We finally got out of town around 1pm Tuesday, and after 2 gas/potty stops, 1 fast-food drive-thru, a detour on I-4 for a FLAMING 18-wheeler, and a torrential downpour-in the dark-through the Jacksonville construction nightmare, we safely arrived in Orlando after a mere 9 and a half hours. With perfect internet directions to the hotel. Yay!
It was so late when we checked in that most of the rooms were full. So the king sized bed we requested was replaced with 2 shoeboxes. Oh, wait. I meant double beds. The remote only worked occasionally, the toilet didn't flush well, and the maids kept leaving decaf coffee in our room.
But it really wasn't that bad! The shoeboxes were comfy and the room didn't smell like smoke-covered-in-air-freshener.
I was in awe of the conference center. I truly think it was bigger than my hometown! There were shuttles running between the buildings, and if you decided to walk, there were moving sidewalks to speed up your commute. The food was outrageously expensive, but pretty tasty. The classes were great and informative. And the exhibits were out of this world! Photos weren't allowed in the exhibit hall, so I don't have any pics to share. Sorry :-(
We met some old friends and had lunch one day. Jeff and I were even spies for them and went to hear the sales pitch of their competitors! All's fair in love and business, right?
We really did have a good time, although the only places we saw were the convention center, IHOP, the hotel restaurant, and some other eating establishment on Valentines Day. We were pretty pooped at days' end.
Saturday we sat through one last class, waited 50 minutes for the every-20-minute shuttle, and made 2 neat contacts. One was a builder from the Cayman Islands, whose wife does builder websites and search engine optimization. The other was the president of a large homebuilders association.
We had almost skipped out on the final day, but decided to go. That's when we met this guy. I think it was a divine appointment, personally. Jeff got a call from a customer while riding the shuttle, and this guy overheard the conversation. He could have just sat there quietly and went on about his day, but he didn't. He immediately struck up a conversation with Jeff and starting giving him advice. Jeff finally met the mentor he has so desperately needed.
We even got some ideas for our future church building! So, all in all, it was a really good show. Shoot, I came out wanting to build a house! And I'm not even a builder!
I tell you, both of our minds were whirling with ideas on the ride home. I think we might have some hope for this year, even though the real estate stinks right now. Thanks for sticking around after the silence around here! I think I might have some other news this week, so come back and check in!!