For me, Wednesday at GaryCon has a certain pattern to it. Things just sort of fall into place. My family and I have done this enough that even when slight changes come up, things still flow reasonably well.
As background, it might be helpful to know that I live very close to Lake Geneva, relatively speaking. Prior to last year, GaryCon seemed to fall just before the kids' Spring Break - that is the first Friday of GaryCon fell on their last day of school before a week-long vacation. Even though GaryCon's VI and VII have occurred during Spring Break, a kind of tradition built up around those earlier years when the kids were still in school...or were at least supposed to be.
Tuesday night I start to get...well...I suppose, giddy. I start smiling more. This year I actually clapped like a little kid getting ready for a Disney trip, "GaryCon is tomorrow!" But Tuesday night is still work - only it's the kind that I know will be worth it in just a few short hours. So things get put on lists, organized, packed, and crossed off lists.
Then Wednesday comes, and though officially we are all on vacation, there is work to be done...this pattern doesn't happen by accident.
First we put the final touches on the packing, check lists, and make sure the car is properly loaded. Then comes one of the little traditions from earlier years when my kids were still in school at the start of the convention. In years past, we drove up without the kids because, well, we didn't let them take Wednesday through Friday off - usually because there were tests aligned with the end of term. Often my wife and kids would come up Thursday night; Friday was a free-for-all at school due to cabin fever and the impending vacation. For GaryCon VI and VII, while out of school, they are old enough to be alone for a few hours and to clean and get the house ready for our return at convention's end. My wife and I head north, get checked-in as early as possible, and get everything unloaded. Then my wife returns home to pick-up the kids and take the dog to her sister's house to be cared-for in our absence. I remain and get the room settled - put all of the clothes away, stow all the snacks and drinks we bring, etc.
When the room is set, and after I steal a quick nap, I head down to the lobby and, depending on timing, pick up my badges - plural as I get the kids' badges as well. It's usually about this time that David Temporado, diaglo to some (and apparently tempo to others), arrives and we share a meal together. During this meal we catch up - as we usually haven't seen each other face-to-face in a year, sometimes longer - and solve all of the world's problems. All through this phase, old friends are well met with handshakes and hugs, and new friends are made.
By 6 PM, latest 8 PM, on Wednesday - the night before the convention has officially started, I'm in a game. One year that was, if I recall correctly, one of the very early play-tests of Dungeon Crawl Classics. The past two years, GaryCon V and VI, it was a Gamma World game run by Michael Curtis. This year it was a Lankhmar game using Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea run by my friend Rich Franks. This included a scene wherein an attempt to hide in the shrubs around Grain Merchants Guild resulted in an unintended distraction, complete with a John-Belushi-trying-to-cross-campus-at-night-unnoticed imitation.
My wife returned with kids in tow, and they were immediately in the pool - another tradition wherein they forgo first-night gaming to enjoy the amenities of the resort. I spent the rest of the evening partaking of a few cocktails and running from the guards of the aforementioned Guild, while the kids spent the rest of the evening swimming in the indoor pool.
I think I finally stumbled in around 1 AM. The convention was only beginning...