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  1. Default 48 state challenge

    Hi folks,

    I'm new to the Forums, and just wanted to say that I found the advice and ideas very helpful. I have quite a hefty idea myself, and was wondering what sort of advice you might have.

    At my college at Birmingham, Alabama, we are given the month of January to take an alternative class or travel (with a purpose, of course). If we travel, we have to keep an elaborate journal and make a presentation at the end of the journey.

    Anyway, for January this year, three friends and I are looking to hit all of the continental United States in the course of approximately 21-24 days. We are going to rent a van, and all chip in equally for gas/lodging. We are members of Sigma Chi fraternity, and will be stopping at Sigma Chi houses as much as possible for a free stay. We also don't mind sleeping the van. We're pretty low-maintenance.

    I was wondering where we could find help in plotting this trip, if anyone had any loosely suggested routes, and any other sort of advice you have. Is it even plausible, esp. with it taking place in the winter months? We're hoping it can be a trip we tell the kids about, but want to a have a clear itinerary.

    Thanks a bunch, everyone. We're open to anything.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default "With a purpose"


    Though I'm not sure I understand "the purpose" from a pedagogic point of view, I think this can be done (at first I thought "no way"). If all you have to do is touch the 48 states, I found a general route that accomplishes the task in about 10,000 miles. In 20 days, that averages out to 500 miles/10 hours per day. But given the winter time of year, having 4 extra days will allow for inevitable delays.

    Leaving Birmingham, if you hit all of these cities and towns, or ones nearby, you should touch all 48 contiguous states and as a bonus, the District of Columbia! See what you think:

    Birmingham, AL
    Jacksonville, FL
    Washington, DC
    Wilmington, DE
    Providence, RI
    Kittery, ME (across the river north of Portsmouth, NH)
    Battleboro, VT
    Scranton, PA
    Hagerstown, MD
    Fairmont, WV
    Knoxville, TN
    Cincinnati, OH
    South Bend, IN
    Bertrand, MI (just north of South Bend, IN)
    Madison, WI
    Mason City, IA
    Fargo, ND
    Rapid City, SD
    Billings, MT
    Kennewick, WA (SE corner of the state)
    Susanville, CA
    Cedar City, UT
    Flagstaff, AZ (with a detour through the Grand Canyon)
    Santa Fe, NM
    Colorado Springs, CO
    McCook, NE (south of Platte City, NE)
    Kansas City, MO
    Tulsa, OK
    Mt. Pleasant, TX (NE corner of the state)
    Texarkansas, AR (SW corner of the state)
    Shreveport, LA
    Birmingham, AL

    I don't have any idea how many frat houses you can visit, but I doubt if there will be many because you need to do all of 500 miles per day, or more, to make the schedule.

    If you really do this, send missives from the road. We'd love to hear of your progress, pitfalls and prevailings.

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Here is an excellent route

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDonne View Post
    I was wondering where we could find help in plotting this trip,
    This site has the best working route I have ever find for such a speed run. (Click on the Our Journey icon). Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Another idea

    Another poster did a pretty similar trip a couple years ago. You can check out his experiences in this thread.

    One thing you'll note is that his trip was done in just under 30 days, and your trip will be looking to shave off about a week from his rushed schedule. That means you really will have to work at doing this as efficantly as possible, with basically no time to stop and see anything. I also suspect it will limit your ability to stop at frat houses, because they will have to be directly on your way at the exact point where you are looking to stop for the night - any significant detours would make it difficult to complete your trip on time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Time Saver on Quest-4 Route

    I agree with Mark that the Quest-4 route looks pretty efficient. I'm thinking you can easily shave about 2 or more days off of it by only touching on Florida since their route goes to the very southern tip.

  6. Default

    Thanks for your help so far. We'll definitly take into consideration your routes and advice.

    As far as "purpose" goes, the four of us are all English majors, so we want to about to write extensively about our journey and present it at some point before the English faculty and our classmates. There will most certainly be a blog, so we'll keep you posted.

    We are also seniors and close friends. We have made several road trips before (by throwing a dart on a map of the US and then going wherever it lands) and are looking to make our most ambitious trip yet. The "48 States" idea is something we just need to get our of system, I suppose.

    Thanks again for all your help. I am going to share all information with the group.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Life Learning Credits

    I got my degree at a college that also allowed for the earning of credits for real-life learning experiences. You took a class that taught you how to prepare the paper and presentation, and then prepared an extensive document to prove what you've learned. I only did it for 8 credits but it was very valuable. It made me reflect on certain experiences and clarify for myself what my values are and how my life experiences brought me to those values. I really feel that I learned more from this forced self-reflection than I did in several other classes I took....not all classes, I got some fine instruction. But it was a worthy project. I'm sure your adventure will yield similar benefits.

    I'll look forward to seeing your blog.

    In the winter months, weather could be an issue. While most interstates are kept relatively safe for driving during the winter, an unexpected extreme weather condition like a blizzard can definitely cause delays. I would suggest making extremely good time when you can so you have a bit of leeway in your schedule for a layover if weather demands it.

    Check out our Gear-Up section for lots of tips on things to carry so you're prepared for bad-luck situations.

    Do you need any other help planning this trip? We're here to help!

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