Following The Sun – Road Trip in a Class B RV

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The Great American Eclipse this August was an event that brought crowds of people towards a defined geographical viewing swath of the United States. Small towns that were often slumbering through the dog days of summer experienced a significant uptick in activity. One such town, Chester, IL, with a population of just over 8,000 residents sits on a bluff above the Mississippi River. Prior to the summer of 2017, the town’s primary claim to fame was that it is the home of the iconic cartoon character, Popeye. Travelers through town are often enjoying the beauty of the National Scenic Byway Great River Road that follows the route of the mighty Mississippi. However, overnight accommodations for visitors to Chester are somewhat sparse. This presents no problem at all to a group of people who traveled 400-600 miles from their homes to enjoy the spectacle.

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“The natural phenomenon provided our town, and many others like Chester, with an opportunity to host visitors from diverse locations”, said Tom Page, Chester’s Mayor. “Our Chamber of Commerce arranged a full schedule of family-friendly activities and Chester is known for its outstanding hospitality. We welcomed the chance to highlight our town, the beautiful location on the bluffs over the Mississippi River and to make new friends”.

With plans to travel in their B-Class RV’s, Michelle Ahlgren and Nancy Neumeister only had to ensure that they had reserved parking spots offered in the city park by the town of Chester on a first call basis. The pair of friends has been discussing this adventure since January. Nancy, a retired middle and high school science teacher, whose daughter is enrolled in graduate school in Portland, OR, had originally discussed the possibility of driving out to Portland with her husband, Jim, and finding a viewing site there. “The more we talked about it”, said Nancy, “the more we realized we would rather view the eclipse closer to home and save Portland for another time where the focus was on our daughter not an eclipse”! After consulting a map that highlighted the prime viewing path for the eclipse, Nancy found camping in the town of Chester, and quickly notified Michelle.

Arriving a few days prior to the eclipse, the couples had time to catch up while enjoying several fun things that the town planned for the event including concerts, scavenger hunts, and a lecturer as well as the scenic limestone bluffs, the Mississippi and following Chester’s own trail of stars—a series of statues featuring characters from the Popeye cartoon. Both the Ahlgrens and the Neumeisters own RV’s from Advanced RV in Willoughby, Ohio and, in fact, their independent choice in recreational vehicles was the catalyst for a thriving friendship. The two families share a love for the open road, exploration and the ability to gather with friends and family without the household disruption—no matter how minor—that accompanies overnight guests.

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“Every trip is an adventure”, said Nancy, “and we kind of go with the flow and find things along the way. If not, I always have an array of delightful things to eat as well as to share”. With personal space that includes a bed, full kitchen and bathroom with shower, each couple is able to maintain their personal food preferences while exploring new options and retire to their comfort zone at the end of each day. “We enjoy the ease of travel and the freedom that our RV provides to us”, commented Michelle—a retired Enterprise IT Project manager. “My husband, Fred, and I designed the interior of our RV to meet our specific needs and choices, and this makes each trip a joyful experience”. Both couples find that their mode of travel enables them to engage more dynamically with people that they meet along the way. “Our preference is the great outdoors”, observed Michelle.  “This gives us so much more time to explore and absorb the nuances of our environment, talking with people and making connections. The town of Chester really rolled out the welcome mat to us with information on the camping options, the town and things to see and do, and we had a wonderful time participating in this spectacular sight of a lifetime”.

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The town of Chester, Illinois was well prepared for the incoming crowds celebrating the Great American Eclipse—offering free campsites on a first call, first reserved basis.

The Eclipse party in Illinois proved to be so compelling that a cluster of Advanced RVs gathered at Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site on Monday to enjoy good company and an incredible show. Brittany, Steve and Janice drove Rozy, and rental client Ben drove Giddy Up to the campsite. They experienced over two and a half minutes of totality. During that time crickets and other “night” animals began to sing, and nature acted like it was night. Then, all critters fell silent as soon as the sun peeked out again. What was also so impressive was how a tiny sliver of light from the sun (immediately before and after the eclipse) could bring such light. Seeing the sun then was a great example of knowing how powerful, hot, and massive the sun truly is.

Road trip Class B RV


Afterward, everyone enjoyed a picnic lunch together before heading home.

For more information on designing your Advanced RV, visit our website here.

3 replies
  1. John Golden
    John Golden says:

    Great article!…What a wonderful way to enjoy one of the more inspiring shows Mother Nature allows us to see so seldom in our lifetime. To be able to share the experience with fellow RV families and in the process make new friends makes us realize why the RV lifestyle is so enjoyable. I always enjoy hearing the how and why Advanced RV owners wound up buying their coaches from Advanced RV. Mike Neundorfer and his superb team at Advanced RV just continue to satisfy the individual needs of those who come to realize what a elegant RV they have. Quality, dependability, attention to detail is what make the Advanced RV the Icon of the Class B RV’s in the market place. Fred and Nancy just know you will enjoy your Advanced RV for many years to come. Thank you for your article.


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