Griff’s Valley View RV Park 2

After we departed Tecumseh, Ontario at 6am and headed for the US/Canadian border, we were once again faced with another cranky border patrol. This time he entered our Airstream and removed all of our veggies. We told him the veggies were purchased in the US but, he said that didn’t matter in his very authoritative voice. So, off the veggies went to trash can heaven.  Once safely back in the US we started our 710 mile journey to Iowa where we would spend the night.  Since this would be our first campground we would stay at and since we are Newbie’s, I wasn’t exactly sure how to figure out where we would end up. I had been told by several Airstreaming friends to buy an app called Allstays and it was a huge help. I’ll be writing a post about Allstays shortly. I had read several reviews on-line about various campsites that were open all year (many close for the winter) but, decided to call Griff’s Valley View RV Park and so happy I did. Carol Griffieon answered our call and secured our reservations for one night. We didn’t know what to expect. Griff’s was so lovely, we wished we could have stayed a couple of nights. Sadly, we didn’t arrive until a few minutes before the sun was setting or I would have walked the park and taken tons of photos. But, here is our level, concrete, drive-thru (big plus for Newbie’s) and our full hook ups!! Griffs is in Altoona, Iowa just outside of Des Moines. It sits on a hill overlooking the rolling hills of Iowa. It was a wonderful place to spend the evening. Check out their website to learn about all the amenties offered at Griff’s. We highly recommend Griff’s if you ever find yourself in Iowa!

And this was how we treated ourselves after a 10 hour drive ~ Glamper style!

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Can-Am RV Centre 14

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After a two night stay in Jackson Center, OH at the Airstream Factory we headed north to London, Ontario for our next stop ~ Can-Am RV Centre. The trip was only 291 miles but, crossing the Ambassador Bridge which connects Detroit to Ontario was pretty challenging. You see, we accidentally ended up in the truckers lane. We were sandwiched between a dozen semi-trucks all trying to merge into one lane. Hub’s was driving and did an excellent job keeping Beatrice safe. The customs official wasn’t happy with us at all either for being in the wrong lane (oh well, we learned!!). But, alas we made it across the bridge safely and into Canada!

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After getting through all the road construction and massive traffic jams in Windsor, Ontario, the drive was very lovely. Wind turbine farms abound along with expansive rural farms, make the landscape breathtaking.

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I have been communicating with Andy Thomson, the owner of Can-Am RV and towing expert extraordinaire, for months now. Andy and his uber experienced staff are “The Towing Specialists”. I call them the experts!! Can-Am RV Centre has been selling Airstreams for 42 years and for the past 35 years they have been doing a great deal of experimenting with different tow vehicles looking for better handling performance and economy. You see, as Newbie’s we were receiving conflicting opinions from many Airstreamers on which is the best hitch, if our TV (tow vehicle) is adequate enough to tow a 7,600 pound trailer and on and on. Andy assisted me tirelessly and was always there to answer all of my questions and concerns. Explaining all there is to know about the hitching system, brake controllers, tires et al. I stayed steadfast with Andy’s recommendations and purchased a Hensley Arrow hitch, DirecLink Brake Controller and new Michelin tires P235/75R x 15” XL (extra load) which Can-Am installed for us.

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Andy Thomson also writes an article in each issue of Airstream Life Magazine about towing. You can see several video here and read many articles about towing here.

Beatrice being taken away for service and inside the service centre at Can-Am.

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My sincerest thanks goes out to Andy and his staff that assisted us: Marshall McLean, John Watterton, Phil Tipler, Phil Willer and Wendy Vandevyvere ! You all are so amazing to work with. Your customer service is bar none the best in the industry. You made us feel welcome, assisted us with our personal needs for an overnight stay and really opened up our eyes to how a hitch and it’s components are supposed to work. It was worth the extra mileage, time and money to have the Hensley hitch fine tuned and the new tires installed by Can-Am.

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A superb restaurant, Pasto’s Grill, is just down the street from Can-Am. We thoroughly enjoyed both our dinner that evening and lunch the next day. It’s really good and worth a visit the next time you are in London, Ontario!

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A Ford Taurus SHO towing a 34′ Airstream set up by Can-Am

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We were off to our next adventure after a very productive overnight at Can-Am. We actually were very happy to have experienced our hitch “prior” to the fine tuning that Can-Am provided because the difference was “Night and Day”! When we drove off the lot at Can-Am the ride was so much smoother, more stable and we could barely tell we were towing a trailer. It truly was heavenly!! Thank you, Andy and Can-Am RV ~ you have made our towing experience a pleasure now and we learned so much. I highly recommend Can-Am to anyone and everyone who is looking for an RV or needs exceptional service and knowledge. I only wish I lived closer to Can-Am. We’ll see you all again for sure!

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Our next stop was in Tecumseh, Ontario where fellow Airstreamers Paul & Mary O. graciously offered us “Courtesy Parking” in their driveway complete with electrical hook-up. To add to an extraordinary evening with our new friends, Paul insisted on treating us to his favorite rib joint, Tunnel Bar-B-Q and it was sensational. Our sincerest thanks to Paul and Mary! I have said it before and I’ll say it again “You Meet The Nicest People In An Airstream”!!

Photo source: Anna Sullivan Photography

Airstream Factory and My First Backup! 3

Never in a million years would I have guessed we would have visited Jackson Center, OH ~ the home of the iconic American travel trailer ~ Airstream, twice in 6 months. However, this visit was a bit different because we now own our very own piece of Americana. My first post about Jackson Center was all about the “Tour” and contains two great videos and more photos!

We arrived in Jackson Center late in the afternoon after a long drive from Maryland. The weather was crisp and cold and some of the mountain roads in Western Maryland were snow packed (Just another challenge for us “Newbies”!) but, the drive through Ohio was sunny and uneventful. Once again, I wanted to test my Newbie skills and try to back-up our Beatrice myself. Luckily for me (and for Hub’s) I nailed it after just one try, I was in. Now, I can’t brag too much because it was very easy conditions, no trailer on either side of us and no trees. But, it’s all really good practice! We parked at Airstream’s “Terraport” which is only $10.00 per night, full hookups and all RV’s are welcome. If you are having your Airstream serviced, like we were, the nightly fee is free. Best deal in town!

We were up and out at 7am because the tractor was ready to move Beatrice into her stall for installation of the roadside and back awnings. We were also having them check her out because she had just been through Hurricane Sandy. Our mechanic, Paul was sensational. He was very knowledgeable and patient with all of our questions! And thank you to Chris Burch, our Service Manager for assisting us prior to and during our visit. We appreciate everyone in the service department for their exceptional customer service. Photo below of Beatrice with her new back awning.

While you wait for you trailer to be serviced, the lobby is very welcoming. One has access to free WiFi and all the free coffee or hot chocolate that you can drink. And, there is the Wally Byam “store” where you can buy everything from stainless steel screws to flamingo baseball caps. Bring your credit card because you might not be able to resist all the Airstream paraphernalia.

The lobby is a comfy place to sit and wait for your servicing or for your 2pm Factory Tour. And the lovely ladies at the front desk are super helpful. It’s all about Airstreams here!!

When we visited the factory in July, I wrote a post about our tour and our amazing tour guide, Don Ambos. Well, Don was once again our tour guide and we enjoyed this tour even more because the factory was in production so we saw so much more. You see, when you tour the factory on a Friday, the factory is shut down. Some folks prefer Friday tours because you are shown areas that you can’t view when the factory is in production. I felt that we saw much more on this particular tour and learned more while the factory was in full swing. We saw how the  window frames are made, side wall aluminum sheets are riveted, we saw a slew of Airstreams being made for Chinese and South Korean customers. It was fascinating.

Jackson Center, OH is a teeny tiny town in rural Ohio but, it’s worth a stop if you ever find yourself in the area. Good eats are The Spot in nearby Sidney, OH (thanks to Mali Mish for the recommendation) and The Inn Between Tavern in Botkins, OH just down the street from the factory for great fried chicken. But, be forewarned ~ there is little to no cell phone service in the entire town of Jackson Center! UGH!!

Photo source: Anna Sullivan Photography

Colonial Airstream and My First Tow! 6

The big day came and went! And what a day it was. I had been anxiously anticipating this day for months now! We arrived at Colonial Airstream in Lakewood, NJ late in the afternoon to meet our Beatrice for the first time. It was bone chilling cold but, our Airstream was warm and cozy as the staff at Colonial had her all prepared for us to spend the night. We emptied our SUV with “the pile” of stuff we brought to fill her up. After spending a week in our home kitchen to try to figure out exactly what we use and don’t use, we purchased items for our Airstream that will stay in Beatrice permanently.  After moving in Hub’s made a yummy pasta dinner on our new stove top, we watched a little television and were as snug as a bug in a rug on our first night in our girl. This process made me realize we didn’t just purchase an Airstream, we purchased our second home. We are looking forward to taking our second home to as many states and national parks that we can muster!!

The staff at Colonial Airstream was extremely helpful, knowledgeable and made us “Newbie’s” feel right at home. Lauren and Pat Boticelli sold us the unit and were extremely patient with my non-stop emails with question after question.  Au courant and insightful, both Lauren and Pat made the entire purchase process as smooth as silk even though this was a stressful decision and purchase for us (there is so much to learn about trailers, towing et al.). Kevin Amaro provided us exceptional service during our walk-thru which we appreciated greatly and Brian Hawtin assisted us with parts and went above and beyond to make sure we are satisfied customers. Colonial’s inventory is massive, they provide an amazing buying experience from start to finish. Plus, they have so many wonderful video’s on YouTube ~ everything from assisting you with picking out your favorite model to putting down your awnings.

At 3:30pm on the day of our walk-thru we decided it was time to hit the road. Hub’s handed over the keys to me and I just took the bull by the horn and drove out of the Colonial parking lot. You see, this was my first towing experience. Hub’s and I haven’t towed a thing in our lives. My maiden voyage included 4 toll booths, crossing 2 bridges including the Delaware Memorial Bridge, 5 hours (3 hours in the dark), 3 states and major rush hour traffic. After all the drama of our maiden voyage ~ we’re now hanging with the big boys in the big rigs! Honestly, I was terrified at first and about 2 hours into my voyage, I was just fine and enjoying the ride. So, the adventure begins. “See More, Live More, Do More”!!

Photo source: Anna Sullivan Photography