The 50 States on Stamps

As you know, I love postage stamps. They're inexpensive, tiny works of art that serve a purpose beyond aesthetic. I don't collect stamps now the way I did when I was a kid, but I still enjoy them and look forward to seeing each year's newest issues. I regularly give framed stamps as gifts

The first postage stamps in the United States went on sale in 1847 and featured Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. The idea for commemorative stamps began in 1893 with a stamp about Columbus' voyages to the New World. Since then, there have been thousands of commemorative stamps. Some of my favorites are the commemorative stamps that honor our 50 states. All 50 states have appeared on postage stamps. In fact, every state appears on a stamp every 50 years from statehood

My home state, California, joined the union in 1850. This stamp celebrates the 100th anniversary of  California statehood. Affiliate links here and below. 

This stamp is from 2000, the 150th anniversary of California. It cost 30 cents more than the stamp from 50 years earlier. 

California's next statehood stamp will be issued in 2050. It will be interesting to see its value. Stamps are already more expensive by 40 cents than they were in 2000. Who knows how much they'll cost after another 26 years. 

Statehood anniversaries aren't the only time states are featured on postage stamps. California has a 1969 stamp recognizing 200 years of (non-indigenous) settlement...  

... and a stamp marking the 100th and the 150th anniversary of the Gold Rush

Each state also appears in sets, like the 1976 Bicentennial State Flags, the 1982 State Birds and Flowers, and the 2002 Greetings From America set. These are some of my all-time favorite stamps. I love seeing the complete sets of 50 states together. 

Colorado celebrates 150 years of statehood in 2026, so that is most likely the next regularly-scheduled state stamp we'll see. I'm looking forward to it. 


I will be taking another blog break while we travel to Europe to celebrate Trevor's high school graduation. I begin radiation for breast cancer immediately when we return, so I'm not sure when I'll resume blogging. Fortunately, there are almost 3400 posts already on my blog, so poke around a bit!


50 State Quarters: Coloring Pages Featuring Ohuhu Markers

In 1999, the US government launched the 50 State Quarters Program. For the next ten years, the US Mint issued five new quarters each year (one every ten weeks) representing each of the 50 states, in the order that the states entered the Union. The front of each quarter had the same portrait of George Washington that's been used on the quarter since 1932. The back of the quarters featured designs unique to each state. The program was enormously popular; in fact, roughly half of the US population collected the coins. Approximately $3 billion worth of quarters remain out of circulation and in the hands of collectors. 

I was among the 50 state coin collectors. When the program began, I was teaching 5th grade. This meant handling a surprising amount of loose change - daily lunch money, Scholastic book orders paid for entirely with coins, fundraiser payments, etc. - which gave me access to more circulating quarters than the average person. When I found a new-to-me one, I swapped it out for one of my own quarters and made a point of showing the students who were interested what the new design looked like. It was great fun seeing what each state chose to represent itself. 

Indeed, the design was up to the individual states... with some limitations. They could not feature living people or state flags. Any deceased people had to pictured doing something - not just as a head-and-shoulders portrait. Obviously, any artwork needed to work as an engraved design on a metal surface less than 1" in diameter. Most states asked its citizens to submit designs, then sent a handful of those to the Treasury Department for approval. Approved images went back to the state. From those, either the governor (33 states) or the citizens (17 states) selected the winning design. The designs are quite varied. 

There are several fun "firsts" among the 50 state quarters. Alabama's is the first to feature braille on a coin. Hawaii's is the first to show royalty (King Kamehameha I). New Jersey's is the first to feature George Washington on both sides. 

The Mint has coloring pages of each of the 50 state quarter designs available for downloading. I chose four, which I colored with my Ohuhu Kaalas. The fine tip was perfect for getting into the small spaces. Relatively speaking, that is. The "small" spaces on my coloring pages are enormous compared to the engraved designs onto the surfaces of the quarters. 

Here is my interpretation of Nevada's state quarter. Because quarters aren't in color, I had some freedom in deciding how to color the design. It would be interesting to learn what the original artist envisioned. 

In the case of the New Jersey state quarter, I know exactly what the intended colors are. It was hard to reproduce Leutze's oil painting with markers, but I did what I could and took a bit of artistic license. 

The Oregon state quarter features a real place, the beautiful Crater Lake

I like how different Wisconsin's state quarter is from the others (which are, in turn, completely different from each other).  

I've printed out another set of state quarter coloring pages. I reluctantly put away my Ohuhus and will be using something else to color these. At least, that's the plan. I may end up back with the Ohuhus after all. 


Northern Tier High Adventure

In late June, Steve and Trevor went on an adventure of a lifetime. They joined 13 other members of Troop 482 to travel to Northern Tier High Adventure Camp. Located in Minnesota's Boundary Waters, it is one of Scouting America's four national High Adventure Camps. 

On Saturday, June 22 the group took a very early morning flight to Minneapolis, then traveled a short distance to Base Camp. 

They spent the afternoon at Mall of America before returning to Base Camp, where they were able to participate in a wide variety of program activities. Check out this facility- archery, rock climbing, gaga ball, a ropes course, pickleball, and so much more! Wow!

After spending the night at Base Camp, they boarded the bus for a 5-hour drive to Northern Tier, located near the small town of Ely. Along the way, they stopped for lunch at Gordy's Hi-Hat in Cloquet. They report that it was fabulous. No surprise - it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives! Every place we've eaten that Guy Fieri has recommended has been outstanding. 

At the Voyagers' Cabin at Northern Tier, the troop divided into two crews and met their interpreters. 

This is Steve and Trevor's crew. The group included three adults (Steve, Tom, and Trevor, who had turned 18 two weeks earlier), five youth (Logan, Spencer, Julien, Rourke, and Connor), and one interpreter (Stephen). 

Both crews spent the rest of the day preparing their gear and planning their routes for a 50-mile, 6-day canoe trip. The crews planned different routes based on their specific goals. 

At sunset, Tom and Steve took a brief walk to explore the area, then rested up for the big adventure. 

On Monday morning, it was time to head out!

The crew had to carry everything they would need for the 6-day trip. 


Notice the mosquito nets? Minnesota's mosquitos, and insects in general, are no joke. 

The crew of nine rode in three canoes (the two dads and interpreter in one canoe, then the five youth plus Trevor split between the other two). The person in the front provides the power, the person in the center navigates, and the person in the back steers. 

After paddling for awhile, it was time for the first two (of four) portages they took that week. Those portages, called the Demoralizers, meant carrying everything uphill for half a mile.   

That's Trevor on the left. Look how much he's carrying. 

A single person carried each canoe. 

The amount of paddling they did each day varied significantly, but in each case they finished the day at a campsite. There, they hoisted a rainfly, pitched their tents, and raised the bear bag before doing anything else.  

Then they hung their wet clothes and started cooking. Most of their cooking was over camp stoves, but they malfunctioned on the first night and last morning so they cooked over a campfire. 

The food was hearty, cooked with a mix of dehydrated and fresh ingredients. 

This is the latrine, called a grumper. Enough said. 

Over the course of the six-day trek, there were some beautiful days with great weather...

... and days where it felt like the rain would never end. 

One such day was when the crew popped over to the Canada side of Boundary Waters, Quetico Provincial Park.  

One of the highlights of the trip was the night paddle. The group went to sleep at 6:00 pm, got up at midnight, and were on the water by 2:00 am. 

By happy coincidence, this was the only night it didn't rain. They had a clear, starry night for paddling. 

At 4:30 am, they saw the sun rise on the water and it was spectacular. 

They were back in camp by 6:00 am, which was normally the time they were leaving camp. 

Another highlight was checking out this waterfall. 

Over the course of the trip, they saw snapping turtles, painted turtles, loons, ducks, geese, bald eagles, otters, fish, and (of course) mosquitoes. Steve saw fireflies for the first time. 

The crew visited an abandoned Canadian ranger station. 

Everyone agreed that Minnesota's Boundary Waters is gorgeous. Storm clouds make for a beautiful sunset. 

All good things must come to an end. Here, Trevor and Steve's crew is arriving back at Northern Tier's landing. The other crew from the troop had already arrived. This was the first time in a week since they'd been together, as you are never allowed to have more than 9 people or 4 canoes in the wilderness

With the two crews back together, they had a great time sharing stories and hearing about each others' adventures.

That night, the staff recognized Jackson's birthday with a unique ice cream sandwich cake. 

The trek concluded with a closing ceremonies called Rendezvous. It was a fun way to wrap up a memorable trip. 

They spent the night there, then the next morning they boarded the bus for the 5-hour drive to the airport. They arrived home late on Sunday, June 30, exhausted but happy. 

This is the route they took:

The troop is already talking about their next High Adventure. They're hoping to do Sea Base in 2026. I don't know if Steve or Trevor will be able to participate, so I'm glad they had the opportunity to do at least one of the Scouting America High Adventure Camps.