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[ft-l] A great day at the conference

For those of you who didn't get to the FTA Annual Conference, let me recap
Saturday for you.  I went up only for the day yesterday, so I'll let another
lister recap Friday and Sunday.

Jeff Walters and I drove up to Camp Ocala arriving there at about 8 AM on a
cool morning that was a prelude to a beautiful day.  The setting was nice on
the banks of a lake.  If I wasn't so busy, I would have loved to camp there
and enjoy the whole weekend.

There were both seminars and hikes to choose from.  I was torn, but decided to
spend the day listening to the seminars and interacting with as many new
friends as possible.  Jon Phipps did a fantastic job lining up great speakers
who talked about their hikes on the various trails around the country.  Rick
Guhse and Joan Hobson started things off with a talk and slide show about
their FT hikes.  Rick will be completing his last section of the Florida Trail
next week.  Way to go Rick!

Matt Pulsts followed that up with a talk about his '97 thruhike of the AT.
Then Rose and Bob Goss spoke about their Long Trail hike.  They were followed
by Kevin Sedgwick who spoke about his Pacific Crest thruhike.  Then came

We ft-l listers had our own table in the cafeteria.  I'll try to remember
everyone from the list I met, but please forgive me if I left some out.  Feel
free to add to the list:

Joan Norris
Sandy Hubbard
Jeff Walters
Triathalon Grandma
Pam Hale
Carol Ann Schiller

Joan and Earthworm had previously witnessed the debacle of me wearing my pink
tutu, and were quite insistent on a repeat performance.  Then someone asked to
hear the story of how I came to have a tutu in the first place.  I told the
story, but can't repeat it here.  If you are curious, you'll have to come to
next year's conference and hear it for yourself.  Finally the moment had
arrived, lunches half eaten, stomachs ready to be turned, cameras at the
ready.  Out from my pocket came my pink tutu and I put it on, to the gasps,
shock and/or merriment of all who noticed!  If you weren't there to see it for
yourself, too bad!  Earthworm will, however, provide photographic proof of
this nutty event in the history of the '99 Annual Conference.

Just a comment for those of us involved in planning next year's conference.
It would be nice if someone could give a ten minute talk to the whole
conference about what the ft-l is and how useful and fun it is.  I'll bet if
we could have done that this year, we would have gotten 10 to 20 new listers.

More seminars in the afternoon covered First Aid, the Bruce Trail and the
North Country Trail.  The highlight for me, however, was Nimblewill Nomad's
Eastern Continental Hike from Key West to Cape Gaspe, Canada.  Incredible!
This guy is almost 60 years old and completed a hike of 10,000,000 steps.
Absolutely amazing, and he did it with only a couple of hundreds of dollars of
equipment, a lesson for those of us who feel compelled to spend big bucks on
the latest gear that the conglomerates try to convince us we must have.  I for
one can't wait until his book about the hike is published.

Next came the Annual meeting with the election of officers and directors and
awards for distinguished service to the organization.  It was announced that
394 people were at the conference, a new record.  And a nice group of people
it was.

This was followed by our keynote speaker from the forest service, then dinner.
Sandy Hubbard decided to play one of her practical jokes on me when I asked to
sit down at her table for dinner.  She told me that they were headed outside
to eat.  I said I would join them, so I go get my drink, and take my meal
outside, but can't find her.  I do find some friends out there on the picnic
tables so I stay.  Later when I go to get a drink refill inside, I find Sandy
in there!  Joke's on me!

The meal was followed by a raffle in which a whole lot of undeserving people
won prizes I coveted!  ;-)

Then Jeff and I drove back to Orlando.  We agreed that it was a great day and
would be back to many more conferences.  I hope those of you who haven't been
to a conference will consider it in the future.  It means new friends,
education, and entertainment.  A highlight of the year for hikers in Florida!
And the only place to catch a glimpse of a strange guy in a pink tutu!  :)

Happy trails,

Solar Bear

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