Charleston surfer buddies set world record for fastest travel to all 50 states | Charleston Scene

It was 15 degrees in Wyoming and 80 in Alabama in late April as a rented minivan, luggage strapped to the top and a twin-size mattress in the backseat, made its way across 48 state lines with a mission in mind. 

Thomas Cannon pulled up a map on his iPhone, a route designed by an algorithm seeking optimal ways to shave off trip time between back roads and highways. 

Justin Morris, from the passenger seat, tilted his camera and captured the phone mounted to the dashboard, arid Arizona desert terrain in the windshield at one point, snowy Nevada mountain peaks at another. 

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The route Thomas Cannon and Justin Morris took to travel to all 48 continental United States. Provided

The two Charleston friends who used to work together at Ocean Surf Shop on Folly Beach claim they have set a world record for traveling to all 50 states the fastest. And they did it without speeding.

“We were pretty good about obeying the speed limit,” Cannon said. “The last thing we wanted was a ticket.”

A plane trip from Hawaii to Alaska kicked off the mission, followed by a road trip between all 48 continental states that started at the Seattle airport.

Clocking it from wheels up in Hawaii to minivan tires crossing the Vermont border at exactly 7,007 miles on the odometer, Morris, 36, and Cannon, 33, made the trek in five days, 16 hours and 20 minutes. 

According to their time log from 8:33 p.m. on April 20 in Hawaii — which is six hours behind the East Coast — to 6:53 p.m. April 26 Eastern Time, they beat the former record by one day, one hour and 11 minutes.

That record was previously held by Nate Williams, Josh Willis, Chris Watson and Brian Mehrens from Missouri who made the whirlwind navigation in six days, 17 hours and 31 minutes in 2015. 


Thomas Cannon designed an algorithm that would help determine the fastest drivable route between all 48 continental states. Justin Morris/Provided

Though the world record crown does seem to now rest on the heads of the Lowcountry’s own Cannon and Morris, there isn’t yet any official recognition. 

That’s because Guinness World Records, the annual reference book that prints world record achievements, wasn’t along for the ride. They stopped recognizing “driving around the world at speed” in the mid-’90s due to safety concerns. 

“High-speed circumnavigations by car were a common feature of earlier editions, but by 1996, we stopped accepted new claims, owing the danger of driving over national speed limits,” the company shared. “We still accept claims for round-the-world driving records but only in relation to fuel economy, not speed.”


In Anchorage, Alaska, on the Seward Highway. Justin Morris/Provided

For Cannon and Morris, that didn’t matter.

They were determined to go on the adventure anyway, sponsored by Cannon’s employer eSite Analytics. The company provided Cannon with the resources necessary to design the optimal route algorithm, one that started in Seattle and ended in White River Junction, Vt. 

They also purchased a larger van for the occasion and paid for gas mileage and food along the route. 

Unfortunately, that much roomier vehicle broke down just as the journey was about to unfold, prompting the Charleston duo to rent a minivan instead. The unexpected trade switched out comfort for speed. 

Morris said you could stand up in the expected ride.

“We were going to build a bathroom in the back,” he said. “There were plenty of places to sleep.”

With the minivan, “Well, we lost a lot of space but but it probably handled the road a lot better and could go a lot faster.” 

Once they left Seattle, Morris and Cannon were in the car for four days straight. Their longest interludes were maybe 10 or 15 minutes while they stopped for gas and stretched their legs, Morris said. 

They spent the most time in a state (other than their kickoff in Hawaii) traveling 10 hours from Nevada’s northernmost spot, where they crossed in from Idaho, to its southern tip bordering California and Arizona. Their briefest visit to a state was a minute in Texas, just stepping over the Department of the Interior’s official marker en route from New Mexico to Oklahoma. 

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Justin Morris. Provided

“How does the van smell?” social media followers queried, the most-asked question the duo received along the way.  

“On the last day, we were running purely off adrenaline,” Morris said.  

For the driving portion of the journey, Cannon and Morris added two members to the team: Cannon’s father-in-law Bill McSteen — who only made it to Minneapolis on the third day before he was summoned back to work — and his friend Jim Froelich. 

Froelich and McSteen used to be old car racing buddies. 

“They’d do these endurance races, where they’d be up six, 12, 24 hours at a time,” Cannon said. “So this was right up their alley.” 

The passengers traded off on 24-hour driving shifts and stayed heavily caffeinated. 

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Thomas Cannon. Provided

“We ate a lot of beef jerky and drank a lot of coffee,” Cannon said. 

For entertainment, they mostly talked, he said, though there were a few podcasts and songs on the radio. 

When asked what their favorite state was along the route, they didn’t quite have an answer, since they only visited each for such a short period and mostly just from the car. 

The surfers admitted they were pretty stoked on their three nights in Oahu, Hawaii, before the world record race kicked off. There, they rented surfboards and soaked up some island-time relaxation before the impending time trial. 

Morris and Cannon are in the process of submitting their world record documentation to companies that might be able to sign off on the feat. Morris said he also has plans to package his photographs and video footage into some form of a documentary. 

But first — as Morris noted by phone with The Post and Courier a day after the adventure was over — sleep. 

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Cabo’s world-class golf scene revving back up after pandemic

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — The opening of Rancho San Lucas Golf Club was a grand affair.

Course architect Greg Norman, owner Francisco “Paco” Bulnes and dignitaries from across Baja California were on hand to celebrate the spectacular course along the Pacific Ocean. Gourmet food stations lined the courtyard as various local musicians played on various stages for a few hundred guests.

Capping the night was a full concert by Journey, complete with a Fourth of July-worthy fireworks show during the encore.

Three weeks later, Rancho San Lucas, along with the rest of the world, shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a tough first year for sure,” Rancho San Lucas director of golf Brad Wheatley said.

Now, with the pandemic finally letting up, Cabo is on its way back toward normality, and so is one of the world’s premier golf getaways.

The tip of Baja California, consisting of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, started with two courses in the early 1990s and has blossomed into a bucket list destination.

The peninsula is dotted with 18 courses, each as spectacular as the next, with several more in the works.

Some of the world’s most acclaimed architects have designed courses in Cabo, including Robert Trent Jones, Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. Tiger Woods and Fred Couples also have designs in Cabo.

The courses are meticulously maintained with views of the Pacific Ocean or Sea of Cortez on nearly every hole, and the weather is almost always balmy.

Many of the green fees aren’t cheap — some are in the $350-400 range — but the courses and the experience are worth the cost.

“Los Cabos is one of the big-boy golf towns in the world,” said Wheatley, who’s been involved in Cabo golf for 30 years. “There’s as much high-quality, championship-quality golf as anywhere in the world.”

The Greg Norman Course at Rancho San Lucas is part of a spectacular 834-acre tract that includes the luxury Grand Solmar Resort & Spa with a residential community of hacienda-style homes and high-rise residences overlooking the ocean.

Set above the beach along the Pacific, the course has three distinct ecosystems: six holes through the dunes, six through the desert, six in a semi-mountainous area.

“I don’t know many places in the world where you can stop playing golf to watch whales jump 500 feet offshore,” Norman said.

Cabo Del Sol is set in an 1,800-acre community along the Los Cabos Corridor that includes two golf courses, a beach club, four hotels — another is on the way — home sites and villas.

The Desert Course, designed by Weiskopf, winds through canyon-like arroyos and desert landscapes, with mountain and ocean views. The Cove Club, designed by Nicklaus, stretches for mile along the Sea of Cortez with ocean-front holes golfers won’t soon forget.

The Desert Course underwent a makeover during the pandemic and the Cove Club, formerly the Ocean Course, recently went private for residents and hotel guests.

“The Desert Course is obviously a Weiskopf course with great views throughout and the conditions have improved immensely from March,” said Erin Dixon, vice president of sales at Cabo Del Sol. “On both courses, I think golfers are going to see more color than in year’s past in terms of planting and clean-up efforts around the holes.”

Cabo is known as a spring break spot, but the on-course atmosphere is more chill.

Serious players can get through their rounds at a good pace, but there’s also the opportunity to stop to watch the whales during the winter or linger at one of many “comfort stations” as multiple groups play through.

And those stations, wow.

They’re not like the hot-dog-and-soda stopovers in the U.S. We’re talking tamales, tacos, fresh grilled fish, fresh-packed snacks and nearly full bars. “It’s definitely not what you’ll see in the States,” said Peter Carlton, president of Oakmont Corporation and leader of Cabo Del Sol.

Golf in Cabo was mostly locals last summer during the pandemic before tourists starting arriving again during the holidays. It’s steadily picked up — spring break was busy — and is inching back to pre-pandemic levels.

“Cabo is making a quick comeback,” Wheatley said.

Back to being a premier golf destination.



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The latestcraft beer, cider and wine scene? Find it on Ontario’s West Coast

Huron County’s large sandy beaches and opportunities for outdoorsy fun have long been a tourist draw. But in recent years, the area nicknamed Ontario’s West Coast has also become an increasingly popular food and drink destination: The county now has more than a dozen wineries, cideries and breweries, speckling farmlands along the Lake Huron coastline.

One buzzy upstart, East Street Cider Co., is known for its creative yet approachable drinks, made with 100 per cent Ontario apples. Past seasonal flavours have included watermelon mint and sugar plum spice. “We try to release a new cider every few months, utilizing interesting, new flavours, blends and botanicals we think everyone can enjoy, even if you’re not a ‘cider drinker,’” says co-founder David Aylward. The company has a bottle shop in downtown Goderich and plans to open a tasting room this summer.

As small business owners, Aylward and co-founder Ellen McManus are deeply enthusiastic about the county’s many beer and wine attractions, old and new. Aylward moved to Goderich in 2017, but McManus grew up and has deep roots here — in fact, the historic Runciman Foundry building that houses their cidery has been owned by her family since the 1950s.

Here are the duo’s top picks for visitors looking to sample the local scene. (All are shoppable online, too, while travel restrictions are in place.)

Huron County's cold climate and clay loam soils shape Maelstrom Winery's reds and whites.

The wine-and-cheese experience: Maelström Winery (78925 Sanctuary Line, Seaforth)

This established family-owned winery between Seaforth and Clinton has a beautiful, new tasting room and offers great cheese platters featuring local products, says McManus. “They’ve got a pretty good mix of wines I think most people could enjoy,” says Aylward, who recommends the Petite Pearl and Cabernet Franc reds.

With its sprawling 120-acre property, Cowbell Brewing Co. is the region's destination brewery.

The destination brewery: Cowbell Brewing (40035 Blyth Rd., Blyth)

Considered the region’s destination brewery, Cowbell is the one best-known to many visitors. At the spectacular 120-acre property, there’s a retail store and a restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating, and visitors can do an interactive, self-guided brewery tour. Insider tip: Try Cowbell’s small-batch Renegade series, which is harder to find elsewhere. “They have these more exclusive, one-off, limited-release beers they often only showcase at the brewery,” explains Aylward.

River Road Brewing & Hops grows its own hops on an orchard-turned-farm.

The under-the-radar pick: River Road Brewing & Hops (35449 Bayfield River Rd., Bayfield)

At this sustainably minded, small-batch brewery, visitors can explore the grounds of this one-time orchard and see the animals, with a malty blond ale (the flagship beer) in hand. “It’s a really cool farm where they grow their own hops,” says McManus. “They have Highland cattle, sheep and donkeys. It’s almost like a petting zoo.” Time your trip right, and there may even be live music or a visiting food truck.

The local innovator: Half Hours on Earth (151 Main St. S., Seaforth)

Half Hours on Earth describes itself as the first brewery in Huron County and the first certified carbon-neutral brewery in Canada. “They’re probably one of the best, most eclectic breweries in Ontario,” says Aylward. “They’re always coming out with new beers, sours and barrel-aged stuff.” Retail pickup is on temporary pause, but Ontario-wide delivery is available.

The Star understands the restrictions on travel during the coronavirus pandemic. But like you, we dream of travelling again, and we’re publishing this story with future trips in mind.



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TravelPulse Podcast: The International Travel Scene Right Now

Happy #TravelTuesday!

Hosts Eric Bowman and Dan Callahan discuss the latest trending topics in the travel industry, including the most recent news impacting the cruise industry and so much more.

Later, the two are joined by Lydia Blanton (aka Liddy Sue), owner of Wishing On Travel Agency. Liddy just returned from a trip to Costa Rica and she details her experience, what people need to know, and she offers advice for travel advisors selling international travel as well.

Be sure to subscribe to the TravelPulse Podcast at Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify and Stitcher.

Have any feedback or questions? Be sure to contact us at [email protected].

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