Well, despite a couple of rocky spots it was a really fun weekend. We both took half days on Friday in order to catch a 3:00 ferry from Bridgeport to Long Island. Long Island isn’t really that far away, it’s just a bitch to get to from CT. You either have to go down "around the hook" which involves driving west a couple of hours to catch the bridges and turn around and drive east (and the Long Island Expressway is just a little slice of heaven all its own,) or you pony up about $50 and take the ferry. The ferry is worth every penny.
got home, popped my bags into the car, and settled in to wait for my husband. And wait. And wait. And wait a little longer. Apparently he got stuck behind a traffic accident on 229. Waited a little longer while he got his bags and last minute packing together, and we eventually got on the road.
All I will say about the drive is that I think I broke the land speed record a couple of times, and we were literally the *last* reserved car in line for the Bridgeport ferry. The ferry that we should have made easily with time to spare was actually a skin of our teeth arrival. But he was *completely* right about making reservations. The length of the stand-by line was impressive.
The ferry ride was uneventful, and very nifty. I stared out the windows until we were out past the breakwater, and then settled in with assorted directions and schedules. Next thing I knew I glanced up and someone had installed an island. Got off the ferry and headed off for the hotel. Port Jefferson is really a charming little town, and I think that I want to go there again sometime just to see the town. It looked like there were a lot of cute little shops and things.
We drove to the hotel, checked in, dropped off our stuff and headed over to the Con. This is when I discovered that my exhaustive research on directions had been completely inadequate (you’ll probably notice many repetitions of that word.) As of Saturday morning (the Con opened at 6:00 pm on Friday), the directions on I-Con’s website still said "We are working on train and ferry directions from Connecticut/New England tailored to I-Con attendees." That kind of sums things up. But I shall elaborate, regardless.
We found our way to the campus because I had downloaded directions – from the university website, not the Con’s. It was also practically across the street from the hotel, so it would have been difficult to screw that up. Looking at the directions that had come off of the Con site, the last sentence was "Stony Brook University entrances are the first three intersections you come to." Leaving the audience with a sense of unresolved suspense. "And...?" you say. What do I do AFTER that? Which was a damn fine question. So we began driving aimlessly through the SUNY Stony Brook campus. It’s huge. Where’s the Con? Who knows? We saw an occasional sign that tended to take you nowhere and leave you there. We saw other people in cars also roaming aimlessly. The atmosphere in the car became chilly and polite as the two very angry people pointedly did NOT yell at each other about it. Actually, I’m pretty proud of us. We finally stumbled on the dealer’s parking lot, and just parked. Then we found the line for pre-registered members. About twice as long as the line for at the gate. Maybe it’s not worth the pre-reg price difference. Stood through the line, checked in, and got a completely inadequate program. Pages and pages of glossy photos and write-ups about the guests. A couple of pages of schedules. No descriptions of anything. A map of part of the campus with some highlighted buildings. So we have all of these guests who are doing... good question. We have all of these panels about... good question. Frustrating. And the only location information was the building name. I’d forgotten how huge college buildings are. You could spend hours looking for an event in a random room... somewhere. I finally had to stand through a registration line to ask someone where the dealer’s room was. That didn’t have a sign either. I’m sure there was an information booth somewhere where one could ask all of these questions, but you had to already have the information in order to get to where you could ask for the information...
It didn’t do wonderful things for my mood.
But the freak show was amazing! I always thought that the SCA was way far out on the lunatic fringe of freaks, geeks, and social rejects. It’s nice to see that there is a group worse off than we are. The amount of skin hanging out that shouldn’t have been was even more alarming then Pennsic. Cleaner, though.
Here’s a random question. Why do gamers always tend to smell bad?
Got downstairs to the dealer’s room to find Andrea’s booth and flipped to the map (!)... and found that it had been photo-reduced to the point of illegibility. At this point I’m not exactly surprised. So I figure that I’ll just wander, and I struck gold almost immediately. You know, there’s nothing like an enthusiastic greeting to completely repair your mood. It also "helped" that she’d been having a crappy morning also and was in more or less the same mood. Made me feel less guilty about it. So we chatted and bitched and gossiped, and I stared at the amazing show that is fandom. Amazing. I’ve read science fiction for years, but as far as attendance and merchandise was concerned, I-Con is all about anime which I know nothing about. It’s always disturbed me that the Japanese think it’s okay to view pre-adolescent girls as appropriate sex objects, and I’ve never gotten past that. But I digress. Luckily for me, Andrea *does* know about anime and manga, and was playing tour guide for me. It was a lot of fun – she could tell me who they were dressed as, what it was from, what they were doing right and what they weren’t doing so well. It was cool. There were also a lot of furries running around. I just don’t get that. I really don’t. But there were a lot of them.
So I pretty much sat on my butt and maintained the back corner of Andrea’s space to prevent further encroachment from her next door neighbor. Impediment – I can do that! The room shut at some evil hour, and I helped close up and went to find my husband. I found the building he was in, but the gaming information table was long closed, so again – I wandered around the huge building until I stumbled on a sign for "war games." And there he was. I have to admit that the room smelled better than I had feared. I hung out there until the game master called the game because it was time for him to be done, I think about midnight. Went back to the hotel, and crashed.
Saturday morning we met Greg and Andrea for breakfast. I have to say, the hotel breakfast *rocked*. Little cheese omelets – it’s wonderful. Bob went off to his games and I pretty much hung out at the booth and chatted with people. Let’s be honest – I ran my mouth continually for two days. Mom is right – I talk too much. The four of us went out for dinner, and as she put it, Andrea and I got giddy on lobster. I think our husbands were laughing at us, but I didn’t care. It was really good lobster too, and being from New England, I ought to know.
Sunday went a little differently, because apparently there is a marathon that closes the end of the road that is the route between the campus and the official Con hotel. The Con and the activities open at 10 am, but you can’t get there until after the end of the marathon at 2 pm. What genius dreamed this us? That would probably be the same one who thinks that people coming from out of state for the first time don’t need directions past the campus entrance... But I’m not bitter. Same plan: hang out at the booth, talk, gawk, and get in the way of the other merchant. The simple pleasures in life. Then the plan was to go out to dinner and catch the ferry which was right there. Except... Captain Genius here left her purse in Greg and Andrea’s hotel room when we stopped after breakdown. Well done. So we had to do a bunch of backtracking. But we caught the last ferry off the island easily. Of course, then we got lost in Bridgeport. Eventually we found Route 8 and got home about midnight to two very frantic kitties. Who then snubbed us. So like a cat.
It was a fun time. Current plan is to go back next year; God willing and the creek don’t rise. I even plan to send a *polite* *useful* letter of suggestions to the Con committee. As soon as I can stop swearing.