Ye Olde Mo*Con III Report...
With the string of snafus getting longer and nastier at the Indianapolis airport yesterday afternoon, I wasn't sure I was going to make it home before growing too old to know where I was. But after a very late departure and a route that turned a 170-mile flight into an over 500-mile flight, I made my connection at Chicago's O'Hare (only just) and arrived back in Greensboro last night, barely an hour later than scheduled. Of course I had heard about the big storms in the midwest, but until I ended up flying over portions of Indiana, Missouri, and Illinois, I had no real conception of how widespread it was. From 35,000 feet, as far as the eye could see, the midwest looked like the world's biggest mud puddle. In places, there was more water than terrain; it looked like an endless, shallow lake with occasional land features protruding. On Friday, just after I arrived, Indianapolis got some further big rain, but it broke later in the day, and the rest of the weekend was beautiful.
Mo*Con III got off to a propitious start: as soon as I checked into the hotel, I set out to find some nearby geocaches — in the pouring rain, of course. Found a couple; then headed over to the Broaddus house, courtesy of Maurice's beautiful and talented young assistant, Lauren (who deserves special credit for going far beyond the call of duty in transporting folks all over creation and making sure Maurice was doing what he oughta be when he oughta be). Met Maurice's lovely wife Sally (also deserving of special credit, particularly for enduring the burdens Maurice drops upon her!) and their energetic kids, plus many of the other guests and nefarious infiltrators, such as her hineyness Alethea Kontis, Kelli "Horror Wench" Dunlap, Nick Mamatas, Chesya Burke, Sara Larson, Michael West, and Kim Paffenroth. Then I left again with Lauren to abduct Matt Cardin upon his arrival at the airport, which we did in short order.
Back to the Broaddus's for an excellent dinner of chicken marsala and fettucine Alfredo, then to the Dwelling Place (Where It All Happened). Then, for one of the weekend's highlights, I led Lauren, the Wench, and Princess Alethea on a geocaching excursion to a nearby graveyard. Found the cache in short order and then headed out to a nearby park to seek another one. It was here that things began to unravel. Turned out there was no direct way to the cache other than to bushwhack through thick foliage, so Kelli and Lauren remained near the very busy road while Alethea and I ventured into the brush. We come upon water...and more water...and more water...and finally, Alethea says she's going to hold up. I go in farther and farther...and suddenly I'm surrounded by deep water on all sides. It's some real flooding we have here! Then I hear Alethea hollering at me that the cops have arrived on the scene. I come out of the woods to hear Lauren telling a couple of officers, "We're from the church! This is a church outing!" Kelli's telling the cops that the guy coming out of the woods will explain. So I tell them all about geocaching; they tell us we probably don't want to be skulking around in the woods and busy road in this area. We all agree it's a good idea, so we head back to The Dwelling Place, and ten to one the cops went out to hunt caches. The band Mother Grove was now hard at it, cranking out some rockin' Celtic sounds, which I enjoyed a lot. Eventually, I headed back to the hotel; no telling what time it was.
Saturday was a day of panels and food. Got to meet my longtime online Viking buddy, Bob Freeman; the beautiful Tracy Jones; redheaded horror firebrand Debbie Kuhn; Doug Warrick, Jason Sizemore, and many of the attending Indiana Horror Writers (forgive me for not having everyone's name in the old mental file cabinet). I was then pleased as all get-out to get to see old friend Gary Braunbeck after too many years, and to meet Lucy Snyder for the first time. Some invigorating panel discussion followed; first on spirituality and writing, with Matt Cardin (moderator), Maurice, Nick, Bob, Kim, Gary, and myself. Then I moderated a panel about editing, which ended up being fairly lively, with Nick, Jason, Chesya, Matt, and Frank Creed. Luncheon followed, consisting of many varieties of chili, some hot and spicy enough to make me smile. Then...geocaching. Snagged a couple (including the one from the waterlogged park, at long last), then returned for the Role of Gender in Horror panel, featuring Lucy, Gary, Chesya, Kelli, and Natalie Crish.
Spent an enjoyable Saturday evening back at Chez Broaddus, with a pizza supper and hangout time in the yard (a.k.a. mosquito heaven) with beaucoup Mo*Conners. Returned to the hotel at a reasonable hour (just after midnight, I believe) and went geocaching.
Sunday Morning opened with a church service at the Dwelling Place, the main feature being Brian Keene's testimony from the first Mo*Con. Very enlightening, moving, and entertaining. The service was often insightful, but it needed a good editor. After lunch, it was a wee bit more geocaching — this time unsuccessful, alas — and then off for the airport debacle. At least I got to spend some additional quality time with Matt and Nick while waiting on our respective flights.
Maurice, you have my admiration for undertaking an event as involved as Mo*Con, for which you receive mainly the intangible benefits of the company you bring in. It's got to be physically taxing as well as emotionally draining, but I hope you're up to it for a long time to come, as I really hope to return — even if I'm just a lowly infiltrator. For me it was a memorable experience — uplifting in every way.
Plus, I worked in some good geocaching and got some of us busted by the cops. How much better could it get?