Alumapalooza 2011

Alumapalooza 2011:

The benefits of arriving a day early at a rally is to see the evolving and birthing of the event. However, Alumapalooza isn’t just any Airstream gathering. I can personally attest to this statement with this being our 2nd year of attendance here in Jackson Center. There is a magic behind the flurry of Alumapalooza: 5 glorious days where a sea of shiny aluminum aerodynamically designed trailers fill a 40 acre field at the birthplace of the Airstream trailer (a tiny town in the centre of big-hearted Ohio) and where the meeting of said owners (aka like-minded soul’s with a passion for living more, seeing more, doing more) connect for mini-adventurers of the spirit and heart.

Alumapalooza 2011 would be the first time for my husband slaDE and I to be featured guest presenters beyond a karma workshop (ever, anywhere!). In fact we have our own yoga tent. How beautiful and spontaneously open is that? Last year, when we offered a Healthy Living seminar to include a section of yoga to the attendees, the participation was welcome by all who came (maybe an audience of 15 people), and from that success and interest, a second yoga class was offered (about 20 people showed up with mats and towels in hand), curious about trying something a little different. Rich saw the lure in the yoga possibilities, and from that emerged this years program, worthy of our recognition as a yoga entity and presence. We had a dedicated 30 x 30 foot yoga tent. How truly exciting!

Uprooting ourselves from the Terra Port, we made our way to the field of dreams, the home where 180+ Airstreams were to be parked for the week. Luckily, the previous few weeks of incessant rain had come to a blazing halt, leaving relatively dry ground for our heavy trailers to stand fort. At the aluminum gates to the this field of current emptiness, we were welcomed with a glorious ‘Welcome Home’ by our Silver Family friends Lou & Larry Woodruff (the volunteer aficionados of Alumapalooza 2011). Initially Rich had planned for our parking spot to be beside the yoga tent, overlooking our domicile for the week. But we had worthy friends fill the empty slot, creating a virtuous space where we breathed life with vital beautiful energy, sharing in the beginnings of a wonderful friendship.

Still groggy from the lack of sleep, the day was a blur as we settled in to the nomadic routine we’ve set up for establishing a base camp. We ventured as far as a grocery shop for the week ahead, but other than that, we kept to ourselves, preparing for the potential and possibilities of outdoor yoga. It was a peaceful, quiet and glorious time before the yoga storm!


Setting Up Camp at the Airstream Factory

Relaxing …. breathing …. settling in …. Airstreaming …. Alumapaloozing

I love this poem posted by Tom Nugler in the Airstream AirForums. It pretty much sums up the whole experience here in Jackson Center:

Long driving,
Heat scorching,
Friends meeting,
Sun burning,
Nights cooling,
Seminar taking,
Winds blowing,
Fire breathing,
Goodie buying,
Factory touring,
Cake cooking,
Prize winning,
Barbecuing,
Yoga flying,
Swap meeting,
Trailer touring,
Storm brewing,
Antsy singing.

Do it again?
Bet your aluminum assets!

Crossing Over

Perhaps it was the lack of sleep or the warm molasses sunshiny spring day, but readying the Airstream seemed to take forever and a day. We started mid-morning, and I perpetually caught myself in a time lag of sorts (such as feeling like it should have been 11pm, not 11am), stumbling through the waking hours, zombie-like in my flow. It was late afternoon before we pulled out of the farm and well in to the evening before connecting with our nephew at the border town of Sarnia. So much for brunch :). At least we had a wonderful visit with lots of smiles.

The term crossing over, for some, means the metaphysical passing in to the ‘next life’, into the unknown. For me, crossing over tends to be the experience of entry in to the United States of America, specifically with our Airstream in tow. So much is unknown, with no guarantees that we’ll be accepted in to the pearly gates of the Customs Border Patrol abyss. Basically, it’s a crapshoot. Throw in feelings of complete powerlessness and anxiety at wanting to gain access to the Holy Land of warmer climates, comfortable winter skydiving, glorious beauty and opportunity. Home of the free … not so much. Regardless of the purity of my intentions and actions, I feel like an outright criminal with a list of sins longer than any Catholic Priest can condone. Come midnight when we rolled up for our turn at the border portal, the officer had us pull off in for inspection. Big sigh. Visions of last winter’s inspection flashed in to my mind, and I crossed my fingers that all would go smoothly. Luckily, we had an Officer with a lively sense of humour and nice personality. 2 hours later, we were on our way to Ohio, bone-tired but grateful to have crossed over for a few weeks of much-anticipated fun and friendship.

How slaDE managed to stay awake for 4 more hours, driving straight through to Jackson Center, I couldn’t fathom. I pretty much collapsed in to a deep sleep, awakened by the rising sun and arrival at the Airstream Terra Port (a full RV hookup staging point whilst at the factory). Melting in to bed, we slept soundly and deeply, drunk with the lack of sleep over the past 50 hours.

Winding Up, Winding Down

Saturday. The weekend! Most people are winding down, relaxing and settling into a comfortable groove. Me, today I’m revving up for the big finish. Tomorrow morning was our designated departure time for hitching up the Airstream, meeting up with Richie, our nephew, for brunch before making our way to Ohio for Alumapalooza 2011. For me, this meant finishing up with all the sorting, correlating and repackaging of said stuff. Phew, looking at the barn, I’m now suddenly feeling the pressure, a very noticeable and urgent sense of anxiety building up within me. Stopping to breath, listen and laugh, I started my morning with my head focussed and my hands a flying.

It was chaotically busy, but in an organized sort of crazy way. My hubby was fantastic in cheerfully helping where he could, such as making a last minute giant run to the Salvation Army to drop off 4 large rubbermaid boxes of belongings. We had already delivered 2 jumbo boxes of clothing and books to a friend’s place for storage whilst stateside (no use carrying such frivolous non-necessary items across the border). It was both tough and cathartic letting go of hundreds of great books, well-loved pieces of clothing and an abundance of excess paraphernalia. The entire cubby process has been very cleansing for me. I still want to purge even more (clothes especially, although I love each and every item that I held on to), but what I decide to keep and save depends on the state of our future. So much is up in the air right now. Very exciting indeed! Bearing this in mind, I’ll keep what feels right.

slaDE had hoped to be finished with putting all the boxes in the cubby hole by midnight, if not well before that time. But unfortunately, despite my best and dedicated of efforts, we were in the barn packing up until about 4am. Made for a very long night, scattered with the sharing of memories, bouts of laughter and giggles, and sips of champagne that I had kept for a special occasion (and this was most certainly a night worthy of celebration!). In the end, the cubby was loaded and organized by 5:30am and I decided to muddle through with no sleep whilst slaDE grabbed a few hours of rest before we started the process of packing up the trailer for our upcoming trip to Ohio. Alumapalooza 2011, here we come!

The Home Stretch

Today I am on the last stretch to organizing and completing the cubby hole task. It’s been quite the long-winded venture, and for the most part I’m accomplished a heavy hearty burden that’s been a long time in the making. Phew, feels good. Have to finish first though 🙂 Thanks to my beautiful hubby for all his help and encouragement. Without him, it would have been a more monolithic task than I could have ever imagined or accomplished!

 

“Whatever you can do, or dream, you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
~ Goethe

 

The Accumulation of Stuff

All I can say now is: wish me luck! Our time for the cubby restructuring is slowly nearing completion. Yet although the end of my monumental organizational task appears in sight, it is still a distant stretch from the completion of all my belongings being sorted, packed away and returned to the cubby storage space. This time around: out of sight is not necessarily out of mind! Now I know exactly what I have and where it’s at. I’m keeping focussed during this process and my days are growing longer as we get closer to our departure date for Ohio. To be honest, I never thought this possible within the time constraints of two weeks. But here I am, two weeks later, and I am almost finished! Many thanks to my committed husband, who has supported, helped and stood by me though the entirety of my process. Without his amazing strength and passion, I don’t think that I could have done this as effortlessly or with as little pain as I have done thus far. And with this task behind me, I will have more time for my hubby when at the farm (if I need something from the cubby, I’ll know what and where it is). It’s about the connecting with people that truly is our most precious resource.

As has been my ‘rule’ in the Airstream, when something comes in (apart from food and necessary household items), something must leave, making space for the new. It’s about being more selective about the things we buy and taking care of those items. Quality over quantity. And honestly, I think I outfit myself from our current Airstream closet for the rest of my life without running out of combinations or styles. Do I really need 5 jackets, 5 sweater, 15 t-shirts, 8 pairs of shoes? I suppose this all depends on whether I choose a different path outside of airstream living where I might need to work a ‘typical’ office job, for financial reasons (???!!) Check out this TED video for inspiration on Jessi Arrington’s lifestyle choices with her clothes. It’s amazing! If people chose to be thrifty in their lives as she does and reduced / reused / recycled / donated their wardrobes instead of buying new clothes (i.e. yesterday I went to the Mall and all the new, often poor quality, clothing was overwhelming), what a difference we could all make, both environmentally and on a deeper more meaningly level of humanitarian kindness based on love, not lust for material things.

Next step, organizing my digital life (and that includes redesigning our yogaFLIGHT website).

And now, I ask, please, whatever you do, don’t give / send me any gifts. If I need it, I’ll buy it. And if I don’t need it, you can almost guarantee that I probably already have it :). This will help me tremendously in the path of simplicity that I’m looking to follow. Wish me luck!

A New Addition

Here I am professing that I don’t need any more stuff, and what do we do and go? Spend money on something that wasn’t totally necessary. In my mind anyway, it didn’t seem like a required addition. But slaDE has been on the lookout for a high-rise truck cap ever since we started our journey. He has been convinced that it was exactly what we needed to make our storage and towing needs with the Airstream trailer all that more perfect and ideal. With this profession of desire, we’ve been looking diligently for the right cap throughout our travels, surfing the web, scouring Kijiji, visiting many a truck cap place for a topper that would serve our purposes (better than just the tonneau cover). Last Fall, we stumbled upon our current truck topper (it lies snug against the rails of the truck). It wasn’t entirely what slaDE had envisioned, but it would serve an additional storage place for our bikes with the extra height and access, whilst also protecting the boards we use to level our trailer from the elements. Over the course of 9 months, we both grew very fond of our the tonneau cover. The side flap compartments proved to be extremely useful for accessing items in the front of the bed as well as for providing so much more storage space than from the prior year of doing without. In fact, any new propositions less than ideal for our truck would be left by the wayside.

I felt completely satisfied with what we currently had but slaDE found an interesting match in Fergus at a truck cap dealership. We drove the hour to contemplate the possibility of its usefulness (the photos slaDE had taken left me dubious on the colour match), and with a surprising twist, I ended up convincing slaDE that the cap was perfect for our truck (albeit not silver as originally envisioned). Funny how things work out when least expected! And now we have extra storage space that allows for our bicycles to fit without having to loosen the handlebars to fit accordingly. Now slaDE doesn’t need to pack with the neat perfection of a jigsaw puzzle!

BTW, the silver tonneau cover is for sale if anyone is interested (fits a Dodge 2002-2008 short box). 🙂

A Meal to Remember

After slaDE and I picked up an unexpected full size truck cap purchased through a dealer between Elora and Fergus, we made our way for a very special dinner invitation. What an amazing opportunity we were being gifted this evening. slaDE, myself, my Father and his wife Karen were invited to the home of an Amish family (very similar to the Mennonites, in both beliefs and lifestyle) for dinner. My Father has worked with Harvey for many years, and during that time, has established a friendship based on trust and integrity. Last winter, slaDE spent some time getting to know Harvey as well, but tonight was the first time he had met all of the children and their Mother. From my understanding, an extended invitation in to an Amish family’s home is a treat. Being welcomed and offered an evening meal, now that’s a very rare occurrence (if one is not part of their community). And for this, I feel very honoured and blessed. A sparkling moment in my memory bank that I will not soon forget.

Harvey and his wife Verna have 10 children, from the ages of 19 years to 6 months of age: Catherine, Calvin, Wayne, Nathan, Paul, Julie-Ann, Judy-Lynn, Norman, Jason and Arnold – 7 boys and 3 girls. Of course, being the avid photographer that I am, I was thoroughly entranced by the simplistic beauty that they called their home. Very little decoration existed in their simple house, yet they happily subsist with the basic comforts of living. My basic and their essential standards are quite different. An Amish lifestyle does not include the comforts of electricity. So imagine this: no computers, television, lights, phones, or appliances. The wood stove helped to take the edge of chill from the air and a Naptha gas lamp was used once the darkness started to settle. A lovely glow surrounded the table as all the children looked on in awe at these unique strangers in their home. After an amazing and delicious meal was consumed with the peal of lavish conversation and much laughter, slaDE pulled out his laptop, showing the family some footage from our skydive and scuba adventure in to the Blue Hole in Belize. I’m not even sure if the kids have ever seen a laptop, let alone any skydiving footage. I’m thinking that we opened some marvellous doors in the imagination of the children and adults if revealed by the vibrancy of their captivated faces. As the glow of the lamp lit up each other shining faces, I looked on in wonderment at their glowing iridescent faces, entranced by the whole experience of that moment. It was truly an amazing experience to share with them.

I understand that the taking of photographs is not considered appropriate by the Amish or Mennonite tradition. In fact, posing for a photograph is discouraged by their religion as it is seen by many of their faith as an act of vanity. So I respected their beliefs but managed to capture one photo of the evening. The smell, sound and sight of the Naphtha lamp intrigued me. After a quick photo was taken, we left them with some of my cubby hole cleanse donations that I thought might be useful for their family. Hope you enjoy my small window into their world.

A Dirty Job

It’s really been an interesting few weeks watching the interaction between Harley the farm tabby cat and the two new girl puppies, Barbie and Bailey (a Jack Russell and Australian Blue Heeler mix). The dogs stay in a caged pen at night but have the run of the farm during the day. Harley the feline has a box by the front door that he sleeps in. But over the past week, the dogs have adopted his home as their puppy home when not caged. The rivalry is hilarious. Lots of hissing, yipping, jumping and chasing going on. It’s a sad but funny love / hate relationship with Harley feeling very much evicted from his home. Even funnier is watching the dogs try to leap in to the cardboard box. Usually they don’t make it on the first try (envision a pole vaulter almost making it over the bar but falling straight down when smashing against said bar). That’s Bailey and Barbie for you. Comic relief indeed!

Today slaDE was brilliant in choreographing the finishing of the cubby hole’s makeover. The walls of the foundation lining the hole have slowly been crumbling in spots, creating huge amounts of dust and grime. It’s been sitting stagnant for about 10 years without any real attention made to the upkeep. But to be fair, it’s a concrete hole that doesn’t real play a big role in the house. However, we felt it important to keep it tidy and somewhat dust free. So slaDE took on the job of cleaning it up and painting the floor with a concrete sealer acrylic base, after blowing out all the dust and sweeping up the crumbling earth. A dirty job that I wasn’t really excited about completing myself. Bless my hubby for taking on the task with such vigour and style :).

Girl Guide Memories

To get an idea of how long I’ve kept certain items, I came across my little packet of Girl Guide memorabilia … really sweet memories actually. But apparently, I fell kind of behind in my duties as I had all these Pathfinder badges that weren’t sewn on to my Girl Guide sash. 🙂 Procrastination haunted me even when I was a Brownie (of the Pixie six — I’m thinking that was my ‘pack’)!

Amazing that I kept a record sheet of my Girl Guide Cookie Sales. Families rock in the being the best customers! My Mom was #1, my brother Kenny #2 and my Gramma #3. The icing on the cookie was the friendly reminder printed on each little cookie sales package:

Remember:

  1. Girl guides are always courteous and smiling.
  2. Guides should wear their uniforms and be neat at all times.
  3. Be sure to collect money only when you deliver cookies. Do not accept tips. Be accurate and careful with money.

Brownie Promise
I promise to do my best
To do my duty to God, the Queen and my country.
To help other people every day, especially those at home.

The Brownie Law
A Brownie is cheerful and obedient.
A Brownie thinks of other people before herself.

The Brownie Motto
Lend a Hand.

Even back then, I was part of a community that cared for my well-being, and served to engrain morals alongside lessons of friendship, faith and integrity. What a fabulous introduction to my independence and success as an adult! I wonder how much the organization has changed since my childhood? Anyone care to share their own Girl Guide or Boy Scout memories or stories?