These days almost every trip I take has a convention nickname, because so much of the time I’m visiting or vacationing with groups of my convention friends. We’ve had Not-A-Con in the fall for three years straight, with another one approaching this October. When a bunch of us went to West Virginia in February 2015, it was SkiCon (or rather, SkiKAHHHNNNN). Sometimes I even go to conventions themselves and they’re renamed, such as C2E2 in March of this year being ChicagoCon Part 1, or MegaCon in May being “KiwiCon”. (In quotes because KiwiCon existed before I got to experience its awesomeness.)
Therefore, when I visited Chicago yet again this past weekend, it was quickly dubbed “ChicagoCon Part 2”. And if I erase the awful trip home from my memory (bad weather, flight diversions, flight delays), it was yet another awesome success.
I arrived on a Thursday afternoon, but unfortunately my Chicago-local friends were working and the other two out-of-towners in our group weren’t arriving until the following night. Not that I let that stop me…I checked out Taste of Chicago, had a very interesting but delicious appetizer and drink experience at The Gage, and then did a Google search for LGBTQ+ bars nearby and had an amazing evening making new acquaintances at Brian’s Speakeasy. After several very strong gin and tonics, I headed back to my hotel room for a quick online hangout with my BFF Bekah and a good hour or so of writing. I even broke 80,000 words on my next novel, which means I’m within 20,000 or so words of finishing!
On my first full ChicagoCon (Part 2) day, I got to have lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen since 2011, and then lazed away the afternoon by devouring Red Rising by Pierce Brown. Seriously, I could have gone out. I kept trying to convince myself to do so. But I had to finish that book first. And when I did, and it was only 4 PM, and no one else was going to be around until after 8 PM? I visited the closest Barnes & Noble at DePaul University, but they didn’t have the second Red Rising installment in stock. Thankfully they were awesome and called the next closest store, who did have it in stock. This led to me walking four miles round trip to the Barnes & Noble on North State Street to pick up Golden Son. (Which also happened to be on the buy 2, get 1 free table – thanks to the associate who checked me out, I got two more books off my wishlist and Golden Son ended up being free!)
Later that night I had an amazing dinner with Brian at Russian Tea Time by the Art Institute. I have to be honest, the best part was that we were practically alone in the restaurant. I know this place is popular and that doesn’t usually happen, though, but still…the menu was lengthy and the food was great so overall I just really loved the experience.
Also I started playing Pokemon GO while I was there. And downtown Chicago is amazing for that game. Thankfully almost everyone that I hung out with while I was visiting plays it, too, which meant bonding over yet another thing we all love 🙂
Saturday was The Big Day – The Chi Wizard Tournament! Team “10 Pints for GRYFFINDOR!” assembled and did quite well getting stickers from other teams in our VALOROUS attempt to win the Chi Wizard cup (see what I did there, guys? P.S. I’m Team Valor on Pokemon GO haha). And even though we didn’t win the “Tournament”, it was still a lot of fun. While I wasn’t very fond of two out of the four bars on the pub crawl (one was just too small and the other had some really rude employees), I got to chat with some great new people AND hang out with my friends…all while wearing Harry Potter gear and enjoying this “Fantastic Drinks and Where to Find Them” event!
And even when the pub crawl was over, a group of us returned to a friend’s apartment to hang out, play a card game, and randomly re-watch the last two episodes of Game of Thrones season 6 while chowing down on delivered Lou Malnati’s pizza. So that was pretty much perfect.
(Okay, I’ll be honest, we never finished the card game 🙁 )
Sunday was a bit up in the air even after we all woke up that morning (I mean hey, we did participate in a crazy Wrigleyville pub crawl the day before), but in the end five of us gathered together for a trip to U.S. Cellular Stadium to see the White Sox play the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately the White Sox lost, and yes it was hot as hell in those bleachers, but I’m excited that I added another baseball stadium to my list! (Which now includes many trips to Fenway along with visits to SafeCo Field, Wrigley Field, AT&T Park, and of course U.S. Cellular Field.)
After the game it was a quick trip to Kuma’s Too so that Ashley and Brian could finally experience metal music, whiskey on tap, and crazy burgers…though Kuma’s Too was a bit more trendy than Kuma’s Corner, where I ate on a trip to Chicago in the fall of 2014. And from there I headed back to my friends’ house with them, had a good evening hanging out with my friend Dave (a.k.a. “Unky Dave”) when he came home and was shocked to see me chilling on their couch, and even got to O’Hare early the next day to walk around and visit Pokestops and catch Pokemon.
I’ll leave out what happened after I boarded my plane in Chicago, because yeah, other than some travel snafus there, this was definitely a successful Part 2, and may need to become at least an annual thing 😉