The I75 Van Line: An Incredible North-South Thoroughfare

American North South Van Line

On January 13th 2024 we pulled out for another excursion on the I75 van line. Call it a van line, up and down through the American heartland. For us, it was down from Michigan to Florida, and then up to go back home. You always see plenty of class B van adventurists on I75. It’s a main eastern time zone thoroughfare.

Detroit’s first big snow and ice of the season had passed over the night before. The temperature plummeted and the first pass to clear the roads was done. It was the first hard freeze of the season, coming later than usual. The huge storm covered the country and was moving west to east. So, it felt great to head out just behind it, heading south.

The highway surfaces were clear, and there was no new snow or rain. What we didn’t fully anticipate, was the persistent buffeting winds. Class B folks know the deal, that the vans are tall and catch the wind. I am glad we had installed the beefier bump stops on the suspension, as learned from the Tellaro Owners and Wannabes. On this day, the winds were so fierce that the cruise control could not be used. But all things considered – the van handled great. It was a solid five hours of two hands on the wheel, no exceptions. Plus, go as slow as necessary, and take breaks.

Boondocking (or Boondoggling?)

Maybe it’s a sign of the times, or I wasn’t watching close. But huge numbers of folks are now stopping at truck stops and rest areas. We took a siesta at a Loves truck stop in Tennessee. There is a bit of a protocol in play if you spend time there.

Parked at a Love's Truck Stop on the I75 Van Line
Georgia looms large on the I75 Van Line, with great state parks and civil war sites.

Georgia looms large on the I75 van line. Their rest areas have prominent signs saying “no overnight parking”, but that might not mean you can’t take a nap. Georgia has among the best state campgrounds, and impressive Civil War sites.

Old Man Winter Weighs In

Of course, Florida is a nice respite from the Michigan winter. We like to take the backroads and only drive so far per day. But we were hustling on two accounts. One, our old man, a decorated fighter pilot of WWII, was turning 100 years old on Wednesday the 17th. And two, we needed to get south to keep the van’s water system from freezing up.

Since the upper Midwest winter had so far been warmer than usual, we had kept the water system intact, anticipating this trip. With working water, we headed for warm weather in Dunedin, near Clearwater. On the way, we passed through single digit temperatures and negative wind chills. When we arrived in Florida the temps were in the sixties, and folks were complaining about the cold. Compared to where we came from, Gulf Coast Florida felt balmy.

Old Man Russell’s Party Gets Started

We go up and down the I75 van line to keep up with the old man, WWII

On the day before his 100th birthday on 1/17/24, Bob Russell was interviewed by people from a French WWII tour operation. Friends and family came to his home every day of the week. Bob is one of four known living members of the infamous Hell Hawks.

A Too Quick Return Back Up the I75 Van Line

In the middle of the week, my partner came down with Covid, so we had to leave. I had anticipated that the Midwest cold snap would be over before we headed back, but no. We stayed in Macon, Georgia where it was a pleasant fifty-five degrees when we headed out to make the run home.

Through the day, rolling up I75, temps dropped and conditions worsened. In northern Tennessee we hit bitter cold and blowing precipitation. Up into Kentucky, we experienced a period of white out with temps in the teens. The ProMaster Tellaro did great again, but oh no, that unprotected water system.

A major piece of my water system protection plan failed. We got home, and it is now plugged in and warm. So, hopefully not damaged. The snow and ice that was here when we left is still here, with new layers added.

For any maintenance, trouble-shooting, or enhancements I make to our 2023 Tellaro, I go first to the Thor Sequence and Tellaro Owners and Wannabees. This forum is helpful and knowledgeable. When the van and I thoroughly thaw out, that’s where I will look first.

Considering the I75 Van Line

The odometer on our 2023 Tellaro turned over 38,000 miles on the trip home. Probably more of it has been on I75 than any other road.

I have some of the makings of an I75 Van Line Guide. Maybe it could be a bit like the new Route 66 for van folks. Let me know if you have ideas or interest in sites to see, places to avoid, best eating, or accommodations for van life adventurists.