After over a year of planning, countless emails, pitches, grant applications, conference calls, and meetings, the day to hook up the Airstream and hit the road arrived.
Like anything extensive you plan for, you’re still not ready when the day comes. So, knowing we had time before our first state project of Vermont, we pushed back the launch date a few days. In retrospect, the days leading up to our departure seem like total blur of appointments and packing. Fortunately, we were in good company.
My parents’ house was chock-full of people. My aunt and cousins from Mexico were visiting so the house had a total of seven people living in it. Lucky for us, they all generously offered to help so we had seven pairs of hands put to work. Looking back on it, it truly was a special time that I’ll always remember: my father helping us put the [HAS HEART] decals on the Airstream, my mom and aunt doing loads of laundry for us because we were so busy, and my three younger cousins helping carry armfuls of things while packing up the trailer.
The next day we made the final ascent up the driveway to the Airstream, carrying last-minute items such as a roll of paper towel and the bottle of tequila my aunt gifted us. You know, the essentials. With my parents on either side of me, we walked up the driveway silently with Tyler in back of us, making sure to be in the perfect position to capture the moment on camera as he always manages to do.
After putting Noel into her crate in the backseat and a tearful goodbye to my parents, we were officially on the road. I’ll admit here that I am very attached to my parents, perhaps to a fault, but when you have the world’s best parents like I do who are also two of your best friends, I’ll challenge you to not get attached. Needless to say, it was a difficult goodbye.
After wiping away my tears of mixed emotions, we managed to snap this selfie before things got REAL.
It didn’t take long for Noel to start voicing her unhappiness of being contained within a crate. By the time we got to the Flying J’s truck-stop outside of Lansing 45 minutes later, she still hadn’t stopped crying. We looked at each other both wondering if this was going to happen every time we were on the road, but neither one of us wanted to question it out loud.
We couldn’t focus on the little cat dilemma too long as a new one manifested: the need for water. Before we left, we hadn’t filled our potable (drinkable) water tank before departing because, long story short, Tyler had to drive the Airstream to the Todd Wenzel Chevrolet dealership for a photoshoot the night before with our awesome photographer friend, Brad Gillette. Since my parents driveway is the narrowest, tree-lined, snake-shaped driveway imaginable, there was no way we’d be able to back it down again, especially at night. So we had to park it on the street, too far from a fresh water hose to fill it at home.
Seeing as we’d be on the road for a couple of days, we knew we needed to fill it, but assumed there’d be plenty of easy spots to do so, right? Rookie mistake.
So, there we were, walking around this giant truck stop looking for some sort of water spigot. A fellow RV’er took pity on us, asking if we needed help. I admitted this was our first day on the road with the trailer and that we needed to find water, to which let us know that the facility had closed down their potable water spigots a while ago. The next couple hours were spent pulling over in various places from Lansing to Detroit, looking for potable water. Eventually, we found a Walmart whose outdoor section had a garden hose outside in the parking lot. Was it 100% sanitary? Who knows and at that point, we didn’t care.
For those of you who may be making contorted faces at our potentially low quality water standards, the hose we connect to the faucet has a filter on it and our kitchen sink also has a built-in filter — so technically, it was pure, double-filtered WalMart water. As Tyler filled up the tank, I popped inside to do some late night grocery shopping for a few basics: bananas, almond milk, cereal, and specialty RV toilet paper that is designed to be quick-dissolving so not to clog our black water tank and hose.
At 1 AM, we finally pulled into Allen Park, MI, where my best friend Sarah lives. Somehow, a drive that usually takes about 2.5 hours managed to take us around 6-to-7 hours, but hey, we were learning and we had a screaming cat in the back seat.
After squeezing into a small space across the street from her house, we beat the rain from a summer storm rolling in and finally hit the hay. A habitual shower-before-bed person, Tyler turned on the water heater, waited a little while, and then bravely became the first person to take a shower in the Airstream.
After asking him how it went when he came out rather quickly, he responded with a shiver and said, “cold.” Come to find out, he didn’t actually have the shower handle pointed toward “hot,” so he would later be pleasantly surprised that we could, in fact, take hot showers. Phew. Yet another rookie mistake learned the hard/cold way.
The next morning we woke up early to a warm, muggy Michigan summer day ecstatic to visit Sarah and her newborn baby Félix she and her husband Pablo had welcomed into the world just two weeks before.
After a delicious breakfast of coffee, avocado toast, and some berries, we went up to Félix’s nursery to relax in his air conditioned nursery. He was a colicky baby that liked to be held and rocked, so I chatted with Sarah as she bounced on her medicine ball with him in her arms. It was hard knowing that we would be leaving within the hour and that the next time I would see him, he’d have grown so much.
Eventually, we took photos together and exchanged our goodbyes. As she stood waving goodbye from her front step holding Félix, we pulled out and within minutes we were on the bridge to Canada to cut through to our first state: Burlington, Vermont.