Florida Supercon 2016

Florida Supercon is the Miami area's premier comic con, and is so big it's held over four days. This year it was held over Forth of July weekend, so it went from Friday to Monday instead of Thursday to Sunday. It was held at the huge convention center in Miami Beach, so I thought that maybe this time I'd finally get a chance to see the Atlantic Ocean instead of just various inland waterways.

Because the journey is so long, we had to start very early on Tuesday morning. Even starting that early, carrying stuff out to the van was a miserable hot process, and I was very glad to hit the road and be able to turn on the air conditioning.

As we headed down I-74 toward Cincinatti, my thoughts went back to the last time we headed to Florida. Not that we were likely to encounter a snowstorm in this hideous heat, but I was just a little on edge about possible trouble.

However, we made the journey without any trouble, and we arrived in Macon, Georgia in good time. This time we knew how to find the Sleep Inn, so we found it without any wrong turns. Since it was warm now, I didn't have to bring in all the drinks, which shortened the process a fair amount.

This time we also knew about the popcorn and lemonade the hotel provides in the breakfast area. As hot as it was, we found the lemonade a welcome refreshment, and we had some popcorn after we ate supper. Then I did some stuff on the computer and worked a little on my writing before turning in for the night.

On Wednesday we got up and had the hotel's complimentary breakfast. I was happy to see that it included eggs and sausage, which would help keep us going on the road ahead.

Then we carried our possessions back out and hit the road south. When we got to the agricultural inspection station, it was full, so we were able to bypass it and continue on our way without hassles. We arrived in Titusville in good time, and were able to check into our hotel with almost no trouble. This place was a lot nicer than the creepy Motel 6 in Danica Beach where we'd spent the night during our January trip, and I spent a good bit of the evening making notes on various stories, when I wasn't fighting the hotel's efforts to throttle our WiFi connectivity.

On Thursday we had the hotel's delicious breakfast. Then we carried our stuff out and left Titusville. As we continued down the Space Coast, we were making pretty good time. But a little south of the last rest area on I-95, everything came to a complete halt and all our headway vanished. We inched our way through the backup and past a horrible wreck in the median. Apparently a couple of semis had mixed it up, and it was so bad they were turning everyone around in the northbound lane and taking them back to the nearest exit to go around on US 1.

As a result of that mess, we arrived in Miami Beach just barely in time to start loading. Any ideas of getting checked into our hotel were just going to have to wait while we got everything hauled in. That was a nightmare in the punishing heat and humidity, and I had to drink quite a bit of fluid to keep from getting sick. At least they had an arrangement for parking, but walking back from it was not fun.

By the time we finally decided to knock off for the night, it was late. Worse, we managed to get completely lost and took an extra hour sorting things out so we could finally get to the hotel and get checked in. So it was well past midnight before we finally got in and were able to turn in for the night. Because they don't have regular parking for big vans, they had us park in the loading dock, which added complications to the process.

However, we still had to get up early on Friday to finish setting up, which meant we started the day exhausted. All the rest we'd been able to do in Titusville was pretty much lost, and because we were staying in one of the fancy downtown hotels, we had nothing but bagels to look forward to for breakfast. Worse, we lost some more time when we had trouble getting out of our hotel and made a wrong turn.

As a result, we didn't have as much setup time as we should've, and still had boxes in the aisle when the doors opened. We had to scramble to get them out of the way, because people were coming in and looking. However, sales weren't really what we were looking for at such a big and expensive con, mostly because a lot of people were scoping things out before making their purchase decisions.

On the way back, we tried a route that we thought would be shorter. However, it put us on a toll bridge, and we didn't discover it until it was too late to turn back. There was nothing to do but hope they didn't get a good picture of our license plate and we'd never get the bill.

By the time we got back, it was so late that we pretty much just collapsed into bed. I wanted to do some writing, but there was only time to jot down a few ideas.

On Saturday we got up and had our bagels for breakfast. Then we headed back over to the convention center to try to do some more selling. The air was so soupy it made me think of Houston in the beginning of my short story "The Day the War Struck Home." By the time I walked in from the parking lot, the air conditioning in the convention center was a welcome relief.

I finally got a chance to do some looking around the convention center and talking to other dealers. Once the doors opened, I was pretty much tethered to our booth, because there was a fairly steady stream of people coming by. However, the sales were not at the level that I really wanted to see. At least we did sell several of the big wall fans.

After the dealers' room closed, I retrieved the van and we headed back to the hotel. At least the annoying crane was gone from the entrance to the loading dock, and I was able to park without incident. But it was still so late that we pretty much just collapsed in bed.

On Sunday we still had to drag ourselves out of bed way too early to get back to the convention center in time. This time I took a thorough look through the place before the doors opened.

Sales remained stubbornly slow, and it was looking more and more like we simply weren't going to make our targets. I was really beginning to worry about our ability to both restock for upcoming cons and meet our various financial obligations.

Worse, my legs and feet were simply worn out. It finally got to the point that I couldn't keep on them, so I pulled out a chair and set it right on the edge of our area so I could sit down.

After we closed for the night, I slogged over to the parking lot. Once we got back to the hotel, we had to deal with a problem with towels that had not been properly replenished, which was frustrating when I just wanted to get to bed and get something resembling sleep.

On Monday we went to the final day of a con that was really feeling too long. Sales remained anemic, and we pretty much decided we weren't coming back. We started packing early because we wanted to get done reasonably early. Even then, I had a terrible time getting a parking spot reasonably close. At first I was in a handicap spot down the street, but as smaller dealers got loaded out, I was finally able to move into the loading dock and considerably shorten the trek back and forth.

Even so, it was quite late by the time I got done. Worse, a thunderstorm had moved in off the Gulf of Mexico and started dumping rain all over the last couple of loads. I was drenched to the skin by the time we got in the van and drove back to the hotel for the night.

On Tuesday we had to get up way too early and carry all our stuff down to the van to check out. Because we couldn't get a bell cart without having to tip a bellman (which we couldn't afford after the crummy performance of the convention), I had to use our own cart, which then had to be put back in its proper place. That meant I had to unload a bunch of merchandise when I was already starting the day exhausted from inadequate sleep. I just about had a fullblown autistic meltdown when it got too frustrating.

The drive was a horrible nightmare. By the time we reached the Space Coast, I was yawning pretty much nonstop and even caffeine wasn't stopping it. When we stopped at the Speedway in Melbourne, we also picked up some Monster energy drinks, hoping that it would help us recover. Then we stopped at a branch of our bank and made the deposit. I was able to count it out properly because there just wasn't all that much to go in.

By the time we finally got to Macon, I was on the ragged edge of exhaustion. I managed to get our stuff into the room without another meltdown, and was even able to get a little written.

On Wednesday we got up and ate the hotel's complimentary breakfast. It was nice to have real animal protein again, and to know we were getting a breakfast that would stick to our ribs. Then we carried our stuff back out and hit the road north.

Just north of Atlanta we ran into a huge backup. We saw reports of a crash, and decided to try to get around it by going onto state highways. However, we ended up in some really heavy rain in a small town, and then had to work our way past a reservoir. By the time we got back on, I was pretty well done with exploring the back roads.

We made pretty good time through Tennessee and most of Kentucky, and I was thinking that we'd finally broken the curse of the weekend. Then, as we were approaching I-275 just south of Cincinnati, everything came to a halt. We barely got stopped in time, and a work truck behind us just about slammed into our rear end. The driver realized the problem in time to pull over into the shoulder, but it was still a scary moment.

We ended up getting on I-275 East and going around Cincinnati the other way, then getting off and going on I-71 until we were able to connect with I-74. It was a very interesting and rather colorful trip, and by the time we got on I-74 and was back into Indiana, the family member who'd been housesitting for us was getting worried. We had to reassure him that we were OK and that he should go ahead and have supper on his own.

By the time we finally pulled into the driveway at home, I was thoroughly exhausted. I got the most critical stuff carried in and turned in for the night.

Copyright 2017 by Leigh Kimmel

Permission is granted for reproduction in fanzines and other non-profit fannish publications.

For permission to quote or reprint in other venues, contact Leigh Kimmel

Last updated December 23, 2017.