For a couple of weeks I’ve been anticipating Alumafiesta kicking off, and the key day in my schedule was yesterday. Yesterday was the day Brett & Lisa were scheduled to fly in from Florida to help with the pre-event arrangements, and so Eleanor and I had to get the Airstream Caravel over to the campground in the morning to serve as their housing.
Eleanor has been working hard to get the Caravel set up for guests, since it’s not normally prepared that way. She’s added some useful kitchen items that it really needed, bought new towels, cleaned, checked all the supplies, loaded in special items that Brett & Lisa will need, etc. It took a surprising amount of time, probably because the Caravel hardly ever gets used and things were really not well thought out. In a space that small (17 feet long), you need to think carefully about every item that goes in it, and every item that needs to get out of the way.
Lack of use has been bad for it, too. All RVs and travel trailers need regular attention in order to stay in good shape. The Caravel has been sitting for about nine months, visited only for repairs in the past few months when we discovered the water leak in the fresh water tank. I’ve been apprehensive about putting it back into service, since the long hiatus probably allowed a few new problems to crop up unnoticed. The large temperature swings of the desert in winter and the intense UV light are enough to break down almost anything over time.
For that reason I wasn’t surprised to discover that the propane regulator, which tested fine only two weeks ago, was now leaking gas. I found this problem yesterday as I was hitching the Caravel up the GL320 in the morning. It was too late to do anything about it, so our guests will have to keep the gas off except for when they need to make some hot water for showers, or cook on the stove. I’ll install a replacement regulator later.
While setting the Caravel up at Lazydays, I heard a sinister hissing near the water pump. It turned out that a hose clamp on the water line had worked loose somehow. A single turn of a screwdriver fixed that, but now I was on Full Alert for other water leaks. We’ve had a lot of trouble with the plumbing in this trailer in the past, and frankly I don’t trust any part of the plumbing system at all.
So we pressurized the water system and checked all around for other leaks. Found another one under the kitchen sink, which was resolved with a twist of wrench. This confirmed my paranoia (or whatever, since it’s not paranoia when you know the trailer is out to get you). I left Brett a message to be observant for other signs of water leaks in the plumbing when he arrived.
And sure enough, they found another one the next morning, a pinhole leak in the line leading to the water heater. This sprayed water inside the closet and forced them to de-pressurize the water lines between uses of water. Not a great hotel room, as they go but hey, the price was right.
I have reached the end of my patience with the plumbing. It was one of the few systems that wasn’t completely renovated with the rest of the trailer, and it’s a hodge-podge of hose clamps, different fittings, adapters, and three types of tubing. The various leaks that have sprung up from fittings coming loose and pinholes have managed to put water stains on all the new birch furniture that we spent weeks fabricating. It’s time for a major overhaul with all new materials, so you can expect to read about that sometime this year when I get a chance.
But I didn’t have time for that yesterday, because I needed to run around town all day doing errands for Alumafiesta. My first and best job was to take Bert Gildart over to the Tucson Mountains and Saguaro National Park, both on the west side of town, and help him scout out sites for his upcoming Photo Safaris. That took a few hours, but the results were very gratifying, and we had a nice time, followed by lunch downtown with other Airstream friends.
If only the rest of the day were so pleasant. I ended up logging 110 miles of driving around the city yesterday, battling slightly-worse-than-usual traffic caused by an influx of snowbirds and gem show attendees, while trying to get a few errands done. At the end I was wondering why I was anticipating Thursday so cheerfully.
I guess it was because Thursday meant that things were finally, truly, honestly, happening. I have been working on this event for a full year. Only elephants take longer to gestate. It was immensely gratifying to drive through the Lazydays campground and see already half a dozen Airstreams parked and waiting for the festivities to start next week. That sight, and the smiles on peoples’ faces when they start meeting each other, really makes it all worthwhile. By Tuesday afternoon, we’ll have eighty Airstreams parked together. As one participant wrote to me a few weeks ago: “Can. Not. Wait.”
There are undoubtedly some epic tales to be told of the trips people are making right now, to get here. I know that many of our attendees are coming down fro snowbelt states, possibly battling snowstorms and headwinds to get south or through some mountain pass before descending to the desert floor. Even coming from as close as Flagstaff could mean a tough drive through snow at 7,000 feet. Other attendees are facing personal barriers. I got an email this week from a friend whose mother died on Wednesday. The funeral is Saturday, and he’s leaving Sunday from his home state up north to drive through winter weather over 1,500 miles and get here by Tuesday afternoon.
When people are making that kind of effort to come to our event, well, that’s a very positive kind of pressure. We all want to make sure they feel the trip was worth it. We’ve got to put on a great show. And so help me Wally Byam, we will. With that perspective, I guess I can live with the minor hassles that popped up yesterday. There are worse things than water leaks and traffic. It’s going to be a good week.