John Barrette

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September 2, 2012
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One small step ... One giant final leap for traveler

A Tennessee man stepped into Carson City on Saturday and became the 34th person known to have visited every county in the United States.J. Stephen Conn, a retired minister from Pikeville, Tenn., said entering the Nevada capital city completed a journey more than 17 years in the making. He decided to visit every county, parish or similar jurisdiction he had missed by June 1995, already having visited all 50 states. “That very day I told my family I’m going back and visit every county I’ve missed,” he said. “It’s definitely about the journey, but all of the destinations are fascinating.”An example is Door County, Wis., where he and his wife, Karen, stayed longer than most. Sometimes the stop is only for a few hours, but they stayed nine days in that locale, a peninsular county with 10 lighthouses. It was a county with just one way to drive in and out.“I think it’s those end-of-the-road-type counties that are special,” Conn said, “and Carson City is my end of the road.”With his wife, Conn stopped at a turnout just short of the Carson City-Douglas County boundary on Highway 50 coming in from South Lake Tahoe, then hiked down to the sign and walked across with exaggerated steps. At the turnout, they had met Oscar Voss, a Virginian who already had completed his trek to every county in the nation and also has traveled 90 percent of Canada.Both Voss and Conn are members of The Extra Mile Club, which is made up of serious travelers. Conn thought he might be the 33rd person known to have reached completion, but Voss said one had slipped in a short time back and Conn was 34th. Voss, who completed his U.S. travels to all counties two years ago in Texas, was wearing a club T-shirt to commemorate Conn’s special occasion. On the back, it reads: “The shortest distance between two points is no fun!”Voss was on hand with a camera to record the big step into the completion arena for Conn. The pictures undoubtedly will wind up in the club’s newsletter, which credits a deceased Nevadan with being one of the organization’s co-founders.Though Voss said that co-founder was from the Las Vegas area, the man’s name was appropriate to the occasion Saturday. His name was Roy Carson.Conn said the club is great, but it wasn’t the reason for his goal. “I was well over half-finished when I found out about the club,” he said.Besides Carson City being special because it completes his goal and Door County, Wis., Conn cited a couple of other highlights of his travels: taking a mule ride to Kalawao County, a former leper colony on the island of Molokai in Hawaii; and Mountain Village, in Wade Hampton County, Alaska. For the latter, Conn had to fly into the tiny village populated mainly by natives. He said he became an instant attraction there. A fellow asked him why he was there, and Conn identified himself as a tourist.“We’ve never had a tourist,” Conn quoted the man as saying. Conn said half the town gathered around to check him out, and one resident gave him a souvenir -- a mastodon’s tooth.Conn and his wife intend to stay in Carson City more than a few hours. He said when they stay some place overnight, they often stay in inexpensive motels. “We’re staying at the Courtyard Marriott tonight,” he said. “We’re going to splurge.”

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Sep 4, 2012 01:00AM Published Sep 2, 2012 02:08AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.