With the (recent) turn of the year, thoughts are turned to travel completed during the past year. As many of you know, one of my travel bucket list goals is trying to visit all 3,143 counties in the United States. As part of that goal, I belong to a group called the Extra Miler Club, whose motto is
The shortest distance between 2 points is no fun
It’s that sort of thinking that leads to the following route between Las Vegas and Phoenix
which is the route my son and I took on our 2015 trip to Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon and points in between
Reviewing 2016 travel
Last week, on the Extra Miler Club Facebook group, there were 2 questions asked:
In the year of 2016, I touched at least one new county in 16 different states. Who’s got me beat? Happy New Year to all.
There were lots of comments on that, including someone who visited new counties in 36(!) different states. I looked back through my travel, and realized I visited a new county in 19 different states (one more than in 2015). This was in 5 different trips
- In February, we surprised the kids with a trip to Disney World as part of the Traveling Dad conference. We drove down, stopping in new counties in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia
- In May, on our way to Seattle, we took the Amtrak Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle, passing through Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Washington (in addition to Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana)
- In July, we had a family reunion in Branson, Missouri [Top 5 things to do in Branson Missouri for families]. We drove there and back, as well as a mid-week county trip, I visited new counties in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, in addition to 9 new counties in Tennessee (previously mentioned), fixing a problem I’d had since 2008. We also visited the tri-point markers of OK / KS / MO and MO / OK / AR.
- In September, I flew out to Seattle. While there, I first flew up to Ketchikan, Alaska (picking up my 49th state) and then did a road trip through northwest Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. I also visited Point Roberts, Washington, an exclave of the United States that’s only accessible on land by driving THROUGH Canada to get to it. [Point Roberts, Washington – it’s harder to get to than you think!]
- In October, my daughter and I took a weekend trip to New York City. We flew into Newark [The cheapest and best way from Newark Airport to Manhattan] visiting new counties in New Jersey and New York. Even if I made a few mistakes, we had an awesome time, including a great New York City pizza tour.
Here is my updated counties visited map
It was 181 new counties in all, not as good as 2015, but still my 3rd best year ever behind the 240 new counties I visited in 2007 and 210 counties in 2015.
In addition to those 19 states I visited, I also visited previously visited counties in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, Utah and the District of Columbia, for a total of 26 states plus DC visited in 2016!
Consecutive years with a county
Someone also posted that …”I have collected at least one new county every year since 1985 (that’s 31 years in a row). I’m the tortoise, not the hare. How many of you have a longer streak?”
I looked through my notes and found that ever since 1996, when I spent the entire year in the Dominican Republic as a Mormon missionary, I have gotten at least one new county every year! From 1997 to 2016 is 19 consecutive years! Some of those were close – 1999’s only new county was a trip to Phoenix, Arizona (Maricopa County!) to visit my sister. 2006’s visit to every county in Ohio in only 24 hours was the start of this travel goal!
I know that this type of “boring” domestic travel isn’t what you’ll read about on many travel blogs where it seems like all we talk about are first class flights and 5 star hotels, but this is still travel, and I’m sure that many of you travel like this too!
2016 was a good year for international travel as well. We only took one international plane trip, but My wife and my first class trip around the world took us to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates.
I also visited Canada (and of course the United States) for a total of 7 countries visited in 2016. Hoping to improve on that total in 2017!
Looking forward to 2017
So far in 2017, I have a trip with my son planned to West Texas to visit Carlsbad Caverns, NM and to visit the highest point in Texas (Guadalupe Peak). My wife and I are also flying lie flat seats to Peru, and we are planning a trip out to California as a family over spring break to visit my sister. We may take another trip down to Disney for another conference, and there are a few other plans still in various stages of planning.
So what about you? How many new countries, states or counties did you visit in 2016, or what other travel goals did you meet in 2016?