A Bit of Spelunking

Mammoth Cave National Park is located in Kentucky and encompasses portions of the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System the longest cave system known in the world. The history of the cave goes back thousands of years. Remains have been discovered in the caves that researches believe were interned somewhere in the 2000 to 1000 BC timeframe. Legend has it that the first European to discover the cave did so in 1791. The cave has had a varied history including being used as a source of saltpeter used to make gun powder during the war of 1812, a mine for calcium nitrate, a tuberculosis hospital, and a tourist attraction.

In 1926 Congress authorized the creation of Mammoth Cave National Park. Unlike the formation of many of the other National Parks in the sparsely populated west, thousands of people would need to be forcibly relocated in the process of forming the National Park. Many farms were taken via eminent domain proceedings with the landowners receiving what they considered inadequate compensation for their land. The minimum park area was accepted for administration and protection in May of 1936. In July 1941 Mammoth Cave National Park was officially dedicated. Today the park encompasses over 52,000 acres.

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth cave is the largest cave in the world with about 390 miles of passageways mapped. Geologists estimate that there could be another 600 miles of undiscovered passageways. A common misconception is that the cave is named for its ranking as the largest cave.  The name “Mammoth” refers to the large width and length of the passages connecting to the Rotunda just inside the entrance to the cave.

The Park Service provides a number of guided tours that allow guests to experience parts of the massive cave system. These tours range from an hour and 15 minute easy tour thru a tour that lasts almost 5 hours and is listed as Strenuous. We decided to do a couple of the easy tours during our visit.

We started with the Frozen Niagara Tour which enters from the New Entrance (a man-made entrance that is a distance from the Historic Entrance). The New Entrance was not what I expected for the entrance to a majestic cave. Once you go thru there door – there is a inner revolving door – are we going into a hotel or department store?

Mammoth Cave - New Entrance

Mammoth Cave - New Entrance

Most of  Mammoth Cave is what is called a dry cave. There is no ground water seeping down thru the ground to the cave due to a sandstone cap over the limestone strata in which the cave exists. The area of the cave that is the focus of this tour however is a wet section. In this section ground water seeps into the cave and has formed stalactites and stalagmites.

Mammoth Cave - Stalactites and Stalagmites

Mammoth Cave - Stalactites and Stalagmites

The focus of the tour is a massive flow wall in which the flow formed a drapery.  It was more impressive than it appears in the pictures below.

Mammoth Cave - Drapry Room

Mammoth Cave - Drapry Room

One excursion into the cave was enough for Leslie. I wanted to see a little more so I went on the Mammoth Passage tour which enters the cave thru the natural  historic Entrance. First a little about our tour guide Jerry Bransford. Jerry is the great-great grandson of Materson Bransford, a slave who was leased to the owner of the cave in 1838 to help map and lead tours in the cave. The Bransford family had land in the area that was taken via eminent domain to form the park. It was really amazing hearing a different perspective on a number of the events that occurred in the area.

As we approached the Historic Entrance we could feel cool wind escaping the cave, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. The cave breaths when it warmer outside cool air leaves the cave and according Jerry when it gets really hot the “wind” escaping the cave can be felt half a city block into the forest. When the outside air is cooler than the air in cave air will flow into the cave. From the pictures below you can see the size of the historic entrance. (It is more what I expect a cave entrance to look like).

Mammoth Cave - Historic Entrance

Mammoth Cave - Historic Entrance

We then walked down the main passageway to the Rotunda. Again you can see why it is called Mammoth Cave from the size of the passageway. Remember it was all carved out by flowing water.

Mammoth Cave - Passageway to the Rotunda

Mammoth Cave - Passageway to the Rotunda

We then stopped in the Rotunda. I tried to take some pictures to show the massive size of the Rotunda, but combination of very low lighting and the size prohibited the flash on my camera from doing any good.  The floor of the Rotunda was where they mined the nitrite rich soil used in the making of Salt Peter. From some of the
pictures below that show the mining operation you might get a notion of the size of the Rotunda.

Mammoth Cave - Rotunda and Nitrate Minning

Mammoth Cave - Rotunda and Nitrate Minning

From there we went down a large passageway to an area called the Church Room.  Prior to becoming a National Park, a preacher use to lead people down into the cave to this area. The preacher would climb up on the ledge pictured below and start his preaching. Our guide says it was the first air conditioned church, and the acoustics were amazing as he demonstrated with a short rendition of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”.

Mammoth Cave - Church Room (and the Passage Way)

Mammoth Cave - Church Room (and the Passage Way)

We have mixed views on our trip to Mammoth Cave. Leslie says she has had enough of caves, and really does not need to see any more. I am glad we visited and enjoyed the tours and seeing how different it was from Katchner Caverns which we visited in January of 2011 (http://wheelsunderourfeet.com/2011/01/10/facing-fears/).

I think the highlight of the day for Leslie was the little family of deer we saw on the side of the road when leaving the park. The little ones were too quick for clear pictures, but this guy just stood and posed.

Mammoth Cave - Deer on the side of the road

Mammoth Cave - Deer on the side of the road

 

 

 

Time for the Holidays

Sometimes people think we are crazy. Our activities yesterday will no doubt reinforce that belief in some of our friends and readers. Leslie and I spent about 3 months working 6 days a week in an amusement park in Iowa. We left there a few weeks ago and have started a slow trip down to Florida. So what did we do– that’s right we got in our Jeep and drove for just under 2 hours to visit a theme park in Santa Claus, Indiana.

Holiday World

Holiday World

Back in 1941, retired industrialist Louis J. Koch visited the town of Santa Claus, Indiana and was saddened by the children that were disappointed to discover that Santa Claus was not there. Koch a father of nine children developed an idea for a park where children could have fun and visit with Santa year-round. Initial construction plans were delayed by World War II, but in August of 1945 construction of Santa Land was begun. A year later the park opened with no charge to guests and included a Santa, a toy shop and toy displays, a restaurant and some themed children’s rides. One of the rides The Freedom train (a ¼ scale model of a B&O locomotive) is the only ride that has been in continuous operation since the park opened.

Over the years the park has continued to grow over the years. In the mid 70’s the park started to add rides for adults. In the mid 80’s the Koch family realized that theming possibilities extended beyond Christmas and Santa Claus Land underwent it first major expansion with the addition of a Halloween and Forth of July sections. At this point it changed the name of the park to Holiday World. In 1993 the park continued to expand with the addition of Splashin’ Safari (their water park). In 2006 the park again expanded adding the Thanksgiving holiday area.

First a couple of observations we made about Holiday World before we even arrived. They do not charge a parking fee. They provide free sunblock and free fountain sodas, Gatorade and water throughout the park. Of all the parks we have been too we have never seen this, and we believe that it really shows how much the owners care for their customers. Parking fees and the selling of fountain sodas is almost pure profit that most parks not only take, but in some cases gouge their customers for.

Holiday World - Free Fountain Drinks

Holiday World - Free Fountain Drinks

The park was very clean and very well maintained. We walked into the park went a few steps and opened up a map to figure where to go first. We were looking at the map for only a minute before a park employee stopped and asked if we needed any assistance, something we have not seen or experienced outside of Disney. While walking thru the park we observed some non-custodial employees stopping to pick up litter. When the park employees care about the park the guests do also – and we noticed a guest stopping to pick some litter also. This is not something that was evident at Adventureland.

We spent about 6 hours in the park and were able to cover all we wanted to, since we decided to only walk thru the water park area and not spend time in any of the lazy river or pools or ride any the slides. Holiday World has only 3 large roller coasters so we had time to experience other rides in addition to the coasters at the park. A quick word about theming – after visiting a number of parks we have decided that we enjoy the theming and feel it really adds to the experience over a plain amusement park. The theming at Holiday World was excellent, second to only Disney.

First a little about a ride that we did not experience during our visit to Holiday World. The Pilgrim Plunge is a shoot the chute ride. A shoot the chute ride generally consists of a flat bottom boat that slides down a ramp or slide into a lagoon. Unlike a log flume ride a shoot the chute generally has only one drop and a larger boat. It turns out that the Pilgrim Plunge was the world’s tallest water ride when it opened in 2009. What caught our attention was the fact that boats are loaded at ground level and then rise on an open elevator to the top. We have never seen anything like it.

Holiday World - Pilgrim Plunge

Holiday World - Pilgrim Plunge

We took a spin on the Hallow Swings a flying swing ride.

Holiday World - Hallow Swings

Holiday World - Hallow Swings

Went for a meander down the Lewis and Clark trail. I guess if they had cars and a nice paved trail it would not have taken Lewis and Clark so long. Leslie jumped in the back and I felt like I was driving Miss Daisy around :)

Holiday World - Lewis and Clark Trail

Holiday World - Lewis and Clark Trail

Of course we had to try the raft ride. At Holiday World it is the Fourth of July area so it has an old frontier theming. Other than Disney we can’t remember ever being on a raft ride that was themed. At one part in the ride we went down the street of flooded old west town.

Holiday World - Raging Rapids

Holiday World - Raging Rapids

We also rode the Eagles Flight – a flying scooter ride in which the large rudder in the front of the scooter controls the rotation of the car. Of course Leslie wanted the most colorful bird. Although Leslie has ridden rides like this before, I do not remember every being on one.

Holiday World - Eagles Flight

Holiday World - Eagles Flight

We also rode the Sparkler (a flying swing ride in which two people sit on each swing), and Gobbler Getaway (a dark ride which had really great theming in it).

And now for the Roller Coasters. As I mentioned above there are three coasters at Holiday World all of them wooden.

The Raven was opened in 1995 and features sudden drops and turns which mimic the flight of a raven. Wikipedia says the duration of the ride is a minute and a half, but we both feel the duration was just under a minute. The Raven was ranked as one of the top 5 wooden coasters from 1998 to 2005. Last year it was 12th place in the Golden Ticket Awards for wooden roller coasters. We have mixed feelings on the ride, Leslie did not like it much saying it was too curvy and jerky. I thought it was a lot less jerky than the Legend, but seemed kind of short.

Holiday World - The Raven

Holiday World - The Raven

The Legend opened in 2000 and is themed after the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Like the Raven the Legend follows the terrain with its just over 4000 feet of track. When the plans were completed for the coaster Will Koch posted the plans on the internet and asked roller coaster enthusiast from around the world for input on the design, theming and name. Enthusiasts from around the country flocked to ride the coaster they helped design and name. The Legend never ranked above 4th on the Golden Ticket Awards and last year was ranked 18th. We did not like the Legend there was too much sideways movement and the cars were a bit rough on our sides and ribs.

Holiday World - The Legend

Holiday World - The Legend

The Voyage opened to 2006 and was named the best wooden roller coaster. It has won that distinction every year since and once you ride it, it is easy to see why. The Voyage holds the record for most airtime (24.3 seconds) and most  underground tunnels (5) for wooden roller coasters. The track is 1.2 miles long making it the second longest wooden coaster and hits a top speed of almost 70 miles per hour. Where to start? Wikipedia says the maximum vertical drop angle is 66 degrees; however it really feels like 90. There are 5 underground tunnels and an amazing 3 corners that bank at 90 degrees. I don’t know if you can see the bank on the turn in the picture below, but it is amazing. The ride is an astounding 2 minutes and 45 seconds, on the verge of being too long. The Voyage gives an incredible ride, so we rode it twice and would do it again if we ever visit Holiday Land in the future.

Holiday World - The Voyage

Holiday World - The Voyage

We had a great time at a very nice well maintained park. What better way to end a day full of so many holidays, than to think of Christmas time by having a scoop of peppermint ice cream in Santa Claus, Indiana.

Holiday World - End to a Woinderful Day

Holiday World - End to a Woinderful Day

 

 

 

A Trip to Louisville

When we decide to stop over in Louisville we knew we wanted to visit some sights in downtown Louisville and also go to Mammoth Caves so we picked a parking place kind of in the middle where friends of us stayed when they visited the area. Today we went into Louisville for a visit.  Today’s blog has two authors – Bill will write about our trip to visit the Louisville Slugger factory and museum and Leslie will write about the wonderful places we found to eat.

The Louisville Slugger is manufactured by the family owned Hillerich and Bradsby (H&B) Company that started was started as J.F. Hillerich, Job Turning in 1856 by J. Fred Hillerich. The wordworking shop grew to over 20 employees by 1875, and was filling orders for everything from butter churns to hand turned bedposts. In 1880 J. Fred’s son Bud joined the firm as an apprentice. Bud was an amateur baseball player and started making bats for himself and some of his teammates.

Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum

Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum

According to company legend Bud attended a game where pro baseball player Pete Browning of the Louisville Eclipse broke his favorite bat. Bud offered to make a new bat to Browning’s specifications. Browning, who was known as the Louisville Slugger used the new bat to hit three hits in his next game.  Although Bud had a passion for making bats his father did not think there would be a good business in making bats and wanted to stay with roller skids, bed posts, and their patented swinging butter churn.

The bat business grew and the firm registered the trademark Louisville Slugger in 1894 and Bud became a partner in the business in 1897. In 1905 Honus Wagner became the first major league player to sign a contract giving J.F. Hillerich and Son permission to use his autograph on bats they sold. H&B now has contracts with thousands of players, and has a wall showing the autographs they use. Of course this wall includes the signatures of many of the famous players

Louisville Slugger Autograph Wall

Louisville Slugger Autograph Wall

In 1916 Frank Bradsby became a partner and the company name was changed to Hillerich and Bradsby.  Today the company is run by John Hillerich, IV the great grandson of Bud who introduced the family business to bat making.

Okay so on to the making of a bat. Of course we could not take any pictures during the tour.  Wooden bats are made from either white ash or maple. The trees are harvested from company owned land on the Pennsylvania New York border. Mills in the area take the harvested trees and produce cylinders (or billets are they are called) that are about 37 inch long and 3 inches in diameter. Once the billets dry they are graded according to grain patterns and density. Of course the best ones are used to make the bats the professional players use.  When they turned the bats by had a craftsman could duplicate a model they had in about 30 minutes. They now use an automatic lathe that can turn a bat about every 30 seconds. For the professional player models they have a computer driven lathe that has about 1000 different bat patterns.

After they are formed they move to the station where the Louisville Slugger logo and any autographs are place on the bat. If the bat is ash these are burned into the bat, however if the bat is made of maple decals are applied after the coloring. The bats then move to a multi-function machine which cuts the knobs that are used to hold the bat in the lathe. This machine also does the final sanding and cupping of the bat end (if the bat is going to be cupped). The bat then moves to the finishing area, where the bat is hand dipped in either a color stain or clear finish.

After the tour we spent some time in the museum. The museum includes displays that review the history of the company and the process of bat making. But that is not the fascinating part of the collection, they have bat that Babe Ruth carved notches in for each home run he hit in 1927 season, a bat used by Shoeless Joe Jackson, the bat Joe DiMaggio used during his 56 game hitting streak in 1941, and bat that Hank Aaron hit his 700th home run with.

Louisville Slugger Famous Bats

Louisville Slugger Famous Bats

We were thinking of also heading to Churchill Downs, but did not have enough time for that today. However we did have time to eat some wonderful meals and with that I will turn the keyboard over to Leslie.

Leslie here:

So my part is the food, of course. We have a big long list of each state and restaurants we want to try when we get into an area and so when we arrived in our new home we looked and saw one breakfast place but nowhere else. We are actually parked over an hour outside the city so we knew it would be an all day trip where we would need breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner so we planned to go to the restaurant we had listed for breakfast then head over to the Slugger Museum then find dinner. Bill looked online to see if there were any restaurants that really stood out and found a little gem.

So this morning we got up and got ready to head out. We headed over to Lynn’s Paradise Café. Now Lynn’s has been not only on the 101 Chow down Countdown but was also on Smack down with Bobby Flay AND Man V Food. How could we pass up on a restaurant with all those accolades? Now Lynn’s is an… odd… place. If you have ever been to my homes it is a lot like my house. It is eclectic with no real sense of any particular type of style.

Lynn's Paradise Café

Lynn's Paradise Café

We were seated and the item on the menu that was suggested was the French Toast. They have three versions of this delectable dish. The Bourbon Ball, The Quad made with walnut bread and the Original, which is made with cinnamon swirl bread. I ordered the original and a side of bacon. Bill ordered the Ham & Eggs with biscuits and gravy, and baked mac n cheese on the side oh and a lovely fresh squeezed OJ. The French toast was moist and delicate with a full cinnamon flavor and a nice crunch to the crust. Everything was great and we would absolutely return.

Lynn's Paradise Café Breakfast

Lynn's Paradise Café Breakfast

After our trip to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory we were not quite hungry yet so we stopped at a theater for a movie then headed over to the gem Bill found for dinner. The Havana Rumba is fantastic. It is hidden away in a little strip mall behind a grocery store where if you didn’t know what you were looking for you could easily over-look it. We walked in and it’s a fairly small joint. We were led to our table and while we perused the menu the waiter brought over a basket of Cuban bread and a garlic compound butter. We nibbled while we looked and decided on Camarones al Ajillo which is shrimp that have been sautéed in olive oil and lime juice with garlic (a LOT of garlic) and served in a little cast iron bowl with the oil and garlic with a side of garlic aioli. We LOVED this and plan to try and replicate it.

Havana Rumba - Camarones al Ajillo

Havana Rumba - Camarones al Ajillo

Dinner was a simple choice for me. Ropa Vieja is one of my favorite meals on earth. How can you not love a pile of slow roasted beef doused liberally with tomatoes, peppers, and onions? It was luscious! The beef was juicy and tender and the vegetables were seasoned beautifully. Bill choose one of his favorites Steak Chimichurri. It came with the typical green chimichurri sauce but it also came with a second red chimichurri cause as well that was spicy and vinegary almost like a North Carolina BBQ sauce but with more of a kick.

Havana Rumba - Ropa Vieja and Steak Chimichurri

Havana Rumba - Ropa Vieja and Steak Chimichurri

The thing I love about going to a good Cuban Restaurant is plantains. Sadly I have discovered I am allergic to the Plantain/banana family but I can eat a little before it really causes me pain. The funny thing is Bill HATES bananas. I don’t say this lightly. He can’t even stand the smell of them. The best part? He loves a nice fried plantain. How he figures that a plantain doesn’t taste anything like a banana is beyond me but whatever works.

 

A Quick Trip to Pick up a Book

Many years ago when I was in High School I was introduced to computers and writing the software that controls them to do all the wonder (and sometimes stupid) things they do. I went off to college as a chemistry major with the thought of becoming a doctor. When I started at Reed College there was a single old computer (IBM 1130 with punch cards) that during the day was used to run the college. When the staff of the computer center was done for the day they changed the single disk pack and the computer was available for students to use. I started to write little programs to do the computations for my chemistry labs (it was more fun that using the slide rules).  Late in the year the college was given a shiny new Digital Equipment Corporation PDP 11/70 by the chairman of Tektronix (a Reed graduate) to become the new academic computer. Over the next few years I spent more time with computer than in the chemistry building.

I picked up programming really easy and decided that liked working with computers a lot, but Reed did not have a computer engineering program at the time – so I left Reed without a degree, but a lot of knowledge of how to write software that worked. I took this knowledge and over the years wrote code some of the smallest and largest companies around. Over the years I moved away from actually writing code to managing the people that write the code. I used the combination of software, technical, and people management skills to run software projects for both small and very large companies. Although most of the time I had fun managing people and projects – I missed sitting in front of a computer working on code and making it work. From time to time I would write a little code or fix a bug here or there – but over the time I got further and further away from writing software and at the same time the programming languages moved forward leaving me a bit behind.

For years I would say how much I missed writing code and at one point when I worked for Microsoft talked to some groups about moving back into writing code from running projects. The problem was I rusty and behind the curve on writing code. A little while back a friend back in Seattle introduced me to a friend of his that is a co-owner of a small development shop back in Seattle that does custom projects for other companies along with working prototypes for ideas they have. They have some interns working with them building prototype of a web based application and back-end server. They also wanted a Windows Phone version of their application but did not have anyone to write it. I have been working with them in an attempt to build a Windows Phone version. If all goes according to plan I will dust off my programming skills, learn some new skills and hopefully get a contract with them or some other company in the future to write software again.

A number of weeks back I bought a book on Windows Phone development and have been working on some initial ideas and code for use in the application. Well the last few days I have been struggling with some of the new language syntax and figured I needed another computer book. Getting computer books use to be so much easier when I lived in the Seattle area.  There were a number of bookstores that had excellent selections. Not as easy when we are kind Kentucky. I looked at Amazon and found a couple of books that looked interesting. And then the problems started. I love my Kindle but it does not really work well for some kind of
books – like computer reference books. I could order one – but when the books cost around $50.00, I really want to take a look at it before I commit (unless it has tons of good reviews). Then the other problem is I kind of need the book now – so we are back to about $50.00 from Amazon including next day shipping (if we actually have a place to ship it to).

I used the Barnes and Noble web site and discovered that the book I was really interested in (or so I thought – more about that later) was only about 2 hours away (113 miles) in Lexington, KY. We looked to see what we might be able to do if we drove to Lexington and discovered that Guy Fieri did at least one Dinners, Drive-in’s, and Dives episode featuring some place we thought might be interesting to eat in Lexington – so off we went.

We were ready for a little lunch when we arrived in Lexington so we went to the Parkette Drive-In Restaurant. The Parkette was opened on November 11, 1951 and has been serving burgers, dogs and fried chicken ever since. We like a good drive-in. We have been BurgerMaster in Seattle and SuperDog in Chicago, unfortannly Parkette was only mediocre. The tater-tots were not crispy, the onion rings were overly crisply, and the hamburger was not as good as the one you can get in the drive-in chain Sonic. As for the chili dog, the chili was totally overwhelmed by the grated cheddar cheese and mustard on the dog. However the sign out front that was built in 1953 or 1954 was neat. If we ever end up in Lexington again we would not return here.

Lexington KY - Parkette

Lexington KY - Parkette

We then headed off to Barnes and Noble. It turns out I looked up the wrong book (the titles on computer books can be very close) and they did not have the one I was looking at. After about 2 hours on the floor looking at a number of computer books, I did find one that should help me out. Leslie found a cross magazine and interesting pattern book while I was looking at computer books.

After driving around Lexington and some time in a mall we were hungry enough for dinner and headed to J.J. McBrewster’s for some BBQ. Guy really liked the BBQ and the fact that they have smoked goat and mutton on the menu in addition to the standard pork, beef brisket, and chicken was intriguing. Well it turns out they do not always have smoked goat or Mutton. They only have it when their local supplier has it available. So we went more standard – pulled pork and Beef Brisket, with sides of a baked potato, baked beans, mac and cheese, and smoked vegetables. First the sides – the smoked vegetables were a bit disappointing in that I believe they were steamed and not smoked. The baked beans and mac n cheese were OK and the baked potato was very good included fresh made bacon bits. The corn muffin had jalapeno and real corn which was very nice although the muffin was a bit on the dry side.  The pulled pork was excellent, especially with the great mustard bbq sauce. The beef brisket was very good. If we ever end up in Lexington again we would happily return to J.J. MczBrewster’s.

Lexington KY - JJ McBrewster's

Lexington KY - JJ McBrewster's

So our simple trip to the bookstore only took about 10 hours.
J.J. McBrewster's on Urbanspoon
Parkette Drive In on Urbanspoon

Gen Con 2012

If you read the last post you know that we arrived in Indianapolis with plans to attend Gen Con. Gen Con is the most prevalent and largest of the North American gaming conventions. To clarify it is a convention that is focused on all kinds of multi-player games including board, card, pen and paper, role playing, live action role playing, dice, miniature, and strategy games. There are some computer games but the main focus is board, along with collectible and non-collectible card and miniature games. To put some size to the whole event, this year it occupied 676,000 square feet, had an estimated 40,000 unique attendees and had about 9,000 events scheduled during the 4 day convention.

This was the second year that Leslie and I attended Gen Con together. Leslie use to volunteer and then worked for a game company so she has been to a number of Gen Con’s before our trip last year. Last year was the first convention that Leslie attended and did not work so she was just kind of dazed, and I got involved with a miniature naval game called War At Sea. Other than meeting up with friends we were not really sure what we would do this year.

The convention is now over and we had a great time. In addition to meeting up and spending time with friends we took some craft classes. Leslie and I took a chainmail buffet class. In this class each student gets to pick from a few different items. Leslie decided to build chainmail armor for a stuffed monkey, and I made Leslie a  chainmail hand flower.  Leslie also took a class that taught her how to make a paracord bracelet. We both took the scalemail dice bag class (we are going to get more scales and make the second bag a little bigger, also you can’t really tell but the colored scales are purple).

Gen Con 2012 - Crafts

Gen Con 2012 - Crafts

We also spent lots of time on the exhibit floor demoing games. The only problem with doing demos is you end up liking the games and buying some. We added two expansions to the Slugfest game Red Dragon Inn (Pokey and Erin), a couple of Mayfair games (Sheer Panic and White Water), a couple of Wildfire Studio games (Poo and Nuts), a USAoply game (Telestrations) and of course the new Fluxx versions. In the process of doing the demos we got talking to a couple of people at Slugfest Games and might be working in their booth next year.

Gen Con is not just games – there are people building dragons out of balloons and houses out of cards.

Gen Con 2012 - Cards and Dragons

Gen Con 2012 - Cards and Dragons

Of course Gen Con is also famous for the costumes. There were some costumes each day, but most show up on Saturday for the costume parade and contest.

Gen Con 2012 - Costumes

Gen Con 2012 - Costumes

The majority of the convention occurs in the Indianapolis Convention Center; however there are events in some of the connected hotels. Our chainmail and scalemail classes were held in the Crowne Plaza. The hotel is housed within the original Union Station. They did a great job decorating parts of the hotel to look like an old train station complete with Pullman rail cars that house 26 sleeping rooms. When we went over on Friday for our chainmail class we knew we needed to go back when Leslie was in her Steampunk costume to get some pictures.

Gen Con 2012 - Leslie at Union Station

Gen Con 2012 - Leslie at Union Station

They say Gen Con is an experience and you never know who you might run into. Well we had a great time and did run into a lot of interesting people, including this gentleman who came to Gen Con during his slow time of year.

Gen Con 2012 - Mystery Guest

Gen Con 2012 - Mystery Guest

 

We took just under 400 pictures at Gen Con this year – you can see them at http://twotwistedlimes.smugmug.com/ConventionsFestivals/GenCon-2012/