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Bill Roper's Journal
To Concertino and Back Again (Part One) 
24th-Jun-2009 01:36 pm
So now let's talk about the con in perhaps a bit more detail than my quick posts on the way to, at, and from the con. :)

When Gary originally asked us (much to our surprise and delight) to be guests at Concertino, he also asked if we'd mind missing Duckon, one of our local SF cons. It turned out that wasn't necessary, as Duckon was a week earlier than Concertino. It did add to the general entertainment of the situation though, as we did cons two weekends in a row, which kept us hopping.

Gretchen had long wanted to prepare an album and songbook of our music for the Interfilk auction at Concertino. As usually happens, these things keep sliding toward the last minute. The last minute in this case meant adjusting the final levels and burning the CD Tuesday night as I finished the editing on the songbook, not aided by our laser printer apparently needing to have its pickup roller cleaned. That will be a project for later. :)

I'd planned to work from home on Wednesday and take off a few minutes early so we could beat the traffic on the way out of town. "A few minutes early" eventually morphed into about 4:30 PM, which was a good bit later than I'd had in mind. It would have been good had we remembered everything that we'd intended to pack -- we forgot the Pegasus-related items, Wing Words and the printout of the brainstorming poll, and Julie's favorite blanket (Ack!), and probably some other things that I'm blanking on now, but we did manage to get most of the important items, us, and the kids into the car and get on the road. And mail packages. And pick up lunch at Wendy's.

Yeah, it was being that sort of day.

The good news was that we got into Ohio without too much trouble. We even had a nice dinner at a Texas Roadhouse, although keeping Katie in her seat was a challenge. (All weekend.) I'd hoped to get at least as far as Toledo, which was what we managed, and a coupon book from the rest stop led us to a brand-new Country Inn and Suites which had a very attractive room rate and a manager who was delighted by the girls bouncing across his lobby at some late hour of the night.

We fell into bed and slept until everyone woke up. While this seemed wise, it did mean that we got a late start. I used my awesome Google-fu and located a nearby Target where a close match to Julie's favorite blanket was found, along with a wrist brace for Gretchen (another forgotten item), more aspirin, and a children's percussion set that mysteriously came out of the store with Gretchen. (I do not recall saying "Pick up anything you think we need". I could be wrong, of course...) Shortly thereafter, we grabbed lunch at an Ohio Turnpike food court and pushed on east.

We had bought new movies for Katie to watch on the backseat DVD player. Sadly, all she wanted to watch was the Heffalump movie. Over, and over, and over again. The in-flight entertainment for the front seat was my MP3 player, switched from random shuffle into album mode.

We got badly lost in Cleveland. I suggested taking the truck route rather than staying on I-90. It was only a short detour on two interstates. However, when the truck we were following zigged to get on I-90 eastbound again, Gretchen zagged back onto I-90 westbound. The navigator will take his share of the blame here for not giving directions earlier.

Ok, no problem. We'll get off at the next exit and turn around.

Except that the ramp to get back on I-90 eastbound at the next exit was closed. But there was a detour sign! So we followed the detour.

To the point where someone had removed the arrow from one of the detour signs. We went straight. This was apparently the wrong answer. We eventually arrived back at I-90, where there was only an entrance to go west again. I applied dead reckoning and sent us back to the east.

Into a maze of twisty passages, all alike. At one point, we arrived at a dead-end in front of us and a dead-end on the right.

"Should I turn left?" Gretchen asked.

Probably not the best question to ask the navigator at that point. :) "Yes!"

We eventually wound through the industrial district along the canal and popped up next to the Cleveland Indians' ballpark, which is right next to where we'd made our original wrong turn. There had to be a way to get on I-90 eastbound here, or else the Indians had no fans who lived east of the stadium. And some careful parsing of the signage led us back to I-90 eastbound.

And there was much rejoicing.

We celebrated our passage through Erie, PA by playing "That Thing You Do".

And then we arrived in New York. There is a lot of New York, a fact which becomes apparent when you see mile marker 495 staring you in the face.

It could be worse. It could be Texas.

Our late start and Cleveland misadventure had us running later than we'd hoped. We decided to grab a late dinner in Rochester before everything closed. We cruised up the central Rochester interstate exit, checking for food, then turned around (without incident this time) and went back to the exit where I'd seen a Perkins, figuring we'd check in the opposite direction, then head back to the Perkins if we found nothing better.

Gretchen started calling out the names of things she saw in the mall on the right. "What's Five Guys?"

I swerved into the right lane.

I only know about Five Guys because they're just starting to move into the Chicago area, so I'd seen the reviews. And what I knew was "Good burgers, good fries, fast". Which was just what we needed now.

Katie, of course, fell in love with the ketchup dispenser. And was eating ketchup with a straw. And occasionally some french fries. Julie also made french fries disappear, while Gretchen and I demolished a couple of very nice burgers.

There were fries left over. Not that they were bad, just that we were full. And the large fries are very large.

And we were ready to get back on the road.

It misted all of the way across New York. By the time that Gretchen took over driving in Massachusetts, it had worked up to rain. And construction, which added to the fun.

On the other hand, our I-Pass from Illinois worked for tolls everywhere except in Ohio, so that sped things up a lot on the trip. And eventually, we pulled into Worcester.

Where we missed the turn onto Main St. for the hotel. *sigh*

More dead reckoning ensued and we finally pulled into the hotel parking lot at about 3 AM local time. Badger met us there (which was above and beyond the call of duty) and helped us get checked in. I grabbed a luggage cart, hauled everything up to the room, and parked the car.

And we all gratefully fell into bed.
24th-Jun-2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
You know what else at Five Guys is very large?

The *small* fries.

Seriously. kitanzi and I will usually *split* a small fries between us, and still sometimes don't eat them all.

I love Five Guys. Simple menu. They do pretty much 4 things, and they do them really really well.
24th-Jun-2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
We both missed that turn onto Main St.
24th-Jun-2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
we just ate at five guys in Lakeland, FL at the beginning of our Midwestcon/Westercon trip. Great burgers, and we split a small fries
25th-Jun-2009 02:35 am (UTC)
The only reason that I do not *still* get lost going to the Crowne Plaza is that my in-laws live three miles away and periodically I deliver their grandchildren. :) I still get lost trying to find the local supermarket.
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