So, then. Let us start at the beginning.
After waking up at oh-dark-hundred, there I was at the Bellingham station ready to take the 8:32 Amtrak train to Portland.
The barriers went down at the appointed time… but instead of my train, one of those long endless freight trains lumbered past for what seemed like five solid minutes. And then it was through and gone and out came the announcement. Ladies and gentlemen, the Amtrak train you are all here for has been delayed out of Vancouver BC “because of wind and rain” and will be 20 minutes late.
It was closer to 9 AM that we finally got onto our train and it lumbered off southwards.
I asked the conductor what effect the late departure might have on the estimated arrival time in Portland. He said he thought they would just cut the time in Seattle layover down, and arrival in Portland would not be (greatly) affected.
The Amtrak app I downloaded on my tablet kept telling me that the estimated time of arrival in Portland was 3:15 – which was within the ballpark . After we had stopped to let past a freight train and then allow a northbound passenger train with “a broken air hose” to limp past us, arrival time read 3:34. And then 3:48.
And then… gentle reader… we came to a halt just on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Bridge. And then just sat there. And sat there. And sat there. And nobody was really saying anything to us at all. And time… kept on passing.
We were literally fifteen minutes out of Portland. But we sat there. And sat there. And sat there. TWO HOURS AND THIRTY EIGHT MINUTES LATER another engine attached itself to our train (which had “broken down” as we were informed) and we were finally dragged into Portland station. Where we found out the real cause of the problem.
The train. Had. Run. Out. Of. Gas.
My immediate cynical response to that was, oh great, the Republicans take over the country and not even the trains can run properly the next day. Someone else, after I arrived at the con hotel and was plied with a glass of wine to restore my equanimity, suggested it was a good thing I hadn’t decided to FLY down to Portland, running out of gas in a plane being a bit more dicey.
Oh, it’s all very funny. In retrospect.
I fully intend to inquire if the train has its full complement of gas when it comes time for the return journey.
All that aside, I was at Orycon. Friends were everywhere. I was hailed across the hotel lobby twice by people who spied me on the other side of the hall. It is so ENERGIZING, so good for one, to come to a con like this, a con where, like the proverbial bar called Cheers, everybody knows your name.
Friday morning, armed with a good solid double-shot latte, I sailed forth into con proper. This entailed, first of all, sitting in the Green Room catching up with everybody. And then, at 2 p.m. it was time for my first panel, “Dark Fairy Tales”.
I ambled across to the proper venue with another panelist, and discovered that the room contained nothing but three towering stacks of chairs. We all just assumed that, this being a Dark Fairy Tales panel, the goblins had been there before us. Some of us set to getting the chairs into a useable conformation. Someone else was sent out in pursuit of hotel staff and a table. The table arrived; so did a snazzy elegant black tablecloth, and a gold table skirt.
The panel, which began with audience of four and quickly grew to a dozen or more, started with an astonishing display of erudition as panelists quoted from memory long sections of various Shakespearean plays. What did it have to do with fairy tales, you might ask? Why, probably not much. What of it…?
I then had to run over to a different wing of the hotel for my next panel, on dialogue, and then another on the “Death of the Standalone Novel.”
At that panel a nice young man came up to the front of the room and addressed me and said that I had “an enchanting way of expressing myself” on my panels and that it probably meant that I was “a great writer.” I grinned in delight as I thanked him. I always try to “give good panel”. It is nice to know that it gets noticed, sometimes.
Had a nice dinner with a friend. Visited the dealer’s room, bought Jay Lake’s final story collection in memory of my lost friend, came meandering over again to the main lobby, got hailed once again by a bunch of people having drinks in the bar. So I joined them, had a nice chocolate Martini (you can blame the Governor’s Club bar at the Wiscon hotel for introducing me to these). The conversation ranged from winter sports and attendant injuries to how to give a compliment to a lady without skeeving her out. A great con unwind evening.
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So, then. Let us start at the beginning.