I hadn't been to a Windycon since 2009, and since I didn't have to work on Monday as I get Veteran's Day off I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity to stay around on Sunday and go this year. I packed some of Erin's art and my guitar in the car and took off at 7am on Friday morning for Chicago. Other than forgetting the Hawaiian shirts I wanted to take with me, the trip down went well. Because there was a parlor guitar I was curious to check out in the Milwaukee area, I took I-94 instead of I-90 from Madison and while the guitar wasn't anything special the route was toll-free and took only twenty minutes or so of additional time to travel. I made it to the Westin hotel in Lombard by 3:30pm and promptly checked in and took my personal stuff to the room. Then I hung Erin's art in the art show and chatted with friends I ran into there until 5pm. I then headed for registration and got my badge and program. I later connected with my roommates John and Debi and took in some music later listening to two friends, Graham and Becca Leathers performing together and enjoyed their concert very much.
The two Fan GoHs were also friends of ours, Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier, and I dropped by their room party after 10pm and took in more great music from the group of musicians that had gathered together there, many of them people I've camped with at Baggiecon during the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and it was wonderful. (One of the fiddlers there, Amy McNally, was just amazing.) I would have gone to more parties, but stayed at Bruce and Karen's room until midnight, helping myself to their spread of cheese, apples and wine, all delicious as you might expect. Unfortunately around midnight I started nodding off thanks to being up so early in the day, so I went back to the room where my roomies were also about ready to turn in so my timing was good and I fell right to sleep after my head hit the pillow.
Saturday morning after downing some coffee I made in the room and chatting with Debi I went to check out the art show and talked with more friends before having lunch with John over at the food court in a mall next to the hotel. Then I went to a reading by Mike Resnick which was fun even if the stories he read weren't particularly science-fictional, and then went to hear Bruce interview Karen and Karen interview Bruce in the Get-to-know the Fan GoH's panel, which was nicely done and fun. I later dropped in on Bruce's talk about the latest on the NSA from the Snowden files and heard more code words than I could count on all my fingers and toes for the various ways the NSA was Hoovering (a very apt word for it, really) up data from the internet. As usual, Bruce made it very intelligible for his fannish audience and there was some good Q&A at the end of his presentation.
I then met up for dinner at the hotel restaurant with John and Debi, and old friends Darlene Coltrain and her husband Steve Johnson (who also brought art to show himself) and Kathy Wappel, who we first met at the Bristol Renaissance Faire when Erin had a shop there. We dined for almost two hours (it was busy but the service and food were both good, if pricey) and had a nice time catching up on things. Then later I went to the filk room to hear a concert by Riverfolk, who were terrific, and then went out to party and eventually ended up back at Bruce and Karen's party (which was paired with a Minneapolis in 2073 party in the room next door) and pretty much spent the rest of the night there. I did run into John McKana at the GT party and we had a nice conversation about his return to the U.P. from his job in California that he'd had for the past five+ years.
Sunday I got up early again and made it down in time to the consuite for a decent breakfast before the best of the spread was consumed and then went to hear yet another concert by Brenda Sutton, which was well worth it and fun. She had a ballad about the Angry Birds that had all of us laughing which made me glad I finally had played the game on the iPhone Erin recently got so I could get the humor. I then dropped by a panel on digital art that had Steve Johnson on it, but left early so I could catch the end of the panel on restaurants that Bruce and Karen were doing in the room next door. Then it was time to check out of the art show, where Erin had made at least enough to make the effort of bringing and hanging it worth it and talked with Karen Hollingsworth (another friend and artist) while we were both packing out for about an hour.
Finally, I headed for the Dead Dog filk, and listened to some music before wandering off and playing a game of Zar in the hotel hallway for an hour with Matt and some other folks. Then because Bonnie Somdahl said I should, I went back to the car to get my guitar and finally got into the filk circle and played along too. My guitar playing wasn't good, but at least it wasn't bad and I spent about four hours there and got to sing 12-14 songs myself before finally leaving around 11pm and heading to John's home in Chicago for the night. I'm glad Bonnie gave me the nudge to play. I also heard another performer, Catherine, play some of her own songs and they were so nice (and she was a very good performer herself) I bought her CD before I left. I'd also picked up Amy McNally's CD in the dealer's room earlier, so I have some more music I'm looking forward to hearing soon.
I was lucky enough to grab a parking spot on the street right in front of John's condo in north Chicago and went to bed after midnight. The next morning we went to a nearby coffeehouse for coffee (tea for John, naturally) and a tasty bit of quiche before heading over to Kopi's Cafe for second breakfast and another cuppa before starting off back home around 11am. I did run into some rain that turned to snow at the Illinois-Wisconsin border that lasted until I got to Milwaukee, which then turned to ice for a few minutes before clearing up, thankfully, and I stopped to pick up some tasty cheese for Erin just north of Madison and stopped to have a bite to eat at a place I used to like hanging out at in Eau Claire (The Acoustic Cafe) on the way as well.
It was a good trip, and I'm glad I went. It was great to see a lot of people I hadn't seen for a few years and I hope I can make it back again next year to Windycon.