In early February we decided to chance the elements and take a trip through the Central U.S. So early on a Thursday morning we flew to Kansas City, as we touched down at the airport, we were officially in Platte County, Missouri – our first new county of the trip. Once we picked up our rental car (a VW Passat) we were off! We went north on I-29 and entered Buchanan County. Once we got to St. Joseph, we crossed the Missouri River and entered Doniphan County in Kansas. We immediately turned around and went back to Missouri. However this was far from our final visit to Kansas on this trip. Once we were back across the state line, we headed north on I-229 and picked up Andrew County. We then got onto I-29 and went northwest until we picked up Holt County. From there we headed west and north, picking up Gentry and Worth Counties, before crossing the Iowa State line in Ringgold County. From here we sort of hovered around the Missouri/Iowa state line and picked up Taylor, Page and Fremont Counties in Iowa, as well as Nodaway and Atchison Counties in Missouri.
After getting back onto I-29, we got off on HWY 2, crossed the Missouri River again, and found ourselves in Nebraska City, NE, and Otoe County. We gassed up in sub-zero weather. Then for the next few hours we headed mostly west on HWY 136 and HWY 4. We drove through Nemaha, Johnson, Gage, Jefferson, Saline, Thayer, Fillmore, Clay, Nuckolls, Webster, Adams, Franklin and Harlan Counties. Near the Franklin/Harlan County line, we went north on HWY 44, entered Kearney County, then went northwest to our hotel (the Rodeway Inn) in Holdrege, in Phelps County.
On Friday we got up early, knowing we had a long day of driving in front of us. For the first few hours of the day, we headed mostly west on both HWY 34 and HWY 6. Along the way we picked up Furnas County (where we drove through the city of Arapahoe), as well as Gosper, Red Willow, Frontier, Hitchcock, Hayes, Chase and Perkins Counties. To pick up Perkins County we had to head north on HWY 61 at the city of Imperial. About 13 miles later we reached the county line, crossed over, and turned around and went back.
From there we continued west and crossed the Colorado state line, picking up Phillips County at the same time. About 10 miles later we got to the city of Holyoke and went south on HWY 385, entering Yuma County. When we got to the city of Wray, we went back east about 10 miles, and crossed into Nebraska, picking up Dundy County at the same time.
We went south on HWY 27, crossed into Kansas, and picked up Cheyenne and Sherman Counties. Once we got to Goodland we hopped onto I-70 and went west. About 12 miles later we were back in Colorado, and Kit Carson County. From there we went south on HWY 385 again, and got into Cheyenne County. At the city of Cheyenne Falls we went west on HWY 40. At the city of Kit Carson we headed south on HWY 287 and entered Kiowa and Prowers Counties. Once we reached HWY 50 we went west for the final stretch of the day. We picked up Bent, Otero, Crowley and Pueblo Counties. We were spending the night in Pueblo. But before doing so, we continued west on HWY 96 and picked up two bonus counties: Fremont and Custer. For Fremont County we had to drive a short distance on a gravel road. We may have inadvertently crossed onto private property at the county line. So we immediately turned around – but did so once we’d crossed that county line. No county left behind! Once we got back to Pueblo, we had a great dinner at the Black-Eyed Pea before heading back to our hotel (the Quality Inn & Suites) for a good night’s sleep after a long day of driving.
On Saturday we devoted our day to more sightseeing type things. Our destination was Santa Fe, NM. We set out on I-25 south and picked up Huerfano County. We continued south and got off at exit 41 in order to pick up Las Animas County. After reaching it (next to a pile of old tires) we turned around and got back on the interstate, this time heading north. We eventually headed west and got to the city of Fort Garland (and Costilla County) where we stopped at a store to pick me up a sweatshirt. Our next stop was Great Sand Dunes National Park (and Alamosa County). The dunes were quite impressive!
After we left the National Park, we continued west and picked up the bonus county of Rio Grande, before continuing south and picking up Conejos County. As we drove south on HWY 285, we eventually crossed into New Mexico and picked up Taos County. Our next destination was Bandelier National Monument. In order to reach it we passed through two counties we’d been before (Rio Arriba and Santa Fe) as well as a brand new county – Los Alamos. Los Alamos County filled in a “hole” on our county map that had alluded us for several years. It was nice to finally cross that one of our list. And Bandelier was very cool as well!
After we left Bandelier, we headed straight to our hotel, the Homewood Suites by Hilton Santa Fe-North. That evening we drove into Santa Fe to see the movie “Cold War” at the Violet Crown Santa Fe. The theater was surprisingly sold out. When it was done, we had hoped to find some dinner somewhere. But most places ended up being closed. So we settled for an Arby’s that was close to our hotel.
On Sunday we started the long trip back. We got on I-25, looped our way around Santa Fe, and worked our way north, picking up San Miguel (where we’d already been), Mora and Colfax Counties. In the city of Springer we got off the interstate and headed east on HWY 412/56. About 15 miles later we veered right on HWY 39 and drove to the Harding County line. We then turned around and got back on the highway heading east. We then crossed into Union County, our last new county in New Mexico for this trip.
As we continued northeast back to Kansas, we found the tri-point marker for New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. In doing so we also picked up Dallam (Texas) and Cimarron (Oklahoma) Counties. About 40 miles later we crossed into Texas (Oklahoma) County, followed shortly by Morton (Kansas) County. By this time we were driving due north along the far western side of the state of Kansas – which was good because we had to head eight miles further west to pick up Baca County, Colorado. From there we got back into Kansas and stayed northbound for quite awhile, driving through Stanton, Hamilton, Greeley and Wallace Counties.
Once we got to Sharon Springs, we went east on HWY 40 until we reached the city of Oakley. We picked up Logan and Gove Counties on the way. Just east of Oakley we got onto I-70 and head north to the city of Colby. A minute later we crossed into Thomas County. At Colby we headed north on HWY 25 for 14 miles in order to pick up the bonus county of Rawlins. From there we got onto HWY 83 and headed northeast, picking up Sheridan and Decatur Counties. We continued mostly east the rest of the day, picking up Norton, Graham, Phillips, Rooks, Smith, Osborne and Mitchell Counties. Once we got into Mitchell County we took HWY 14 north into Jewell County. We took sort of a roundabout way (to avoid muddy back roads) through the cities of Jewell and Randall. We then headed east into Cloud County. Once there, we did end up taking one dirt road for one mile north in order to cross into Republic County. From there we headed straight to Concordia, are final stop for the night. On the way to our hotel (the Holiday Inn Express – Concordia) we stopped to pick up a pizza at Gambino’s Pizza.
On Monday we set off for Kansas City. It was a icy/rainy day at the start. Once we left our hotel, we headed east on HWY 9. Shortly thereafter we crossed into Washington County. Once we reached the city of Clifton, we went south into Clay County. We continued south and east, picking up Riley and Pottawatomie Counties, before heading north on HWY 99 into Marshall County. When we got to HWY 36 we went due east into Nemaha County. We stopped in Seneca to fill up the car with gas. And it was here that we got word that our evening flight had been cancelled due to snow back home. Undeterred, we continued on our county collecting as we tried to contact the airline. We went north on HWY 63 and crossed back into Nebraska, and Pawnee County. From there we went east and picked up Richardson County. We then picked up HWY 75 and took it south for quite awhile. We crossed back into Kansas and picked up Brown and Jackson Counties. At the town of Horton we turned left and went east on HWY 16 into Atchison County. From there we caught HWY 159 south towards Nortonville and crossed into Jefferson County. We continued east into Leavenworth County. We even drove right by the famous Leavenworth prison. From there we headed south into Wyandotte County, our last new county of the trip. At that point we crossed the Missouri River and headed straight to our hotel. The airline could not find us a new flight home. So we were stranded in Kansas City for one more night. We spent the night at the Hyatt Place Kansas City Airport. For dinner we walked over to the Ruby Tuesday nearby. On Tuesday our morning flight ended up being delayed for several hours. So we spent the majority of the day in the airport terminal. But we eventually made it home!
When it was all said and done, we picked up a whopping 103 new counties. The area wasn’t conducive to a lot of sightseeing. But we made the best of it. So what’s next? At this point we have a planned summer vacation to the Carolinas. So stay tuned!
NEW COUNTIES - 103
TOTAL NEW COUNTIES FOR 2019 - 103
ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1955