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January 31, 2005

The LA Times Travel Show

Imagine a TV commercial...

A bicyclist, with a bulging backpack slung over his shoulders, is about to ride away from the Long Beach Convention Center into the night...

A voice-over, sounding suspiciously like that voice in a certain commercial at the end of the Super Bowl, and World Series, enthusiastically asks...

"Hey, Cycling Dude! Your day was a resounding success, so where are you headed off to now?"

A tired, but happy, Cycling Blogger looks into the camera, smiles, and loudly proclaims...

"I'm going to Hooters!!!"

And so I did...

Buns, boobs, babes, and beer, what an experience!

But 1st let me tell you about my day at the Travel Show...

Between 10am, and 5pm, I walked 3 1/2 miles according to my pedometer, and by the time the show ended I was lugging around 4 huge plastic bags of literature, and joking with some of my compatriates who were having difficulty dealing with 2.

Thank God for the good folks at the Hong Kong booth because, without their bags I would NOT have survived forgetting to bring along my shopping cart, like many others DID remember to do.

Apparently not as many exhibitors showed up this year, the shows 5th, so I was able to stop at all the booths by exactly 5pm, with no time to spare, and therefore decided there was no reason to return.

More than 40 countries were represented, as were more than 100 cities, and 8 states of the good ol' US of A.

Visitor bureaus, tourism boards, resort and tour companies, and air carriers, were all there to dispense information, and sign people up for this and that.

There were expected to be 12,000 travellers, and 900 Travel Agents from all over the world, loitering about the place over the 2 days.

Oh, and a couple of gambling tables set up by those enterprising folks from Vegas!

What no-one expected was to encounter a blogger.

Most folks I talked to had absolutely no clue what a blog even was.

They grasped the concept, and my purpose for being there, quite quickly though, and were absolutely, wonderfully co-operative, and helpful.

I didn't attend any of the seminars, instead focusing on going booth to booth looking for info, and passing out my "business card" to a couple of hundred people.

About the card:

It was my 1st Professional looking one, and caught everyones attention as I hung 1, in a badge holder, from my shirt pocket for all to see.

In the center of the card is a bicycle, and under that the name of this blog, and its URL.

Across the top of the card is the slogan "Putting the ING in ROAD CYCLING Since 2003".

On the bottom left 2 lines are my name and the word "Publisher".

On the bottom right 2 lines are my e-mail, and "Costa Mesa, Ca.".

The  raised letters, and logo, are blue.

There were many speakers, and seminars, and though I wish I could have attended at least 1, it was more important to collect literature.

The same with the entertainment stages: what I glimpsed, and heard was interesting, and entertaining, but I didn't linger.

The floor plan had everyone grouped by region, or service, in neat rows, with wide isles to walk in: Greece, China, Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, International, South pacific, Caribbean, Canada, Europe, USA ( except for Mackinac Island and Cape Cod, it was all western states ), Hawaii, Las Vegas, California, Cruises, and Adventure Travel.

I was just as suprised by what foreign countries were there, as by who was not, or was pitifully under respresented.

The French had a booth for Provence, but that was it.

The Germans had a booth with a wider range of offerings.

The Italians had a good selection.

The Greeks were out in force.

The Brits, Spaniards, and Russians were conspicious by their absence.

China, Japan, Asia, Mexico, and Latin America were out in force, as was Northern California, and our neighbors from the bordering states up the coast, and to our inland borders, all the way to Idaho, and Utah.

The funniest sight was watching everyone flock to the booth set up by the folks at Onederwear Disposable Travel Underwear.

Their ad, in the Times Travel Show Supplement, proclaims:

"No more traveling with dirty underwear!"

"The chore of washing your knickers in the hotel sink is a thing of the past!"

Who knew that so many people's priortiies, at this show, were focused below the belt ( Women's briefs, bikini briefs, and THONGS! Men's briefs, and boxers, but, sadly NO thongs. And socks! Can't forget those!  All on sale for under $10 for a pack of 5. All 100% Cotton for that soft, sexy, feel against your travel weary Ass, and Footsies! ).

And NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT! I didn't buy any of it!

I came with a mission: To avoid the Hotel, and tour company, information, and focus on searching out the Tourism and Visitor Bureau booths, and literature.

That was where I felt I would find the information most useful to this blogs audience: Information related to opportunities for road bicycling, and touring, and maps, maps, and more maps.

Travel Guides, and brochures, were plentiful.

On the map front I struck gold, not just with Bike Trail maps, but city, county, province, state, and country maps just as useful for tourists to plot out their own itenerary for bike excursions of any length.

There were even 2 booths set up by Bicycle Touring outfits , 1 in Holland, and 1 American.

As I went from booth to booth I would introduce myself, hand out a card, or 2, explain what a blog was, what my blog was all about, and why I was at the show.

When they learned about what type of site Dude was, what goals I envisioned for it, the types of link collections I am building, and the types of information I was looking for people were quite helpful.

Among the few folks who knew what blogs were there was some suprise at what mine was about.

Among the few cyclists I encountered there was also suprise, but intrigue at the the concept of a cycling blogger.

Many people I gave my card to promised to send me more info by e-mail, and I also arranged to get some info by snail mail as well.

I have so many additional e-mails, and addresses, I can contact for info, and so much material on hand to read, that I'll not be short of writing ideas for the rest of the year.

The highlight of the day was a startling, though brief, encounter with a Documentary filmmaker, and nationally syndicated ( NPR ) radio show host, whose focus is environmental issues.

I was at a booth talking about my blog, when a lady came up to offer copies of her documentaries to the booth operator, and I asked, with a laugh, if there was any coverage of bicycling in those works.

There wasn't but I ended up briefly talking up my blog, and giving her a card.

She then startled me by giving me HERS, and suggesting that since she works out of Santa Ana I get in contact with her about the possibility of an interview for her RADIO SHOW.

I laughed, and told her I'd consider it, but not until I add some more link sources to my blog, which is a project I'm working on.

I mean, I said, if I end up doing such a thing I'd want my site to look it's best for any resulting visitors.

Just thinking about taking her up on her offer is intimidating, as I know just how little I actually know about bicycling, and bicycling issues, despite being a life long cyclist.

Doing this blog is not only a way for me to share my passion for bicycling, but to learn more about all aspects of it, and share what I learn with my readers, many of whom, I'm sure, are just like me in the knowledge department.

Half way through the day I, and many others I'm sure, were looking with envy on those intrepid folks smart enough to bring  little shopping baskets  for toss their bags of loot into for convenient carrying around.

With my sense of humor It was all quite amusing to me even as my hands were getting sore, and my arms, and shoulders were getting a work out.

I had initially started out with 3 of the large plastic bags the Times provided attendees, but within 45 minues realized that dealing with even one of those would be difficult when stuffed to the gills. There was a very real risk of breakage of the handles.

Having noticed the Hong Kong bags, with their plastic handles, I grabbed one, and emptied my growing haul into it.

Then I snuck back around and, nonchalantly, grabbed 3 more when no-one was looking.

Imagine thousands of people staggering from booth, to booth, with 2, 3, or 4 bags full of literature, happy as clams to reach the next booth, sit their stash down around their ankles for a few minutes while they flexed their fingers, talked to exhibitors, grabbed more stuff, caught their 2nd wind, and then stagger onward.

Suprisingly everyone took this more or less in stride, as being part of the show going ritual, and I wasn't the only person who found all this a tad amusing, especially the exhibitors, our suppliers, themselves.

My fellow show goers were of all ages, though I saw very few children.

Most of the folks there who were travellers were people with the income to go on vacations, sometimes frequently, and knew what they wanted and what questions to ask.

Many of the people manning the booths were from the countries, states, or cities they represented.

At long last 5pm arrived and we all had to leave.

10 minutes after the 1st announcement another was given  in an effort to shoo us on our way, and I made some folks laugh when I chimed in with a more descriptive version that interpreted the real meaning of the announcement:

"All right people, get a move-on, get yer asses in gear, and shoo, scram! You got what ya came for, and we don't want to see you until tommorrow, so git!"

So git we got!

Some slower than others, being weighed down by 4 bags worth of stuff, and all.

Up the escalater to the main floor, out the door, and down a couple of short flights of stairs to the street outside I went, and made it to the nearest bus stop without incident.

I was tired, but exhilirated, and in the mood to celebrate.

So I set off in search of the Hooters i knew had to be up the street somewhere near 1st and Pine.

When the bus passed the place, and I got off, I had to stagger 2 long blocks back to its doors.

Once inside, and safely seated, my loot on the floor around my feet, I proceeded to order grub, and liquor, from the friendly, buxom babe with the oversized boobs, and shapely buns of steel whose glorious appearing at my table signalled that dinner was about to be served and all was right in my little world.

So what did I order, and how much did I spend on this little celebration?

1 bowl of New England Style Clam Chowder = $3.99

2 small bowls of Cole Slaw at 99cents ea. = $1.98

1 small bowl of Potato Salad = 99cents

3 large glasses ( I think she said they were Pints ) of Coors Lite at $3 ea. = $9

Total bill, including tax = over $17.

Feeling of fullness, and contentment = PRICELESS!

Even with the drunk, from the next table over, who decided to abandon his companions, and invite himself over for a chat just as I was about to leave.

He sat there, beer in hand, looking longingly at me as if I was a long lost busom buddy, and was sorely disapointed when I made to leave.

A relatively sober yours truly, asked the guy how many he'd downed and when he perked up and said proudly, "only 2", I laughed, and said, "yeah right", and bid him good night.

It was another 2 blocks to the bus stop, and 3 busses, and 3 hours later, I was home.

January 31, 2005 in Cycling News Network | Permalink

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Comments

Sounds like a good time was had by all. *ggg*

Posted by: Susan | Jan 31, 2005 3:51:43 AM

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