On my way from the West Coast to the East Coast, I stopped in Jackson Center, Ohio for a visit to the Airstream factory. What a cool place! I went to get some repair work done, but I have to admit, I also wanted to tour the assembly line and meet some of the people that made my traveling home. The people could not have been nicer; everyone from the front desk to the technicians doing the dirty work. It truly was a productive (albeit expensive) couple of days.
It all starts at 7AM sharp when a guy with a John Deere tractor picks up the Airstream at the Terra Port (a free campground for Airstreams needing service) and tows it in to the Service Center. Then, one of the technicians comes out to talk over the list – the list of stupid things I have done while on the road: oh, things like a bent step, a hole in the underbelly, a broken shower rod. And then there are the minor annoyances: a sticky dead bolt, missing rivets, a bad battery, a broken black water sensor. That’s what happens after 20,000 miles in five months! After two days, we were able to cross off all 12 items on my list.
With the Airstream in the back service area, I took one of the daily tours of the factory next door. Surprisingly, around 20 other people showed up for the tour, but only a handful were current owners. The others were simply curious. The tour was incredibly enlightening. Plus, I felt a connection whenever I saw other 23′ Internationals on the factory floor. The only problem – now I want to upgrade to a bigger, better, newer model! I got a few photos of the outside with my iPhone, but absolutely no cameras were allowed inside. Speaking of photos, the crew was very impressed with some of the upgrades in my Airstream. They brought in a few people to take photos of my custom-built desk. Who knows? Maybe a future production model will include my design ideas!
So, anyone who happens to be near I-70 and I-75 in Ohio, make a slight detour north to visit the Airstream factory. And, all Airstream owners, definitely take your Airstream here. I promise, it is well worth the drive. Hey, they even have a gift shop with all kinds of Airstream merchandise!
Well, I successfully made it from Chicago to New Haven, CT! After one denial to stay at a Wal-Mart parking lot (the toothless workers freaked me out anyway), one night in a rest stop off I-84 (right next to the State Police), and one night in a park surrounded by mobile homes (again, toothless neighbors), I am so glad to finally have a quiet and scenic spot at Hammonasset Beach State Park. This is my first self-sufficient multi-night stay (i.e. no electric hookup, no city water, and no sewer). It will be a great test to see how long the tanks and batteries will last! Another little test was the drive right through the middle of the Appalachians of Pennsylvania and New York. I am relieved that the Touareg handled it all just fine. I think I may have even passed a few people heading up some of the steep grades. Next test – the Rockies!
I will have to make it back this area when I don’t have such a tight schedule. Downtown New Haven (and Yale University) has a really cool vibe. And I may have just found my next place to live; the idyllic town of Madison, CT (where I finally had a chance to find a barber).
The only good photos I took were right outside my front window at Hammonasset Beach State Park. Apparently an annual Kite Fest was held the weekend I stayed.
Talk about a crazy place to spend the night. I am writing this from a Wal-Mart parking lot just outside Toledo, Ohio. This afternoon I left Chicago for my first solo cross-country trip to New Haven, CT. The plan is to take my time, spend most of the work week in northwest Pennsylvania, and eventually roll into the New Haven area later in the week. I have a few places in mind, but if anyone has any suggestions for local attractions along the way, send me an email. I am always on the look out for local diners, drive-ins, and dives that serve good eats!
Assuming I still want to continue this adventure after one full week in the Airstream, I will come back through Chicagoland around May 20 for one last visit. Then, it is the open road!