MSSU alum, campus videographer complete record-breaking journey across the country

Wednesday, July 15

2:35 p.m. CST

Somewhere in the middle of Utah

50StatesMapPhone reception is spotty, but after several tries, Brian Mehrens gets a phone signal to offer an update on his journey.

“We’re are in the middle of Utah … state 43,” he says. “We’ve adjusted the route a couple of times, but we’re still on track.”

Mehrens, a videographer for the University Relations & Marketing department at Missouri Southern, is traveling the country with three friends in a quest to visit all 50 states in seven days.

Starting early in the morning on July 11 in Kittery, Maine, they began a route that will take them through the lower 48 states. If all goes well, they’ll reach Portland, Ore., on July 16 and catch a flight to Anchorage, Alaska. After a brief layover, they’ll fly to Hawaii- breaking the previous record (eight days and 20 minutes) for traveling to every state.

“I think it’s a little more grueling than we had previously expected,” says Chris Watson, a 2005 graduate of Missouri Southern. “I don’t think we anticipated how much time it would take to get to the road last two nights, we were on roads where we didn’t see another car for two hours. But the landscape is  amazing.

“It’s been awesome.”

Along with friends Josh Willis and Nate Williams, Mehrens and Watson have visited Europe, Africa and Canada, as well as more than 30 states. This time, they wanted to go bigger. By the time they have completed their journey, they’ll have driven more than 7,000 miles and spent 14 hours flying.

While Guinness World Records doesn’t certify a record for the fastest trip to all 50 states, Mehrens says that a group called All Fifty States Club does recognize the accomplishment.

They’ve also found sponsors for their endeavor. Apparel company Tipsy Elves has supplied them with patriotic onesies and other clothing as well as decals which cover their rented Ford Expedition (which, thankfully, has unlimited miles offered in the rental contract). Kodak also donated a camera which is being used to create a time-lapse video of their journey.

“We’re in the car all the time, posting to social media and pumping out material (including blog posts),” says Watson. “But I’m expecting to have a huge sense of accomplishment at the end.”

Friday, July 17

11 a.m. HST

Honolulu International Airport

50StatesHawaiiAs they disembark from the plane, it begins to sink in: They’ve broken the record – all 50 states visited in just six days, 17 hours and 31 minutes.

A huge sense of relief is how Mehrens describes the feeling.

“We can finally rest for a moment,” he says … which is a bit of an understatement, as they plan to stay in Hawaii for several days of relaxation and sightseeing.

“I feel a sense of amazement that we accomplished this feat without any hiccups.”

The group is mentally and physically exhausted, and those American flag onesies have seen plenty of action (maybe too much, though it’s nothing a good wash in cold water won’t fix, says Mehrens), but the trip has been a success.

Local media outlets along the route definitely took note. The friends have given interviews jokingly comparing themselves to intrepid explorers such as Lewis and Clark, imbued with the spirit of America’s pioneers and carried across the finish line by bald eagles swooping down from heaven … a series of amazing quotes crafted as they drove across the country.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously, otherwise it makes the trip boring,” says Mehrens.

Their journey has concluded, and a sense of accomplishment is starting to set in. Where will they travel to next? How do they outdo themselves next time? Important questions, but they can wait.

“It’s a really cool feeling,” says Watson. “I can do anything with these three guys. We just did something many people will never do in their lifetime.

“Now … let’s go swimming.”