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County Collecting 2020 - the Year in Review

View Texarkana & The Dakotas 2020 & Mid-Atlantic & MN and ND & Georgia - Jan 2020 on countycollector's travel map.

It would be wonderful to look back on the past year and remember all the great places I had the opportunity to visit. In a normal year, that might be the case. Sadly, 2020 was anything but a normal year. From a travel standpoint, the last 12 months have probably been the worst in recent memory. While the year was not a complete bust, my county collecting plans were thrown into disarray about the time spring weather arrived.

Typically as the days grow longer, I enjoy getting out on the rural highways of America as I work to fill in the blank sections of my travel map. While most years see eight to ten county trips, this year saw only four. Of those, two were early in the year before travel became risky due to the pandemic. The later trips were in July and October when things appeared to be getting safer. That turned out to be a false sense of security, though I was able to travel safely, mainly due to the fact that most of my time was spent alone, driving through sparsely populated areas.

In case you missed them, here are the posts documenting my four county collecting trips of 2020
Georgia on m Mind
Texarkana—One City, Two States
Northern Minnesota is Paul Bunyan Country
Out There on the Edge of the Prairie

As I usually do, this time of year, I compare my maps from the beginning and end of the year to get a visual of how much progress I made in the last 12 months.
For those who have not been following this blog for the past 6+ years both here and at its prior (now defunct) location, the colors do have a meaning. The dark blue is for counties where I have visited the county seat and mailed (and received) a postcard documenting the date and time of my visit. The green is for counties where I have been in the county seat but do not yet have the postcard proving I was there. I stopped in the majority of those counties prior to starting this project. The light blue represent counties where I have been in or through the county without visiting the county seat. Many of those also predate my county collecting quest.

Even with the limits on my travel, I still managed to mail postcards from 117 county seats. I actually had to visit Fergus Falls, MN twice this year as the postcard I sent in July failed to arrive. Fortunately when I returned in October, the postal service did let me down a second time. My tally now stands at 2615 out of the 3149 county seats in the country. Over the last decade, my average has been around 250 new county seats each year, so given the unusual circumstances in 2020, adding 117 isn’t horrendous.

Now I have only 534 county seats left to visit. It seems likely that a pace of 100 counties per year might become the ‘new normal,’ so perhaps I’ll be at this for another 5 years. I think I can handle that. At the beginning of 2011, my total stood at 113, so adding about 2,500 county seat visits over the past 10 years is not too shabby.

I expect in the first part of 2021 travel will not be back to normal. Maybe by the time the days get longer and the weather warmer, I’ll be out on the road again. Who knows, the next county collecting trip might be delayed into the second half of the year. Let's hope it's sooner than that. Wherever (and whenever) I go, you’ll be able to read about it here.

Until then…

Happy Travels

Posted by countycollector 22:38 Archived in USA Tagged county_collecting

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You've certainly covered a lot of ground in the past 10 years. I started following you from the sadly now defunct site back in 2017, and have always enjoyed your wonderful photos and colorful narratives. It's really neat how you shed a curious light into the lesser known parts of the USA. You've probably amassed quite a few "hidden gems" in your travels. Even though the first half of the year still looks a little questionable for travel (especially 1st quarter), I remain optimistic for the future. There's plenty more to see and do. I'll be looking forward to see where you go next, but there is one thing that keeps naggin' my noggin...
I'm curious as to how this all started. What exact notion was it that had you decide to embark on such an epic journey?
Thanks again for sharing! Safe travels and be well!

by TuscarawasJones

Knowing the the early part of 2021 is likely to be slow, I have been thinking about posting a bit of history on how my county collecting started and what the progress looks like over the last decade. You comment has given me more incentive to do that. I will give a more complete answer to the question you posed on my next entry. I promise I won't make you wait too long.

by countycollector

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