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The long, long RV trip, Week 11: Ohio Turnpike camping, Airstreams, caverns, and beer

I had been in the Chicago area nearly a month and even though my friends assured me I could stay much longer, it was time to move on.

When moochdocking, always leave them wanting more, I say.

Plus, I was headed to the brand-new Airstream Heritage Center. As a lifelong Airstream fan, I had been looking forward to this for a long time.

RVing on the Ohio Turnpike

Ohio RVing on the Ohio Turpike RV spots

Along the way, I discovered something outstanding about some of the service plazas on the Ohio turnpike. They feature RV parking WITH HOOKUPS! How awesome is that?!

It kind of works like the self-serve parking lots you often see in cities. I put the $20 charge in the box, parked, plugged in, and spent the night in comfort. This is a trend I would love to see catch on in other places.  It was quick, easy, and affordable.

I know that some of Love’s truck stops are offering something similar. However, the prices at Love’s are in the $40 – $60 range. For me, that is FAR too expensive for a hookup in a parking lot for a quick overnight stop. But $20? I’ll do that all day long.

There are two downsides:

  • You must have cash. They are not set up to take credit cards.
  • While the space is good for up to 24 hours, if you spend more than 24 hours on the turnpike EXPECT a bigger toll. I got dinged $29 when I decided to park one morning then stay until the next before moving on. Surprise!

Otherwise, it was awesome. RVs were parked in a quiet lot off to the side of the service plaza. And because it was a general service plaza, there were bathrooms, restaurants, and fuel right there, as well.

I will definitely be using these services again when I go Ohio RVing.

Airstream adventures

vintage airstream at the Airstream heritage CenterThe next morning I arrived at the “Mothership” aka Airstream headquarters in Jackson Center, Ohio.

I won’t write a lot about that here as I did a separate article about this attraction at this link, but if you are into RVs (and especially if you are into Airstreams) this is a worthy side trip, both for the newly opened museum and the fascinating factory tour.

And if you own an Airstream, you can get repairs done while you are there and park at their Terraport (fancy name for the Airstream campground).

RVing to Ohio Caverns

Ohio Caverns

When searching out my next stop, I noticed that Ohio Caverns are part of Harvest Hosts.  As I always love exploring caverns, I booked a night.

The drive from Jackson Center to the caverns took me through lush green rolling hills and farmland. And the topography of the historic caverns, Ohio’s largest, was much the same.

RV parking at Ohio caverns

I parked on the lower level, shaded by huge trees. A small herd of cattle was my closest neighbor. It started raining hard soon after I arrived. The cows huddled under the nearby trees and we talked to each other through the windows of my trailer.

It was hot, muggy, and rainy outside, but the caverns stay a cool 54 degrees F year-round regardless of what is happening above. Bring a light jacket to stay comfortable when you tour.

More than two miles of surveyed passageways ranging in depth from 30 feet to 103 feet await visitors.

I opted for both their general tour and the historic tour, as they go to different places in the caverns. If you have to choose just one, go for the general as the scenery is a bit more spectacular. Ohio caverns are billed as “America’s most colorful.”

These caverns do not have giant rooms and halls like some others I have visited, but they are stunningly beautiful, nonetheless, and quite colorful because of the various mineral deposits in the rocks.

The historic tour was fascinating because it went into how a farmer first discovered the caverns back in 1897. Soon after that, he opened the caverns for tourists to explore.  However, those explorations were NOTHING like the lighted guided tours of today.

Back then, you paid your admission, the farmer gave you a gas lantern and pointed you in the direction of the entrance. That’s it.

The caverns had not even been mapped or completely explored at the time.

If you got lost, and there are lots of side passages and dead ends to get lost in, or if your lantern ran out of fuel, you were out of luck until someone came to find you. The farmer would know someone was missing if he did not collect the same number of lanterns at the end of the day that he had rented out earlier.

They claim nobody ever died in the caverns, but with that system, it is difficult to believe.  Words cannot describe the pure blackness of the cavern’s interior without any light at all.

I guess people in those days did not have a lot to do if this was considered “fun.”

Today’s Ohio Caverns guided tours actually are fun, with knowledgeable guides and spectacular scenery. And no worries about getting lost or a lantern running out of fuel.

Yummy Craft Beers at Brewery 33

Brewery 33 - Ohio RVingSince I was on a Harvest Hosts roll, I booked another Ohio stop the following night at Brewery 33 in Hocking Hills, near Logan, Ohio.

I was just passing through but made a note to come back and spend more time as there seemed to be a LOT of spectacular hiking and lakes and water sports in the area.

This is Hocking Hills’ ONLY brewery and they have a wide variety to choose from. And not just beer but also wines, hard ciders, and hard seltzers, all of which are made in-house.  For a small town in the Ohio countryside, I was surprised at the size of the place and the variety of offerings.

The bartenders and the patrons were all super-friendly and welcoming.



Brewery 33 has a relaxing 27,000-square-foot outdoor space where you can go and enjoy the drinks and scenery.

On weekends you’ll be entertained by live music in this outdoor space. Local food trucks are also set up, so you can get some creative food to go with the fine beers and ciders. The space is pet- and kid-friendly and a fun way to spend an evening.

Sadly, there’s no live music or food trucks during the week, but pizza from a local restaurant is available.

There were so many unusual beverage choices I couldn’t pick. No problem. Brewery 33 offers tasting flights. Problem solved.

I got a fruit-flavored hard seltzer, a hard apple and hard cherry cider (the latter was my fave), and a white wine.

The wine was average, at best, but the ciders and hard seltzers were excellent. And if you are a beer lover you will find an overwhelming array of offerings. And why not? Beer is what they are indeed known for.

RV parking here is on a grassy strip outside the Brewery with a verdant green view of the cornfield across the street. You might think parking outside a brewery could be noisy, but the night was quiet and peaceful. Just the thing I needed, as I had a longer drive ahead of me the next day.

NEXT WEEK:

Almost Heaven, West Virginia: Summersville Lake camping

Previously in Cheri’s long, long RV trip:

##RVT1066

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