Center of Our Universe

img_0412We arrived at Jackson Center, better late than never. We had hoped to arrive in time to watch the presidential debate, but that was not to be. Instead, we arrived about 10 minutes after the debate started. By the time we settled in and started watching, 45 minutes had elapsed. Fortunately, we recorded the event and were able to watch it from the beginning, but it made for a very late night. And the folks at Jackson Center are very, very prompt.

We arose at 5:30 a.m. so we could be ready to check in at 7 a.m. We arrived at the service center promptly and met Artie, who deftly led us through the check-in process. After we agreed upon our list of items, we watched as Cloud 9 was hauled into the service bay for warranty and other work. Our “personal” technician, Matt, met with us to review, in detail, our list of “to do’s.”

After leaving our baby in his capable hands, we loaded the dogs into the truck and headed to…the “Heidaway” restaurant and bar. We left the dogs to snooze in their beds while we enjoyed an old-fashioned breakfast.

Afterward, well, there wasn’t much to do. Except drive down main street. The town of about 1,400 residents is also home to Wally Byam Memorial Park and the headquarters for the Wally Byam Caravan Club International. And a nicely stocked Family Dollar store.

And then we returned to our campsite to take a nap. In the cab of our truck. That’s how it rolls in Jackson Center.

At 2 p.m., we embarked on the Airstream factory tour. In a word, it was AMAZING. The factory offers tours every weekday, and our group was so large (about 50) that we were divided into two.

Airstream requires that no photographs are taken of the factory, so we could only preserve what we saw with our mind’s eye. At the Jackson Center facility, about 800 employees, working one 40-hour shift, build 80 Airstream trailers every week, along with 14 Interstate motor coaches and 7 Basecamps. By hand. No machines have replaced these folks. Except for a couple of routers to ensure machine precision on metal and wood cuts.

The thing that was remarkable was that everyone seemed to enjoy their work. And each other. There was such a sense of camaraderie among them. For lack of a better term, they all seemed like happy campers. Maybe that’s why our Airstream has become such a happy part of our lives.

Our rig was returned to us at around 4:30, giving us plenty of time to settle in for the night. Chef Cliff made a fine grilled pork loin chop for dinner and, for a moment, all seemed right with the world.

The next day, however, would find us wrestling with whether to make a major investment.