My premiere journey to Vancouver for TBEX 2011 began with an emergency landing and ended in applause. Never in a million years...
Let me just start by saying that I have been going to blogging conferences for the past couple of years; my Top 3 favorites being Blogalicious, BlogHer and Hispanicize. When I was selected several months ago to speak on a BlogHer panel, I felt like A Big Girl...just like when I learned to tie my shoes for the first time all. by. my. self. My blog, my baby - OneBrownGirl.com® - has finally found its way, I thought. My ultra-niche-y culturally-appreciative-humanity-driven-diversified-travel-infused blog is no longer an infant and somebody noticed. It felt..I dunno...validating. And then I found out about TBEX.
TBEX, an online haven for travel bloggers and travel writers doesn't just connect bloggers online, but there's even a travel writing conference. I could feel the pace of my heartbeat get a tad bit faster with every bit of new information I read. Buh-dump. Buh-dump. Buh-dump. Of course I just had to go to the TBEX conference, I screamed silently to myself as I scrambled anxiously to find a ticket on Twitter. I'm a Travelista, a travel camp owner, a contributor to a national travel Web site and a newly-appointed national award winning travel blogger, doggone-it. Besides, I had never been to Vancouver! I'm going, I decided. I'm going to TBEX. Buh-dump, dump.
So when my SFO to Vancouver flight made its faster than the speed of light emergency landing in ever green Portland because the passenger two rows in front of me - whose head I could see bobbing the entire time - complained about chest pain and the noble looking Asian fella with the skinny black tie in the seat across the aisle from me started violently vomiting the contents of his previously-consumed Bento box into his wife's lap and my pretty blonde haired blue-eyed seat mate enthusiastically told me she calls her 6 year old half-Korean half-Caucasian daughter "Half-Cracker" as a nickname ("Isn't that the cutest"? she asked), I wondered what the hell Vancouver and TBEX had in store for me. Relax, I told myself. You can't beat travel story ingredients like these. But these little tidbits were merely the starter course.
Photo above: Capilano Suspension Bridge
Photo above: Getting ready to bounce my way across the Capilano Suspension Bridge
Photo above: Decked out and ready to get my zip line on
Photo above: Flying high on Grouse Mountain (That's me on the right.)
Photo above: Brave travel bloggers/writers doing the Cliff Walk
Photo above: Overhead shot of Cliff Walk
What I didn't know is that no matter how violently I waved my hands and arms and crossed my eyes trying to get the attention of Spud Hilton, the man with the pitch microphone in good old Room 211, that he wouldn't see me. What I didn't know is that an angel of a man that I would never see again during the conference that was standing at the back of the room would quietly walk up the center aisle of that very session room full of pitching travel writers and point me out to Mr. Pitch Microphone so that Spud would finally take a look in my direction and signal to me with his thumb tucked in and the rest of his fingers pointed up that I would be number 4 to pitch. What I didn't know when my heart was buh-dumping, when I booked my flight, when I was stunned into silence by the Half-Cracker disclosure or while I was slapping high fives on the streets of downtown Vancouver with hyped-up Stanley Cup wannabes, is that I would pitch speak from my heart about helping give girls a world view via a very simple concept called a Passport Party.
I didn't know that a room full of people with the same sense of wandermania that I have would get it...would get me...and then stun me with their applause and envelope me with their collaborative spirits. I didn't know that I would come to Vancouver on a not-so-non-stop flight and within 48 hours of touchdown go into a bathroom stall at the Vancouver Convention Centre and shed a few Did that just happen? tears. I just didn't know.
So here I sit, with not just this story, but a dozen other stories bubbling up inside of me that I haven't written yet just because I was so anxious to share with you the prelude of what I am hoping will become the start of something big. A Passport Party concept that started with little ole me and will hopefully get its legs from TBEX. A simple concept with a not so simple result: I want to gift tw/een girls with their first passports. I want to encourage them to travel and explore culture and take unforgettable trips around the world. I want to help them find their place in this world and be a part of the growth that travel brings about. I want to go national and take this show on the road.
And then I want these newly empowered girls to go home and encourage their parents and their friends and their families to get their first passports too so that the measley "only 30% of Americans have a passport" statistic goes up at least a fraction.
When I got on the plane to go to TBEX, I didn't have any idea that this would be the post that I would be writing the minute I returned home. Never in a million years. Buh-dump dump.