Sunday, January 22, 2012

2011 Wrap Up: Thoughts on First 6 Months of Airstreaming

Written While Home in Dallas for the Holidays
12/28/11    8:30 pm
(Just forgot to publish it until now)

My Camper Santa for my Yard

Nice quiet Christmas spent with friends and my folks - full of nostalgia and simplicity and hope for better times for all in 2012. This was a fairly turbulent year for a lot of people - my family included - and I am hopeful that things will smooth out next year.

This is my Motto for 2012

Haven't blogged about my travels in a while - just got caught up in reality and work and flat out forgot to make notes. So here's where we have been since October or so.

Finally got a couple of chances to use the trailer on location for a few back to back jobs. Haven't gotten to cast out of it yet - but did get to work within driving range and could tow the trailer with us. It was so great to be able to come back to our own space at the end of crazy long casting days. My hope was that the camper would be a comfy piece of "home" that felt like a retreat - and it truly was. Nothing like having your own food in the fridge, a couple of bottles of pinot noir on hand, your own pillow and favorite blanket, and all the music and games and dvds you enjoy right where you can find them. Luckily, Damon travels with me most of the time for work - and he enjoys the perks of the camper as much as I do. That's a huge bonus - if he hated it, things would be a lot less fun work-wise.

Both jobs were for my favorite and best commercial production company client - and the end client is a TX based fast food chain that we are big fans of. We are doing the real people casting for their new campaign all across the country, so we get to hang out in multiple stores a day to scout for employees and customers who have fun things to say in both English and Spanish. 

The days are pretty long and require lots of energy - but fun and rewarding. And we need to curl up at the end of the day in a quiet place so we can edit and upload pictures, video footage and notes on maybe 100 people or so a day. It is so much nicer to come back to your own place, rather than a hotel room that looks like every other hotel room you have stayed in while working on the road for the last 20 years. It was getting so bad that all the hotels started running together on us and we couldn't remember where our rooms were at times. 

Not having to stress about flights and baggage weights and long lines and rental cars and hotel reservations and all the details involved in booking and sometimes canceling all that was just an extra bonus. A bit of internet searching turned up a nice RV park centrally located in the main cities we were to base ourselves in, one phone call to book a site with full hookups - then all we had to do to prep to leave town was get our studio kit together and our personal stuff packed. The bulk of all we needed was already in the camper. A run by the grocery store on the way to pick up the camper and we were off.

The first round of casting was in Houston and we found an odd but charming gated RV Park near Reliant Stadium with a big pond and fountain in the middle of the Park. 

It was just before Halloween when we did that search - so we took some fun decorations with us and some Halloween cartoons to watch while we worked at night. We were there maybe 9 days total - and never felt cramped or like we were on top of each other. 

Between the RV park WiFi and our 4G WiFi card we bought - we were able to do everything we needed to do technically at night from the RV Park.

The second round of casting, luckily, was in San Antonio. I had hoped to link up with two Christmas Airstream Rallies (my first real rally experiences) happening in San Antonio and then Blanco over the first couple of weekends in December. If the job had been anywhere else I would have missed them both. 

As it turns out, we made it for the first bit of the Texas Highland Lakes Unit "Peppermint Rally" held at Travelers World in San Antonio (where I was inducted as a new member) before we had to start working for 5 days.

Here's some pix from there: 

Harvey and Gail Craig
(the nice fella who taught us so much in Santa Fe on our First Trip)

Marque Mooney - new President of THLU Unit.
(She was also lovely to us on our Santa Fe Trip)

San Antonio Riverwalk

Then were able to make it to the Blanco Christmas Rally at Blanco State Park when the job was over. Really enjoyed experiencing both rallies and getting to play some and recharge ourselves before heading home. (And man, the Airstream Rally folks know how to eat! If you have never had a group potluck with a fun crowd of Airstream folks - you are missing out.)

Coffee House in Downtown Blanco

4th Place in Trailer Decorations
Chocolate Bread Pudding in the Crockpot :)

Blanco Rally Hosts

All in all, 2011 was a tricky year - but thanks to the new Airstream, it was also full of fun and the promise of adventures. I made a promise to use it at least twice a month, to connect or reconnect with people I love, to spend more time playing, to meet new camping pals, to learn to cook on the road, to become independent and able to travel alone, to take one or more of my dogs with me when I could, to find new places to explore, and to try to use the silver toy for work when/if I could. I made good on every one of those promises to myself. So THAT is pretty darn good, for a newbie.

I still have a ways to go on the learning curve, but I ended the year able to tow and setup solo - with confidence - and I have some great memories to show for it. Can't wait to see where 2012 takes us.

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