This is a story about a routine convention. First, the obligatory booth pic, which of course shows Jeff. Because I’m the photographer. The woman to the side is one of the lovely folks behind Alucard Press, a great group of people who will be at CapitalIndieBookCon with us in July.
If you missed it on Twitter, we snagged a moment with Deadpool and our hats, as has now become a habit.
Lilac City took place in Spokane, which is a long drive for us. It’s 5 hours from my home in Olympia, 4 from Jeff’s. As a bonus, we were both there last year, in the exact same hall of the convention center for WorldCon. Anyway, I picked Jeff up at Early o’clock on Friday morning so we could both avoid morning rush hour on I5 and arrive in Sandpoint, ID (an extra 1.5 hour drive) before the end of the school day. We met with some people at Jeff’s old high school and set some things up that are best done in person. We’ll be back there, but we’re not sure exactly when. So far, so good.
Saturday, the show ran from 10-5, which I thought was a weird time to end a comic con, but apparently, they roll up the sidewalks in Spokane around 5pm. We met with Holly Gonzalez, another contributor to Merely This and Nothing More: Poe Goes Punk, and forced her to sign every single copy we had on hand, then had dinner with her and her husband.
As a one-day show, Lilac City only offered setup hours on Saturday morning. That’s how one-day shows work. That’s also how some two-day shows work. This means we had to be at the Spokane Convention Center no later than 8am–our setup has gotten complex enough that I kind of need 2 hours to get everything from the car to the spot and put it all together. The getting it from the car part eats about half an hour of that time. Since we stayed in Sandpoint Friday night, this meant another early morning.
Setup and the show itself went fine, as did teardown. No major disasters, I didn’t forget anything, and I got to jokingly taunt someone about my level of preparation/packing compared to theirs. We recognized a few people from WorldCon last year. Several more recognized us from that same convention. One of my fans found me after getting a copy of Knights at GenCon last year (small world, amIright?).
Now the disaster part. Early on Saturday, we discovered that the place we’d planned to spend Saturday night in Spokane had to cancel on us. Jeff scrambled to find another option, but no one returned his calls. We faced the choice of either unexpectedly paying for a hotel, driving back to Sandpoint and then doing a 6.5 hour drive on Sunday, or just coming home.
Though we were both tired, we chose to drive home. We rolled out of Spokane at 8pm. For those who don’t know, eastern Washington is extremely boring to drive through at any time of day. We joked about this and that. Jeff and I have driven to places enough that we fall into easy patter to pass the time.
I drive a hybrid, which gets pretty good gas mileage. I can make it from Olympia to Spokane on one take of gas. Things worked out that we hit Snoqualmie Pass right as I needed to fill up the tank. As in, the idiot light came on about half a mile from the summit. Fortunately, there’s a gas station at the top. They charge an extortionist price for gas, but they really are the only station for miles and miles, so they can.
As we pulled off I-90, we encountered fog that I hadn’t noticed on the freeway. That little convenience area is a short distance off the road, with the access being a wide expanse of unmarked pavement with dragons lurking on the sides. They may have been pit fiends–I only caught the edges briefly in the headlights because this thick fog covered everything and the signs only offered vague hints about where the fabled gas station might be. I think I drove down the middle of the road, but I’m really not sure about that.
The gas station, flanked by a restaurant of some sort, was closed, but the pumps still worked. One woman parked at the pump was getting a jumpstart from another. That creepy thick fog obscured the road from the pumps.
My friends, we found Silent Hill.
On the way out, the road remained unfathomable. We did find the freeway again, but it suddenly also had the Fog of Doooooom. The cars ahead were swallowed by the mist until they braked, and we encountered stretched of freeway with nowhere near enough reflectors for the conditions. There’s nothing quite like driving on a twisting freeway in the middle of the night when you can only see where the road is for the next fifty feet.
Then the fog lifted and all the reflectors jumped back onto the road. The taillights of the car ahead suddenly seemed too bright. We survived. Jeff got home around 12:30am, and I got home about an hour later.
I don’t think I’ll be planning to drive over Snoqualmie Pass in the middle of the night ever again.
So glad you survived 🙁 I’ve made that trip several times in conditions like that, and it’s no good.
I spent most of Sunday either napping or staring at the wall. It was an exhausting weekend.