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The Last Days of My Airstream Part 2

For those of you who know me, I hope you can remember when my wife and I packed the whole thing in and went on a 7 month RV  road trip in October of 2012. We sold our house, she quit her job and we hit the road from Calgary Alberta which was our home for 23 years. Very exciting at the time and I still look back on it with fondness. The best part about it, we bought a 1996 Airstream Motor Home 36 feet long that was the last one off the line, ever. We bought it off a guy by the name of Joe Girard who is in the Guiness Book of World Records as the world’s greatest sales man. But that is a story for another day and believe me it is a good story.


This my wife and I posing on our old street in Calgary the day we left back in 2012. As you can tell we had some snow that day.

Leaving Calgary Alberta October 2012

 

So this is Part 2 of the blog I wrote a while ago. Please click here to read Part 1.

So my brother I have crossed the border the at Nelway BC and we are relieved that we are on the road(after our run in with the US Border Patrol). We are on an adult road trip. Have not been on one in years. So first stop is Pasco WA. Remember we have stripped the old girl of all linens and possesions and we are heading to the Anaheim Convention Center. We are staying at hotels on the way down. We stayed in Pasco on the Sunday night. When we pulled into the Holiday Inn there a couple of kids standing outside looking at my old RV all lit up like it was a scene from the Independence Day movie.

Next day we stopped in Oregon just north of the California border at a native run Casino and RV park. Very very nice operation, needless to say we tested the tables that night. Next day we stopped at the Harris Ranch in Coalinga CA. We had a great steak dinner and then stayed across the highway at the Days Inn.

We had to be at the Anaheim convention center by 1 pm to line up, get registered and get set up at the Mecum auction. So that morning I put $250 worth of fuel in the old girl and away we went. Now the story gets way more interesting.

So you have to go to the back entrance of the convention center where they do all the unloading of trucks and provisions for the building. We pulled the old girl into a long line up fancy cars, trucks and just about anything you can imagine with a gasoline motor and wheels. I should mention at this time I paid a $500 US registration fee. I had to be pre-approved to be in the show. They do not just take any vehicle. You have to send them pictures and a story behind the vehicle. So needless to say I was pretty pumped to be included.

So we get to the front of the line and we have a lot of people standing around looking at the old girl and asking questions. They do not take many motor homes in the Mecum auction. We were special. In fact we were the only motor home every allowed inside the convention center during their California stop. So while we are waiting to drive in, along comes a couple of fellas with a machine to suck the fuel out of the motor home. Turns out, you can only have a maximum of a quarter tank in any vehicle inside the building. Would have been nice if they told us that before hand but life goes on and I said bye bye to about $150 worth of fuel. No idea where it goes, I guess Mecum resells it or something. However the mood is till upbeat, we are one of over 800 vehicles checking in that day. As you can imagine we were the only silver bullet there. So after the initial check in, basically you get your parking spot(now inside the building), set up your lawn chairs  and wait for them to come buy with the paperwork. The could have used our RV park software to keep track of everyone. There were over 800 vehicles all with an assigned spot. Also paid a guy $150 to wash my baby without water (some kind of scratch less dry wipe). I am going through money like water. Can’t wait for the auction to start to recoup some dough. They give us our slot time of 7 pm on Friday night. We are going to be on TV as it is being broadcast on the Velocity channel. So now happy hour has started and their is a reception for all the vendors.

So the deal is with these sales, you have to stay with your vehicle until it is sold over the next few days. You have to stand around and answer questions and show off your vehicle. We met lots of cool people who actually paid to get into the auction and see the vehicles. So we paid to be there,the public paid to be there and Mecum makes money on every vehicle sold. Not a bad gig.

Here is a picture of my bro and I at the show.

Live at the Mecum Car Auction

 

So lot’s crazy stuff happened at the show but I will cut to the chase. First off they came and said they would not run us across the aisle and be on TV because the vehicle was too tall. It would block the auctioneer on TV. I went off on them and we agreed to a compromise. We pulled the Airstream onto the auction pad but not all the way across to block the auctioneer. So here is a video we took of the actual auction area. Had to be 3000 people there bidding and just spectating. Pretty impressive. Plus of course, they had the “Mecum Gold Club” which had free alcohol and believe you me it was rocking.

 

 

So now it is 6:30 pm. As soon as I pulled it to the front of the line behind a really nice Porsche, the side door burst open and like 40 guys pile in, all with drinks. Once guy asked, “Where is the stripper pole?”. I had to leave the Airstream there, turned off (you can not let it idle indoors) and headed for my moment in the sun. They have a big yellow circle on the floor where you stand when people are bidding on your vehicle and a TV camera right there.

So things were loud, lots of bright lights and my brother and I had about 2 drinks each into us by this point. The Airstream is rocking with all these guys in it, I can hear the stereo just faintly off to my right.

So the guys at the auction told me it is not illegal in California to have a shill in the audience. It is also not illegal for the auctioneer to place a bid. So keeping this in mind I stood on the yellow circle. As you can see in the video (that is me in the striped shirt) you have the Mecum guy right in your face trying to get you to drop the reserve. I also had my brother in my other ear telling me his version of what I should do and of course holding our drinks. So away we go.

I had a reserve bid of $40,000 on the old girl. The bidding started at $12k and 3 guys were bidding. It quickly escalated to $20k then $30k and then started to slow down. By this time the bidding was down to 2 people. Bidding slowed to a crawl and then they started really hammering me to drop the reserve which I did. Man did they get excited then, as they knew they had a sale. So just when it looked like it was going to sell at $32.5k they got a an internet/phone bid for $33k. The also got really excited over this. (Someone told me later that Internet and phone bids are the best as they are genuine. To place a phony bid using the phone or the web constitutes wire fraud. Not sure if I believe this or not) So the bidding continued to $36,500 and bang, the gavel came down.

So then they were after me to get the Airstream out of there as I was blocking the lane to the pit and they had a line up of cars they had to auction before they returned from the commercial time out, on the Velocity network. So I ran over the airstream , jumped in the driver seat, kicked all the well lubricated dudes out and turned the key. Dead. The battery would not turn it over. The lads had tuned on every available option in the old girl while they were in there partying like it was 1999. Before you knew it, Mecum guys rolled up with a golf cart and a bank of batteries to jump start her. I threw it in reverse and backed my way down a long hallway to our spot in the Anaheim Convention Center. It was over. We had her for 2 years, traveled all over the southern US and made many memories.

We flew out the next morning and the check came 2 weeks later.

All in all a great experience. We met lots of people in the old girl and was certainly sad to see her go. I could write a book.

PS. She got bought by a professional race car driver who does the Mid America series. You might see it around if you are into that. His name is Jeff Mosing.