DuBOIS — It was a long road but one filled with memories for 18-year-old Gavin Hoover, who fulfilled his dream of traveling solo across 48 states in his 2010 Chrysler Town & Country mini-van this past summer.
Having worked throughout high school, Hoover decided he was going to make the trip about three years ago and started saving money to fund the adventure.
“The main goal was to hit all of the lower 48 states,” said Hoover, noting he started on Aug. 3 and completed his trip in early September, a total of 40 days.
“I first went to Wilmington, Delaware, and then I went up from there to Acadia, Maine, with several stops along the way” before heading west, Hoover said.
Prior to the trip, Hoover undertook a lot of research mapping his route, planning his stops and getting his van ready to live and sleep in, he said.
His mom, Becky, said it wouldn’t have mattered if she objected to her son going because she knew it was something he was determined to do.
“I wasn’t afraid for him. I was afraid about everybody else,” Becky said. “I wasn’t nervous because he was very prepared.”
After making it to Maine, Hoover traveled west, hitting all of the states until Niagara Falls, N.Y., where he met his parents. Gavin’s brother, Gabe, traveled with him the first week and then his father, Brad, went with him the second week for a few days before Gavin took off on his own for the rest of the journey.
Hoover said one of his favorite places visited was Casey, Illinois.
“Its motto is ‘Big Things In A Small Town,’” said Hoover. The town currently has eight items that are officially certified by Guinness Book of World Records as being the World’s Largest.
“I also liked, in Kansas City, there’s a Steamboat of the Arabia Museum. It was pretty cool,” said Gavin. “I also really liked the Badlands in South Dakota. I met some cool people there that were traveling as well.”
Some of the other highlights he enjoyed seeing included Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, the Redwoods National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Glacier National Park, which was his favorite place.
Though Hoover had a lot of money saved for the trip, he said he was very frugal and managed to keep his expenses under $4,000.
“I didn’t eat out much, a couple of times fast food, but I packed ravioli, sandwiches and macaroni and cheese,” said Hoover, noting he cooked on a little propane stove. “I ate at a steakhouse in Texas. I hadn’t had a really good meal in awhile, and I wasn’t doing anything cool in Texas, so I wanted to eat at a steakhouse.”
Hoover said one interesting place he visited in Amarillo, Texas was Cadillac Ranch.
“The people I met in the Badlands told me about it and it’s just like nine Cadillacs buried in the ground, and you can go spray-paint them,” said Hoover. “And while I was there, I decorated one with DuBois on it. There were probably 30 people there when I was there painting. So you just go and leave your mark.”
Hoover said he really liked visiting California.
“I would never want to live there, but I liked it. It was cool. It’s just so different,” he said.
The only real inconveniences during the trip were that one of his taillights went out, and there was a rat living in his van for too long.
“I would love to do it again with somebody for sure, and there were a couple of spots I really wish I could have stayed,” he said. “I was getting pretty lonely and ready to see people. I’m a people person.”
Now that he’s back in DuBois, Hoover is currently working and looking into attending school, possibly to major in early elementary education.
And if anyone is interested in buying a van, Hoover would like to talk.