Got a call from Justin Sailor today. The 24-year-old Michigan resident is visiting Charleston this week — the latest in about 80 stops across 33 states in Sailor’s year-long trek across America. The goal is to visit all 50 states by mid-September, when he’ll head back to Michigan. An advertising grad with a hankering for web design, Sailor is chronicling his long drive at hometowninvasion.com.

The trip started with Sailor staying with relatives of friends, then friends of relatives of friends, and then friends of friends of relative of friends. Now, “I’m basically living with strangers for a year,” Sailor says. People have offered lodging on his web site and continue the chain. “They’ll say, ‘Hey, I know someone in North Carolina you can stay with.’”

While some may toss the trip aside as a post-graduate attempt to avoid that looming cloud known as the real world, Sailor provides a philosophical perspective to his couch-surfing journey.

“I want to see the thread of American life and where people live,” he says.

He’s watched a drag show in Key West with senior citizens, flew over the Grand Canyon, and visited a drive-in theater for the first time.

Chrysler provided his transportation, a sporty little Jeep, while Sailor’s responsible for his own food and — gulp — gas. It’s largely funded through donations from family and friends and the kindness of strangers, but the growing gas prices may be the one dark cloud over the good times.

“It’s a pain for me, but I’ll pay what I have to to finish this trip,” Sailor says.

While in Charleston for the week, Sailor’s staying with Mark Timms, a local entrepreneur with his own internet idea, mybowlad.com. Timms and two buddies are developing their own Super Bowl ad starring internet celebrities, with companies paying for seconds of time on a 30-second spot.

If there was as downside in delaying the real world with a cross-country trip where you’re literally seeing everything there is to see, it’s the impermanence of it all.

“I don’t get lonely because I’m never alone,” he says. “But as soon as I’m familiar with a place, it’s time to leave.”

Sailor says his dream is to write a book about the trip, “but I always say this is only practice for the next trip.”

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