Visioncon 2017

Visioncon is a comic and media convention held every year in southwestern Missouri. In earlier years it used to be held in Springfield, Missouri, but after the host hotel was sold to a developer and torn down to build condos, they had to move it to nearby Branson. This year it was held over the weekend of February 24-26, 2017 at the Branson Convention Center.

Because of the distance, it's really a two-day trip. We might be able to make it in one long day if we went to St. Louis on I-70, but by making a slight detour, we're able to stop by my folks' place each way. And given their age and health, I'd rather not pass up a chance to stop by and visit with them.

On Tuesday we left from a lunchtime activity, and made good time across to my folks' place even with having to stop to pick up deli meat (the result of a scheduling problem the previous day). I was able to get laundry done and prepare some food to eat during the convention.

I also spent a fair amount of the evening with my mom, going through some photo albums and wandering down memory lane. The pictures seemed to actually trigger some old memories of hers, and she seemed quite confident about the identity of many of the people in the oldest pictures. She also seemed a lot more calm and grounded while reminiscing.

I also did manage to squeeze in just a little writing on a short story. That way I didn't go the whole day without any writing.

On Wednesday we hit the road for Missouri. When we left my folks' place, we had heavy fog which made the drive Interesting. It stayed pretty heavy all the way into southern Illinois, but as we went around St. Louis, it cleared up, and we had pretty much clear air all the way down I-44 to Springfield, Missouri. By the time we got to our hotel there, the weather was pretty pleasant for a February day.

Then we went over to visit our friends in the area. This time they already had extended family staying with them, so they weren't able to offer us crash space. But we did want to visit and to meet the newest feline member of their family, a mischievous little black tom.

We headed back to our hotel for the night and had supper. Then I pulled out a short story and started in on some major surgery on the beginning. I think that when I first wrote it, I was making it too much of a deliberate mirror to "Phoenix Dreams," and it's better to have a story from Roger's point of view to start with the events that lead directly to their betrayal and flight to the launch pad.

On Thursday we had the hotel's complimentary breakfast, which was really nice, with eggs and sausage and all kinds of nifty stuff. Then we packed up our belongings and hauled them out to the van so we could get checked out and get down to Branson in good time.

On the way down, I noticed that the vibration in the exhaust system was becoming really bad every time we went up a slope. Also, the engine was pulling really hard, to the point that I had to downshift to third on the worst grades, something I hadn't needed when coming across I-44.

We found the hotel pretty easily, although I was a little sanguine about the steep slope of the street into the parking lot. But we were able to get checked in with relatively little fuss. However, we were disappointed to discover that the hot tub was accessible only by a flight of stairs, and thus effectively not accessible for my husband.

So we just hung out for a while and I did some writing. We decided to go over to the convention center a little early, just to see if we might be able to start loading in before the official time. It was a good thing we did, because we arrived to find a number of dealers already loading in. We found ourselves a parking place and I started getting things hauled in. It helped that we were able to secure one of the convention center's flatbed carts, which sped up the process considerably.

Once we had the van emptied, I had to move it over to the parking lot to free up room in the loading dock for other dealers. Then I hurried back inside to get to work building our structures. I was able to build some of the structures we needed, but not all of them before we ran out of time. Then we went back to the hotel and I got a little writing done before we turned in for the night.

On Friday we got up and had this hotel's complimentary breakfast. Unlike the one in Springfield, this one's breakfast was pretty much all carbs, which don't stick to your ribs as well, especially when you're working. But it's still better than nothing, so we ate it.

Then we headed over to the convention center and finished setting up as fast as we could. Even so, we were still unpacking the last few boxes when people started flowing in. Sales were pretty slow, but it was a Friday, and a lot of the vendors I talked to were hoping it would improve on Saturday.

After the dealers' room closed for the night, we headed back to the hotel. I made a blog post, then pulled out my story and tried to push the new beginning further. I almost got Roger to one of his most important encounters in cyberspace before it was time for me to turn in for the night.

On Saturday we got up and had breakfast. Then we headed back to the convention center, and were glad to see that no, they were not charging for parking. I put out some more merchandise that we hadn't gotten out earlier, trying to get out as much as possible. In the process, I discovered that we had a broken wingtip on one of our dragons. Apparently it had gotten broken when we were putting it away at Kanpai! Con, because I never found the fragment.

We did have fairly decent sales, although they came in spurts. We managed to sell several tea sets, which was good for us. However, I really would've liked to have been able to sell a fair amount more, considering that we were looking at a completely dead month for March.

When the dealers' room closed for the evening, we headed back to the hotel to have supper. Then I did a little more work on my story, trying to push it forward.

On Sunday we had breakfast, then headed back to the convention center for our last day of selling. I finally got a chance to take a proper look around the dealers' room and talk with other dealers, but even that was scant and hurried because of the size of the floor and the need to do a little more refreshing of our displays.

Sales were rather slow, and at noon we decided to go ahead and start packing the figurines. Visioncon bills itself as a media convention, but it has dealer hours more like the traditional science fiction conventions than most comic and anime conventions. So we had less time to sell, and needed to make sure we'd be out in something resembling a timely fashion.

We had some good help for packing the t-shirts and breaking down the store fixtures, so I thought we were going to be doing pretty well. However, as soon as it came time to haul carts of merchandise out to the van, all of our helpers vanished, leaving us to haul everything out by our own efforts. As a result, we ended up being the very last people to get our stuff out of there.

When we got back to the hotel, we had supper. I did a little more work on my story., but I couldn't push it very far before it was time to turn in for the night.

On Monday we had one last breakfast at the hotel, then carried our belongings out and checked out. Our friends in Springfield wanted us to stop by and visit again, and even had made some special treats for us to take back home with us. It meant we were a little later getting going, but I was glad to see them again after two years that we had passed this convention by.

Then we got on I-44 and headed back across Missouri. We stopped at Fort Leonard Wood to get gas at the cheap gas station in the valley, then pressed on to St. Louis, where we found a branch of our bank and made our deposit. I was just as glad to get all that money out of my purse and safely in our checking account.

By the time we got into Illinois, I was getting pretty tired. I was very glad to get safely to my folks' place, since I was pretty well worn out by the time I got off I-55 for the drive across US 136. We had supper, and then I unloaded everything so I could get my essential laundry done. I also made a few story notes, although I was too tired to wrestle with actual text.

On Monday I gathered our stuff up and took it back out. I had to reassure my mom several times that no, we would not leave without telling her good-bye, and no, nobody was going to get left out of any activity we were going to. I was trying to keep things sorted out, but I could really understand why one of my cousins pretty much stopped visiting his mother in the nursing home. It's just so heartbreaking to deal with.*

Then we headed back home. With the money already deposited in St. Louis, we didn't have to worry about stopping in Brownsburg before 5PM. The trip went quite well, and I even had time to carry in our personal belongings and some of the store fixtures before the arrival of the storms that had been following us all the way east. When they did hit, they were scary enough that I was just as glad I'd already set up the important bills that were due in the next few days. We didn't lose power, but there were some times when it was really touch and go.

*It's doubly sad because that was the last time I saw my mother alive. I'd thought we'd see her in September when we went to Metacon, but she had a major deterioration in her condition in late July and passed away in August.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated December 10, 2017.