As I explained in the pre-trip chapters in Section One, I decided to travel the entire “lower 48” because I needed a project. I had recently semi-retired and found myself bored. Since past experience showed me that I frequently got in trouble I wasn’t creating or contributing, I knew I had to get busy. And when I realized I had three wedding related events coming up in Michigan and Florida, it dawned on me I could make them all if I took the really long way around.
I should tell you here that due to a massive hurricane in Florida that sent me running for my life, I had to miss Justin and Betza Wilhelmsen’s wedding in Miami. Fortunately though, I was able to attend and shoot photos at their engagement party in Michigan a few weeks earlier. (See their photo above and here and here.) And yes, I too tell myself we were all that good looking when we were their age, but I really doubt it.
Once I made my decision to do the trip, I laid out the route on MyScenicDrives.com. I then had the monumental task of contacting my friends and families along the way to see if there was room in their inn. What made that task even more daunting was that in order to move forward, I had to think backwards. Now that statement probably makes me sound like I’ve been drinking heavily, but if you bear with me for a minute I think I can explain it so it makes sense.
The aforementioned engagement party for Justin and Betza was on July 2, 2016 in Brighton, Michigan at the home of my lifelong friends, Rick and Margo Wilhelmsen. So with that set in stone, I contacted my friends who might potentially host me prior to landing on Rick and Margo’s doorstep. Once they assured me they were okay with the timing of my visit, I then contacted the potential hosts who would come before them. And so on and so on in reverse order all across the middle of the country back to my starting point of Arizona. (See estimated Route 1 map.)
The same process happened when I left Arizona for the second time to travel the perimeter of the US. I knew I had to be back in Traverse City, Michigan for the “Best. Wedding. Ever.” of the adorable Malory and Dustin Shea on September 4, 2016. So after I booked a free two day hotel stay with credit card points in Traverse City, I started working backwards to connect with my potential hosts across the top of America, then down the West Coast, etc. And lastly, I did it all of that all over again when I left Traverse City, working my way backwards stop by stop until I reached Maine and then down the east coast to Florida, then back to Arizona. (See estimated Route 2 map.)
Was all of that a logistical nightmare? At times it was. Especially when things came up - like when I received that required me to cancel planned visits and drive across eight states for a family emergency. But was all of it worth it? Well thanks to all my wonderful hosts, I can best answer that with the words of one of my favorite songs…(Cue music!)....
Now I had the time of my life. And I owe it all to you.
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