Transition from Sailboat to Land Cruiser
Don learned to sail in an Old Town canoe when he was 10 years old. Two years later, his dad bought a beautiful wooden sloop named Sprite. Lucky kid — for the next 10 years he spent the month of August and all summer weekends sailing Long Island Sound, the south coast of New England and The Islands .
He moved to southeastern Massachusetts in 1966, snagging sea time with friends and serving on race crews until he bought his first boat, Lily, a 25’ sloop, and continued to sail New England and The Islands. He moved up to a 30’ racing sloop, Burning Bright, in 1977 and moved it to Chesapeake Bay in 1983. Eight years later, he and Dot traded up again to a 42 foot cruising sloop (same name) in 1990.
Dot and Don switched briefly to a powerboat after they bought their Chesapeake Bayview home in 1999. But as their Schipperkee family began to grow, they wanted to to attend Schip-related events all over the east — and beat it out of Maryland for the winters. That led them to transfer to road-craft in 2004. Their first unit was a 30’ tag-along trailer and Nissan Titan pickup truck, and it took them a long way — from New England to Florida and from the Coast as far west as eastern Missouri.
Both wanderlust and adoptions led to a bigger unit in late 2007 — a 39 foot Big Horn fifth wheel and a Dodge “diesel dually” to pull it down the road. The truck had room for bunk crates in the cabin, allowing for safe travel for our four charges. Once it’s parked and the four sliding rooms on the Big Horn are out, all we ever long for is a larger refrigerator and a second lavatory. Things like a king-sized bed, fireplace, central vac and dedicated office space make it feel like home.
The Concept of a Journey
The Big Horn just hated sitting in our back driveway, so our trips became longer and longer. We spent five months on board snowbirding in Florida and the exploring the southeast through the winter and spring of 2008-09. When we got home, we were smitten. Neither of us had spent any real time west of Ole Man River, save for airports, hotels and conference rooms. So we powered on — rented the house, thinned down our belongings to reduce storage fees, and planned our getaway for October 1, 2009. Everything fell into place . . . except: Don injured his back three weeks before we left. Since the house was already committed, we left on schedule and limped to St Augustine for two months to spend time near Dot’s folks while he recovered. After that, The Journey was totally amazing and a total success. We filled in our map by visiting every one of the lower-48 states. For every place we stopped and everything we explored, however, there are a dozen more we want to visit.
The Concept of a Travelogue
Don’s favorite thing to do — even more than weaving Nantucket Lightship Baskets — is writing. All three years of our trip — every stop and every encounter–are documented in The Journey That document is 106 chapters long, includes over 4,000 photographs, and, without the pictures, would still fill 500 printed pages. It’s rife with history. It’s filled with anecdotes–things about landmarks throughout our country that you won’t ever hear elsewhere. It’s filled with continuity, like the full length of the Lewis and Clark Trail, the history of the Mormons, The Santa Fe and Oregon Trails, and all six flags over Texas. There’s dozens of state and national monuments, parks, forests, museums, galleries, historic houses, presidential libraries, breweries, wineries, and distilleries!
How our Travels are Documented
Our travelogue concept was new with the trip we took from 2009-12. We have no similar documentation of earlier travels, but we have continued to document our subsequent travels. In 2013, we journeyed for five months across the northern tier of states, filling in spots we missed on the big trip. All of those stops are documented on this site. You’ll find them in the right hand column of this page. Since then, documentation of our travels are included in this site when we believe they’re of general interest.
Happy reading. We hope you’ll comment and be inspired to explore on your own!