On the first day of every new year, an Ohio couple uses an unconventional method to decide where they will be vacationing–a dart.
Jen and Bob Westerfield flip a coin every Jan. 1 and whoever wins the coin toss is blindfolded and handed a dart. They throw the dart of a map of the United States in their Waynesville, Ohio, home and find out where chance is taking them on a trip the next year.
“Wherever the dart lands, we open up an atlas, take a piece of paper and pinpoint where we’re going,” Jen Westerfield told ABCNews.com. “Each one has been a great experience, so we’ve kept up the tradition.”
The couple started the tradition in 2004 when they were still dating. Their first trip took them to Marsh Island, La. The island itself is a wildlife reservation, but they stayed at a nearby town and visited the island and a tobacco factory.
The following two years they ended up in Happy, Texas and Zuni, N.M.
“We really like people and we like spontaneous things and we don’t think through our decisions. We just love this kind of vacationing,” Westerfield said. “I think [for] a lot of people, it would make them crazy not to know exactly what they’re going to do or exactly where they’re going to go. We just get there, contact the visitor’s bureau and take it from there.”
In 2007, the couple visited their smallest town–Two Buttes, Colo.
“It’s a town of 45 people,” Westerfield said. “They have nothing there. They don’t even have a restaurant. The post office was the only thing.”
When asked if the couple ever cheats the system by re-throwing the dart for a new perhaps more populated destination, Westerfield said they do not.
“We’re pretty disciplined, but it’s certainly tempting,” she said with a laugh. “We at least go to the places and if it’s by chance, there’s a purpose where we’re going and we try to figure out how to make it beneficial to the people in the town and to us.”
She said that in recent trips, the couple has volunteered for a charity or organization in the town while visiting.
From 2008 to 2010, the couple visited Superior, Neb., Circle, Mont. and Soda Springs, Idaho. They spend a great deal of time planning the trips and often visit other cities in the states of their dart cities.
The couple has brought their three young children on a few of the trips. They have twin 4-year-old boys and 1-year-old daughter. On the 2009 trip to Montana, the boys got to see a real cowboy and Westerfield said it has been one of the highlights.
Their most recent trip, in 2011, was to Yuma, Ariz., the largest city the dart has hit. They visited a casino, museum and served meals at a local mission, among other stops.
The dart vacations even have their own Facebook page, Dart America by Chance, where the Westerfields document all of their trips.
This year, the couple will be traveling to Laramie, Wyo., and the dart they threw on Jan. 1, 2012 landed on Badger, Minn., where they will go in 2013.
“People get excited about traveling other places all around the globe, but I think there’s just so much diversity within the United States from one place to the next, different cultures and different lifestyles,” Westerfield said. “We’re going to do this for the rest of our lives.”