Every Shipman family road trip starts with beef jerky.
It’s a fun tradition, which started during Andy Shipman’s early road trips with his grandma and uncle, and one that he’s continued over the years with his own kids. He’s also imparted his sense of wanderlust.
“I’ve tried to pass along my love for hitting the open road to my kids, and I can say with all certainty that my family LOVES road trips,” said Shipman, a Ford Credit employee for 18 years.
Another tradition that’s emerged is documenting the trips by taking photos in front of the state lines they pass. The family’s most recent trip was this May, when Shipman and his 19- and 14-year-old daughters drove the family’s F-150, nicknamed Jeff Done Nifty, from Arizona to North Carolina and back to pick up his 23-year-old daughter (and all of her belongings) from her final year of college.
They drove through New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, stopping to take many photos along the way.
“We have a family goal of taking pictures in front of all of the state line signs,” Shipman said. “We include the vehicles because, well, I like to boast a little about my Fords. They’re such a huge part of our lives, getting us safely from point A to point B, they feel like a part of our family.”
As you may have guessed, all of the vehicles have names.
“We called our red Focus ‘Rosy,’ our Escape’s name was ‘Dory,’ the C-Maxes have been ‘Uncle Charlie,’ and of course there’s ‘Jeff Done Nifty,’ the F-150,” Shipman explained. “The Flex is simply ‘The Flex’ because there’s no name to really suit her. She’s been such a great vehicle, she’s been coast to coast, made two trips to Idaho and all over the state of Arizona.”
The family’s longest and most memorable excursion – dubbed The Great Shipman Road Trip of 2014 – involved two cars, 10 people, 15 days and 20 states.
Three years ago, Shipman and his wife Erin began the process of fostering to adopt five siblings. Since the kids had never been out of the state before, they started with short-distance road trips to get them accustomed to being in the car. Then, in May 2014, the five kids, two parents and Shipman’s adult son set off for North Carolina in their 2012 Flex and 2013 C-Max to pick up the two oldest daughters.
From there they headed to visit his wife’s family in Massachusetts and play in the Atlantic Ocean; then they headed home via Hershey, Pennsylvania, where they visited the Hershey Store; Metropolis, Illinois, to take pictures with Superman; then up to St. Louis, Missouri, to show the new kids the St. Louis Arch; then on home.
The only states Shipman hasn’t been to? Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska and Hawaii. Technically, he’s only flown into Ohio, but he can still say he’s been there.
Shipman said the family is already planning the next trip: Idaho, and maybe Oregon and Washington.
“I love to see new places and meet new people,” Shipman said. “I love driving down the road with the music on, singing songs and telling stories and listening to stories. There’s just something so amazing about experiencing something new.”
Does your family have a road trip tradition? Let us know in the comments.