Wednesday, November 22, 2017


For our (probable) last county collecting trip for the year, we found some cheap Southwest flights to Nashville. So at 5:05 AM, we were off! We landed in Nashville before 7:00, got our rental car (a Nissan Versa) and headed southeast on I-24 out of Nashville.

We actually had a couple of hours of driving before we were able to reach our first new county of the day. We entered the state of Georgia, then headed southwest on I-59 into Alabama. As we crossed into Alabama we picked up DeKalb County – our first new county of the trip. We got off the interstate at the city of Fort Payne and got onto HWY 35. We then crossed into Cherokee County. A few miles later we crossed back into Georgia, and Floyd County. A few miles later we took a detour onto HWY 100, drove about two miles north, and picked up Chatooga County.

From there we headed mostly south and east and crossed into Polk County. When we reached city of Rockmart we stopped for lunch at the Taco Bell/KFC. We ate a little bit of both! With our bellies filled, we went southeast into the small town of Yorkville, picking up Paulding County in the process. At that point we headed south and mostly west back towards Alabama. We picked up Haralson County on the way.

Once we got onto I-20, we drove to Pell City, Alabama. We picked up Calhoun, Talladega and St. Clair Counties on this stretch. When we reached Pell City we got off the interstate and went north on HWY 231. We got onto I-59 for awhile and crossed into Etowah County. We then got off the interstate at the town of Attalla and went northwest on HWY 431. We followed this all the way to our hotel in Huntsville, picking up Marshall and Madison Counties on the way. We spent the night at the La Quinta Inn & Suites.

The following morning we decided to make an impromptu visit to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center located in Huntsville. We learned more about the space race in the 90 minutes we were there than we had ever learned in school. We highly recommend stopping by the museum if you’re ever in the area. Seeing the Space Shuttle Pathfinder up close was amazing. It’s much larger (as are the rocket boosters) that one might expect.

After leaving the Space Center we headed west towards Mississippi. We picked up Lawrence and Franklin Counties along the way. As we approached the state border, we stopped in the small city of Red Bay to pick up a couple of sandwiches from McDonald’s. We then drove a few blocks further, crossed the state line and entered Itawamba County. About three miles later we crossed north into Tishomingo County.

Having finished Mississippi for the day, we headed northeast back into Alabama and Colbert County. We then crossed the Tennessee River and found ourselves in Lauderdale County. Near the town of Stewartville we veered northwest on HWY 20 until we crossed the Tennessee border and entered Wayne County. Since we were so close to Hardin County, we took a slight detour to go get it. So we continued west for a few more miles, crossed over, snapped a few pictures, then headed back.

Our next stop was out hotel in Nashville. We took a northeast route, picking up Lawrence and Lewis Counties on the way back. Once we got back we checked into the Marriott hotel, which was located right across the street from the University of Vanderbilt’s football stadium. We also ran into the Ball State College girls basketball team, who were staying at our hotel, in anticipation of their game against Vanderbilt the next day. Feeling pretty tired, we decided to eat dinner at the hotel restaurant. The next morning we boarded our flight back to Wisconsin.

All in all we picked up 23 new counties over the two days of travel. And we filled in a decent-sized “hole” on our counties map. So what’s next? That remains to be seen. There is nothing currently planned. But no doubt 2018 will take us to some more fantastic places. So stay tuned!

                                                NEW COUNTIES - 23
                                                TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2017 - 194
                                                ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1717

Friday, September 1, 2017


Having been married a few days earlier, we set out to Las Vegas for a short honeymoon. But we didn’t stay put in Vegas very long…

We flew out very early Tuesday morning, arriving in Las Vegas at 7:50 AM. We picked up our Nissan Altima at the car rental place. And thankfully we were able to check into our hotel at the New York New York Hotel & Casino. We spent the rest of the day being lazy, taking naps and watching the Game Show Network. From our hotel window we were able to have a view of the Floyd Mayweather vs Conor Mcgregor press conference. Their big fight was taking place a few days later. In the evening we attended the Cirque Zumanity show at our hotel.

On Wednesday morning we headed south in search of new counties. We headed south on HWY 95 out of Henderson into California. Once we reached HWY 62 we headed east, crossed the Colorado River into the city of Parker, Arizona, and our first new county – La Paz. We continued south on HWY 95, drove through the city of Quartzite, headed south another 13 miles, and crossed into Yuma County. From there we turned around and went back to Quartzsite. The naked bookstore was closed. But we did find the cemetery and grave of Hi Jolly – camel driver from the failed U.S. Camel Corps of the 1800’s.

After leaving Quartzsite we headed west on I-10 back into California. We briefly turned into Joshua Tree National Park, vowing to return to it later in the day. We then turned south onto HWY 86 at the town of Mecca. About 10 miles later we entered Imperial County. Once we got into Salton City we went west on the Borrego Salton Seaway and entered San Diego County. Shortly thereafter we entered the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

We continued another 20 miles until we actually reached the city of Borrego Springs. The surrounding fields of the small city feature 150 metal statues created by artist Ricardo Breceda. The giant statues thrusting out of the California desert are an incredible sight to see, and was well worth the extra time it took to get there.

Upon leaving we headed back north, and stopped for supper at Bill’s Pizza in Palm Springs. After eating we went north on HWY 62 into the city of Joshua Tree, and into Joshua Tree National Park. We took a very brief hike then got back into the car to go back to our hotel. Our return drive took us through the Mojave National Preserve as night fell. And we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. Eventually we hooked back up with the I-15 and made it back to our hotel.

On Thursday morning we got up at 4:30 in the morning and headed out about 5:15. We had a long driving day in front of us. We headed north out of Las Vegas on HWY 93, HWY 318 and HWY 375 – the latter of which has also been dubbed “Extraterrestrial Highway.” From there we got onto HWY 50 – the  which is known as the “Loneliest Road In America.” Are initial destination was the city of Carlin. Along the way we traveled through Lincoln, Nye, White Pine, Eureka and Elko Counties.

At Carlin we headed west on I-20 towards the city of Winnmucca. We went through Lander and Humboldt Counties on the way. At Winnemucca we stopped for lunch at Port O’ Subs. We also went a few blocks further to cross into Pershing County.

Our next destination was Lakeview, Oregon. At one point we had to double back about 10 miles because we weren’t certain we had enough gas to get there. And we had a long drive to the next gas station. We eventually wormed our way through on HWY 140 and crossed the border, picking up Harney County. A few miles later we entered Lake County.

We filled up the gas tank again in Lakeview, gearing up for the final stretch south. About 10 miles south on HWY 395 we crossed into northeast California and Modoc County. We continued south almost all the way to the Nevada border, and traveling through Lassen County on the way. At HWY 70 we turned right, went about four miles, and crossed into Plumas County – our final new county of the day. From there we had another 30 minutes to go. So we headed directly to our hotel – the Nugget Casino in Reno. After 16 hours and 1000 miles on the road, the hotel was a welcome sight.

On Friday morning we left around 8:00 AM for our final drive back to Las Vegas. We headed east on I-80 towards the city of Fallon, and Churchill County. At Fallon we turned south on HWY 95 and drove all the way through Mineral County. As we left Mineral County, we crossed into Esmeralda County – thus completing the state of Nevada for us. But we were not done for the day!

At the city of Coaldale we went southwest, eventually getting onto HWY 264. We followed it all the way into California to the small city of Oasis – population 22. Once we crossed the state border we found ourselves in Mono County. We even found a lone cow on the side of the road. In Oasis we turned south for about a mile until we crossed into Inyo County – our last new county for this trip. But we still weren’t done for the day!

We got back onto the main highway (which took us back into Nevada). From there we continued southwest until we reached the city of Beatty. Just to the west of Beatty stood the ghost town of Rhyolite – which featured the impressive Tom Kelly Bottle House. The ruins of the town have also been featured in a few films.

We continued west for about 10 miles, crossing back into California, and into Death Valley National Park. We drove through the park, eventually reaching Badwater Basin – the lowest elevation spot in the United States. At 282 feet below sea level in the blazing sun, it’s no wonder one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on Earth happened right there. On this day the temperature reached a whopping 121 degrees. The hot breeze felt like it was burning both my eyes and nose. But it was an incredible experience.

After we left the park we headed straight to the Mirage Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. We took in the seafood buffet for dinner, then headed right to the theater for the Cirque Beatles Love show – which was incredible! After the show, we went right to our hotel in Henderson and went to bed. Our flight home the next day was leaving at 6:30 in the morning.

When it was all said and done, we’d entered 22 new counties and had covered a lot of new ground. Several of these counties were very large! So what’s next? That remains to be seen. At present there are no trips planned. But we have a lot of Southwest points and gift cards. So it wouldn’t surprise me if a weekend getaway (or even a road trip) took place before the year ends. So stay tuned!

                                                NEW COUNTIES - 22
                                                TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2017 - 171
                                                ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1694