What would it be like to visit every city in Washington? For David Williams the answer to this question is no mystery.
As of September 2005, Williams has visited all 493 cities in Washington. During his travels to visit these cities he also decided to drive all 32 mountain passes and ride each of the 34 ferry boats in the state. But the Seattle-area resident didn't stop there; that was only phase one of his travels.
After that first phase, he was hungry for more adventures so he created phase two in which he would attempt to visit the 23 lighthouses, 45 hydroelectric dams, 13 border crossings and 29 tribal casinos of the Evergreen State. Phase two began in January 2006 and took just 28 months to complete.
Phase three is currently in progress as Williams travels the state visiting 123 state parks, 52 heritage markers and 39 county fairs. He aims to complete phase three by the end of 2014.
Williams was born and raised in Washington and continues to find the state fascinating. Traveling to all these places is more than just sightseeing for him, it is also a way to experience history. Williams doesn't just visit the biggest and the best tourist attractions, he wants to see it all.
"Washington state history has kind of been my hobby since high school," Williams said. "It's my home state so I feel connected to it in that way."
The idea to visit these places was born in 1986, though it wasn't until he made a New Year's resolution in 2001 that Williams began his 34,977-mile journey through Washington. A day trip to the coast with his family took Williams through many small towns he had never heard of in 1986. Since then he has been excited to explore the state.
One of his favorite places is the town of Stehekin. It makes the top of his list because of the town's rich history. This remote town is accessible only by boat or airplane and has been at the head of Lake Chelan for a century.
Williams' interest in learning about history and communities has also led to some personal connections with postmasters and city officials in places he visits.
"I've met so many people that I never would have met in my life," he said. "In the small town of Starbuck, I met the mayor who was running the general store in town. She showed me around, talked about the history of Starbuck and told me that the town was expecting their 144th resident to be born in a few days. It's experiences like that I will never forget."
One might imagine the undertaking of a project this size would interfere with work and family life, Williams said it has simply become a part of his routine. By using vacation days and traveling with friends and family, these trips have become part of his lifestyle. Williams said experiencing Washington with people in his life is the best part of the project.
His trips range from day trips to places near home to weekend trips in which he can make multiple stops on his way to what he calls a launchpad. Walla Walla is the launchpad for this area, he said, and is planning a trip to the Valley in September to visit the Columbia and Whitman County fairs as a part of phase 3. He also plans to find a few heritage markers in the area and visit some state parks while staying in the Valley.
Completing phase 3 doesn't mean the end of Williams' travels, in fact, he already has plans for a phase 4 that will begin in 2015.
Part of the journey for Williams includes recording his progress. To do this he has created a website that documents where and when he goes places, including a picture of him at every site.
"My grandmother always taught me to journal what I do so I don't forget," Williams said. "I have always wanted to travel throughout my state and I thought why not record my adventures at the same time," he wrote on his website.
For more information about his travels and to see the photographs, visit www.visiteverycityinwashingtonstate.com.
Jennifer Jorgenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oddity of the numbers
Recently, it has been brought to David Williams' attention that there are in fact 33 mountain passes in Washington, though one was not listed on the map he used for his travels. Williams said he'll visit McNeil Pass in Douglas County sometime next summer.