Sometimes presentations just don’t go according to plan, and other times they exceed expectations. The adventure continues.
Doing PowerPoint presentations in a campground just isn’t the same as standing at the podium at the Florence Events Center speaking to Rotary members. Being outside is totally different than being inside. Folks don’t dress up, don’t expect to buy books, or necessarily arrive on time or stick around to the end. It’s an amphitheater in a campground. Folks are on vacation Expectations are different.
Kids ride in on their bikes and later jump up to go eat dinner. Then they come back and want to know what they missed. It’s a different scene.
On my first night in the outdoor amphitheater on July 8, it had been one of those gloriously beautiful—but windy—days at the coast. We call it sandblasted-at-the-beach windy, and it didn’t let up towards evening as it usually does. But the amphitheater is in a clearing among tall trees protected from the wind—for the most part. The wind stayed up high. Only occasionally did it swoop down and blow everything loose that wasn’t anchored. You know, when cans roll, papers fly, hats blow. It’s startling! So startling that during one such blow, my volunteer clicker (VC) pressed her finger down and left it there. Suddenly, 15 photos zipped by. The wind was also noisy and cold. So I asked everyone to sit up close where they huddled under heavy jackets and blankets. Even so, I had to almost shout. Besides being a bit hoarse and chilled afterwards, I was none the worse for wear.
On the next Friday at the campground amphitheater, there was no wind and the ranger on duty helped me set up the projector and laptop. I had copies of McCullough’s Coastal Bridges out with my stuff that I use with the talk—my own copy of the book, another book, some large photos, and a tourism booklet. Quite a large crowd had taken their seats, and we had a great conversation going about what McCullough bridges they had crossed to get there. By shortly after 7, I began with the ranger being the VC. A lovely evening. I should’ve known; it was too good to last.
My script for that program numbered 14 pages. By page three, I noticed a few drops of water and more on page four. It took a minute to register that those were raindrops. Yikes! Everything was getting wet! I grabbed the books, wiped them with my sleeve, and put them in a basket under the bench. Only then did I put on my jacket and hat. The ranger grabbed three pieces of plastic (He must have suspected.) and covered the laptop and projector, the electrical cords, and my stuff on the table. And the audience put on their jackets with hoods up. . . . Then we went on with the show. After all, this is western Oregon. We don’t let a little rain stop us.
I couldn’t put my script under plastic, though. The print was running so badly, I could hardly make out any words. Fortunately, I’ve done the presentation so often that I only needed to glance at it from time to time. I barely missed a beat, and not a single audience member left. (Plastic sleeves next time for the script.)
When I got to where I normally stop for a 25-minute program, I suggested that any who needed to get out of the rain could and that it wouldn’t hurt my feelings. I also let those who were considering staying know that there was only about 10 or 12 minutes remaining. Only two families left the group, and the rain stopped during the last few minutes. I was able to chat with folks afterwards without rain. By the time I started to pack up, the rain picked up. I found that when the pad on the computer gets wet, the cursor just doesn’t move.
When I got home, I took everything out and dried it as best I could. Books and pictures were spread all over the dining room table. The projector and laptop were secured tightly in two separate bags, each having rice inside. I wiped the four connector cords dry and hung them from the back of a door up against a wall––out of sight. I have a cat that sees any loose cord as a toy!
The next morning, I took the machines out of their bags, hooked them up, and turned them on. Everything worked fine. No books were damaged, and I didn’t catch a cold. All was well.
I packed everything up, loaded it in the car, and with a freshly printed script and a load of books headed off to the Coos Bay Area. It was July 16, and I was scheduled for a program that afternoon at Coos County Historical and Maritime Museum as part of North Bend’s July Jubilee to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the McCullough Memorial Bridge.
I arrived an hour early like we had planned. Vickie, with whom I had been in contact, was there along with Steve, the president of the historical society, to welcome me. At least 30 chairs were set up, a table for the projector and laptop was set just the right distance from the screen. A table for my stuff was sitting next to where I would be standing, and there was even a chair for me afterwards for book signing. And the extension cords were already laid and taped down. This is what I thought would happen at every presentation when I first began this venture, silly me. This was awesome! They even helped me unload and set up my stuff. I had time to go to the restroom and eat the lunch I brought.
The program was to begin at 2 and by 1:50 nearly all seats were full. Throughout the first half, chairs were being added. I later learned that there were at least 50 people in attendance. It was the largest turnout the museum had ever had for one of their programs.
The equipment worked fine, and I didn’t flub anything. The audience laughed at every joke, and were super attentive. I only saw one man nod off. They were incredible. I sold and signed at least 20 books and visited with enthusiastic fans for at least an hour. It was fantastic!! Couldn’t have been better.
On Monday when someone asked how my weekend went, I replied, “Sort of a contrast in extremes!”
Crossings Presentations by Judy in July (wind, rain, what’s next?):
• July 29, 7 p.m.––Honeyman State Park Campground, B Loop, Amphitheater, couple miles south of Florence
Judy will also be attending two Author’s Fairs:
• July 22–23, noon–6 p.m. Friday & 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday––Oregon Books & Games (corner 7th & E), Grants Pass
• August 27, noon–3 p.m.––Bob’s Beach Books (west side just north of 17th on Hwy 101), Lincoln City