Sunday, August 16, 2009

a road trip (semi-running related)

On one of my first posts, I mentioned that one of my goals is to visit all 50 U.S states. I can chalk up Iowa now, which brings my total to 43. The Iowa border is about 11 hours from Hoover, Alabama and I figured that since I wanted to race in Memphis, it was on the way and more than 1/3 of the way there. I need Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico. Only a lunatic would drive almost 7 hours each way to see a small town in a new state. They call me Crazy Justin for a reason.
In my defense, I am not the only one who would do something like this. Check out the site and search "visit all 50 states"
I set this goal around the end of college and had been to about 25 states at the time. To clarify, here are my rules:
-Airport layovers do not count. Runways look the same everywhere.
-Drive and ride throughs count but if I am in charge, I make it a point to at least stop at a diner or even a gas station so that way I step foot on state grounds and maybe take in some of the culture.
-I need not spend a night there or even have a memorable experience.
As for my record, most of my 43 states have included a memorable experience but some would say that I have cheated a little. Here's how.
I did have significant experiences in Michigan, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut but I was not old enough to remember it. I will return to the area for the Boston marathon someday and did return to Michigan in 2008 for a few minutes.
I spent less than an hour in the following states and only stopped at gas stations or restaurants:
Michigan (Chicago half marathon in '08), about 90 minutes out of the way.
Wisconsin (also Chicago half marathon, 55 miles away)
Kansas- road trip to the Ozarks in NW Arkansas, only about 2 hours out of the way
Washington-just across the river from Portland, OR airport for Eugene marathon.
Arizona- just a ride through the NW corner but saw some amazing scenery.
Iowa- SE corner. for going this far out of my way, I certainly deserve to count this.
For this road trip:
I don't care if it's politically incorrect to say this. I love America and all it different cultures and varied landscapes. I left Birmingham and made my way to US-78 toward Memphis. I drove around Tupelo, MS for a while before my dinner then hit TN by the end of the day. After my race, I picked up I-55, which crossed into AR then MO. North MS was gently rolling but AR and southern MO were flat and straight. However, as I got closer to St. Louis, the terrain became quite hilly. I was supposed to pick up I-64 before US-61 but it was closed and I lost almost an hour going back to the interstate and ended up on I-70 before finally picking up US-61 just NW of St. Louis. I drove through Hannibal, home of Mark Twain. The terrain flattened a bit as I approached Iowa and by dinner time, I had crossed the border and stopped at a Subway in the town of Keokuk. On the way back, I drove mostly on the Illinois side, which had a bit of a different feel than MO (more corn fields but mostly gentle rolling hills). From there, I picked up I-24 in southern IL, which took me through KY to Nashville, TN. From there, it was I-65 to Birmingham.
Will I do something like this again? Probably not on this scale and I won't have to.
2010: Fly to Denver, cut through a corner of Wyoming and Nebraska then head south to New Mexico and fly home from Albuquerque
2011: race in Spokane or Couere D'Alene, ID and drive about 3 hours to Missoula, Montana.
This will complete the lower 48.

visited 43 states (86%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Like this? try: Sea Level Rise

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