Alumapalooza, day 5

It’s the last day and we are all so happy.  Not happy because it is the last day, but because it has been an amazingly great week.  Yesterday was just flawless in every respect.  It was another beautiful day of sunshine and dry air, and the place has just been mobbed with people going every direction with smiles on their faces.

(The panoramic photo here is by Nick Martines. There appears to be a corner in front of the tent but that’s just an artifact of the panoramic stitching process.)

Marty Shenkman was worried that nobody would want to come to his lecture on tax planning for RV’ers, but I wasn’t surprised to see that the main tent had close to 100 people in it at 9 a.m.  Lots of us are interested in running a business from our Airstreams, deducting expenses, avoiding audits, and learning how to properly document our business activities, and he held the crowd for over an hour.

After his talk I found a chance to walk over to the Service Center and Airstream Store.  The store was packed, with lines at the counters and about 40 people waiting for a factory tour at 10 a.m.  I met a few people and got tied up until 11 a.m. By the time I got back, Matt Hackney was already running his Dutch Oven cooking seminar and they were making pineapple upside-down cake.  I’d missed the bicycling talk by Bert G and Bert K, and with various other things going on I missed Laura Steinberger’s geocaching talk too.

But I did manage to catch Zip-Dee demonstrating awning maintenance, probably because they decided to demonstrate using our trailer.  They found that the main awning spring was wound a little too tight and that the arms needed cleaning with silicone spray.  Now the awning sets up like new, and as a bonus they installed a set of optional arms to make setting up the awning a little easier.

I was interrupted during this demo by a call on the radio that Bob Wheeler would lead a few photographers up to the roof of the assembly building for photos of the field.  Eleanor, Alison Turner, Nick Martines, and Kirk McKeller all joined Bob and me on the roof.  Nick is working on a very nice digital panorama, which I hope to see soon and possibly publish on the Alumapalooza site and/or the magazine.

One of the fun things about having so many trailers on the field is that you can just wander around and find someone doing something interesting, or who is happy to hold their door open and let you in.  I was wandering around about lunchtime and got waved into the 1935 Bowlus by Helena Mitchell for a little lunch with her, John Long, and Kristiana Spaulding (the silver trailer jewelry maven), which turned out to be hilarious.  I can’t even begin to do justice to the conversation, but anytime you put a few clever folks like Helena, John, and Kristiana together in a small vintage trailer it’s pretty terrific.

Andy Thomson’s talk on towing was as good as always, and he packed the roof with probably close to 200 people.  He brought a 34-foot Airstream Classic towed by a minivan, which you can see in the photo, and was letting people test-drive it.

There were other activities going on too, such as the Kids Program (today it was bowling), sKY demonstrating some healthy living tips, and at 5:30 we opened up the grill again with Airstream providing hot dogs and hamburgers for all.  Somewhere in there we also had Happy Hour with guest speakers Bob Wheeler and David Winick.

By the way, I haven’t mentioned that this year we are honored to be visited by several Airstream bloggers, including Rhonda C, Deke & Tiffani of Weaselmouth, and Kyle Bolstad.  Kyle posted a gorgeous picture of part of the field on his blog recently, and I’m hoping the others also talk about their time here (so you know it’s not just me claiming we’re having a good time …)

A few of the staff and I were talking and discovered that we were all adopting similar survival strategies this week.  In addition to drinking a lot of water, we’re all sneaking off for little breaks each day.  My break tends to come around dinner time, so I missed Open Grill, but got to take the Miata out for a top-down drive down to Sidney with Eleanor.  She needed to get some groceries for her cooking demo today, and we took the opportunity to talk in the car about our day, since we had hardly seen each other.  Actually, in the Miata at 65 MPH on the Interstate, it’s more of an opportunity to shout at each other than “talk,” but that’s only because of the wind noise!

When I got back I found that Brett was up to his ears in work on the stage, getting the new sound system dialed in for our evening performances.  Joe Diamond was here to do an hour of his “bizarre” magic and mentalism, and then Antsy McClain went on at 8 p.m. for 90 minute of absolutely fantastic solo guitar music and singing.  Antsy’s 14-year-old son joined him later (he’s a pretty hot guitarist himself), and tonight we’ll have both of them again plus the full Trailer Park Troubadours band.

As I said, today is the final hurrah of this event, but it’s in some ways the biggest day.  I’ve got to get going in a few minutes.  Brett is already out there working with some of the contractors.  At 8 a.m. we plan our traditional “reveille” (those of you who were here last year know what I’m talking about — this year we have 24,000 watts to play with), and then we’ve got a full program: Swap Meet, morning yoga, Open House, New Product Display, Rivet Masters competition (20 teams are signed up!), Kid’s movie, and Eleanor’s big cooking demo, plus the big Happy Hour, dinner for all, and the Troubs.  It’s going to be another great day.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine