Snow and Getting There
When we walked out into the night it was snowing, last night. We were all meeting at an Irish pub in Boulder, and everyone knew how to get there other than Bob. So I went with him.
When John and I had left the house yesterday morning, it was sunny and bright, so I was in Berkinstocks and thin leggings under my Eddie Bauer coat. I was very glad of the coat when Bob and I walked out to his car. The snow was cold, tiny flakes that were dry and light filling the air in a crystalline cloud. The temperature had dropped significantly, and snow was sticking and building in fluffy mounds all over every available surface. Bob was really nice and scraped the windows while I sat in his rental car, shivering.
It was really nice to ride with Bob, as all his reflexes and reactions were those of a person who was used to driving in the snow. He even warned me before he tested the brakes, so I had absolutely no anxiety on the way over. We managed to find parking within half a block of where John and Cary said the pub would be, and we got out into the blowing snow. The wind had picked up since we had left work, and I pulled the collar of my coat up and felt the tiny pickles of cold on my cheek as the snow blew against my warmth. It turned out to be the wrong street, and we got lucky because my sense of direction turned us in the right direction.
The Pearl Street Mall was different under snow, softer and brighter for the white. There weren't that many people out, the far more than would be out in Seattle on a night like this. The snow didn't seem to bother people too much. We walked through the fluffy white, and it packed under my toes into hard balls of ice. Wearing sandals in the snow is amusing until it gets really cold. I managed to kick the balls of snow out from under my toes just before entering the pub.
Gradually everyone arrived, it but there was no big hurry. Even the atmosphere in the pub seemed more relaxed, as there really wasn't anything anyone could do about the snow and the fact that it slowed everything down some. I drink ginger ale as everyone else had Guinness, and we just sat and talked and relaxed from the hard week. Eventually people ordered dinner, and house specialties were extraordinary. They had a shepherd's pie that had a beef and lamb stew under a cheddar mashed potatoes crust, which about half the table ordered. We had had the fish and chips before, and they were excellent, so I hoped that the traditional dish would also be done well. It turned out to be so rich that no one at the table could finish their pie, the taste was excellent, strong with lamb and rosemary, with plenty of potatoes and gravy. The potato crust was also excellent, creamy and rich and nicely browned on top.
A live band moved into our area, preparing to play at around 10 p.m., so we headed out around then. The snow was only falling faster, and John did a great job of getting us home safely. He also promised to drive me to the airport tomorrow morning if the snow didn't let up, as he knows that I know that I can't drive very well in the snow. I was also minorly worried about Fezzik being home alone in the cold, but when we actually pulled into the driveway at home, Fezzik was bouncing around in the snow, kicking it in all directions, scampering around corners and sliding when his footing went out from under him. He was having a blast. When we actually got into the house, he kept demanding to go back out into the snow, and I often heard munching noises on the back porch as he went out there to drag his lower jaw on the porch to gather as much snow was he could into his mouth. We have a dog who gnaws our porch in order to eat the snow. That was really funny.
I finished the last of my packing, everything except for the bathroom equipment I would need in the morning. Even though my flight was at 11:30, we decided to get an early start in the morning so that John could get to work at a reasonable hour after dropping me off. It was also additional insurance to make sure I got to the airport on-time.
As it turned out, I got there in plenty of time. The roads were snowy and slick up to the freeway, but once we got on I-25 the going turned easy, and traffic moved at a good pace. It only took us 45 minutes to get me to the airport, which is about the best time we've ever made to the airport. The day itself was just gorgeous, sunny and clear. I made it just before 9:00, and I checked in at the front desk because they didn't have the gate up on the display yet. The guy behind the counter looked startled when I said that I was going to Oakland because there was a 9:15 flight going out and he wondered which flight I was on. I told him that I was going on a later flight, so he didn't panic and try to rush me on my way.
I had fun taking my time. One of the things I wanted to do was find the massage parlor, but it wasn't in the main terminal, so I decided to take the train out to the terminal my flight was to fly from and look around to see what entertainment was there. I had a couple books in my bag, which I could always resort to, but I wanted to see what else there might be. I also didn't check any baggage because I rarely do on my way out. If I lose luggage on the way home, I have plenty things that I can use instead, but if I lose stuff on the way out it gets harder. I know I can probably buy everything other than my tooth guard, my wallet, and the contact lenses that I'm wearing and even the last in something I could probably finagle if I really had to do it. It is just easier to have everything I packed.
It turned out that the massage parlor was on the second floor of the B terminal, and it was going to open at 10 a.m., so I camped out in front of the store with my copy of Sean Stewart's Passion Play. I read through the first half of the book in the half-hour I had, and really got caught up in the book, in the characters, and in the progression of the plot and character revelations. I have always enjoyed Stewart's characters, their complexity, flaws, and empathy. And this set had an entirely new complex of interactions. At exactly 10 a.m. they rolled the security cage up, and I walked into the shop.
I will readily admit that before CeLena I would never have gone into a massage shop at a public airport or any public area; however, after having directly experienced the real benefits I get from having someone work me over, there didn't seem to be any reason not to go in. A lady greeted me pleasantly, had me sign a release form, and then set me down in a massage chair after adjusting it for my height. A 15 minute massage doesn't seem like very long, and from experience I knew that it would be better to have her focus on a few trouble spots rather than letting her try to do everything. So I asked her to work over my shoulders and my forearms, the first because of all the lugging and the second because my wrists were locking up from the last few days of over typing. It also makes it harder to lug around luggage when my wrists aren't happy.
She went at it, and did a superb job in the short time she had to do anything in, and she even added an extra few minutes on the end to make sure she got my right arm as well as the far more painful left. That felt very good indeed.
The flight itself was entirely uneventful. Carl was there to greet me as I came off the plane, and I had fun calling John on the ride over to the hotel. It really was very nice to be able to contact John anytime and nearly anywhere without having to hunt down to pay phone and in the privacy of Carl's car. We went directly to the hotel, checked in, and then went upstairs to my room to make sure that it was okay. I was also able to unpack my bags completely as Carl first sat on the bed and eventually laid down in it. He'd only gotten three hours asleep last night, and we talked about a nap. He fell asleep pretty quickly, so I decided to just lie down and have a nap too.
When the sound woke me, I reached for the cell phone immediately. It turns out that both Carl and I had our phones program to play the same tune. Oops. I sleepily preprogrammed my phone to a completely different tune while Carl spoke with Earl. We had gotten a good 90 minutes of sleep, so were both more awake than we were before. Rather than trying to sleep for the time it took Earl to get here we decided to go downstairs and make sure we were registered for the convention. Registration was as familiar and inefficient as it ever was, also fairly friendly, but the guy who stuck the sticker on the my tag did it off center, and he even stuck Carl's on upside-down. That was somewhat annoying, but it was very nice to wander around and meet all the familiar faces again. We made it back to the room in time to greet Earl when he knocked on the door.
Carl still had to get character sheets done for his game tomorrow morning, and all of his equipment was still at home. So dinner was had at a very nice Italian restaurant near Carl's apartment, the waiter was good, the food very plentiful, and the conversation was fun to follow. Afterwards we swung by the local movie theater, found out what time Pitch Black was playing, and determined that there was enough time to go to Trader Joe's to shop for goodies for the con before going to Carl's apartment and hanging around for a little while before the movie. I really miss Trader Joe's. The quality and price on all those lonely specialties the something that just can't be matched in the more sparsely populated areas here. I miss everything from the water packed Albacore tuna to the soft lady fingers, from the one pound chocolate bars to the astonishingly fresh produce. I only got a few things, since last year we stocked up on far too much food. We were all more careful this year.
Carl's lair is a wonderful place, and I've always enjoyed staying there. One of the big boons is his comic book collection, and this time he had a new addition which was a complete set of the four Cinder and Ashe comics that Dark Horse published a while ago. It's about a Vietnam veteran from the Bayou and his adopted half Chinese daughter. I really enjoyed it, and was able to finish the four books before we left for the movie. I'm really glad I had enough time to do that as I would have gone crazy without reading the last one.
Both Earl and I went into the movie without high expectations, as the reviews for Pitch Black had been mixed. Some really liking it, and many not. Earl and Carl actually knew more about the movie than I did, as I assumed that it was a cheap Aliens knock off, and I don't normally go looking for space-horror movies to watch. The movie, however, turned out to be really good. Especially as a set up for a gaming convention, as there was excellent character development, many typical gaming situations and moral dilemmas, and some very interesting outcomes and consequences for various actions and decisions. I could also see why some people wouldn't get it, and might be horrified by some of the characters as well as the monsters. Yet, anyone that is really into action role-playing games really should see this.
When we got out of the movie theater, Carl wasn't there yet, so I had the fun of being able to call him. He arrived fairly quickly, and we went directly back to the hotel. The movie had ended around 12:40, and we arrived back at the hotel before 2 a.m.. We found out that Earl had managed to get into an 8 a.m. game and that I had gotten into Carl's game, which, luckily, wasn't until 10 a.m.. So I could sleep in a little. Sleep was very nice, and it was very good to be back here at DunDraCon.