What day is today? That’s quickly becoming the most common question between Jocelyn and me. When we did our first trip around the world, we kept in pretty good touch with time because we were always jumping on flights or checking into hotels. This is different though because Penny Lane is always open and most campsites don’t require reservations this time of the year.
It’s much different than how my time was dictated a little over four months ago before I quit my job. It felt like the next week started before I even got through the end of the day on Friday. My team was stretched across the world so it wasn’t uncommon to have a meeting Sunday evening with Asia, and it was quite common to have lingering stress from the week before or the upcoming week haunt my weekends.
My Monday mornings usually started promptly at 8am with a conference call with my team in Europe or across the states. It really saddened me to make my team in California join calls at the same time, which was 6am their time, or team members from Singapore join at 9pm their time. The day would usually continue with 8-10 hours of conference calls through 6pm as we worked hard to improve our website and keep it running. The next day would come in go with similar routines but more evening calls. I get tense just thinking about it.
But I know your day is probably similar. Even if you don’t have a full time job, the kids can be even more challenging as you prepare them for the day or prepare to be with them all day. Life ain’t easy.
Back to my new reality. It’s not the fantasy many people might think where stress has to be hunted down because it’s so uncommon, but it also won’t push me to an anxiety attack like my job did. Our new problems quickly simplify to the basics of human survival. Where are we going to stay tonight? Where can we find a clean bathroom? Where can we find water for our camper? Where exactly is that smell coming from?
The first full week on the road added the stress of not knowing how our car would perform after it broke down the week before and needed a new transfer case. Yes, it’s very questionable to pull a camper with a car that has 197k miles on it, but it’s almost incomprehensible to buy a new $30k truck when neither of us have jobs… it definitely doesn’t agree with the 20% rule for car affordability. So we packed up the repaired car, hooked up the camper, and went for it.
We left Kentucky on a Monday morning and drove straight to the Airstream Factory in Jackson Center, Ohio. This is where Penny Lane was born! Almost fifty years ago she rolled off the same assembly line that’s currently producing 18 Airstreams per day that are sent out across the US and the world. It was fascinating watching the factory workers build the Airstreams from scratch and mostly assemble them by hand. They were probably creeped out when I smiled at them fondly as I thought about the previous three months of full time work we put into renovating our Airstream.
We opted out of staying at the factory which actually had camping sites for people who stayed for service work, and instead continued up the road through Ohio so we could make it to Niagra Falls the next day. We stayed outside of Mt. Gilead in Ohio, and believe it or not, it was only our second night stay in the Airstream even though we had left Dallas nearly four weeks earlier.
We woke up the next morning, packed up and started the long drive to Niagra Falls. One thing we’ve learned is we can turn a three hour drive into a full day tour when pulling the Airstream. It’s a combination of stopping more because we get 10-12 mpg, and going slower… so we can go from 10 to 12 miles per gallon! We also make some stops along the way, which usually involve an hour stopover at the local Walmart.
Jocelyn is the navigator and researcher on the trip, and I’m the driver. She works hard to find economical campsites but also puts us in the place to see what we need to see. In Niagra Falls, she found a casino where we could stay for free! We pulled in around 6pm and made a quick hike to the falls to catch the sun setting. Afterwards, we stopped at the casino because they were so generous to let us stay there for free, and proceeded to lose about $40 gambling. Dang it, there goes the free night!
The next day we had a pretty drive along Lake Ontario as we discovered New York is a big state. We stayed outside Rochester for a quick night and met some fellow vintage trailer-ers in a 1962 Avion. They were total hippies – like the real hippies from the 1970’s. We’ve learned that if we’re going to make any friends at campsites, it’ll have to be with 60-70 year-olds as they’re the only ones out RV’ing!
Our final nights in New York were spent in the Adirondacks. Doesn’t that sound fancy? They must have really good marketing people because for me it conjured up images of wealthy New Yorkers fleeing the peasants for the weekend – the weekend they weren’t going to spend in the Hamptons, of course. I have to say though, I was impressed with the Adirondacks! We stayed at the beautiful Fish Pond Creek campground which was more of a lake than a pond, and was draped with brilliant reds, oranges and yellows from the changing leaves. This was why we came to the northeast first instead of our beloved southwest.
We did a nice hike the next day to a stunning vista with 360 degree views over the most impressive leaves I’ve ever seen. Growing up in Oklahoma, the leaves typically went from green to brown as summer ended in drought or the cold came too quickly to let the leaves show off. But these leaves…my gosh, it was like the countryside was on fire. It was then I looked down at my watch and realized it was Friday afternoon… and I didn’t have any meetings on my calendar and wouldn’t have any on Monday either. That’s why we did this trip.