We are finally home from an epic trip across the country to venture into the wilds of Arizona for the second Wild Wild West Con at Old Tucson Studios just outside of Tucson, Arizona. With over 3,000 miles logged on the odometer, this was one of our longest trips to date. The first time we made this trip, we didn’t leave ourselves enough time and drove the entire length of the journey in one shot, both ways. Wise to our mistake from two years ago, we broke the trip into two days on the way there and three days on the way back. It’s been quite a while since some of our members, including myself, have had the chance to see their families, and we took this opportunity on the road to make some much needed visits. On our way there, we stopped in to see Mr. Fox’s family and celebrate his grandfather’s 90th birthday. I can not say enough about how incredibly awesome these fine folks are, not that I am surprised. I’ve known their grandson for over a year now, and he’s pretty cool too. They graciously let us stay in the house that his aunt is building and met us with wonderful food and all the cookies in the world. I will say that I was really proud of us this trip. We planned ahead. Saved money for some side trips. Made lists. Prepped the cars and got out on time which was no small feat as the departure time for each day was before 7am. I thought we had remembered everything…right up until the point that the tire blew out on the trailer on the side of I-10 outside of El Paso. Right. About that. You always forget something. This trip, it was forgetting to buy a new spare tire for the trailer after it blew out the last time. Oops. But these are the moments that define us, and true to form, the crew was up to the task.
Attica, Luthiem, Zombie and Mr. Fox departed on an epic quest for a tire in the middle of nowhere, Texas. Cap, Suzeaux, Kitty, Wyatt, our often times travel mate, Joe and myself defended the van and trailer. And by defended, I mean boredly sat on the side of I-10 watching the fires in Mexico from the highway. A nice DPS officer stopped by to check on us, poke around the trailer and warn us to stay on our side of the highway. No real warning was necessary as the big fence and lights within visual distance of the other side of the highway was enough deterrent on it’s own. But we thanked him, and heeded his warnings. After the first hour, we were bored to tears, but apparently Budweiser in glass bottles is the highway drink of choice around there, and the previous travelers in the area left us copious numbers of bottles to create our own carnival game on the side of the road. Joe, Suzeaux and Kitty decided that it was the perfect time to build and fly kites, and after discovering a plastic bag, some sticks, duct tape and tearing apart some old headphones, they were happily running up and down the embankment of I-10 flying their new creation while the rest of us kept score at our makeshift pitch and toss. Two hours passed and our scouting party returned victorious. Trailer tire in tow, the crew came bearing tales of visiting Novac, waiting in a strange junk yard nervously waiting for ghouls to jump from behind the derelict cars. The place they found the tire wasn’t listed in any phone book and I’m not entirely sure that it would exist if we tried to find it again. But it was there when we needed even if it had to appear from the Fallout universe to help us out. Dr. Nightshade, I imagine you had something to do with that. 🙂 And as night was falling, we were off again. The rest of the journey was pleasant and uneventful.
We arrived at Old Tucson Studios early Friday morning and it was every bit as breathtakingly beautiful as I remembered it to be. I’ll be honest. Wild Wild West Con II had a lot to live up to. The inaugural event is a trip and and convention that
those of us who had the honor of attending talk about to this day. Big shoes to fill. But the event lived up to even our inflated expectations. It was fantastic. The programming was more streamlined than the first year, and we had the opportunity to work with some of the other guests on panels. We never pass up the opportunity to share the stage with Steampunk Bobba Fett, John Strangeway and Penny Dreadful Productions maker, Joe Hernandez. With them in the room, you know it’s going to be fun. We also got to meet and work with some of the members of L.O.S.E.R.S, a steampunk villians group out of the west. It’s always great to see and hear what other groups are thinking and talking about. And I have to give it up personally, for the people who attended the Character Building panel. I’ve done this panel I don’t even know how many times, and it is always entertaining. The participants at WWWC2 took the cake, and came up with probably the most fantastic, dynamic character that I have seen to date. Most panels end up with pretty interesting characters, but these guys went above and beyond and created a character that could have walked into the Percy Jackson universe and kicked his behind into Hades. Yay for a large group of people with knowledge of Greek mythology and a tremendous sense of humor. Bartholomew “Bart” Randy Jenkins, I will remember you fondly. Another plus this year was that the vendors were given more space and a number of all weather tents to gather in which was a good thing. The weather the first two days threatened to turn this event into the kind of story that everyone wants to tell, but no one wants to be a part of. It threatened to snow. There were thunderstorms. But the big winner was the
wind and the sand. The wind was strong enough one day that the larger vendor tent was very nearly airborne. But the participants, entertainers, vendors and staff were all wonderful, and jumped up to pitch in and help. In the end, the tent was saved and everything was business as usual come Sunday morning.
On Sunday, we brought together a small group of friends and crewmates and welcomed into the crew our two newest prospects, David Orenday and Rebecca Harrison. They had survived and thrived during their six month probation period and (perhaps foolishly) didn’t run for the hills screaming into the night. These two accepted positions in a time when ASI was in one of its most hectic , crazy and heartwrenching moments. They walked into the fire willingly, stuck it out and experienced perhaps one of the hardest prospect trials that any member has had to face since Gen 2. Guys, its been a long time since we’ve had a trial by fire like the six months you had to experience and learn in. We could not be prouder of what you have done and how you have held yourselves. Welcome to our dysfunctional, crazy, creative family.
At the event, the level of costuming and gear was outstanding. Everyone really did bring their best and brightest and it made for a beautiful setting for the event. As Sunday wound to a close, it was the first event in a very long time that I was sad to see coming to an end. We met some wonderful new friends and were really pleased to see some familiar faces so far from home. We ran around and grabbed some last minute snapshots, and then prepared for the journey home.
On the return trip, we stopped at the White Sands National Monument and spent a few hours sand sledding and just being silly before crashing for the night at Mr. Fox’s family home again. The next morning brought bone hunting and exploring and saying good bye to the Austin crew before heading to my family’s house to visit my newborn niece and her big sister.Oh and her mom and dad too :-).
The whole experience was wonderful and we can’t wait to do it again next year. I really can’t say enough good things about this con. I want to thank a few people specifically for making this event something really special for us. First, Amber Solis was assigned the thankless task of taking care of us for the weekend. Poor poor girl. She was awesome and funny and just a joy to be around the whole bloody time. Thank you for putting up with dirty wayward pirates with a smile. It really means a lot to us. Second, Diane and John, you made my little girls whole event. The fastest way to a mother’s heart is through her children, and you have me firmly in your debt. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. If I can ever return the favor, you have but to ask. Finally, Ryan and Jason, you guys rock. The event was wonderful and I appreciate everything you did in putting this together.