Thursday they were road weary wanderers. Friday, they were conquering heroes. Four friends from Joplin, Missouri arrived at Honolulu International Airport as new, unofficial record holders.
Their feat? Visiting all fifty states in less than a week. By Brian Mehrens' count “six days, seventeen hours, thirty one minutes”.
Mehrens, Chris Watson, Josh Willis and Nate Williams have been road-tripping with each other for years. When challenged about a year ago, Williams started putting a plan into motion; to visit all fifty states in as little time as possible. He mapped out the route. The crew traveled to Maine for the start of the trip. They rented an SUV, packed it with clothes and gear, and set off.
"We navigate by the compass of our hearts, and it’s always pointing north, towards America" deadpanned Willis.
The foursome traversed some 7000 miles, burning through approximately 465 gallons of gas. The trip was mostly sponsored by Tipsy Elves, a domestic apparel company known for its intentionally ugly Christmas sweaters and campy patriotic themed clothes.
Dressed in matching stars and stripes jumpsuits, the friends basked in their glory at HNL.
“We’re not AmericCAN’TS, we’re AmeriCANS” quipped Williams.
The terminus of the road trip was Seattle, where a floored rental agent had to refer the group to management for return of the vehicle.
“When we came to Budget to return the rental car, normally you turn it in and get your receipt. They said sorry you need to see management, you can't just check it in. They said, well you had to come down here because we didn't believe you drove over 7000 miles in one week" said Williams.
From Seattle, they took quick flights up to and back down from Alaska, before the victorious final leg to Honolulu. While too tired to truly enjoy the spoils of their success on the flight, the group will have plenty of time to do so in the coming days.
"We're going to recoup for a day or two, then the wives are going to fly out and we're just going to relax and enjoy Hawaii" said Willis.