Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Colorado Yurt Company at NRPA 2009 in Salt Lake City

as blogged by Heather Martin, Colorado Yurt Sustainability Director

The meandering highways from the Colorado Yurt Company in Montrose, Colorado through the roadside rock cliffs was a perfect introductory backdrop for the week ahead at the National Recreation and Parks Association Congress and Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah. NRPA met and exceeded our expectations with an exceptional exhibit hall for our booth showcasing Colorado Yurts, Earthworks Tipis and Cimarron Canvas Platform Tents. It also included enlightening education sessions, fantastic new friendships, and really amazing reconnections at the many socials held all over beautiful downtown Salt Lake!

Cliff Connaughton, my tradeshow sidekick and our Colorado Yurt fearless leader, managed to finagle our truck 20 feet from the convention hall loading ramp. With minimal technical difficulties we got the new flat screen television and laptop to coincide so we could roll our yurt slideshow. Our beautiful booth was up and ready for the next day’s Exhibit Hall kick off, with plenty of time left over to head to a local pub to meet up with old friends and colleagues to boot!

Our first evening out wasn’t without highlights, as we were introduced to rock climbing star-turned photographer, Boone Speed. His nonchalant, humble disposition didn’t go unnoticed, nor did the local brews on tap. We had a fun-filled evening, and called it a night early in preparation for what we knew would be a day full of yurt discussions!

After our individual hotel gym cardio sessions, and grabbing a delectable to go breakfast of egg sandwich and fresh-brewed coffee the next morning, it was off to the NRPA Expo…

The full day flew by while Cliff and I got to chat-it-up with passerby-ers perusing the Expo aisles. Our yurt booth guest list spanned the globe, chronicling visits from national and state park directors, rangers and staff, municipal park department heads, private campground managers, adventure guides, Air Force base representatives, and bright-eyed college students to name a few.

The exhibit hall wasn’t just filled with folks interested in yurts, tipis and canvas wall tents, but also an array of thousands of vendors presenting products that ran the gamut, including (but not limited to): not-so-run-of-the-mill-restrooms, cutting edge climbing walls, miniature motor vehicles, pioneering playground equipment, outdoor exercise apparatuses, professional management magazines, and last, but not least, our neighbor to the left: fully lit, operable scoreboards.

AND sitting in this booth was none other than THE Tommy John! For those from a younger generation, Tommy John was once starting pitcher for both the Yankees and the Dodgers. The famous Tommy John elbow surgery is named after this very legend, seen casually shooting the breeze with his co-worker and star struck signature and photo requesters. It would be remiss not to point out that I, too, had a picture taken with the man we formally dubbed “sugar daddy” for his bite-size candy bar drop-offs on our table in route to the men’s room.

The fun extended into the subsequent evenings, mornings and afternoons, as yurts, tepees and canvas wall tents were discussed for camps, retreats, parks and individual living spaces.

On our final day, Cliff magically managed to maneuver our oversized truck, yet again, at the head of the line so that we were breaking the yurt booth down, loading the truck back up and on the road heading eastward home to the Colorado Yurt Company…all in less than one hour after the Expo closed!

To celebrate our speedy departure and NRPA Expo and Congress success, we grubbed on gyros and greasy fries at Cliff’s favorite family-owned Greek dive in Price, UT...all the while reminiscing about our exciting week of discussions about yurts, teepees and canvas wall tents.

Next road trip: American Camp Association in Denver February 16-19. See you there in 2010! Hope to see you at NRPA next year in Minneapolis, MN.

p.s. The Red Iguana is a must for amazingly authentic mole’ in Salt Lake City! It was featured on the Food Network's Diner's, Drive-ins and Dives show.

Play Red Iguana video from the Food Network WARNING! Don't watch this if you're hungry!