Wednesday, October 19, 2016


The third weekend in October found us taking a short road trip with the kids. Our destination was Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. On Friday night we drove to our hotel in Indianapolis – the Hilton, Downtown. With the time change, we arrived pretty late. Unfortunately we ended up sleeping in too late on Saturday morning. We ended up missing our free breakfast. And south of Indianapolis, I-65 had some major construction which cost us about 40 minutes of time. Suddenly our Mammoth Cave tour was in jeopardy. Our tour was at 1:45. And with three hours to go, our GPS said we’d arrive at 1:41. Considering that we still needed to stop and get gas, as well as check in to receive our tickets, we decided to call and change our tour to the following day.

Once we’d changed our tour date, we decided to completely reverse our trip. We immediately went east and headed towards the Cincinnati area near the Indiana/Ohio border. Since we were so close, we decided to stop and visit the grave of President William Henry Harrison. After visiting the president we headed in a southwest direction towards our hotel in Louisville. But as county collectors, we of course took a less-than-direct route.

Our road paralleled the Ohio River for awhile until we crossed into Ohio County – our first new county of the trip. About 10 miles later we entered Switzerland County. These two counties are two of the rarer counties to reach in Indiana. So it was nice to finally get to them. We then stopped for gas before crossing the river and entering the state of Kentucky – and Gallatin County.

We drove past the Kentucky Speedway on the way to our next stop, the city of Sparta. It was a tiny little town. But once we arrived, we drove through it and crossed a little creek, entering Owen County. From there we turned around and went back. We then found I-71and went southwest, all the way to Louisville. This portion of our trip was direct. And we drove through Carroll, Trimble, Henry and Oldham Counties.

We arrived at our hotel (The Embassy Suites by Hilton Louisville East) at a reasonable time. We relaxed the evening away with some Jets Pizza (fantastic and highly recommended) and a swim in the pool.

On Sunday we got up at 5:30. We had five hours before our scheduled tour. But we also had over three hours of driving to do to get there. Our first step was to go south through the cities of Taylorville and Bloomfield, picking up Spencer and Nelson Counties respectively. From there we tried to find the city of Manton. It showed up on maps. But it would not show up on our GPS. And Manton is very close to the tri-County area of Nelson, Washington and Marion Counties. We never actually found a city sign for it. In fact the city may not even exist. Because although we found the road, we saw know evidence of Manton. Our maps didn’t even seem to match the roads in the area. But we found the county signs to verify we were there.

From there we headed mostly south towards the city of Campbellsville and Taylor County. At that point we drove through some windy backwoods roads to another tri-county area of Green, Adair and Metcalfe Counties. We drove through Green County to get there. And in the spirit of “no county left behind,” about five miles south of the town of Exie, we turned onto a road that looked like a driveway. We drove through it (which looked like we passed through the yard of the house next to it) and found a gravel road beyond it. There were no signs. But we entered into Adair County, thus completing our new counties for the weekend. From there we drove west through Metcalfe County and headed right towards Mammoth Cave.

We did the “Domes & Drips” tour – which was very cool. After we were done we began our long drive home. But we made a stop a few miles north of the Cave to see the “Kentucky Stonehenge” – a Stonehenge replica that a guy constructed (with real rocks) in his yard. It was quite a sight to see.

Before heading home, we had one final stop. We stopped in Louisville to drive through the Cave Hill Cemetery for a visit to the gravesites of both Colonel Harland Sanders and the recently-deceased Muhammad Ali.

After that we had about 6.5 hours of driving in front of us to get home. Since there were no new counties to hit along the way, it was a straight shot all the way – which is highly unusual for us!

County-wise we added 16 new ones to our list. That’s relatively small for us. But for a regular two-day weekend, it’s not bad. Now what’s next? Well next month we have a small trip planned for the northeast where we hope to finish off several states. Stay tuned!

                                                NEW COUNTIES - 16
                                                TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2016 - 231
                                                ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1496

Thursday, September 8, 2016


For our family’s summer “road trip’ we decided to take a seven-day cruise instead. Our destination was Alaska – a place that we hadn’t yet visited as a family.

We all flew out to Seattle (via the awesome Southwest Airlines) on the Friday before Labor Day, spending the night at the Hampton Inn & Suites Seattle-Airport/28th Ave. On Saturday morning we boarded our home for the next seven days, the Norwegian Jewel. We’d gotten a suite. So with all the room, we felt like kings. We spent the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday traveling the north Atlantic. Then early Monday morning we docked in the Alaskan city of Ketchikan – located in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, our first new “county” of the trip.

We spent the day wandering the town. It was a little rainy. But we still managed to check out several of the shops, some totem poles and the (now-closed) last brothel in the city. We even saw some seals chasing after salmon.

Later that evening the Jewel took off and headed further north. The following morning we docked in the capital city of Juneau – located in the aptly named Borough of Juneau. We took an excursion out to Mendenhall Lake, where we had a great view of Nugget Falls and the Mendenhall Glacier.


The ship set out again on Tuesday afternoon and headed back south a little bit in order to turn into the Tracy Arm and get to Sawyer Glacier. Since we’d gotten a suite for the cruise, we were invited to a special rooftop viewing complete with blankets, hot chocolate and wine. The views were spectacular. And as we neared the glacier, the water was dotted with various icebergs – remnants of the glacier that had fallen into the water previously. And though it was brief, we were able to see a tiny bit more of it fall into the water. But even that little bit let out quite a thunderous boom.

On Wednesday morning we docked in Skagway – and the Skagway Borough, which was to be our final new U.S. “County” of the trip. While there we took an excursion into the wilderness by way of the Klondike Highway. We actually crossed into Canada, which got us the rare opportunity to get a picture with a “Welcome to Alaska” sign. On the way back we even stopped to drink some water from a waterfall. Our guide assured us that this glacier water was the most pure you could find on Earth, and was perfectly safe to drink. So of course we all tried it – with no issues.

After we got back on the ship, we spent the rest of Wednesday, all day Thursday and Friday morning at sea. On Friday we arrived in Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. We had no real excursions planned. But we did wander into the city to see the Parliament Building. We also stopped at Starbucks to take advantage of the free internet.

On Saturday we arrived back in Seattle. Our cruise was over. But we decided we wouldn’t fly back home until Sunday. So we checked into the Hyatt Place. And since we had virtually all day, we decided to check out Pike Fish Market, the infamous Gum Wall, the Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum, and of course the Space Needle.

All in all it was a great vacation. We were quite impressed with the cruise ship. The staff were beyond excellent. And we met a new friend in a waiter named Prince. We highly recommend him if you ever take an Alaskan cruise. So ask for Prince. He's the best! The Norwegian Cruises are top of the line. You won't find any better.

County-wise we only picked up three new ones. In this case they were our first boroughs. Clearly we’ll need to visit Alaska again. And we will! Incidentally, although we don’t actively collect them, we also picked up two new areas in Canada.

So what’s next? Well we have a brief two-day weekend getaway planned in October for Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Beyond that we have a long weekend planned in November for some of the New England states. Hopefully it won’t be too cold. Stay tuned!

                                                NEW COUNTIES - 3
                                                TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2016 - 215
                                                ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1480