Lollygagger @ large: adventures await campervan travel enthusiasts
Gary and Barbara Pouliot were happy campers.
Today, Springfield natives are very enthusiastic RVers.
Our paths crossed in January at a gathering of travelers in Florida signing up for trailers sponsored by Yankee RV Tours. The company and its founder, former Somers resident Rod Coe were featured in a Lollygagger @ large column published by The Republican in June.
“We’ve never done a trailer, so we’re very happy to tour with Yankee,” said Barb Pouliot.
They weren’t alone. Coe said 135 adventure-hungry RVs – masked and respectfully distant, of course – made their way for the travel company’s annual meeting and orientation at the Southern Palms RV Resort in Eustis, about 40 miles north. west of Orlando.
“We signed up for three trailers,” said Gary Pouliot. The first trip, scheduled for July and August, will take them through the American Northwest, what he called “our dream destination”. The route spans 35 days, starting at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and following sections of the Mormon and Oregon Trails to the Pacific Coast.
The couple also signed up for two events in 2022: a six-day RV rally in January in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Which will include tours of the Kennedy Space Center; and in September, they will embark on a 20-day caravan through the American Southwest, visiting the national parks and scenic wonders of Arizona, Utah and Colorado.
Gary Pouliot is 65, a muscular guy with a gentle mind. His wife, a year younger, has a ready and determined sense of humor.
Barb was Barbara Stevenson when her family lived in East Springfield. She attended Pottenger Elementary, Van Sickle Junior High and Technical High School.
Gary grew up in the Liberty Heights neighborhood of Springfield, near Carew Street. He attended Liberty Elementary, Van Sickle Junior High and Trade High schools.
“We grew up together,” said Barb Pouliot. “We met at Van Sickle High School where we became childhood sweethearts.” They married in 1975 at Our Lady of Hope Church, where their families were communicators.
After marriage, Barb was a stay-at-home mom and cared for several other children. She later worked for Filene’s in Eastfield Mall and Louis & Clark Pharmacy.
Gary was employed by Ferrara Spring Works in Springfield, then joined Local 108 of the Carpenters Union. He worked on construction projects in the Springfield area, then spent 23 years at Unwinn Overhead Doors in Chicopee. He retired in 2012 and he and Barb made their home in Alva, Florida, 18 miles northeast of Fort Myers.
The enthusiasm of Les Pouliots for the motorhome can be seen on their faces and in their speech as they remember more than 40 years of camping adventures.
“We started camping in 1980,” said Barb, when the young Pouliots were 5, 3 and 2 years old. “We camped in a tent and also slept in the back of a van. Gary, she recalls, “made a plywood bed that he put on the top rails of the truck where the kids slept.” We slept on the floor of the truck with the dog. It was a great, inexpensive way to go and have fun. “
Next generations of Pouliot campers include his daughter Jeannine Pouliot Duquette and her husband, Ben, who live in Springfield with their daughters Anissa and Mikayla, and their son Gary Pouliot, his wife, Stephanie, and their son, Jordan, who live in Ludlow. . His daughter Kathryn Pouliot and daughters Chloe and Kelsy live in the Three Rivers section of Palmer.
In four decades of camping, the Pouliots have passed through half a dozen RVs, including a converted van, two trailers, a small camper van, a large camper van, and a 60-foot-long park model. in Cape Cod, where they “spent a lot of time with the grandchildren,” Barb said.
The Pouliots now travel in a 23-foot-long MPG trailer; the manufacturer states that the name is derived from the creation of more “memories per gallon”. Gary Pouliot points out that the MPG “will probably not be our last” RV.
Barb said she prefers traveling in an RV “because it’s the best way to relax.” Gary said he loves the lifestyle because “it’s the best and the only way to see it all and meet the greatest people. … We plan to go RVing until we can no longer drive.
Norm Roy, retired editor for The Republican, lives and travels in an RV. He looks forward to hearing from readers about their own travel adventures. His e-mail address is: [email protected]