Although Howard and Barbara Anderson celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Aug. 1, they have marked the milestone for more than a year. To commemorate 50 years, the Del Mar couple is visiting all 50 states.
“He’s the romantic,” said Barbara Anderson, as she smiled at her husband. “I give him all the credit. He’s always been one to want to make our anniversary special.”
The couple launched their more than yearlong trip on their 49th anniversary, with an American Queen Riverboat cruise of the Ohio River, where they visited the first four states — Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
“It was very relaxing,” Howard Anderson said. “There were only about 400 people on the boat. It was fun.”
Following the riverboat cruise in August 2013, the couple visited seven states on the East Coast in September, followed by Utah and Wyoming in October, Hawaii in November and California in December. In February 2014, the couple vacationed in Utah and Colorado, toured the southwest in March, the South in April, Alaska in June and the Midwest in July.
The Andersons recently returned from their 11th trip, where they visited Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana Aug. 12-25.
The couple packs their bags again Sept. 20 through Oct. 2 when they visit Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia.
Howard and Barbara will visit the last three states during their 13th and final trip in November. They plan to land in Kansas, travel through Oklahoma and end their celebration in Texas with the celebration of a new marriage — the wedding of Barbara’s nephew and his fiancée.
“We’re taking just over a year to do it because we can make up the rules,” said Barbara with a laugh.
It was Howard who came up with the idea to visit all 50 states for the couple’s 50th anniversary.
“I thought he surely meant just the ones we’d never been to,” Barbara Anderson said. “Not all 50!”
While every trip has been special, Barbara’s favorite has been the couple’s trip to the South, as it was their first time visiting that part of the country.
The couple tried soft-shell crab for the first time. They visited historic Civil War sites. They also saw the Outer Banks, a 200-mile long string of narrow barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina.
“You hear about that area and you read about it in novels,” she said. “To see that was really neat.”
Howard’s favorite trip was the couple’s trip to Alaska, which included a dog sled ride.
By the time the couple finishes visiting the 50th state, they will have traveled 52,000 miles, which includes 37,500 miles by plane, 13,000 miles by car and 1,500 miles by train, boat or bus. The figure does not include the five miles the Andersons traveled by an all-terrain vehicle and two miles by a dog sled in Alaska.
“That’s twice around the world,” Howard Anderson said.
The long hours and many miles have given the Andersons the opportunity to spend quality time with each other — and plenty of time to talk.
After all, communication is one of the keys to a long and healthy marriage, Barbara Anderson said.
“It’s a chance to talk about things and experience new things together,” Howard Anderson said.
Howard and Barbara Anderson were children when they met. Their families attended the same church in San Diego.
The pair started dating as teenagers and married a couple of years later. Howard was 20 and Barbara was 18 years old.
“We like to say we grew up together,” Barbara said. “A lot of people grow apart when they get married that young. But if you can grow together, you have just that much stronger a foundation.”
The Andersons have lived in Del Mar for nearly 45 years. They have two adult sons and two granddaughters.