First Long trip Report(Long)
We just completed our first long trip, a 1450 mile NC loop in 3 weeks from our home in New Bern, NC to Lumberton, Charlotte, Asheville, up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Boone and Fancy Gap, across Virginia to Kerr Reservoir, the NC Outer Banks, and home. It was more than fabulous with only one day of bad weather and a lot of beautiful things to see. I have the following thoughts.
Despite the active debate, our ˝ ton Chevy pickup with the 5.3 V8 and factory towing package was more than adequate throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Tow-Haul with its brain is a thing of beauty, especially grade braking. Cruise control, not so much as it shifts too often. I got between 11 and 13 mpg on the trip. My ProPride hitch never allowed a bit of sway and except for the gas mileage, I almost never knew the trailer was there.
In the very beginning I learned to lose every aggressive driving bone in my body and became super defensive. You have to assume that every vehicle is going to pull out in front of you thinking “ I have to beat that truck and trailer”. Of course you always have to hit the brakes. It is as if every other driver is out to test your brakes. And with the stopping distance of an ocean liner at speed, your focus becomes much more down the road.
Although the parkway speed limit is 45, with the trailer, I did not feel comfortable driving more that 35-40, 30-35 in many places. Although not well documented, there are a lot of pullouts for you to allow traffic by or to enjoy the beauty. However, we had very little traffic and mostly stopped for rest/food. That drive is probably the most beautiful I have done, anywhere. We loved it.
Although the thought and practice of stopping for bathroom breaks and lunch with your self-contained home is great, on back roads, in practice, it is a bit of a challenge. You have to look for someplace that is easy-in, easy-out and generally deserted…and you cannot look carefully at 55 mph. Old gas stations sometimes work, grocery stores, shopping centers, truck stops, and churches worked best for us.
While I have no aspirations for full-timing, this trailer is well set up for comfortable living for 3 weeks. Plenty of room and storage, all of the conveniences, everything worked as required. Our FB design was the right choice. Every stop provided much better views out the back, pull through or back-in. Surprisingly, we did not run into more than a couple of other Airstreams in 3 weeks. We have seen more locally.
The only mod I need to make now is some foam in the overhead storage for our dishes. I will cut holes in the foam to hold the dishes and glasses since they bounced around a bit.
The nicest campground, by far, was the Corps of Engineers campground on Kerr reservoir, Rudd’s Creek. Large forested sites, well built, water/electric and only $12 a night with our senior pass. You almost cannot see your neighbors. All of the private campgrounds pack the spaces so tightly, you almost cannot open your awning (we could not at Cape Hatteras). Yet, other campers develop a privacy approach to not bother neighbors even if they are only 10 feet away. We have concluded we like full hookups so we can use our water, shower, and toilet without reservation, although we know many prefer more isolation.
We loved the trip the Airstream and are beginning to plan our next adventure.
Larry and Pam