Lori Spangler loves to travel.
During her growing up years on the family farm north of Morgan, trips were limited, as the family stayed close to home often only making one trip to the metro area a year and making shorter trips to see family, including their grandparents in Wanda – a trip 20 miles from home.
Spangler, however, is much more adventurous, and a few years ago accomplished a feat not many others can claim. She has visited all 50 U.S. states.
Soon after, when talking with a friend, Spangler was encouraged to let others know about her experiences, adding her friend asked when she was going to write a book about her travels.
“I never thought I would write a book,” admitted Spangler March 14 at the Redwood Falls Public Library.
When Spangler’s friend talked with her about it she wasn’t asking if she was going to. It was when was she going to write.
“If you want me to do something you just need to tell me how it would benefit my nieces and nephews,” said Spangler.
Spangler’s friend told her it was something they would enjoy.
So, Spangler started writing.
Spangler, whose book was published in 2016, shared some of her experiences during her travels and what she learned during the writing process. Spangler admitted it took several years for her to finish the book, as she said she would write down stories of her state travels for a while, but then months would go by when she wouldn’t write at all.
Then she would be talking with someone about one of her memories and thought, “I should write about that.”
Spangler’s book “Miles of Memories: One Woman’s Journey to All 50 States” not only includes tales of her experiences in each state, but at the end of each chapter she offers bits of advice about travel and life for readers. They are called “Lori’s Learnings.”
“Sometimes the advice I offer is goofy and at other times it is practical,” said Spangler, adding she felt it was important to share with others what she has learned along the way to help make experiences for readers thinking about doing their own traveling a little easier to navigate.
As an example, following the chapter on a family trip to Montana Spangler wrote, “if someone is afraid of heights, don’t let her sit on the side of the car next to a drop-off – especially if this person is your mother.”
In the book Spangler talks about memories of traveling alone at a young age to South Dakota and working as a waitress at a resort and while in college getting on a Greyhound bus headed for Arkansas where she lived and worked for a brief period of time.
In the book Spangler said when she left Minnesota for Arkansas she had made no plans. She had no place to live and no job. She admitted when the bus arrived she was tempted to get right back on the bus and head back to Minnesota.
“I have nine siblings and am third from the bottom,” said Spangler. “I have older sisters who had done some traveling, and I think that gave me a level of confidence to do it, too."
Spangler, who lives in Vadnais Heights, said when she set the goal to travel to all 50 states the first thing she did was to determine which states she had already visited.
“By that time I had already been to 20,” she said.
That left 30 to go, and over the years those trips have been made at various times of the year. Sometimes it was for work, and in many cases, she would get in her car and drive. She has visited states by plane, train, bus and car.
“I never used a horse or a donkey,” said Spangler, adding, however, she did see donkeys at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Spangler said she has traveled with others, but she admitted she prefers traveling alone. That way she gets to make the decisions about when and where to stop, adding as she drives if something looks interesting she will stop.
During her trips Spangler said she has not brought home a lot of tourist-type souvenirs but does have several Christmas ornaments from around the country. She also has a special turtle necklace she purchased in Hawaii she was told would bring her good luck.
Spangler recalled a bumpy landing at one airport adding the stewardess spoke with the travelers apologizing for the experience. With a smile, Spangler said the stewardess said it is not the pilot’s fault, and it is not the plane’s fault. It is the asphalt.
The last state Spangler visited was Hawaii, having spent eight days there for her 53rd birthday.
When asked which state was her favorite, Spangler said she really couldn’t pick one, as there are great attributes and memories from each.
Spangler said she decided to self publish her book working with Mill City Press to have it published. The book sells for $15.95 and can be found at various bookstores and online. Locally, they are for sale at Becker’s Super Valu in Morgan.
Yes, said Spangler, she has also traveled internationally, but she has no plans to visit all of the countries of the world. She does plan to continue traveling and is also considering writing another book.
Learn more about her and how to get a copy of her book on her Web site at www.lorispangler.com. While Spangler has visited all 50 states and has lived in a few, she continues to find her way back to Minnesota.
After all, she said, there is no place like home.