Gen Con 2013: Day 1 – Into the Exhibitor’s Hall

There was no geocaching to kick off the first official day of Gen Con because getting out of bed wasn’t as easy the second morning and  we had things scheduled for 10am that we didn’t want to be late to.

We were just two gamers in a sea of excitement.
We were just two gamers in a sea of excitement.


We got to the convention center early, grabbed some caffeine at one of the convention food areas, and waited for the Exhibitor’s Hall to open. There was already a huge crowd outside the doors waiting for the kick off, but we opted to sit to the side and wait until closer to the opening. We might have waited longer, but since we were chosen as volunteers for AEG’s Big Game Night, I was scheduled to do the run through on my game right away. My friend, J, was there, and we got to learn the game together during the demo. It was so much fun, and playing it beforehand made me feel a lot better about showing it to others.
"Trains" quickly became one of my favorite games ever.
“Trains” quickly became one of my favorite games ever.
Jon took off to do his own thing, so when I was done with my game, I ended up wandering about the hall for about a half hour just looking at things and trying to find the Blind Ferret booth so I could get some art from Randy Milholland and Jeph Jacques.  I picked up a few prints from Randy and met Jeph with the promise to both of them to come back with cash so I could tip for sketches and buy some QC merchandise.
Jon and I finally met up again and went and picked up our green bands for the Cards vs. Zombies game. With our down time, we went and did a swag dump in the car then went to find our Wyrd game demo location. We ended up playing a miniature board game called Puppet Wars. It was so fun! It’s pricey for a game, but you can use the figures as proxies for another miniatures game that Wyrd puts out, and it’s a game that really interested me.  After playing it, we debated long and hard about picking it up. Unfortunately, we opted out at this time, but I’m really hoping to pick it up in the future.
Puppet Wars
Puppet Wars
For lunch, we decided to try one of the food trucks outside the convention center. We opted for the BBQ truck. The pulled pork sandwich was so good!
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Our next stop was the playtest hall, where we played a game called Champions of Olympus, which involved moving around Olympus and doing quests for the gods.
Champions of Olympus
Champions of Olympus
I really enjoyed it and ended up winning, though I always get into deep thought mode with new games because I’m both trying to figure out how to play and trying to strategize. It wasn’t so far over my head that it was an issue, but I was still in concentrate mode. This was about the time that I also ran out of steam and started feeling tired.
When the game was done, I walked with Jon to his AEG training, then I wandered around by myself for about an hour and a half. I grabbed an iced tea, read for awhile, checked out the auction, and did another lap before finding a sitting and waiting in a spot closer to the parking garage. I had to perch somewhere since my phone was dead by that time, and I wanted to give Jon a location of where to find me when his game was done.
We had tickets for a concert that night, but we decided to give it a pass. We weren’t out any money and we would have had to wait for two more hours for a concert that wouldn’t be done until midnight. As fun as it sounded, I wanted to rest and be ready for the rest of the con, part of the whole “healthiness” of vacation. No so healthy…we got back to the room and ordered pizza and wings, but I had no guilt and the food was delicious.
It was so nice being able to walk around with no back pain. My only issues involved a little bit of soreness in the feet and knees, but that was from standing in one place on the few occasions we had to.  The other issue was that after we’d been sitting for a period of time, I was stiff and limpy for the first few steps. But once I got going, I was fine and didn’t need to stop. No rests for back pain this year!  I’m still walking at a snail’s pace, but you know what? I’m completely okay with that.
We finished day 1 of GC feeling good and happy!

A Veritable Smorgasboard

Plans for tonight changed again, and writing didn’t pan out, so Jon and I decided to go to the county fair. We were going to go this weekend anyway for something different, we just bumped up the “when” of the adventure.  The last time I remember going to a country fair was when I was a teenager. At the time, I didn’t care about events or animals. I probably cared about the fair food. I might have played some games. But for teenage Amanda, the fair was about the rides. It was that bracelet that gave you a pass to ride the rides over and over again for three hours. Of course, it was also a time when rides didn’t make me nauseous.

As an adult, the experience of the county fair was different, but there were lots of familiar moments. Like the smells coming from the food stands, the people standing in ticket lines, and the whoosh of the ride hydraulics.  The smell of animals is standard, as is people in all different manners of dress and lack thereof.  Kids ran around and screamed and cried. People pushed through the crowd. Others, like Jon and I, just shuffled along, figuring we’d get to point B at some point.  There is something fun about that whole cluster. I don’t think I would have said that six months ago, and maybe I wouldn’t agree on a regular basis. But today I enjoyed it.

We got there early, so we scored a good parking spot. Things weren’t scheduled to start until five, so we had some time to kill, plus we were waiting for my friend to get there before we had dinner. We started out by walking the fairway and checking out the booths and food stands. It’s kind of fun seeing all the deep fried offerings. I smelled funnel cake and was like “Yeah, baby,” but Jon smelled it and it made his stomach churn. At that point though, I was still planning on indulging in something by the end of the night.

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I don’t know what a cowboy cheesesteak is, but I want to find out.

We walked through the cow barn and browsed the 4H displays. I was never in 4H, so I didn’t realize all the hobbies one could do through them. Like Legos! Later we found a shady spot to wait. I was fearful of all the bees buzzing around the area. They apparently didn’t care about the number of people milling around, though. None of them stung me, and I didn’t hear anyone else crying out in bee-sting pain.

When S got there, we went ahead and had dinner. They were holding a Blue Valley Pork Producers BBQ, and for six dollars each, we got a pork burger, chips, baked beans, a drink, and ice cream for dessert.

It might not look like much, but it was pretty darn tasty!
It might not look like much, but it was pretty darn tasty!

I’ve always been pretty anti-bean, but I did taste them. They tasted good, but I have a problem with the texture. However, that pork burger was seriously one of the best things ever. They called it a pork burger, but it was maybe just a pork chop on a bun? Either way, I want another one. And sundae cup ice cream? I haven’t had one of those in forever.  Dinner was well worth the six dollars and probably the better option healthwise over the other offerings (someone said turkey legs aren’t bad, but I’m not entirely sold on those).

We wandered into the carnival area to check out the games but ended up opting out of playing any. About halfway around the circle, I got sick to my stomach. The only thing I can figure is that the movement of the rides messed up my equilibrium just by existing in my line of vision.  I felt better after a short rest, then it was off to see more animals and watch a sheep show.

Yes, those are sheep in what look like jazzercise outfits. I don't know. I didn't ask.
Yes, those are sheep in what look like jazzercise outfits. I don’t know. I didn’t ask.

We also saw some other people we knew, one of whom was getting a deep fried Oreo and funnel cake. By that time, the only thing besides dinner we’d bought was water, and we were okay with that. While the smells were still great, somehow both of us had lost that urge to splurge. And by both of us, I mean me, because Jon was kind of “meh” about it from the start.

I told Jon later that it really makes you feel like you’re part of a place when you go to a fair and see people you know.

It wasn’t anything wild or crazy, but it was a really good time and I’m glad we went.  I’ll have to cap the night off with some allergy pills to recover and prep for tomorrow’s big adventure (because you know we’ll have one), but that’s okay. Totally worth it!



The Road to Texas – Vacation Day Zero and One

We’ve been trying to get to Texas for several months, but the timing wasn’t right. We finally made it happen with an extended weekend vacation south while J. Felbs was on Spring Break. We left after work on a Tuesday, heading to Wichita to stay the night and break the long drive up a bit.
On the way, we listened to The More You Nerd which was like reconnecting with old friends. It’s one of our favorite podcasts, but due to technical issues with computers, internets, and iPods, I hadn’t been able to upload in a long time.  Wichita brought a trip to Braum’s and a couple games of MtG, where I learned the importance of taking my brother-in-law out in a match as soon as possible.
Besides the weather being nice, we got a little adventurous on the road trip the next day. First, we stopped at a small BBQ joint called Stevenson BBQ. The hearse in the parking lot was a little unsettling, as were the scary bathrooms. But the smell of BBQ was wonderful and the food ended up being delicious.
Pretty sure this used to be a Braum's
Pretty sure this used to be a Braum’s
Order up at the front counter
Brisket sandwich and fries
We decided to go off the beaten path and have an adventure, so we drove into Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma and visited The Toy & Action Figure Museum. It was so cool. There were, of course, action figures of all kinds, including some horror figures from some of my favorite movie franchises. There was a neat playroom where people (mostly kids, but there were some adult costumes too) could dress up and act like a superhero for awhile. There was a Bat Cave that had everything Batman and a corner that featured Oklahoma cartoon artists. It was fun to geek out on all the displays. 
One of my faves! It was kept behind a glass case. This was probably good.
One of my faves! It was kept behind a glass case. This was probably good.
This was only part of the many TMNT memorabilia
This was only part of the many TMNT memorabilia


Our side trip, road work, and rush hour traffic put our arrival time a little later, but not too late. We got in, visited with Grandma L, then ate dinner at The Porch, a local homestyle restaurant in Burleson.


We ended the night watching Duck Dynasty (which cracked me up) and Bates Motel (which intrigued me and made me sad I don’t have cable).  All in all, a successful first day of vacation.