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County Collecting 2022 – the Year in Review

View Kansas & Palm Springs & MT & WY & Cleveland baseball game & ND & MT & Ozarks & Greece & Turkey & Western Nebraska & Albuquerque, Durango, and Flagstaff & Southern Oklahoma & Big Island & Georgia 2022 on countycollector's travel map.

As 2022 comes to a close, it’s time once again to look back at my county collecting travels over the past 12 months. Despite travel being pretty much back to normal, I only managed 7 county trips this year. That’s one more than in 2021, but the reason there weren’t more is that I had two extended trips in 2022, one to Hawaii, the other to Greece. Both lasted roughly 2 weeks and significantly impacted the amount of time (and money) I was able to devote to visiting interesting and mundane towns across rural America. Though from a county collecting perspective, the year looked less busy, I managed to get away from home at least once every month in 2022 including a summer weekend in NYC and a fall trip to Palm Springs.

Here are links to the individual county collecting trip this year in case anyone missed reading one or two.

Peaches and Peanuts
Bienvenue à Paris… Y’all
Know what Northwest Arkansas is famous for?
Driving in the Northern Plains States
Sometimes a place name says it all
Route 66 in Kansas (all 13 miles of it)

During the course of the year, I added 108 new county seats to my collection. The current total now sits at 2836, representing about 90% of the 3149 county seats in the country. As I’m getting nearer to completing my goal of visiting them all, I’m shifting to counting how many county seats are left to visit. If my math is correct, there are just 313 more to go. While there are still some big gaps, the map is beginning to fill in nicely. Check out the progress for the year. For explanations on the colors check out County Collecting 2021 – the Year in Review
I completed three states (Georgia, Oklahoma, and Arkansas) bringing that total up to 29. Several more are within reach for next year, though I have not yet decided which ones I’ll visit. At the moment, I’m considering trips to Texas, Idaho, and Alaska in 2023. I should probably look at the central plains as well since there are numerous counties from North Dakota to Kansas to visit. I just barely reached my goal of 100 counties in 2022, and If I can hit that number again in 2023, I’ll be content. I’m off to the Caribbean in January, so the next county collecting trip won’t happen before February. Whenever (and wherever) it is, I’ll share details here after returning home.

Until then…

Happy Travels

Posted by countycollector 13:26 Archived in USA Tagged county_collecting Comments (1)

Route 66 in Kansas (all 13 miles of it)

View Kansas on countycollector's travel map.

US Route 66 might be the best known highway in the United States despite having been official decommissioned in 1985. Most folks know the line “Get your kicks on Route 66” from the popular song written in 1964 by Bobby Troup. I even mentioned in a blog post a little over a year ago. As many know, the original route connected Chicago to Los Angeles crossing 8 states along the way including the southeast corner of Kansas. As a side note, Interstate 44 which replaced Route 66 between St. Louis and Oklahoma City bypasses Kansas completely, crossing the Missouri/Oklahoma state line roughly half a mile southeast from the point where Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri meet.

All right, history lesson aside, I had the opportunity to drive all 13 miles of the Kansas portion of Route 66 during a trip at the beginning of December. If you read my previous entry, you know I was just shy of reaching 100 new counties this year with no definite plans put me over the century mark. This trip was designed with just that goal in mind.

Beginning in Kansas City, my goal was to visit the 12 remaining counties in the southeastern corner of Kansas. A weekend would be sufficient. There’s not much to say about the actual county collecting part of the trip. Twelve county seats visited, twelve postcards mailed. Sadly, only 11 arrived. That will mean a future visit to Girard, Kansas. The interesting part of the trip was the drive along the entire stretch of Route 66 in Kansas.

It is no longer possible to drive the entire length of US 66, but the section from Springfield, MO to Tulsa, OK is well-maintained. Today, the Kansas portion is designated as Kansas state highway 66 and US 69 Alternate. Along the way, signage notes the historical, though now decommissioned US 66, making it quite easy to follow.
One noteworthy sight is the Rainbow Bridge. I’m not sure how it got that name, but my guess is due to the shape of the arch. According to the signage posted at the north end, the bridge dates back to 1923 and is the only remaining Marsh arch bridge (named for the designer) anywhere along Route 66.
As with other parts of Route 66, a number of historic buildings have been preserved. It’s not uncommon to see old gas stations turned into tourist visitor centers or souvenir shops. Kansas may have the shortest segment of historic US 66, but they do a good job of preserving the legacy of the highway that has been called the “Main Street of America” and “The Mother Road.”

Over the course of the weekend, I collected 11 new county seats. I can’t count Crawford County since the postcard never arrived. I’ll have to make a return visit when I’m collecting the last counties in Missouri. Fortunately, such a detour won’t take too much time. Here are the before and after maps. For reference, the green county indicates I visited the county seat but do not yet have a postcard documenting that visit. This one I can blame of the USPS.
With this trip, my total for the year jumps to 107. Overall, I’ve documented visits to 2835 county seats in all 50 states. With a total of 3149 county seats in the entire county, that puts me at exactly 90%. I explore a bit more detail on the ongoing progress in my annual Year in Review post. Look for that before the end of the year.

Until then…

Happy Travels

Posted by countycollector 14:06 Archived in USA Tagged kansas route_66 county_collecting Comments (1)

Sometimes a place name says it all

View MT & WY on countycollector's travel map.

Mid-October seemed a good time to be on the road. While the days are shorter and the weather cooler than peak travel season, it’s still a pleasant time to drive in much of the United States. Such was the case in central Montana and northern Wyoming during my latest county collecting trip.

Every now and then, I come across a place suited perfectly to its name. On good example is the town of Thermopolis in Hot Spring County, Wyoming. While visiting Hot Springs State Park, the name of the town and of the county are self-evident. From a vantage point along the main road into town, it’s easy to notice the steam rising from the thermal springs in the park.
Getting a bit closer, one notices the colorful mineral depots and the accompanying, almost overpowering odor of sulfur. The water temperature is 135 °F, a bit too hot for soaking, but I did stick my hand in for a few seconds. There are bath houses in the park were the water from the spring is cooled by the nearby Big Horn River to a more comfortable 104 °F. I chose to bypass the mineral soak due to both limited time and the desire not to smell like sulfur for the rest of the day.
In Glasgow, Montana, I came across a curious piece of artwork painted on the side of a building. While the city may not be as aptly named as Thermopolis, the depiction below is right on target.
Billings turned out to be an excellent base of operations to cover the counties I wanted to visit this time. A loop north, south, and west of Montana’s largest city allowed me to efficiently close the large gap I had left between the eastern and western portions of the state, while also affording me to the opportunity to pick up a few counties in northern Wyoming. Over the course of the long weekend, I added another 17 counties to my collection. That bring my overall total to 2824, putting me just shy of the 90% mark.
MTWY.png MTWY2.png
Though there are still a couple months before the end of the year, I’m not sure if I’ll be adding any additional counties in 2022. I had hoped to get to 100 new county seats this year, and while I’m currently at 95, I don’t have any travel plans at the moment that will add more. Perhaps I’ll find a way to sneak in a few before the calendar turns. If I do, you’ll be able to read about it soon. If not, stay tuned for my annual “Year in Review” update in late December.

Until then…

Happy Travels

Posted by countycollector 17:37 Tagged hot_springs montana wyoming county_collecting Comments (0)

Driving in the Northern Plains States

View ND & MT on countycollector's travel map.

It’s difficult to make a lot of progress adding new counties to my collecting while limited to just a weekend. It’s doubly hard in places where it can take an hour or two to drive between county seats. Such was the case on my recent trip to North Dakota and Montana. Unlike Kentucky or Georgia where counties are relatively small, counties in the western half of the United States then to be quite large. While not as big as counties in the southwest, driving through the sparsely populated parts of North Dakota and Montana takes time.

The trip began with a Friday afternoon flight to MSP and then on to MOT (Minot, ND). The airport has only 5 gates and handles about 10 flights on an average day (5 arrivals and 5 departures). After an overnight in Minot, I started early Saturday morning. Much of the territory is either farm or ranch land, though from time to time, I spotted the telltale signs of fracking oil wells. With little reason to stop other than to mail postcards from the county seats, I made good time covering over 600 miles in about 11½ hours on the road before ending my day in Sidney, MT. The return trip to Minot on Sunday was similarly uneventful. I did stop briefly on the edge of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota for a quick photo. As might be evidence in the picture, I encountered a bit of rain, though nothing much heavier than a passing shower.
Over the course of the weekend, I added 17 more postcards to my collection. Other than the handful of counties along I-94 I had previously driven through, much of the trip was in areas I’d never visited before. Here are the before and after maps showing my progress.

Another trip to Montana is in the works for mid-October which should fill in most of the remaining counties in the middle part of the state. If all goes well, I’ll be including a few counties in Wyoming as well. Currently, I’m not planning any other county collecting trip this year, but one never knows. Whatever happens, there will be at least two more post this year—the upcoming trip and my annual year end summary. Check back soon for more details.

Until then…

Happy Travels

Posted by countycollector 14:03 Archived in USA Tagged montana north_dakota county_collecting Comments (1)

Know what Northwest Arkansas is famous for?

View Ozarks on countycollector's travel map.

Would it help if I mentioned the city of Bentonville? How about the largest private employer in the United States? Hopefully that’s enough to figure out I’m talking about Walmart. On a recent trip, I journeyed to the hometown of this well-known retailer. I make no judgements about the company here, I merely note I stopped by the Walton’s 5-10 store in downtown Bentonville which is home to the Walmart Museum.
The trip was short, just a weekend getaway beginning with flights to Little Rock (via Chicago). From there it was north into the Ozarks in both Arkansas and Missouri. Around mid-afternoon on Saturday, I stopped briefly in Branson on my way between nearby county seats. While the downtown was interesting, it was also crowded with both people and traffic, so I didn’t feel like staying long. My last stop for the day was in Bentonville where I took the photograph above.

Sunday morning began with rain that lingered through most of the day. It was unfortunate as that when I covered the most scenic parts of the trip. Jasper, Arkansas is near the Buffalo River which was the first river to be designated a National River back in 1972, and over 130 miles of it are managed by the National Park Service. The river is popular for boating, particularly canoeing, and the adjacent hills are crisscrossed with hiking trails. Sadly, I drove through on a cloudy, wet, and sometimes foggy morning. By late afternoon, I returned to Little Rock for might flights home. Due to a delay of the inbound aircraft to LIT, I landed at CLT a few minutes after my connecting flight started boarding. I hustled through the terminal, and arrived just as they were getting ready to close the flight.

Over the course of the weekend, I visited 17 county seats in 16 different counties. How is that possible? Arkansas is one of a handful of states in which some counties have more than one county seat. On this trip, it was Carroll County Arkansas where both Eureka Springs and Berryville are official county seats. When I come across these situations, my practice has been to mail postcards from both county seats. Also of note, I have now ‘collected’ all the counties in Arkansas, making it the 29th state completed. Here are the before and after maps.
ARMO.png ARMO2.png
The 17 new county seats brings my total for the year up to 61 and my overall total to 2790. Up next is another weekend trip, this one to North Dakota and Montana.

Until then…

Happy Travels

Posted by countycollector 20:43 Archived in USA Tagged arkansas missouri county_collecting Comments (0)

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