On Hiatus

On April 13, 2014 · 0 Comments

The Twelve Mile Circle will take a little break while I’m collecting new material during the Riverboat Excursion. The driving distances are too great and the number of sites visited too numerous to do them justice in a bunch of rushed articles written from the road. Be assured, I’m gathering great stuff and the wait will be worth it.

In the meantime feel free to follow along in near-real-time with the raw material I’ve been posting to other accounts. These will form the basis of new articles upon my return:

  • The 12MC Twitter Site. I keep forgetting to add as I go although I do catch up eventually.
  • My personal Flickr page. Scores of new photos being added here at the end of each day.
  • The County Count. You may be able to spot subtle differences as I add new counties.

New articles will resume Sunday, April 20.

The Pitch

On April 10, 2014 · 2 Comments

A long-term member of the 12MC community and I were discussing dream jobs lately, ones that combined our slightly obsessive-compulsive list-making tendencies with our respective divergent interests. Mine focused on geographic and historical oddities of multiple flavors tied together with a healthy string of County Counting progressions. The trick, as we thought about it, was to find a way for someone else to finance our peculiarities and allow us to pursue our hobbies professionally. I couldn’t find a feasible solution for my personal situation at the time although I have one now. I simply needed to add my fondness for trashy television to the mix.

Right, it would have to be a pseudo-reality show where I’d travel the countryside in a customized RV, pursing all 3,142 counties and county-equivalents, stopping at geo-oddities while providing historical context, and meeting interesting characters along the way. I’m thinking it would be targeted at the History Channel or its ilk. It might be an amalgamation of How the States Got their Shapes combined with American Pickers and maybe Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy.

I’d need a clever title. "County Counter" might be sufficient. It’s short. It’s descriptive. I think it needs a pun though, and maybe even a double entendre with a salacious second meaning that arouses curiosity and builds an initial audience. Suggestions are welcome.

I’d also need a logline. "Traveling through hidden corridors in pursuit of the real American; one man’s quest to explore the story behind every U.S. county." That’s not catchy enough. I need to find a better hook.

Then I’d need to film a pilot episode. Actually, that already began. I wrote this article in advance and set it to post on Thursday evening thanks to the magic of WordPress software. I’m already on the road heading towards the Riverboat Marathon Series. I’m not a runner, just a driver delivering a runner from site-to-site. Last year I drove between sites at the Dust Bowl Marathon Series and had a wonderful set of adventures (beginning here). One participant even self-published a book about the races. I made a minor appearance as a character known as "Beer Geek." Imagine that.

This is the basic route for the Riverboat Series. Well, not Graceland. I threw that one onto the end for my own enjoyment.



The Basic Route

I appreciated the ideas and suggestions provided by the 12MC audience and some of those will happen during the trip. I’ve done a lot of research and believe everyone will be pleased with the itinerary and the geo-oddity surprises that are likely to unfold in these pages over the next several days. Readers who are anxious to learn the plotline and maybe a few spoilers in near real-time should follow the 12MC Twitter Page (you don’t have to subscribe to Twitter; you can check that link manually). Tweets may have already begun. I guess. I can’t be certain because I wrote this days ago. Certainly I would have tweeted something by now.

I’m not fooling anyone and I don’t plan to quit my day job. My wife has stated on multiple occasions that if I want to travel full-time by RV and become a professional County Counter that it would have to be done with my NEXT wife. Point taken. For the sake of family harmony I hereby release my idea for a television pitch to the public domain. If one of you actually makes it happen, all I request in return is a nice brewpub dinner. Oh, and mention 12MC in the credits. And maybe a guest appearance.

The Article That Nobody Will Ever See

On December 24, 2013 · 9 Comments

Of course you are not a "nobody," it’s meant in a statistical sense. Sure, you and I both stopped here today although we might be the only ones; visitors totals will still come mighty close to zero. Who’s going to read these words I’ve posted on Christmas Eve? Twelve Mile Circle has a diverse audience, and I’m sure even those of different faiths, practices or beliefs will likely have something better to do when everything shuts down around them. Twelve Mile Circle website traffic typically nosedives at this time of year.



No-see-um Lake, Shoshone Co., Idaho, USA

That’s liberating in a sense. I don’t have to develop a real article or wonder whether the topic be a hit or a dud. Instead I’ll share a few statistical tidbits and some upcoming travel plans, and if nobody likes it then it won’t matter. Come back in a few days if you’d prefer.


Numbers

I began Twelve Mile Circle in November 2007 so it just passed its sixth-year anniversary, an uninterrupted string of aimless muttering that I still find difficult to believe. I remember thinking that I shouldn’t start this thing. I was unsure if I’d have enough material or sufficient dedication to last even a month. Maybe it would become a sad, bit-rotted ghost site. That’s irrelevant I suppose since blogs as a format have been declared dead. Again. It’s a good thing I write for myself and not for money or recognition. I’d starve to death while wallowing in my own tears.

Wow, what a cynical introduction. The whole point of this was supposed to announce that I’m expecting to hit 1,000 articles sometime around the end of February if I continue at the current pace. A decent length novel might clock in at around a hundred thousand words. The complete 12MC body of work would hit somewhere around six or seven hundred thousand words. Crazy. I’ll probably have to do something special for that 1,000th article.

Reader-submitted comments will hit 4,000 any day now, so I receive about four comments per article. That’s growing. It was closer to three comments per article a couple of years ago. That increase can be attributed to a loyal group of readers submitting thoughtful and respectful comments regularly. Those often lead to spin-off articles and are always appreciated.

The 12MC Twitter experiment launched in the Spring seems to be going OK. Just OK. I haven’t used Twitter much except to announce new articles, making it somewhat redundant for anyone using an RSS newsreader. I don’t make any special efforts to build followers. I’ll save that for the celebrities. However, I’ve been stuck on 99 Twitter followers for the last couple of weeks and it’s starting to bug me. Won’t someone subscribe already and push that into triple digits so I can ignore it again?


Travel



Riverboat Marathon Series Route

I had such a great time during the Dust Bowl Marathon Series last year that I decided to do it again. I’m not a runner, nor was I last time. I’ll be a driver who transports a runner safely between races.

I think I already mentioned that Mainly Marathons is now sponsoring a Riverboat Series for April 12-16, 2014. That’s five races in five states (Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana) in five days. The only new development for me to note is that I’m definitely going. Plans have been made and reservations have been set. I’m expecting an excellent opportunity for intense County Counting because I have to drive all the way out there. Airline schedules and fares don’t seem to be working out.

Please take a look at the map and let me know of any suggestions for geo-oddities or other cool things to see. I received some great recommendations last year including several places I would not have known about otherwise (e.g., Capulin Volcano). Don’t worry, Bubbleland is already on the agenda. Maybe an adventurous 12MC runner might be interested in one or more half- or full-marathons and/or assorted weird geography?

I pick a different state each year for concentrated travel. Previously I’ve focused on a diversity of places such as Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, Utah’s Great Salt Lake, Oregon’s volcanic interior, and Kentucky’s Appalachian foothills. 2014 will be a little different. I won’t be selecting a state. Instead we’re heading to Ireland in late June or early July, within the vicinity of Killarney. My father will join us and we will visit with his cousins for part of that trip. I’m looking forward to meeting some of the distant relatives, and of course giving Ireland a proper 12MC treatment.

It should be an exciting 2014 on Twelve Mile Circle.

Purpose
12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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