On Monday, three friends left Vermont on a quest to drive through all 48 contiguous states in the U.S. in under 120 hours.
It was all in an effort to break an old Guinness record. Guinness no longer recognizes cross-country speed races officially, but that didn’t stop Joshua Keeler, Joey Stocking and Adam Gatherum from packing up a 2005 Toyota Scion and trying.
On Thursday afternoon they completed their goal and obliterated the unofficial record when 106 hours and 43 minutes after they left Vermont, they reached the Four Corners where New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah meet.
The three guys in their early 20s documented their progress along the way on their Web site, greatamericanroadtrip.us , with pictures, progress updates and blogs. They also used a global positioning system to help document and prove that they had in fact touched all 48 states.
“Well, we made it. And we decimated our goal. We covered 48 states in 7,008 miles and did it in 106 hours and 43 minutes,” the three wrote on their blog after reaching the Four Corners. “We couldn’t be happier!! We have seen so much and had an amazing time. The three of us would like to thank all of you who have been along for the ride.”
Not long after they started the trip, their Web site started to get them attention from all over the country and soon from all over the world. The three friends from Utah found themselves doing a lot of media phone interviews from the road.
“We did not expect at all the kind of stuff that’s going on,” said James Keeler, Joshua’s father. “It’s news in Europe, South America, Asia, even Australia.”
They also received a lot of e-mails and comments on their site from people who were tracking their progress and cheering them on.
“We’ve gotten lots of comments and e-mails and things from people who we have inspired them to go and take their trip before it’s too late, or before things happen that will go and make it impossible,” said Keeler. “We’re really pleased with that kind of response and happy we’re helping people to go and live out their dreams, too.”
The idea for the trip originated 15 years ago with the elder Keeler, who planned on trying to break the Guinness record with two of his friends.
“I did it all using paper maps, which means I had to calculate every mile between every town and city in the country by hand,” said James. “It took me six months working on the maps every day.”
Just before he was getting ready to leave on the trip, James’ mother died and as a result the trip never happened. He also said he has had blood clots in his lungs several times and it prevents him from being able to sit for more than a few hours at a time, which made the trip no longer possible.
Then, last September, Joshua came to him with an idea.
“He came to me back in September and said, ‘Dad, do you still have all the maps?’” recalled James. “He grew up with it, starting at age nine, and saw me planning it and he came to me in September and said, ‘We’re going to do the trip.’”
Using his father’s maps and research, Keeler, Stocking and Gatherum chose a route that took them down the East Coast and then looped through the South. From there they zigzagged through the Midwest, cut across the Pacific Northwest, and then looped through California and Nevada before reaching the Four Corners.
The trip took them to many places they had never seen before and many places they said they would like to come back to.
“We’ve seen quite a bit,” said Keeler. “Personally, I really liked going through Maine and the New England area. It seemed like a neat place and there would be a lot to see out there. And that’s someplace that I think I would really like to go back.”
Their trip and Web site seems to have inspired many other people to undertake their own cross-country trips.
“My whole office has been following your adventure, wishing we were young and free and able to do it ourselves,” said one comment on their blog from someone who identified themselves as Greg. “It’s been fun to watch. I think lots of us have talked and dreamed about doing something like your trip, and it’s been great to see someone do more than talk and dream about it.”