Long before “bucket lists” were in vogue, Kathy Kramer had a goal in mind: To visit all 50 states and in 2023, she set foot in number 50. But this adventure actually started over 40 years ago, which is where she starts her story:

“I have always enjoyed exploring new places and meeting different people. From those experiences, I’ve noticed that most places are similar, except for the accents. The folks are friendly, enjoy their lives and appreciate their surroundings.

At the age of 21, I relocated to Hall Crossing on Lake Powell in Utah, where I was intrigued by my coworkers and their diverse backgrounds. While there, I had the opportunity to visit Four Corners, famous for where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona all connect. Not long after that, in 1982, I embarked on a cross-country trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, taking back roads from Utah and spent time exploring the sights and treasures of the states along the way.

I resided on Cape Cod for just over two decades during which time I raised my son, Jared, and fostered over 35 teenagers of both genders. In addition, there was extensive travel in an RV throughout the Northeastern states which involved a lot of camping, skiing, whitewater rafting, fishing, visiting lighthouses, and many covered bridges.

There was also a family trip to Mackinac Island in Michigan, where no cars are allowed, only horses and buggies and bicycles. As I had been working for a dental practice on Cape Cod, I had the opportunity to travel to approximately 14 Caribbean islands as part of our yearly office cruises provided by the dentist. There were also dental related seminars in Phoenix which then allowed me to travel to the west coast and tour Seattle, Oregon, San Francisco, and San Diego.

In 2002, I moved to Prescott, Arizona, which is a lovely western town where people dress like cowboys with guns on their hips and cell phones to their ears. I’ve had friends frequently visit and we’ve explored places like the Grand Canyon and Sedona. I lived there until 2016 when I returned to New Jersey.

Around the time my son turned 18, I purchased a Harley and began traveling on some fantastic roads to fun biker towns and enjoyed visits to Las Vegas several times. While in Vegas, I had the opportunity once to touch Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, which as everybody knows was simply amazing.

During another trip, I explored Minnesota for a week and traveled to the Dakotas, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Two years ago, I took a beautiful cruise to Alaska which was state number 49 on my now lengthy list of visited states. I had just one more state to go.

So finally, to check the last box on the 50-state journey, this year (2023), I vacationed in Hawaii. As a commemoration for my personal accomplishment, I got a Polynesian tapping tattoo of a gecko which represents “the end of one and moving forward to another” in Hawaiian culture.

These days, I have my feet firmly planted in my hometown of Livingston, taking care of my mother, Shirley, who still lives in our original home. I enjoy volunteering as a school crossing guard, which is something my dad did for over 40 years and also joined the VFW in his honor. My son Jared is married to Nathan and currently lives in Columbus, Ohio and I often get life updates from my many foster kids which always makes me smile. And it all comes down to this – Life is great.”