By Randall Chase
Planning a family trip is not nearly as fun as being on the trip; I think we all know that. But planning a trip is easier when you have the right tools. I learned that from my father, who often told me that a project is always easier when you use the proper tools. This view is as accurate for building a shed as it is for taking a trip.
Growing up, I always heard stories about when my parents first got married they lived in an Airstream trailer in a field. The thought of what Airstream was had always been a part of my memories. It was the beginnings, security, and adventure. All of these ideas have been wrapped up in my memory and in my perception of what Airstream is all about.
When I had the opportunity to take my family on an Airstream adventure, I thought about safety, security, proper tools, and (of course) adventures. So when I heard that we were towing the Tommy Bahama Edition Airstream with a 2018 Ford Expedition Max, I instantly knew that I had the proper tool for the job. The Expedition Max has a towing capacity (9000 LBS max) that far exceeds the weight of the trailer (5000 LBS). Plus, it has a fantastic backup camera and towing features, which deliver the peace of mind to take on the opportunity of creating a lifetime of family memories.
I thought it would be a fun adventure opportunity to bring my dad along with me to pick up the Airstream and the Ford Expedition Max. We arrived at Vogt RV in Fort Worth to meet with the excellent staff and get the once over of our living quarters for the next few days. After their thorough walk around and assistance with understanding the trailer, we were ready to hook it up and be on our way. My dad was impressed with how the new Airstream utilized so many modern touches inside such a great timeless exterior. The image of a silver riveted Airstream is iconic and part of American history. Sharing this with my dad was fun.
Hitching up the Airstream is more like art meets science than one might expect. But with the backup camera and trailer assist it was a breeze. I lined it up and got it on the first try, no joke. It even impressed my dad.
Once the kids packed all of their bags in the back and loaded everything in their seats, they saw just how much room there was left over and wanted to get an Expedition Max to have all the time. I can’t say I blame them.
Pulling out of the RV Center and onto the open road was quite an adrenaline rush of its own. For starters, it’s Dallas traffic, which is always a bit of a rush to drive in. But add on towing a 5000-lb trailer and you find out what kind of driver you really are. Honestly, though, it was much easier than I expected. From the passenger seat, my dad told me stories of what it was like to pull a trailer “back in the day” but this seemed nothing like that. I honestly was expecting some lag or drifting, or even some lack of visibility problems, but I really had none of those. Once I was on the road, it was old hat. I was humming Willie Nelson's “On The Road Again” in my head and had visions of me taking summer trips to the Redwood National Park driving this silver bullet through the tree-lined roads like I always remember seeing on postcards.
One of the best things about going on a trip like this is the stories that you tell on the way to and from your adventures. These aren’t the kinds of stories you tell when you are running through the airport trying to catch a flight, or if you are strolling through a hotel lobby looking for the pool or the bar… or the pool bar. There is something different about vacationing with a trailer. You know, maybe it’s more innocent, harkening to a bygone time when families really wanted to spend all their time together without headphones or screens, and without distractions or wifi passwords.
While we were driving, my dad and I got to talk about some of our favorite subjects: Economic Development, Nonprofit Business management (I know - riveting, isn’t it?), Scotch, classic cars (our 1973 MGB, to be specific), and other father-son topics that are often shared on trips. But the fact that he and I are now are in very similar fields, it was really nice to be able to just openly talk on the road.
We stopped along the way for a bit of lunch and a much-needed ice cream break, which allowed me to practice my first chance at parking a trailer in a parking lot. I didn’t do half bad, if I do say so myself. I was able to park and get out without messing anything up after indulging in ice cream, which was fantastic on a day on which it reached 104 degrees. Soon, we were back on the road and back to more talking.
We arrived in Austin a few hours later and swung by to drop off my dad, show my mom the new wheels and the Airstream, and then pick up my wife. We were all once again united as a family, around the camper and shared a few more stories of the past and of what life in an Airstream was like (from my mom’s perspective this time). Needless to say, they both had fond memories of the silver streak, and seeing the level of luxury on the inside was quite a step up from what they remembered in their old Airstream. I don’t think theirs had a built-in bar complete with wine and scotch glasses… I could be wrong though.
Spending time reconnecting with my dad on the way down, reconnecting with the kids, and reconnecting with my wife on this trip was totally worth it. Restoring the classic idea of a family vacation with the modern luxury of the Expedition Max made this one of the best trips we’ve been on.