I started in the town of Epping, Maine on Tuesday June 16th 2009, but had left Charleston five days earlier on the Thursday to drive up to the start point. I stopped in Washington D.C. and Boston on the way up and then camped in Bar Harbour, Maine on the Monday night before - and then started my trip properly on the Tuesday morning.
For the next eleven weeks I then drove from coast-to-coast going via all 48 mainland states. I blogged most days as I went (in fact, my blogging prior to the trip had dropped to about once a week, and then whilst on the trip it went up to five or six times a week). I took photos - over 3,000 of them in end end, and sent 1,200 tweets as well on my twitter feed. I also made sixteen videos (twenty-two in total, four pre-trip and two post-trip) about the trip as well.
I visited places in America that shared the same names as places on the London tube map. e.g White City in Kansas, which served as my route around the country.
I got to California on Thursday August 27th, where I rested for a few days before driving back to Charleston, getting home on Sunday 11th September - almost three months on the road.
I poltted the route that I took on a Google Map as I went. In the end, there was so much data plotted (including towns visited, gas stops made, and other points of interest) that I hit the limit of how much meta data you have have in a Google Map, and I had to split it into two. The Google Maps are still 'live' and online to this day. The first one is here (mainly the east side of the USA), and here is the second one (the rest of the trip) is here, but this shot here gives you an overview of the whole route taken - starting in Maine in the top right heading from east to west and finishing in California.
I produced and published fifteen videos of my trip whilst I was on it, plus one at the end, and four 'build up' videos at the beginning before I left Charleston. The first intro video here explains exactly why and what I'm doing ...
Videos & Photos
I created a subway-style map of all the places that I visted, and how they might be linked together is the USA had a subway/train system that did indeed connect across the country. I've put in some major towns and attractions too just to give it a little more sense. (Click on the image for the full sized version!)
The one with all the pictures!
Was published via Blurb on the 3rd June 2010. I sat down and went thought the 3000+ photos that I'd taken and took the best one, adjusted the levels and constrast of all the photos nicely and published it online.
[Fourth edition, created October 2010 with errors corrected and new photos on the 'Route 66' section!]
The one with all the written words!
The most important thing for me was the tweets that I sent on the way round. It became rapidly apparent that to get a real 'feel 'for the trip, rather than wait for blog posts, photos or videos to appear - that just reading the twitter feed gave you an instant feel as to what was going on.
I always knew I'd want to write up my adventues into a book afterwards, and when people usually take a travel trip they make notes which they can refer back to afterwards. I didn't have to - because the twitter feed is in effect my note taking of the whole trip, and by reading them back I'm able to recall exactly where I was and what I was doing.
So much so in that the form of the book is going to include all the tweets that I made - embedded into the text of the book, with the rest of text being 'filler' around them! The first tweet-based book? I like to think so.
So the first two chapters that I've written are now downloadable in Word format here. Downoad and have a read, bearing in mind that this isn't the final version as more more editing may occur. But to wet your appetite even before you read that, then you may want to read the prologue first ...
In 2006 at the ripe old age of 33, Geoff Marshall – born in London, England and lived in the suburbs his whole life - was wondering when it was going to be his turn - his turn to meet the right girl, his turn to get that nice house & settle down and his turn to at last become a father and generally grow old and sensible.
So when he finally met the perfect woman for him to do this all with, he gave it his all and committed himself by following her - even though this meant upping sticks and leaving the motherland behind, a job at that he genuinely loved and a whole load of family and friends, to cross the big pond to the magical world of America – for the lady that had won his affections was a native to the land of the free.
Three years later though, and things hadn’t quite worked out as he’d expected. One divorce and a whole stack of wondering about where 'his turns' went, and he was left wondering what to do. - stay in America? Or go home to England?
One thing was clear – when the time came to go home, he wanted to do it in a different way. Climbing aboard a plane and jetting eight hours east would take him back to the world of Eastenders, Ribena, the BBC and football with a proper shaped ball, but that was all a bit … normal wasn’t it?
So Geoff hatched a plan. To go home – the interesting route - by visiting the rest of the country that has been his home for the last three years - the lower forty-eight contiguous states of America. His reasoning? “So when people ask me where I went in America, I can truthfully say ‘Everywhere’”. But he needed an angle.
Countless people had been on road trips before and reported on them, and Geoff wouldn’t be the last either. But he wanted to be different or do something that hadn’t been done before – and so he came up with two things.
1) As a previous World Record holder of traversing the London Underground in the shortest time possible (18 hours, 35 minutes and 43 seconds in May 2004), he found a name of place in each state that shared the name with a stop on the tube map – and that formed the basis of his route.
2) To blog, photo, video and tweet his whole way round. Geoff had been running a blog of some success for a few years, and often took photos. Video production was his job, and then tag onto that the world of twitter – terribly fashionable at the time, and knowing how fast the internet moves probably terribly out of date by the time you read this, it would be an an-the-go record of where he was, what he was doing, as he was doing it.
And he planned to post and update continually as went – no mean feat. No luxury of getting everything in the can and producing it upon coming home, he planned to work as he went he travelled, every single day, making his way around the rather large country that is the US of A.
For ten weeks between June and August 2009, Geoff made his way from the east to west coast of America, touching all the states, recording his journey as he went. And this is what happened …