Chicago Sun-Times
A stately welcome

Scripps Howard News Service
(Picked up from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
August 4, 2002

It's only an imaginary line, but somehow driving across a state's boundary makes travelers feel different. Many pile out of their cars for a quick photograph -- something to remember the milestone. Roger Johnson is one of those people.

He started the Welcome to America site, which has photographs of welcome signs for all 50 states Johnson was born in 1970 in St. Paul, Minn. He started taking pictures of signs during a trip to the Grand Canyon in 1989, photographing his first sign in Iowa. In 1996, he completed the project in Hawaii.

Welcome to America is designed to resemble a travel journal. It's a fun site and a great place for kids to learn about geography. Not only does Johnson show a state's welcome sign, but he displays the motto, bird and flag. He now is adding photographs of landmarks, historical sites, state capitals, governors' residences and the highest point in each state.

The Trip Maps section shows the routes Johnson took through the states. He often skirted the edge of a state, just enough to see the sign. One of his trips resulted in a film, "Welcome to Alaska," which he produced with his brother, Rodney.

People who travel with kids might want to consider creating a similar site. It's a good way to get them involved in trip planning, and they might stop asking, "Are we there yet?"

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