Monday, September 23, 2002
Birthday Party Celebrations Report: San Jose, CA - Xoanon @ 18:21 PST
From: Jatamansi

September 22, 2002
A Celebration to Remember

Today, as we all know, was Frodo’s and Bilbo’s combined birthdays – but it was also my 23rd birthday as well! This is my report of the day’s events, which centered around the picnic/potluck north of San Francisco that was held in the hobbits’ honor.

I woke up this morning at 4:30am to get ready to catch a shuttle to the San Jose airport from Monterey, where I was to meet Anissa (Evermind Greenleaf) at approx. 8am. At about 8:15, Anissa drove up and we were on our way, after a brief stop at a grocery store for pies, sausages, and hairspray (don’t ask). Everything was going great – virtually no traffic – until the freeway rather suddenly ended. Signs were non-existent – and the two of us were now taking the ‘scenic route’ to the party. On this little detour, we stumbled upon China Beach (which I have now immortalized in pictures, which I’m sure means nothing to y’all), and while taking said pics, I was able to bat my eyes successfully into getting directions to the Golden Gate Bridge from an unsuspecting jogger (which was our intended destination before said scenic route). Turns out that had there not been such heavy fog, we would have seen that we were less than 2 miles from the bridge. Oops. So, we drove thru a reeeally nice neighborhood, then thru the Presidio until we practically tripped over the bridge. And I must say that driving across that bridge with fog so thick you can’t see the top is absolutely breathtaking! Too bad I didn’t think to take pics…

Eventually, we found our way to the Marin Headlands Hostel. It was beautiful, and what a gorgeous day for a party!! A banner welcoming the “Fellowship of LOTR Fans” hung over the entrance, and there were various guests hanging about, dressed as hobbits, elves and yuppies, organizing and decorating. ;) Anissa and I checked in at registration, then brought our goodies inside. We milled about, decorating and setting up as the other guests arrived – and we packed the place!!

It was a true hobbit’s party – food was everywhere, laughter filled the air, and there was much merrymaking to be had. The more musically inclined gathered around the piano, while cooks bustled about the kitchen in preparation for the Mushroom Cook-off (which was much anticipated!!). There was a corner for the smallest hobbits to color in their specially made coloring books (I picked one up for my daughter – great job on those!), while several ‘enthusiastic’ young gentlemen demonstrated their fighting prowess in the street – and yes, the incoming cars were quite intimidated by the ferocity with which the fighters defended their territory! Some of the more opportunistic revelers ‘quality tested’ the refreshments and goodies, while many others conspired with each other for answers to the Trivia Game. I helped many with their answers while also setting up the poster for the birthday people.

To explain: As today was also my birthday, I thought it was only right to celebrate in hobbit-fashion by sharing the joy with everyone. So, I made a poster for the 5 hobbits celebrating birthdays during this special time. Robert, Lisa, Alissa, and Ashley (NikkiTook’s niece) all gathered for a group picture on the steps with the poster (that they graciously signed!), which was made of various pieces of other fans’ art (since I’m only good for coloring). Thanks to everyone for their help in making this a special day! :)

After this, everyone made their way to the food inside, where not a soul could complain about the hospitality of the table! Fruits, breads, meats, appetizers, desserts – and mushrooms, of course! – covered the table. There was so much food that we couldn’t even finish it, if you can imagine! Eventually though, everyone was able to roll themselves away from the table to continue the hunt for trivia answers, which took us all over the hostel in search of clues. And let me tell you, it was hard!! Elijahfanatic and I had a heck of a time finding all the clue-containing scrolls… The trick with the trivia game was that you had to get answers from the other guests or from strategically hidden scrolls – you couldn’t answer them yourself. It turned out to be a great way to meet each other, and many props go to Yarrow and BeastyBunny for tricking us into being social!! Also, thanks to Jeff, Stacey, Ivy Took, LegolasArcher, BeastyBunny and Elijahfanatic for the help with my quiz!

At about 1:30p, the Mushroom Cook-off began. I may have been stuffed from lunch, but the mushrooms were just too tempting! The 1st place winner was an amazing shiitake mushroom wonton. Yum!! The cook had her choice of prizes, and I think she took home one of the WETA Workshop pieces that were available. But before the results were announced, a toast was made to Bilbo, Frodo, J.R.R. Tolkien, Peter Jackson, the cast and crew of LOTR, and to everyone who came out to celebrate – may the hair on their toes grow ever longer! :D The cake was also cut at this time, and it was beautiful – it looked just like the one from the movie, though the story behind that is rather… interesting! ;)

After the toast, cake, and while the prizes for the cook-off were being awarded, I was on the team furiously – and I mean furiously!! – tabulating scores from the trivia game. We scored it two ways – those who collected answers got points for others being right, and those who answered the questions got points for being right. Well, it turns out that my wealth of useless LOTR knowledge finally came in handy when I came in 3rd place as a Trivia wizard for answering questions for people! One downside, though – someone had already nabbed the Pippin WETA bust that I’d been eyeing all day… so, I had to ‘settle’ for a set of the updated Topps cards (90-120). Oh, darn! ;)

Things began to wind down after that, and a door prize raffle was held. My number was called near the end. It was slim-pickins by that point, but I chose an ornament of Sam. However, the forlorn look on both NikkiTook’s and Ashley’s faces convinced me that they’d enjoy it more than I. After all, hobbits are supposed to be the ones giving out mathoms on their birthdays, right?

By the end of the day, I’d given out 1 Aragorn Topps card, a Sam ornament, a card gamer’s magazine, 4 birthday cards (though mine is MIA…), and most of a pumpkin pie – but I think I walked away with some great gifts in the form of lots of memories (and pictures!) of a fabulous birthday, and some fantastic new friends to go along with it. Thanks to everyone who made my 23rd birthday and 1st big fan gathering such a wonderful experience!! Bilbo and Frodo would have been so lucky to have friends such as you! :)

Namarie, Jatamansi

PS: Anissa and I did not take the scenic route on the way back, for those that are curious. ;) Also, I’ll have pictures up just as soon as I can!