Most comments on Twelve Mile Circle are made to articles written recently, primarily to those posted within the past few days. That doesn’t prevent readers from commenting on older articles though. I leave the comment window open indefinitely. People wander their way to the site however they manage to do it, and I assume most of them arrive using Google or some other intertubes search engine, and leave their digital expressions behind. Comments then have to be moderated to separate content from spam so I read every single one of them. Sometimes that process leads me to reexamine articles written several years ago either from a nostalgic perspective or with a fresh new set of assumptions.
Kalaupapa and Kalawao Settlements by NPS CulturalLandscapes via Flickr (cc)
A recent comment applied to one of the most ancient of all 12MC articles, Smallest County in the USA, Part 1, written in February 2008 when the site was only three months old. The reader’s observation dealt with the conundrum of whether to count a visit to a physical location or not, in this case the county of Kalawao in Hawaii.
I also stood on top of the cliffs at the border. But I refused to pay a fee and a day of my time to set foot on it. And the rest of Moloka’i was way more worth my very limited time….. So, did I visit Kalawao county?
That wasn’t a new discussion to 12MC. We all delved into similar peculiarities a couple of times in articles that generated lengthy discussions back in 2011, chiefly I’ve Barely Been There and It Counts but it’s Pitiful. I had my own criteria that I continue to follow. Others have theirs, equally valid. An international association doesn’t exist to publish a rule book and nobody gets sanctioned for straying across a line. It’s all good.
However those two articles led me down a different path as I reviewed what I wrote back then. It dawned on me that none of the examples I used to make my point back then were any good any more. My county counting map looks considerably different nowadays.
I’d highlighted my particularly pitiful efforts in four U.S. states in the first article: Montana; Oklahoma; Arkansas and Rhode Island. The situation changed dramatically over the years.
Montana State Line (my own photo)
Oddly enough my efforts were aided and abetted by adventures related to running. The first three were specific stopping points for different Mainly Marathons events, specifically their Center of the Nation (Montana), Dust Bowl (Oklahoma) and Riverboat (Arkansas) series of races. Rhode Island was an offshoot from a different running organization called Ragnar, specifically Ragnar Cape Cod, a relay race stretching from Hull to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Rhode Island was just around the corner so why not stay a little longer and stop for a visit? I’m not a runner nor will I ever pretend to be one. I simply chauffeured a runner from site-to-site (or as I like to call it, "Driving Miss Daisy") and I managed to see a bunch of places I’d never had a reason to visit before. With that, I felt confident in the legitimacy of my trips to each of those four states.
A more proper visit to Memphis. Graceland (my own photo).
This left the second article dealing with airport-only visits. I connected Shelby County, Tennessee (Memphis Airport) to my larger grid thanks to the aforementioned Riverboat race series. Similarly, I spent a week in northern Utah that brought the formerly stranded Salt Lake County (Salt Lake City airport) into the fold of my larger efforts.
Finally I erased the embarrassment of my airport-only (Shannon) visit to Ireland. I spent a couple of weeks covering a wide swath of Ireland in the summer of 2014.
I continue to stand by my old rules although I don’t really have any airport-only counties, states or nations remaining anymore. The closest I come to that might be Dallas, Texas and Boise, Idaho. I both cases, however, I’ve made multiple trips lasting days and certainly left the confines of the airports to conduct business. I’ve not yet connected them to the larger overland grid so they stand out like little islands though. I need to think about the next set of adventures over the winter and consider where to focus my energies next. Connecting dots? Filling doughnut holes? Drawing lines over the Great Plains? All nice problems to have.
There was one more thing I noticed. Some of you have been reading 12MC for a really long time! I saw quite a number of familiar names in those ancient comments. Thanks for sticking with the site for all of these years. I still have a lot of articles left in these typing fingers.