The mention of a road trip may conjure images of a few days in the car, making ample stops at motels and roadside diners along the way, but not for Greg Cayea and Heather Thompson. The couple has been on the road for 108 days, covering 31,500 miles so far on a quest to break the world record for the longest journey by car in one country, traversing America’s 48 contiguous states (they’ve clocked 42 and counting) and documenting their adventure along the way. (The previous record was set on a 22,406.66 mile trip in India.)
Cayea, a freelance publicist and writer, says his inspiration for the trip came in the form of a Tony Robbins audiobook. “I just really wanted to go as far as possible,” he told Lonely Planet News. “I woke up one day, popped on the audiobook Awaken the Giant Within and made a firm decision to travel harder and longer and stranger than I’d ever traveled before.”
The rules Cayea and Thompson have to follow in order to qualify for breaking the record include no backtracking, no round trips, and no stopping for longer than 14 days in any one place, plus they have to submit GPS data, film two minutes of video per hour on the road, and keep both a book of witnesses and a logbook of all mileage, starting points and rest breaks.
The pair spend most nights sleeping on an air mattress in the back of their Subaru Outback, and unwind after a long day of driving by watching Netflix on an iPhone. Besides the car, they’ve slept in National Parks including Yellowstone and Mount Rainier, in Airbnbs, and in family and friends’ homes from Denver to Chicago to Lincoln, Nebraska. For sustenance, Thompson cooks meals like chicken casserole, rice and beans, and broccoli sunflower seed salad in big batches. “We don’t eat out that much but when we do, it’s usually truck stop food and then we feel happy and terrible,” laughs Cayea.
The trip has lead to countless adventures, including visits to 22 National Parks and myriad tourist sites, both traditional like the St. Louis Arch, and offbeat like a ghost town in Bayhorse, Idaho. “I have jumped into a total of fifty lakes, three of them Great Lakes. It’s kind of my thing,” says Cayea. One mood lightening moment came when the couple spotted a cow drinking from an industrial sprinkler in Iowa.
As exciting as their road trip has been, there are some things the couple are looking forward to when they get home. While Cayea can’t wait to return to his pushups, prayer, and meditation morning ritual, Thompson, a cafe manager and barista, says she misses cooking in her kitchen, a warm bed and gym membership, and her cats.