Tuesday, January 07, 2020

License Plates

We play the license plate game every year - my wife pays more attention than I - and just started again January 1.  We are familiar after all these years which ones are hardest to get: Hawaii, obviously, though we nearly always get Alaska. Montana, Idaho, the Dakotas, then Wyoming and Utah. Last year we didn't get New Mexico, which we always get, and had to have help to get West Virginia, which is not all that far. But we got Utah already this year.  Whoohoo!

We go for Canadian provinces while we are at it, and got both Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 2019, which are rare for us.  One year we did get the Yukon Territory plate in the shape of a polar bear, right out on Rt 93. We get Guam and American Samoa every few years.

I asked myself a different question this year.  Which states are the easiest to get all the other states from, and which are the hardest?  Hawaii hardly counts, it must be enormously more difficult.  You wouldn't even teach you children to play the game there, just oohing and ahhing whenever you saw anything else. Fairbanks Alaska might not be so terrible, as adventurous sorts from all over like to take the ALCAN highway.  I am betting that the states that are difficult for me to get, in the Mountain West and Upper West are the worst places to play the game, largely on account of the states around me here.  Seeing a VT or RI plate in South Dakota must be unusual. We get a lot of states quickly when we start, and similarly, have a much better chance of getting New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island than people in Wyoming would.  Probably more easily than people in British Columbia would. PEI and NL are rare even up here.

Tracy thought that Washington DC was probably the easiest place to play the game. I agreed, and thought that NYC and the immediate area was likely good as well.  Orlando, maybe, even though most people going to the parks would fly. I don't know how much people in regions visit each other. Is Mississippi an easy get in South Carolina?  Do experienced plate-spotting schoolchildren in Arizona immediately recognise Idaho?  Do people even play this game outside of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic?

11 comments:

Unknown said...

A recent trip we were disappointed that one car's plate was white, completely obscured by road salt such that not even color showed. My wife suggested that she should count it as whatever plate she was missing . . .

I've found that if your travels take you past a fairly large army base there will be no difficulty seeing license plates from any of the states that top the league table for number of denizens on active duty

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Good point. Not much of that in NH.

Christopher B said...

We occasionally played this game on a trip by trip basis when I was growing up in Iowa. Also a variation where we looked for Iowa counties on plates. I still occasionally note unusual plates when I see them.

Since our trips often included pretty good stretches if I80 or I35, we had a fair chance of seeing an assortment of states. I think the same would be true farther west. Major national parks would also contribute to more variety, like the theme parks around Orlando.

The number of vehicles registered in the state matters, too. California is easier to find anywhere due to sheer numbers, the Dakotas not souch.

jadair04 said...

The Yukon plate isn't shaped like a bear, The North-West Territories and Nunavut ones are, and are reversed directions.
Good luck ever seeing a Nunavut one.

Donna B. said...

I was about to comment that the best license plate spotting would be the commissary parking lot at Ft. Hood when I read Unknown's comment. Even there, the plates would be tilted toward western and southern states.

You got me thinking about Mississippi and I don't think it would be an easy get in SC. Why would they go there? It's a crappy drive through either Alabama/Georgia or Florida.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

jadair, I stand corrected. Yukon Territory has that prospector guy, and I have seen that as well.

I don't think Nunavit was its own place when I saw the Northwest Territory one. Interesting fact about the bears facing in opposite directions.

Sam L. said...

NYC seems likely, with all the out-of-towners slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowing down the traffic.

jadair04 said...

No worries, most Canadians would be stumped. Spent quite a bit of time up there. More difficult to get to the NWT and Nunavut, but worth the visit if you ever get the chance.

jadair04 said...
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aporitic said...

My family plays this game 2-3 times per year. We're in rural Idaho, so you'd think it would be tough, but we're within spitting distance of Yellowtstone and we almost always get everything but one or two of the New England states (Maine and RI, being the hardest).
We usually get about half of Canada and one or two places in Mexico as well.

I think if you live on one of the major E-W freeways (I-70, 80, or 90), you'd have an advantage, as well.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ aporitic - yes, the rest area on I-93 in NH that includes a liquor store (NH prices are low, which is why it always looks like we drink more per capita than neighboring states) and a couple of restaurants is likely the best hunting for license plates here.