• Jesus Tena Law

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The Tin Can Tourists will soon be on the road again

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Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 1:49 pm

KEARNEY- Forrest and Jeri Bone can't wait to hit the road again.

Seven years ago, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the National Road, they drove their RV from Cumberland, Md., to Vandalia, Ill.

Sunday, they will set out again, this time taking the Lincoln Highway from Hayesville, Ohio, to the Buffalo County Fairgrounds. They will arrive June 29.

Leaders of an organization known as the Tin Can Tourists, they will be joined by drivers of 25 campers and recreational vehicles, many from the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

Tin Can Tourists was founded in Tampa in 1919 and resuscitated by the Bones 15 years ago. The rekindled group started with 50 "members," or vehicles, in 1998. It now has a membership of 1,500 vehicles.

"Our membership has just exploded over the last five years. We've got 5,000 people on our Facebook group alone," Bone said.

His title is royal exalted tin can opener; Jeri is the royal exalted first lady. The group aims to have wholesome fun as it explores the nation's highways and the cultures those roads created.

The Bones of Midland, Mich., spent two years planning the Lincoln Highway trip. It will start in Hayesville, not New York City, because it was too challenging to try to get 25 RVs across busy Highway 30 near Philadelphia, then through Lancaster and over the mountains.

"After my wife and I did a scouting trip in Pennsylvania two years ago, we decided to find a place to start in Ohio," Bone said. That's where the group will converge Friday.

Saturday night, the village of Hayesville will give them a rousing send-off with bluegrass music. "My wife got them all behind us," Bone said. "They're going to have a dinner and an open house for us."

As the vehicles start west Sunday, they will travel about 150 miles a day. Stops will include Van Wert, Ohio; Elkhart, Ind.; St. Charles, Ill.; and Franklin Grove, Ill, home of the national headquarters of the Lincoln Highway Association.

"We'll see a few murals and have a good photo opportunity there," Bone said.

Then, they will drive on to the Sleepy Hollow RV Park in Oxford, Iowa, spend a night in Boone, Iowa, and cross the Missouri River into Nebraska. They had planned to camp near Blair, but Mother Nature changed their plans.

"My wife and I scouted this and found that the campground at Blair was wiped out by the Missouri River floods of 2011," Bone said. Instead, they will camp at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Arlington.

They will arrive in Kearney on June 29, detach their campers from their vehicles and head to the Bricks that night.

On June 30, they will converge with the East and West Coast Centennial Auto Tours downtown and participate in festivities all afternoon.

On July 1, the Tin Can Tourists will set up a 1920s model camp and make presentations at the Great Platte River Road Archway. They also will show their historic vehicles to the public at the fairgrounds.

"One of our members has a 1927 Kamp Trailer - one of the very first campers, more like a pop-up - with all period gear," Bone said.

Another member will show off his Waze-A-Lot, a trailer with cedar shingles and a metal roof custom built by its owner, Hardy Evans. When Evans' wife asked him how much the creation weighed, he answered, "It weighs a lot," according to Bone.

The Waze-A-Lot trailer was born. It was followed by a lighter model dubbed a Wazeless.

"We'll have everything on display, from what we called the 'canned hams' to Scotties. Lots of different brands, all kinds," Bone said. "We'll have a small Airstream Globe Trotter and a real nice Spartan with everything welded and riveted together.

"One other motorcoach, from 1948, is called the Western Flyer. Early on, it was used by Deadheads and performers. We'll also have what we call 'teardrops,' little units that had sleeper and kitchen compartments," Bone said.

In three years, the Tin Can Tourists plan a trip across the country to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Route 66, but first comes Kearney.

"We've planned this for two years, ever since we first heard about the Lincoln Highway Centennial," Bone said. "We've traveled the route. We've been in touch with the Classic Car Collection, and for two years we've had an open call for people to join us," he said.

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