Alumapalooza Day 1

It was a longer day than I expected.  After I finished the blog in the early morning yesterday, my attention turned to a line of slow-moving thunderstorms that were creeping northeast and bearing down on us.  The plan was to move all the staff over to the rally field at 8 a.m., but by 7 a.m. it was clear we were going to be in the midst of a potentially large storm at our scheduled move time.  At 7:30 Brett & I had a quick conference and decided to move everyone who was ready immediately.  It was already raining and the wind was blowing hard.

Most of us were lined up and ready in less than five minutes.  We parked the Airstreams in the field and set up, wearing raincoats, while Eleanor and Lisa took the Gator back to the Terra Port to escort the stragglers past the security gate.  The storm dropped half an inch of rain according to weatherman Alex, and made the field muddy enough that we felt obligated to delay the start of parking for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, eager attendees were lined up at the north gate on Jerry Drive, and by 10 a.m. they were around the corner, which means we had a line about half a mile long waiting to get in. We passed on the bad news (“be prepared to wait until at least 11″) but the wind dried up the worst of the mud pretty quickly and by 10:30 or so the gates were opened.

This made for a lot of really dull video on the GoPro camera we had mounted high above the field, as you can see from the still posted here.  But our weatherman assured us that there would be a dramatic change once the front passed, and he was right.  By noon it was time to shed the jackets and break out the sun hats.

We parked about 75-80 trailers today, which is about right.  102 Airstreams were scheduled but not everyone shows up on the day they are reserved.  We left one area unparked because it was still a little damp and we didn’t want to dig ruts, but it will fill in today.  The field is already looking great with aluminum everywhere.

Our new online iPad-based registration system completely let us down, riddled with technical glitches that we could not overcome, so the parkers resorted to paper check-in instead and it worked out fine.  We will be having a serious talk with the company that provides our reservation software later.

The only real bad spot of the day was a couple of staff injuries.  Eleanor strained her back due to lifting things improperly and managing to fall into a cooler (this takes particular talent), and was restricted to quarters for the rest of the day with some pain medication.  A few hours later, the sliding door of the U-Haul trailer landed on Lisa’s neck, giving her a nasty bruise to the trapezius muscle and sending her to the E.R. for a scan.  They are both going to be fine, but with restricted movements and pain pills neither will be on duty today.  Al & Shinim, friends from Ohio, were recruited by Larry to take over the morning garbage pickup from Lisa, and Charon will help Eleanor do the staff laundry today.  So once again, people have jumped into the breach to help out.

Emma made a friend at the Kid’s Ice Cream Social today, who seems to be a sort of clone of her. They are about the same age, read the same books, love the same things (snow and dogs in particular), and became instantly inseparable all day.  Parents on both sides are thrilled.  We had to break them apart at 9:30 after Mike Depraida’s short documentary on The Slabs ended, and the ice cream for Lou’s birthday was consumed, and the paper lanterns flew away.  We had to get Emma to bed, because her parents were exhausted and today is going to be another big day.

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