With the kids out of school for spring break, we planned a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando. We decided to fly down to Orlando – which is in Orange County, a place we’d been to already. But we drove back home. And that allowed us to hit several new counties along the way. Wednesday through Saturday were spent at the parks. On Thursday night we drove into the nearby Seminole County – just because it was close by, and we wouldn’t be entering it on the drive back home. We’d planned to leave the park early on Saturday anyway. But the rain made it an even easier decision. We left around 11:00, picked up our stuff at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on the Universal property, got in the car, and headed north.
We had two days to get back home. So it didn’t afford us our normal sightseeing for interesting things. We pretty much drove and drove and drove. The only time we veered off the path was to hit some close-by counties. Our first step was to hop on the Florida Turnpike. Shortly thereafter we entered Lake and Sumter Counties. It was in the latter that we got onto I-75 – our main interstate for the first half of the trip home. We continued north through Marion, Alachua and Columbia Counties. It was in Alachua County where we picked up our first bonus county. We got off on HWY 41, drove a mile or two and entered Union County. Once we crossed over we turned around and headed back onto I-75.
As we got closer to the Georgia border we drove through Suwanee and Hamilton Counties. We got off the highway near the small city of Jennings. We went into town and took HWY 41 into Georgia. This route paralleled I-75. But it allowed us to cross the state line into Echols County – a county we would have missed had we stayed on I-75. Two miles later we entered Lowndes County and got back onto I-75.
As we passed by the city of Valdosta we got off I-75 onto HWY 133. One mile later we crossed into Brooks County. As with many bonus counties, we again crossed over, turned around, and headed back to the highway. From there we continued north into Cook County. Several miles later we got off the highway once again near the city of Lenox. We first drove west, hitting the county of Colquit. We then double-backed and went east, crossing into Berrien County. This area had some very high water at the time and no doubt had suffered some flood damage.
From there we drove north into Tift County. A few miles north of Tifton we got off the highway again, headed east, then traveled about two miles into Irwin County. We then got back on I-75, entering Turner and Crisp Counties. Soon after we crossed into Crisp County we got off in the small city of Arabi. Worth County was seven or eight miles away. Normally we wouldn’t travel this far on a trip like this. But this county was a little out of the way in terms of where future trips will take us. So we made the effort this time around. No county left behind…
After getting back on I-75 we trudged forward into Dooly and Houston Counties. A few miles past the city of Perry we got off on HWY 341 and headed on a parallel route to the interstate, picking up Peach, Crawford, Upson, Pike and Fayette Counties. From there we headed straight to our hotel, the Homewood Suites Atlanta Kennesaw. We checked in around 10:00 and got a good night’s sleep.
On Sunday we had a 13-hour drive in front of us. With food and bathroom stops it would be even more. Unfortunately we had a few traffic problems as well. We started north on I-75. Somewhere between Kennesaw and the Tennessee border we ran into our first traffic issue. Two lanes were closed, causing a backup of about 45 minutes. We also saw a car completely engulfed in flames on the other side of the highway. As we got into Tennessee there were also some slow spots near Chattanooga – a place that has caused us slow-downs in the past as well.
Once we got past Chattanooga we found ourselves on I-24 heading northwest. When we got near the city of Pelham, we got off onto HWY 50, headed southwest for about a mile and crossed into Franklin County. We’d traveled this exact interstate a year (to the day) earlier. But we’d been more pressed for time that day and unable to make little side trips to hit nearby counties. But today it was a no-brainer. Once we crossed over we headed back onto I-24.
Just past Murfreesboro we got off I-24 and went north on HWY 840. We basically went north hitting Wilson, Trousdale and Macon Counties – the latter of which required a one-mile drive off the main road. From there we headed about five miles further north, crossing into Kentucky, and picking up Allen County.
We continued north, hooking up with I-65. As we’d driven this route before, we went quite awhile before another new county could be reached. But about 30 miles after we crossed into Indiana we got our opportunity. We got off the highway near the city of Scottsburg, where we headed a few miles east on HWY 56. When the road turned north we picked up both Jefferson and Jennings Counties. And with those behind us, our new county collecting for the trip was done. From there we set the GPS to home and spent the next six hours getting there. We arrived at 11:40 and were in bed by midnight.
When it was all said and done we’d entered 34 new counties in five states. What’s next for us? I don’t know. Other than an Alaskan cruise, nothing is planned. But my guess is that we’ll do something between now and then. We usually go somewhere Memorial Day weekend. And I suspect that we’ll get to Nashville and northern Minnesota at some point this year. Anyway, stay tuned!
NEW COUNTIES - 34
TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2016 - 81
ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1346