Adventurous Boomers Wanted This VanLife Spring Break

Adventurous Boomers went on a spring break van loop.

Ahh yes, we wanted to put the cloudy Michigan winter doldrums behind us. It felt great for this pair of adventurous boomers to get out early for spring break. We wanted to take this trip to see family and attend to familial matters, and nicely, we did. We wanted it to go well in terms of new van improvements, and yes it did. Spring break runs from mid March to mid April, and a van is a good way to go.

We looped south and moochdocked for good time with family in Central Illinois. Then we stopped at Abraham Lincoln’s home, a national historic site in Springfield, where it only got up to a windy 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Still, the tours were all booked up. Too cold to hang around, but we’ll be back. That is the Lincoln house behind us. We have been going there since we were kids on school tours.

So, heading south looking for warm sun, we rolled along old Route 29. Sometimes the Illinois scenery is not too flashy, but this route was almost idyllic and can make you understand why they call it the prairie state. There are beautiful fenceless stretches featuring grasses, pristine prairie sod. We crossed through Kentucky and entered the Land Between the Lakes Natural Recreation area. This narrow north-south strip gives a unique way to enter into Tennessee, where they start calling it The Trace. It’s mysterious and interesting and scenic, even having some bison.

Where the Tide of the Civil War Shifted

Our immediate destination was Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River near Dover, Tennessee. We boondocked there to take in the earthwork fortress and big Rebel gun batteries; they were placed there to keep the North out of the South. But U.S. Grant was Lincoln’s “fighting general”, and this is where he got started for real. So, Grant was aggressive, but he also introduced ironclad ships. Otherwise, these guns probably would have kept the Yankees out.

We thought we would be in some warmth by now, but it was still missing. Good thing the van electrical system worked well, which is necessary to ignite the propane heat. Unfortunately, back in the winter, we had learned a lesson the proverbial hard way. One needs a decent working understanding of your coach’s electrical system – more than a casual one.

adventurous boomers in Dunedin Florida

It’s fair to say Dunedin, near Clearwater, is not so much a secret anymore. While visiting family and friends, I took part of a day and went to Master Overland, an outfitter in nearby Brooksville. They did a great job installing this spare tire rack and beefy Sumo rear spring supports. So, now that we have a spare tire, we will have no flats.

Homeward Through a Southeast Coast Triad of Cities

We finally found that sunny warmth in Florida, but then it came time to head home. On the loop back north, we spent time in each of the historic cities of St. Augustine, Savannah, and Charleston. Great places all, but with different levels of van friendliness. Looking back, they seem to have different ways and capacities to “build back better”. After an hour-long impossible stalemate in Charleston, I got a ticket for a wrong turn.

So, Charleston didn’t go well. They need some time before we go back. But the feudal fort in St. Augustine, the oldest non-indigenous artifact in America, the world of Ponce de Leone, was profound. Be ready to walk.

Savannah has its incomparable elegance as you see below, plus the best of shrimp and grits. Note there is overnight downtown parking for vans in Savannah (weeknights only due to hotel outcry); that’s convenient and a pretty good deal for adventurous boomers.

I anticipate write-ups on the Civil War sites and best-features of Interstate 75. If you have ideas or contributions, please share. This trip included Fort McAllister, basically on a salt marsh. Georgia state parks have never disappointed – always clean, friendly, functional, and beautiful.

People are coming together and seeing the beautiful sites, even as prices climb and more wicked storms blow. On our final stretch home to Michigan, we cut through the edges of numerous fast-moving, near tornadic storms. Vans catch a lot of wind, so be careful and take your time. The new stronger shocks helped the handling, for sure. We did see a crashed van among the stopped vehicles and flashing warnings. I am looking for the best way to know precisely what weather is upon us in the moment – even if we are pulled off the road.

We are privileged to enjoy the vitality of van travel

All life forms learn and adjust and wind down. VanLife is growing, certainly not receding. Not so in the aggregate, and not even for us, a couple of adventurous boomers. It can help keep you young if you are ready for it. And what a great way to get a break from it all.