This past weekend, for the third time as a family, and the fourth overall time for myself, we went up to spend Thanksgiving weekend with our fannish family at LosCon.
On Thursday we got a bit slower of a start than we might have, just because at least I slept in a bit. I’d hoped to get on the road about 11, but it was closer to 12:30 (if I recall correctly) that we actually headed North.
We had to take my car since we had extra stuff that we were bringing up for the combined ConDor/Anime Conji/CONjecture/WFC parties and for the CONjecture table. Most of this was packed into our rolling cooler. Included in this were the three batches of cookies I’d baked earlier in the week, and the labels and labeled condiment dispensers for Saturday Night’s party.
After encountering traffic at speeds less than 20 MPH through Camp Pendleton and well into Orange County, I decided to take the slightly (about 5 minutes according to Google Maps) longer route by heading up I-15 to CA-91 and then with another zig-zag to get onto I-105. The plan, as I’d mentioned on Wednesday, was to hit up one of the open sit-down restaurants for a late lunch, and I’d targeted doing this along I-15.
We did encounter some traffic on I-15 between Escondido and Temecula, but not as much, or as slow, as last year on I-5, so my rerouting was a success. Once everyone was getting hungry, Tara used her phone to locate a Carrow’s just a couple of miles further down (up?) the road, and we pulled off.
We ordered three of their seasonal two-course dinners, all opting for desert. I continued my recent tradition of eschewing turkey for alternatives, this time a fillet of sole. Tara and The Kid both had turkey. For desert I had an apple pie (having had a slice of pumpkin the night before) and the other two had more pumpkin. After eating, we got back on the road and asked the GPS to find the hotel for us.
Before too long, The Kid started complaining about his stomach. I warned him to let us know if he thought he was going to get sick, but he seemed to settle down, at least until we got over the (as near as I can tell always) slow transition from northbound I-15 to westbound CA-91. Then as I started working my way left to be correctly positioned at the CA-241 split, he mentioned that he was feeling like he needed to throw up. So, once I could I got over to the side between the off-ramp to CA-241 and the Gypsum Canyon Road off-ramp 1,500-2,000 feet beyond (if I’m reading Google’s map correctly). Once there, The Kid got out of the car and proceeded to, quite literally, loose his lunch. Once he was back in the car, and cleaned up a bit, Tara gave him a pink pill and let him finish what little was left of her warm, mostly flat, coke. The Kid started feeling better quite quickly, and was hungry enough later that we are 99.95% sure that his stomach just didn’t like something he ate. Since Tara had exactly the same thing, we had already pretty much ruled out any form of food poisoning, which probably makes up the last 0.05%.
After that, the trip was both easy and surprisingly swift. It seemed like we passed from the inland empire into Orange County and through the rest of the metro quite quickly and without any more traffic than I’d have expected.
We arrived at the hotel and pulled up to take advantage of help from the bell-staff. I put some of what we brought (I think the cooler) onto our flat cart, and the bellman and I put the rest onto the standard hotel bell cart. Tara headed in to get checked in while I went to find parking. At that point the downstairs garage was still closed, but I quickly found a spot in the main self-park lot beside the hotel.
Tara had gotten us checked in when I got back. We then quickly headed to our lobby-floor level room and settled in. Before too long, both The Kid and I were hungry, so the two of us headed over to the nearby Carl’s Jr. After eating we got a burger to go for Tara and returned. This time I had to park at the very back corner of the parking lot.
We picked up our badges after Tara had finished eating, and Tara and I went through the program after The Kid turned in.
On Friday we got up and moving so that I could get downstairs in time to have the table at least partially set up when the Dealers’ room opened at noon.
Before setting up, I realized that I lacked a receipt book (having not wanted to steal one of DucKon’s that I still had years after it had been last used) or anywhere to keep funds should we actually sell any memberships. So I located a nearby Staples and headed up there. I also located a Ralph’s more or less across the street from the Staples, so was set for the evening and possibly for Saturday’s food run.
I spent much of Friday – as well as Saturday and Sunday – at the table. I’d let Tara select which of the three varieties of cookies we’d put out each day. I also had some Costco Trail Mix, and I ate more of both the trail mix and the cookies than I should have.
I did get rave reviews for my pumpkin cookies (even if one person complained that they sounded too healthy – and that was without adding the “heart healthy” label that was included in the recipe. Another person was so taken with them that he returned several times on Friday – and on Saturday finally getting the last of them. As the afternoon wore on, the CONjecture table was joined by the representatives of both ConDor and WFC 2011 – Gaslight Gathering having been placed elsewhere due to a lack of ability to keep all four together and address everyone’s power needs.
After Pearl arrived with the ConDor stuff I loaned her our flat cart to unload her car – which turned out to be a good thing since she had several boxes of soda for the parties and was able to stack them on the cart for a single trip. She also checked in and delivered two keys to the party suite. Towards the end of the day Hector finally arrived (or at least found us) and we made plans for getting Friday Night’s food.
With a bit of back and forth, and a check of the restaurant guide, Hector determined where to place to order the main food. After closing the table and moving stuff back to our room and to the party suite (and feeding my family and Hector) the two of us headed out -first to Ralph’s to get rice and non-soda drinks. While there, we also added a crudités platter and some additional serving and eating utensils. (As it turns out we bought the wrong selection of utensils and ran out of what we needed before the end of the evening). We then headed over to Flower Drum and picked up a large catering tray of orange chicken, another of sesame chicken. We also grabbed a small tray of rice to hold us until we could make some more.
We got the party opened a bit after our 9:00 intended opening and were quickly overcome with hungry fen. The party was busy all night, and by about 11:45 most of the food was gone. We shut down at midnight, and I wasn’t able to help with clean up since I was already falling asleep.
I did get a short break and hit up the other parties, including the requisite stop at the combined chili/desert/wine and cheese party where I got a good – and fairly hot – turkey chili, and slice of cheesecake with some chocolate to dip it in and sampled some of the cheese. I also sampled Baycon’s strong, warm, dark chocolate drink – recognizing that if anyone was serving chocolate in such small portions it must be potent.
On Saturday, I managed to get moving and downstairs just in time to open the table at 10 with the Dealers’ room. I had arranged to relieve Helen at the Chicon 7 table at 11:30, but ended up not needing to. But, due to various other things that came up, Tara and I weren’t able to break away at 12:30 as planned for the Saturday food run. Instead we headed out about 1:15 or 1:30.
The Saturday run ended up including a stop at a nearby BevMo! to replenish sodas since we’d served a good chunk of Saturday night’s drinks on Friday. After BevMo, Tara and I got lunch at a 11 month old Thai/Sushi place and then hit up a different Ralph’s – this one about as far south of the airport on Sepulveda as the one I used on Friday was North. At Ralph’s we made the person behind the deli counter get a work out by having him shave close to ten pounds of meat and cut six pounds of cheese a bit thicker.
By the time we got back it was close to time to close the table and start setting up the party. So while I parked the car and checked in and closed the table, Tara started working on the party room. We were later joined by the rest of the crew and were ready to open actually early (but held out until 9:00 for good form).
Saturday night we were still fairly busy, but not as busy as the night before. I was again able to sneak out for a while and visited most of the other parties at least briefly (skipping the hubardites at the far end of the hallway). We actually didn’t close down until about 12:15, and with clean up it was after 1 before either Tara or I got to bed.
Sunday we got moving a bit later than optimal, but got the table opened on time. We spent the rest of the day mostly dealing with the table and with cleaning out the party room. We also totaled up the expenditures for the parties and determined how to balance the totals so that each of the four represented cons had split the costs evenly.
We left about 2:30 or 3:00 and I decided to reverse the route we’d taken to get in – even though I ended up disagreeing the the GPS most of the way home.
We stopped at a Denny’s along I-15 for an early dinner, and got home about 5:45 to be greeted by a cat who was despairing for affection after being left all alone all weekend.
Overall it was a good con, even if I didn’t make it to any programming. I think that combining our resources to throw two night’s of party was a good move, and that having the table for CONjecture – even with having to explain that we’re still trying to get a hotel and dates that work for us – will help keep us on the radar once we get those and can move on with inviting a Guest of Honor and other planning.