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Patrick writes...

Gathering Diary - Day 6
Monday, August 9

If Ben Franklin were to attend the Gathering, he would probably observe that, "Late into bed and early to rise makes a man weary and red in the eyes." On Monday, once again, I was awake at the crack of dawn, this time so I could drive Kaylee back to Karine's, where her car was parked, and make it back to the hotel in time to hook up with the group going to La Ronde. Rob had warned me the night before that rush hour traffic would be horrific, so Kaylee and I had made plans to be on the road by quarter of eight. We got out to Karine's place with no problem, and then Kaylee offered to help me unload the Art Show display stuff and put it in Karine's backyard. It turned out to be a good thing that we did, because I ended up needing every little bit of space in the van later for the stuff that was brought down from the con suite.

After I said good-bye to Kaylee, I made a quick stop at McDonald's for orange juice and then I drove back downtown. The traffic really wasn't bad at all, and I made it back with plenty of time to spare. I was going to be switching rooms for my last night in Montreal, so I packed up my bags and stashed them in the van for the day. I think I must have left my shampoo and my bar of soap in the bathroom, though, in my rush. The next place I stopped was the lobby, to buy my La Ronde ticket from the concierge, and then I went back upstairs to help Karine and Rob pack up con stuff and move it out of the con suite. After everything was crammed into the van, we headed back to the lobby to hook up with the other two dozen people who were waiting for Karine to lead the way to La Ronde.

By the time we got to the subway, I was very glad I hadn't gotten delayed in traffic, because I think I would have totally gotten lost trying to find the right trains by myself. Two things I noticed about the subways in Montreal. One, they are a lot cleaner than the subways in New York City. Two, the trains have rubber wheels and don't ride on rails. Rob said it's supposed to make for a smoother ride, but I honestly couldn't feel much of a difference from the subways I rode in New York City last year, other than there was no squealing or clacking in the turns.

Two short subway rides and a short bus ride with no air conditioning later, we arrived at La Ronde. The first thing that Rob and Cindy wanted to do was eat, and that sounded good to me, too, since it was past noon already and I hadn't had breakfast, so we found a place and got burgers and such. Then Karine and Shaun found us, and we did some wandering around the park. Rob led us to "The Dragon," which he said was the lamest roller coaster ever, and I think we all agreed afterwards that he spoke the truth. It makes me wonder, were strobe lights and plastic dragon heads sticking out of the concrete ever really considered scary?

We did some more wandering around, rode the Ferris wheel and the Vampire, ate some fudge, then got Subway sandwiches. We lost track of most of the huge group we had arrived with, but at some point, we ran into Luarean, Trishana, and Leo. Rob and Cindy left early, and the rest of us went and rode the Spiral, which was the tall observation tower thing. After that, Karine, Luarean, Trishana, and I decided we'd had enough, and we took the bus and subway back to the hotel.

On the way back, the four of us ran into Keith in the hotel restaurant. He was there with his family, and the waiter had just brought out a cake with candles on it for his daughter. Keith asked us to join him in singing "Happy Birthday," so we did. Then he asked if we had seen Liz, but since she was still at La Ronde, Keith gave me the money he owed her for some prints he had bought to pass on to her when I saw her later. Then he offered a bit of advice before we said good-bye, saying, "Remember, if you can't be good, be good at it."

Trishana headed back to her room to take a nap, and I left to drive Karine and Laurean back to Karine's place. There, we unloaded all the stuff from the van, then chilled out for about an hour before I got good-bye hugs and left to return to the hotel. When I got back there, as I came out of the elevator from the garage, it really struck me how much the whole mood of the place had changed. For the first time that whole weekend, I didn't see anyone from the convention in the lobby, and a big group of businesspeople had taken over the bar in the hotel restaurant.

Ian had given me the key card earlier in the day for the new room I was supposed to be in that night, and luckily it worked when I tried it, because there was no one else from the con to be found when I got back. I took a nice long shower, then put the TV on and watched a rerun of "Monster House" for a bit while I debated my options for food. The food court in the underground mall was closed, and I didn't really want to spend $25 in the hotel restaurant again. But at the same time, I didn't really want to wander around downtown Montreal all by my lonesome, either. Luckily, I didn't have to, because I ran into Leo and Trishana in the lobby.

We collectively decided to go in search of food, so off we went. On our way out the door, we bumped into Morgans, who were also headed out but in a cab. Trishana and I just picked a direction and walked, and Leo followed along, taking pictures of the scenery. Eventually, after making a big circle, we came upon a Tim Horton's, where we got sodas and sandwiches and sat around for awhile just talking about the fandom and the Gatherings we'd been to. It was kind of a nice low-key end to the day, actually.

When we got back to the hotel, I made a quick search of the Mezzanine for other con peoples, because I'd heard a rumor that Kathy, Aaron, Mara, Greg Bishansky, and some other folks that I knew had been sighted up there at some point in the evening. Sadly, the area was deserted, so I decided to call it a night.

Back up in my room, I found a note from Liz asking if I knew Keith's room number, so I gave the money he had given to me to Trishana to give to her. About ten minutes later, though, Liz turned up, and I learned that I would not be sharing the room with three other guys after all. Two of them had changes of plans with their rides and had left early, so I would only be sharing it with Taylor. So bonus for both of us, because we each got a bed to ourselves that night.

I crawled into bed and turned on "The Tonight Show," but apparently I was more exhausted than I'd been admitting to myself, because I only have drowsy recollections of Jay's monologue and I started nodding off pretty good during the "Headlines" segment. So at that point, I turned off the TV and went to sleep.

Gathering Diary - Day 7
Tuesday, August 10

Ah, the bliss of eight hours of sleep. For the first time in many days, I stayed in bed past nine. Breakfast was had from the food court in the underground mall. On the way there, I ran into Kathy and Mandolin, who confirmed that the restaurants were indeed open for a change. I ended up grabbing something from McDonalds. In Quebec, they serve "crepes et saucices," but what you get looks remarkably identical to "hotcakes and sausage" as found here in the States.

After packing up my suitcase, I hung out for a bit with Liz, Taylor, Trishana, and Julie in the room across the hall. Julie (Chameleongirl) had traveled all the way from Australia to attend the Gathering, which I think is the farthest anyone has come in several years for one of these conventions. She and Trishana weren't leaving yet, but Liz, Taylor, and I were all on the same early afternoon flight. Before we left, though, Liz wanted to thank Keith David one more time. I didn't remember Keith's room number, but I had Karine's phone number so I gave it to Liz and she called Karine to ask her.

I think Liz's original plan was to slip a note under Keith's door, but after she and Taylor had been gone for a while, I started to suspect that the plan had changed. It was getting near time for us to leave for the airport, so with my bag in tow, I headed up to Keith's floor to see if I could track them down. I found them in the hallway talking to Keith, who was wearing one of those white hotel bathrobes. I found out a little later that he had just invited them to join him in the pool. I felt a little guilty about dragging them away, but I think in the end it's probably a good thing that we didn't all miss our flight.

So we said good-bye to Keith, and told him we hope we'll see him in Vegas next year, and he gave us all hugs and sent us on our way. The last people from the fandom I ran into before leaving were Ellen and her husband, and Denis DePlaen, who I saw in the lobby after I had brought the van around front to get Liz and Taylor's things loaded up.

The drive back to the airport was quick, and there wasn't any line to speak of at the check-in counter for Continental. The line for U.S. customs wasn't too bad, either, and we made it into the terminal with enough time to get lunch at Burger King before going to the gate to board our flight. The flight itself was pretty smooth. When we got near Cleveland, the pilot had to circle around to join the queue for landing, which took the plane right out over the lake and gave me a perfect aerial view of my neighborhood. I think I even spotted my house.

After we landed, Liz gave me a sketch she had done for me on the plane of a female version of Puck, and then I said good-bye to her and Taylor and headed off to claim my bags. And as I drove home, thus ended my Gathering 2005 adventure.

The End

Greg responds...

Sounds nearly pastoral and trauma-free. Congrats on a great con!

Response recorded on April 24, 2006