So this has been a pretty big year for us. Not only did we bring home a new dog member of the family………
But he’s going to be a big brother to our first child this coming January!
Needless to say, as excited as we both are, our availability for travel – especially the type of travel we love best – is going to be dropping from complicated (with the responsibility of a dog) to essentially nonexistent (with a baby…toddler…family).
It’s not that we won’t be able to go anywhere, but truly unplugging in some remote location at the far end of the world will soon be literally impossible for years. And while finding adventure in the everyday is how we try to live our lives, the days of 50 day long road trips from one side of the US to the other are well behind me at this point.
So it’s time for one last ride.
This weekend Ariel is going to a bachelorette party. Next week we are going on a “babymoon” to ALASKA. In between, with a suddenly free weekend of being solo, staring down the barrel of the ultimate responsibility, I decided to move closer to completing TWO of my main travel quests.
Years ago, I decided I wanted to try and reach all 50 states. The only two left of the lower 48 that I haven’t been to are Minnesota and Iowa. With Alaska coming up next week, I decided to sandwich in a quick getaway while I still have the chance.
Here’s the planned route:
It’s a little bit aggressive.
1,020 miles in just about three days works out to about 6 hours on the road per day. I’ve dealt with much worse. The big question I suppose, is really, why even bother with this whole endeavor?
Well here’s what I’ll be crossing off the list over the next three days:
1. Hitting the last two states in the Lower 48. With Alaska next week, that means I will be one state away (Hawaii) from my ultimate goal.
2. Due to an odd quirk in how the border between the United States and Canada was designed (more on that later), I have to actually venture into Canada on this mission. That gives me credit for Manitoba. Along with British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, I’m about halfway to getting all the Canadian Provinces! Actually who am I kidding, when in the world am I ever getting to freakin Nanavut. Still, I’m only Yukon and Saskatchewan away from all the bordering provinces at least. Whatever.
3. If you follow my map, you’ll see I’m heading all the way up into the farthest tip of Minnesota. This is actually the northernmost point in the Lower 48. I’ve already been to the furthest east (Lubec, Maine), south (Key West, FL) and west (Cape Alava, WA) points. AND due to a sheer stroke of luck I stood at the geographic center of the Lower 48 (Lebanon, KS). So this is it for that list. Another sidequest completed.
4. My route takes me to the source of the Mississippi River, the “Field of Dreams” in Iowa, and Fargo, North Dakota! Also Effigy Mounds National Monument and Minneapolis are on this route.
The bigger question – is why now?
Well, to be honest, I really don’t see another opportunity in the immediate future. Maybe ever. Minnesota and Iowa were two states I left off of my epic solo road trip in 2010. Ariel isn’t especially interested. And what circumstance really exists where I would ever bring a child (or an entire family) to either state? No offense, but they don’t exactly rank very high. The priorities – outside of the immediate vicinity of New Jersey – would probably be places like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and other amazing places that Ariel has never been. Certainly the Grand Canyon or the Utah Parks, plus numerous international travel destinations, would come first. And if Ariel and I are going for a mom/dad only weekend getaway…….neither Iowa nor Minnesota are likely to make the cut.
Taking it even a step further, as the name of this blog implies, this – right now – is the time I’ve been given to achieve this goal. Who am I if I don’t take my own advice?
Finally, with our trip to Alaska coming up next week, that means that whenever we go to Hawaii – most likely as a family – I’ll be able to share the ultimate completion of my main travel quest with my future children and wife.
I can think of no better way – even if it doesn’t happen for decades – to reach the finish line, than that.
Stay tuned for updates from the road.