|Old dude at the leaning table, Blues BBQ Company, Roanoke, VA|
This year, I ended up spending less time than usual at the con and more time wandering Roanoke with Kimberly — snagging geocaches when appropriate, of course. I did participate in four panels, which all went swimmingly, and I quite enjoyed the dealers' room and art show. By all accounts, the programming went smoothly this year, with panels commencing and ending right on time, and con personnel typically on hand to reign in out-of-control aliens (though it did appear that a squad of Imperial stormtroopers crashed a Mardi Gras party in one of the banquet rooms; I hope there was no shooting, for the stormtroopers wouldn't have had a prayer). I understand the judges of the costume contest dilly-dallied far too long, but that particular activity is one for which I have little affinity, so I did not experience this frustration firsthand. My compliments to programming director Jeremy Stroup and his team, who evidently had things well in paw this year.
|Creeple people enjoying drinks — and|
frightening the passersby — by firelight
on the terrace of the Hotel Roanoke
For Kimberly and I, the weekend's highlight was the Hotel Roanoke itself, which hosted the con this year. We only stayed there Saturday night, since it's a bit on the pricey side, but its central location made it easy for us to get out and about and find myriad interesting corners in the downtown area. There's lots... and I mean lots... of choices for dining, and we discovered some distinctive and surprisingly affordable establishments. Besides the barbecue joint, we enjoyed Alejandro's Mexican Grill, Metro!, Thai Continental, and Wasabi's — not to mention the hotel bar, The Pine Room (which served as an officer's club in World War II). After dinner at Wasabi's last night, upon our return to the hotel, we discovered numerous lit braziers providing warmth out on the hotel terrace, so Brugger and I spent a quarter hour or so sitting in the frigid wilds of downtown Roanoke, sipping wine and martinis, and loving every freezing minute of it. Despite oftentimes painfully cold temperatures and roaring high winds, we walked just about everywhere (which, after some of these meals, was the only decent thing to do), and I have to say I enjoyed Roanoke's character more than I ever thought I would. In my college days at Ferrum, only a few miles down the road from there, I visited Roanoke frequently (on its original run, I saw Star Wars in theaters 23 times, most of them in Roanoke — I beg your pardon, I am not a geek!), and I've been back through there many times over the years, but I'd say the city has remade itself remarkably in the past two or three decades. Go, Roanoke!
I, for one, hope Shevacon will be back at the grand hotel next year, and that, for our part, circumstances are right for a return engagement.
That is all.
|The Hotel Roanoke viewed from the downtown Railwalk; that wonderful covered walkway|
more than once offered us some much-needed respite from howling arctic winds.