In 1996, Seattle's local KING 5 TV station ran a segment on Evening Magazine that featured a Wisconsin couple, Ted and Jane Tofari, who had set out to visit every county in the United States. They left their jobs, packed up their belongings and invested in an RV that became their new home on the road.
I suddenly realized that I was not the only one to take up this idea. There were others out there.
I called the television station and requested Ted and Jane's contact information, which they provided. I wrote to the Tofaris, and to my delight, they replied. We exchanged personal accounts of travels in letters over the next few months, and for the first time, I had sympathetic pals who understood "why" I was doing what I was doing. They introduced me to an organization whose members' common goal is to visit every county in the US -- The Extra Miler Club.
In short order, I contacted the Extra Miler Club, and quickly received a generous welcome packet of information, including a thick blue paper binder filled with state maps and a tally sheet. Embedded in the binder was a handwritten note from Roy Carson, charter member and, at the time, Secretary of the organization, personally welcoming me to the group. I was assigned an ID -- EMC-188. One hundred and eighty-eight people all pursuing the same goal; eleven had already crossed the finish line. At the time, I had only completed about 250 counties.
The Extra Miler Club is still operating today, though I have been out of touch with them now for years, owing only to my own lack of effort to stay current. The tally sheet provided the means by which I could then start tracking my progress. Eventually, I bought a United States county map, printed on an oversized sheet of paper, that I still use to track visited counties. You can see this map in the U.S. Map of Counties post. The map is so large that I keep it rolled up and stored in a tube and take it with me on road trips. At the end of each day on the road, I mark each county by filling them in using colored pencils. The different colors help me to visually separate each of the counties, plus I think it's a rather appealing way to see progress. Eventually, I added an Excel spreadsheet (see below) using data I was able to download from the U.S. Census Bureau as a secondary means of tracking totals and calculating percentage of completion.
US States and Counties Tracker Document
If you are interested in keeping track of the counties you've visited, the linked Excel file below contains a list of all counties, census areas, parishes, boroughs and independent cities grouped by state. I've created a rule for each county row that will change the color of the county cell to aqua if you place an "X" in the corresponding Visited? column. It will also automatically tally the number of counties you've visited at the bottom of the list and give you an updated percentage of completion number. There is a separate worksheet (tab) in the file that lists all of the national parks in case you want to track those as well.
Today's county line travel photo comes from western Virginia, taken on October 2, 2020:
. . . Until next time, dear travelers, may all your journeys be safe and rich in experience!