This has become something of a tradition in my various travels around the world with Warp One. When I'm done a vacation, I write up a ten-point list of the wicked stuff about the place I went. Most of my blog posts have been about how awesome GenCon has been, but less about the vacation part of the trip, so now you get some of that, hopefully with a bit of a gaming edge to it.
1) It is really fucking hot.
The high temperature in Indianapolis, never dropped below 30 degrees centigrade. Now, that might seem heavenly to some, but I'm a bigger dude. I'm from CANADA, where having a solid layer of fat on you is generally a good thing because it gets so cold you can't breathe without it, so having to deal with the hottest our weather gets all year for a seven day stretch has been a big deal. I've learned to cope. There are systems I have in place now that help me deal with the weather. But if you're not prepared for August in Indiana, it will blindside you and blindside you good.
2) The people here are really, really friendly. Just walking down the street, you'll get people nodding their heads and asking "How y'all doin' today?" You can almost sort of tell the outsiders from the folk who live here based on how friendly they are to you. If they ask "How y'all doin' today?" they're probably local. If they look at you like you've just crawled out of their navel and seek to cause mischief, they're probably from out of town. Also, everyone sounds like Hank Hill.
3) The food is cheap. Deceptively cheap, even. There's a place down the street from the convention center called Steak & Shake that sells very decent burgers, milkshakes and the like. It's a pretty classic American diner. For two people to eat a burger, fries and a shake, it's $15, which is about how much it costs for a single meal at Subway back home. So we ate there a lot. We shouldn't have, because there was a Marsh's grocery store two blocks from the B&B, but we did. They have so much of my money... And given that they were line-up-out-the-door busy for most of the con, it wouldn't surprise me to learn they busted a million dollars in sales this weekend.
4) The city is falling apart. Maybe it's just my Canadian-tax-payer-social-service-loving-communist side, but it seems a lot like Indiana could use some fixing up. Buildings are old and crumbling, the sidewalks are busted and slowly degrading into gravel, the bridges seem rickety and unstable, the whole city just seems to be coming apart at the seams. It's pretty enough, for sure. The old brick buildings are beautiful and people here have some spectacular gardens, the park we walked through while we were lost was gorgeous. But other parts of the city are obviously crumbling and could use some love.
5) The US build some awesome monuments. We saw the Indiana State World War Memorial, and the obelisk here is awesome. The state building is impressive and reminds me of a bigger-scale Alberta Legislature. These places were pristine, well kept, awesome memorials. I was quite impressed.
6) The gentleman who runs a bed and breakfast is pleasant and sweet; the lady of the house is a witch. This is entirely anecdotal, but at both of the Bed & Breakfasts we stayed at, this was the case. In the first, we were sternly reminded of the two-persons-per-room rule, and glared at disapprovingly, while the gentleman of the house was smiles and pleasantries. At the second, the lady seemed shocked that I had arrived with someone and was quite displeased at my inability to make it to breakfast (which starts at nine; I was picking Holly and Natalie up at eight each morning). She demanded I leave a note letting her know which days she could serve me breakfast, which I did in as polite a tone as I could muster: none of them. I have eaten a single breakfast with a Bed & Breakfast since I arrived. It was this morning, at a different B&B.
7) Indianapolis is smaller than it seems. It's population is only about twice that of Edmonton's, but the metropolitan area of the city is actually smaller (if you count things like Sherwood Park). The downtown core is not as large as Edmonton's, and getting around it seems like it would be relatively easy without the huge road construction that's going on in that part of town (and, seemingly, nowhere else). The convention center is huge. The hotel chains that surround it are legion. Next time, I hope to have a hotel room connected to the ICC or a house in the nearby area just for convenience's sake, but the half hour walk from my B&B to pick up the girls and get to the Convention was hardly a challenge.
8) Massachusetts Ave. is no Whyte Ave. The cultural avenue of Indianapolis is pretty awesome, I'll give it that. The fact that you can buy booze at the convenience store means there are fewer liquor depots kicking around, but the lack of party on Mass Ave was actually a bit disappointing. I didn't party at all this time around, which is a pretty huge departure from my 2008 trip.
9) I will travel with Holly and I will travel with Natalie, but not both. I realize that this is more a personal note and less about the vacation itself. You can deal. I had a lovely time with each of them, and occasionally I had a lovely time with both of them, but there was some drama. I'm not going to get into it (I've decided to focus on the positive from the trip, and there was a lot of awesome positive about this trip), but it did bog things down and got everyone into a rough spirit, which is not what vacationing should be. If I can, I would like to take one vacation per year with each of them, alternating between a Big Vacation like GenCon and a smaller, local vacation, and who gets which vacation. This is stuff we'll work out over the next few months (hopefully well before December/January).
10) GenCon is fucking amazing. I learned so much on this trip. I got to talk to so many people and try so many products to which I don't typically have access. I got to make some solid business contacts, and build some relationships with folks that are usually outside of my sphere of influence. The show was bigger and better this year than last, and I got to take part in a few of the things that I had missed out on the year before (the Cardhalla takedown, Trade Day). It was an awesome time, and I had a lot of fun. I hope to do it again next year and maybe take y'all with me this time.