I just started reading The English Major by Jim Harrison. It’s about Cliff, a retired high school teacher and farmer, whose wife has just left him. He decides to travel to the lower 48 states in the US using a puzzle as a guide.
He starts in Michigan, then goes to Wisconsin, and in Minnesota he hooks up with a former student of his, Marybelle,who decides to ride with him through North Dakota to Montana. At this point Cliff relates:
After breakfast in Wahpeton and before she fell asleep Marybelle had said it would be nice to do some north and south zigzagging on the way to Bozeman. I didn’t say anything but this distressed me as I had intended to enter and exit each state exactly once.
When I read this, I was immediately distracted by the question of whether or not that was even possible.
As a follow up question, if Cliff had started anywhere he wanted instead of his hometown, how close could he end to where he started?
For reference here’s a map of the United States, with Hawai‘i and Alaska conveniently resized and located in Mexico. Click for a bigger version.