Well, my first Travel Blog Exchange was a success…sort of. As I mentioned in my last post, I only purchased my TBEX ticket a week beforehand and was totally unprepared for my first official travel expo. But I learned a lot and most definitely met a lot of great people. Of course I also skipped half of the weekend events to hang out with a female friend…oops.
Things began on Friday with an evening soiree in Keystone at the Outpost, a 5-star ski lodge. We were greeted with champagne and snacks to keep us amused during the 25-minute gondola ride up to 11,444 feet, which is where the real fun began. TBEX had brought in a collection of chefs from Vail’s finest restaurants who were whipping up all sorts of delectable and free creations (view full-size menu) to compliment the wine that was also flowing freely.
I believe there were around 400 attendees, mostly bloggers, yet it seemed as if I recognized nearly every face from Twitter even if I had never spoken specifically with them before.
Seeing / meeting all those cats in real life definitely gives you a better impression of their character, which was the main reason I wanted to attend this event. Plus it was rather interesting to see which bloggers were partying and getting drunk versus the ones who left after only the first hour — at least to me it was.
I won’t name any names, but some of you guys (and girls — yes, I’m talking about you two 😉 ) really know how to knock back the drinks — and have fun while doing it. Those two guys from New York that got the condom balloons going, priceless. And all of those drunkenly people who kept them bouncing, unknowing they were rubbers…also priceless. And of course those of you that were eagerly leading the charge to the after-party, I love your spirit as well as your ability to work and party, two things I have long mixed LOL.
Saturday we got down to business, with seminars throughout the day broken up by a lunch from 12:30-2pm. Lunch, however, was quite a letdown. After setting the bar so high with the free Friday feast, I do believe everyone was expecting something better than burgers and hot dogs at a cost of $10 a person. I actually left to go eat elsewhere LOL.
Anyway, I’m 30,000 feet in the air right now and don’t have easy access to my cell pics, but I will spruce this post up once I get settled in my hotel. In closing, my only regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet several other bloggers whom I had wanted to talk with, most notably this couple that is also from Austin… I’ll update this post with their Twitter handle as well, once I’m on solid ground again.
In closing, it was also intriguing — at least to me — to see what this winter wonderland looks like when the snow has melted and the crowds have dispersed. Definitely a world of difference; I almost didn’t recognize the place. Personally, I had not realized that mountain biking had become such a Keystone summer pastime. We tried to take out a pair of bikes on Sunday for a wild bike road down the mountainside, but apparently we cut it too close to the closing “mountain sweep” for them to allow us access.
[ UPDATE ]
Now that I am back on solid ground, take a look at all the goodies that came in our TBEX gift bags. Some of this stuff will definitely come in handy. For example the charger that runs on AA batteries and comes with a dozen attachments to fit essentially everything and the water bottles I have already put to use. And I ate the peanuts.
See that white item in the center that looks like a travel toothbrush? Well it’s actually a corkscrew. Given all the drinking that was done Friday night at TBEX I’m not surprised that they consider us all alcoholics. And the Dominican Republic USB stick next to it? I was expecting to find some interesting travel info or presentation or pictures or something — anything — on the D.R. You mean to tell me you guys just gave away hundreds of USB sticks w/o at least putting a little taste of your country on there? Why not?