May – D.C. to the Colorado Rockies

We left D.C. on Friday May 5th. While our ultimate destination was Michigan for a 10-day visit, we had intermediate stops in both Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Hanging out with Honest Abe the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Hanging out with Honest Abe the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Early in the spring we made an 8 May service appointment for a few minor repairs at the Airstream Factory (i.e., The Mothership) in Jackson Center, Ohio. In between D.C. and the Mothership, we planned to meet up with the @thisisournext crew, as well as some old Navy friends outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. So, after a quick stop at the Gettysburg Battlefield, we pulled into Pennsylvania’s Little Buffalo State Park and parked next to some of our favorite Airstreamers for the weekend. Over the course of the weekend, besides meeting up with our old Navy friends, we hungout in the campground, exposed our kids to the insanity that is the kitschy and tourist-trappy Hershey Chocolate tour, and visited the Whitaker Center for Science and Arts in Harrisburg (another ASTC member). On Sunday morning we said our goodbyes to Dave, Rosa, and the girls and headed west towards Jackson Center and the Mothership.

Gettysburg Junior Junior Ranger

While Anna took a nap in the trailer (she was running at 102-degree fever when we left D.C. that morning), Owen and I worked on his Junior Ranger Badge at the Gettysburg Visitor Center. Without a doubt, this was our most difficult Junior Ranger Badge to complete.

big big trip airstream friends buffalo state park pennsylvania

One of the unexpected highlights of this lifestyle is meeting new people along the way. It was great to have the opportunity to hang out with Dave, Rosa, and their girls again.

The 444-mile drive from Harrisburg, PA to Jackson Center, Ohio was our longest day of driving as family since the beginning of the Big Big Trip. I had a longer day, but that was by myself, driving from Montana to Colorado after we launched. Following a mind-numbing day on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, we finally pulled into the TerraPort at Airstream’s Jackson Center factory. All of us were fried and just a little cranky, but quickly got situated and settled into our spot for the night.

Airstream Mothership Terraport

Our first night parked at the Mothership’s Terraport.

Luckily, Dave and Rosa had been through the Mothership Routine the week prior and gave us the gouge. So, the next morning, not quite feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was checking into the service desk at 7am. While I was checking us in, Anna and Owen drove a few miles down the road to drop Dash off at a local kennel (link to kennel here). While everyone we talked to said that dogs were fine in the Airstream waiting room, we wanted our freedom and didn’t want the hassle of trying to deal with Dash for two days of trailer service. Plus, Dash is a barker and can be obnoxious and we didn’t feel like dealing with his bullshit. Anna managed to find a great kennel just a few miles outside of Jackson Center and the $43 we spent on two days of boarding (plus a wash!) was money well spent.

Dayton Ohio Aviation Junior Ranger

Owen earning one of his two Junior Ranger Badges from our visit to Dayton, Ohio.

Over the next two days while the techs worked on our home, Anna and Owen completed school in the morning and then we all would hop in the truck to explore the area. We spent our first afternoon exploring Dayton and the two Wright Brothers and aviation-themed National Park sites (here and here). Dayton has a very nice downtown area and has collaborated with the National Park Service and the U.S. Air Force for several, very well done Wright Brothers sites. Owen even managed to earn two Junior Ranger badges during our afternoon visit to Dayton.

By the time we got back to the Mothership, our trailer had been returned to the Terraport and was patiently waiting for us. After our long day of driving on Sunday, combined with the 100-mile roundtrip drive to Dayton, we were once again exhausted and fried. Thankfully, we had planned an easier second day. With our tour scheduled for 2pm on Tuesday, we only ventured a few miles south to Sidney for some exercise at a playground and lunch at a burger place—both highly recommended by Dave and Rosa.

Another Afternoon parked at the Mothership in Jackson Center, Ohio.

Another Afternoon parked at the Mothership in Jackson Center, Ohio.

With all our work completed by the time we finished our tour on Tuesday afternoon, we spent a relaxing evening in the Terraport and departed Jackson Center late Wednesday morning after a well-deserved late wake-up. By late afternoon on Wednesday, we were parked in my Dad’s yard in Michigan.

Farmer Owen John Deere

Nothing runs like a Deere. Owen is practicing his driving skills in my Dad’s yard in Michigan. A little more practice and he will be ready for the big tractor!

Airstream Cabinet Remodel

One of the big jobs on my “to-do” list while at my Dad’s was to remove the microwave. Since we only used the microwave for storage (and since the mounting frame had recently broken), I decided to remove it and install a door. I got lucky and managed to score a piece of laminated plywood at the Airstream factory! It’s not perfect, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. And on the food storage front, it’s been a game-changer!

We spent 10-days in Michigan visiting with family and catching up on Airstream odds and ends. After completing the microwave removal project (I got a hook-up of some veneered plywood from the service tech at Airstream), I finally managed to complete my Airstream to-do list! Plans with Anna’s family were looming on the 24th of May in Loveland, Colorado, we departed Michigan on Sunday the 21st.

Airstream leaving michigan

The morning of our departure from Michigan.

Over the next three days, we averaged about 330-miles per day and made our way across the Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, to Colorado. We spent nights on the Mississippi River in Illinois, the Missouri River in Omaha, and the middle of nowhere in Ogallala, NE. In Loveland, Colorado, we met up with some of Anna’s family and stayed at Colorado’s Boyd Lake State Park. After mini-reunion, we left with Anna’s mom and dad and headed up I-70 to the Vail Valley and their driveway for the next 10-days.

During the trip to Colorado, we spent our first night on the road at the Fisherman's Corner BLM Campground on the Mississippi River in Illinois (just off I-80).

During the trip to Colorado, we spent our first night on the road at the very nice Fisherman’s Corner Army Corps of Engineers Campground on the Mississippi River in Illinois (just off I-80).

During our cross-country move in 2012, we stopped at the Antique Archeology shop in Le Claire, Iowa. Since then, Owen has fallen in love with the American Pickers TV show and we decided to stop again.

During our cross-country move in 2012, we stopped at the Antique Archeology shop in Le Claire, Iowa.  Almost exactly five years later, we decided to stop again.

Golden Spike Tower and Bailey Railyard North Platte Nebraska

We’ve always wanted to stop at the Bailey Yard and Golden Spike Visitor Center in North Platte, Nebraska. We finally had the opportunity. This is the largest railroad classification yard in the world and handles over 14,000 rail cars every day.

Welcome to Colorful Colorado Airstream

Colorado…Finally!

New Belgium Fort Collins

Anna’s brother owns a brewery in Loveland, so the beer culture is strong in this family. Fittingly, we spent one afternoon during our Loveland stay getting a FANTASTIC Private, Behind-the-Scenes Tour the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins.

Airstream in Avon Colorado

Parked in Anna’s folks’ driveway.

Red Stone Colorado

During our stay at Anna’s folks’ house, we had the opportunity to escape for a romantic get-away. We headed west to the town of Redstone, Colorado and stayed at the charming Redstone Inn.

Colorado Ghost Town

Exploring an old Ghost Town.

Still snow in early June on the Continental Divide at 12,095-feet!

Still snow in early June on the Continental Divide at 12,095-feet!

 

 

 

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