JANESVILLE, Minn. (KEYC) - Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton history teacher Howard Van Otterloo was approached by two students in the fall of 2005 about taking students on a historical trip to Washington D.C.
The first year was a success, and the second, then the third!
Finally, someone approached Van Otterloo wanting him to go bigger.
“In 2012, or 2014 rather, on a history trip, somebody said ‘why don’t you just go to all the states?’ And I said ‘well, we will give it a shot,'” Van Otterloo said.
From there, the road trip five-year cycle was born.
Every year, Van Otterloo, and anyone interesting in joining, get on a coach bus en route to a region of the country.
They hit a number of historical places each day until returning to Minnesota 12 days later.
A couple students have been on all five of the 12 day trips.
Not having traveled much before, thinking back to before the first trip can definitely be interesting.
“I remember the first night I looked at my mom and I told her I thought I was going to throw up," said Alexia King, a yearly traveler on the trip. "I was like I’m really nervous. I have never been away from home for more than three days.”
After touring the whole United States, their first trip, a trip west, really sticks out.
“I really like the trips to San Francisco because it’s a really nice place and there is a lot of historical stuff there,” said Willem Knack, who, like King, has traveled on all five trips.
“I really enjoyed going to San Francisco because I had never been anywhere near California before,” King said.
Their mileage depends on where they are going.
The typical distance is somewhere between 4,500 to 6,000 miles.
Van Otterloo just hopes to strike some curiosity in the students along the way.
“As great as Southern Minnesota is, there are different places that have different ways of looking at things," Van Otterloo added. "People there have a different past, different culture or a different outlook based on that past. It’s nice to see that there is more to life than your own little bubble.”
“You can get out of your comfort zone and get to know yourself a little more,” said Knack.
“It’s really life changing,” said King.
The travelers are now on their second cycle through as they have seen every main region of the country.
The cycle begins again next year.