Thursday (Day 0)
It was a long, long drive from Burlington to Kitchener to Chicago, but at least I had good company with my awesome friend (and driver) Ragz and equally awesome boyfriend Mr Stark. Highlights of the drive included watching the first episode of Daredevil, dropping in on my parents for a short visit, billboards for Lion's Den because we're mature grown-ups, and marveling at Michigan's roadkill (too many raccoons and deer to count plus TWO wild turkeys!). Lowlights included a traffic jam for an invisible flipped truck before we even picked up Stark, a long detour before realizing that the GPS was sending us to Ottawa to avoid toll roads, the interstate we needed to be on literally not existing due to construction, and creating a time paradox (I mean, getting confused) when the GPS knew that Chicago is in a different time zone but we didn't.
In the end we arrived exactly 12 hours after leaving (objective time) and were very relieved to discover that the Chicago South Loop Hotel was precisely as advertised: free parking, free wifi, clean and pretty, and the staff were all very very nice ^_^ We took a quick walk around the area after settling in and ate at the only place we found: White Castle. Started to realize why the hotel was so affordable.
We started off our convention bright and (relatively) early with a photoshoot! The AnarCHris (of Chris and Carrie Creative) arranged for a Hawkeye-based cosplay group to get together for some fun photo times. CHris was Hawkguy, Allycat Alisha was Mockingbird, Pepperbots was Black Widow, I contributed Kate Bishop, and of course, that's Ragz as Wiccan and Stark as Deadpool/Iron Pool. Big thanks go to Eddie B Photos for taking the pictures!
We had wanted to catch Adam WarRock in concert not to far from the hotel on Friday night, but exhaustion and a few other things conspired against us. Things like having an extremely difficult time getting a hold of some dinner, and having to evacuate the hotel for a possible fire somewhere on the second floor. In the rain. That was... fun? Not really. So that was lame - I had really wanted to see him live.
This was the Crown Championships of Cosplay day, and a lot of my day was taken up with craftsmanship judging and photos and greenroom time and the actual show... but not quite the whole day. We stopped by the Marvel photo shoot in the cosplay lounge for a little bit and the guys hopped into some photos. I made sure to stop by the Image booth with Izabel, found a The Will cosplayer for a photo (unfortunately I didn't see any of the other Saga cosplayers who were around that day), and said hi to CHris and Carrie over at the Athena's Wink booth. And then costume touch-ups and back to the contest stuff.
As the only day when none of us had any obligations in the morning, we all slept in. Very snooze, much yes, etc. When we did get moving, Stark and I went with our Viria13-Avatar costumes. I regret not getting a chance to do a test run of Zuko's scar before hand, but after just a couple of attempts I think I got something acceptable. It was barely visible under his wig and hood anyways, and at least now we know how to prepare for wearing them again at Anime North. Like, three people recognized us as our characters (though two of the three thought I was Azula, not Mai) so that's good I guess? In our relatively "comfortable" costumes, Sunday became designated shopping day while we picked up some things for ourselves, a couple of gifts for people at home, and too many (ha!) copies of Yaya Han's bodysuit pattern from the McCall's booth as requested by friends at home. The rest of the night was spent decompressing back at the hotel with some drinks, card games, Daredevil, and Game of Thrones.
I had hoped that we could do some sightseeing before heading back home on Monday, but we were all pretty worn out from the weekend, and considering how long the drive to Chicago took, ultimately the decision was made just to drive back home. It was another long trip, though significantly shorter this time since we never got caught in traffic, construction, or headed the wrong way. Tried to turn roadkill-spotting into an actual game (especially in that apparent Michigan Kill-Zone), but nobody wanted to keep score. "No Stark, for the last time, we're not stopping at Lion's Den". And the last bit of geekery for the trip: getting Ragz hooked on Thrilling Adventure Hour on the ride home. It was pretty good driving entertainment ^_^
But tell us Mai Sheri, how did C2E2 measure up?
I had fun at the con. It was nice to see my AmeriCon friends and meet some new ones. There were a lot of cool guests and panels and meet-ups going on. Lots of fun, positive cosplayers, and if the exchange rate wasn't so bad, I would have come home with a LOT of books and merch. Unfortunately, a lot of other factors decreased my enjoyment a bit, mainly our issue with the hotel's location. It was the same distance from the convention as our hotel was from NYCC when Ragz and I were last there, so I thought it would be fine, but the big difference was that the NYC hotel was close to countless restaurants, coffee shops, convenience stores, etc, while South Loop had nothing. So concerns about food and travel meant that I didn't do as much socializing as I would have liked, and that also contributed to missing some meets and panels I would have liked to have seen. As did the cosplay contest.... I'm used to giving up a lot of my Saturday if I'm competing in (or staffing) the masquerade, but this one was definitely the biggest time-sink so far.
I would like to return to C2E2 again... but I probably won't be back next year. Even though I had a great time at the con, I have a limited travel budget, and I think in 2016, I'd like to try somewhere new, once again ^_^