Most of us celebrate the Fourth of July at a barbecue with a burger. But Howard Li, 25, is not your average American. It took Li just under 700 days to travel to all 50 states on a road trip of revolutionary proportions.
After completing the journey, Li stitched together video footage of himself in each state waving an American flag in front of a major landmark or monument. Uploaded to YouTube in the "spirit of Independence Day," the result is an 83-second video that will put your annual sheet cake to shame.
Li told ABC News that he came up with the idea for the ambitious trek in Louisiana en route to Florida. He had stopped at the Louisiana Welcome Center and noticed the state flag hanging alongside the American one. It occurred to him that "that poor Louisiana flag was never going to experience life outside of the state." The realization spurred him to get moving, see more of the country, and "show some patriotism in the process."
Based in Houston, Li drove to states that were relatively close to his hometown, but he booked flights to traverse longer distances. Once he arrived in a new place, he usually rented a car to get a feel for the area and, of course, filmed himself waving Old Glory.
"My goal was to be able to tell someone something about what I saw," he said. "If I can't describe to you at least one or two distinctive things, then I did not count that as a visit."
He made almost every trip on his own, but he brought his mother along to Washington, D.C., and Maryland. "I learned that I had to do the rest of the project alone," he said, laughing. And while he's reluctant to deal in superlatives, a few experiences stand out from the rest.
Among his favorites? "There's a national landmark called Garden of the Gods in Colorado Spring, Colorado, and I got there at sunrise," he said. "It might be one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. They have these rock formations there that extend from the ground to the sky that just blended in perfectly with the sun. It was incredible."
As for less enjoyable moments? "I'm from Texas, so I'm not really that used to driving in the snow. There was one night in North Dakota that I just didn't really plan that well, so I decided I would just stay in the car overnight," he recalled. "It was 25 degree outside. I put on every single piece of clothing I had in my duffle bag."
Li is now back in Texas and thinking about applying to business school, but he is already considering his next adventure. Just don't expect him to embark on a wild EuroTrip anytime soon. After all, he has yet to exhaust this side of the Prime Meridian. "I think I want to go to the Canadian provinces," he said. "And I really want to go see Central and South America."