let me say that I had a better time than anyone deserves. Other than the airplane rides, which were much like being tortured slowly by a midget while a total stranger snored loudly in your ear for six hours. Wait, that’s EXACTLY what happened. Well, other than the midget.

As I have already posted before, I have, er, some excess carry on baggage.Southwest Airlines being what they are, I don’t have a lot of room to swing them around. So on the flight up, it was a lot like having an atomic wedgie. For four hours.

Anyway, when i arrived at the hotel, they found a room for me immediately (those folks who said I couldn’t get a room unless I paid for friday too!) and I checked in, and waited out on the street until being rescued by mr and mrs Aargh! (do you suppose he meant the Camargue?) who made a point of driving clear the hell back to town from the range and lugging my enormous ass out to the range again. Thanks, folks, even the truck ride out there was a joy. Nice to have a conversation with people whose ideas you share. In fact, we had a conversation to that extent in the gate area at Reno; until the internet, it was easy to think you were the only person like you; being able to meet people you were in tune with from disparate areas and backgrounds is one of the Internet’s supreme advantages. It also, as we discussed, allows you to develop a hatred of people you haven’t even met.

Arriving at the Range I meeditately run into the only other blogger I’d previously met, the Conservative UAW guy. Now, I’d not met his wife before, and I have to say, like me, he married above himself. Way above. Nice to meet the Mrs, and nice to see JimmyB again.

Now, meeting a blogger at a time is cool, but to be inundated by the likes of Chris Byrne, (no, Broad, he’s NOT a nutcase) and Joe Huffman (Who, mark my words, is going to be the Rosa Parks of Gun Owner’s rights)

The only person I could contact easily was Riverdog, who unlike Mr Completely, owns a cellphone. Meeting Riverdog in person- and meeting his wife (yes, he’s another guy who married way above himself- hell, all the gunbloggers are) was a joy for a raconteur. When you talk to ANY of these people, you think “these assholes are so full of bullshit their eyes are brown” and then you realize the stories:

“I had a fatwah declared on me”
“I am saving a steam era warship from the scrapyard”
“I was shot repeatedly saving the lives of hundreds of people in a shopping mall”

Are all true. So many stories. So many people whose security clearances are higher than you can imagine. So many people whose lives should be an inspiration to the Nanny staters. So many people doing so much good in the world that my puny efforts to improve the lives of those around me pale by comparison.

Oh, yeah, stories. Well, I’m not going to tell them here, you’ll just have to come to the next rendezvous and hear them for yourself. Some of them are ears-only anyway. Suffice to say that not a soul among the group didn’t have a good story and the ability to tell it well. US Citizen, for instance, who shares my affinity for the zen-like power of the Briggs and Stratton Four Cycle Single Cylinder engine. Fodder, who assures me his Triumph Tiger is not metallic booger green. And who will probably be collecting seeds from a certain plants in the Cannabaceae family , and planting them in grossly innapropriate places.

Of the ladies, I have to say this: thanks for your patience in putting up with us. Specificlly, to Keewee, the accent is one that usually just makes me take out my wallet. Good thing for me everyone was well-armed- otherwise, well, what happens in Reno… As for Mrs Riverdog, having spent your life putting up with HIM is bad enough, but the BS you’ve been through, and the strength you show in how you live your life? A finer, tougher broad I think I never met. Remind me never to piss you off.

Speaking of inspirations, let me speak a little about Dan McKown. Actually, here’s a better take on it, and here. It is extremely humbling to see what Dan has been through, it’s inspirational to see the spirit he has in his life, and i only hope he shows up here and leaves better links to his work and his story in comments.

The banquet, with Dan and Joe Huffman as guest speakers, was a great time. I’m usually surrounded by bright people but the talent at the table where I sat was only outweighed (sic) by the sheer gravitational force of those present. I felt right at home.

THe best part was, I wasthe first person to win something! I won the $50 gift certificate from Natchez Shooters Supply, which I intend to put towards this fine riflescope which I’ve had my eyes on for some time now.

Riverdog won the High point, damn his eyes, but then, in a gesture of remarkable selflessness, handed the wining ticket to Dan McKown. Bastard. I wanted to do that!!

I also got drawn (By Brendan!) for another Natchez gift certificate but told them to draw another ticket- sheesh, I thought Brendan was a little hot for me. I mean, who can resist? I’m too sexy for my shirt, after all.

I’m sure I’m leaving out some incredible conversations I had with some incredible people, but it all happened so damned fast and there was so much I am having trouble remembering it all. In the end, all I can say is thanks for the great time, folks, and thanks for the invitation. I hope that the Second Annual is big enough we need a tent.