- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 24, 2015

LAPORTE, Ind. (AP) - A plan to travel the country as a monthlong adventure could turn into a quest for a LaPorte man.

Nick Barbknecht, a 24-year-old raised in Michigan City, is leaving Saturday on a 30-day expedition to visit all of the lower 48 states.

His California stop could put him face to face with his birth father, whom he’s never met.

“If that’s all I get out of this trip, that would be great,” he said.

Barbknecht, who was born in Southern California, hired a private investigator to track down his birth father. He came close to locating him but never got a good address, he said.

“I’m going to see if I can look him up when I’m down there,” Barbknecht said. “That would be really cool. If I can figure that out, that would be what I’m most looking forward to.”

Other highlights include stops at national parks and monuments.

“I bought myself an obnoxious selfie stick,” he said.

He’ll follow a route mapped out by Randal Olson, a professor who calculated the fastest route to hit the lower 48.

“Randal tells me he doesn’t know anyone who has driven the route yet,” Barbknecht said. “Challenge accepted.”

He won’t follow the nine-day timeline outlined for the trip but will spread it out over 30.

His website, www.parksrecreation.in, shows his itinerary, a map, music play list and a space for blog entries. Barbknecht is squeezing in the 14,000-mile trip between jobs, with permission from his new employer, he said.

This sort of adventure isn’t out of character.

“I get bored sitting around,” he said. “I’ll have a story for the rest of my life.”

He will drive eight hours a day on average, with 12 1/2 hours being the longest driving day and three hours being the shortest.

Gas will cost about $1,300 if he drives his 2012 Honda Accord. He’s hoping a sponsor, such as a car dealer, will step forward and loan him a car for the adventure.

“I’ll be camping along the way,” he said. “I don’t intend to stay at a hotel.”

He’ll stay with friends for 15 to 20 states, he estimated.

On his website, Barbknecht links to a Go Fund Me fundraising page. He is trying to raise $4,000 toward trip expenses.

Any funds donated to the site that go beyond the cost of gas, car expenses and camping will benefit the Hippo Valley Christian Mission’s Children’s Home, which houses 60 orphans in Zimbabwe.

The orphanage has connections to Barbknecht’s church.

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Source: The (Munster) Times, https://bit.ly/1LhaLGo

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Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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