The week before Memorial Day, we arrived at Jackson Center and pulled into the campground that Airstream provides for owners who are bringing their trailers in for service. There is always a level of excitement and anticipation when we arrive and meet our fellow Airstream owners. On this trip we had a great surprise when we ran into a couple that I recognized, but I couldn’t place. After a brief conversation we realized we had met at the campground at Koreshan Historic Park, near Fort Myers, Florida when we were there last December. They live in Ohio and were just bringing in their trailer for some service work. We love the synchronicity that creates an Airstream community.
We had a list of items, most still under warranty, that we had emailed in ahead of time. When we checked in at 7:00AM the next morning at the Service Desk, we had an intake that would rival the ones conducted at the triage desk at any number of hospital Emergency Rooms. This is important work since we are living on the road and Airstream takes it very seriously. We love this focus.
We met the tech who would be working on T2 and went over the entire list, face to face, with him. Les had worked on T2 last year when we first came here so it was comforting to see a familiar face. Over the next two days, whenever there were any questions or findings we had conversations. There was a team working on T2 starting with Les. Then there was the tech who was checking the tires, brakes, and fluid (safety checks that we requested). And the third tech was the person doing some bodywork. T2 had come “in contact” with an unidentified vehicle in a parking lot in California and left the encounter with a new “pleat” in his aluminum skin.
Concern number one was getting the bodywork done in a timely fashion. Since it would typically take two to three days, and we live in T2, we wanted to know if that could be telescoped. The service manager determined that the bodywork could begin (think of it as pre-op before surgery) right away while the interior warranty work proceeded. We appreciate the Airstream culture that pulls together instant teams around what needs to get done in a timely manner for the owner.
Our next big concern was a series of electrical issues that emerged in the past four weeks. At the top of the list was the failure of the furnace to ignite when we turned it on. Les discovered that the circuit board in the furnace had shorted out because moisture had gotten in through the vents in the exterior cover. Apparently, the manufacturer has recognized this problem and Airstream is replacing them with a newly designed cover without vents. Happy Liz, heat in the morning once again! By the time we did the final review of the punch list on Friday afternoon, all the items we raised were addressed along with some new items that came up during the routine service. We love this attention to detail.
We left for a weekend visit with Peter’s sister and her husband, south to Columbus where we camped at Alum Creek State Park. The park was lovely and mostly empty, as if taking a breather before the onslaught of Memorial Day weekend and the summer intensity. On our bike ride through the campground, we expanded our Airstream community when we recognized a couple we had seen at Jackson Center a few days earlier. We chatted for a while and learned they are thinking of a month-long trip this summer out west. We got to share lots of information, exchanging emails and blog contact and inviting them to be in touch if they had more questions.
Columbus was radiant on Sunday in the long-awaited spring sunshine and warm temperatures. We toured the gorgeous Franklin Park Conservatory with its stunning butterfly garden, lovely bonsai garden, remarkable Chihuly installations, inspirational steel origami, and a special exhibition of award-winning irises. We then drove over to the Topiary Garden in one of downtown Columbus’ many parks. Here we wandered through a more than life-size topiary inspired by Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday afternoon on the isle of la Grande Jatte”. James T. Mason, the sculptor and creator of the topiary, wrote, “The Topiary Park is a landscape of a painting of a landscape … The Topiary garden is both a work of art and a work of nature. It plays upon the relationships between nature and art”.
We had no particular agenda for the week so when we noticed the water pump seemed louder than usual, we decided to be prudent and drive back up to Airstream, after calling first. “Come on up”, was the response and we did. This spontaneous decision put us in line for two interactions with people who radiated light and grace and just brightened our day with the gift of their presence.
The first encounter happened on our way up to Airstream. As many of you know, Peter and I make a point of detouring for excellent donuts. We had heard of a place called Mrs. Renison’s Donuts which has been making donuts since 1989 in Marysville, Ohio. As we walked in, the simple little shop smelled wonderful, the donuts looked great, and woman behind the counter greeted us with sincerity and warmth. Turns out that she had recently moved to the area and landed this job at a place, “where the customers are usually pretty happy”. She radiated joy and happiness herself and it was easy to see how contagious that could be. Plus, she works in a place that makes a fabulous product which is an institution in the area.
Completely satisfied with a donut fix that exceeded expectations, we landed at Airstream where they looked at the pump (it was OK), made an adjustment to the refrigerator temp settings (little icicles were forming on the fins), and we picked up a new wastebasket (which will serve as a place to store shoes when coming into the trailer). We spent one more night in the Airstream campground and took a late-afternoon drive over to nearby Sidney, Ohio one of those little towns that held some surprising gems in its treasure chest.
Here’s where we had our second encounter with light and joy. After biking through the beautiful Tawawa Park, we rode into town searching for ice cream. We found a place called “Chilly Jilly” where a Dole soft serve fruit whip still costs $1.50 and tasted amazing. I wanted to know if there was a place to buy beer and we were directed to the local “carry out store”. What looked like a former gas station had been converted to a place where you can drive up, order your packaged beer, wine, or liquor, pay at the drive-up window and be off. We walked up and were greeted by the employees – two young women, one working the cash register and the other stocking the coolers. I asked if I could buy one bottle of beer and they cheerful said, “Sure!” and pointed to the cooler where the singles were lined up. “So, you must not be from around here”, was her observation. This led to our “elevator speech” about life on the road. The story brought cheerful comments and joyous endorsements like, “Whoa, that is so cool”, to “Can’t wait until I can do something like that”. As we were leaving they asked if we had our Airstream with us (they wanted to check it out, apparently) and presented me with a complementary koozie to keep my Sierra Nevada cold until I got home. Gotta love it!
On the way out of town, we discovered an incredibly beautiful bank building, designed by Louis Sullivan, and completed in 1917. Sullivan has been called the father of the skyscraper and was a mentor to the ambitious young Frank Lloyd Wright. The stained glass and the ceramic tile work are spectacular. The building sits right in the middle of downtown, confident and serene, and across the street from the imposing Shelby County Court house. Both are gems.
We headed out of town Tuesday morning, wandering across Ohio back roads. Crazy slants of brilliant sunlight sliced through the fully leafed-out hardwoods as we zipped down the mostly empty roads on our way northeast to Victor, New York for the Memorial Day weekend with close friends, memories of joyful moments still fresh in our hearts.
Liz and Peter continue their travels, winding through the Midwest under mostly sunny skies, as they head to New England in their Airstream.