Greetings. My name is Del Leu and I created this website in 2016 to document my solo journey around North America, from May until December, 2016 – just me and my Toyota truck.
I’ve always been fascinated with maps and distant places, so I studied geography in college and picked up a couple degrees. After graduating, and for the past 25 years, I’ve worked in the field of computer mapping, also known as GIS (geographic information systems). Yep, I’m a geographer – though I often get quizzical looks when I tell people that. It’s said that if you love your job, you’ll never have to work a day in your life and that’s been true with me. I’m fortunate to do for a living what I really enjoy, because I know so many people who don’t. I'm also fortunate because, unlike a lot of folks, I wasn't born with the gene to "sit on my butt and stay in my rut."
I spent most of the past three decades living in the Pacific Northwest area of America, mostly in Portland, Oregon. But in 2013 I moved to the small country of Qatar (pronounced “COT-ter”) in the Middle East, where I spent three years doing computer mapping for the Qatari government. I really enjoyed living in Qatar and hope to move back there someday, despite the oppressive summers. Almost everyone I met there was exceptionally kind to me, even when I told them I was an American, and I’ve never felt safer anywhere in the world. I must admit that I moved to Qatar mostly for the money, but what I really took away from living in the Middle East was the amazing cultural experience, interacting with people from all over the world.
Although I loved Qatar, I always looked forward to returning to the U.S. someday and when I did, I wanted to take a road trip around America. A really long road trip. That day came in March 2016, when I flew back to the U.S., bought a new Toyota pickup truck a few weeks later with the money I'd saved overseas, and after two months of prep work, embarked on an 8-month trip around America.
I’ve taken a lot of road trips around the U.S. and most of my trips have had a theme. Being a geographer, I decided that the theme of my 2016 trip would be “geographic extremes.” Like a lot of crazy geographers (and there are several), I’ve always been fascinated with the “est” places, like the highest city, the lowest lake, the largest county, and the longest highway, so I decided to visit as many of these unique places as I could in one trip, and I set up this website to describe my journey.
During this trip, I also hope to become the first person to visit the 16 extreme geographic compass points of the contiguous United States, like the westernmost, northeasternmost, and south-southwesternmost points. Several months ago, while I was in Qatar planning this trip, I realized that no one has ever been to all 16 extreme points (or at least had never documented it on the Internet), so I decided to do it. Many years ago I visited the easternmost point of the U.S., in Maine, and a few years later I visited the westernmost point, in the state of Washington. But I plan to visit all 16 extreme points on this trip and will hopefully become the first person to do so. If you think I'm nuts, you're a). probably right, and b). probably not a geographer – or at least, not an extreme geographer!
By the way, I’m doing this trip just for fun. I'm not trying to make any money off it or win any kind of award for visiting the 16 extreme points, so you won’t see any advertising on my site or any annoying pop-ups or requests for subscriptions. And this website isn’t just about the geographic extreme places I visit. More importantly, it’s about the experiences I have in getting there and the people I meet along the way. And when I'm done having fun (and when my bank account is down to zero), I'll go back to work to save up money for my next adventure.
I enjoy getting feedback, so if you have any questions or comments (or funny jokes), feel free to drop me a line. I hope you like my website, thanks for reading, and never stop exploring!
The Extreme Geographer