HOLMEN, WI (CBS/WKBT) -- There may be no better U.S. history lesson than seeing the country first-hand. That's exactly what one area mother was thinking, when she set out with her three children nine months ago to give them an education they would never forget.
Sara Zittlow and her family were already making plans to move back to the La Crosse area where she grew up. That's why she says the timing was perfect to show her children our country from sea to shining sea.
Zittlow says, "It wasn't a matter of convincing. They were ready for the adventure." Last September, Sara Zittlow and her three kids, Andrew, Megan and Ryan, set out from Green Bay on a trip around the country. Zittlow says, "It was always a new adventure. There were almost 60 families who hosted us."
She home-schooled them along the way as they tried to see every state capital. Zittlow thought it would help bring her kid's school lessons to life. She says, "When you go somewhere, you experience things differently."
Their first visit, of course, was Madison. From there, they toured capitals in the Midwest before heading east. Zittlow says the first few weeks were the hardest. She says, "At some points did we think we were going to finish, absolutely not. I mean three kids in the car and myself some days were difficult but then it just reminded us that some days are difficult at home too"
The kids say the toughest part was being cramped together in this small car. They logged more than 30, 000 miles on the road. Ryan says, "Because mom will say only 100 more miles and you'll have to go to the bathroom and you'll be crossing your legs half the ride."
They were also without their Dad, who had to stay home for most of the trip to work. Still, the kids say they truly enjoyed the experience. Andrew says, "It was worth it. I think it was worth it, even having bags fall on us, to see everybody"
Along the way, the family met many new people including several governors. They relied on the hospitality of mostly strangers, to make sure they always had a place to stay. Zittlow says, "It's heartwarming that people would just open their doors with hugs and just embrace you."
From the east coast, the family headed to the south and then out west. Zittlow say that's where they stopped the most just to enjoy the scenery. She says, "It's just so different and the air feels different. It's so hard to describe that until you go there."
It took nine months, but the Zittlow's returned to Wisconsin this past weekend. Thanks to a cruise to Alaska, and a flight to Hawaii, they did accomplish their goal of seeing all 50 capitals.
But seeing her three children bond like they did was Sara's favorite part. She says, "And to see them now really know each other and creating that space for them to be good friends."
It's a once in a lifetime kind of trip. That few families would have the courage to start and the strength to finish. Zittlow says, "The memories and the relationships that we've created across the country will forever be a gift that we all hold together."
The consensus "least favorite" capital amongst the family was Juneau, Alaska. Some of the favorites included Albany, New York, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Honolulu, Hawaii.
The family has been in contact with the Guiness Book of World Records. Ryan, 8, may be the youngest documented person to visit all 50 capitals.
The family is still waiting to hear whether his name will make it in the book.