Promoted from the diaries by Jeff. It's people and experiences like this that make RedState what it is.
First, I'm not a writer by nature, and if I inherited any creative genes, I can't find them (I even have trouble drawing a stick man). Also, this is my first time using word press and writing a diary off the top of my head, so it could turn out badly for both writer and reader. I have a couple of other diaries started that I keep tweaking and trying to improve and actually finish. But I'm going to give it go and just share my thoughts in a sort of stream of consciousness way.
I've been home just a few hours from attending Redstate Gathering #3, and my head is still spinning from the excitement and copious amounts of coffee and sweet tea. The RSG03 agenda was non-stop, and I loved every minute of it. There were training sessions, speeches from candidates for U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, photos with Governor Nikki Haley, Erick and new friends, new contacts for my address book. Oh, and there was that little thing Erick wrote about where Governor Rick Perry announced he is running for POTUS. That was surely a first for me, and I'm guessing a few others as well. Exciting stuff happens at redstate. There's a mountain of material to review, organize and share with others which I sincerely hope will motivate them to get involved (this is my shout out to CW), but let me back up a little and start with my first first.
The first RS person I met live, up close and in person was Aaron Gardner, who graciously let me hitch a ride to the airport with him and a couple of other guys (Brian and was it Mike? will have to forgive me that my knack for remembering names has severely waned with age). I'm not exactly shy by nature, but this was another first - going to an event all by my lonesome, knowing absolutely nobody other than those whom I'd come to think of as friends but didn't have a clue what they looked like. I'm just not used to walking up to strangers and asking if I can share their shuttle, but I had to get out of my comfort zone, so I did just that. I introduced myself as rightwingmom52, but added that my close friends call me "Mel" (short for Melody). I saw Aaron several times during the weekend, always with a smile on his face and ready with a "Hi, Mel. Having a good time?" Made me feel right at home, among friends if you will.
This was my first visit to Charleston. The view from my hotel room overlooked a beautiful park. I spent about an hour walking around on my own, looking forward to what I hoped would be an informative and exciting weekend. I was not disappointed. Grabbed a quick lunch and headed to registration where I met Boo Boo Kitty who gave me the red bag full of goodies, including Senator DeMint's new book, The Great American Awakening. I ran into Neil Stevens who seemed surprised when I called him by name. Not wanting him to think I was some stalker, I told him I had overheard Aaron call him "Neil" but, dude, your picture is on the site. Made the rounds to the various sponsor tables to collect a few more bumper stickers, buttons and brochures for the big red bag.
It was time for the good stuff. Representative Tim Scott, Governor Rick Scott and Senator Jim DeMint. Rock stars. It won't do any of them justice to try and describe their speeches, so go watch the videos Erick posted here
I felt such a kinship with them as their conservatism shone through the words they spoke. These weren't beltway politicians speaking from their ivory towers. They were like us, and I cheered them on with a roomful of folks I didn't yet know, but that changed rather quickly. After the first round of speeches, I introduced myself to a couple of ladies, Linda and Roberta, both widows from Hilton Head Island who had come for the big announcement. Marguerite from New York soon joined us. A red voter in a blue state and active in her local GOP, she was bringing her son down south to college, but had also come to see Perry. None of them were redstate regulars, so they didn't know RWM52, but we got to know each other as we made our way to Governor Haley's meet and greet and talked about the various candidates, the recent debate, how great the earlier speeches were and how we hoped to make Obama a one-term President. We agreed that Ron Paul was looney, Pawlenty looked worse than Bachmann in their exchanges, we liked Cain, and were surprisingly impressed with Newt and Santorum. They had all liked Romney over McCain and were still open to him, so like a good redstater, I talked about Obamaneycare and the need to vote as conservative in the primary as possible.
My next first was meeting a governor, and a woman governor to boot. The Gov. Haley I met Friday night was full of warmth and charm, gracious to the end as she shook hands and smiled for the cameras. I thanked her on behalf of conservative women everywhere for being such a wonderful example of our values - for representing women who love our husbands (real men), our children and our country. Aaron introduced me to a couple more redstaters. I started walking back to the hotel alone (my new friends were in another hotel), but soon met Cheryl (who, in her words, is "just Cheryl" on redstate) and her husband from that big blue state on the west coast who invited me to walk along with them. As the first day ended, I was filled with excitement and a sense of real encouragement from my new friends, from the speeches I'd heard, from the gracious governor I'd met, from the other patriots who shared stories of their own journeys to RSG03.
Day Two here