Back up North now …
And it’s surprisingly cold/cool here in Chicago! Landed yesterday in pouring rain, about 30 + degrees cooler than when I left Tampa, but happy to have gone and come home safely! Ok so how to sum up ( to borrow from Inigo Montoya)?
Wednesday night I flew out, we sat on the runway about a 1/2 hour due to a pile up of air traffic caused by some rough weather south of Chicago. I didn’t care, no one was waiting, I was taking a cab from the airport so I waited. Aisle seat, no one in middle sleeping cute guy on window seat. I picked up Chelsea Handler’s “Are you there Vodka, It’s me Chelsea?” in the airport, read some of it, very funny. Freebie milk, great attendant staff and uneventful flight. Landing however was something special. There must have been a wicked cross-wind as the plane did lateral figure-8’s all over the place, but the touch down was SO smooth neither I nor my row partner could feel the tires touch down! That’s some flying. I complimented the flight staff, they seemed suitably pleased, as they should have been.
Did a bathroom pit stop and then I’m walking through the airport toward the baggage claim area and I hear “MADDY” and there’s Baccara and Stroker! I didn’t know they were coming! They wisked me down to baggage and my case was ready and waiting and out to the car we went. Easy Peasy.
Casa Serpentine is spacious, grand, beautifully decorated and blissfully air conditioned. Deb and the kids couldn’t have been any nicer or welcoming if they’d tried. Met one of ST’s cohorts in technological wizardry that night, a fascinating fellow that is the end all be all guru of motion capture. Funny thing, a bit I caught sight of last week on the web showing 3 different faces, a young woman, young man, and older man all mirror-emoting was done by this same fellow, Roger Nelson of Motionwerx! A fellow Chicagoan and South sider, we had much to chat about outside of the expected gadgetry and wizardry territories.
Thursday was mostly about party prep for the Luau that night, Stroker and Baccara wizzing about at lightspeed, Fyre and me doing our best to keep up and stay out of the way while business meetings and other things were going on at the same time. Evening time we started doing runs into the city to get folks at the hotel and schlep them out to Casa Serpentine (it’s about 15 miles away so not a short drive), which was fun, as folks were of course in high spirits and rather animated passengers to say the least! After 2 trips and a few cab and rental car loads of folks arrived, the party really got down to business. Folks started stripping down or changing into their swim togs and with a big cannon ball splash, Siggy got us all wet and swimming!
There was a rather Eros-styled ring toss game (blow up hermie doll, excited guy on one side, no shrinkage, perky gal on the other side) which of course got tossed about, mounted, and otherwise abused all night long! We had killer Cuban fewds, jamming tunes, plenty of beverages and some really neat motion capture gear on display. The final trip to the hotel was finished about 3 am and we all vegged for a bit by the pool and then went to sleep for a few hours.
Friday was more business meetings at the house for Stroker, and some running around for supplies and a lot of party prep for Saturday. By evening we were ready to head down to the hotel for some Linden meet and greet and Irish pub socializing courtesy of Ham Rambler at the Four Green Fields tavern. There were live musicians inside and out, plenty of piccys taken, and of course there was tons of hugging and grinning and storytelling and giggling going on.
Saturday was full-on party prep, and set up and some rather dramatic last minute changes. I ended up DJing for about 2 hours, off of one DVD of Stroker’s music, via Windows Media Player (not SAM), mic patched into Nala’s board, Nala running the switcher and volume for me from behind a “gotta climb up over into the booth, not in my damn satin dress mind you” wall. Nala figured out the tech and I cobbled together a playlist and somehow it worked, folks danced and I am not ashamed of that set. Nala was the closer and BOY HOWDY did Nala knock it outtta the park. This was a set for the ages, he had folks sweating and boogying their brains out despite the heat (the AC didn’t keep pace w/the heat the SLers were putting out)! Only sour note really was the way security ended the event, that venue was tops otherwise but man they really gotta work on their people skills, they all but threw folks out the door like they were misbehaving in a cheap 50’s western bar brawl. We cleared out the essential stuff and dropped off the extra booze at the hotel. Well Baccara and I did, Stroker and Fyre went to go up to Nex’s room for more party, but by the time they got there the party had already been busted by the Tampa PD and moved out to a patio.
Sleep, sweet sleep, on Sunday and then we went downtown to let Stroker moderate a panel, and me hang w/Trin and Nala for a bit before they snagged a cab w/Alexa and Baccara to the airport. Sat with Pulaski and some other SLers in the lobby chatting till Stroker & Fyre came down and we went for KILLER Hawaiian Fuision cuisine at Roy’s (wee there’s one in Chicago too!). Nom nom nom nom nom. Go if you have a chance. Took Fyre to the airport, went to a beach on a causeway so I could dip my fingers in the bay (Atlantic ocean was a bit farther away than I realized hehehehee), walk on the sand and snap a few piccys. Back to the house and some nice quiet time with the family till it was bed time.
Monday was some talking, some biz calls for Stroker and me packing up all the lewt he sent me home with, yea for expandable luggage. We arrived at the airport and found that my luggage was WAY overweight, to the tune of 150 bucks! We quickly emptied one of the boxes in the trunk, shoved a mess of gear in that, taped it up and voila! only 40 bucks to ship it all back! Whew! I boarded my flight, had 2 rather funny row mates and had a rather smooth uneventful trip home. Landed in pouring rain, got all the gear in the car and blithered my poor dad’s ears off with the above. And that’s the trip in a nutshell.
The most important thing about this year is how much nicer it was, as an experience, being so much smaller. I wasn’t in pain like before, I wasn’t wheezing and panting and having to stop out of breath. Only trouble with clothes was some were a little BIGGER than optimal fit. I was able and willing to do much more this time and I’m so very grateful to all the folks that have supported and encouraged me all along the process and it was really great for them to SEE me and see how that has paid off.
So now we can all look forward to next year, where ever it may be, and how to get even more of the folks we know and love there in person at the same time! I expect to be smaller still, more mobile and hopefully a little better prepared, as I only had about 2 weeks to prep for the trip it was such a long shot, me getting there! Again for the billionth time I gotta thank my Pops for helping me find the money to get me there, Stroker and family for putting me up/up with me, and all of my friends for their support and hugs and laughs and giggles and fondlings!
It was a great week and an amazing time I would wish upon anyone!
I’ll have photos up on Flickr today I think tomorrow at the latest.