The comedian Groucho Marx reputedly stated, "I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member." I must profess more than passing sympathy with that point of view. I’ve never been much of a joiner, and I prefer to follow solo pursuits.
This very blog is an example. I am grateful and humbled that a select group of particularly enlightened individuals follow along regularly but I do this more for my own personal enjoyment than for readership. For me it’s not a contest for eyeballs, but an opportunity to learn and grow from a set of topics that interest me. Nonetheless, in the unlikely event I was to ever join a club, I think I’ve found a promising candidate or rather I think one has found me.
I received an email message a few days ago from J. Stephen Conn of the County Counting website, letting me know that I’m far from unique in my pursuit to visit every county in the United States. You’ll recall that I entered my 1,000th county recently and I was pretty smug about my accomplishment (currently I’m up to 1,018). Stephen was also kind enough to feature my county map in one of his recent blog postings and let me know that I was off to a great start. Thanks, Stephen. It’s nice to hear some words of encouragement from someone who has truly excelled at this pursuit.
I spent some time poking around his site and exploring the internal and external links. I found all sorts of interesting things as I pulled and tugged at the various county counting threads. For example, there’s a guy who has actually documented his visit to every single county in the United States. It’s amazing but true, and something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to accomplish in my lifetime.
From there I found the Mob-Rule Counties page. There are a number of useful modules on the site but I found three of them particularly handy:
- It allows users to build maps of all the counties they’ve visited. I’ve done the same on my own using graphics software but this little utility produces them in an automated fashion. The long list of users and their accomplishments proves that my 1,000+ total is pretty respectable but it’s still nowhere near the top.
- Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a highway clips the corner of a county or just barely misses it. I’ve faced this problem several times as I’ve compiled my list, and it’s a big deal. Is the county in or is it out? Mob-Rule catalogs many of those locations along Interstate highways with well-researched determinations and definitive answers.
- I’ve complained before that Google Maps does not include county lines (although Mapquest does). Mob-Rule places county line overlays upon Google Maps, thus solving the quandary.
I also followed the trail to the Extra Miler Club which describes itself as:
…a group of about 300 chronic road trippers who share (approximately) the same goal: to visit, at least once in life, each and every county in the United States. "Extra Milers," as we are called, keep track of our progress by coloring in counties on state maps. Members pass on their travel tips and experiences in our quarterly newsletter, The Extra Miler. We share progress reports, photo albums, and stories of the road at our annual meeting, which is held in a different city each summer.
It’s only $12 a year to join, and I actually considered it for a brief moment, but then my natural tendencies kicked-in. The annual meeting sounded pretty interesting, though. That’s when my poor wife who has long suffered through my bizarre geo-oddity behavior, announced I should plan on doing that with my second wife.
Ouch. Point taken.