It was an adventure, to say the least.
I went 45 straight hours without sleep, everything hurt, but it was awesome.
I spent all of Friday night packing and trying (failing) to nap in preparation for the trip to come, but we left for the airport at like 3 in the morning, arrived just after 330, and I was on my own. It was my third time on an airplane (the other two occurrences both being to Orlando (in 1999 and 2008) and my first time flying alone. I flew Spirit, which is an airline that is tiny, but cheap ($200 round trip from BWI to O'Hare!) and works on the idea that if you are going from Point A to Point B with as little as possible, then they're for you. They charge for anything beyond a personal item - not a carry on, carry on's can be bigger than the 16x14x12 dimensions allowed for a personal item. They don't offer drinks or food for free on the flight, and there's no wifi. Only a two hour flight, though, so who can't live without those things?
Made it through security swiftly (not a lot of people in line for that at 345, it turns out). Chilled for a while with my iPod and a book. Had an egg and cheese bagel for breakfast before the plane started boarding and enjoyed a blissfully quiet flight. Took off at 620 (East Coast time) and landed at 720, Chicago time. That hour difference is small, but noticeable.
One bad thing about Spirit is that they are literally the furthest thing away from everything, so there was quite a journey between the super crowded gate we came off of (after 30 minutes of sitting on the runway waiting to get to it) and the taxi pick up place thing. Found a Starbucks along the way and got some caffeine before I got a taxi to the convention center in downtown Chicago. First time in one of those, too.
Got to McCormick Place at like 9, but you couldn't get onto the floor until 10, so sat around for a while and enjoyed the cosplayers. Found Waldo almost instantly, and spotted a rather creepy AHS clown lurking nearby
Finally, at 10, the mass rush began.
I headed for the autograph lines first. Jason Momoa (Kahl Drogo on Game of Thrones) was my first goal. He was supposed to start signing at 10, but he did not show up until like 1115. Apparently, he'd gone to the gym for his daily workout and he'd gotten held up somewhere along the way and Chicago traffic did nothing to speed the situation along. Missed the one panel I wanted to see because of the delay, but eh, what can you do?
He finally showed up, though, and I got him to sign my Game of Thrones script
(signed by George R R Martin (I won it in a Barnes and Noble contest that I have never had any recollection of entering)).
From there, I wandered around a bit, as I didn't have anything I needed to do until 1 something.
Met Doug Walker (Nostalgia Critic) at the Channel Awesome booth. Got a poster signed
and a picture with him
Headed to the Thrilling Adventure Hour booth and purchased the TAH Concert Film and Beyond Belief #1 (so I didn't have to spend a week badgering my comic shop for it, yay!)
Wandered back toward the autograph area and saw that Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell on Game of Thrones) had finally arrived. He was supposed to be there at 1030, but this was going on 12 and we never did get an explanation for his considerable delay. Got him to sign the book
, as well.
Did some more general wandering - finally tracked down the booth selling Dragon Age stuff (Sanshee) and bought a set of pins (though sadly only 1 of the 2 sets, as the other was sold out). Around this time, the messenger bag I'd been lugging around gave up on me. One of the metal hook things just straight up snapped on me, so I had to finagle the strap into a knot around the handle that would hold up for the rest of the day - threw off the balance of the thing, though, so it killed my shoulders, that was fun.
Photo-Op with the Thrilling Adventure Hour was the next thing I had to do, that was at 1. Lined up a little early, wasn't too far back in the line. They were all super super super nice. They asked what else I was gonna do at C2E2 and I was like 'I'm gonna see your shows tonight, flew all the way from Maryland to see you guys!' which they were happy to hear. I'd been awake for 21 hours at this point, which they seemed impressed by, as well. Asked what I wanted to do for the photo and I was just like 'I dunno,' and they were like 'Goofy? Awkward high school photo? Serious?' I went with goofy and got this:
From there did some more aimless wandering, thought about getting food, but lines were all too long.
Bounced back to the Channel Awesome booth to get a better picture than the one I'd taken before
Tried to get in line for Marc Evan Jackson/Timothy Omundson autographs, but they'd capped the line before I got to it.
Killed time until 230, when the Game of Thrones Photo-Op was happening. Jason Momoa was late to that, too, which set back his Photo-Ops, Finn Jones' Photo-Ops AND the GoT Photo Ops, so that was more standing in lines, and a much more fly-by experience than TAH had been. Here is that picture:
Had more time to kill and had done everything I'd wanted to by this point, so more aimless wandering
until it got late enough to leave. Spent a good twenty minutes trying to get the useless Curb App to work, never did get it to, finally ended up just grabbing one of the cabs around the convention center, had a really awesome driver for that leg of the trip, he gave me a quick tour of stuff we passed
along the way and I explained why people were wandering around in crazy costumes.
The Thrilling Adventure Hour show was at a place called the Chop Shop in Wicker Park. The first show didn't start til 8, but I got there around 530ish, I think. Headed up to the bar to grab some food - ended up with a tasty burger and fries, a hard cider, then a rum and coke. Chatted with the dude next to me for a while (he was taking some crazy church history class (studying to become a pastor, I think?)) and loitered around until they opened the doors downstairs for the show.
Got a front row seat and killed some time talking to a really nice couple who ended up sitting next to me about TAH stuff and Welcome to Night Vale stuff and C2E2 stuff. Show started at like 815, went til 910 or so and proved to be truly awesome. Show 1 was an adaption of the first two issues of the TAH Sparks Nevada Image Comic books. Show 2 was the 3rd and 4th, which aren't out yet. So I totally know how that ends now. It was awesome, so so so so so awesome.
The only unfortunate thing was that they kicked us all outside between the shows and then let us all back in. Thought for sure I wouldn't get back in the front row, but managed it. Show 2 started at 10, ended a little after 11. Hung around for a while and got my comic signed
by Marc Evan Jackson, Mark Gagliardi, Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, Scott Adsit, Timothy Omundson, Craig Cackowski and Autumn Reeser (missed John Ross Bowie, Hal Lublin and Janet Varney). Got pictures with Marc Evan Jackson
, Mark Gagliardi
and Timothy Omundson
before heading out. Got 2 signed posters, too, one for each ticket (though each is missing some signatures? one is missing John Ross Bowie, Craig Cackowski and Timothy Omundson
and the other is missing Ben Acker and Scott Adsit
Tried the Curb App again with no success, ended up just grabbing one that was going by for the trip back to the airport. By this time I'd been awake like 32 hours.
Got to the airport around midnight, got my boarding pass and discovered security was closed until like 330. So, 3 hours of waiting in the bafflingly freezing main part of the airport, where there was a shortage of any food or beverage places. Read for a bit, tried to nap, but it was too fucking cold. Ended up eating up my data plan chatting with a friend in Hawaii for a while to keep sane (though I suspect I wasn't, given the craziness of that saved conversation). Finally got through security (sadly food/beverage was out of reach until 430). By this point, I was hella sore (from the bag and the walking and possibly the shivering?) and the hike back to the Spirit gate was torture.
Longest four hours ever, at that point.
Tried to sleep, couldn't. Tried to read, couldn't. Tried to internet, couldn't. Music was nice, but not enough. Food helped a little, at like 5, but that's around when he chaos started, too.
See, BWI must not have a lot of Spirit flights, but holy hell O'Hare had a ton. And Spirit only had 2 gates. Planed must have been coming in early or late or in the wrong order because they kept shuffling the departure gates around. There were two girls working the gates, who were running around like crazy the whole time I was there.
Also, I have no idea how I was more aware and coherent than 95% of the other airport patrons. Seriously, I was up to 42 hours by the time my plane started boarding, and somehow I could rattle off the altered gates for like 6 different flights. It's not like they weren't announcing it every five freaking minutes, but every minute or so someone would walk up to the gate their boarding pass said they should be at and you could just see the panic on their faces when a different place was listed. Sheesh.
Finally got on the plane at like 810 (a good 40 minutes after we were supposed to start boarding). Ended up in one of the slightly bigger seats because I'd asked to swap my middle seat for an aisle (yay!). We were supposed to land in Baltimore at 11:01, but despite leaving late, we got in at like 10:50. Up to 44 hours now. Made the hike away from the Spirit gates again.
My parents were there to pick me up, but instead of just meeting me somewhere outside, they parked on the opposite end of the airport.
By this point, I was sort of hysterical. I needed to sleep and everything hurt and I thought I was so close and then the car was like so far away. I lost it a little, there.
Finally got in the car and finally got home and had a long shower and then I crashed out from 1 to 9, woke up for food, stayed up til 3, and then crashed out again until 1.
All in all, it was fun, but if I go next year I am getting a hotel.