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51 days in a car with boys

Posted: July 24, 2014 9:18 a.m.
Updated: July 25, 2014 5:00 a.m.

If you have a serious case of wanderlust -- an insatiable desire to see new places and experience unique customs -- then you’ll probably envy Alisa Johnson of Seattle, Wash.

Or then again, maybe you won’t.

Johnson’s on a back-breaking quest to see 51 state capitals in 51 days. That’s including Washington. D. C., which isn’t exactly a state capital but carries a bit of panache as an international city.

Doesn’t take a genius to figure she’s doing a state a day. But here’s the kicker: she’s hauling along her two teenage sons.

Any mom who would light out on a journey of that kind with two teens is either crazy or ... well, crazy.

It all started with a dream.

Johnson had a midnight vision of packing up her car and two boys and hitting the road.               

Upon awakening, she pondered the idea, decided it was worth pursuing, quit her job and began planning.

Now, she’s in the midst of the journey. Earlier this week, according to news reports, she was in Raleigh, N.C., smack in the midst of a convoluted, jigsaw-puzzle route that’s taking her from coast to coast, both north to south as well as east to west.

That’s a lot of driving, but Johnson’s not just languishing behind the wheel. She’s taking a walking tour in each city so her kids won’t just see the capitals blurring by out of the side windows.

Traveling can be akin to an addiction for some.

On one hand, there are lots of stay-at-home types, right here in Kershaw County and across the country.

They like the familiar ambience of a front porch and a favorite easy chair. Lighting out from hotel to hotel is torture to those folks.

And then there are those whose fondest dream is to hit the road.

Bikers -- motorcyclists, I mean, not bicycle riders -- love the lure of the highway.

For many travelers, the thrill is seeing the Eiffel Tower or the rural landscape of Tuscany or the frozen icecaps of Antarctica.

But for many bikers, it’s the journey -- the riding, the roar of a powerful engine and the throb of pulsing handlebars -- they like most. Doesn’t much matter where they’re going as long as they’re going.

And you have to admit, even if you have no desire to hop astride a Harley, there’s a certain allure to it -- a free-spirited, leaving-behind-the-humdrum-world attraction.

The champion traveler of all time is a guy named Donald Parrish of Downers Grove, Ill.

The web site says the world is made up of 875 countries, autonomous regions, enclaves, geographically separated island groups and major states. 

Parrish has visited 839 of them, staying on the road for an equivalent of eight years over his life.

That might be taking things to an extreme, but those who regularly pack suitcases and fold roadmaps love the anticipation of geographic adventures.

There’s something, they say, about waking up in a place where you’ve never been, not knowing what’s around the next bend in the road but realizing that whatever it is, there will be a thrill involved.

So let’s hope Alisa Johnson survives her maelstrom of a trip -- and 51 days in a car with two teenage boys.


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