We both attended "Tech Tips" with Dave Schumann of Airstream at 10 a.m. and got some great pointers on Airstream care and maintenance. Most of the seminar revolved around "Frequently Asked Questions" about new Airstreams and towing tips, but we were able to apply much of it to our vintage Overlander.
One of the neatest tips is using orange Pledge and a microfiber cloth to shine up an Airstream. The Airstream gurus said they often use it to spruce up the trailers at expos and rallies. They use it on the interior and exterior aluminum. I'll spot test it in a discreet place on our vintage trailer since we have a different type of aluminum, but hopefully it will have the same effect as it does on the new trailers. The orange scent is a bonus!
The African Caravan
Pee Wee was a caravan scout for his cousin and Airstream founder, Wally Byam on their 1960 caravan from Cape Town to Cairo, an adventure that would traverse approximately 8,000 miles. The first part of the journey required these precious Airstreams to be lifted by a crane on a barge over the water and onto a passenger freighter to be shipped to South Africa. This photo of an Airstream bearing an incredible resemblance to our 1960 Overlander, The Riveted Roost, makes me cringe every time.
Once in Africa, their trip was very well planned. As a scout, Pee Wee would go ahead of the caravan to ensure the roads were passable and make camp at the next destination. I was impressed at their ambition to cross through some very rough terrain with these trailers. There were areas where they had to create tracks through the mud and soft sand, often getting stuck. They had to use a lot of manpower and creativity to pull the Airstreams out of these precarious situations. The Airstreams also crossed rivers aboard tiny man-made ferries (if you can even call them that), and rickety wooden bridges. I get nervous pulling "Riva" on a narrow, paved road next to a canal without a guard rail!
I was also impressed by how well the caravaners dressed - Pee Wee's photos showed lots of suits, dresses, hats, even some fur coats. Wardrobe storage and laundry was surely an interesting situation during this long journey.
Watch for Pee Wee's stories and photos from this famous trip on Airstream's Facebook page and website - they are featured quite frequently on "Throwback Thursdays." If you ever attend an Airstream event where Pee Wee is doing a presentation, be sure to attend. Airstream's history is fascinating and Wally Byam's marketing tactics are impressive. Pee Wee does a fabulous job of sharing these stories and images.
The group decided on Der Dutchman and our neighbors warned us to "wear stretchy pants" because the buffet is incredibly indulgent. Buffet strategies were plotted in serious tones by the guys while the ladies discussed suitable outfits - we didn't want to offend the locals by showing too much skin and expandable waistbands were a must!
We had a table of eight hungry Airstreamers and Der Dutchman did not disappoint. The restaurant is huge - there are two giant dining rooms on either side of the buffet, each resembling a church reception hall. We all went for the buffet, which featured a well appointed salad bar, some amazingly delicious fried chicken, fish, Amish stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, homemade noodles, macaroni and cheese, a variety of cakes for dessert and much, much more. The buffet also included a serving of soft serve ice cream, which at that point, was overkill.
As promised, we left rather stuffed, but not before we shopped for some "souvenirs." Upstairs, there's a retail shop with beautiful quilts and gift items, plus a bakery and market downstairs. Every flavor pie imaginable is showcased, along with dairy products and all kinds of pantry staples. I eyeballed some fresh churned butter, but Justin turned me down... we ended up purchasing a small loaf of banana bread for breakfast the next morning.
I was thoroughly impressed with the cleanliness of the entire operation and the wonderful customer service. Der Dutchman is a treat and definitely worth a visit if you're in the Sarasota area. Next time, we'll visit for breakfast, which looks divine.
Later in the evening, we enjoyed a live jazz performance at the fairgrounds, followed by Josh Rogan's show at the 210 Tavern in Sarasota. Josh and his wife Eliza are fellow vintage Airstreamers who traveled to AlumaFlamingo from Colorado. Josh is a wonderful musician and Eliza is a talented artist enjoying life on the road. It was a great evening of amazing music and new friends.
Follow our adventures on Twitter @RivetedRoost, or find us on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram. We're posting a lot of photos to our social media sites in real time, so follow along!