ActiveRain Gathering in Austin Yesterday - The 20th Anniversary of my 18th Birthday Party!
Before I write anything else about yesterday's gathering, I want to express a hearty "THANK YOU!" to those who attended. When I started seriously thinking about having a get-together a few weeks back, I never would have imagined that it would have turned out so well and so well-attended. We had about 70 people there! My actual birthday is today, and I am pretty tired from playing host.
I think the venue that I chose ended up being the perfect setting for this event. Also, the weather was great for mid-August, as it was the coolest day in months (overcast but not raining). County Line on the Lake is a fantastic BBQ restaurant which sits on a tributary just off of Lake Austin, below the steep white stone cliffs along 2222 in west Austin. They made it really easy to host an event there and I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a place to have a party in this area. This is one of the cooler pictures of my wife and I that I have seen in awhile, perhaps because we weren't yet ready to have it taken?
For the music, I brought along my iPod with Bose speaker deck (a gift from my lovely wife for Christmas). It was loaded with about 4.5 hours of music. I had thought about not bringing music, until Pam asked me what kind of music they would have there. "Country.", I replied. "You HAVE to bring music - you aren't a country guy!" Fair enough - it was settled. The music was a mix of songs from the 70's, 80's, and 90's, including Steely Dan, U2, Jimmy Buffett, Al Green, Billy Joel, Bob Marley, ELO, Journey, and more.
The second picture includes James Jeter, Donnell Durham, a blurry Deb Brooks apparition, my business partner Frank walking in the background, Sherry Scales, Ann Banos, Jerome Kelley, and Judi Morgan with her husband Don.
I arrived around 1:45pm, just in case anyone was going to show up early, since I knew we had a number of people driving in from out of town. My sidekick, Alan Kirkpatrick, arrived early, too, just to help with anything that I might need. As it turned out, he took all of the pictures with my camera, since I was really too busy hosting and socializing (networking?) to spend time on photography. Here's a picture of Deb having entirely too much fun.
I was really looking forward to re-connecting with some of the friends I met during our gathering in Bandera back in April, including Deb Brooks, Liz Carter, Judi Morgan, Ricki and Don Eichler, Gail Tassey, and Tom Plant. I was excited to get to meet a number of people that I hadn't seen before, including Tricia Jumonville, James Jeter, Betina Foreman, Donnell Durham, Jerome Kelley, Ann Banos, Robin Scott, and Sherry Scales. Russell Lewis, who is a broker with another company here in Austin, was also there. He and I have become fast friends. In the foreground of this photo are some friends of mine from church, Steve and Dawn Sparks, along with Don and Ricki Eichler. In the background, Tom Plant is talking to Tricia Jumonville.
Most of the agents from my office came, as did some of my closer friends from church, and a few past clients that I chose to invite.
There were TWO cakes, provided by Judi and Tricia. One was a Texas flag cake, and the other was a Power Rangers chocolate cake, which made me laugh. Pam told me later that it would have been even funnier if I had begun to jump up and down, screaming, "POWER RANGERS! POWER RANGERS! YES!"
There were a number of gifts and cards, and I thank everyone who brought something for my birthday.
Both the adults and all of the kids seemed to have a great time, and I don't think it really could have gone any better unless there was a briefcase of cash left behind for me. At one point, it was suggested that all of the AR bloggers stand and briefly introduce themselves. They all did, as did I, and I was really happy that many of them chose to say something nice about me during their time. So did a couple of my friends and agents. I hope this doesn't sound morose, but it was sort of like being at my own funeral without having to die first. :)
Overall, I was overwhelmed at the outpouring of love that I felt yesterday, and I told my wife that if someone had told me last year when I started at AR that I would form so many friendships through online social networking, I likely wouldn't have believed it.
Despite appearances, this is a picture of my mom holding an empty ice cream container, not a hard drink.
If you would like to see all of the photos I ended up with (almost 70 of them), you can visit my Flickr photostream here:
Liz Carter provided a couple of extras today (the first one shows Ricki, me, and Liz, and the one on the right is me with Tom Plant):