I do, however, have photographs.
So I made it to Lindburgh Field in San Diego well on time on Wednesday morning. My flight to Chicago was long and boring. The flight crew took the long way around some severe weather, which increased the flight time. Then, while landing at O'Hare, the plane suddenly veered off, raised landing gear, and circled around again. I guess there was some "debris" on the runway, so we were routed to another one. By the time we landed and made it to the gate, we were already half an hour late.
Despite me hustling to the gate (which had been changed, anyway; curses!), I missed my flight to Indy. I was put on Standby for the next flight out (three hours later), but definitely confirmed for a flight at six o'clock that evening. I waited on Standby, ate some really mediocre (not to mention expensive) quasi-oriental food, and read.
With American Airlines, when you're on Standby, they add your name to a list. The list doesn't show your whole name, just the first three letters of your last name, a slash, and the first initial of your first name. For the initial hour or so, I was the only guy on standby for the flight, and my name ("AST/G") was prominently displayed. After a time, four more names were added to the list, one of which beat me out (due to frequent flier status or something). The one that was placed ahead of me had the unfortunate moniker of "TUR/D", which gave me a much-needed chuckle. It left me feeling sorry for people with names like Thomas Farmer or Tina Shields.
Despite being deposed as leader of the Standby pack, I was allowed to board the plane, and after another hour I'd made it to Indianapolis. My luggage, which had flown ahead with the flight I should've been aboard, was waiting for me. I secured a ride, and ended up at the Embassy Suites hotel at 6:30pm. My room-mate from Green Ronin, Hal Mangold, dropped my badge off before going out to a business dinner. I called Stan! and found out that he, Marc "Sparky" Schmalz, Hyrum Savage, and Charles Ryan were waiting for seating at the nearby PF Chang's.
I raced down to the restaurant and met my friends. Friends, indeed. When it came time to be seating, the capable PF Chang's staff informed them that they couldn't seat five people at a table set for four, and that they'd need to wait another hour if they wanted me to join them. In the end, I was tossed aside, abandoned to the wilds of Indianapolis so that my friends could enjoy expensive Chinese food. To add insult to injury, the manager of the restaurant apologized to the boys because I couldn't be served, and provided them with free appetizers. The moral of the story is: kick your friend to the curb, and get rewarded with free food.
JD and Keri were late arriving in town, but once they'd made it I hooked up with them and we ate at Noble Romans, a small pizza/pasta joint across from their hotel. Good food, too. Afterwards, we went to TGI Fridays for dessert, and met up with Stan!, Marc, Hyrum, and Charles, as well as Monte and Sue Cook. I was tired, though, and retreated to my room for the evening.
Other highlights of the convention:
My Thieves' World games. I had some good players, but the games weren't quite as "sold-out" as the Gen Con web site had indicated. In fact, Thursday's game had four players, Friday's had five (two of whom paid with generic tickets), and Saturday's had three and a half (meaning that the fourth player cut and run half-way through, but we'd been warned he'd be doing so early on). The players were good, the scenario ran well. After the first one, it gets easier, but it also turns into work. I do enjoy it, along with the occasional fan recognition. Several of the players had actually attended our Thieves' World seminar last year.
One thing that struck me, and this was echoed by other people I was hanging out with, was that there was really very little to buy that had that "oh, my God, I must own it!" vibe. Truly, everything that I wanted was being sold in the Green Ronin booth. Monte Cook's Ptolus was probably the gem of the convention, but it also has a cover price of $120. Ouch. I wasn't going to go begging Monte for a free copy, either.
I got to meet Dan Abnett. Being as I've been reading his 40k-themed books in order to brush up on my Warhammer 40k knowledge for Dark Heresy, I've quickly become a fan of this brilliant and talented author. So much a fan that I asked him to sign my copy of Eisenhorn, giving the excuse that, "Within the heart of every writer and game designer, there dwells a fan boy." He didn't seem to mind.
Sunday, I did my buying. I also got some books for free, and my pile of "swag" was pretty impressive this year. It added a good twenty pounds to my luggage.
Coming home was supposed to be interesting, given the recently-foiled terrorist plot that had caused airport security to spike in unprecedented ways. I arrived at the airport four hours early, but checking in took only ten minutes, and I made it through security check in less than five minutes. The only wierd thing about it was that they put me through an explosives sniffer, something I'd never gone through before.
Instead of waiting four hours for my scheduled flight, I got on Standby with another flight outbound to Chicago. I made it aboard, and managed to get on Standby in Chicago for an earlier flight to San Diego. Luck was with me, because I managed to get home an hour ahead of schedule...which really made no difference, since my luggage was still en route on my originally-scheduled airplane.
It was good to see my wife and my son again. The convention went by in a flash, and it didn't feel like a real vacation to me. Time off? Ha. Being a passenger is just as tiring and time-consuming as a paying job. Next year, I may need to see about playing in some games for a change. I've rarely played at conventions, so maybe I should remind myself why I don't...