As you can probably guess from the name of my website, I'm a geographer – and proud of it! And as such, I love maps, places, traveling and the question "Where?" One of my main goals in life is to learn as much as I can about the United States, which is one reason I'm taking my current trip and visiting various geographic extreme points around the country. The other reason I'm taking this trip, in case you were wondering, is to eat grilled bratwursts.
Above: Here's a brief history of my 1985 Toyota pickup truck, which I bought in late 1984. I drove it to every state in the Lower 48 several times each and it was my home during my countless road trips across America. After driving it for 260,000 miles, I gave it to a friend in 2010, but it was still running strong. (5:11)
I figure the best way to learn about the U.S. is to see it first-hand, and as a result, I've taken a fair number of road trips over the years. In fact, I visited all 50 states before I was 25 and have lived in 20 cities in eight states – so far.
The messy map below shows the major road trips I took between my college days and my last major road trip around America, back in 2002. While my friends were getting married, buying houses and having kids, I was traveling and learning about America. Most of my trips have been solo, but a few – and probably the most enjoyable – were with others. I haven't shown the many cross-country road trips I took with my family when I was younger, but I'll post that map someday.
I took most of these trips with my 1985 Toyota pickup truck. I bought the truck brand-new in late 1984 and drove it for over 20 years, putting over 260,000 miles on it. I treated that truck really well, did almost all of the maintenance work on it myself, and customized it endlessly. I carpeted the bed (including the sides) and put in a security box, then I installed 11 speakers, a nice stereo receiver and a 150-watt amplifier. Fortunately my truck was never broken into (though it was vandalized once, in Austin), it was never in an accident and I never got a speeding ticket, or even a parking ticket. Yep, I treated it like it was my baby.
After driving it for over 20 years, I gave the truck away to a friend but I believe it's still running strong. In fact, it's the reason I decided to buy Toyota again when I bought my current gray truck (Gigi) in April 2016. I posted a photo of my beloved 1985 Toyota pickup below – long may it run!