Tomorrow, the Airstream will leave home base and begin its annual trek across the USA, not to return until probably October.
The Airstream sits in the carport tonight, fully loaded for the expedition, tested, and hitched. After the weeks of preparation and packing, it feels like a quiet moment before a storm, full of anticipation of the unknown experiences to come. It’s exciting and a little scary.
I like to tow the Airstream out very gently as it departs its winter shelter, like a mighty ship slowly breaking free of dock. There’s a practical reason for this: with the windows rolled down I can listen carefully for anything that might be amiss, perhaps something dragging, an unexpected squeak from the wheels, a scrape or a hiss. Of course I’ve done a careful pre-trip inspection and walked around the trailer doing final checks three times, so the precaution of listening should be unnecessary, but I like to have that last moment of assurance before we head toward Interstate 10 and accelerate to full cruising speed.
From that point the Airstream will be expected to roll smoothly and quietly for many thousands of miles. Our trip plan calls for heading up to northern Arizona as far as we can get on our first day, stopping somewhere in the Four Corners area, then gradually continuing on to Ft Collins CO by Thursday. After a rally, we’ll make stops in the plains states and eventually Chicago, then over to the Airstream factory for Alumapalooza.
After Alumapalooza we’re going to make a stop or two in PA and NY, eventually ending up at Colin Hyde’s shop in Plattsburgh for some upgrades. (I’ll talk more about that in a future blog.) Then to Vermont to see family, and later in the summer we’ll head west all the way to the Pacific Ocean and down to central California for Alumafandango in late September. The end of the trip will be in early October, probably, back at home base in Arizona.
It’s an ambitious plan and in the course of it the Airstream and its tow vehicle will accumulate perhaps 8,000 – 10,000 miles. We’ll spend about 130 nights in the Airstream (I’ll spend a bit less because I’ll be TBM in Arizona for a month) and sleep in about 18 different states. But we do something like this every year, so the “trip of a lifetime” by most accounts will be just “the summer” for us. After a decade it has become something we are used to, but it’s no less exciting for that.
I often read comments from bloggers and people on forums, asking for advice and expressing their concerns about launching on a big trip. That is understandable if you’ve never done anything like this before, but if you are one of those people let me give you my bit of advice: it’s easier than you think. You can do it. You’ll figure it out and probably have a great time in the process. Just take a moment to breathe before you go.
Even now, after literally years spent in our Airstream and who-knows-how-many miles, I have a little trepidation as we pull out of the driveway. That’s the other reason why I listen to the Airstream and launch it slowly, majestically, into the sunlight and down the road. I’m really just giving myself time to absorb the change, and gather courage for the challenges and adventures that will soon follow.
Starting Monday I’ll be posting more frequently with photos and stories from the road.