About this iReport
  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view GringoChapin's profile
    Posted May 12, 2014 by
    Sparta, New Jersey
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Visited all 50 states?

    A Beer Well Earned


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     GringoChapin, 53, and his friend Tom made a bet when they were teenagers back in 1976 that whichever one of them was the first to step foot in all 50 states would earn a six-pack of beer.

    "I think when we made the bet he had something like 36 states and I had 19. A bit uneven, but in my 15-year-old mind I felt this would motivate me," he said. The two men had strict criteria for their 15-year-long bet, which included spending a full hour in a state during the day and being in an area away from the border.

    In 1992, GringoChapin received a postcard from Alaska, declaring that Tom had set foot in his fiftieth state and won the six-pack. This didn't deter him from finishing what he started. Two years later, he made the effort to visit the final state he needed to: Oregon.

    "I was sent to San Francisco on business. I realized I needed to take matters into my own hands. I arranged to stay an extra day, rented a car and drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and straight to Oregon on I-5. I stopped in Medford to send Tom a card, then looped around back to San Francisco via the Pacific Coast Highway. In that 24 hours, I put 925 miles on the rental car. I can't imagine what they thought at the agency when I returned it."
    - Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer

    Fifteen years is a long time for a bet. Especially a bet that starts when you are only fifteen years old. Way back in 1976, my best friend Tom and I, as teenagers, shook hands on a wager that whichever one of us was the first to set foot in all fifty states would be treated by the other to what was then an extremely valuable prize- a six-pack of the beer of his choice!

    The years rolled on through high school, college, marriage and early careers, and adding new states to our lists took a back seat to all of this. Although Tom and I at times lived on opposite coasts, through all those years, we never forgot about “the bet.” Tom’s military career provided him ample opportunities to gather up his missing puzzle pieces, while my career in international sales took me mostly to places outside the country. I knew I was beaten when, at age thirty, I received a postcard from Alaska. Since airport stopovers didn’t “count,” Tom had had to run to a location sufficiently off airport property to officially bag his fiftieth. He collected his well-deserved winnings early the following year, iced and with frosted mugs.

    An unimpressive seven years later I limped into Oregon at age 37 and was sure to send Tom a card. It said simply “50!”
    Add your Story Add your Story