It’s August, and for us the summer travel adventure has finally begun. It has been a great summer in New England, but the Airstream has been stationary since early June. It’s time to put all thirty feet of aluminum to full use, back on the road.
As always, we have an ambitious plan and not as much time as we’d like. There will be compromises and missed opportunities, but we can’t dwell on that. The trick to pulling off a really massive trip in a time crunch without regret is to make the tough choices and focus on the good stuff that’s left.
Our first “leg”, if you can call it that, is from Vermont to Seattle WA, which will be 3000+ miles. I have charted a route that hits about six national park sites along the way, plus visits with friends and detours for varied reasons. There would be no way to accomplish everything we have planned in just six weeks without cutting a few corners, so we elected to blast through the first 800 miles by taking the shortcut from northern New York through Ottawa and the province of Ontario, and over to Sault Ste Marie, MI.
This cuts off a lot of territory that we’ve traveled many times (NY, PA, OH) in favor of a quick and scenic drive through Ontario. Not much to regret there, except that Eleanor was kind of eyeing a stop at Niagara Falls this year (we’ve been there before and we’ll hit it another time).
And if you had a reason to travel long distances through Canada this summer you couldn’t ask for a better combination of low fuel prices and favorable dollar exchange rate. A few years ago we would have paid the equivalent of US$5.00 or more per gallon for diesel; this August it was about US$2.60.
Normally I would want to take a few days to cover 800 miles but this was one of the compromises built into the trip. By covering this leg quickly we bought time to spend in the Great Lakes and western National Parks. We ended up in Sault Ste Marie MI on the second night and ran into our friends Leigh & Brian there, which was a bonus. I posted reviews and photos of the two campsites we used along the way on Campendium.
I’m always suspicious of everything on the Airstream after it has been sitting a while, so I gave it a good inspection before we left Vermont and took some time along the way to check the Hensley hitch and other components that we’ve touched this summer. Everything has been perfect, except for the annoying mice. They love the Airstream when it is parked in Vermont, and because they’re very destructive we have to trap and remove them all summer.
This summer Eleanor trapped at least six, and there was still one left when we started towing, which turned out to be a mouse corpse decaying underneath the furnace. We found his remains by the smell and left him resting in peace at a roadside stop somewhere in Ontario. Mice are cute but when it comes to your Airstream a “zero tolerance” policy is best.
Actually, mostly working for me. From prior visits we know that there’s good cell service here, a 30-amp plug, and I can hear the waves splashing on the shore of Lake Huron just outside my dinette window, so it’s an excellent place to do some work.
There’s no high-concept entertainment in the area, which is just fine. This park of Michigan is quiet, decorated with evergreen forests and farms and very few people. Our big activities have been a trip to the sandy beach with our host family, a church supper, walking the Gogomain Bridge, and talking with our hosts. Tonight we’re going out to Raber Bay for some of the local whitefish.
From here we’ve got a long list of stops: Sturgeon Bay, perhaps Apostle Islands, Grand Portage National Monument, Isle Royale National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and many other places on the way to Seattle. It’s going to be an interesting trip, culminating in Alumafandango in California on September 20.