Since I am now living on the other side of the world to my family and most of my friends this blog is about things I enjoy, things I notice, people I meet, people I miss, history, planning for the future, love and life in general! I guess it's about whatever pops into my head which I want to share with my friends and family... and who knows? I might make some more friends along the way!

05 October, 2007

Dragon*Con, part 1.

The day I had been counting down to for almost a year was upon me. Seriously - it might not have been the ultimate reason I initially intended to travel to the USA, but with their countdown on their home page, the Dragon*Con people had kept me on track with my general knowledge of just how far away my trip was at all times! No matter who I met in the last week, it was this opportunity to meet friends, who felt more like family at times, in person for the first time that had me aiming for this particular weekend at the end of August for my big holiday to the USA!

We had pretty much stayed up all night, Jimi working on fixing Leo's laptop computer for him and finishing off a few things on his own computer, me sewing the brown stripes (ribbon) on my 76th uniform pants. I finally crashed at around 7.30am but Jimi woke me at 9.30, I showered and was ready by 10am... we had a few more errands to run, but we were on our way shortly after 10 and well on our way to Atlanta by lunchtime!

Along the way we found a petrol station that sold Bawls, unfortunately we assumed that we'd find more when we were closer to Atlanta as we wanted to get some for Rose! My Mei Mei adores the drink as it's an energy drink that relies on natural ingredients and not ‘taurine’ (which I personally find revolting myownself)! It was delicious stuff!
We arrived at Kennesaw, and collected Ken (Zephyr), Ilse (Canter) and a lot of Airsoft weapons (which Lost_thought had posted to Zephyr as it was simpler than attempting to travel with them in his luggage and they were needed for those who didn't have weapons of their own for the parade!) and Jimi set out for 'down town' Atlanta where the three host hotels (The Hilton, the Marriott and the Hyatt) were as well as the nearby 'overflow' hotels (also more reasonably priced) where Zeph was staying at the Holiday Inn . Canter and I were duly dropped off at the Hyatt where we were both staying, and Jimi left to deposit Zeph at his temporary place of rest, and headed to the airport for a few more incoming browncoats! Jimi was to barely rest during the entire con! He is one amazing guy!

Canter and I found ourselves among the very first arrivals, in the near-empty foyer of the incredible looking Hyatt hotel at 2pm on the Thursday of D*C! Registration didn't start until 4pm, and the people whose rooms we were booked into hadn't left our names at the desk, so we were unable to check in. We discovered that we could leave our luggage at the main concierge desk and head off and the timing was perfect coz in no time Zeph was there telling us that some folk from the 76th whom he knew from previous shindigs at Tristan's (Tom's) were heading to the Atlanta Aquarium to kill some time before they were able to register for the convention. Canter and I were a little uncertain as we'd not really made any arrangement to find our room mates, but Zeph assured me that Jimi knew the plan, and Rose would know where I was, and that they could all be in touch via their mobile phones.

So off we went. It was really hot and humid, but what a gorgeous day! We walked downhill (remember this means we were required to walk uphill on the way home!) to the area where both Coco~Cola World (the headquarters of Coc~Cola Worldwide and from all accounts a very interesting experience to visit) and the Atlanta Aquarium were located right beside a pretty park. There Zeph was glomped by a gorgeous lady whom I instantly recognised as my lovely friend Aleta, or Captain 'Jett' West of the 76th Battalion. and Fireflygal to anyone else who is on a firefly fan site! We were soon hugging and chatting like we'd spent a large part of our lives together!! We had a lot of fun with the statue outised Coco~Cola World, Canter pretending to take the proffered glass and Sigg pretending to spike the other glass of Coke on the nearby table!
We were soon inside the cool interior of the wonderful aquarium. One of the first things we did was visit the touching pool where there were tiny little sharks and rays who deliberately swam near the side, they genuinely seemed to enjoy being touched!! They felt amazing! We all had a lot of fun feeling the different textures of the two varieties of marine life, but then the creatures had their ten minute break... yes, even fish-life get a ten minute break every hour!!

Following this we headed to the anemones which were also in a touching pool - this time the water was bitterly cold and my hand started to feel quite numb, but the sensation was completely different to anything I anticipated or had experienced before! We saw so many different freshwater and marine animals that I lost track – but I took many, many pictures. The most amazing realization for me was that sea otters are huge! I had always imagined them to be the size of platypus, but they are about 10 times larger and very fluffy when they dry out! They are also very cute!! My favourite places in the aquarium included the huge tank where there were 4 Beluga Whales Nico was the name of the only male (it tickled us that Nico was represented though he’d been unable to attend D*C at the last minute) and the other three were female! They were huge and very, very graceful and I felt like I could have watched them for hours on end! While we were standing there and watching these enormous creatures moving so gracefully through the water, we were greeted by Scott, Akin from the 76th (Also known as Akin the finder as he’s the one who found the discarded Ariel Ambulance from the episode of Firefly with the same name!) and his gorgeous lady Dale, or Mockingbird, whom I instantly adored and have never had a moment of feeling anything else for!!

My next favourite place was the enormous sea tank where there were sharks, large rays and sword fish among other creatures… there was one of those tunnels under the tank that I have seen on TV (this is really the first time I have visited a dedicated aquarium when I think about it) and I watched these huge sea-creatures glide over me. When we exited the tunnel there were other viewing points of that same tank and at the other side an enormous ‘window’ on to it! The man who was talking about the different species was dwarfed by the size of the tank – but I couldn’t get far enough back to do the size of it all justice with my camera!

My final “I-could-stay-here-all-day” spot was in the jellyfish area. They were playing wonderful gentle watery music and the lighting was just perfect. I both photographed and videoed this with my new camera as well! I am really, thrilled with it and very impressed with the results too! My wonderful sisters, Trudi and Leigh, and their families, bought me the Kodak digital camera for my 40th birthday less than a month ago!!!

It seemed like no time and Canter and I were standing in front of the final tank, one dedicated to the Great Barrier Reef, and as the only two Antipodeans (or inhabitants Southern Hemisphere) we started singing at the same moment, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming… what do we do we swim.. swim..” in the way of Dory from the film ‘Finding Nemo’ I loved every minute I spent with Canter and it was pure joy to discover we had the same quirky sense of humour!!

Then we hit the hot footpath and walked up the hill to the hotels again… just as I was standing there pondering what to do, I heard a distant shout (which turned out to be “Jie Jie!!!”) and a moment later I was literally glomped!!! My precious Mei Mei, Phoenix Rose had spotted me across the, now more busy, foyer of the Hyatt Hotel and thrown herself across the intervening distance to hug me once and for all!!! I was so excited!!! She is as gorgeous and adorable and wonderful and warm and positive in real life as she is online and on phone and in all our conversations ever!!! One of the greatest joys in my life has been the friendships I have made though Firefly and its fans, and one of the most precious friends among them is my Mei Mei (Little Sister), Rose!
Rose had found (or had they found Rose?) the two Michaels from Glasgow – NavySeils and his friend Michael who was to be fondly known as ‘Auxiliary backup Michael’ though he was too much of a treasure to be anyone’s 2nd choice!! The quote of the con came within moments when Navy said “I’ve seen more kilts in the last 2 hours in this foyer than I’ve seen in the whole of Scotland in the last 2 years!!” It was a keen observation on the ability of geeks to embrace the Scottish dress and wear it (very poorly, in most case, but with such pride)!
I checked in, with Rose’s assistance and soon had folk in giggles as I made the (rather reasonable, I thought) observation, that there was a queue for the lifts now, where there hadn’t been any earlier… trust me – there was a permanent queue for the rest of the con – but Americans prefer to call it a line for the elevator!!

Soon unpacked and headed down to the hall where we could register we found ourselves in an apparently never-ending queue (sorry, ‘line’) for our name tags and passes to the convention. While we were there we constantly met others in the snake-like queue who were browncoats, apparent by their lanyards proclaiming their loyalty to Firefly, their T-shirts with pictures and quirky quotes from the series and film and most apparent of all, their Jayne-hats which many folk were wearing!!! Unfortunately it took ages to get our necessary ID to have free access to the events and we were late to meet the people who were walking to the Vortex, and restaurant which was supposedly nearby and where we were to meet more of the 76th! Fortunately we did find our other Mei Mei, Elizabeth who’s also kown as Engine Angel/Engie, As she was staying in our room we were able to tell her we’d put her name down at reception and she could check in without us present! She was with other friends from previous years so she didn’t have to hand around and wait for us, and we soon caught up with Carl Boothe from the 76th and his gorgeous wife, Autumn, who were heading back to the Marriott Hotel to meet Tom, Laura and Cindy and would walk us to the Vortex as it was some distance from the Con…
It was just wonderful to be reunited with my Kaylee-clone, Cindy - also known as VerseExplorer on and PFC Vex on the 76th! She and I are really just like twins separated by time and distance!! While we were waiting to meet up with Boothe and his wife, Cindy, Rose and I noticed my very favourite guest for D*C standing nearby. Mark Shepperd!!!! I am a huge fan of his, he is one of those versatile, all-round actors who does humour without sending himself up, and dramatic without taking himself too seriously, he can be as sweet as a kitten and also played one of the most disturbing characters in Medium I have ever seen… a psychotic doctor who died and 100 years later kept repossessing new people to carry out more murders to give him his thrills! *shudders* But he is one of my idols and I got to meet him!! He was just the nicest man you could imagine! Open and warm, friendly and (breathe, Magda... breathe!!!) he knew who I was from my messages on his MySpace page!!! I couldn’t believe it! He is also in the 3rd season of ‘Battle Star, Galactica’ (which I keep intending to watch some time, though we're not even up to the third season in Australia yet...) and will appear in the new series of ‘The Bionic Woman’! I went a little ‘fan girl’, but it was a moment that would have made the whole con worthwhile (and there were several of those for me!)
By the way – Boothe wasn’t kidding about the distance to the Vortex! !! It was a good 2 miles or so and in the heat and humidity of the Atlanta summer, and through some of the less savory neighbourhoods, we were very glad of his escort.

More amazing friends were met, from Alicia/Boomergoodheart and her family to Sue/HappyShinyKlingon (SHK) and many others!!! I was just blown away with the warmth and family atmosphere we had between us!! Melisa/Radegund & /Mary/Kaele, her sister, Daisy and their Mother, also Mary! I thought it was the most awesome thing out that their mother supported them in this and came to be a part of it all! Rumour had it that Hell's Kitten was there earlier but had left by the time we got there!

I have no idea how long we were there or how long it took us to walk back to the Hotels, what time we went to bed or anything, but we eventually made it back to our room where Engie and her best friend, Clara were already asleep! Our Dragon Con adventure had begun!

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