Before I launch into my recollections, I want to thank ninjapenguin
for setting up and organizing the event. Thanks, ninjapenguin
The afternoon started with Skweejeepusher, ninjapenguin, a non-noder named Jake, and I carpooling to the Orlando Ale House. Skweejeepusher drove in his car with no air conditioning, so by the time we drove down I-4 at 60mph with the windows down, my hair was sporting the fashion style known as the wind tunnel. To all those who saw me: my hair is much better than it looked at the Gathering!
Since the Fun 'n Wheels no longer existed, Skweejeepusher, ssd, Jake, and I went down to the Fun Spot, a place with an arcade and other goings-on, to watch for others who might be arriving there. After a few rounds of air hockey (I defeated ssd twice), it was back to the Orlando Ale House. Before we left, however, Skweejeepusher cashed in some prize tickets he'd won for some cheap plastic animal hair combs which he distributed to the rest of us. While not entirely functional, the comb did allow me to somewhat reshape my hair.
After regrouping at the Orlando Ale House we caravaned out to Celebration for dinner. Unfortunately, some misunderstandings and so forth led to Skweejeepusher missing the exit to Celebration, leading us to circle Orlando for a while. Despite the setback, the fun continued. We saw such touristy landmarks such as the Giant Orange and Merlin's Magic Gift Shop.
Eventually, either through careful planning or just dumb luck, we arrived in Celebration were the majority of noders had already amassed. Introduction all around and the feast commenced. Might I say that the Columbia Restaurant makes a tasty filet mignon.
As the day turned to night the group relocated to an apartment out by Lake Mary. With Skweejeepusher's car running low on fuel, a gas stop was necessary. However, this gas stop took place right on International Drive, a major tourist area. 9:30pm + Saturday night + tourist trap = much traffic. A simple fuel stop lasted thirty minutes.
It was after 11pm before we reached the apartment complex. We were in search of building 17, but our tired, windburned eyes could only find up to building 12. Perhaps a local resident could be of some assistance? Ah, what luck! Here comes someone now!
A elderly man who looked as though he had died years ago stepped out of his home. Skweejeepusher flagged him down and he approached the car while carrying a jar. A jar of what, you ask? On closer inspection, it appeared that this man was taking his jar of live bees out for a walk. As for directions, the man was no help at all. He and his bees presumably returned to the crypt.
Thanks to more dumb luck we found a hidden driveway that led to building 17. Rejoining the group, we make with the yakkity-yak-yak for a while about life, E2, and everything. As midnight drew closer the group again pulled up stakes and retired to ninjapenguin's apartment. It was at this point, at 1am, that I bid the group farewell and returned to my own apartment to attempt to repair my hair and sleep.
In closing, my first Gathering was much fun and I enjoyed myself immensely. It was nice meeting all of you that I met, and I look forward to more gatherings in the future. See you... out there!