…for giving me a new way to spell my name. This is the most creative one I’ve seen so far!
By Day 4, we were Dragon Con’d out and ready to head home for some rest before starting the work week. We had no idea what kind of traffic to expect in Atlanta on a Memorial Day weekend as a lot of the other 60k Dragon Conners were also heading home. We skipped breakfast at the hotel and headed North on I-75. We stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast, then topped off the tank and resumed our northward journey. I was using Waze to navigate home and throughout Atlanta all we heard was “Watch out… police reported ahead” about every 45 seconds. They were out in force trying to catch people heading home a little faster than they ought to be.
With our first Dragon Con behind us, We thought we’d share a few of our thoughts and observations.
Today we tried to get up early enough to have breakfast down in the hotel restaurant but after walking around the buffet and seeing what kind of food they were offering for $20 person, we decided to just have bagels and fruit from the Starbucks counter again. We then took the shuttle from the hotel and went to the Con arriving a little after 8:30 a.m. The Dragon Con parade was today and it started at 10 AM. and the sides of the streets were already filling up. It was a beautiful morning so we hiked up to where the staging area was. The closer we got, the thinner the crowd became. We found a good spot on a hill where the parade would be marching up. The sun was going to be at our back and we had a nice soft pile of mulch to sit in. Win!
It was going to be about an hour before the parade started, so we sat down and I got my camera ready. I bought a new digital camera several months ago, a Panasonic Lumix LX7. It’s a great camera, almost a cross between a DSLR and a micro 4:3. It only has the one lens, but it has a large image sensor and full control over the aperture and shutter. The only problem is there’s no viewfinder, which makes taking pictures in bright daylight a little hard. Fortunately for my birthday, Joy’s parents bought me an electronic viewfinder for it!
Joy and I decided that this year for our birthday gift to each other and for our 10th anniversary, we would go to Dragon Con in Atlanta. If you’ve never heard of Dragon Con, it’s like Comic Con, just a little smaller and a lot closer. It’s a 4 day convention that spans 5 hotels in downtown Atlanta. There’s a parade, costume contests, parties, vendors, and panels on all manner of video/board games, movies, literature, fan films, comics, cartoons, and pop culture. It’s basically Nerdigras!
This year’s Dragon Con took place over the Memorial Day weekend and started on the Thursday before. So we hired a house/dog sitter, made reservations, chose the panels and events we wanted to see and hit the road Thursday after work. We had a big weekend ahead of us, and since we didn’t arrive in Atlanta until around 11pm, we tried to get a good night’s rest.
Last weekend my friend Todd and I drove Pokey up to Effingham, IL for MidAmerica Motorworks 15th Annual Funfest. I had never been before and I’ve always been curious to see what this show was all about. It was going to be a bit of a trek, about 421 miles each way–that’s about twice as far away as my previous road trip in Pokey to Carrollton, GA.
We’d planned to stay at Camp Lakewood in Todd’s VW camper van “Daisy”, but rain was forecast for our trip up and Todd said that if he drove Daisy in the rain, there was no seal under the fiberglass top and our sleeping are would get soaked. So I made reservations at a hotel and both rode in my car. I think we were both a little nervous at first, since I had just finished restoring Pokey about 2 months ago and the longest trip he had under his belt was to Birmingham.
The drive up to Illinois was pretty smooth but we did have a few interesting things happen along the way. We were just outside of Athens and following a semi when one of the semi trailer’s tires exploded in front of us. Thankfully there was no one in the adjacent lane and we swerved over to the left and avoided any tire shrapnel.
As we got closer to Nashville, it started to sprinkle. That’s not unusual in itself, but we started noticing dark blue rain drops on the windshield. I don’t have a windshield washer tank, so it wasn’t leaking from me. We pulled off at the first exit and noticed this blue fluid was all over my hood too! We quickly wiped it off with some shop rags and detail spray and then headed back onto the highway.
As we were driving through Kentucky, the needle on my speedometer starting dancing back and forth about 5mph. About 15 minutes later, I looked down and the needle was stuck at 0. The speedometer cable must have broken at some point.
We made it into Effingham about 3:30pm, dropped our luggage in the hotel, gassed up Pokey and headed over to MidAmerica’s HQ to line up for the Fun Run. Thankfully the rain held off for the rest of the evening and we enjoyed a scenic 12 mile cruise to the Effingham town square. I’d never been in cruise with over 50 Volkswagens and we even had Effingham police blocking off interections for us!
Once everyone got to the square, we took over every available parking space! There were food vendors and giveaway tents and Todd and I had a “Flaming Goat” burger from Gabby Goat. It’s a beef patty with goat cheese, grilled onions, jalapenos, and Sriracha sauce. It was probably the tastiest thing I ate all weekend! We ran into some friends we knew from our local VW scene and after the cruise-in, went to a local pizza joint for a late snack.
Then the severe weather started to roll in. We ate pretty quick, paid our bill, and went back to the hotel. We dodged most of the heavy stuff and just got a lot of rain. On Saturday morning, after we washed Pokey, we noticed that the passenger side of my floorboard was soaked. We dried it the best we could, left the windows cracked, and went out to enjoy the show at MidAmerica.
There were lots and lots of beautiful VWs at the show. We were told by a few people that the turnout was actually pretty light because of the threat of weather. It certainly didn’t keep a lot of the dune buggy owners at home! We found a tent where they were showing a documentary on the VW Bus and waited out the rain there. Then we went to the Fun Dome where you could buy VW swag (t-shirts, books, and water bottles) and found three of the movie Herbies!
They also had Frankenstein’s car from the original Death Race 2000 movie that David Carradine drove!
Saturday night we met up with our friends again and ate at a great place called Firefly grill. It was very fancy and very pricey. I had a $13 cheeseburger topped with Saint Andre cheese, bacon, and a fried egg served on a pretzel bun. It was almost as good as my Flaming Goat burger. Almost. We also sampled Poutine before our entrees arrived. This dish is very popular in Canada. It’s french fries covered in gravy, bacon, and cheese sauce. It was practically a meal in itself!
On Sunday, we got up late, ate breakfast, and hit the show one last time. Since Pokey was all shiny, we took advantage of a few of the photo opportunities they had in front of the MidAmerica HQ and then hit the road.
With no rain, temps in the low 70’s, and the speedo cable still broke, we had a very cool, almost zen-like, laid-back trip home. We couldn’t tell how fast we were going and we really didn’t care. There was some road construction in Kentucky and a pretty nasty dip in the road that we hit at 65 mph. It would’ve been pretty jarring in any car, but in a lowered Beetle, it was downright teeth shattering. Luckily it don’t do any damage but Pokey did use his framehead to take a large bite out of the asphalt. I think there’s still a few pieces of Kentucky blue asphalt stuck underneath my car!
I was so proud of Pokey for doing as well as he did on the trip and I think Todd was pleasantly surprised too. It’s too bad more folks from the NAVWC didn’t join us. We had a great time and will definitely go back to another Funfest, maybe when clear skies are forecast.
Here’s an album with the photos from our trip.