Thursday, December 4, 2014

MINNESOTA MINI ROAD TRIP


We spent Thanksgiving weekend with my fiancĂ©’s parents in Rice Lake (Barron County, WI). The kids wanted to go see the new “Hunger Games” movie with grandma. So we used the time to take an impromptu trip into Northern Minnesota. Our plan was to stop in Duluth to see the Bentleyville Christmas lights display in Canal Park. To say the display was phenomenal would be an understatement. Unfortunately the highways were backed up for miles. And stopping just wasn’t feasible. We did however get an incredible view from highway 61 heading north. So we just kept going.
Our county destinations were Lake and Cook – two fairly remote ones in the Northeast Minnesota corner. So we headed up highway 61, hitting such metropolises as Two Harbors and Silver Bay. We saw a sign for the “Spirit of Gitche Gumee” – which reminded me of the Gordon Lightfoot song “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.” It turned out to be a restaurant.

As this highway to the Canadian border parallels the northern shores of Lake Superior, I suspect it’s a very scenic drive during the day. However, under the darkness of night… not so much. The main highlight was two small tunnels that seemed unnecessary in the middle nowhere. We ended up traveling 70 miles past Duluth and into and out of Lake County before we finally saw the sign for Cook County. We quickly entered it, turned around and headed back. I did stop to take a picture, hopping out in my bare feet into a little bit of snow. The dark picture was hardly worth the cold feet. But hey, we were there!



Rather than take highway 53 from Duluth back to Rice Lake, we decided to stay on Interstate 35 and headed south through Minnesota. We had yet to hit any of the Minnesota counties that border Wisconsin in that area. After a brief stop at a Dairy Queen in Cloquet to get some ice cream for the road, we hit Carlton, Pine and Chisago counties on the way back down south. Our destination was highway 8 in North Branch, which would take us right back to Rice Lake. A quick look at a map saw that the turnoff in North Branch was actually only a mile-and-a-half from the Isanti County border. So we took a right turn, hit Isanti, turned around and headed back to Rice Lake.
In the end our Minnesota side trip netted six new counties, bringing our 2014 total to 322, and our overall total to 762.

3142 COUNTIES

Welcome to my new blog!

I love to travel. I've been to all 50 states. With the exception of Alaska (once) and Delaware (twice) I've been to each state at least three times. My two daughters have been to all 50 as well. In 2012 I got engaged to my lovely fiancé. A love of travel is something we share. Our first trip together was in May, 2012. Since then we've managed to visit 48 states together. Only Alaska and Hawaii are left.

We decided to set some travel goals. Obviously we wanted to hit all 50 states together. She also wanted to get her two daughters to all 50 states before they graduated from high school. Two road trips in 2015, an Alaskan cruise in 2016 and our wedding on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2017 will accomplish all of those tasks.

But there is one much larger goal. It's something we didn't initially set out to do. But it's something that seemed doable once we looked into it. And that goal is to set foot in all 3142 counties, parishes, boroughs, census areas and independent cities in the United States. As of this writing we've reached 762 of them - the last six of which are detailed in the post above. So we're roughly 1/4 of the way there. Hey, it's a start!

We're not the only ones who are doing this. In fact if you scan the internet you'll find a few clubs of people who are making the same attempt. Some of them have actually completed the task. What constitutes visiting a county? That seems to vary from person to person. As far as we're concerned, if you're in the county (not flying over it) in any way shape or form, it counts. Does that mean sometimes driving to a county line, going in, then turning right back around? Absolutely! But when you have 3142 of them to hit, you have to set some limited parameters. Besides, if you got struck by lightning and died after crossing one of those turnaround borders, your death certificate would state that you died in that particular county. And it's impossible to die there if you were never there.

So enjoy the blog. If my math is right, we're going to have to average 119 new counties per year for the next 20 years in order to complete this task. Join us on our crazy journey!