Father-Son St. Louis Duo Complete Tour Of America — On Unicycles
Two years ago, Hogan Haake of Webster Groves decided to embark with his son on a quest: to unicycle in all 48 continental states before the teen graduated from high school.
An unusual quest, to say the least. But beyond the pair’s shared love of unicycling, Haake had good reason for the challenge.
“I want to be famous to my kids,” Haake said. “If other people hear about it, great, but I want to do something fascinating. So when I'm old, the kids [will say], ‘Dad you remember the time...’ Like, ‘Oh yeah.’”
He added: “I got a whole playbook of random madness.”
Haake’s son Corvin, now 17, wasn’t sure about the endeavor at first, especially as he considered how much driving would be involved. They tested the waters during a family vacation.
The second trip, two months later, was just the two of them.
“That was eight to 10 hours of driving for six or seven days,” Corvin said. “[But] we didn't really run out of conversation material. So it changed to, ‘This is good fun with my dad.’”
Their third trip was to the Pacific Northwest, where they learned the hard way that you can’t always pick a route based solely on what you see on Google Maps.
“We flew to Spokane, Washington, and we drove down to Oregon, and we unicycled on a 60 miles-an-hour highway with about a one-foot shoulder,” Hogan Haake said. “It was terrifying. … Everyone's like, ‘Oregon's the most beautiful state,’ and it is hands down our worst state.”
Despite the precariousness of that stretch, the two were undeterred. Later that same day, they rode in a large park in Spokane that turned out to be much more enjoyable.
“It had a waterfall that had large suspension bridges; it had a lot of scenery,” recalled Corvin Haake.
“And pre-COVID, there were people around,” Hogan Haake added. “One of the things we love is interacting with people when we ride, because people see the unicycles, and some people stop and ask us questions. … We had this rather nice, inebriated lady who was interested, so we helped her ride the unicycle, and I barely caught her before she face-planted. It was pretty exciting.”
After just two years of traveling, a sprint through the Northeast earlier this summer and a quick trip over to Illinois after that, the two completed their mission early. Corvin Haake is only now beginning his senior year at Webster Groves High School.
They saved the easiest journey for last, checking off Missouri by cycling a nearly 10-mile loop in St. Louis this past weekend.
The weather Sunday was miserably hot, but they pushed through, stopping at donut shops and grabbing a frozen custard at Ted Drewes along the way.
Just as Hogan Haake wanted, they’ve completed a journey neither is likely ever to forget.
“I'll definitely be remembering this for a while because it's given me a new mindset,” Corvin Haake said. He also has a new appreciation for his dad: “I realized that him driving for eight to 10 hours in a row is actually really hard, because I get pretty tired after three to five hours, and he's doing like 10 hours night after night.”
The appreciation runs both ways. “When you have something as a parent [that] you enjoy, seeing a child take that on and also appreciate it [is] pretty amazing,” Hogan Haake said.
Although the unicycling is done, their work to commemorate the journey has just begun.
“I have tons of video, and so I'm going to put out one video every week next year of this trip,” Hogan Haake said.
To learn more about the Haakes’ cross-country journey, and follow the videos as they post them, visit snorkie.com.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.