Pre-dawn, Alumapalooza load-in

It’s 4:53 a.m.  I have not awoken this early for any particular reason that I can think of.  It is the big morning of our load-in to Alumapalooza, but although that’s an exciting time, I don’t think I’m up because of the anticipation.  I just woke up, having slept well and having had lots of interesting dreams. Although our alarm was set for 6:30 a.m., I guess I’m up for the day.

There are various “industrial” sounds of machines and whirring fans that always accompany a work day at the Terra Port, murmuring beneath the usual morning bird songs.  Everyone who has camped here is familiar with them.  Soon the Airstream staff will begin to arrive and get to work building Airstreams and opening the Service bays.  They are going to have a busy week, just like us.  At 7 a.m., the tractor will come out to the Terra Port to pick up the first Service customers.

I know from prior years that in the next hour a lot of guys will start stumbling around outside their trailers in the dawn light, puttering with various pieces of equipment and generally killing time until it’s socially acceptable to fire up the old diesel pickup and start hitching for real.  This year I may be one of them.   I’ve got to dump the holding tanks and pack up a few things, and I might as well get started soon.  Besides, it’s hard to sit inside the Airstream this morning.  It’s exciting to line up the first group of Airstreams (all the Alumapalooza staff, about eight trailers) to parade into the field and take our designated spots at 8 a.m.

Everyone will be up and watching, including our little “eye in the sky,” a GoPro Hero2 sports camera mounted to a 30-foot pole.  It will be shooting a time-lapse video of the parking process today.  We tested it yesterday while the tent was being set up, and it’s pretty cool.  I’ll try to get the video of the Airstreams parking today uploaded to YouTube later this week.  We are expecting 102 trailers today.

Yesterday was another hot one, but the weather service (our own Alex K) says that today will be a little cooler with a few showers in the morning, than comfortably cool all week.  The day started with setting up the eye in the sky, while our parking crew flagged the fields and set out the big yellow “ALUMAPALOOZA” road signs.  The big old & ugly box trailer that we use for winter storage was towed over and we unloaded all the gear, including a complete Airstream kitchen and stage sound and video equipment.

This year we’re trying a much more streamlined online check-in process, so I held a brief training seminar with most of the staff after the main tent was set up.  We all stumbled through the process with a clutch of iPads until we’d finally worked out all the issues.  Despite a few challenges, I think it’s going to work fine and save everyone considerable time.  Two staffers will have laptops and the ability to fix any problems that the iPad users in the field might encounter.

A few people have arrived early and are parked in the Service Center lot.  They have no hookups of course, but seem to be fine with that.  I should note that arriving early is discouraged and there’s a risk of being turned away unless you are staff or have a service appointment on Tuesday.  Also, arriving early doesn’t get you in to  Alumapalooza early.  These folks will be parked at the same time as everyone else, after 9 a.m. today.

But those who were here seemed to make the best of the situation, heat and all.  I got a chance to take a break around 6 p.m. and wandered into a group of merry-makers who were playing and singing some of Kirk McKellar’s songs.

Kirk is the middle guy in the photo with the blue hat.  Every year he writes a theme song for Alumapalooza.  The first year it was the Alumapalooza Anthem.  The next year it was “Wally Byam Would Be Smilin’ “, and this year he has something new that we haven’t rehearsed yet.  Regardless, we will be singing it from the stage today.

Thanks to Nick Martines for this photo.  He’s one of our official photographers, and you will see his panoramic photo work from last year’s event hanging in the Airstream Service Center.