My First ActiveRain Gathering (with photos)! Putting Some Faces with the Voices and Names
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend my very first ActiveRain gathering, during a BBQ at the Pomerosa RV Park in Bandera, Texas. The event was organized by Ricki Eichler and Judi Morgan. Ricki and Judi are the group photo to the right, both wearing red pants.
Needless to say, there were a number of people there that I was anxious to meet. My wife Pam and I drove down with Alan Kirkpatrick and his wife, Michele. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from our house.
This was the longest time that we have ever left any of our children with a babysitter (over 12 hours), but it was well worth it, and many of the friendships that I already had began to deepen yesterday.
We arrived around 2pm or so, and I was warmly greeted by several people and led quickly inside by Judi, who said, "I have something to show you." I asked if there was a surprise guest, and she said, "No, I just have something to show you." When I entered the clubhouse, I saw a few more people in there, some of whom said, "Come look at the ducks." I didn't understand why we went around the building, only to go all the way to the back again to see the ducks, but I was game. As I approached the back door, I saw Tom Plant sitting on the floor, hiding behind the couch!
What a great surprise! I had never met Tom in person before yesterday, but I would like to officially nominate him as ActiveRain Ambassador. That is not a first - someone else had the idea before me, but it is very fitting.
Tom is a warm and genuine man, with a quick smile and a friendly demeanor, and I am happy to call him "friend". He told me that he mainly flew in just to meet me, which was very flattering indeed.
I got to play a few rounds of horseshoes, and I realized that this is not a power sport!
I was also very happy to meet Deb Brooks and Liz Carter (pictured at right with me), both of whom profess to be big fans of my writing. Each of them are just as nice in person as I had anticipated. Deb said some very nice things to me about my posts on David, my friend who recently passed away.
I also met Marchel Peterson from Spring, Texas, who was very gracious and kind. Jem Woods is someone whom I hope to get to know better, since he seems to have a subversive sense of humor just like mine. I spoke with Trey Thurmond and Gail Tassey briefly. Carl Winters and his wife Ceil were very charming.
Edward Lui of Georgetown was brave enough to bring his three children, all aged three or under. He is a good guy and I hope to get together with him for lunch or coffee in the near future, since he lives very close. Edward and Alan are in the photo below with me.
We left for a short time to visit one of Ricki's beautiful listings and to see Bandera's "downtown". It's a quaint area with LOTS of cowboys. We saw several very authentic-looking cowboy types on horseback, some of whom looked like they stepped straight out of another era in time.
Upon returning to the BBQ, there were a few additional faces, and we had some GREAT food. The brisket was some of the best that I have ever tasted. There was a huge array of desserts as well. Judi had asked everyone to bring extra desserts, so that they could auction some of them in order to benefit Jan Wilder (my friend David Wilder recently passed away).
Tom asked me to say a few words about David before he started the auction. Since I had been offered the opportunity to speak at David's life celebration last week, this was a great thing for me. I had declined to speak then because I knew that I would be overwhelmed by emotion, but this was a fitting time to talk about my buddy and what he meant to me.
Tom served as the auctioneer, and we managed to raise about $1500 yesterday to help Jan, which was a terrific testimony to the type of people who are members of ActiveRain. I was very touched by this, as was Pam. I would like to publicly thank everyone who purchased something in this auction, considering that two of the purchases were a half-eaten bowl of banana pudding and a partial cherry cobbler. This gesture and the events of yesterday will stay with me for a very long time.
All in all, it was a tiring yet relaxing day. Thank you to the organizers and to all who attended for making this a very special and memorable day for me and my wife! I look forward to our next get-together.