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Prologue

     It all started in September of 2004 when Fred opened his new issue of Camping Life magazine and there it was an article about class B recreational vehicles that were equipped with a pop-up top.  Having been a tent camper his whole life and now retired from the “working world” he was ready for a bit more comfort with regard to his outdoor experiences.  Soon he had sent away for literature from each of the four manufacturers featured in the article and began to familiarize himself about on the subject via the Internet.  Several months later Fred was pretty well convinced that he wanted a custom made Sportsmobile.  In July 2005 he made a trip to the Sportsmobile plant in Huntington, Indiana to take a look a real one and as a result felt quite comfortable with the product and the people he would be dealing with.   Fred’s next task was to choose the various components to be included into a customized floor plan.  After several months he and his wife Lynn had developed an acceptable design whereupon they purchased a 2006 Ford E-250 van to be delivered to the factory.   Ultimately a date for the later part of March 2006 for the completion of the customization was then agreed upon.  

    Since his retirement in 2002 Fred had dedicated most of his free time to the research of his family history, a pursuit that he shared with his half-brother Tom.  As such they worked together on their common maternal lineage as well as building impressive records of separate paternal families.  In 2004 they commenced the posting of three family databases on the RootsWeb World Connect project, and since early 2005 both have diligently worked together to develop a family history website also at RootsWeb.   Up to this time the great majority of their research had been accomplished via the internet and although they were becoming quite proficient in obtaining information through Ancestry.com as well as the many other available websites they were beginning to feel the need to actually visit the localities that had figured prominently in the history of their maternal family.  Mental pictures of various ancestral settings had been formed in the minds eye and now it was time to actually get out and see the countryside where our fore-bearers had been born, lived, and buried.   Both were also eager to make trips to the various courthouses and libraries where more precious nuggets of information detailing the there lives were kept.   As a result, Fred broached the subject of taking an extended coast-to-coast genealogy research trip.  Tom jumped at the opportunity to participate in the adventure as he also yearned to accomplish some first hand research from original records.  As Tom was also retired from the “work-a-day” world he was more than ready to begin the planning of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.  

        As promised Sportsmobile completed the work on the van during the third week of March.  As a result an exciting, and fast-paced week began for us on Saturday, March 25th.  On this day Tom and his wife Stacey departed their home in Burton, New Brunswick, Canada to travel south to meet up with Fred and Lynn in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  We all stayed the night in Sturbridge. The next day Sunday the 26th Tom headed back to New Jersey with Fred and Lynn and Stacey returned to Canada.

 

     Early on Monday the 27th Fred and Tom were headed west in a rental car towards Huntington, Indiana to take possession of the brand new camper van.  After spending the night in Toledo, Ohio, we met Nancy Nix the Sportsmobile representative at the Fort Wayne Indiana Airport on the morning of Tuesday the 28th.  We were then transported to the factory in Huntington where we were company Vice-President Jim Friermood provided us with a through orientation to the van’s various operational components.  After this Fred eagerly got out his checkbook and paid for the conversion costs.  Whereupon we were ready to take it out into the world.

Fred hands over check to Nancy Nix 

Fred and Tom at the Sportsmobile Factory

 Soon we were heading north to the home of our Uncle, Floyd Moreland who lives in Elkhart, Indiana.  We were both eager to visit with Floyd as he along with our mother had been the catalyst for our interest in genealogy and thus responsible in many ways for our desire to pursue this journey. 

      The next day Wednesday the 29th we began the trip back east to New Jersey where we would spend a few days preparing for the upcoming expedition.  Our first destination on this day would be the famous Allen County Library, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana.     This renowned collection includes more than 332,000 printed volumes and 362,000 items of microfilm and microfiche. Patrons of the genealogy department also have access to the following major online databases such as Ancestry.com, and HeritageQuestOnline.com.  As a cooperating partner with the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, the department can provide access to more than 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical and historical records for a small handling fee per roll of film requested.  After spending several hours at the Library we again headed east until we stopped for the night near Youngstown, Ohio.

      Eventually we arrived back at Fred’s home in New Jersey late in the afternoon of Thursday, March 30th.  We spent Friday the 31st of March purchasing need supplies and packing the van.  It had indeed been quite a week we knew we were running on pure adrenalin by now but it was no time to stop.  During the intervening days we had driven over 2,000 miles through seven states and spending more than 35 hours behind the wheel!        

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