Monday, August 20, 2007

Gen Con 2007

To any gamer, Gen Con is a Destination, but also a Journey. Very few gamers can get to Gen Con easily, without a tale or two to tell.

This was my first time going to Gen Con in several years. Every other year involved a Road Trip with friends, but not this year. This year I took the bus. Yes, a big 'ole greyhound. So, come along...

I'm traveling through eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. It's not the interstate, it's not even a major highway. It's winding roads, through cattle farms, cornfields, and small towns that seem almost forgotten by modern world.

My iPod is my companion.I listen to Superman's Song by the Crash Test Dummies, All the Wild Horses by Ray LaMontagne and I Pray For You by Big & Rich as my shuffle feature seems to know what to play to match the scenery.

My bus is about half full, filled with a good cross section of folks; old & young, mother & kids, poor and almost as poor, and me. Mrs. Doubtfire plays on the in-bus video system. Robin Williams is supposedly a Warhammer player, so I find this strangely appropriate.

Our driver, a woman with a happy disposition looks like Sam Kinnison.

We stop in the middle of Illinois-nowhere for a smoke/bathroom/McDonald's break. I opt for a piece of beef jerky and a Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, because it's cheap, yet the siren smell of fries is tempting. I remind myself of the junk food I'll be eating for the next four days or so, and the temptation goes back to its naughty corner... for now.

We get stuck behind someone who views the speed limit on this single lane road as something optional. Suddenly my looming three hour layover in Chicago seems not so long.

My daughter calls me. It's obvious she misses me (though only gone for a few hours), and I am unnecessarily short with her. I recover, but become worried about the life of my crappy cell phone battery. We still share a pleasant exchange.

I turn back to reading a book about advertising given to me by boss. It is interesting, but the road monotony makes me sleepy.

We stop in Dubuque, Freeport (a real town, not the Green Ronin product, though I find it game-ingly appropriate) and Rockford, IL to pick up more people. By Rockford, the bus is pretty full. My discomfort starts as a guy sits down in front of me and promptly puts his seat back into my knees. I spend the rest of the trip at an angle.

Finally we reach Chi-town. The skies are stormy dark, and the bus depot is a scene of chaos. Hundreds of people talk in a variety of languages, as they wait in queue for their bus. A modern-day Babel. After ordering a double hamburger from the bus station greasy spoon, I join them.

I stand for a welcome two hours, people watching. Mothers with their kids close by (or not), Old folks, businessmen, families. I watch group of Amish waiting in chairs. They eat Doritos and drink from large thermos coolers. I change my perception of them. I am pan handled. Some guy gets into an argument with security. I'm asked more than once to watch someone's place inline or bag. I must have that kind of face.

Finally we board. It is a capacity bus, and Fate places me in an aisle seat, my chances of sleeping become virtually nil. I talk to the guy next to me, and learn he's traveling from Marquette, MI to Gainsville, FL. A 3-day trip. Yow. I also learn about his recent history and how he came back home to Michigan only to find his girlfriend in bed with another man. He tries to sue her, and loses. Through various twists and turns in his saga, he loses 10K. He's going to Florida for a new job and a new life.

We reach Indy and I make my way to the hotel. I am panhandled... twice more. I finally make it to the hotel, meet Daniel Perez for the first time in person. He's just and genial in person as he is in forum posts and e-mails. I settle down on some couch cushions and get 2 hours of sleep before I'm up again and off to the Con.

1 comment:

Daniel M. Perez said...

I sometimes play with the option of taking a Greyhound somewhere. Then I come to my senses and book a flight. ;-)

Thanks for the kind words about me.