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The Hopkins Explore All 50 States

Meet Andy and Debbie Hopkins, local inspiration, city volunteers, small business owners (The UPS Store Celina), and now seasoned travelers. With a couple's goal to visit all 50 states, they are finishing up their United States tour this summer. The Hopkins even found time to venture overseas and share their travel journal with us.

Tell us about your first trip together.

We didn’t know when we met that we would become so passionate about traveling together. In 2003, we took our first trip to the college football national championship in Tempe, AZ. It was Debbie’s first in-person college football game ever. Underdog, Ohio State, beat the University of Miami in double overtime. (She’s a crazed Buckeye fan now!)

What landmark was your favorite?

Picking favorites from our travels is really hard. We like to be open to what a place has to offer and we always find something special wherever we are. We did love the windmills in The Netherlands. They are so cool. Centuries old, but their genius design to move flood waters out to make land habitable blew our minds. Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria was breathtaking. King Ludwig wanted a fairytale castle and used up the country’s money to do it. It looks like it should be a thousand years old but, in reality, it was being built about the same time as Ulysses S. Grant was the US President.

Which state do you think is the friendliest?

The people of Lincoln, Nebraska were incredibly welcoming. If you can believe it, we were there for an Ohio State game against the Cornhuskers. Everyone we met wanted to make sure we were happy, comfortable and knew where to go eat or drink. They were just the most gracious hosts. Internationally, Italy has been the most welcoming place we’ve visited so far.

If you could only recommend one place that is a “must visit”, what would it be?

In the States, there are so many musts. High on the list is New England in the Fall. We traveled through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine during the changing of the leaves, and mixed in some lighthouses as we enjoyed lobster at pretty much every meal. Traveling internationally is so exciting and educational. So many “musts!”. The scenery in Germany, food in Italy, and endless landmarks in London should be on everyone’s list.

Tell us about one of your favorite travel memories. 

There are so many. We try to be very intentional about immersing ourselves in whatever locale we happen to be visiting, making valuable memories at every stop. However, last year we were joined by twelve other couples on a river cruise down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland. It was an amazing trip. Castles and churches galore with a great group of friends was incredible. 

Any funny travel stories? 

We were driving from Venice to Florence and chose to go through the countryside in hopes of meeting locals and getting a feel of the real culture of Italy. We found little villages and hamlets one after the other, but we did not see any people. It was like the towns were abandoned. It actually got a little creepy, like a "body snatcher" situation. We figured that because it was hot in the summer, everyone must be taking a siesta. We finally found a gas station with a little deli. No one spoke english, so we pointed at sandwiches on the menu. The young lady would answer "prosciutto and cheese" regardless of the picture at which we pointed. Something that looked like a hotdog, “prosciutto and cheese.” Something similar to a mozzarella and tomato sandwich, “prosciutto and cheese.”  We chose prosciutto and cheese. We were also met with stares from the older gentlemen in the diner area, as we clearly were outsiders. They eventually gave us some smiles, as we ate and left.

Final thoughts on your travel journal? 

This year we will mark off our 50th state. We think it’s really cool that we’ve been able to visit all the US states together. We are looking forward to finishing this really cool map with Alaska, coinciding with our 20th wedding anniversary. We love to travel, not just because it is fun, but because it offers new experiences, exciting adventures, and the chance to explore different cultures and landscapes. We love the educational experience too. Getting exposed to diverse perspectives, historical sites, and unique traditions broadens our understanding of the world. We think travel creates valuable memories by providing moments of joy, personal growth, and shared experiences with loved ones, which you can cherish for a lifetime.

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