Updated: Jul 25, 2018
We've gotten lots of questions about what inspired our route. Or more specifically: why we aren't going to California, Oregon, Washington - places they can easily envision us landing at the end. Why are we going to the desert? The south? And what's in Maine?
When we first conceptualized this adventure, we said to each other: "Let's go everywhere!" And, literally, we meant every state in America - including across the ocean to Hawaii and Puerto Rico and all the way to Alaska. We sat with this idea for a long time and started planning as if we were taking a year-long road trip to every state in America.
And then we got real with ourselves and each other and began to talk deeply about our goals for the trip, how long we thought we wanted to be on the road, and what we were curious to discover. We decided to shorten the length of the trip and base the route around connecting places we could truly see ourselves landing at the end. Like the nerds we are, we researched places - sourcing from best of lists (including many best underrated/hidden gem cities & towns lists), advice from our networks, and by following our own curiosity about places. We kept our lists secret from each other at first, but then - in our excitement - we started to blurt to each other the wonderful places we were discovering.
So, on a rainy and gloomy Saturday, we sat together in our home and finally, fully shared with each other the places that ranked top for each of us. There was some overlap in our ideas and a lot of places one of us fought for that surprised the other. Joel was adamant we should add Columbus, Ohio; Sara was convinced we should not discount Kansas City, Missouri. We realized the west coast - a place we both love, know well, and each have lived in at some point in our lives - wasn't even on our list. And we sat with that and let ourselves honor that for this trip, at this point in our lives, other places were calling us.
From there, we built a route heading east from our home in Minneapolis and looping through all the places we had on our list plus a great number of other cities and towns where we were either curious, had vaguely "heard good things," knew someone, or wanted to know someone. Our philosophy from the beginning has been to not make assumptions about places, to embrace the process with a curious spirit, and thus to not write off any place without experiencing it for ourselves.
We also decided that hotels and motels and campsites didn't make sense with the goals of this trip. We wanted to get to know neighborhoods and communities in the places we were going, because we wanted to leave more informed if these were neighborhoods and communities we could see ourselves a part of one day. So we embraced a concept called "radical hospitality" for our trip by asking others to be radically generous and open their homes and communities to us, even if we were a "stranger" to them and they to us. In a time full of uncertainty and distrust of others, it has felt cathartic to reject the fear of "strangers" and ask to be invited into places and communities unknown.
We know that our route might change, and in fact, we hope it does! We hope we hear from people as we set out and they say, "Visit our community! We have something special here that you won't want to miss!" We have flexibility built into our trip so these spontaneous re-routes can happen. Some of our hosts are people we know, some are people we know through people, and we hope to gain new hosts who are simply inspired by this project but don't know us. Our adventure has space for others - lots of it. And we can't wait to see where our route takes us and how it shifts, grows, and expands over the next few months.