The trip over was delayed by jmaynard's work so that we didn't get on the road until around noon, a few hours later than we both would have liked. Still, we made the trip in just under 8 hours and managed to avoid all tolls. Sure, we found a few traffic lights and such along the way, but they're still less frustrating than toll gates.
Arrived, checked in. Wasn't just too big of an adventure, but could have been smoother. I think had we arrived earlier it would have been. I went looking for 2 and was told he hadn't yet arrived.
Orvan made an appearance or two. (Photos will appear later. Much later.) One to the Ops crew with another survival kit, this time with a couple minor additions. It was amusing to see later that they brought in the ACME box from last year and it seemed to even have some of the contents left - I'd expected they'd be used through the year rather than sit for a year.
I didn't get that many Cow Tales and so Orvan only did one candy run Thursday night and it all went fairly quickly. I think I should get a bit more than I did this time, but not much more.
Later, I did manage to catch up with 2 and get the information I needed for his delivery. And he also cleared a couple things with me, just to be sure.
I stayed up rather late, just wandering and chatting, seeing folks I hadn't seen since last MFF or since RCFM.
102 S Milwaukee in Wheeling is the Rise and Dine Pancake Cafe where we had a huge (the omelets are 4-egg!), good, reasonably priced breakfast. Amazingly, the place was not crowded. Considering the food, price, and service, it ought to be crowded. We didn't notice the absence of a proper lunch. In fact, I think we didn't even get to the Con Suite until late afternoon or evening on Friday.
After breakfast we made our way to a store to pick up a few items, mostly for ACME. One was bigger than I'd expected and I had to find a way to wrap it rather than simply put it in a box. Fortunately the recipient(s) seemed not to care much about the packaging.
Orvan made a few more deliveries through the day, and of course the big one to 2 that evening.
I spent a fair amount of the day just wandering, getting more acquainted with the hotel layout and visiting folks in various places (dealer's area, the den, artists' alley) and didn't buy much, though I did manage to find a Girl Genius shirt. I really like that comic, and I probably wouldn't have encountered it had I not needed to do some research for an ACME delivery.
We went out for supper and that was a mistake. We drove. Not only was there local construction, finding a parking space once we got back was an exercise in frustration. We decided that breakfast would be at the hotel restaurant (which had a 20% discount for showing the MFF badge) and supper would be someplace within walking distance. Lunch would be, well, light if anything.
We got back, and parked, with enough time for Orvan to get to 2's show and be there in time for his delivery. From what I could tell, it went well and went over well.
I was chatting with Sparky Bluefox (who, it turned out, had encountered Orvan before - at Penguicon) as he pointed out emergency vehicle lights outside. We were at the bar in Tramanto's (the restaurant attached to the hotel) and heard nothing of any alarm. Thus we managed to miss that nonsense almost entirely. I was later told that the alarm was tripped during the adult figure drawing session, which for various reasons I was not involved with this year. Perhaps that was just as well.
I (or rather Orvan) was not in the fursuit parade, that way I could take some pictures of it. Also, I've found that it's an awful lot of waiting around with others in suit and my heat tolerance isn't all that great. So the huge size of the MFF parade and the accompanying need for a longer setup means I tend to avoid it.
I know there were more deliveries, and I think I managed to take care of all but one or two. Thus Orvan had some time to just wander about and did. It was actually a fairly relaxing day, I think.
I wound up chatting with Sparky Bluefox again, and another fellow and got the suggestion (many times) to attend Furry Connection North in Michigan. If it wasn't so far or wasn't so close to Penguicon in time - only the week before - I'd probably be giving it serious thought.
Orvan had a few outings. Mostly as just himself and not for ACME. I'm not sure which got more of a reaction, Orvan himself or the Rubes t-shirt The horrible truth behind whipped cream.
This time I did have lunch in the con suite, just as it was closing up and Alex was urging everyone to gorge themselves so there'd be less stuff to transport. That was somewhat amusing, and felt a bit strange since it had sort of "RCFM shouldn't be closing down this early" feel to it.
Eventually the last delivery was finally made, after a couple failed attempts through the weekend, and BaconCoyote got his parcel - a little tin of bacon flavored mints. They're as weird they sound and yet they somehow work. I had to get an extra tin just to try them for myself.
Sparky Bluefox invited Jay & me to a recording of a podcast but we left fairly early. I'd been told it was fairly clean, but the lead news of weird they started with blew that away and the folks recording didn't really recover from that very soon and it all seemed vulgar without being funny to me. And since I'm the rascal who came up with the Jer Cussing Bingo for SMOScast, that's not saying anything good.
Orvan did have one last late appearance and he got dragged (or herded) into the dance. I don't dance. Orvan doesn't dance. And the sound level was about right... so long as one wore a fursuit head. And there were one or two people who, well, they probably should have at least bought Orvan a drink or two first before making a couple of those moves. Fortunately there were balloons, and Orvan could escape with the cliché bit of "Red thing! Attack it!"
Check out. Load up. Breakfast at Rise and Dine again. This time I had the pancakes and even though it's less stuff, I was still pretty well stuffed. The trip home went well and we could see a couple things in daylight that were fast "what the?" items on Thursday night. Also, the Old Time radio channel on XM had a really good lineup. We only skipped three programs, and only two by choice - we missed one Jack Benny program while we had lunch.
It was a pretty good MFF. It was neat seeing folks I hadn't really seen for some time. It was also weird not seeing folks I'm used to seeing at MFF. Kat, Gilmore, and I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of others.
+ I didn't really notice con security. That's a Good Thing.
- I was a bit surprised at a couple things I did see. The one fellow holding a crop (not tied) was something I suspect would have been officially frowned upon. The "Sarah Palin" with her obviously toy gun still seemed to be something I suspect just about anyone else would've been told not to do. (I found the Sarah Palin shtick rather dull, myself. The election is over and that joke is tired - and yes this is the guy who listens to Capital Steps tunes from 20+ year ago saying that.)
+ Con spaces seemed pretty much the right size. Admittedly Artists Alley and the Dealer's room will probably always be too small. Some things have gas-like qualities and will expand to fill any space.
The hotel seemed to lack a few things and have others going for it:
+ Aside from the Con Suite being on the 16th floor everything was on one level. There were no stairs to navigate (in suit) to get to Ops or to the Dealer's room, or anywhere that wasn't an outright change of floor.
+ The design of the outer hall meant it was easy get outside while in suit and not have to run a smoke gauntlet.
+/- The headless/fursuit lounge was out of the way and not apt to be blundered into. It was also out of the way and a bit of trek to get to.
--- Parking was sorely limited.
- The design of the outer hallway meant it was almost always blowing in some cold air that was not appreciated when not in suit.
- The metal steps in the stairwells are quite loud (as well as not being the same from floor to floor - a pain for suiters who count the steps), and the only exit at ground level is to the outside. Great for fire evacuation, lousy for pretty much everything else.
I had a pretty good time. I don't think I can say I had super-fantastic time, but it was overall good and nothing within the cons control actively annoyed me. The security excesses from last year seemed to have been addressed.
I think I'll be back next year, but I find myself debating it some. Not because MFF is bad, but that it might have simply grown (or is about to grow?) to a size I no longer feel that comfortable with. That was my concern pretty much all weekend: Has this simply gotten too darned big? Right now, I'm not sure. I think it's still okkay, but I don't know for how long. If ever do drop MFF, that will leave a hole to fill and everything else is even further away or has timing problems, or both.