 6PM until 8AM Sunday morning, he must’ve been tired, because when we got here Sunday night, he slept another ten hours into Monday morning. We drove both of the cars because W has to go back Friday for his trip and one of us has to drive him.

O, Ivy, and I left first in my car and B and W followed hers with W driving. Driving 359 miles can be a drain. O was watching a movie on the iPad beside me and I was driving, paying attention to traffic, and listening to a Market Place podcast when I had a brilliant idea, why not count the number of different state license plates we saw along our way? I nudged O and explained my idea. I asked her how many she thought we might see and she replied 24. She was in. We had rules for our game – only cars and pickup trucks, no buses, and commercial vehicles like tractor-trailer rigs or delivery trucks. And, only US states, no Canada plates. She quickly called out our first license plate – Illinois. We quickly had ten or so – Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota and we had fourteen when B called to check in and I told her about our game. She took it as a challenge and it was game on. Driving along the interstates made it easier: I-80, I-90, I-94, and I-196 are heavily trafficked but once we were north of Grand Rapids, we didn’t see another new license plate.

We finished with 24 and B and W beat us with 27, overall between us we saw 31 different state license plates. It was a fun game and, there was some serious smack-talk or smack text going on between the two cars. Check out our lists:

Our list (O and I): Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin (underlined not on THEIR list)

Their list (B and W): California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky,  Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin (bolded – not on OUR list)

Combined list: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia,  West Virginia, Wisconsin (plain text – on both lists)

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License plates courtesy of

I am glad we are here, it’s great to get away and just be. Yesterday, I took O fishing twice and came up with nothing more than just feeding the fish. O got a small blue gill and it was returned quickly to the lake. We, all of us including Ivy, went swimming and the kids were invited by a neighbor to go tubing. I pulled a few weeds and cooked breakfast and dinner. B started a new book. It was a perfect lake day. Nothing important was done, other than breathing.

“The body is like a piano, and happiness is like music. It is needful to have the instrument in good order.” —Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887); Clergyman, Social Reformer

That’s what the lake is for, to rest, restore, and rejuvenate.

This morning, I realized it was July 22nd and I needed to record my sunshine data. I’ve been collecting sunshine data on the 22nd of each month since last September’s autumnal equinox. I’ve always had an interest in the amount of sunshine or daylight we get and thought it would be interesting to collect the data and analyze with my geography students. This is probably how my science interests came to the attention of my principal. So far, I’ve collected, with the help of my geography students, sunrise and sunset times for 31 cities across the globe. The data is open to all sorts of interesting observations and inferences for middle schoolers. I am glad I did it with my class. It was a fun activity and I’ll miss the opportunity to make it better next year. Today’s data is interesting, because it is almost identical to the sunshine data I collected on May 22nd – the data for all 31 locations is within three minutes. The range is 8H 30M at Stanley, Falkland Islands to 24H at Trømso, Norway. The average (if you are still reading) is 13H 22M.

The cottage is 44°38’52” North – almost half way to the North Pole – three degrees further north than home and we will get 15 hours and 2 minutes of daylight today by the lake, while at home we would have gotten 14 hours and 43 minutes – a difference of 19 more minutes! Below are links to older posts:

Like Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “The body is like a piano, and happiness is like music. It is needful to have the instrument in good order.” It’s important to keep everything in tune, in balance, because there is a time for everything under the sun. In a month, all of us will be back to school and life will accelerate and we’ll be out of balance at times, now is the time for balancing and re-tuning. Time away from spent up here is fun, relaxing, invigorating, and interesting and all places in between. Today is gonna be a great day and tomorrow could be a million and six times better, but I have today NOW, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one fun driving game, or one classroom thinking exercise, or just plain taking time to breathe.

What games do (or did) you play on a long drive to engage your passengers? 

6 thoughts on “License plates and sunshine

  1. We used to play that game in France. There are 96 to collect. But they only have the number, not the name of the département. So part two of the game is ‘Name That Département’. That sorts out the men from the boys….. 😉

    1. Margaret, I am little slow to respond,I’ve been living in the past and future – with little time for the present. I remember seeing the numbers when I visited France… that would be exhausting to know numbers outside of your particular area – except for 75, and the 90’s. Some of our states put the county on their license plates, or did. I’ve been noticing license plates since – it’s almost an obsession – but it keeps me on my toes. The town our cottage is near has an annual canoe race and folks from across the US attend, there were teams from as a far away as Texas to compete, but most were local. It’s always a fun event. have a great week…..

    1. I sent him off Saturday morning and he tweeted a sunrise over Lake Superior Sunday morning, they set off this morning on a 50 mile trek – I know he’ll have a great time. I’ll pick him up in 6 days next Sunday night. He’ll be sooooo exhausted on the trip back up here Monday morning. Have a great week.

Thanks for visiting MtDC. How are YOU Making YOUR Days Count?