Monday, February 24, 2020

MSU alumnus returns from year-long cross-country journey

September 12, 2007

The days he spent on a ranch in Montana, milking cows and collecting chicken eggs, created a memorable experience for Justin Sailor.

His 50-state tour of the U.S. gave new light to the American dream for the MSU alumnus.

Sailor departed from Michigan for his Hometown Invasion Tour on Sept. 8, 2006 and a year later, he has returned to Michigan.

“Never in my life have I felt so in touch with my country,” he said.

The 24-year-old drove his 2007 Jeep Compass, which he received in a partnership with then DaimlerChrysler AG, from state to state and lived with more than 100 host families.

With his toy squirrel, Rice, and funds he received from his family and through his Web site, Sailor took a voyage that he said not many people could do in a year.

“The American dream is alive,” Sailor said. “The trip has given me a more optimistic feel of the country.”

MSU

Sailor said the trip seemed impossible and intimidating last year, but Sailor defeated his fears and documented each experience in blogs and photos on his Web site www.hometowninvasion.com.

He wrote entries about his experiences and expeditions during his trip — like walking through redwood forests, cave diving, visiting historical memorial sites and eating “Rocky Mountain oysters.”

Sailor’s inspiration to go on the trip was a combination of his bachelor’s degrees in advertising and sociology and his interest in Web design, he said.

His friend Laura Dennison, also an MSU alumna, was very helpful in planning the trip, Sailor said. Dennison described herself as his “cheerleader” during the tour.

“A lot of people have had dreams like this,” she said. “But I knew that if anyone was going to do it, he was going to be the one to do it.”

Some of the people he lived with had a phenomenal impact on his memories from the tour, Sailor said.

“I lived with the guy who holds the record for making the world’s largest banana split (4.5 miles long),” he said.

Sailor said that in order to accomplish what he has done, you have to be committed and confident within yourself.

He spent $4,000 on gas for his vehicle and less than $10,00 on the trip all together.

Sailor plans to write a book about his experiences on the trip and speak to audiences in Lansing and on MSU’s campus.

“I’ve made some lifelong friends along the way,” he said. “This is an awesome country.”

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