Two Old Guys Trying to Recapture Their Youth – Part 1

Well, not exactly, but…
John and I became friends as college classmates in the mid-1960s. In the spring of our junior year, we took off on spring break for a week’s trip to Florida. That was our first road trip. Forty-eight years later, it was finally time for another.

Planning

Shortly after Peggy and I obtained our new camper, I suggested to my long-time friend that he and I should plan a trip, and did he have any suggestions on places to visit. We mulled over several destinations, with John suggesting Greenfield Village and the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan based on his enthusiasm for all things automotive. I agreed provided we could include a stop at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, which was sort of “on the way.” Later we added visits to the Organization for Bat Conservation (in Michigan) and the Riverside RV (camper) factory in Lagrange, Indiana.

The First of several notes: John’s approach to travel camping is strictly minimalistic. He has his pickup truck configured for sleeping in the back under the cap over the bed. Shelves and other storage are arranged to meet his needs. And when it comes to meals, bread and bologna or MREs are his staples. Traveling in a new camper was an upscale trip for him, and although I packed half of a five-pound log of bologna for him, it was my intent to upgrade our meals whenever possible! Still, on about Day 5, for breakfast, he was sitting cross-legged on the camper floor making a bologna sandwich. On the floor because we had converted the camper’s dinette into his bed, where he had carefully arranged his air mattress and sleeping bag on top of the dinette cushions.

Day One – Departure and Travel to Dayton, OH

Filled with anticipation, we pulled out of my driveway on Tuesday, October 7. But before the first hour was up, we were stalled in a one-hour accident delay on I-24 approaching Nashville. During the delay, steady rains moved in, and once free of the traffic jam, we traveled cautiously through rush-hour traffic to I-65 north toward Louisville where we branched onto I-71 toward Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio. It rained off-and-on most of the way. With an hour to spare before sunset, we arrived at the Wright-Patterson AFB Family Campground.

Another note: much of the time driving conditions were at best challenging, between heavy rains, pulling the trailer and a steady parade of tractor trailers passing us, driving required concentration. Following an unfamiliar route, looking for highway route signs without assistance would have only added more anxiety to the driving. John took charge of navigation making sure I had advance notice of any required lane changes or up-coming route changes, etc. A good navigator can significantly relieve the stress of driving unfamiliar routes, especially in adverse driving conditions.

Wright Patterson AFB Campground

The Camper set up at WPAFB Family Campground.

The Camper set up at WPAFB Family Campground.

John is a retired Marine officer, hence our access to the campground at WPAFB. The campground provides 54 paved sites in three neat rows; 40 with full hookups. There is access to an on-base lake, fishing, a small store, laundry, and other facilities. Our sole purpose, however, for staying in Dayton was to visit the Air Force Museum. The camp site and the conveniently located bathhouse were the only facilities we used.

My camp experience is somewhat limited, but of the two dozen or so campgrounds I have visited recently, I would describe the bath houses as marginally acceptable, mostly because many are older, badly worn, hard to clean, poorly lighted, cold, etc. Not so at WPAFB. The bath house was clean and modern, perhaps the best I have seen to date.

Day 2 – Air Force Museum, Dayton, Ohio

The National Museum of the United States Air Force, WPAFB, Dayton, Ohio (U.S. Air Force Photo)

The National Museum of the United States Air Force, WPAFB, Dayton, Ohio (U.S. Air Force Photo)

The morning was pleasant and we headed for the museum. The Air Force Museum is an aviation enthusiast’s dream and a history buff’s tangible history of the 20th Century of the United States. We spent a day and a half there, and could have spent an entire week had we wanted to read all of the information plaques and thoroughly view each aircraft exhibit. Look for a separate upcoming article on the museum.

Day 3 – Sterling Campground, Monroe, Michigan

After spending the morning of the third day touring the museum’s Presidential and Developmental Aircraft Collections, we departed for Monroe, Michigan and Sterling state park and campground. Again, we drove about half the distance in rain and heavy traffic, but this was a “short” three-hour trip.

We had made reservations and paid for our campground in advance. That was a good thing. Perhaps because it was after Labor Day, we never saw any park or campground personnel at the entrance gate nor at the campground office. They provided a “yellow” telephone outside the office to check in.

Sterling is a broad, open campground that offers more than 230 paved sites, many with full hookups, the remaining with electricity and water. A few young trees` have been planted but there are no mature trees. Some sites require leveling a camper, but most are level. There are two modern, well maintained bathhouses—even better than at WPAFB. Each shower room can be closed and locked from the inside with a dressing area apart from the shower.

Note, a word of warning: In addition to daily camp site fees, Michigan requires that a “Recreation Passport” be purchased for each vehicle while camping or using state park facilities. The passport costs $31.00 per year or $9.00 for a one-day passport. That meant we had to pay an additional $31.00 to stay four nights, even though we were not using any other state facilities. In the future we might opt for a private campground, even at a slightly higher daily rate.

ABOUT Entry
John and I became friends as college classmates in the mid-1960s. In the spring of our junior year, we took off on spring break for a week’s trip to Florida. That was our first road trip. Forty-eight years later, it was finally time for another. This is a summary of our recent trip to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio, and The Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, and the Organization for Bat Conservation in Michigan. More detailed articles will follow on specific topics. This is Part 1 of two parts.

Table of Contents Entry
This is a summary of a recent trip to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio, and The Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, and the Organization for Bat Conservation in Michigan. This is Part 1 of two parts.

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2 Responses to Two Old Guys Trying to Recapture Their Youth – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Renaissance Musings Table of Contents | Renaissance Musings

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