Windycon 41

Windycon is an annual literary science fiction convention held in the fall in the Chicago area. This year's Windycon was held over the weekend of November 14-16, 2015 at the Westin Yorktown in Lombard, Illinois, one of the western suburbs of Chicago.

Because we wanted to be able to start loading in as soon as they opened the dealers' room doors on Friday, but didn't want to have to leave Indianapolis so early we'd arrive exhausted, we drove up on Thursday. We had one false start when we discovered my husband had left his keys in his other coat and we had to go back for them, but after that we made pretty good time. Our worst problem on the drive was the strong wind, which made the van handle badly and probably did things to our gas mileage. We did have a slight slowdown while we were in the Loop, but after that things went smoothly.

When we arrived, we stopped by the main hotel to scope things out. The weather was forecast to be too cold for the hotel to allow us to use the roll-up door beside the dealers' room to load in, so we wanted to take a look at the loading dock we were supposed to use. However, we couldn't really tell where it was, and we couldn't find anybody from con or hotel staff who could give us any definitive answers.

At that point there was nothing for us to do but head over to the nearby hotel where we were staying and get checked in. At least this year we knew how to get in and out, so we had a lot less trouble finding it. We got our personal possessions moved into the room and settled in for the evening. I pulled out an old novel I've been trying to rewrite for indie publishing and set to work on some particularly difficult passages.

On Friday morning we got up bright and early to enjoy the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Then we headed over to the main hotel and discovered that they'd started loading in dealers early. We got ourselves a place in the loading dock area and started hauling stuff in, but because of the lousy logistics that required us to haul every load down a long corridor, combined with a lack of gophers, we were still setting up when the doors opened for business. As a result, we pretty much lost that day to sales.

When the dealers' room closed, we headed over to the con suite to get some munchies. We'd been talking about visiting some of the parties, but my husband was so sore from the heavy labor of load-in and setup that he just wanted to rest. So we headed back to our sleeping room and I made a few notes on a new novel idea before we turned in for the night.

On Saturday we had the complimentary breakfast at our hotel, then headed over to the main hotel to visit the con suite before the dealers' room opened. Once we got our dealer tables open for business, we were starting to feel somewhat more energized and positive about our situation. Sales were slow at first, but soon picked up and we even had some big sales. Of course one simply can't count on big sales as one's bread and butter, but by the end of the day I felt reasonably confident that we'd made expenses and would be able to justify returning.

We headed over to the con suite to have some munchies while we waited for the parties to begin. I pulled out a notebook and made some more notes on the new novel idea.

There were several interesting parties, including a bid party for a Washington DC Worldcon. They had some really nice munchies, but after last year's unpleasant experience, I firmly restrained myself from eating everything I might've liked. I knew that I could not afford to be sick and miserable on Sunday, when we'd need to load out and drive home. After we'd pretty well covered all the parties, we headed back to our sleeping room and turned in for the night.

On Sunday we got up and had breakfast. Then we packed up our personal possessions and got checked out of our sleeping room before heading over to the main hotel. Because the weather forecast was really bad, we decided to start packing early in order to make sure we had as much time as possible for load-out. Even so, we still made a number of sales while we were packing, a process that was helped by a young couple who responded to our request for assistance.

By the time I got the van into the loading dock and started carrying out, the snow was coming right down. All we could do at that point was carry out as fast as we could and get things loaded up, but nothing wanted to load properly and I had to rearrange things several times. I also had the problem of needing to have certain items where I could pull them easily because we couldn't sell them at the following weekend's convention and I didn't want them coming with us by mistake.

We weren't on the road long before we started running into trouble. The roads were getting steadily more nasty, especially after we got out of the Chicago area and were heading south on I-65. There were times when I was barely able to go 20 MPH, and I could see vehicles off the road on either side. We even talked about finding some place to stop for the night, but by the time we found any suitable place, the worst was behind us and we were so close to Indianapolis that it didn't seem to make sense any more to stop. So we did make it home, but it was almost midnight, and by the time we carried in our personal possessions and got wound down from the stressful drive, it was almost 1AM.

Copyright 2015 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated January 17, 2015.