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Vacation/Con Journal Part 1
Last year was my first Gathering and I enjoyed it so much I decided to come back this year. With one major change - I would be spending more than a week there. Just over 3 to be exact.
Yeah, this is goingot be a loooong one ^_^
July 19 & 20
Since I was dropping $3500 on airfares, I decided to make the most of my vacation, so I arranged with Kelly/KWSapphire to spend a week at her place in Florida.
My flight out was horrendous! Air New Zealand decided to strike that week, so I had to add an extra flight to an already long trip, jsut to make my connecting flight to LA. Not to mention the 19 hour layover in LA
I went from Melbourne->Christchurch->Auckland->LA->Denver->Tampa. It took two days and I was sick as a dog for the last 2 legs. On arrival in LA I was told a room had been booked for me at the Radisson (sp?), due to the airline strikes. All I had to do was get on the Radisson shuttle, tell them who I was and everything would be taken care of.
Firstly, I think I got on the wrong shuttle - I ended up in Culver City. Secondly, they had no idea what I was talking about when I explained my problem. They called around for me and found a room at the LA Plaza.
That I had to pay for.
Still, a real bed was nice, as was real food and a shower! I didn't get any real sleep, but that was ok, it was just nice to lie down for a while.
I was supposed to catch up with Trishana/Karlyl during my layover, but I didn't get to my hotel room till well after 6pm, so we just chatted on the phone for a while instead.
I left for LAX at 430am, glad I did too - the airport was chockers. It took forever to get through the lines. I really wanted to not be sick today, but it was not to be. I was violently ill on the way to Denver, enough to worry the flight staff.
I hadn't eaten that day, not much the day previously, and with the lack of sleep I was really out of it. I was shaking a fair bit, so they got someone to wheelchair me to my connecting terminal. I'm, kinda glad they did - Denver airport is HUGE! I had to take a train to get to the next gate 0_0
Once again I was sick, but managed to get some sleep on the flight to Tampa.
Boy was I glad to see Kelly!
We stopped off at Wal-Mart on the way home (my first real taste of America :P), ate some toast to settle my stomach and then layed out on the couch and watched this trippy Christian Bale movie, Equilibrium.
My second day in America and it started off in a comic shop. So much money spent! (SO much more I could have spent)
As a result I now have a nifty Carrie Kelly!Robin figurine, with working sling-shot!
We met up with Kelly's mum (Hey Pat!) for lunch, eating at this great little buffet place called Sweet Tomatoes. Now if that were a world-wide franchise instead of Maccas ....
The afternoon was taken up by napping and the evening by Batman TAS episodes ^_^
For the first time, in a loooong time, I went to the beach. Clearwater is absolutely beautiful. White sand, warm water.
A pirate ship on the horizon ... (damn I wish I had pics of that, it was cool)
The water was shallow out to a fair distance, thanks to a sand bar, so it was fun to wade out and body ride the smaller waves :) Thunder clouds were coming in over the water just as we were leaving, it made a lovley sight. We then went off to lunch at Los Mariachis, really nice Mexican.
Anna/[info]prinlee was coming over for a night out, so I made myself pretty for her. She was so happy to see us, especially after I gave her the wombat she (jokingly) requested :)
I know what Anna looks like and you don't! (I even have pictures, which no-one is allowed to see :P)
Went to this little greek place, Mykonos, in Tarpon SPrings for tea.
All the food I'd had so far had been great, this was no exception. After tea we went to Madeira Beach and hung out on the beach, chatted and watched the sun set. Anna hung around till midnight, she finally got to see the Gathering featurette from last year and we pointed out all the people she might know.
All in all it was a really great day and I'm disappointed we didn't get to catch up again before I left :/
We had a nice lay morning before heading out to Kelly's parents place for lunch. Their house is beautiful and her parents are great people.
Lazed around the house all afternoon before heading out for the night. We went to a sushi restaurant, but I wansn't feeling adventurous, so I had something cooked ;)
Later on we headed out to a club called Banana Joes. It wasn't really my scene, but Kelly enjoyed herself. Ended up falling asleep (rather uncomfortably) on the couch at someones house, before heading home at 730am.
Showered in an attempt to feel human again, as there was no chance in hell of me getting any more sleep that morning. 3 hours would have to do :)
Kelly ducked out for a while, so I was dropped off for our trip to Busch Gardens. Hmm, while I did have a good time there, it would have been better without the torrential rain and huge-arse thunderstorm.
Would have gotten more than one ride in certainly :D At least Kelly got in a few games of DDR between ride lines (got a good crowd watching by the end too)
As it was, we ended up standing around on a staircase for 2 hours waiting for the storm to pass so we could get on the ride. We almost got struck by lightning! By the time the storm had passed it was getting late, so we decided to go home instead :D
I think I slept for 10 hours that night, but I still woke up tired!
Today can be summed up in 2 words:
Yup, almost all the episodes from Volume 3, one after the other. I fell asleep at around 930pm and woke up at 11 (this is when Kelly made the awful discovery that I snored, something I didn't believe till a few days ago). It was decided to go to bed and finish up in the morning :)
More shopping. This time for DVDs at Target, followed by another trip to the comic shop. Kelly ended up talking for about an hour with this guy who turned out to be an inker for the Fantastic Four editions of the House of M storyline, Don Hillsman II. He got her to sketch in his artbook, while I raided the back issue boxes.
Once again, spent lots on money, and resisted spending even more. At least my brother will love me - I bought him some Deadpool comics!
We decided to go see a movie in the evening, but got there too late to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or Fantastic Four. Ended up watching Bewitched instead. It was alright, but really not something I'd go out of my way to watch. Amusing though.
Last day in Florida, so we went back to the beach. The tide was out, so the water wasn't as smooth, also I tripped on something on the sand and cut my foot, but apart from that I had fun. We brought lunch and ate it on the sand. I got a little brown. A little :)
Just happened to meet up with Kelly's parents for tea at Cricketers, a nice coincidence. It meant I got to say goodbye :)
It was an early night, due to having to get up at 6am to go to the airport.
Viva Las Vegas Baby!!
The day started out early - 6am usually doesn't appear on my alarm clock, but it had to that morning. I'm glad we did start out early though, the check-in desk was severely under-manned and it took forever to get my bags checked in. It didn't help that I'd never used an E-ticket before and didn't know the procedure.
Then, waiting in line to pass through Security, I got pulled aside and got the complete you-are-a-potential-terrorist work-over :)
Yay for pat-downs by middle-aged chunky women!
The one thing I was determined to not have happen this flight was the inevitable puking. Ladies and Gentlemen, can I get a round of applause for dramamine? The wonder drug that, for some incomprehensible reason, is not available in Australia :) That stuff tastes like shit, but it does work. I think it was responsible for me sleeping most of the way to Atlanta.
Waiting to re-board in Atlanta, I succumbed to temptation and bought Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. By the time I landed in Vegas I was 3/4 of the way through (and by the time I left on Tuesday I'd finished it, so much for saving it to read on the plane home ^_^)
At the airport I was supposed to hook up with Liz and Nikki/Y2Hecate, who were landing within a half hour of me. So I found a cleanish patch of floor at the exit and proceeded to wait for them. And wait. And wait some more.
Luckily I had Andrea, Anthony and Nezumi to keep me company, because we ended up waiting about 2 hours for them to show up. It turned out that the airline had lost the suitcase carrying Liz's markers, about $900 worth and they had to hang around while calls were made and forms filled out. We hung out on the exit floor for a while longer then caught the shuttle to the Palace Station, site of this year's Con. I know others have had bad opinions of the place, but apart from the indoor smoking I never really had a problem - the beds were comfy, the AC worked, the food wasn't too hideous .. :)
At the hotel Liz, Nezumi and I hooked up with Jade Griffin and her friend Seth Long (hereafter called New Seth) and went out for Chinese. Apparently Vegas has a Chinatown :) Back at the hotel we hung out at the Con-Suite and picked up out packets early (we're sneaky :P) and discovered that due to several mix-ups, we wouldn't be going out with Jen/Crzydemona and her group to see naked men dance. At my (joking) comment that I was really looking forward to stuffing dollar bills down someones undies, a young woman came over and promptly unzipped her pants and showed me her panties. They were green and very pretty. I gave her a dollar ;D
That was my very first introduction to Dancer ^_^
Not long after that we were kicked out of the con-suite, so we went down to the foyer to wait for Jen, Cindy, Patrick, Kythera, Karlyl. Rounding them up, we (them, JG, New Seth, Liz, I, Andrea and Anthony) went off to the hotel's not-so-irish Irish Pub.
Mmmmm, Kahlua and milk ^_^
At this point of the night it was getting quite late and the new arrivals still hadn't eaten, so we trooped off across the road to the Macaroni Grill for some Italian. It was nice, but the best part was the paper tablecloths we got to doodle all over :)
The last part of the night (before I completely collapsed at midnight) was spent just chatting in the foyer with the group and a heap of other new arrivals.
After a shower and a cheap breakfast, I was ready to start my Con Experience.
This year I had succumbed to insanity and offered to co-host the Clan Olympics with Scott/Brother Abe And since he would be arriving late, it was up to me to coerce 4 or more teams into playing, as well as run the first two events. Sarah-The-Great was a great help in rounding up a few teams (including her own), so a big Thank You! to her. We decided to hang out a the Con-Virgin 101 panel to help explain what exactly the CO were, and to recruit a little too. Good thing we did - we got first dibs on the free cake and ice cream when it came out! :D
Next up was the Thom Adcox mug-a-guest (mixed with a really quick lunch). It was a great time, only a dozen or so people, and Thom has the best stories. Next year, he'd better bring in that standee of him in a chicken suit (or even just a picture of it) or I'm going to be mighty disappointed :D
Afterwards, in a slight panic, I set up for the first CO event - a ball relay. Easy enough in theory, but not when it's a giant yellow smiley beach-ball that you can only carry with your back or front (no limbs or other helpy-type things at all). Not to mention the envelopes that contained potential bonuses on the floor (I made them pick them up with their feet, I'm evil ^_^). I'd managed to rope Liz into helping me host the first two events, I think she enjoyed herself quite nicely :) Unlike last year, there were only 5 teams, but they were great - big thanks to Team Challenge, Da Brogues, Bottom of the Barrel, Clan Arc and Clan Adia.
All up, it was a great event, full of chaos and confusion and laughter. Typical Clan Olympics really ^_^
As this even ended just before Opening Ceremonies, I had to run around and clean up as well as get some food. I learned last year that not eating beforehand lead to a humongous headache. Unfortunately, my lack of knowledge of the existence of a Subway in the hotel meant that I ended up with Burger King. Eew >.<
Opening Ceremonies was excellent this year. In addition to the regular stuff (gawd, I sound like a veteran :P) we were also graced with an alternative first pitch video and a fan-made lieca reel of 'The Last', the unmade Team Atlantis episode.
We were also told more about the Season 2 DVD release - the first 26 episodes, up to 'Kingdom', will (hopefully) be out by the end of the year. The second half of the season will, no doubt, rely on sales of part 1. We also got to see a teaser of the special features, part of an interview.
Greg didn't really get into much about the comic, probably due to the fact that there was a panel scheduled exclusively for that the next day.
The highlight of OC had to have been Keith Davids sorry-I-couldn't-be-here section of the cast/crew tape - "I've been denied everything, even my CONVENTION!" ^_^ I don't think we'll ever run out of variations of that line for him to say :D
After OC I Liz and I had to set up for Clan Olympics event 2 - Shot in the Dark. I love this one! A series of targets, 5 squishy tentacle balls and a room with no lights on. Way fun.
The teams loved it too, so much so that a second round of it was hosted by Scott on Monday night, just for fun :)
Some of the team members scuttled off to Jade Griffens MGT, so others had to double up on turns, but we didn't have any drama over it. In fact the game went quicker than I thought it would, so I had plenty of time to make it to the Blue mug-a-guest. While it wasn't all that blue, it certainly wasn't entirely clean.
I loved Greg's reaction to someone asking if a gay character would be introduced in W.I.T.C.H, he said there was someone they were thinking of, but he would say who. Immediately Anthony and Andrea both yelled "Is it [CENSORED]?" Greg, quite shocked, asked how they knew. This must have really ate at him, because later in the night he stopped in the middle of an answer, turned to them and exclaimed "How did you know it was [CENSORED]?!" (or possibly her was looking for an excuse not to answer - with Greg, who knows XD )
At 1am I was having great difficulty making my eyes focus, so I trundled off to bed, after saying a quick "HI" to Scott.