Thursday, January 23, 2014

Her Royal Majesties Steampunk Symposium the Third (Recap - part I)

I have to say that Her Royal Majesties Steampunk Symposium has come along way in the three years it's been happening. Every year seems to get better, though there is always something new that surprises us, sometimes good, other times not so good, but the organizers still put on a good event and we have fun.

The event ran from January 10th through January 12th on the Queen Mary, though this year, my partner in crime Cindy (from Original Cin) decided that since neither of us are really morning people, we should head up on Thursday afternoon instead of at O'dark thirty Friday morning. Let's just say that is the new standard for this event. I took the day off from my full time job and headed to the shop to try to finish up some custom work and pack up all the merchandise for the weekend. I had grand ideas of being able to finish a custom vest and then pack everything, which went right out the window when I stopped back at home after dropping my daughter off at school.

I made some much needed coffee and then packed up my clothes for the weekend, the intent was to get my clothes packed and hope that while I was doing so, Fedex would show up with the box of shirts that were due to arrive from Sigh Co. Graphics. Sadly I didn't get that lucky and after I was all packed up I sat down and visited with my roommate until about 9:30 am, when we both decided that if we were going to get what we needed done for the day we needed to get our butts in motion.

After loading up the truck with everything from the house that I needed, except the box of shirts that were still in transit, I swung by where my husband was working and picked up the floor dolly from the trunk of his car. From there I  headed over to the shop and started digging out the merchandise containers which were mostly packed up from the last show we did back in November.  While I packed, I fired up the laptop and started doing the sign printing I needed for the weekend. (yay multitasking!)

My husband swung by after he was done at work to help me load and spent at least an hour sitting there watching me. His comment: "I remember why I don't help you pack, I just end up sitting here", and he's right, I have such a system of packing that it usually ends up being a nightmare if anyone besides Cindy helps me (just ask Tawmis & Andee), though I am getting a bit better about giving direction, somewhat.

Now, we moved the shop back in June from Casa de Oro, Ca to Lemon Grove, Ca, which is about 6 miles west of where we were. The space is almost twice as big and is much more secure. The drawback, we're on the 4th floor and the elevator is tiny as well as temperamental at times. This means multiple elevator trips to get everything downstairs. Getting things to the truck is another adventure since there is a breezeway you drive through to get to the back of the building to the slope hill of a parking lot. The breezeway is mostly flat and is wide enough for two cars, but the security guard gets a bit cantankerous if you are parked there too long. The only other option is to pull into one of the two handicap parking spots, which has it's own ramifications (expensive ones too!).

Queue to the loading. When you do something multiple times you eventually get it down to a science and I have certainly got that done with loading in and out of the shop. We stage everything out into the hall and one person takes a load down in the elevator, sends the elevator back up and lather, rinse repeat until everything is down in the lobby.

Then it's time to get the truck and park it in the fire lane, much to the irritation  of the security guard, of course he's can't really complain about it too much, since 1. there is no loading zone and 2. we are parked there *maybe* 15-20 minutes max. This is how it goes:

Truck loaded and ready to go
1. 12 pieces of grid wall into the bed of the truck, trying carefully to not smash the Hell out of ones fingers. Trust me, grid wall is evil, but it's one of the best ways to display our stuff (at least at this juncture)

2. Load the large black storage containers of which there are 5. This becomes a game of Tetris, mostly because I forget how they get put in from show to show, you'd think I'd remember after 18 shows with the damn things.

3. Then fit in any additional (smaller) tubs, boxes, suitcases and then the dollies to move everything around and then strap it all down with tie downs. Shake the items to make sure they're not going anywhere and then....

4. Stuff all the loose stuff (usually the sewing machine, purse, handing clothes, etc.) into the back seat of the truck.

5. Profit! well...not yet at least.

From there is was off to the gas station and then swinging by to pick up Cindy, who was just getting home from work and then time to hit the open highway for Long Beach.

2 miles down the road, the realization hits, the sewing machine is still at the shop. Off the freeway we go to the shop to grab the sewing machine, (the foot pedal was already packed) and then a quick stop at Taco Bell because I hadn't eaten yet. Trust me with no food is a bad for a lot of people's health, almost as hazardous as me without coffee.

Sewing machine - check
Food - check
Full tank of gas - check

Alright take two on the road to Long Beach, with a couple side stops. First stop, the printers to get the posters I had made with the new logo, then CVS to get a binder, batteries and some Airborne, and the last stop being my place of employment to stop by and pick up the last piece of my Christmas gift from Tawmis. Which was pretty damn amazing! (Photos later)

Then onto the open road known as Interstate 5 North. After all the stops, it was about 3:30 pm before we were actually headed out of San Diego where we began to have little feelings of dread. Why you ask? Well for anyone who lives in Southern California, you know that people start leaving work around 4pm, which would drop us into Los Angeles about 5 pm, (see where I'm heading with this?) right into rush hour traffic.

With a quick bathroom break (too much ice tea!) at the rest stop just before Camp Pendelton, we fired up the first episode the Comic Relief Podcast, done by my dear friends Tawmis & Maico. Then we switched over to Welcome to Night Vale. Surprisingly traffic only slowed down and never really came to a complete stop. We sailed into Long Beach at about 5:45pm, parked the truck and checked into our room on the Queen Mary.

We still had about an hour to kill before we could unload everything for the event though. While Cindy and I were plotting a plan of attack for the unload as we walked to our suite, Andee (Twylite Creations) texted me asking to let her know when we arrived to which I responded with "We just got here." to which she frantically responded with.."I'll be there shortly."

Upon entering our suite, Cindy and I plopped down our suitcases and turned to look at the room. First words out of Cindy's mouth, "Where is the bathroom?" The first door she went to was the one to the adjoining room which was locked and then she opened the closet and well discovered it was a closet and not the bathroom.

Confused, we both looked at each other and she asked "Did you get us a room without a bathroom?!?"

"Uh, it's a suite it better have a @$()@*)(@ bathroom." I replied.
It wouldn't be setup without one of these photos.

She went to the adjoining door again and stood there puzzled as I went to close the hotel room door and upon that, discovered the door to the bathroom. Laughing we breathed a sigh of relief , as Cindy says "It's going to be one of those Cons isn't it?"

"Isn't it always?" was my reply.

After getting our stuff settled in, we headed upstairs to see if we might be able to get into the vendor room a bit early. Sadly the doors were still locked and the staff was still marking off spaces. Just as we got back down to the lobby, we see Andee walk through the doors with her suitcases, so we walked her and her stuff to the room AND told her where the bathroom was. By this time it was 6:45, so we decided to go unload the truck figuring that we'd be upstairs about the time the vendor room was open for load-in.
Booth setup as interpretive dance performed by Cindy

We arrived at the Queen's Lounge at 7:01 pm and true to form for any Con, they were still laying out booth spaces. We only had to wait about 15 minutes before our space was done (same space as last year) and then we began to plot. As always we set up the grid wall in a U shape and then did the same with the tables. After much shifting we had everything ready to go, of course I extended the grid wall set up and there were two extra panels on one side, which made Andee's OCD want to run to a corner and rock in it repeatedly.

By the time we were done it was about 8:15. Since my last meal was about 2:30 pm, we decided that we'd finish setting up in the morning since we had 4 hours before the vendor hall opened.

After a quick stop at the hotel room to drop off things like the cash box, we headed off to the shuttle. The shuttle has to be by far one of my favorite things about this event. It's free and it takes us right into downtown Long Beach where all the restaurants are. True to form, we took the opportunity to dine at The Auld Dubliner. I mean really, who can pass up good food and whiskey as well as great customer service.

After dinner we made our way back to the shuttle stop to return to the hotel. Now for those of you who haven't been to downtown Long Beach or the Queen Mary, there are two shuttles, on that drops off from the Queen Mary and one that picks up. Like any bus service, I'm sure they switch their signs halfway through the route. The first shuttle up was the one coming from the Queen Mary and if any of you remember the first year we did this show, we took the wrong shuttle and got to enjoy(hah!) the scenic route back to the hotel. Of course it only took us once to learn the error of our ways.

So when this particular shuttle showed up and was mostly full, we asked, just to double check that it was going back to the hotel and the bus driver replied with "Eventually, but I'm going the long way." and then continued by saying that we should take his bus otherwise we'd be riding "Grumpy's" bus. We  chuckled and said that we would wait, when suddenly the crowd on the bus began chanting for us to get on. The three of us looked at each other, chuckled, shrugged and joined the crowd on the bus. Much cheering was had as we boarded, of course my comment was "They really don't know what they're getting themselves into, do they?"
To which Cindy laughed and shook her head.

I'm sure Cindy and Andee would agree, best bus ride ever! The bus driver joked and socialized with everyone on the bus, and then banter that went back between us, him and the group of business men was priceless. The driver even circled the roundabouts multiple times and flickered the bus lights on and off. We ended up dubbing it the party bus. Sadly the group of businessmen that convinced us to ride the bus with them, departed 3 stops later, but that didn't stop the friendly banter with the bus driver. At one stop, he even came back and talked to us for a few minutes.

Upon our return to the boat, he got on the loud speaker and said good-bye to us as we crossed the parking lot.

Returning to our room we all  decided to turn in for the night so we'd be ready for the final set up and first day of vending.

Part II

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