Archive for the ‘Alumafandango’ Category

Something stupid under the hood

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

In the last blog our trip through Colorado was just beginning.  Colorado is always interesting for the many mountain passes that offer spectacular views, dramatic climate changes, and occasionally an exploded bag of chips in the closet.  Altitude changes everything, especially in a rolling house.  For example, we’ve learned over the years to be very careful when opening toothpaste after a tow up to higher altitude, as an air bubble in the container can result in you ending up with a lot more toothpaste than you needed at the moment.

This trip was uneventful except for a strange loss of power when climbing, and another Check Engine light on the car as we approached the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70.  We were at 11,000 feet, but since the car is a turbodiesel the altitude should not have affected the power quite as much as it did.  This called for an appointment at the Denver Mercedes dealer, but I also called Super Terry for a consultation once we were settled into our campground.

Super Terry suggested I look for “something stupid” under the hood, so I did and immediately discovered that one of the two cold-air intakes to the engine was disconnected.  Our home dealership had just serviced the engine last week, touching this very intake hose.  This seemed like a proverbial smoking gun, but S.T. advised having the Denver dealer check it out anyway, just to make sure the problem wasn’t something more serious.  The diagnosis turned out as I expected: the Check Engine light was caused by the disconnected air intake, which allowed hot engine air to get in where cold air was expected.  The bill for this diagnosis was $132, which I have passed on to the dealer that disconnected the line, for their careful consideration. Ahem.  [Update: they agreed to credit us the full amount against a future service.]

There was supposed to be an annular solar eclipse on Sunday evening, but clouds in Denver prevented us from seeing most of it.  A shame, as there won’t be another one in North America for many years.  We had even built a cereal-box viewer for the occasion.

But our evening was not entirely dull, as we had an unexpected visit from the Zimmer family, local owners of a 1963 Airstream Safari.  They were passing through the park and spotted our Airstream, and ended up coming in for a tour and visit.

The big point of coming to Denver was to conduct a site visit of Lakeside Amusement Park, where we will be holding Alumafandango in August.  I met up with Brett Hall of Timeless Travel Trailers and we walked every inch of the site to consider logistics such as power, parking, entry /exit points, seminar space, sewage, lighting, etc.  There’s a tremendous amount of work that goes into prepping for a big event like this, and it’s doubly complicated when you are basically trying to build a campground too.  Still, it looks like we’ll be ready in time.   (By the way, there’s a new Wal-Mart going in next door but it won’t be open until November.)

One of the nice parts about walking Lakeside in the heat yesterday was the informal guided tour we got from Brett Hall.  He has been associated with the park for decades as the Consulting Engineer, and has done a lot of historical research. The place has quite a few interesting stories.  Brett will be leading guided tours of the park during Alumafandango so everyone who comes can hear the tales.

Now that the site visit is done and the car is set, we have one day to do work, household stuff, and school before we head east.  Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday will be roadtrip days either on I-80 through Nebraska or I-70 through Kansas.  That’s a drive of about 1,250 miles.  We don’t have any particular plans or stops worked out along that route, since it’s just going to be a slog if we are going to get to Ohio on schedule. I always feel badly about short-changing NE or KS when we go through in a rush, but long-time blog readers know that we did make many stops in those states back when we were full-timing.

Meanwhile, the phone is ringing like crazy lately, as people with last-minute Alumapalooza questions are popping up.  Like us, many of the attendees are already on the road, and others are packing to leave next weekend.  Everybody seems pumped, which helps us, because as close in on our big week of Alumapalooza, we can feel rising tension and excitement.  Alumapalooza is a great week but also a really tough one for those who work the event.  It feels to me like the days before the opening of a musical.  Despite all the rehearsals and planning, there’s always a fear that something might go wrong … until the moment you open the curtain and realize it’s all going to work out just fine.

Modernism Week 2012 Vintage Trailer Show

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Have I finally bitten off more than I can chew?  I think so.  The blog hasn’t been updated as frequently as it should be, emails are going unacknowledged for days or even weeks, and I’ve been shelving good & interesting projects simply because I don’t have time anymore. It’s an abundance of riches in a sense —too much work to do when other folks are still looking for some, and (briefly) too many friends overflowing the driveway into the street—but drowning is still a bad thing even if it’s in a vat of hot chocolate with marshmallows.

So I’m making some tough decisions.  Brett and I went off to Palm Springs on Thursday with the decision that we would regretfully resign our volunteer positions as “Event Captains” once the weekend was over.  We’ve enjoyed organizing the Vintage Trailer Show for the past two years, but it’s time to hand the reins over to someone else, and we are lucky that a friend in the vintage trailer community has already expressed tentative interest in managing the show for 2013.

The actual Vintage Trailer Show this weekend was fantastic.  The final count of visitors was 1,935, which is a record for this event.  I was asked a few times why an owner would want to display in this show (and pay for the privilege) rather than just going to a vintage trailer rally elsewhere.  I think the volume of visitors explains why.  Nowhere else will you see such a huge volume of people who are avidly interested in your trailer, and if that’s useful or important to you, Palm Springs is indisputably the place to be.

The photo above shows Randy and Jeannet Grubb in their one-of-a-kind “Decoliner,” which was one of the stars of the show. It has a full upper deck from which you can drive the rig.  It’s for sale, and it would make an awesome promotion vehicle for those who can afford it.

My photos really don’t do justice to the event, and most of them were taken for very specific future uses, so if you want to get a better look, check out Alison Turner’s blog.  That’s a picture of Alison coming down the steps of the Decoliner. It was great to see Alison, as well as Dan & Marlene of Malimish, blog readers Kristiano and Christy, Bert Gildart (see his pictures from the event here), and about 1,930 other people.

All in all, it was a fine road trip. We met a lot of great people, enjoyed some superb weather, and had a fantastic 800 mile speed run across the southwestern desert, which always makes me happy.  We really couldn’t have hoped for a better weekend.

Next year, since we won’t be organizers, we’ll just attend the show like everyone else and that will be even nicer.  I’ll be able to bring a “date” along (guess who) and actually enjoy Palm Springs like a tourist.

Being back home now, it’s time to plunge into the remaining list of tasks.  I’m already behind the curve on the Summer 2012 issue at a time when I should have it mostly wrapped up and be planning out Fall 2012.  That’s enough to make me nervous but then atop it I have lots of work to do on Alumafandango, Alumapalooza, and a third event that we hope to launch in 2013.

Speaking of Alumafandango (our Denver event), you might have gotten an email today that says if you register for it on Wednesday February 29, you can get a free Alumafandango t-shirt. Just enter the code “LEAPDAY” when you choose your shirt size.  This code will only work on February 29.

I’ll post more soon about plans for all of the events.  We’ve got quite a few interesting things in the works, and I want to tell you about them as soon as things start to jell.  But for now, I’ve got to get back to the job …


Modernism Week Vintage Trailer Show 2012

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

We launched Alumafandango last week and I was pleasantly surprised by the response.  In the first week we signed up 11 trailers, which is impressive for a new event, especially since we have very little information up on the website yet.  People seem to be signing up for it on the strength of the reputation of Alumapalooza, which is nice but it also makes me more acutely aware that we’ve got to put on something really exceptional.

And so I spent much of the week anxiously trying to organize the details of Alumafandango.  We want everyone to be completely mesmerized by the experience, to the point that (like our other events) there’s never any desire to leave the grounds to find something else to do.  That’s a tall order.  I expect Brett & I will be busy programming the event for the next few months, even while we are finalizing details for Alumapalooza 2012 in Ohio.

Meanwhile we are nearly done recruiting for the Modernism Week “Vintage Trailer Show” in Palm Springs.  We have 20 trailers signed up and they are all really cool.  The leader of the show will likely be Randy Grubb’s “Decoliner,” which is technically neither trailer nor motorhome, but so exceptional that we felt it should be in the show anyway.  We’ve also got a rare 1965 Dethleffs Bedouin, 1954 Hille Ranger Pop-Up, 1946 Curtis Wright, 1964 Traveleze, 1954 Silver Streak Clipper, and the following Airstreams:

  • 1972 Airstream Ambassador
  • 1957 Airstream Safari
  • 1973 Airstream Safari
  • 1965 Airstream Safari
  • 1960 Airstream Caravel
  • 1959 Airstream Globetrotter
  • 1959 Airstream Traveler
  • 1968 Airstream Ambassador
  • 2008 Airstream Custom by Timeless Travel Trailers
  • 1969 Airstream Caravel
  • 2012 Airstream Sterling Concept
  • 1967 Airstream Overlander
  • 1963 Airstream Bambi

At this point we have just one space left in the show, which will probably get snapped up in the next week or so.   We’re expecting some special guests to join us, including vintage trailer restoration specialists Mike Keenan of M.E.L. Trailers, David Winick, and Uwe Salwender of Area 63 Productions.

We really do like organizing these shows, but we’ve got to stick to the core business of running Airstream Life and our own events (AFD/APZ), so this will be the last year Brett & I are involved in curating the Modernism Week show.  We’ll hand the reins over to someone else once this show is done, and hopefully it will continue growing as a special event. I’ll probably still come out to Palm Springs in future years just to attend and see what’s on display, as it is a unique chance to see some of the best vintage trailers in the west.


Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

I’ve been down in the trenches lately, working hard to try to pull off a few long-term projects.  The Spring 2012 issue of Airstream Life finally got off to the printer too, but neither of these things are responsible for the lack of blog posts lately.  The real cause has been that I hate to say anything about the stuff I’m working on until I know it’s real.

But Friday night, after some intense negotiations and late-night conference calls, Brett and I finally resolved the last remaining issues for a major project.  And that makes it possible to announce “Alumafandango,” our new event to be held in Denver CO this coming August, 2012.

We’ve been working on this for about a year.  For a long time we’ve been hearing from people out west that they’d like something like Alumapalooza.  We looked at potential sites in Palm Springs, northern Arizona, Texas, and Colorado, but we kept running into barriers that made it impossible to hold the kind of event we wanted.  Finally, we found Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver, and started actively working on a deal with the park ownership so that we could camp right in the park next to the lake and the old-school rides.

This wasn’t easy at all.  The area we wanted to camp in was overrun with bushes, littered with decades of debris, and overshadowed by an abandoned race stadium and a half dozen decrepit mobile homes.  The park owners agreed to clean up the area, install water and power stands, and level & seed the ground so that it would be transformed into a nice place to camp for a few days.  This work started last fall and has been ongoing through the winter.  It probably won’t be done for a few months, but when it is, it will be a unique opportunity to camp where no one has camped before—and that’s one of the keys we were seeking.

Timeless Travel Trailers (Wheat Ridge, CO) has been instrumental in helping us put this deal together.  They will be the key sponsor, and as part of the event they are planning to provide on-site service and tours of their workshop.  They’re also supplying the fencing, water, and electrical infrastructure.  Our plan is to make this an annual event if it turns out to be popular, so we are all looking to the long term.  Obviously all of this investment in the site wouldn’t make sense for just one year.

Brad Cornelius designed the new logo, which you can see above.  A version of this will appear on the t-shirts, too.

Our goal is to have something just as fun as Alumapalooza, but not the same.  So we are looking for all new seminars and presenters, new entertainment, and different games.  That way you can go to both “APZ” and “AFD” and have a great time at both without feeling deja vu.

We selected the headline entertainment with the intent of carrying over the “carnival” theme, and we’re very excited to have the Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow featuring Tyler Fyre and Thrill Kill Jill for two nights of performances. They’re Airstreamers, of course.

We’ve also secured a night of free unlimited rides for all participants.  The classic rides at Lakeside are really fun.  You’ll remember most of them, and want to ride them all.  My favorite is the old-school wooden roller coaster.  It’s just fantastic excitement packed in a 1-minute ride.

Registration for Alumafandango opened on Sunday and already the first three trailers are signed up, which is encouraging.  We think we can accommodate 150 trailers on site, maybe more, but it won’t be clear until the site work is complete.

Of course, now that we’ve pulled the trigger I’m wondering nervously if we’ll be able to get 100+ trailers signed up in six months.  Right now the website doesn’t have much detail about what we are planning, but hopefully the reputation of Alumapalooza will carry over, and people will know that we guarantee a great time.  (We’ll get more detail up on the Alumafandango website as the plans begin to firm up.)  We’re working on a “vintage showcase,” some interesting tours, lots of seminars, and a pretty radical trailer makeover demonstration that happens in five days while you watch, among many other things.

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