2010 Tour Part 1: Cannonballs, Cannibals, and Clippers


During our Florida trip last January, I wrote a series of behind the scenes reports about our adventures into the orange juicy state.  Seven weeks into our current cross country odyssey, I am finally ready to begin a new series of freshly squeezed and equally pulpy reports.  But before we can get to the West, let’s rewind to the East, and talk about one of man kinds most brilliant of inventions, laundry baskets. 


Mission Briefing and Laundry Baskets

Angela, Harley, and I live in a townhouse condominium neighborhood with more rules and bylaws than a poker game at the Supreme Court.  One of our favorite ordinances is the total ban on RVs within the community.  This means our camper is kept in a local paid storage lot where it’s watched by surveillance cameras and surrounded by tall fences.  God forbid the thing ever escaped.

When it’s time to hit the road, we sneak our camper into our neighborhood after dark while quietly jamming to the theme from Mission Impossible.  The objective, should we choose to accept it, is to roll past the rule happy natives, pack our camper, and disappear at dawn without a trace.

2010tour1-laundrybasket.jpgTo expedite our camper packing, Angela and I have everything ready to go in our front hallway in laundry baskets and laundry basket sized loads.  When the camper is in position, Angela (code name Monkey Paw) stays at the camper door to receive the laundry baskets.  Naturally I am the delivery mechanism for such items.

As much as possible, Angela puts everything where it should go, but a lot ends up in the overcab and the dinette.  On those mornings our motto is, “Pack fast and go”.  It’s not pretty, but it works for us.  During the following day or so, all of our stuff will find a home and we’ll be in ship shape.  Like every truck camper adventure before it, this is how our current trip began.


A Cannonball Blur

With the turn of a key, our diesel truck purred to life at 7:00am, Tuesday, April 13th and Angela and I began what would be a blistering cannonball run.  On that first day of our five month tour, we drove 381 miles north from our Pennsylvania home to Truck Camper Warehouse in New Hampshire to pick up our new 2010 Adventurer 90FWS. 

Forty-eight hours later, we said goodbye to Bill Penney and drove 478 miles south to Sanford, Virginia to attend the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Truck Camper Rally.  After three days of sun and fun with friends, we got back into our truck and drove 726 miles to Palomino RV in Colon, Michigan.

For the next two and a half weeks, Angela, Harley, and I would visit five companies, Palomino RV, Travel Lite, Classy Chassis, Rieco-Titan Products, and Northstar Campers.  When we weren’t in factories, we were driving.  When we weren’t in factories or driving, we were writing and posting articles.  We did stop by the RV Hall of Fame, but only to stay the night in their parking lot.  To be honest, those first few weeks were a fun, but extremely hectic blur.

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When we finally did take a break, we camped at Eby's Pines Campground in Bristol, Indiana (see above) for showers, electric, and laundry.  The campground was very nice, but after weeks of beautiful weather at the factories, it rained, rained, and rained some more.  Still, after boondocking for weeks, it was a relaxing oasis.

When we said goodbye to Rex and Rory Willett at Northstar on Wednesday, May 5th, we had completed our midwest tour stops.  It was time to turn our camper southwest towards Denver.  Upon entering Nebraska, the winds of change started picking up, and up, and up.


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This dude was walking around half-naked sporting a mohawk at the Cedar Rapids WalMart.  You never know what you're going to see on the road.



Nebraska Winds and Cannibalism

After steering our camper through an angry torrent of Nebraska wind the likes of which would have sunk Gilligan and the Skipper too, we found a quiet KOA campground in Gothenburg for the night.  Now when I say quiet, I mean there was literally nobody there except two campground hosts.  I started to wonder if the locals ate the campers at night.  Then a fifth wheel and a Class A showed up and we figured all we had to do was out run one of them when the hungry people eating mob showed up.  Isn’t that what a Cummins Turbo diesel is for?

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Looking out at "Cannibal Campground" in Gothenburg, Nebraska.



Long story short, no cannibals, decent showers, and 30-amp electric.  I know we’re supposed to be boondocking pirates, but sometimes a campground is just what the wife ordered.  Harley’s the real pirate.  He never showers.  It’s disgraceful.


Finally... The West

When Angela and I are driving west in a truck camper, there’s a very special moment when we feel that we’ve arrived.  It’s not a state line or other man made boundary.  Usually, it’s a mountain, a butte, or at least a very large rock.

On this trip, it was a series of amazing rock formations on Route 80 in Sydney, Nebraska.  Just after the rock formations, we passed the world headquarters for Cabela’s and the pulled into a gas station for some badly needed diesel.  The outside temperature was hovering around forty degrees with that same cold wind.  A grizzled guy fueling up across the island from us asked me if we had seen the snow in the mountains last night.  That was it.  We were out West.  And did he say snow?


Wyoming Clippers

To celebrate our arrival, we got in the truck and drove into Wyoming.  Now I’d like to report that the wind stopped at the border, but the truth is Wyoming would have blown away long ago if it wasn’t for Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and South Dakota holding it in place.  I would include Nebraska on the list but we’ve already mentioned that state has a serious case of the winds.

Here and there, Wyoming continued the Western scenery through Cheyenne before we crossed the state line into Colorado.  We were only in Wyoming for a few hours as we clipped the southeast corner.  On our drive home we’ll clip the northwest corner of Wyoming when we explore Yellowstone.  In 2005 we clipped the northeast corner of Wyoming to see Devils Tower.  We’ve never seen central Wyoming and I’m starting to wonder if we ever will.  I guess when it comes to Wyoming, we’re clippers.


Next: Peak-to-Peak Byway and Mountains of Mint

For my next report, I’ll take us into Colorado, across the stunning Peak-to-Peak Byway, and into the Celestial Seasonings tea factory in Boulder.  It’s going to get tingly.