Friday, April 23rd

Our trip actually began on Thursday the 22nd when we boarded the train from Boston bright and early. It was a grueling, but fairly uneventful seventeen or so hour ride from Boston to Cleveland in a cramped seat that made the idea of sleep almost an impossible venture, but somehow we made it, and arrived safly,looking a bit worn and haggard around the edges. A brief cab drive across town completed the final leg to our journey, and at approximately 5AM Friday morning, we pulled in at the Holiday Inn Independece in Cleveland, Ohio and checked in our bags.

Exhausted from our travel, we both promptly crashed, and made up for all the sleep we missed out on while on the train. It was a smart idea. After about only four hours, we both woke refreshed and hungry, and ready to see what all was going on with the convention later that day.

Breakfast in the hotel's restaurant was very typical fare (a variety of omlets, cereals, pancakes, sausages, bacon, either served a la carte, or layed out in a help-yourself breakfast buffet). After 24 hours of road food, anything presented on an actual plate, and prepared with half-decent skill, seemed almost lavish and a gourmet culinary experience in comparison.

With breakfast out of the way, Steve and I wandered around the hotel for a bit, checking out the pool and looking over the rooms where the convention activities were to take place. We dropped off my pictures at the art show. At that point, the professionals had hung their stuff, so we took some time to look at what they had up. As I'd mentioned earlier, I was entering the contest, not the show. I'd brought eight pieces with me, and since there were only three works displayed in the contest at that point, the promoters practically swooned to see so many pieces, and invited me to enter them all...which I did.

A little later, Steve and I went over to register for the convention and pick up our badges. As we were standing in line waiting, I couldn't help overhearing the two women in front of me wondering if they were going to run into any more Tweedies (What we members of the Tweedy Book Guy group call ourselves). I immediately spoke up, and introduced myself. Seems I had just met my first two fellow Tweedies, Kim and Jen. We were supposed to getting together for breakfast the next day with several more Tweedies, but it was nice to have a chance to chat with them then and there, and get to know each other a little better before hand.

Of course, being Buffy fans and fellow Tweedies to boot, I feel into an instant rapport with my new friends. I'd talked to both women online at various times, and I'm please to say they were both as nice in person, and pretty much just as I'd imagined them to be. Steve, I think, was a bit overwhelmed by it all. Poor man, he's not a Buffy fan. In fact, he's only ever seen one episode of the show, and that was only because I asked him to sit and watch it with me. He's not into anything that even hints of horror, though, though in sitting through various conversations between my daughter and myself, he is aware of all the various characters and most of their relationships. He even vounteered to proofread my first attempt a fan fic, giving it an outsider's jaded eye, and helping me work out some of the plot bugs. Plus, as he was indulging me by funding the whole weekend in Cleveland, I can't speak bad of him. Gotta love a man who pays to bring me to meet the only other male on the planet who is a rival for his affection in my heart.

Entry to the Vulkon convention was dependent upon a ticket. Most of these were bought well ahead of the event. As I mentioned earlier, Steve and I had purchased ours on line back in January. Steve got the cheapest seat going, paying for a Sunday reserved seat admission only so that he could attend the banquet, which was extra. The ticket got him two free autographs, one from Nick Brendon and the other Tony Head, and access to all the convention events of the day. I, however, being the devout fan that I am, splurged and went the whole way, buying a Gold ticket. Not only did I get Tony and Nick's autograph, but I was entitled to Mercedes McNab's as well, and while Steve sat way in the back of the room, I was right up there in the fifth row center, where I could see everything and everyone perfectly.

After getting all our badges, and verifying that we were going to the banquet, I took a few minutes to peruse the photos the promoters offered. Since I had nothing of Mercedes McNab, and she was one of my "free" autographs, I picked up a publicity shot of her to have signed. Steve went back to the room to rest, while I checked out the dealers room where they had "stuff" for sale. Unfortunately, the room was pretty packed, and I was starting to get hot, so I cut my tour short, and promised myself I'd go back again later, when things were less crowded.

The rest of the afternoon slipped by fast. Steve and I hadn't signed up for the Friday night cocktail party. First, we both suspected that we'd be wiped out from the train ride, which we certainly were. Secondly, budget was a consideration, so when I had to chose between attending one or the other extra event, I picked the banquet over the cocktail party since I wanted to hear Tony sing. Also, in the interest of packing light, and having to lug around the least number of suitcases, not attending the cocktail party equaled one less outfit to carry, or in my case, probably buy. Besides, I knew some of my new friends were going, and I was sure that they'd fill me in on any juicy details, and I would be able to experience the party vicariously at breakfast the next morning.

Steve took me out for a casual dinner that night. Nothing fancy. We walked across the street to Chi Chi's. Steve had thought it was a Chili's, and I told him he'd "got the first three letters right". Guess he's still adjusting to those new bifocals of his. Anyway, since it was Friday, and that's traditionally a fish day at our house, we both went with seafood that night. It had been years since I'd been to a Chi Chi's. Not much has changed there. They've added a few new magarita flavors, but that's about it.

Walking back to the hotel, Steve and I turned in early, and caught up on our sleep.

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