Long before the term ‘bucket list’ became popular, Marion “Irene” Allgayer and her late husband Robert “Bob” were already checking off their list of places to go and things to do.
Robert was born in New Jersey and she in Wilcox, Ariz. She had also lived in Mississippi, Kansas, New Mexico and California and of course Texas. After marrying in March of 1961 they set out to do some traveling.
“I love to travel,” she said. “I love to see the countryside.”
With family and friends sprinkled throughout the states, they made plans to visit all connecting states of the United States.
“We tried to see all 48 states,” she said. “We’ve even been to Canada and Mexico.”
Before her husband passed in 2002, the couple had checked off all but 12 states. Allgayer was able to travel to six of those remaining states this summer, a trip which was the collaborative effort of Allgayer’s daughter, Cathy Wood, and Wood’s daughters, Tracey Wood and Katelyn Mena.
“This was our gift to mom for her 80th birthday,” Wood said.
Allgayer’s birthday will be Saturday, July 27.
“We started with discussing the trip and wanted to keep it a secret and surprise her (Irene),” Wood said.
Katelyn lives in Virginia, so the vacation was also a plan to visit her and take her along on the trip. Wood eventually told her their plans, realizing her mom would have to prepare for the trip.
During their travels from June 22 through July 1, Allgayer was able to check off six of the 12 states she had not visited yet, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Rhode Island.
Wood did the driving, all 4,930 miles in her Ford Focus, while her daughters did the navigating.
The Allgayers, who were both living in El Campo, met when Bob’s son David was a small child.
“Mom was a waitress at a cafe here in town, and dad brought David to the cafe to eat fairly regularly,” Wood said.
They married March 4, 1961 and had two other children, Bruce and Cathy.
Their first travels were to see family in Arizona and New Jersey. One such trip included David and Bruce, who was six months old at the time, to visit her husband’s family in Alabama. They proceeded to New Jersey to see her husband’s two sisters and family as well.
“We went to the Statue of Liberty and New York City,” Allgayer said.
Allgayer had been accustomed to moving around a lot growing up, so she had already been in several states.
“My step-father worked job-to-job in the peach orchards,” she explained. Therefore they moved wherever crops were being harvested. He also harvested prunes, walnuts and peaches.
The Allgayers, who had a love of aircraft, enjoyed traveling to air shows across the country, too.
“Bob almost had his airplane license,” she said. “He loved airplanes. We’ve seen the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.”
Other memorable trips were Niagara Falls, her favorite destination of all the places they’ve visited.
“Niagara Falls is the most beautiful thing,” she said. “Especially from the Canadian side.”
A trip through California’s Redwood National and State Parks was another impressive site to see.
“My second favorite place was the Redwood Forest. It really impressed me. The trees ... you could stand there and it was almost a wall. You’d look up and couldn’t see the top (of the trees),” Allgayer said. “They are humongous.”
They also drove up the west coast.
“It was a beautiful drive,” she said. “Beautiful blue water on one side and on the other side vegetables and wineries.”
Plans for next year’s trip are already being talked about. Allgayer is hoping to check off the remaining six states on her list: North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
“I’ll have to start saving my money now,” Allgayer said.