Thursday, April 27, 2017


We decided to spend our Easter weekend traveling through Tennessee. Our destination was Nashville. In order to save a hotel stay (as well as Chicago’s rush hour traffic) we got up in the middle of the night, and were on the road by 2:30 AM. We zoomed right through Chicago without a single delay. And about six hours into our trip we hit our first new county – Lawrence County, Indiana. We continued south on HWY 37, picking up Orange and Crawford Counties as well. We had to take a little side trip to cross over into Perry County as well. From there we headed back onto I-64 and straight towards Kentucky.

Just prior to crossing the Ohio River we made our first stop for gas. We’d been on the road 7.5 hours and had made great time. We then crossed the river into Kentucky and Meade County. From there we headed west to pick up the out of reach Hancock County. We drove through Breckinridge County, then passed by the small town of Cloverport before crossing the border into Hancock County on HWY 60. Getting Hancock County on Friday would save us about 30 minutes on our return trip three days later.

From there we headed in a southern direction through the rural backroads of Kentucky. Near the tiny community of Neafus is a tri-county area. Within about a minute we drove through Grayson, Ohio and Butler Counties. We found our way onto HWY 70, crossed the Green River into Muhlenberg County, then headed south on HWY 431 into Logan County – our last new county of the day. It also marked county number 1571 for us -the exact halfway point from finishing our county collecting goal! From there we headed straight to our hotel – the Hyatt Place Nashville Airport. Our total drive time for the day was about 12 hours. Since we had made such great time, we decided to visit Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage Estate – something we were originally planning to do on Monday. We arrived about 90 minutes before they closed. And by then the majority of other tourists had already left. So we had a fairly private self-guided tour of the grounds. We even managed to get a rare photo of Jackson’s death bed. We may have been the last people to leave for the day. After leaving the Hermitage we stopped for supper at a nearby Golden Corral before retiring to our hotel for the night.

On Saturday we took a side road trip while the kids slept in. Since we’d been so tired the night before, we’d gotten a great night’s sleep. And we were up by 6:00 AM. After a quick breakfast in the hotel, we headed out. Our goal for the day was to pick up several counties in Central Tennessee. Initially we headed east on I-40. Before long we were driving through Smith County. From there we took a side trip toward the direction of Granville. A few miles short of it we crossed into Jackson County. From there we doubled back and headed mostly southwest, picking up Putnam County. Shortly before entering Dekalb County we had to make a pit stop for gas in the tiny city of Silver Point. The bathrooms were out of order. So I had to use an outhouse – which had no toilet paper. Thankfully I didn’t need to sit down. From there we went southwest and picked up both Dekalb and Cannon Counties. We then turned east and crossed over into Warren County. While there we stopped in Rock Island State Park and stopped to see the Great Falls. We then crossed the Caney Fork and got into White County – where we saw the Twin Falls.

After leaving the waterfall area we headed southeast towards another tri-county area where we picked up Van Buren, Bledsoe and Sequatchie. While wandering through the southeast corner of Van Buren County we got lost on a series of dirt roads that weaved its way through a Mennonite Community. We nearly scared a bicyclist who appeared to think we were following him. Eventually we made it back out onto HWY 111.

We then started back to Nashville. But we had one more stop on the way. We ended up driving through a few counties we’d already been to. But eventually we found ourselves at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg – which got us to Moore County. For the second-smallest county in the state, the Distillery is extremely popular. We decided not to tour since the lines were very long. But we did pay a visit to Mr. Daniel’s grave! From there we left Lynchburg, headed west on HWY 129 and crossing into Lincoln County (our last new county of the day) and heading back north to Nashville.

Once we got back to Nashville we picked up the kids and took in some sights in downtown Nashville – including a life sized replica of the Parthenon in Greece. We also stopped at the Capitol Building to visit the gravesite of President James K. Polk.

On Sunday we started our trip back home. But seeing as we had some county collecting to do, we decided to spread it out over two days. So prior to heading back north we decided to do one final drive through town before heading west to pick up several counties west of Nashville. We traveled I-40 and picked up Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys, Benton, Decatur, Carroll and Henderson Counties. We then doubled back to HWY 13, heading south for a few miles to pick up Perry County before heading back north. We stopped at the Dollar General Store near the community of Tennessee Ridge (in Houston County) where we heard a loud argument between an older couple which culminated in the memorable scream “That’s not dog food – it’s charcoal!”

We continued west and north, hitting Stewart County, crossing over the Kentucky Lake into Henry County, then crossing north into Kentucky itself and Calloway County.

Once we got into Kentucky we traveled northwest. We crossed back over the Kentucky Lake and entered the Land Between the Lake National Recreation – which was located in Trigg County. We took a little diversion there to go into a fenced-off wildlife area to look for elk and bison. We saw several elk. But the bison stayed hidden. Once we left we continued back north and entered Lyon County.

From there we headed in a mostly northern path, passing through Caldwell, Crittenden and Union Counties. When we got to the tiny town of Boxville we headed east into both McLean and Daviess Counties – our last two new counties of the day. We stopped in Henderson to eat supper at the KFC Buffet before heading to our hotel, the Home 2 Suites by Hilton in Evanston, Indiana.

On Monday we drove home. But before doing so we drove to HWY 231 and headed north to pick up Spencer, Martin and Dubois Counties – the latter being our final new county of the trip, as well as the very last county we needed to visit in the state of Indiana. 10 states down, 40 to go!

When it was all said and done we’d reached the halfway point of county collecting and had picked up 46 new counties – not bad for a weekend road trip. What’s next? We have a road trip to Utah planned for June. Will something pop up before that? Who knows! Stay tuned!

                                                NEW COUNTIES - 46
                                                TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2017 - 84
                                                ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 1605

7/17/17 UPDATE: We recently realized that in putting our county list together, we had inadvertently failed to include two counties that we had previously entered. On a summer, 2014 road trip, we went to Disneyland in California (Orange County). And upon leaving Disneyland for Las Vegas, we entered Riverside County as well. So even though it says 1605 total counties in this post above, the actual number at the time was 1607.

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