Fred and Erma

Reflecting on the Capital Caravan.

Reflecting on the Capital Caravan.

Retirement. To some of us, it’s a long way off. For others, it’s not that far. Can I ask you a question? What do you plan on doing once your working days are over? I am willing to bet that most people answer that question something like this: buy a cabin. Or…buy a boat. Perhaps…travel the world. Relax. Spend time with the family. Spoil the grandkids. Well, I’m here to tell you that Hunt and Peg Hardinge, my father and step-mother, are not like most people. Now, they aren’t ready to retire yet, but as I sit blogging from my couch as a 25-year-old at the dawn of my 40+ year career, well…they are a lot closer then I am.

As I was saying, Hunt and Peg aren’t like most people. No boat, no cabin on the lake (yet). However, they do plan on traveling, just…not in the way you’d expect. Recently, they became proud owners of a brand new (to them) recreational vehicle. Not just any RV though, they bought an Airstream. That beautiful, all-aluminum, mobile luxury suite that has been seen crisscrossing American highways for over 70 years.

For the past few years, Peg and Hunt have had their eyes on purchasing one of these fine American made pieces of machinery, but it all seemed like a pipe dream. Peg passed her time searching the internet classifieds, reading the Airstream forums, and dreaming of the day she could join the proud ranks of the WBCCI. Like I said, until one day, Peg won the lottery.

Ok, so she didn’t win the actual lottery. But it was close. Peg found a man who was selling his Airstream. Guess where he lived? Out of all the people in the county, the man lived about 10 minutes from where Missy and I live! Isn’t that wild? The price was right, but since Hunt and Peg couldn’t exactly “kick the tires”, guess who they sent to investigate? That’s right…yours truly! And so when they came to visit Missy and I later that year, they also bought themselves a new trailer (and truck too, if you were wondering).

Hunt and Peg LOVE their Airstream. They joined all the clubs. They bought all the books. The have the t-shirt (probably). It is their nest egg. Peg lovingly named the trailer “Erma” and named the ’04 Chevy pickup they bought with it “Fred”. It spends the winter encamped at my step-brother Chad’s place in the Mountains of Western Maryland, and it spends the summers on the road, Easy Rider style, except instead of a motorcycle, it’s an Airstream.

The Cherry Blossom Rally.  Can you find Fred and Erma?

The Cherry Blossom Rally.

They dream of traveling the country, eventually seeing all the hot-spots: Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. Hopefully Missy and I will be joining them on some of their adventures! For now though, they keep it close to home, like taking it down to visit my brother Addie at Virginia Tech, where they hook up at a nice little “Airstream Only” RV park. They also have attended a few of the local “Airstream Rally’s”, where a whole bunch of airstream owners get together and have a good time. They recently attended the Cherry Blossom Rally in D.C., and I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures they were more than eager to send me. It looks like a great time to me!

And, oh yeah, they will be bringing Fred, Erma, and hopefully the rest of the family, out to Iowa this summer…Missy and I can’t wait!

The Caravan into the Capital.  Can you imagine maneuvering one of those things on the tight streets of D.C.?

The Caravan into the Capital. Can you imagine maneuvering one of those things on the tight streets of D.C.?

At the Rally.  Nice Truck! (That's not Fred).

At the Rally. Nice Truck! (That's not Fred).

A new friend of my Dad's prepares some beverages.  It must have taken one smart engineer to invent that gas powered blender!

A new friend of my Dad's prepares some beverages. It must have taken one smart engineer to invent that gas powered blender!

This post is dedicated to Hunt and Peg Hardinge. Love you guys!

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About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

8 thoughts on “Fred and Erma

  1. This is Peg speaking. I’d say that was a brilliant description of how it all went down. And, if I weren’t already an Airstream owner, by the time I finished reading this and seeing the pictures I’d surely want to be.

    We never actually considered owning any other type of trailer, even though they may possess options such as washers and dryers, dish washers, slide-outs, fireplaces and “basements”. For full timers that may be a real plus especially if you are selling your home and buying a “home on wheels” to finish out your days. But for us…we were going for the “cool factor”, not the least of which is the clubs, rallies, caravans, private parks and…ALUMINUM!!!! And, let me tell you, there’s not much that is cooler than standing in a field taking in a big whiff of all that aluminum and sitting in one of many small circles of “new best friends” discussing where you’ve been, the adventures, the pitfalls and the nifty new things to do that they are always happy to inform you of. As a matter of fact, on the Cherry Blossom Rally, a lady noticed that I wore a brand of linen clothing called FLAX and she came up to me and said, “I see you wear a lot of FLAX. Have you ever been to a FLAX “Barn Sale” in Ithica?”

    Drop my plastic picnic plate!!! Say what???

    Suffice it to say, I immediately called my girlfriend at home who got on her computer to check it out, and now we are headed to Ithica this Thursday and Friday night for a road trip to become part of a madhouse of women wearing dust masks as they grope through cardboard boxes of linen clothing on the floor, looking for bargains.

    Then, we’re going to stay at a Marriott hotel using her “points” and availing ourselves of the concierge service of hot hors’doerves and the late night dessert bar. In between all this fun and excitement we are taking my portable DVD player and doing yoga in our hotel room. We call such girly-girl weekends together our “Spa Weekend”. Partly because we’re having a blast, but, also because we can go on the cheap. Usually just gas money and perhaps a bit for lunches somewhere. Yoga is the thread that binds these weekends, the rest is just whatever else we find along the way. The driving force is the spa-getaway-attitude. I love getting away, but, if it bears a heavy price tag it really isn’t much fun for me, personally. Not at this stage in my life. I’d still like to go to Italy again one day.

    Susan takes cool things to read aloud to keep my mind alert driving but I’m guessing we could talk non-stop for several hours/days before we ran out.

    So, when we get there, Tom and Missy, we’ll send you a phone picture of the great get-away-spa-weekend which was brought to fruition by one of our many Airstream Rally conversations with one of the unique individuals who own a unique travel trailer…an Airstream.

    You may be saying to yourselves…”wait a minute…shouldn’t you be taking Erma on this girly-girl weekend? I mean, she’s got a right.”

    And have your father, all fluffed-up and tense in the closest Wal Mart parking lot, waiting for me to get finished buying clothes he no-doubt thinks I don’t need?

    Yeah…well…I don’t think so.

    I work. I penny pinch and this is an opportunity to save a whole bunch of money on purchases I would be making this summer anyway. My whole point is, this is an Airstream owner inspired adventure and all our “new best friends” are cluing us in on the where-to-go-and-what-to-do to help make US and the rest of our lives more interesting. It’s time to put pencil-to-paper and start figuring out what adventures we’ll all avail ourselves of when we get out there this summer.

    Miss you guys so much!


  2. PS Might I ad, another motivation for this trip to Ithica is…in case you haven’t heard, Figurehead II in downtown Hagerstown just closed and that was my FLAX source. So, this will help out.

  3. LOL dad and peg talking about FLAX – classic. Quote of the day: “Drop my plastic picnic plate!” I’m writing that one down.

    Good post, bro! I was going to steal their pics and do a post but you way outdid me, I never would’ve done it this well. Our family is weird and I love it! Fab!

    SO coming to Iowa this summer with them. Looks like I can afford it now.


    • Yeah! Good stuff…glad you enjoyed it. The pics were too good not to blog about, sorry that I beat ya to it! I had to talk about how I was the middle man in the whole deal too! Glad to hear that you are coming out this summer! It’s going to be so much fun!

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