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How Harvest Hosts Helped Fill in the Gaps on a Historic Family Trip

Allison Smith-profile-image
Allison Smith
April 5, 2024

TL;DR: Craig & Kathy Mitchell retraced his grandparents' 1922 road trip from Indiana to California, comparing the journey in an RV to the original Model T adventure. They shared insights on modern RV travel vs. 1922 conditions, leveraging Harvest Hosts for unique stays, and discovered a preference for longer stays at each destination.

How Harvest Hosts Helped Fill In The Gaps on a Historic Family Trip

In January, Harvest Hosts went to the Tampa RV show and got to meet so many incredible people, two of whom being Craig and Kathy Mitchell. Craig and Kathy recreated a historic family trip 100 years to the day, documenting each day on their Facebook page FollowthePawPaw. Craig’s grandparents, Iliff & Oma Mitchell, embarked on a cross-country road trip from Trafalgar, Indiana to Redlands, California, all the way back in 1922. No electricity, no heat, no comforts of an RV. Iliff & Oma traveled for 19 days to reach Redlands in a Ford Model T, camping in a tent every night. Oma kept a diary chronicling their trip, which she passed down to her family decades later.

Craig’s dad and sister worked together to parse through Oma’s diary to turn it into a book by filling in details that other relatives had heard throughout the years as a gift for Craig’s dad’s 90th birthday. When they gave each family member a copy and Craig started to read through it, he realized that the 100th anniversary of the trip was right around the time he had planned to retire. And what a perfect way to begin his retirement! Thus, the dream began.

Growing up, Craig’s family had taken trips out to California before, but none recreating their grandparent’s trip exactly. Craig’s family owned a pop-up camper and had attempted a few road trips, and in the 90s, Craig soured on the idea of RV travel, leading to them opting out of road trips for the foreseeable future. Kathy had only ever traveled by plane for work and had not done much personal travel. So when Craig expressed interest in buying an RV, Kathy needed some convincing. So they rented an RV to try it out for just a weekend. They had a great time and decided to move forward with buying an RV, just taking short trips to get acclimated to gear up for the 100th-anniversary trip.

With the book in hand and a newfound confidence with RVing, Craig and Kathy began their trip to California.

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Lessons from the Road

As Craig and Kathy began the trip, Craig noticed how much of a disparity there was in the quality of his trip vs his grandparents. Although the book gave Craig and Kathy some idea of what to expect, it was evident that they were not fully in the grandparent’s shoes. Times have changed a lot! It’s very difficult to recreate 1922 conditions in 2022.

For one, a few of the towns that Craig’s grandparents stayed in did not have any sort of campgrounds. That’s where Harvest Hosts came in– they used Harvest Hosts to find places to stay in the area. Taking a break from learning about family history, they got to the chance learn about alpacas, farms, wineries, horses, and more! They discovered how much they enjoyed unconventional camping.

Another thing that Craig and Kathy learned about themselves is that going somewhere new each day is not their preferred mode of travel. They prefer to spend at least a week enjoying each place they visit. And Craig’s grandparents came to the same conclusion. When they got to California, they stayed through the winter and opted to take the scenic route home, spending several days exploring Yellowstone and Yosemite and staying for a couple of nights at some other towns they happened to enjoy.

The rest is history! This summer they plan to go to Canada, spending a week near Banff and a week in Jasper before heading into Alaska. Maybe their grandchildren will recreate it in 100 years too!

About Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts is a unique RV camping membership that offers self-contained RVers unlimited overnight stays at over 5,620 small businesses across North America with no camping fees. Boondock at farms, wineries, breweries, attractions, and other one-of-a-kind destinations throughout North America, and you’ll get peace of mind knowing that a safe place to stay is always nearby!
Allison Smith-profile-image
Allison Smith
Hi, I'm Allison Smith, Harvest Hosts content writer.