Windycon is an annual science fiction convention held in the late fall in the Chicago area. This year it was held over the weekend of November 13-15, 2016 at the Westin Yorktown in Lombard, and the weather was living up to the name.
Because load-in starts so early on Friday, we headed up on Thursday, and high winds were blowing all the way up from Indianapolis to Chicago. On I-65 the crosswind was so strong that I was struggling to keep our van on the road. At the first rest stop we heard that high winds had damaged a guardrail on the Borman Expressway and scattered metal across the lanes. So we decided to get off the Interstate at Indiana 10 and drive across to I-57.
However, we didn't even get to US 24 before we ran into a huge backup. I was sitting in the shelter of a big truck and the wind was still making our van rock. So we decided to go ahead and get off at US 24 and find our way around. Because the wind was so bad, we stayed on I-57 just long enough to go around Kankakee, then got back on surface roads, where we had a little more protection from the ferocious winds.
As a result we went through the area where my family lived in the 90's. It was interesting to see how much things had changed. Corners that had been all vacant and wooded were now strip malls all four ways. New Lenox State Bank, where we did our banking, had been taken over by BMO Harris Bank.
By the time we finally arrived at our hotel, I was pretty much exhausted and very glad to settle in for the night. We ate supper and I spent some time working on my novel.
On Friday we got up and had the hotel breakfast. Then we headed over to the con hotel to load in and set up. We arrived in the dealers' room to find the staff hastily improvising dealers' ribbons for us. Apparently there'd been a mistake when the orders for ribbons were put together, and no dealer ribbons were ordered. However, it's astonishing what determined fen can accomplish with enough green duct tape and a black Sharpie.
Because the weather was cold, the hotel couldn't open the roll-up door and we had to haul everything through the back corridors. The process was complicated by the high winds, which tried to blow merchandise right off our carts. However, we did have some good help, which sped up the process.
Even so, we were still setting up when the doors opened for sales. We probably lost some sales because of that, but we still did manage to make a decent number of sales before we closed for the evening.
As I left, I made the terrifying discovery that my keys weren't in my coat pocket. For one terrible moment I thought I'd dropped them by the van, but then I remembered that when I came in after parking the van, I'd laid the keys in the back of the t-shirt display. Fortunately the dealers' room coordinator hadn't locked up, so I was able to slip back in and grab them. Needless to say, I thanked him profusely and he told me I wasn't the only dealer to forget something and have to run back to retrieve it.
Then we headed over to the con suite to eat supper and grab some snacks before we headed out to the parties. While we were sitting at a table and munching, a friend from Louisville fandom came by and asked us if we'd heard about Paris. We both admitted that we'd been so busy in the dealers' room that we'd had no time at all to look at news.
He told us there'd been a major terrorist attack, so I pulled out my iPhone to visit some news sites. The news was horrifying, including an account of people being slaughtered en masse in a stadium while listening to a rock concert.
Needless to day, it cast a pall over our evening as we went to visit the various parties, including the GT Suite. Then we headed back to the other hotel to turn in for the night. I did a little writing before we actually called it a night.
On Saturday morning we got up and had the hotel breakfast. Usually I'm not much for biscuits and gravy, but after what had happened in Paris I wanted to make a point of eating pork. I'd been hoping for another round of bacon, but I had to make do with what was available.
After breakfast, we headed over to the main hotel to get our tables opened for business. Because we were doing good on time, we headed over to the con suite to get whatever food they might have available.
Then we headed over to the dealers' room to get our tables open for business. We put out a few more things to fill up gaps from last-minute sales.
About halfway through the day, we had some people get all bent out of shape about the Infidel t-shirt, saying how we need to approach them with peace and love. I answered that we've tried that, and they responded to our extended hand with fists and knives. My husband and I are both really getting fed up with the PC crap. If they don't like free speech, maybe they should try living in a place that doesn't have it.
After the dealers' room closed for the night, we headed over to the con suite for supper. Then we tried to make the rounds of the parties but got too sleepy to go on. We headed back to the other hotel and I did a little writing before we turned in for the night.
It just goes to show how stressed I was that I had a nightmare of going to the art show to find them tearing down the gridwalls, leaving me sure I'd forgotten my art and lost it for good.
On Sunday we ate breakfast, then packed our belongings out to the van and checked out. We still got to the main hotel in time to visit the con suite and grab a second breakfast before going to the dealers' room and getting our tables open for sales.
Sales remained slow but steady, and we even got some sales after we started packing. In fact, a couple of our best book sales were after we were so busy packing that we didn't have time to move up secondaries or overflow. So I don't know how many books we actually sold, whether we would've emptied a box or not.
Once the dealers' room closed, I brought the van up by the loading dock and we started hauling stuff out. With good help, we were able to get everything out quickly, but we were still one of the last dealers to leave.
As we were heading back on the inbound Eisenhower, we hit a huge traffic jam. So we decide to get off at the next exit and try to route around on Roosevelt Road, only to run into a backup on it as well. Apparently we weren't the only people with that idea.
Finally traffic loosened up and we were able to make good time to our hotel for the night. After last year's nightmarish drive through ice and snow, we really didn't want to commit to going all the way back to Indianapolis in one night, so we decided to use loyalty points to get a room on the Indiana side of the state line, beyond the worst of rush hour traffic.
Unfortunately, it wasn't in the suburb we thought it was when we made the reservation. The Ramada was nice enough, and I enjoyed staying there, but we has to go through some sketchy areas to get there. Not to mention that they were far enough away from the Interstate that we had a long, slow drive on surface streets.
The next morning we had breakfast and loaded out out personal belongings so we could check out. As we headed home, we stopped at the mall in Merrillville to visit Vitamin World. The rest of our trip went smoothly and we got home in good time.
Copyright 2016 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 19, 2016..