At last we can breathe again. It was invigorating to spend the weekend at 9000 feet in the Rocky Mountains, but the altitude made our lungs feel like very small party balloons, not quite big enough to get air. Keystone, a ski resort in winter, expects this: the shops sell $4 canisters of oxygen to help out.

We were there for the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) conference, which also left us a little short of breath. Travel bloggers are newly influential, we learned. Apparently we create word of mouth, the kind of publicity that money can’t buy. And we thought we were just babbling away to entertain our friends.

Hence, we were courted by Keystone with a warm emotional embrace and mountains of free food.

Spaghetti & meatballs made from white chocolate. There were hamburgers and tacos too — all chocolate.

Two gondola rides took us up to 11,444 feet, where we grazed through an ultra-chic custom food court at the Alpenglow Stube, including braised boar shoulder on a bed of polenta, and a chocolate confection made to look like a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. The next night it was a Western hoedown at the stables, tossed by Expedia, where we feasted on ribs, brisket, and apple pie.

What was really breathtaking were the 800 or so brilliant twenty- and thirty-something travel bloggers, all smart as Watson and adventurous as Mars rovers. They taught us all about SEO, affiliations, hash tags, and how incredibly short we must write for the web,

  • using bullets sometimes,
  • as attention spans
  • are short.
Photo of Jaume Marin from Costa Brava Tourist Board

Jaume Marin from the Costa Brava Tourist Board ropes a lil’ doggie. (Click to enlarge)

By some wacky coincidence, the tourist office of Costa Brava, Spain, was among the few European exhibitors who came to woo travel bloggers. But we were the ones wooing Jaume Marin and Gemma Suňer from Girona’s marketing department, who got us even more psyched about our move. They reassured us that we would not have to learn Catalan as well as Castilian, and surprise: by the time we get there the city will have instituted a free electric bike loan program. Holy cow! Some European cities have bike loans, but electric bike loans? Lord, take me now.

We met a few other gallivanting bloggers from our age cohort: Tom and Joyce Gavenda from ActiveBoomerTravel.com, David and Carol Porte — TheRoamingBoomers, and Donna Hull from myitchytravelfeet.com.

But most of our colleagues were young, bold, and evidence in the flesh that we are all going global bigtime, and there’s is no way to stop it, even if we wanted to, which we don’t. We are inspired and invigorated, because a trip to the land of the young and savvy is an adventure in itself.

(Additional photos in this post.)

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