MidAmericon II - WorldCon 2016 - A Trip report

The original travel plan was much simpler, more pleasant, and shorter.  I was to fly into KC on the 16th and fly out on the 21st.  About 3 or 4 weeks before the convention, the exhibits division contacted me to see if I really would be willing to drive exhibits from Houston to KC and back again.  I'd done it for LSC2 in 1997, but that was a much shorter trip.  Doing it for this convention would save them about $6000, so I agreed.

My wife and I changed our plans (she had not originally planned on going to WorldCon) and got things lined up.  Kim was to be along strictly as a navigator, she would fly back to Houston once we arrived in KC.  She would fly back up to KC on the 22nd and ride back to Houston with me.

Friday the 12th

On the way out of work, I stop by a local locksmith and pick up a good quality lock for the cargo area.  Kim then rides with me to the U-Haul dealer and we pick up the 26' truck.  We examine the cargo strap they have available and decide they are worthless for our needs.  She drives off to Lowes while I drive to the NASA exhibits warehouse (about 200' from where I grew up).

I get to the warehouse and they start loading the truck with the crates and strapping them down with the straps we purchased.  We end up with 5 crates and one small display case.  We had to do some creative loading as the U-Haul truck has wheel wells that have to be maneuvered around.  If I'd rented  a Penske the bed of the cargo area would have been absolutely flat and easier to deal with for our purposes.

Once back home, I drop the convention folks a note that we have plenty of room in the cargo area as we received the 1/25 scale shuttle stack instead of the desired 1/15 scale (which is on permanent display and apparently not available for loan out).  After a few back and forths, our schedule for Sunday (our day of departure) changes.

There was a load of Art Show stuff that was due to come out of Dallas, however the driver from Dallas was unable to get Monday off from work, so those supplies would not make it to KC until late Tuesday night.  I was asked to pick up the Dallas stuff on my way to KC.  And, since the folks in Dallas had a baseball game to get to, could I make it there by 10 a.m.?

That moved our departure time to 5 a.m. Sunday morning.  Our wake-up time to 4 a.m.

Sunday the 14th

Final packing occurs and we depart the house 5:08 a.m. Sunday morning.  We hit some run until about Huntsville and I'm uncomfortable driving above 60 mph.  Once the road dries out and traffic clears, I inch it up to 75 and we start making decent time.

Dallas arrival occurs around 9 a.m., we find a truck stop, fill up the tank (50 gallon tank, we normally filled up when it was down to 1/4 tank, resulting in about $80 per fillup) and head to the storage facility.  The Dallas folks were waiting and we start and complete the task of loading steel and pegboard and strapping it down for the journey.  During the loading, I put a nice little hole in my thumb and bled like a stuck pig.

Onward to Oklahoma.  We cross the border and shortly into the state we see an impressive sight: from the Eastern horizon to the Western horizon we see nothing but wind power generators.  Huge, massive wind turbines.

A couple of times in Oklahoma, we hit stretches of road that would match the truck perfectly to induce massive bouncing.  This happened several times for miles at a stretch.  It also happened in Kansas.  Slowing down or speeding up did not seem to help.  Kim and I would be singing along with the iPod and we would crack up laughing due to the vibrato caused by the road bouncing.

Onward to Kansas.  We cross the border and shortly into the state we see an impressive sight: from the Eastern horizon to the Western horizon we see nothing but wind power generators.  Huge, massive wind turbines.  Kim and I have decided, from a sample size of two, that the southern border of all states must be covered by wind farms.

We also discover that an interstate highway can be a toll road.  Trying to get the toll tickets from the cab of a U-Haul is not a speedy task.

We make it to Haysville, KS south of Wichita, aqt about 6:30 p.m. and stop for the night.  Haysville does not have many sidewalks to roll-up, but what sidewalks they do have are rolled up.  Subway is the only option for dinner.

Monday the 15th

Up at 5 and on the road by 6.  We don't pass many towns on the road and there'd be no way to exit the highway to get off and visit them if we did.  Access to the toll road is very limited.

Into KC around 9:30 a.m.  We find the convention center, and the loading dock, and arrange for an off-load.  After the off-load we drop off the truck a few blocks away and walk back to the CC.  We stop for lunch at the Flying Saucer.

Kim catches the shuttle to the airport and I finish up the evening in the CC, dinner at the Yard House with Ben Yalow, Randy Shepherd and one other (GRRM was eating in the restaurant when we arrived) and then the hotel.

Tuesday the 16th

Breakfast at the Silver Spoon cafe: not terribly impressive

More work at the CC.  Attempting to figure out how to set up the steel and pegboard took us forever.  There were several starts, restarts, and deconstructions until we came up with a desired outcome.  I eventually went back and changed some of the set up on one of the bays to allow folks to view the art without hitting their heads on the lighting.  Also made a trip out to Home Depot for some socket wrenches to speed up assembly over using strictly allen wrenches.

Helped set up the NASA exhibits.  It took us quite a bit of work to get the sthuttle stack exhibit properly level.  I ended up using my Leatherman to cut out a washer of wood to balance it properly.  The saw blade on the Leatherman was effective, but it was awfully short, so it took me about 30 minutes to cut out the washer.

Dinner was at Gordon Biersch with Ann Marie.

Wednesday the 17th

Breakfast at the hotel.  Then off to the CC.  More general convention start-up stuff.  Dinner at the Dubliner, alone, after the Art Show closed at 8.

Thursday the 18th

Breakfast at the hotel.  Then off to the CC.  More general convention stuff.  Dinner at the BRGR with some folks from Dallas, after the Art Show closed at 8.

Friday the 19th

Breakfast at the hotel.  Then off to the CC.  Managed to get a pulled pork sandwich using volunteer bucks in the CC for a late lunch.

I think today was the day that I went to a Walter Jon Williams signing.

Art show closed briefly at 4:00 to prep for an artists' reception prior to the Chesley award ceremony.  It reopened at 4:30 and then closed down for the evening at 6.

I went to a Cory Doctorow reading to grab a signature, and then a Steven Gould reading to do the same.

I considered staying in the CC to watch the Masquerade on the big screen, but decided to head to bed instead.

Saturday the 20th

Breakfast at the hotel.  Then off to the CC.  The artshow closed at noon to prep for the auction and never re-opened to the public.  I strongly disagree with this year's art show director on the hours, but it was her choice to make.

I think I made it over to see Elizabeth and Esther during their autographings on this day, but can't really remember.

Sunday the 21st

Breakfast at the hotel.  Then off to the CC.  Kim arrived via shuttle sometime in the morning.

We then grabbed a taxi to go pick up the U-Haul: they did not have it at the same spot we dropped it off.  Came back by the hotel, loaded up my stuff for the week and then back to the CC.

During tear-down, Randall Shepherd stops by and presents me with a "Hero of MidAmericon" ribbon and medal for efforts above and beyond.

We'd hoped to be ready to leave at 4 p.m., but that did not happen.  With all of the usual troubles of tearing down a convention, we did not manage to get on the road until 6:30 p.m.

Kim plotted out a different course that was 1 hour shorter than our route to KC.  Our destination the first night was McAlester, Ok.  We pulled in around 1 a.m.

Monday the 22nd

Breakfast at the hotel and then on the road at 7:30 a.m.  Through Dallas and on to Houston, arriving home at 2:30 p.m..  I drop off the exhibits and then drop off the truck.  Kim picks me up at the U-Haul place and we make it home by 4 p.m.

I fall asleep and wake up at 6 a.m. the next morning in time for work.