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We were in Reno for a week for our family reunion, and since it is my goal to visit all 3,143 counties in the United States, I knew that I wanted to take one day to take a county trip.  I looked at a couple of different options, but since I also wanted to pick up a new state (Idaho), I decided to go east from Reno, then up into Idaho before coming back via SE Oregon.

Several of my kids are also county counters, so they also wanted to take part in it.  Originally I was going to take 4 of them, but my 5 year old backed out at the last minute, leaving me with my 12, 9 and 7 year olds in the car with me.

Since we had a long day ahead of us, we started about 4:30 in the morning.  We sleepily made our way to the car and headed east on Interstate 80.  Our first stop of the day was a bathroom break just after the sun came up, where we stopped at one of the ghetto “rest areas” in the middle of nowhere.  There was a giant bug in the women’s restroom so my daughter used the men’s room (there was nobody else there).

We had decided not to take any of the “screens” that we could have.  No iPads, DVD player, Gameboys (we’re old school 😀 ), etc.  I find that often-times these just lead to more fighting.  Especially with as many kids as we have, unless we have 6 of THE EXACT SAME THING, then they just fight over who gets which one…

So how did we pass the time?  We listened to some music as well as playing the time-worn “Alphabet game”.

We actually played the alphabet game a few times – my favorite time was finding the Z on a urinal in the bathroom where we stopped for gas!


When you’re playing the alphabet game, a Z anywhere is like gold!


First new state of the day

Our first new state of the day came several hours in (Nevada is BIG!).  We turned off I-80 to go north on US 93 and into Idaho.  None of us had been in Nevada before this week, so we were all excited for a 2nd new state.


The kids in Idaho as well as a collection of some of the county signs that we visited throughout the day.  Everyone was also excited to see a “Speed Limit 80” sign in Idaho that we had not seen before (not pictured)

County signsWe made our way up into Twin Falls and then west on I-84.  We took a side trip on I-184 into Boise where we stopped by the state capital.


Into Oregon, and the fuel situation gets a bit dicey

From I-84 west, we got off on ID 55 and then to US 95 south.  Quickly crossing into Oregon


In the early afternoon, the early morning finally caught up with the kids – I looked over and noticed that everyone was asleep!

Sleeping Kids

My concern was our rapidly diminishing fuel gauge.  I had passed by a gas station right across the Oregon border because it was super expensive and according to the car, I had almost 150 miles left in the tank.  But then…. nothing.  I knew that this was the middle of nowhere, but I underestimated how long it would be between services.

With no cell service, all I had was my atlas, and the towns we had were just dots on the map – no real indication of how big they might be.  We passed through 2 “towns” that barely qualified for the name, and I set my sights on McDermitt, Nevada.  There was an airport sign on the map, which seemed like a good sign, and I knew that oftentimes right on the Nevada state line there are gambling establishments.

I could tell I wasn’t going to make it all the way down to Winnemucca, so I crossed my fingers and…


Success! With 16 miles to go in the tank, we reached liquid gold!  The rest of the trip was pretty straight-forward.  We stopped for dinner in Winnemucca and then retraced our steps on I-80 west back to our condo in Reno.

It was a great trip and even without the electronics nobody fought or argued.  People sometimes ask me how we do it without the electronics, and I’m not really sure.  Some of the thoughts I have are

  • These trips are kind of “special” trips and the kids are excited to do them.
  • Frequent stops for various activities (even as simple as just stopping for some McDonalds)
  • It’s only a subset of the kids.  I often notice that whenever I only have SOME of my kids, they’re much better behaved.

I hope you enjoyed the trip report – do you track your states or counties visited?

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