A traveling recreational group is starting its 40-day voyage across four states at the KOA Campgrounds in Wapakoneta.
The Wally Byam Caravan Club International (WBCCI) converged at the campgrounds Wednesday to begin its voyage. The recreational club travels in only Airstream trailers. With a traveling theme if “Watch It Made in the U.S.A.,” participants said it was only natural that the club begin its journey near Jackson Center, where Airstreams are made.
Sharon and George Hilton, of New Mexico, are wagon masters for the journey.
“We had originally planned to start at the tank plant in Lima,” George Hilton said. “They had said yes until right up before the start of the trip, but we still have a great trip planned.”
Overall, 45 people are making the journey in 23 different Airstream trailers of different shapes and sizes. The 40-day trip includes visits to 42 different places to see American products made. The travelers come from Ohio, Florida, Wyoming, Montana, Virginia and Texas.
After Wednesday’s meeting, the group traveled to Greenville Thursday for a tour of the KitchenAid stand mixer factory. Today they travel to Jackson Center for a special tour of the Airstream factory, and then they will go to the Bicycle Museum of America in New Bremen.
The group concludes their stay in Wapakoneta by visiting the Stinson Band Organ Company in Bellefontaine on Saturday. They will depart for Garrett, Ind. on Labor Day.
Other stops the caravan will make along the way include John Deere tractors, Caterpillar bulldozers, Harley Davidson, Jelly Belly jelly beans, and Spangler candy just to name a few. They will also visit the Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee at the end of the tour.
“All of our journeys we make are themed,” Hilton said.
The Hiltons got the idea for the theme from ideas based on the book “Watch It Made in the U.S.A.” by Karen Axelrod and Bruce Brumberg. Many of the sites the WBCCI plan to visit were in the book. Also, many of the other spots the caravan plans to visit were on the television series “John Ratzenberger’s Made In America” on the Travel Channel.
Hilton said that the travelers come from many different walks of life.
“It is quite a well-educated group actually,” Hilton said. “There are many retired military personnel. We also have many former engineers and teachers in our group.”
Hilton said the group is now planning a “Ghosts on the East Coast” themed trip, which will include stops at the site of the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts and Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C.