Alumapalooza Highlights: Part 1

May 29 – June 3, 2018

We didn’t have cell coverage while we were at Jackson Center, Ohio.  Also, Airstream’s wifi wasn’t working.  I’m sure it was overloaded with the number of participants at Alumapalooza. Therefore, I’m writing this post from Can-Am in London, Ontario.

Alumapalooza should be at the top of every Airstreamer’s list. I can’t describe everything we did and saw, so I will just include a few highlights.

  1. Access to the big chiefs

Airstream chiefs

We had several information sessions, seminars, and a feedback session attended by senior management, engineers, and staff. During the feedback session, attendees offered suggestions for technical or design issues. Management really listened and asked further questions to understand fully. I even spoke (even though I was nervous). One of my suggestions was to improve comfort by focusing less on providing sleeping options. This seemed like a revelation to Justin Humphries, so he asked the audience if others would prefer more comfortable seating options and fewer convertible bed options, and the audience was unanimous in agreement. Several people spoke to me afterwards and thanked me for that suggestion.

  1. First-hand news

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Molly Hansen, Chief Marketing Officer, described the new expansion plans for the factory and introduced Samantha Martin, the new full-time archivist. Over the last 5 years, Airstream has experienced tremendous growth. For example, 6 years ago, there were 250 employees, and now there are nearly 1000. A few years ago, they expanded the existing factory by 200,000 sq ft, but no new structure has been built in 50 years. Therefore, Airstream purchased 50 acres west of town, and they will be building a new 765,000 sq ft factory for travel trailers, and the existing factory will be used for motorhomes. They will break ground at the end of June 2018.

As part of the new factory, there will be an Airstream Heritage Center, where unique trailers, photographs, advertisements, and film will be stored. This is why a full-time archivist has been hired. So far, Samantha has digitized the photographs and 8mm film. Currently, 15 trailers are in the collection, but they are trying to increase the collection. They would like to get a NASA quarantine unit, but one isn’t available yet. They may take trailers on a short-term loan.

Airstream is also looking for property for an increased Terraport. The Terraport is the camping area where people stay while their trailers are in for repair. These are fully-serviced sites, but there aren’t many of them.

Bob Wheeler announced a partnership with Full Sail Brewery, and there was free Airstream beer for all!

  1. Factory tour
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The only allowable photo

Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures inside the factory, but Paul had taken a few pictures through a door window one night. Even if you can’t attend Alumapalooza, you need to take a tour, or two! There was so much to take in that we attended 2 tours. I always knew our trailer was “hand built”, but it is a term that is thrown around by many companies. Airstreams truly are hand built. There was only one automated machine. It is used for punching out where the windows, hot-water tank, etc. will go. Everything else is hand crafted, including the window frames, the cabinetry, the internal ribs – everything! We fell in love with our Airstream all over again! Every Airstream is unique because of this. No, Airstreams aren’t perfect, but you really get a new appreciation when you see them being built by hand – hundreds of hands!

Here are some photos taken through a window at night:

 

Here are some photos from Airstream’s website.  I added arrows and annotations so that you can see how close we were parked to the factory:

 

A 4-Leaf Clover

May 26 – 28, 2018

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On Saturday, we went to a small town (Dutton, ON) after leaving Can-Am. Honestly, it really was a strange feeling. We were not newbies, but everything felt so safe at Can-Am, and now we were heading out with our new shiny Atomic Pod – on the 401! That first campground was way too expensive, but it gave us a chance to fill up our freshwater tank and do laundry.

Then, on Sunday, we crossed at the Windsor-Detroit border ($12.50 to cross the bridge with a truck and trailer). No questions were asked about the dogs. The guard just inspected the trailer. Strangely, he checked under the duvet. Paul had to wait outside, so he couldn’t see where the guard poked around, but the bedding was pulled back.

We found a state park in Ohio at around 7 pm, approximately 1.5 hours from Jackson Center, but it was Memorial Day weekend. The park host said the park was full, and we really needed an electric site to run the AC. Wow! It was so hot and HUMID! We only ran the AC on our previous Airstream 3 times in 10 years! The host said that she’d ask her husband if he knew of a site that someone had vacated in the morning.

While we were waiting, I found a 4-leaf clover! Never in my life had I found one. Things were looking up!

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The man drove around on his gator and found a site – one of the nicest in the park. So, off we went to follow him. Paul parked that big 30 footer like a boss! In no time, we had both of those air conditioners humming, and water was pouring out of the AC drain hose. That evening they showed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on an outdoor screen. What fun!

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We left in the morning, and we had some stops to make for supplies. Was the 4-leaf clover still going to cover us for the day? Oh yeah! When we got to Jackson Center, we asked if there were any cancellations for the event so that we could be parked on the factory grounds rather than overflow. We got a great spot. Woo hoo!

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We got to see Wally and Stella Byam’s gold Airstream as well as some other historically significant trailers.  Tomorrow (May 29) is the official check-in and the start to Alumapalooza.

 

Best.Sleep.Since.September.

May 24 & 25, 2018

We crossed the US-Canada border at approximate 10:15 am, which meant that we passed by Can-Am at around noon, but we only did a slow drive-by. We needed lunch. Our official pick-up was scheduled for Friday, so we didn’t know if we’d be able to accomplish much by arriving early, but we were given permission to sleep in the Airstream Thursday night. Our only glimpse all day was of the end of her in a bay. She was still getting her solar panels and extra batteries. We ordered 400 watts of solar and 4 AGM batteries. Some day, we’ll consider lithium batteries, but they are still too expensive. We also had upgraded Michelin tires installed, so she was getting a makeover of sorts.

It didn’t matter that we had to wait. We were in Airstream Wonderland, so all was well – very well, in fact. Ms. Bolerama got to see the new NEST! YES! It is even more wonderful in person than the pictures show. If only I could get one too! Some women love shoes, some purses, but my favorite accessory is a travel trailer! The NEST has glorious upholstery – the nicest of any Airstream I’ve seen. And when it’s robin’s egg blue with buttons, gasp! It had the same build quality that other Airstreams have. It also smelled like “new Airstream” – one of my favorite scents.

Airstream Wonderland had plenty of Airstream parts and goodies, so I spent a lot of time wandering around and touching things and doing some mental shopping.

The rest of the time, we spent in the lounge area. It was well equipped and well used. Can-Am is so busy! There are people in the lounge area waiting for service, or waiting for their walk-throughs, etc. It is pet-friendly, and they have a water bowl and treats. Humans have access to goodies too, but they don’t have to share a bowl. This is quite the operation. Our experience was so different than when we bought our first Airstream.

Just before 5:30 pm, they told us we could go see our Airstream. It was parked around the side, plugged in and connected to water. We were given a brief walk-through because Friday was our official one. Oh! It is so lovely! Then, we had to madly unload our totes from the truck and pile them outside the Airstream so that we could put the truck in the open section of the lot. The Airstream was in the blocked section, and we were going to get blocked in at 6 pm.

We started unpacking, but we were tired and hungry, and I was greatly disappointed in the Flying Cloud upper cabinets. I knew they’d be smaller than the International cabinets, but I wasn’t prepared for how small. We had to go eat dinner and rethink the kitchen, so we went down the road to a wonderful Italian restaurant. Afterwards, we were able to tackle the lack of kitchen storage.

I subscribe to a YouTube channel, The More We Explore, and the creators are a young full-timing couple who went from a 30ft Flying Cloud to a 23D International. We are doing the exact opposite. Anyway, when I saw them pack the kitchen of the 30 and put everything in the 23, I heard warning bells, but I also wondered if they just had less than we do. Well, we probably have more in our kitchen, but we left half of it in Wakaw. Oh my! The 23D has amazing storage, but the 30 has usable countertops and seems more functional, so it all balances.

Now, in the bedroom, there is no comparison. This bedroom rocks! There are wardrobes on either side of the bed, so it makes it cozy. Also, the curtains have black-out lining. The mattress is very comfortable, so we had such a solid sleep. I don’t even think I tossed or turned during the night. I finally got a full night’s sleep! I awoke refreshed, before my alarm, and ready for our walk-though!

A technician came right away and asked if there were any issues that needed attention, and he got to work immediately. Then, at 9 am, someone came for our truck to reinforce the hitch, and we cleared out of the Airstream so that the equalization system could be installed. We went to the lounge and had coffee and waited for our walk-through, etc. It was all very civilized and organized. Marshall came to get us to give us our walkthrough. He was incredibly thorough and knowledgeable, since he had been a tech at one time.

We explained to him that we’d like to remove our microwave to gain more storage and showed him pictures of our friends’ (Tracey and Derek’s) trailer:

IMG_7645We asked how we would go about ordering the doors to create a cabinet from Airstream. He said that they do this all the time – in house! They have their own carpenters and they can rebuild an entire interior or tweak an existing one. He set us up with one of the service advisors, and we are getting quotes for different configurations.

Can-Am exceeds all expectations!

We camped Friday night at Can-Am again.

On the second night, Daisy decide to do a little investigating.  She was so adorable, peeking into the new spaces.

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We will leave on Saturday and start heading to Ohio because we’re going to ALUMAPALOOZA!

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Even Flying Clouds have Silver Linings

May 15, 2018

I’ve been delaying writing this post for quite some time – 2 months, in fact. We were eager to return to Saskatchewan to see our friends, but we were sad about what we knew we had to do: hand our Airstream over to our insurance provider (SGI). Today, we finished packing up the Airstream because tomorrow, we say good-bye.

Last June, our Airstream had an unfortunate encounter with hail. Although the hailstones were small and the dents miniscule, the Airstream was a “total write-off,” according to our adjuster.  It wasn’t logical because our friends’ Airstream (barely two blocks away!) was also hit, but not written off. However, we had different adjusters. We would have purchased ours back, but the buy-back value was too high. They would not negotiate to lower the buy-back value, and we didn’t want to go through the arbitration process to negotiate raising the current vehicle valuation. This is because there aren’t any comparatives in Canada and SGI refused to consider US Airstreams as comparatives. What a headache! It almost seems like someone at the insurance company intends to buy it, so that’s why they were making it difficult. We will see if it ever makes it to the auction block.

Over the winter, we searched for a gently used Airstream in the US. We saw a 2017 model in Las Vegas that looked older than ours. It had been used and abused in its short life. We didn’t find anything suitable.

At Can-Am in London, ON, we had seen a new 2017 Flying Cloud on their website last August. However, when we were finally in Ontario to see it, we learned that it had recently been sold. Then, it reappeared on their website later that fall. The buyers weren’t able to get financing. I kept an eye on it while we searched in the US. In February, we decided to call Can-Am to ask about it again. We were informed once again that it had just sold a few days earlier. What timing! However, a week or so later, we got an email stating that the buyers could not get financing and it was available again. That was back in March. You might remember the day we had to drive up a hill while out on the desert to get cell coverage for an important phone call. That was the phone call. We sent our deposit on a new (but year old) 2017 30’ Flying Cloud.

Although I prefer the interior of our International, the Flying Cloud line underwent an update in 2017, and I do appreciate the new décor. Our upholstery is Dwell Ultraleather in Sandpiper, which is off-white, and the cabinetry is Wilsonart’s Landmark, which is a straight-grain laminate resembling teak and framire (an African oak). I think the overall décor is close enough to Danish modern to make me happy. I’ll miss our large white backlit overhead lockers and the higher end hardware, lighting, and faucets, but all Airstreams are exquisite! I’m on Flying Cloud 9!

Living area (old and new)

Sleeping area (old and new)

It will be really nice to have a queen bed after 48″ of Extreme Cuddling (Poppy’s favourite sport).

This winter, when people asked us why we chose our first Airstream and why we were searching for another one, we had a hard time explaining it. All RVs offer people the same amenities, but in different sizes, so why would you choose something so much smaller but more expensive?  People who choose Airstreams seem to have an emotional attachment to them; it isn’t necessarily a rational decision. Airstreams are expensive, easily damaged by hail and gravel, relatively small, not warm in winter, etc. However, when we returned to SK to our Airstream, we both were giddy. Oh, how we missed it! When we opened the door, I had butterflies. The feeling was not unlike love.  How do you describe love? What RV gives its owner butterflies? What other RVs have silver linings?

We pick up our Flying Cloud on May 25 in Ontario, so after our Airstream club (WBCCI) meet this coming weekend, we will hit the road again.

We will miss our little escape pod.  New adventures await in our shiny new Atomic Pod!