It has been a quiet week in my hometown by Lake Champlain, in Vermont. It’s February and everything is frozen.
But we’re not there. We’re in Tucson, which is currently the center of the universe because the world-famous gem show is going on. It has been completely dominating the west side of town for two weeks. There are something like fifty separate venues open, each with amazing collections of gems, jewelry, rocks, fossils, meteorites, beads, petrifications, crafts, tools, crystals, and gazillions of other things.
The gem show is probably considered to be a nuisance by some locals, but we like it. We’ve been going for three years now, ever since we first accidentally discovered it on a pass through Tucson when we were full-timing. Emma picks up tiny samples of discarded stones from the ground, and occasionally buys an inexpensive fossil or a particularly intriguing rock. Eleanor buys beads to support her constantly-growing beading habit. I just browse. My major purchase is usually kettle corn.
The gem show has brought friends to town as well. All this week we have had a courtesy parker, our friend Jim B “The Airstreaming Meteorite Dealer.” His 25-foot vintage Airstream is in the carport. He spends the days manning his booth at Tucson Electric Park, buying and selling.
Jim’s big sale this week was this 27-lb meteorite. It’s a Campo del Cielo from Argentina. It’s worth about a thousand bucks at gem show prices (a lot less than it probably would fetch at typical retail).
Our big purchase at the gem show this year was a fossil conglomeration that we’re going to hang on the dining room wall. All I need are some hooks that can handle a 2″ thick, 30-lb slab of rock.
Right before Jim we had a visit from my old friend Andy, who occupied our Airstream for several days. (It works great as a guest house.) Andy was our “sunshine kid.” He lives up in the frozen north, so we invited him down to defrost for a few days, and recall what the sun looks like. So it has felt a little like a hotel here, in a good way.
Andy took the photo at right on the day he flew here. Even though we’ve been grumbling about the “cold” Tucson weather lately (30s at night, 60s by day), I need only glance at this photo to remember what February is really like. When they’ve got to spray the jet with glycol before takeoff, you know it’s time to plan that southbound trip.
Another set of friends has dropped in as well. Roger and Roxy got zapped by the recent cold spell in the southwest. They were on a two-week Airstream trip to northern Arizona, but it was literally freezing up there thanks to high elevation. So they headed to the safety of Phoenix and then called us. (We met them when we courtesy parked at their house in November 2007, but haven’t seen them since.) We directed them to Tucson’s Gilbert Ray campground on the southwest side of town, and then over here to have dinner with us. We took them out to Tucson’s funky art cinema, The Loft, to watch the Academy Award-Nominated Animated Short Films. In other words, we took them out to watch cartoons. Do we know how to show people a good time, or what?
The parade of guests will stop when Jim leaves, at least for a short while. I am heading to Florida next week to attend the Florida State Rally in Sarasota. Among other things, I will be speaking on the subject of “So, you want to be a travel blogger?” I’ve also got a big shipment heading down to Sarasota, comprised of various items from our online store which I am going to blow out cheap at the flea market. I’ve got books, shirts, tumblers, slippers, keychains, and back issues of Airstream Life. My friend Wendimere is also coming to speak, but her topic is much more interesting. I think she’s giving a talk about good health and good sex in the Airstream. I can’t wait to hear that one … delivered to a group of 70-somethings in Florida.
I saved the best news for last. We’ve going to run the Vintage Trailer Jam again this summer. Last year it was a big success, and people have been badgering us to do it again. So the three partners who put it on last year (Vintage Trailer Supply, GSM Vehicles, and Airstream Life magazine) are going to do it again, August 13-17, 2009.
If you’re not familiar, it’s basically a combination of a rally and seminars and party that we hold in Saratoga Spa State Park, NY. It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun, and I’m glad we managed to get everyone to agree to do it again. We started accepting registrations on Tuesday and already 14 campsites are sold (out of about 100 we can accept). Given that there are six months to go before the event, I think that’s a solid indication it will sell out, so I’m pretty excited. It’s fun to put on a party for 200-300 people.
Well, maybe I didn’t save the best news for last. I forgot to mention that we mailed the Spring 2009 issue of Airstream Life magazine about 10 days ago. People should start receiving it very soon. It’s a pretty good one, if I say so myself. This issue marks the first time I’ve ever printed a photo of my own on the cover, too. See, even as Publisher I don’t get preferential treatment. I should try bribing the Editor.