Canada’s Wonderland?

June 27-30, 2018

After spending a month in the Niagara Region visiting family and friends, it was time to start heading westward.  We had a wonderful time visiting; however, we didn’t do very much sightseeing this year.  After all, this is our home stomping grounds and we aren’t really tourists when we return “home”.

Our first stop on our westward journey was to Can-Am RV in London, ON. We had made an appointment to get a bike rack installed on the Airstream and to have our kitchen revamped. We arrived on Wednesday just before closing, and they gave us a spot with power and water out front. Our Airstream was moved into a service bay first thing on Thursday morning.


A rainy night at Can-Am


Jeep Cherokee & 25RB and Chrysler 300 & 30RB

Can-Am prefers the Arvika bike rack manufactured in Quebec, so we trusted their judgment. In order to mount it, they make braces out of Zip-Dee awning hardware, so the whole Airstream looks unified. What a beautiful job! Now we can’t wait to get back to Saskatoon to get our bikes.

Also, on Thursday, the cabinet maker, Larry, removed our built-in microwave and crafted a pot drawer. By the end of Thursday, he had made a very substantial drawer that is strong enough to stand in! However, he was waiting for the Landmark laminate to arrive from the Airstream factory. It was being shipped inside an Airstream. It didn’t arrive in the first trailer, but it did finally arrive later that evening.


Original kitchen

We spent Thursday evening with a fun couple from California and a Can-Am employee. We were all camping out in the yard. The employee, Bill, has now moved away from the area, but he works 2 days per week, so he camps there overnight when he has a shift. He does the walk-throughs with new owners, and he and his wife are also full-timers. Ingo and Mary, from California (and Louisiana) camped overnight so that they could be squeezed in on Friday for some servicing. We had drinks, appetizers, and great conversation! Ingo and Mary are leading the Highway 61 Revisited caravan (A musical journey along The Blues Highway) this fall with the Wally Byam Airstream Club.

On Friday, Larry continued working on the drawer front. He worked ALL DAY and the results are spectacular! What a craftsman! He decided to make it look like 2 drawers so that it wasn’t so overwhelming in appearance. He used all the same hardware that the rest of the trailer has, and he also did some special touches, like routering out the area around the push latch and then edging it with laminate. He did lovely custom work. Maybe in the future, we’ll be having him make a desk for us if we decide to remove the dinette. We will have to use the trailer for a while to see if we learn to love the dinette.


New kitchen

So, we spent 2 days in the Can-Am lounge, but it was fine. We had air conditioning (and did we ever need it!), coffee, wifi, Airstream tours, and Wendy, the receptionist, kept bringing the girls treats. It was a wonderful experience.

As you are driving in Southern Ontario, you will see signs for Canada’s Wonderland, a huge amusement park; however, for Airstreamers, the real Canada’s Wonderland is Can-Am RV.


Alumapalooza: More Pictures


One of the sponsors of the event was Haydocy, and they brought several units for display: a 16-foot NEST (full-time front bed), a 19-foot Flying Cloud, a 27-foot Tommy Bahama, and a 33-foot Classic.  What I found particularly interesting was the WC door on the 19 footer because we had a similar corner bath in our 23D.  I loved the layout, but it would have been nicer to have a larger area when drying off.  Airstream listened and improved the door to open up the WC when in use.  Check this out:

Unfortunately, older units cannot be retrofitted because there was quite a bit of re-engineering done.

In addition to Haydocy’s display, Airstream also brought a few new models, such as the Atlas (class B+/C motorhome) and a “shorty” Sprinter van.  The Atlas is about the same size as our Chinook, but it has a slide, and the interior is far more beautiful.  It’s an Airstream after all!  The shorty is only 19 feet, so it can fit into any parking spot.  I was really impressed with it.  I’m not sure what it’s name will be when it is marketed.

One couple brought a one-off Airstream, which they called the C-Stream.  They purchased this concept motorhome from Airstream, but they had to sign waivers because of the design defects.  The unit is too heavy, so they cannot add any items to the overcab storage area.  What a find!  I really like the curves of the fiberglass.


Here is a baby Argosy motorhome and a 35-foot motorhome in for service:

We also watched the daily progress on this motorhome:


Right next to the service center is the Airstream store and waiting room.  Better than a candy store!

The Atomic Pod at the factory:


Here we are in line at the border, returning to Canada.  In our rearview camera, we saw Andy Thomson behind us:

This time, the border guard was less interested in where we lived and what we had purchased.  Her questions were about the Airstream: What is an Airstream? Why did you buy it? What makes it special? Why would you go to a meet? We were a little off-guard.  You never know what they’ll ask!  Andy said his questions were similar.

Would we go to Alumapalooza again? Heck yeah! In fact, we already registered for next year. It was a wonderful experience and I’m glad we made the effort. I love being retired because we can be flexible and take advantage of opportunities — or make opportunities. We don’t have to make rigid plans and rush to complete them to return back to work. Serenity now!


May 29 – June 3, 2018

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. Entertainment

The Alumapalooza team booked top entertainers (Josh Rogan, The Other Favorites, and Edgar Cruz & Michael Kelsey). No, Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours weren’t booked this year, but the entertainers were amazing.

  1. Access to the factory grounds

As long as we were wearing our badges, we had unencumbered access to the factory grounds. The factory is in a “free trade zone”, which meant that it is inaccessible to the public and trespassing is a federal offence. We had to keep our badges on so that we weren’t stopped by Federal agents, especially after hours. We wandered around at night looking at interesting units, like the hearse and the European model that was getting ready for shipping. We were not restricted at all.

Commercial trailers:


European model:

Interior of the Bowlus Road Chief:

  1. Seminars

We learned to rivet with Jim Parrot. He brought in a section with ribs and aluminum skin and showed us how to use olympic rivets, which is what people likely use for repairs. Airstreams are assembled with buck rivets.

Colin Hyde taught us about Airstream renovations, rodent habitats, and preventing leaks. He said ALL, absolutely ALL Airstreams leak, but your best defence is being proactive by sealing often. His brother and sister-in-law (from Ontario) brought their completely renovated trailer and gave us a tour. Phenomenal! Colin completely renovates trailer by removing the frame and putting it on a rotisserie. He also removes the interior skins – that’s where he finds ecosystems behind those walls! He uses buck rivets for repairs, which requires removing the interior skins. He’s a great speaker.

The most-attended event was Andy Thompson’s (Can-Am RV) presentation about proper hitching. We learned so much. He is amazing! We had read all of his articles in Airstream Life magazine, but hearing him speak and explain procedures was invaluable.

  1. Socializing with other Airstreamers

Milo and Diane parked next to us, and we spent most of our time with them. They were so much fun and are animal lovers. They also introduced us to some members of their Vermont unit of the WBCCI. Milo and Diane have 2 senior German Shepherd Dogs, and Poppy kept her distance! However, one evening, we were sitting at their trailer and Daisy was restless. She started wandering about, and then we saw what she wanted: their big dog bed. So, the old girls got up and let Daisy take their bed! Daisy is rickety, but she still has presence!

The Jamie & Joan Hyde’s (of Ontario) renovated Hydeaway by Colin Hyde (of New York):


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


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

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


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!


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!


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!


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.