This Map Shows the Ultimate U.S. Road Trip

The concept of a road trip is as American as apple pie, and yet, devising the “best” U.S. driving route is a bit of a head scratcher. Much depends on time parameters, personal preference, and frankly, how long you want to spend behind the wheel.

Tracy Staedter at Discovery News decided to take on that challenge, enlisting Randy Olson—Michigan State University doctoral student and the man behind the famed (and super helpful) Where’s Waldo algorithm—to devise what you might call the platonic ideal of the United States road trip. The parameters were: It had to hit all of the 48 continental states, every stop had to be a National Natural Landmark, a National Historic Site, a National Park, or a National Monument, and of course, had to be confined to car travel and within U.S. borders.

With a stop in Washington D.C. and two in California, the result is 50 points of all American awesomenesss.

Here are the destinations:

1. Grand Canyon, AZ
2. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
3. Craters of the Moon, ID
4. Yellowstone National Park, WY
5. Pikes Peak, CO
6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
7. The Alamo, TX
8. The Platt Historic District, OK
9. Toltec Mounds, AR
10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN
11. Vicksburg National Military Park, MS
12. French Quarter, LA
13. USS Alabama, AL
14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL
15. Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA
16. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC
17. Lost World Caverns, WV
18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC
19. Mount Vernon, VA
20. White House, Washington, D.C.
21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD
22. New Castle Historic District, DE
23. Cape May Historic District, NJ
24. Liberty Bell, PA
25. Statue of Liberty, NY
26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT
27. The Breakers, RI
28. USS Constitution, MA
29. Acadia National Park, ME
30. Mount Washington Hotel, NH
31. Shelburne Farms, VT
32. Fox Theater, MI
33. Spring Grove Cemetery, OH
34. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
35. West Baden Springs Hotel, IN
36. Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL
37. Gateway Arch, MO
38. C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS
39. Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA
40. Taliesin, WI
41. Fort Snelling, MN
42. Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE
43. Mount Rushmore, SD
44. Fort Union Trading Post, ND
45. Glacier National Park, MT
46. Hanford Site, WA
47. Columbia River Highway, OR
48. San Francisco Cable Cars, CA
49. San Andreas Fault, CA
50. Hoover Dam, NV

That list starts with the Grand Canyon, but you could theoretically begin anywhere as long as you drive in sequence after that. Staedter guesses it would take a little over nine days of driving straight through, but more realistically is a two- or three-month trip.

For the nitty gritty on how he came up with the route, check out Olson’s blog. After determining the stops, the main goal of the algorithm was to find the shortest distance between points.

Olson wrote to Staedter: "Instead of exhaustively looking at every possible solution, genetic algorithms start with a handful of random solutions and continually tinker with these solutions — always trying something slightly different from the current solution and keeping the best one — until they can’t find a better solution any more."

And whether or not you understand the specifics of how it was created, the map is truly a marvel and the kind of itinerary you'll probably spend all winter dreaming about. See the full, interactive map here, and for additional #travelgoals, check out Olson’s road trip maps for U.S. cities and Europe.

The Most-Googled Mental Health Symptoms in Each State

iStock.com/eclipse_images
iStock.com/eclipse_images

Before visiting a doctor for a medical diagnosis, many people turn to Google to learn more about symptoms like sweaty palms, back pain, and morning sickness. But physical ailments aren't the only conditions people are self-diagnosing on the web—the map below from TermLife2Go shows the most-Googled mental health symptoms by state.

For this report, the life insurance agency compiled a list of the common mental health conditions from sources like NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), TalkSpace, and MentalHealth.gov and used Google Trends to determine which symptoms people are searching for.

TermLife2Go found that social media and internet addiction, major depressive disorder, and memory loss were the most-Googled mental health terms from the past year, with one of the three conditions topping search results in 13 states. In Alaska, where some northern residents deal with constant darkness during the winter, people are searching for seasonal affective disorder. Financial stress is the most searched-for mental health symptom in New York, which also happens to be one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S.

Map of most Googled mental health symptoms in the U.S.
TermLife2Go

Whether your medical symptoms are mental or physical, it's always better to consult a professional rather than rely on the internet for help. But if you can't resist asking Google about what ails you, there is a right way to search for your symptoms—learn more here.

The Most Binge-Watched TV Show in Each State

iStock.com/franckreporter
iStock.com/franckreporter

Does geographical location influence taste when it comes to binge-watching TV shows? That was the question tackled by Geek.com, which polled 1500 people across the country recently to discover which shows rank among the most popular in each state. Here’s what they found out.

An infographic shows the most-binged television shows in each state
Geek.com

It comes as little surprise that Game of Thrones, which is available on HBO’s cable and streaming platforms, is a series that exhibits widespread appeal. The fantasy drama, which is currently airing its eighth and final season, ranks as the show most likely to be binged and the favorite of eight states. Coming in second was The Office (Netflix), with Ozark (Netflix), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime), and Grace and Frankie (Netflix) rounding out the top five.

A list of the most-binged shows in the country is pictured
Geek.com

Many of the binged shows are comedies, with 44.9 percent of respondents deeming it their preferred genre. Residents of Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Utah were notable exceptions, with those states leaning toward dramas.

While shows like Friends, NCIS, and Stranger Things ranked first in many states, others hold some outliers. The Hallmark family drama When Calls the Heart is favored in Utah, Nevada prefers the CW series Supernatural, and North Dakota enjoys the violent action-drama The Punisher.

While Game of Thrones is on top for now, streaming services shouldn’t underestimate the affection for network sitcoms. Of those polled, 19 percent said they would cancel Netflix if Friends left the line-up, and 14 percent would do the same if The Office disappeared.

[h/t Geek.com]

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