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.