In 1984 my father began a quest, albeit unconventional. He was 47 and his mission was to visit the capitols of the lower 48 states on foot, starting in Illinois, where we lived, following a counter-clockwise roadmap of his own making. By age 72, he’d trekked to 23 capitals walking approximately 4,085 miles.
Unfortunately, at 87, my father will not finish his quest. Therefore, I am assuming my father’s mantle to complete the last 26 capitol routes –– with a small tweak. I’m going forward by bike.
I was 14 when my father started his unusual pursuit, which made me an embarrassed and frustrated teenager. No teenager wants ‘weird parents’. And this was just one more thing in a long line of traits that made my parents ‘weird’ in my teenage eyes!
I had no idea what motivated my head-down midwestern engineer father to embark on such an unorthodox journey. I couldn’t explain it to my friends, and I knew we couldn’t possibly share anything in common; I just wanted to fit in, he wanted to always be doing something different.
But I am starting to believe I was wrong all along. Ironically, I grew up and undertook my own unusual nomadic quest, quitting my IT analyst job at 36 years old to travel to over 75 countries and live location-independent for 11 years. The older I became, the more I wanted to blaze my own trail, skip the conventional parts of life, and be different. Suddenly I was my dad.
By continuing my father’s quest to visit all of the capitols in an unconventional way, I hope to examine my evolving relationship with my parents more.
Capitol to Capitol Route and ‘The Rules’
Every big quest needs some rules. When my dad started this – he had certain ‘rules’ that he followed. Many of these rules were created out of necessity. My dad worked full time and had to work on this quest little by little during his time off and weekends.
- You had to walk into and out of a capitol
- You didn’t have to do it all at once. He could walk 3 days on a route and then not get back to do more on that route until 3 years later, where he could walk another 4 days.
- You didn’t have to do them in order or wait to finish one to start another. He had multiple routes in progress at once. In fact, when he stopped walking, he had 7 routes that were in progress.
- You never took a ride. Boots on the ground the entire way.
YouTube Capitol to Capitol Docu-Series
When I started the quest, I knew I wanted to cover it in a…