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September 11, 2007


IF you're reading this, you may be tuned into the wrong blog site ... we moved to Wordpress last week and as a result, RSS readers that automatically fetch the blog need to be re-set to the new address.

Go here to see the new site.

Click here to set up the new RSS (if you use RSS to read the blog).

September 05, 2007

Playing with fire

It was all work today, so our adventures were minimal. But midday we did get a chance to break over to JC Pizza and meet with Jennifer and Bart Housholder. This was a meeting that had its roots in October 2005, when we were in Jackson Center and blogged that "JC Pizza is closed on Mondays."

About a year later, I got an email from Jennifer saying that next time we were in Jackson Center we should drop in. I wrote back and said we would. This week, I gave Jennifer advance warning we were coming, and so today when we walked in we got a smile from the lady behind the counter as she said, "You must be Emma, and you must be Rich, and you must be Eleanor!" It was like coming to a familiar place at home.

The pizza was good and so was the company. Charon and Alex came with us, and Jennifer came over to our table a couple of times to talk. Like a lot of people we meet, she told us we were doing the right thing by homeschooling. She homeschooled all of her kids for years, too, before going into the restaurant business.

Since I was too busy running around all day with my laptop to carry my camera, I took no photos all day. But here are a few bonus shots from yesterday, when we were playing with fire at sunset.

JC eating fire.jpg
Alex demonstrates the technique ...

JC Charon fire.jpg
Charon practices lighting her tongue on fire

JC Rich fire.jpg
Rich cautiously attempts to eat a small fire without igniting mustache

Charon spent a few hours today moving this blog over to Wordpress software. We'll be working together on Thursday to complete the transition, and with luck we'll be running the new software by Thursday night. There are likely to be some differences in the blog for a while, until we work out the glitches, but I am looking forward to a lot of new capabilities that should make it more enjoyable for you to read.

Tonight a couple showed up in the Terra Port with a new Airstream 25FB, and managed to lock themselves out of it. For a moment it looked like they might end up in a motel for the night, but I was able to slide in through a storage compartment door and push up the bed from the underside to gain entry. They'll be getting a couple spare sets of keys tomorrow -- one of the things that was on their list anyway.

September 04, 2007

Jackson Center entertainment

This has been the most entertaining day I've ever had in Jackson Center. Earlier today a fellow Airstream full-timer named Paul dropped by to say how much he liked reading Airstream Life, and to play us a song he wrote about going out on the road.

I made a video of it to try uploading it to YouTube, but so far have encountered a lot of problems. I'll have to get some experts on the job. Once we've got it successfully uploaded I'll post the address here.

Later in the afternoon we were pleasantly surprised to see Alex and Charon pull in beside us in their 1965 Safari. We seem to run into this pair every year somewhere, sometimes in Florida, often here in Jackson Center. They are professional carnies, doing their act of sword-swallowing and fire eating at festivals and events every summer and fall. We featured them in Airstream Life back in the Fall 2004 issue (that issue is sadly no longer available). They also do a bunch of podcasts, and have a blog.

JC Emma python.jpg

They've got a new pet, a ball python, and this immediately got Emma's attention. Now she wants one for a trailer pet. I'm personally not wild about the idea of harboring a snake that grows to four feet in length ...

This evening Alex and Charon felt the need to practice their fire eating. That was entertaining enough, but then after I stepped away for a moment I found out I had been volunteered to try it myself. Always game for an interesting new experience, I very carefully followed Alex's instructions (the key one being, "don't breathe in -- it will take you nine months to die") and managed to extinguish a small flame in my mouth. The only casualty was a slightly burned spot on my lower lip.

Because of the problems with the blog software and my general disgruntlement with MovableType (it can't handle podcast video, it isn't very well supported, it has random glitches), we will be switching this blog over to Wordpress software this week. This may result in the blog disappearing temporarily, or being stranger than usual this week. Bear with me ..

AIRSTREAM, Jackson Center, OH

We're back at Airstream for the second time since we picked up our trailer in October 2005.

JC Terra Port.jpg

For those who have never been here, and who own an Airstream or hope to own one someday, the factory is almost a mythical place. It doesn't hurt that it is located far from the beaten path, sitting in a tiny town in Ohio that is surrounded by soybeans and corn. The inconvenient access of Airstream only makes the pilgrimage a little more satisfying.

Of course once you arrive in an Airstream here, it's a very comfortable experience. The factory provides a little camping area called the Terra Port, which features full hookups, wi-fi, and a view of the Service Building. Most people camped here today are waiting for service appointments, and if you are, your Terra Port stay is free.

Around the corner of the Service Building is an outdoor display of historic Airstreams, including the famous "gold trailer" once owned by Wally and Stella Byam. (See Airstream Life, Summer 2006 issue for an article all about this trailer.) Inside the Service Building you can sign up for a factory tour, given daily at 2:00.

There's not a lot to do in Jackson Center, being a small town, but we've found that you can make your own fun. Last night Emma and I spent an hour circling around the acres of asphalt on our bicycles, checking out interesting Airstreams and talking to other people who are staying here. Down the street is JC Pizza, a movie theater, and a laundry ... so we'll catch up on the simple things while we are here.

Tomorrow we have a service appointment scheduled. One of the tires is wearing oddly, which indicates a likely need for axle alignment. We also need a check of the disc brake pads, and to repack the wheel bearings. A few inside parts have broken (a knob on the stove, an arm for the folding cutting board, etc) and we'll get replacements for those also. I'd like to see if we can do something about that front compartment which leaks when we tow in the rain, but only if the solution isn't too invasive. This isn't the week for us to get into major projects, since we want to be heading out Friday morning.

September 02, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

We arrived at Lou & Larry's with no specific plans, other than to recuperate and enjoy the weekend with some friends. So when Loren, their daughter, invited us to visit Cleveland's historic West Side Market, we hopped in the car and headed out.

The West Side Market has been open in Cleveland since 1840, and in its present building since 1912. This is the sort of place that Eleanor absolutely loves, with dozens of sellers of meats, ethnic foods, bread, vegetables, fruits, desserts, spices, flowers -- all fresh and fantastic.

Cleveland West Side Market.jpg

I could have bought one of everything, since it all looked amazing, but instead I bought nothing and just took pictures as Eleanor led Emma, Loren and Randy along through the aisles. The place is great for photographic opportunities. If you go and don't want to come out with armloads of food, don't arrive hungry.

Saturday evening Lou and Larry hosted a party for a bunch of Ohio Airstreamers. Ultimately about fifteen people arrived, and two families arrived with their Airstreams, so we had a mini-rally of three Airstreams.

Lagrange bellypan.jpg

One of the nice things about rallies is that you can usually bring up a mechanical problem and get plenty of helping hands. Five rivets on the rear end of our belly pan had come loose, allowing some of the aluminum to droop down. Eleanor had noticed this a week ago and we'd been waiting for a chance to fix it. So I broke out the rivet tool, the cordless drill, and a box of rivets, and invited the Airstreamers to learn how to replace rivets.

Unfortunately, everyone already knew how, since they all have their own projects, and so they declined my Tom Sawyer-style invitation. But they did all slide under for the photo above, including Emma. Later, Dave lent me some washers (to make the rivets hold the aluminum better) and Larry helped hold the aluminum in place while I put in the new rivets.

The potluck dinner resulted in absolutely massive quantities of food. We had enough leftovers to feed all the overnighters again, probably for several days. That didn't stop Larry from making a fire in the morning and between him and Dave we had another big meal that held me for most of the day.

Today I have been finalizing articles for the Winter magazine, so it has not been a complete vacation for me, but this necessary to allow all the business I need to do this coming week. We'll be at Airstream for service and meetings all week, and expect to be quite busy. I've also got to sit down with the atlas and figure some stops along the route from Dayton to Denver for the week after. Any suggestions are welcome.