August 23rd, 2004

The summary version

We're back, along with all our bags (funnily enough they seem to have multiplied from the outbound journey). Knackered now; by the time they finished serving dinner on the flight from Chicago, there were only about 5 hours left of it, and not all of that was spent sleeping.

World appears not to have fallen apart in my absence; thanks, thalinoviel...

Wednesday: travel, beer, and a disturbing lack of queues

Rose and shone (or, at least, staggered out of bed, showered, dressed and packed the laptop) bright and early on Wednesday morning, and drove to Heathrow. Somewhat to our surprise, there wasn't much traffic around and it only took 45 minutes; pretty much the minimum time we've ever done it in. There also wasn't much of a queue to check in; we wandered through into the departures area, woke drown_not_wave's controlling entity up by phoning her to find out what perfume she wanted me to buy for her, and then headed for the lounge to drink coffee, read the papers and watch oddments of the Olympics until it was time to board the plane.

Both rotwang and I got grabbed for a random security search thing. Well, randomly pawing through bags, anyhow. Considering that the bags have already been X-rayed quite thoroughly before you get to the gate, what point is there having gate staff -- who I'd be willing to bet are significantly less trained in this than the folks at the front end -- flip through one's books to see if you have anything concealed in the pages? I wish I'd taken some more outrageous books, but as it happened all they got to fondle were the two Alexander McCall Smiths and the history of sweets. I'd also love to know why I don't set Heathrow's metal detectors off and do set off everything in the US (it is usually the metal reinforcement in the soles of my boots which does it -- oh well, at least they have to stand the smell of the boots while they X-ray them). Furthermore, how do they deal with people with piercings?

The flights were uneventful, aside from having to wait a while in Chicago to see if United could change our seats for two together (considering we checked in around 8am in the UK for a 3pm in the US flight...), which they managed. I watched most of Garfield on the way; definitely aimed at a younger age group, though some of the set pieces are funny. rotwang watched The Day After Tomorrow which is apparently a bit silly. Some of the rest of the time was spent drafting notes for Pearls Before Swine (freeform game coming to a UK GenCon near you on Saturday 16th October).

Got to Indy, collected bags, asked taxi to take us to the Adam's Mark hotel. I am here to tell you that there is nothing quite so confusing as finding out that the hotel has changed its name... the previous week. Taxi pulls up, we say "but this is the Hilton," he explains. Luckily they still had our booking (somewhere...) so we showered, changed and then went to collect tickets.

We approached the whole ticket-collection concept with no little trepidation after the Great Generic Ticket Fiasco Of 2003. However, this time it was as simple as walking up to the Will Call desk, saying hello to the guy behind it (who was in fact a UK person who'd gone over to volunteer; we usually see him at UK GenCon), showing some ID and then collecting the envelopes. Phew. In fact, I didn't get the impression that queues were a major feature of this GenCon at all -- there were lines to register for badges if you hadn't pre-registered, and getting into the party on Thursday night would have required hanging around in line for some while if we hadn't decided it wasn't worth it, but nothing like the insane levels of queueing last year.

The Ram brewery/restaurant was full and then some (apparently both the manager and the assistant manager are gamers so they provide a game room, tailored menu, films,...) so we headed down the block to the Alcatraz brewery. Good food, good (and plentiful) beer and a coupon for 20% off in the GenCon goodie bag, what more can one ask?

Oh yes. Sleep. That's what one can ask.