US Road Trip: Final Blog Entry – Trivia and Stuff………

The final blog entry for Mr and Mrs L’s US Road Trip 2013………an assortment of facts, trivia and miscellaneous stuff of relevance to this holiday – well in Mrs L’s opinion………….

States visited or travelled through:

Washington State: 

  • Nickname which is also seen on number plates is ‘Evergreen state’, not officially adopted
  • Named after George Washington, America’s first president
  • Admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889
  • Largest city is Seattle located in the west, followed by Spokane in the east
  • Capital is Olympia
  • Approximately 60% of Washington’s residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area
  • Leading lumber producer; 52% of Washington is covered with forests – mostly west of the North Cascades
  • Big business names in Seattle – Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks
  • The Cascade Mountain Range defines the climate west and east.  An oceanic climate predominates in western Washington with large areas of semi-arid plains and a few arid desert areas east of the Cascades
  • Mountain ranges – the Cascades, Olympic Mountains, the Kettle River Range, and the Blue Mountains
  • The Cascade Range includes several volcanoes – Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St Helens and Mount Adams
  • Demographics – White American 77.3%; Asian 7.2%; Black American 3.6%; Native American 1.5%
  • Religion – Protestant 49%; unaffiliated 25%; Roman Catholic 16%; Mormon 4%
  • Politically divided by the Cascades – liberal to the west and conservative to the east
  • State bird is the American Goldfinch; state fruit is the apple; state vegetable is the Walla Walla Sweet Onion; state flower is the Pacific Rhododendron; state gem is petrified wood; state mammal is the Olympic Marmot; state fish is the Steelhead trout


  • Nickname is the ‘Gem State’ because every known type of gemstone has been found there. Idaho is one of only 2 countries where star garnets can be found in any significant quantity, the other is India
  • Also known as the ‘Potato State’ because of its popular and widely distributed crop
  • Rocky Mountain state whose largest city and capital is Boise
  • Admitted to the Union on 3 July 1890 as the 43rd state
  • Mountainous state which borders 6 states – Washington State, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Montana and Wyoming, and 1 Canadian province – British Columbia
  • Has some of the largest unspoiled natural areas in the US
  • Has 2 time zones – Pacific Time to the north and contains less than a quarter of the population and land area; Mountain Time for the rest of the state
  • Commercial base traditionally tourism and agriculture, expanded to include science and technology industries
  • Boise is a centre for semi-conductor manufacturing, DRAM chips.  Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard both have offices in Boise
  • Demographics – White American 89.1%; American Indian and Alaska Native 1.4%; Black American 0.6%
  • Religion – a majority, 23%, are Mormons; 22% are evangelical Protestants; Roman Catholic 18%; unaffiliated 18%
  • Politics – Republican party is the dominant party
  • State bird is the Mountain Bluebird; state fruit is the huckleberry; state vegetable is the potato; state flower is the Syringa (Philadelphus); state gem is Idaho star garnet; state animal is the Appaloosa horse; state fish is the Cutthroat trout


  • Variety of nicknames, most commonly called ‘Big Sky Country’ and the ‘Treasure State’
  • Name Montana is derived from the Spanish word for mountain, montana
  • The capital city is Helena but the largest city is Billings
  • Admitted to the Union as the 41st state on 8 November 1889
  • Montana slightly larger than Japan, and the largest landlocked US state
  • Borders Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan in Canada and Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota in US
  • The continental divide splits the state into distinct eastern and western regions.  The 100+ mountain ranges are concentrated in the west of the state with prairies in the central and eastern parts of the state.  Approximately 60% of the state is prairie, forming part of the northern Great Plains
  • Economy primarily based on agriculture, including ranching and cereal grain farming.  Mining, lumber and tourism also significant
  • Tourists visit Glacier National Park, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Yellowstone National Park
  • Demographics – White American 89.4%; American Indian and Alaska Native 6.3%; Hispanics and Latinos 2.9%; Black, African American or Asian 1%
  • Religion – Protestant 55%; Roman Catholic 24%; Mormon 5%
  • Politics – politics in the state has been competitive with the Democrats usually holding an edge, mainly due to the unionised miners and railroad workers.  Considered a swing state in Presidential elections; but last supported a Democrat President in 1992
  • State bird is the Western Meadowlark; state flower is the Bitterroot; state gems are sapphire and agate; state animal is the Grizzly Bear; state fish is the Blackspotted Cutthroat trout


  • State nickname is ‘The Equality State’, with the state motto ‘Equal Rights’ due to the state’s civil rights history.  Other nicknames are ‘Cowboy State’, ‘Big Wonderful Wyoming’
  • The capital and most populous city is Cheyenne
  • Admitted to the Union as the 44th state on 10 July 1890
  • First territory and then state to grant suffrage to women in 1869; also a pioneer in welcoming women into politics, women serving on juries, first female court bailiff and first female JP.  First state to elect a female governor in 1924
  • The western two-thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains.  The eastern one-third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High Plains.  The Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming
  • The Continental Divide spans north-south across the central portion of the state.  The continental divide forks in the south central part of the state in an area known as the Great Divide Basin where the waters that flow or precipitate there remain there and cannot flow to any ocean. Water in the Great Basin sinks into the soil or evaporates
  • Bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the south-west by Utah, and on the west by Idaho
  • More than 48% of the land is owned by the US Government; the vast majority is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service in numerous National Forests, and the National Grassland.  The National Parks Service manages Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park and many other areas
  • Climate is semi-arid and continental and is drier and windier in comparison to most of rest of US with greater temperature extremes
  • Demographics – White American 90.7%; American Indian and Alaska Native 2.4%; Black or African American 0.8%; Asian American 0.8%
  • Religion – Protestant 51%; Roman Catholic 16%; Mormon 11%
  • Politics – politics have become more conservative since the 1980s and the Republicans now dominate.  The state last voted for a Democrat president in 1964
  • State bird is the Western Meadowlark; state flower is the Indian Paintbrush; state gem is nephrite jade; state mammal is the American Bison; state fish is the Cutthroat trout


  • State nickname is the ‘Beehive State’, and the state emblem is the Beehive
  • State brand is ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth’, officially used since 1975 and adorns 50% of state license plates.  State slogan since 2006 is ‘Life Elevated’
  • The 45th state admitted to the Union on 4 January 1896
  • Approximately 80% of Utah’s 2.9 million population live along the Wasatch Front centering on Salt Lake City, thus leaving vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited
  • Bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, Nevada to the west and touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast
  • The world HQ of the LDS Church/Mormons is in the state capital, Salt Lake City
  • Alcoholic beverage control state – wine and spirituous liquors can only be purchased from state liquor stores
  • Major industries include cattle ranching, salt production, IT and research, government services, mining – mostly coal in central Utah.  Eastern Utah is a major centre for petroleum production, with petroleum refining done by a number of oil companies near Salt Lake City
  • A major tourist destination for outdoor recreation, home to world-renowned ski resorts.  The 2002 Winter Olympics were in Utah.  Also has 5 National Parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Zion; 7 national monuments: Cedar Breaks, Dinosaur, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, Rainbow Bridge, Timpanogos Cave; 2 national recreation areas; 7 National Forests; and numerous state parks and monuments
  • A rugged and geographically diverse state located at the convergence of three distinct geological regions: the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau.  Known for its natural diversity and is home to features ranging from arid deserts in Western Utah to pine forests in mountain valleys.  Southwestern Utah is the lowest (2,000 feet) and hottest part of the state with the northernmost portion of the Mojave Desert located here
  • Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake, Sevier Lake and Rush Lake are all remnants of the ancient freshwater lake, Lake Bonneville, which once covered most of the eastern Great Basin
  • Climate is a dry semi-arid to desert climate.  Temperatures are extreme with cold temperatures in winter due to its elevation and very hot summers statewide
  • Demographics – White American 80.4%; American Indian and Alsakan Native 1%; Black or African American 0.9%; Asian American 2%
  • Religion – the most religiously homogeneous state with 63% counted as members of the Mormon Church (only 42% are active members), has considerable influence over Utah culture and daily life.  Mormons make up 34-41% of Salt Lake City but rural and suburban areas tend to be overwhelmingly Mormon.  Other religious affiliations are Roman Catholic 10%; Evangelicals 7%; mainline Protestant 6%
  • Politics – the most Republican state in the US.  Self-identified Mormons are more likely to vote Republican than non-Mormons.  Utah is much more conservative than the US as a whole, particularly on social issues; more moralistic and less libertarian
  • State bird is the California Gull; state fruit is the cherry; state vegetable is the Spanish sweet onion; state flower is the Sego lily; state gem is topaz; state animal is the Rocky Mountain Elk; state fish is the Bonneville Cutthroat Trout


  • State nickname is the ‘Grand Canyon State’; also known as the ‘Copper State’, or the ‘Apache State’
  • Generally believed that the name of the state comes from an earlier Spanish name, Arizonac, derived from the O’odham name ‘ali sonak’ which means ‘small spring’
  • The capital and largest city is Phoenix; the second largest city is Tucson.
  • The last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the Union on 14 February 1912
  • Borders New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California and one point in common with the southwestern corner of Colorado.  It also has a 389 mile long international border with the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California
  • Approximately 15% of the state land is privately owned, the remaining area is public forest and park land, state trust land and Native American Reservations
  • One quarter of the state is made up of Indian Reservations that serve as the home of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi tribe, the Tohono O’odham, the Apache tribe, the Yavapai people, the Yaqui people, the Zuni people, the Pima people, the Hia C-ed O’odham and various Yuman tribes including the Paiute people and the Mojave people
  • The state government is Arizona’s largest employer; Walmart is the largest private employer
  • Home of the Grand Canyon National Park as well as several national forests, other national parks and national monuments.  The Grand Canyon is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world
  • Ski resorts in Flagstaff and Alpine
  • Well known Arizona singers and musicians include Alice Cooper; Linda Ronstadt; Stevie Nicks
  • Desert landscape in the south; pine-covered high country on the Colorado Plateau in the northern third of the state.  Mountains and plateaus are found in over half of the state, includes the San Francisco Mountains; large deep canyons; 27% of the state is forest
  • Climate – desert climate in the south with very hot summers and mild winters.  More moderate weather for three seasons of the year plus significant snowfalls in the northern part of the state
  • Demographics – White American 73%; Native American and Alaska Native 4.6%; Black or African American 4.1%;Asian 2.8%.  Hispanics or Latinos of any race make up 29.6% of the state’s population
  • Religion – Protestant 40%; Roman Catholic 25%; Mormon 4%
  • Politics – dominated by the Democrat party until the late 1940s; since then the state has consistently voted Republican in presidential elections except for Democrat Bill Clinton who won Arizona by 2 points in the 1996 elections.  The Democrats are competitive in state elections but the Republican party has tended to dominate state politics
  • State bird is the Cactus wren; state flower is the Saguaro cactus blossom; state gem is the turquoise; state mammal is the Ring-tailed cat; state fish is the Apache trout


  • Official nickname is the ‘Silver State’ due to the importance of silver to its history and economy.  It is also known as the ‘Battleborn State’, the ‘Sagebrush State’, and the ‘Sage Hen State’
  • Name Nevada is derived from the nearby Sierra Nevada, nevada means ‘snow-capped range’ in Spanish
  • Admitted to the Union on 31 October 1864 as the 36th state
  • Capital city is Carson City
  • Over two-thirds of the population live in Clark County which contains the Las Vegas-Paradise metropolitan area
  • Approximately 86% of the state land is owned by various jurisdictions of the US Government, both civilian and military
  • Largely desert and semi-arid with much of the state located in the Great Basin.  The area south of the Great Basin is in the Mojave Desert.  Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada lie on the western edge
  • Unregulated gambling was common in early Nevada mining towns but was outlawed in 1909 as part of a nationwide anti-gambling crusade; legalised again on 19 March 1931 just 8 days after the federal government presented the $49 million construction contract for the Boulder Dam (now called the Hoover Dam)
  • The establishment of legalised gambling and lenient marriage and divorce proceedings transformed Nevada into a major tourist destination.  Only state in the US where prostitution is legal, although it is illegal in Clark County and Washoe County which contain Las Vegas and Reno respectively
  • Liberal alcohol laws with bars permitted to open 24 hours but harshest penalties for drug offenders in the US.  The only state that still has mandatory minimum sentencing for marijuana possession.  The state does allow marijuana for medical reasons although this is still illegal under federal law.  Smoking only allowed in bars that serve no food; also in casinos, hotel rooms, tobacco shops and brothels
  • Tourist industry is the largest employer; mining remains significant as Nevada is the 4th largest producer of gold in the world
  • Ranked the most dangerous state in the US for 5 years in a row, just outside of Louisiana.  Crime rate in 2006 was 24% higher than national average rate with property crimes accounting for 85% of Nevada’s crime rate
  • Nuclear Test Site is 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, founded 11 January 1951 for the testing of nuclear weapons.  The last atmospheric test was in 1962 and underground testing continued until 1992
  • Climate – driest state in the US; mostly desert and semi-arid climate regions.  The northern part of the state is within the Great Basin, mild desert with hot temperatures in summer and long cold winters; Arizona Monsoon will cause thunderstorms in summer; Pacific storms may blanket the area with snow in winter.  Winters in the southern part of the state tend to be short and mild.  Most of the rainfall in the state falls on the east and northeast slopes of the Sierra Nevada
  • Demographics – White Americans 66.2%; Black or African American 8.1%; Asian 7.2%; multiracial American 4.7%; American Indian and Alaska Native 1.2%
  • Religion – Roman Catholic 27%; Protestant 26%; Mormons 11%
  • Politics – libertarian laws; voted for winner in every presidential election since 1912 except in 1976 when it voted for Gerald Ford rather than Jimmy Carter.  The state has the status of political bellwether.  There is a noticeable divide between the politics of the southern and northern poarts of the state; historically very Republican in the north.  Clark County which includes Las Vegas has become increasingly Democrat
  • State bird is the Mountain Bluebird; state flower is the Sagebrush; state gem is Virgin Valley Black Fire Opal; state mineral is silver; state animal is the Desert Bighorn sheep; state fish is the Lahontan Cutthroat trout

Driving Trivia:


Total miles driven – 2,967 miles

Petrol (gas) used – 96.8 US gallons; equivalent to 366.4 litres

Cost of gas – $347.45

Petrol cost (136.9p/l – Sainsburys, A47) if same mileage driven in UK – £501.60

Conclusion – cheaper to drive in the US as their gas is much cheaper than UK petrol; and the Americans think their fuel is expensive!

Language anomalies:

Driving on the US 89 and sign says ‘pavement ends’ – but there is no pavement for pedestrians on the highway!  Then all of a sudden there is no road and we are driving through road works……….pavement = road.  What we call pavement they call sidewalk

Pullouts otherwise known as lay-bys

Chips are crisps, gets me very time! If you want chips ask for fries

Thrift stores are charity shops

Outfitters in Montana are organisations that kit you out and can arrange and take you hunting

Freeway is the motorway

Beltway is the ring road

Crosswalk is the pedestrian crossing

You drive on a parkway and park on a driveway……….

……….and saving the best to last……….one of Mr L’s most mystifying moments was when he ordered 2 cappuccinos in a Starbucks in nowhere land in Idaho…….he was asked whether he wanted them wet or dry………wet means more milk than froth, and dry is more froth than milk………so now we know!!

Miscellaneous trivia:

Yellowstone Park

  • Yellowstone Park is on the 45th parallel north so lies halfway between the equator and the North Pole
  • A sign in Yellowstone Park tells visitors this fact.  Sadly no photos as the Park was closed due to US Government shutdown


Mr and Mrs L saw a lot of sagebrush on their travels!

  • Grows in arid and semi-arid conditions and is prolific across the desert, plains and mountain habitats in the Intermountain West of North America
  • Big Sagebrush is the dominant plant across large portions of the Great Basin; also the state flower of Nevada
  • Provides food and habitat for a variety of species including sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, gray vireo, pygmy rabbit and mule deer
  • Big Sagebrush was used as an herbal medicine by the Native Americans – preventing infection in wounds, stopping internal bleeding, using the vapours to treat headaches and colds.  The Zuni people place it in people’s shoes to treat athlete’s foot, and as a foot deodorant
  • Medically the medicinal components are camphor, terpenoids and tannins
  • The plant’s oils are toxic to the liver and digestive system of humans if taken internally

The Great Basin

Everywhere we seemed to go there was a reference to the Great Basin.  Mr and Mrs L were puzzled as to whether there was one Great Basin or are there several……….

  • The Wikipedia definition states: ‘The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America’
  • Endorheic basin means a closed drainage system that retains water and has no outflow to other external bodies of water such as rivers and oceans, but converges instead into lakes or swamps, permanent or seasonal, that equilibrate through evaporation
  • Geography – the Great Basin includes valleys, basins, lakes and mountain ranges.  Geographic features near the Great Basin include the Continental Divide of the Americas, the Great Divide Basin, and the Gulf of California
  • The 2 most populous metropolitan areas are Reno to the west and Salt Lake City to the east; the southern area of the Great Basin includes Palm Springs


  • Fauna – wildlife includes pronghorn, mule deer, mountain lion, black-tailed jackrabbit, desert cottontail and coyotes.  Elk and bighorn sheep are present but uncommon.  Lizards, rattlesnakes and gopher snakes are present.  Golden eagles are common, as are the mourning dove, the western meadowlark, black-billed magpie and common raven
  • Most of the Great Basin is open-range and domestic cattle and sheep are widespread
  • Flora – Utah juniper in the south and mountain mahogany in the north.   Limber pine and the Great Basin bristlecone pine can be found in some of the higher ranges.  Grasslands contain the native Great Basin wildrye
  • So……only one, but very big Great Basin…………….

The ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel lobby

  • Created from stunning glass flowers – glass made in the Chihuly glass works which are based (and we briefly visited) in Seattle.  Mr and Mrs L thought this joined up the beginning and end of their holiday just perfectly!


If you have not done so already, check out the videos on Fountains and Fire, and also Day 8 – Norris Geyser Basin – these are new additions to the blog.

Look out for 4 January 2014 when the next Holly Days blog entry will be posted – something to do with Mr L’s 60th birthday…………..


One thought on “US Road Trip: Final Blog Entry – Trivia and Stuff………

  1. Jo Little Sis.


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