This was an odd Bouchercon in that because it was spread all over the place I didn’t get to see nearly as many people as I had hoped. But, because it was so spread out, there weren’t the huge groups of people everywhere I went so I found that the interactions I did have with people were much more engaging and meaningful. I don’t know that I would want a BCon that spread out again, but for one where I had a bunch of work I needed to get done, it worked well.
So let’s start with Thursday. I flew out ridiculously early in the morning and had a layover in Philly. I don’t normally fly with layovers (I hate the take-off and landing parts of flying so why increase that?) but Albany seemed to be one of those places you couldn’t fly to directly without paying a fortune, so layover it was.
My original plan was to fly into NYC, which is dirt cheap from Detroit, and then rent a car and drive up to Albany. But as I kept trying to make the schedule work to get back to the city from Albany on Sunday I just couldn’t make it work. I’m kind of disappointed because I had a steady streak of getting to NYC every six years since 1995. The last time I was there was in 2007 for Edgar Week so I could meet Stephen King. I don’t forsee any other trips there this year so the streak ends.
Anyway, my flight was delayed in Philly for about an hour then I got into Albany. This is where I knew Albany was…different. I had met up with Michael Wiley and CJ Carpenter at the airport in Philly, so we all figured to share a cab to the hotel because we’d heard horror stories about how long it took for pickups from the free hotel shuttle. So we headed to the cab lane and instead of a bunch of cabs lined up like I’ve normally seen at an airport, there was one very petty little man running the entire show. He saw Michael and I first and we asked for a cab. CJ was coming up behind us because she was dragging a big ass suitcase that probably should have had an elephant towing it.
After the cab dictator told Michael and I $30 to the hotel he saw CJ with us and told her it would be an additional $30 just for her because he thought we were trying to grab random strangers off the street to lower the price of our cab. I don’t see why that should matter, but this seemed to deeply offend our cab czar and he argued with us vehemently about how we were trying to put one over on him. So finally, we got him to let us all in the same cab, but instead of a flat rate, he told the driver to put us on the meter. And if that wasn’t bad enough, while we’re riding to the hotel, this guy called the driver over the radio AND on his cell phone to tell the driver to drop us off somewhere other than where we’re going to get more money out of us.
I could probably do an entire post on my airport adventures, but let’s just get to Albany. When I finally got to the convention center, I wandered around trying to see people, but realized rather quickly it wasn’t going to be that kind of Bouchercon. I was hungry so I found a McDonalds in the convention center food court that took twice as long to get me my drink as it did to get me my food. I did see Reed Coleman in line and we chatted about the great service, so that was cool. After that I went back to the hotel to catch up on some editing I had to do.
I emerged from my hotel several hours later to head to the opening ceremonies. This was another chance to completely miss people I wanted to see. I got text messages from people who were in the same room as me, but I couldn’t find them. After that I went with Mike Underwood and some of the Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry authors and fans to an Italian restaurant for dinner. The conversation was great, as was the food, and after that they headed off to the Crimespree party while I headed back to my hotel to do some more editing. I didn’t want to wait for the hotel shuttle, so I walked back on my own. I was a little worried about the city after dark, but I saw two cops on bikes as I was walking so I didn’t think it could be that dangerous. I ended up passing on the bar that night and falling asleep at 11:30pm because I’m old. Also, I wanted to get up early so I could finish up my editing and spend the rest of the conference out and about socializing.
In part 2, we’ll get to the meat of the conference and you’ll get more details about my bathtub vomiting and luggage trials. It’ll be awesome.