It took 60 days to put our initial virtual journey in the books.
Over 8 weeks during spring 2021, we posted our columns as we took a virtual tour through all 48 states in the continental United States. We highlighted 370 towns and 33 state capitals. We also encountered dozens of rivers, lakes, mountains, highways, parks, museums and landmarks.
Along the way, we had the privilege of interviewing some terrific people across the country.
On the serious end, I talked to the mother of a young boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut as well as the father of a kind Wyoming college student beaten to death just because he was gay. In addition, Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina discussed with us the importance of voting rights and civil rights.
On a lighter note, I spoke with the owner of an Oklahoma cafe that was an inspiration for the movie “Cars” as well as the Massachusetts man who manages his family’s barbershop, the oldest such establishment in the United States.
There’s been a host of interesting places from the Washington town that celebrated skyjacker D.B. Cooper to the Iowa farm field where singer Buddy Holly’s plane crashed to the Illinois community that brought in purple starlings as a way solve its mosquito problem to the town in Idaho that’s 36 miles long and less than 1 mile wide, a set-up designed to skirt the state’s liquor license laws.
We visited the towns where Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln lived as well as the birthplaces of Muhammad Ali and Lucille Ball. There’s also that upstate New York town that was reportedly the setting for the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
On a personal note, I paid virtual visits to the hometowns of my grandfather in Kentucky and my grandmother in Montana as well as the school in the New Orleans area I attended for three years as a child. Plus, let’s not forget Salem, Massachusetts, where two of my great aunts were executed during the 1692 witch hysteria.
I’ve learned so much about this country’s history, culture, geography and people that I could almost put together an encyclopedia.
The research and writing took me nearly 3 years. It was worth every minute and every one of the 400,000 words on the site.
And, now, we continue on.
I am now driving portions of this route in spring and summer, freshening up each of the 60 daily columns as I do.
The first such journey began on March 18, 2022, when my college friend, Mark “Shu” Shuman, and I drove from the San Francisco area to San Antonio on a 10-day trek that took us through the Mojave desert, the Grand Canyon, Albuquerque, El Paso and the hill country of Texas.
The second road trip began on March 26, 2023, when Shu and I drove from San Antonio on a 10-day jaunt that took us to Austin, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Little Rock and, finally, New Orleans.
In July 2023, I also went on a 10-day Northeast adventure with my wife, Mary, and her sister, Marcia Roseme. We visited Long Island in New York as well as Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine.
There’ll also be revisions as events happen in the states and cities we’ve covered. Our first update was posted shortly after the 60th day in our Day 12 column about Louisiana.. The new information included the flooding being experienced that week in Lake Charles, a town hit by two strong hurricanes last year. Since then, at least one column on the 60 Days site has been updated every day.
Finally, we’re going to rely on our readers to help us fill out the site. There is a Travel Center in the lower left box on the 60 Days USA main page. As you plan and take your road trips, fill that out and let us know where you’re going and what you’ve seen.
Wishing everyone safe and enjoyable travels as our nation hits the road.