Dare marks last stop in man’s mission to visit every county

As of Monday, Jim Claflin had traveled to all but one of the nation’s 3,142 counties. Yes, every single one except Dare County.

He said he saved Dare for last on purpose, symbolizing the challenge he set for himself seven years ago – a dare if you will.

And then the most Dare County thing happened as Claflin, an Indiana native, headed our way. He got stuck on the Alligator River Bridge.

Claflin, 72, meticulously times his arrivals to ensure the best conditions for grabbing photos of the signs at the county lines. The bridge put him a few minutes behind, but he did make it over, and has now crossed off the very last county on his list.

Claflin retired from a career in the railroad business and has always enjoyed seeing new places, setting goals for himself like visiting every city in the U.S. with a population over 100,000, then 90,000 on down to 30,000. He’s also traveled every single mile of interstate in the country.

So when asked what possessed him to visit every county in the country, Hawaii and Alaska included, the answer was simple.

“Because I like to travel,” he said.

And places with “county” in the name weren’t good enough, as some states don’t have counties. He’s also visited all of the parishes in Louisiana and boroughs in Alaska and every census-designated area in between.

He’s journeyed mostly by car, though air travel was required, of course, to get Hawaii. And in Alaska, there were times when only a “puddle-jumper” plane could get him to some far-flung locale.

Those two states, in fact, involved his most difficult trips. In Hawaii, he traveled by mule train (yes, actual mules), 2,000 feet down a cliff to reach one area, which had once been an isolated leper colony, he said.

And in Alaska last summer, to reach the northern-most municipal government in the U.S., the rental car company he’d been using wouldn’t let him take their car. Instead, Claflin had to rent a Jeep elsewhere, which he drove 250 miles on a gravel road along the Trans-Alaska pipeline system, to reach North Slope Borough.

The Alligator River Bridge doesn’t sound too bad after that, right?

You might think Claflin is the first person to pull off the feat of visiting every single county in the U.S., but you’d be wrong. He said about two dozen others did it first, many of them fellow members of the “Extra Miler Club.” The group is full of folks with wanderlust, all with goals they’ve set for themselves such as visiting every courthouse in the country, or every national park.

The group’s motto? “The shortest distance between two points is no fun.”

Claflin was planning to see Hatteras Island on Tuesday afternoon, then head back home to the Chicago.

So what’s next for the traveling man? Claflin has no plans just yet, but he admits it’s probably just a matter of time.

 

Lifestyles

Town of Nags Head sets Memorial Day ceremony

News

Weekly North Carolina gas price update

Business

First Wawa in North Carolina opens in Kill Devil Hills

Lifestyles

Beautiful day on the pier

News

Federal agencies face the public on Buxton beach contamination

Lifestyles

USLSS in NC: A flexible manner

Lifestyles

Model aviation club awarded grant for public flying event

Lifestyles

Dowdy Park summer calendar announced

News

Weekly gas price update for North Carolina

News

Proposed Dare County fiscal year 2025 budget presented

Lifestyles

Roanoke Island hike set for National Trails Day

Business

New ownership announced for Cariloha Bamboo

Lifestyles

Tyrrell students win JCOB essay contest

Lifestyles

Sharing the Love Historic Flat Top Tour draws close to 1000 people

Business

Event featuring John Jacobs of Life is Good set for Thursday in Nags Head

Lifestyles

New red wolf litter born on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Columnist

Guest Column: One of Manteo’s most brutal murders still cries out for answers

Business

New Moyock location of Fusion Offices celebrated with ribbon cutting

News

Public meeting set to discuss Buxton beach situation

Lifestyles

USLSS in NC: Practice makes perfect

Currituck

Currituck Extension sets grilling class

Lifestyles

Baseball players receive championship rings 50 years later

Lifestyles

Local author and illustrator connect children with natural environment through wildlife series

News

Kill Devil Hills discusses restricting overnight beach access parking