The Big Bad Wolf comes to Jackson Center

He huffed and puffed …

At the risk of having this blog turn into an ongoing weather report, I will tell you a story about a storm again. Here in central Ohio at this time of year there is always some challenging weather, usually in the form of thunderstorms that march in solid red lines across Illinois and Indiana and give us “exciting” (chaotic) times. Everyone who has attended Alumapalooza or has been Airstreaming for more than a few years has experienced this.

In small doses a little chaos can be fun but it’s not great as a lifestyle, especially when one is living in an Airstream as I and 400+ other people are currently doing here. The past few days rain has been particularly abundant and it’s making me appreciate the  calm and astonishingly cool weather I’m missing right now in southern Arizona.

We call the ordinary thunderstorms “dust control” or “leak checks”. They’re generally harmless to Airstreams, which after all float down the highway in a 70 MPH wind every day without incident. If the three little piggies had built their houses of aerodynamically-shaped aluminum there wouldn’t be a fable to tell. A bit of wind-driven rain may test the waterproofing of your Airstream trailer but it’s not going to blow it over.

On those rare occasions when there’s the threat of a tornado we just generally just duck and cover, because there’s not much else that can be done. Last night some folks thought we were in danger and took shelter in the factory, which is the correct procedure when there’s a tornado sighted. But most of the attendees rode it out in their Airstreams. Personally, I was busy writing an email and hardly noticed anything else. I guess I’m jaded by a decade of going through this.

Apparently a tornado did hit about 25 miles from here, and there was some damage in Dayton too (70 miles south). Here in Jackson Center we got the usual rain, lightning and thunder. It was nothing like the actual tornado we experienced back in 2008. Colin Hyde didn’t even take in his vintage-style rope-and-pole awning, and it was still upright and undamaged in the morning.

Apparently the posts on social media last night were far noisier than the thunder. So if, based on those reports, you are wondering if we survived the drama, now you know.

APZ10 Lambert cat

FA09 cover smallWhile the bad weather gets all the press, in reality most of the time it has been pretty nice here. There has been enough sunshine to get a few members of our parking crew pretty solid sunburns, and the mornings have been gorgeous. On Monday I had time to go around and visit friends before the Memorial Day cookout, including this old kitty who lives with Michael and Tina Lambert.

(Michael is the lead of The Excella Tones, who will be performing on Saturday at Alumapalooza. He’s also a talented artist whose work adorned the Fall 2009 issue of Airstream Life. You can see the original print on his wall in the photo above.)

Other than the rain at night, Monday passed by pleasantly. The pre-event cookout was a big success and gave the early arrivals a chance to meet each other. Suzie (Airstream Life Store Manager) and I did a trial setup of our pop-up store and ended up having a few customers in the afternoon. Just in talking to people I could sense them relaxing and settling into the groove of Alumapalooza, which is always great. It’s really what this event is all about.

APZ10 Memorial Day cookout

In contrast, Tuesday is always the toughest day for the staff and this year proved it again. The overnight rains made a difficult parking situation even harder, which put the parking staff to a test like they’ve never had before. Some sites are still infeasible due to soft ground, and to avoid turning the nice grassy field into muddy ruts we’ve had to go to a slower parking protocol: drivers unhitch and a tractor moves the trailers to their site. Some of them will be un-parked the same way on Sunday but as I keep reminding people, we have never left an Airstream behind. So there’s no need to get panicky about “getting out” later.

APZ10 field ruts

Other than the parking challenge, it has been a good day. I was busy most of the day in the Airstream Life Pop-Up Store but managed to break away long enough to check out the vendor area, Eleanor’s first food seminar (cheese and chocolate pairings), and a few other things. (Credit for bike group photo: Adam Grillot)

APZ10 bicycle ride

Happy Hour is the usual turning point of the first day because at last most people are parked and can settle in to enjoy the experience. Brett and I hand out a bunch of door prizes, ad lib some lame jokes, and serve free beer & wine. Not surprisingly, everyone has a good time. From here, everything just gets easier and more fun.

Tomorrow we’ll start early. Suzie and I will set up the store around 7:30. I’ve got two workshops to present with Brett at 8:30 and 9:00 and then I’ll run back to the store to help Suzie. At 9:30 Mike Benson of TST will be talking about tire pressure monitoring systems so we’ll get swamped at the store right after that.

At 3:00 I’ll be presenting a seminar about traveling to National Parks, and autographing books. Then right over to Happy Hour to do the Brett & Rich show again. If I’m still awake after all that I can catch a local band in the main tent, but I suspect it will be dinner and emails and bedtime again. Maybe this time with a bit less lightning?


  1. David B Johnson says

    Whew! I heard about the tornado in southwest Ohio near Dayton and prayed Jackson Center was spared all of that. I hope the weather is good for the rest of the event. It sure sounds and looks like Airstream fun. Any generators running to charge batteries and ithingies?


    • RichLuhr says

      No need. All sites at Alumapalooza come with electricity, except for a few sites designated for generator use (for people who want to be able to run their air conditioner or other appliances that can’t be used on the shared power connections).