They drove exactly 7,008 miles, spent more than $1,200 on gas and saw about 10 billion insects bite the dust on their windshield.
Now that Joshua Keeler and his two pals, Joey Stocking and Adam Gautherum, have returned from their epic road trip, they're looking forward to a few home-cooked meals and sleeping somewhere besides the back seat of a moving vehicle. But first, there is a small matter of business to attend to.
"We need to give Josh's car a good washing, especially inside," says Adam. "After four days, three guys and no shower, it pretty much reeks."
As it was first reported in this column last month, the North Salt Lake trio decided to make a trip through all of the contiguous 48 states while they were still young and single, with no obligations. Following a route mapped by Joshua's dad 15 years ago when he'd hoped to do his own ultimate road trip, the friends shattered the old 48-state driving record of five days, seven hours and 15 minutes, even though they stuck to the speed limit.
When they drove around the Four Corners Monument last week, knocking the last four states off their list in eight seconds flat, the team officially clocked in at four days, six hours and 43 minutes. At the home stretch, they took turns jumping out of the Toyota Scion they'd nicknamed "Scionara" so that each of them could drive the last mile.
"It was a long haul, but it never got old," says Josh during a follow-up Free Lunch interview two days after the adventure. "We probably could have kept going."
Joey grimaces and laughs. "I don't think so," he says. "It got to the point where even rolling down the windows wouldn't help the smell in that car."
For 107 hours, the trio lived on cold soup and peanut butter sandwiches, alternating eight-hour shifts at the wheel with sleeping and studying road maps. At gas stations, they acted like an Indy 500 pit crew, with somebody checking the oil and tire pressure, somebody paying for snacks and somebody visiting the men's room.
The best part about the trip, they say, was cruising across landscapes they'd never seen before: swamps in Louisiana, brick and steel canyons in the Bronx and the Nevada desert after midnight.
"We drove right through downtown Manhattan," says Josh. "That was probably the worst traffic we encountered. From there, it was pretty smooth."
The scariest moment, other than eating cold beef stew straight from the can, was when the guys almost ran out of gas in the middle of Montana.
"We were coasting downhill and barely made it to this old station with one ancient pump," says Joey. The price for unleaded there was the highest of the trip: $4.15 a gallon.
Now that they're home, a lot of people are wondering what the Scionara crew will do for an encore. They're thinking of going to Hawaii and Alaska, "so we can cross the other two states off the list," says Josh.
From there, who knows? Russia? Europe? The Great Road Trip Down Under?
With their adventure making headlines worldwide, a Hollywood producer has contacted the team with interest in making a movie."Brad Pitt is the only one good-looking enough to play me," says Adam with a smile. "But I guess that George Clooney would do in a pinch."
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