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Feel free to double-check this

Back before the turn of the century, a reader shared an observation.

He said the University of Washington and Washington State University are farther apart than any other similar pairing in the nation.

I can't recall how exhaustively I fact-checked that. But if you have some time on your hands, you might take a stab at it.

As I recall, this pertains only to pairings involving a University of (name of the state) and (name of the state) State University. Branch campuses using any other naming convention (such as one might find in, say, California) do not count.

P.S. Actually, I suspect the state of Idaho refutes this assertion. But I'll have to look it up. Maybe the Gem State holds the record, not Washington.

Travel: Kicking the Bucket List

    So often when the subject of travel comes up, someone will invariably mention their 'bucket list.' They will talk about a city or continent, a monument or some kind of natural wonder or even an event they want to see before they die. Before, as the cliché goes, they kick the bucket.

    I heard the phrase whispered several times last year as I stood on the deck of a small ship in Alaska, watching humpback whales swim so close I could hear them breathing. I heard it just a few weeks ago watching the Northern Lights undulate across the spring sky over Manitoba, standing in a night so dark and cold it was as if I’d floated out into space.

    I never actually put my list down on paper, I’m not that organized, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Instead, I have carried a kind of mental itinerary in my head, images of places I want to see and things I want to experience. But that mental list, like the Northern Lights, is not constant. It shifts and changes, shining on one landscape and then another as I add and subtract. Every time I see a great photograph or read an exceptional travel story, I pencil in new locations. Sometimes the world changes and war, weather or political upheaval get in the way and a destination drops off.

    Of course, the truth is there will never be enough time to see it all, and not just because I got a late start at the second half of my traveling life, staying home to raise a family and then working around that family to build a career. Even if I’d started on a round-the-world trip the day I was born, there still wouldn’t be time enough to experience it all because the more I learn about the world around me, the more I want to see and do. But life is short so I try to treat every trip—large or small— like it will be my last. I remind myself stop and savor the moments instead of pushing to do more and see more. I have learned it’s important to appreciate where you are and where you’ve been, before hurrying on to the next adventure.

     Several years ago, as my daughter and I walked along the Great Wall in China, navigating the ancient, uneven steps, I suddenly remembered a photo of the wall in one of my school Geography books. At that time, China was still a closed and shuttered place. I’d studied the photo with interest but it never once occurred to me that I might one day stand at the place pictured in it, especially with a child of my own. But I did. And in that moment, watching my daughter focus her camera on one of the marvels of the world, I felt a swell of gratitude for the rambling path my life had taken to put us both there.

    So, no real list for me. When my time is up I want more than a column of checkmarks to define my wanderlust. Instead, I want to be the woman who didn’t always know where she was going but always took the time to appreciate where she was.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel journalist  whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Trivia challenge (one question)

Though it might be the least Mormon place in the U.S., one state back East was the birthplace of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Can you name it without Google?

Hall War Teaches Geography Lessons

Geography teachers tend to put their students to sleep. And no wonder. Until you've been there, who cares where the Rhine River runs? Or what kind of winters they have in North Korea? Or which ocean is home to Iwo Jima? And what's an Iwo Jima anyway? All three places were once boring to most third-grade geography students. However, all three of those places eventually became lethally interesting. In fact, the day would come when former third graders would suffer and die in all three locations.War is a terrible geography teacher. It knows how to make the topic not just interesting but also so terrifying that the grieving families of the dead will never forget where an unlucky loved one met his end/Bill Hall, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Did you know where Vietnam was before our long war there? Afghanistan?

When you hear a reference to Albania

Are you capable of NOT thinking of Coach in "Cheers"?


It borders on the Adriatic, you know.

1 in 4* believe this is Spokane’s location


* Imaginary survey of those American adults who have heard of Spokane and know that it is in Washington.

Now accepting definitions of “back East”

Yes, I have dealt with this a hundred times.

But I never tire of hearing people refer to Minnesota as "back East."

Getting in shape for travel season

When visiting other parts of the country, don't forget how to say…

1. "No, where we are, it hardly rains all summer."

2. "You must be thinking of Tacoma."

3. "No, really. We had a world's fair."

4. "All those Dodgers you just named, from those great teams — they all played in Spokane."

5. "Gon-ZAG-uh."

6. "No more racists than you have around here, I'd guess."

7. "No, we don't have a state income tax. We use a high sales tax, various fees and duct tape."

8. "Well, you should see our daily paper in Spokane. Clear Socialist agenda forced down our throats by a wealthy Republican family."

9. "Like I said, it's almost 300 miles away."

10. "I'm not making it up. It's true. In Spokane you can usually go outside at night in the summer without being swarmed by insects."

11. "So this is the famous humidity I've heard about."

12. "No, we don't have tornadoes. We have a lot of yard sales, though."

This find means the world to me

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)  


   I’m in good company, I know, but I have this tendency to put my head on my pillow, completely exhausted by the events of the day, and then find myself wide awake, unable to sleep. The words I couldn’t come up with earlier suddenly pop into my head without warning, or one of my children crosses my mind or I am so excited about a trip or a project my brain is buzzing with ideas. I’ve learned over the years to not fight it. Instead I get up, make a cup of Chamomile tea and sit down in the dark living room, relishing the quiet.

   More often than not, if I am wandering through dark rooms when I should be in bed, I am guided by a small lighted globe that sits on my desk. A thrift store find, it is used as a night light as much as a travel reference.  

   Tonight, as I walked by, I looked down at the globe and noticed the story that could be told with the other items around it.

   The globe is surrounded by a souvenir model of the Eiffel Tower  I brought home from Paris, a clay dish made by one of my children which holds a handful of Euro coins, and a purse-sized pocket atlas, a gift from my daughter last Christmas.

   When I look at the globe at night, shining in a dark corner of the room, I remember the maps and globes of my geography class when I was a girl, the way they intrigued me and opened a world  of possibility, inviting me to explore and dream and go.

   Sleepy at last, the tea finished and the cup rinsed, I headed back to bed. On an impulse, I grabbed the camera that is always sitting on the desk and took a photo. I think I'll put it on my computer to light my hotel room when I travel.

   It’s funny. I’ve brought home so many things over the years. But this little globe means the world to me.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Home Planet , Treasure Hunting and  CAMera: Travel and Photo blogs, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Acquiring our credentials to be snobs

Almost anyone who has lived in the Southwest and then moved to a different region will be tempted to assume the role of Mexican Food Snob.

If you have resided in the Los Angeles area, you might feel entitled to be a Traffic Snob.

If you spent time in Texas, you might be a High School Football Snob. If you lived in the Southeast, being a Humidity Snob might come naturally to you. If you spent more than half an hour in Seattle, Coffee Snob might be an image you feel comfortable projecting.

If you grew up in parts of the Northeast or the Upper Midwest, you might spend the rest of your life being a Winter Snob. If Colorado was your home for a time, Skiing Snob might be a role you're happy to play.

And so on.

But what about us? About what does living in the Inland Northwest qualify someone to claim expertise and discernment if he or she moves to another part of the country?

Today’s fun website: Test your knowledge of Middle East

Middle East Geography Quiz




Heard a little bit about stuff happening in the Middle East lately, in places like Tunisia and Libya and Yemen?

Sure, haven't we all. But how well do you know where those places really are?

Click on the box above, and it will take you to a mapping game that tests your geographic knowledge of the area much in the news. Don't worry. Unlike 5th Grade Geography, no one's keeping score, so you can correct your mistakes.

And thanks to Edward Thomas Jr. for sending the link.