As an experiment -- and because we were using various frequent-flyer miles on the flights and it is a pain in the arse trying to tie those up with internal US flights -- we decided to fly to Chicago and drive down to Indianapolis from there. The flight out was lovely, including as it did a head-and-shoulder massage and a nice wide seat that folded all the way to fully flat (courtesy of rotwang having a lot of AmEx points which could be turned into Virgin miles). Coming off the plane in Chicago and being first in the immigration queue was a novel experience! Hertz eventually managed to find us the right car; first off we loaded up, got to the gate of the parking lot, and only then did they tell us we'd been given the wrong car... grr. Still, the second one was a lot bigger -- a Lincoln TownCar, which is about the size of a small boat and, more to the point, steers like one. On the plus side, it also had a
I-65 is certainly well up there with some of the highways in California, competing for the "most tedious drive in the world" award. We made it to Indianapolis in reasonable time (aside from the whole losing-an-hour thing -- we'd forgotten that Chicago and Indy are on different timezones) and then got more than a little lost trying to find the convention centre so that we could pick up badges and the like before the con started in earnest on Thursday (since we had an 8am game start). This was even allowing for the satnav in the car -- we had trouble finding the convention centre on the satnav and tried to guess the road it was on. Of course this works a lot better in the US if you can remember (or know) a road number as well... still, we made it in the end, not long before registration closed for the night. Got to the friends we were staying with, had some dinner, collapsed into bed.
Thursday's games were a session of the D&D Open, first thing -- didn't go especially well, I very much doubt we progressed to the next round (so much doubt that I didn't actually bother checking). We did have a fairly diverse group -- a Mexican couple of around our age (maybe slightly younger) and an American father and son. In the afternoon we played a Bill-and-Ted-themed Paranoia adventure, quite fun and silly (I was going to say "if a bit silly" but this is Paranoia; it's always silly.) The evening was spent treating our hosts to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, one of our favourites (though we went to the one nearer their house rather than the one in central Indy to facilitate babysitting arrangements for them).
Friday dawned bright and early with a Cthulhu game set in Kenya during WWII. The GM was the same lass who'd run the Cthulhu game we enjoyed so much at last GenCon, which was an unexpected bonus. (Cthulhu games fill up so quickly at GenCon that we tend to take what we can get without looking too hard at who's running them -- we actually only had one ticket for this one plus one set of generics, but we correctly guessed that an early-start game was likely to have some dropouts.) It was lots of fun. The afternoon was our session for the trade hall... mmmm, shopping. Lots of shopping. We'd already headed for the Dwarven Forge stand the previous day, in case they ran out of some of the stuff rotwang wanted, but now it was time for games, T-shirts, dice, more dice, and so on. Our evening game was more Cthulhu -- this time a group of scientists and art historians investigating a mysterious artifact which had appeared in the basement of a Chicago church. Good concept, although the execution could have been a little better -- slightly faster pacing and not requiring characters with a PhD in physics to make a roll to do basic arithmetic would be a good start. But generally it was fun.
We didn't have a game scheduled for Saturday morning -- I can't remember at this remove whether we'd originally thought that was when the next round of the Open might be, or simply decided there wasn't anything which took our fancy. This at least gave us time for some non-game shopping; the Borders nearest our hosts now loves us very, very dearly, and the Old Navy a couple of doors down isn't far behind. (Aside: I LOVE Old Navy's sizing. I tried on some jeans in a US size 14, that usually being a match for a UK size 16. They were too big. TOO BIG! *hysterical laughter* I'm wearing their size 12s at the moment. Marvellous.) Back into central Indy, for a frantic dash to the mall and the art show (for me), and the stalls selling D&D miniatures in which I have little interest (for rotwang) before a Dungeon Crawl Classic, run by its writer. That was fun, even if I did have to retire one of my dice for consistently crap rolls.
We met anubisgrrl and davidt3001 for dinner between sessions, at St Elmo's steak house -- huge steak, but the prawn cocktail's a bit heavy on the horseradish (in the sense of "aaargh! it burns!") for my taste. Then onto a "Bobs" D&D game -- we first encountered these guys a few years back and now actively seek out their games; they're puzzle-heavy, which I enjoy, and rather fun. Staggered home, to bed. (Sleep is for the weak. Timezones are for the deluded...)
Unusually we had a game scheduled for Sunday morning -- "Who Let The Dragons Out?" -- which was good although a little hard work since we were doubled up on characters due to some no-shows. Then back to our hosts to attempt to pack... whimper... it all fitted into six bags without much trouble (in fact one of the bags had some packing material stuffed in to make sure its contents weren't damaged in transit, since it was only about half-full) but took a little longer than we'd hoped to pack in any kind of sensible manner.
The packing delay meant we were later leaving Indy than we had planned. And wouldn't you know that the weather on the drive back was horrible, and the Chicago traffic more so; it was lucky we'd already checked in online, since by the time we got to the check-in desk it was 90 minutes before departure rather than the two and a half hours we'd been aiming at. Luckily the flight was running a little late anyhow, which meant we had time to go through to the lounge -- security queue? what queue? they were waiting for us... weird...) and have dinner before boarding. Again, fully flat seat, managed to get some kip, before herding our luggage back through Customs and then struggling to get from T4 to T3 so that we could return to the car.
Summary: lots of fun, as ever; games great, shopping great; I suspect I've been horribly spoiled by non-economy flights, though ;)