Peter Hardy, UMF math professor, will share what his family did over summer vacation as they traveled to 48 lower states in 48 days. Pictured at the Grand Canyon, from left, Wei Ling, Hardy’s mother-in-law, children, Alex, Cassidy and Meng and Peter Hardy.

FARMINGTON — A mathematically planned journey across the country took a Farmington family to 48 states in 48 days this summer.

Peter Hardy, a mathematics professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, his wife, Meng, a Mt. Blue High School teacher, and family drove about 13,000 miles stepping in to each of the lower 48 states, sometimes briefly, over those days.

Hardy gave a presentation about their travels Thursday. The presentation was a summary of what we did along with some “scenic images, basis statistics and some rudimentary mathematics that we encountered on the way,” he said. Hardy plans to read a few of the poems he penned from each state and finish with a song he has written.

His wife, two children, Alex, 13, and Cassidy, 10, and his mother-in-law Wei Ling from China, started out in a mini-van with 200,000 miles on it. Hardy wanted to share their experience before Wei Ling returns to China this Saturday.

The couple have been thinking about a family cross-country trip for a couple years. Last January, after his wife and children went back to school from Christmas break, Hardy found he had some time to explore the idea.

Taking his daughter’s map of the states without asking, which landed him in hot water, he plotted a course that hit all 48 states, he said. Rather than taking all summer, they settled on seven weeks, leaving two days after school ended in June. 

That is when he came up with a “Mathmetician’s Journey Across 48 States in 48 Days.”

He plotted how to head south, cross the southern states, up the western states and back through the north while also hitting the Midwest states. 

They averaged 275 miles a day, driven at 70 mph, about four hours of travel a day, he said. That was the average, some days were longer. The first day, the route from Maine to Pennsylvania took in eight states.

“That is just how a mathmetician’s brain thinks,” he said about figuring averages and other mathematical basics.

In some states like Florida, they only drove in to the Panhandle for a short distance as they journeyed across southern states to Louisiana.  They took a photo by a welcome sign of each state and collected an artifact like a lottery ticket from West Virginia, a refrigerator magnet or even just a rock from the state, he said. 

While his children appreciated the cities, especially New Orleans and Las Vegas, Hardy liked the diversity and natural beauty of the country like the giant sequoia trees and Redwood National Park. His wife especially liked the numerous park areas in Utah, he said.

One thing learned was how small this large country is, he said of the cross-country travel. At the farthest point west in Oregon, Maine was only a two and a half day drive away, he said.

They spent about a third of the trip camping, a third staying with friends and family and a third in a motel. Ten nights were spent in Colorado.

Without a definite camping plan for the July 4 weekend, they ended up staying in a small Colorado town, Antonito, in a motel called Narrow Gauge Railroad Inn. Ironically, their room number was 207 … Maine’s area code.  

“We knew we were in the right place,” he said.

Despite all the talk of diversity and struggles around the country, people along the way were most gracious as they encountered a couple issues, a broken back window, a flat tire and a brake replacement before they hit the Rocky Mountains.

Were five people riding 13,000 miles in a minivan ready to come home?

No, he said. Everyone wanted to figure out a way to extend the trip.

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