Thursday, October 2
It was raining here in Houston when I left around noon. I drove up I-45, stopping for lunch at a Jack in the Box in the Woodlands. In Dallas, I got on I-35E. North of Dallas, 35E slowed to a standstill because of construction, pissing me off and causing me to lose almost an hour. Finally I got through that.
Shortly after entering Oklahoma, I stopped at Carl's Jr. for dinner. Near Oklahoma City, I stopped at Braum's, an ice cream place, for a strawberry shake. I discovered Braum's is actually a combo ice cream parlor/mini-grocery, so I looked to see if they had orange juice. They didn't (well okay, they had concentrated OJ, but that stuff is crap), but they did have oranges, so I got five.
I kept driving north on 35 until I reached I-40, on which I turned west. Then I took US 281 to Watonga, and then highway 8 to Roman Nose State Park, the only state park named after a nose. It was about 10:30 p.m. when I checked in at the resort lodge.
I had forgotten to make a goodbye post on LJ before leaving, so I tried to make a phone post, but I had no signal at all. I tried using the room phone, but it hadn't been activated, and I was tired, so I gave up.
Friday, October 2
I drove to Watonga to fill my cooler with fresh ice. Back at the resort lodge, I looked in the lobby to see if there were any furries there. None at all. I had lunch in the lodge restaurant, and drove to the Turkey Roost camping area. That's where everybody was. It seems they were holding all the events at the Turkey Roost instead of splitting them between there and the lodge. I registered and sat around awhile.
There was a cookout on the big concrete patio in front of the chowhall, but of course I'd already eaten. Oh well. It was windy out, and the wind kept blowing straight into the chowhall, which kept messing up part of the setup for the evening dance, so someone decided to keep the doors closed and put up a sign directing people to use the side door. Unfortunately he didn't put a sign on the inside, so people kept trying to open the front door from inside. One guy tried to open it even though it was locked. As I was trying to talk to him through the door and tell him to use the side door, he threw himself against it and burst it open, hitting me on the forehead. Man, did it hurt!
Inside the chowhall, there was an art show setup, a table covered with items for the charity auction, a few tables along the side for Artists' Alley and Safari's, the charity... and no other tables to sit at. I grabbed a chair and sat in it, working on drawings and notes, and looking at the lemurs and the coatimundi in the nearby cages at the Safari's table, and the big dogs that people kept bringing in.
Outside, there was volleyball, and fursuit frisbee. The frisbee got stuck in a tree at one point, and someone had to climb up and get it down. Elsewhere, some guys were kicking and tossing around a volleyball decorated to look like a large 8-ball. Occasionally it would end up in the hilly area beyond the barbed-wire fence, and someone would have to carefully shimmy under the fence and get it. I joined in for a bit, but at one point I accidentally kicked the ball into the barbed-wire fence and punctured it. Oops.
At some point, there was chili. I had some with a handful of tortilla chips to scoop it with. Later on, there was a dance in the chowhall. I don't dance, so I went back outside. By now, it was getting dark. I wandered over to the campfire, where furs were gathered around, toasting marshmallows. I joined in. Crazy John, sitting next to me, was letting the long metal rod he was sticking the marshmallows on get so hot that when he put a marshmallow on it, it would melt on the inside and slide down the stick, away from the fire. A couple of his marshmallows also slid the other way off the stick into the fire. Oops.
I stayed there until I noticed I was smelling cigarette smoke, and I looked around and noticed I was surrounded by smokers. So I got up and wandered around admiring the stars. Then I drove back to the lodge and went to bed.
Saturday, October 2
I went to the Turkey Roost and hung around in the chowhall for a while. As a supersponsor, I was invited to the Guest of Honor Lunch. It was listed as being in the Fairway Cottage, which was not marked in the map of the park printed in the back of the conbook, so I drove to the lodge and asked at the desk. It's the little house at the top of the hill up the road from the hotel. So I drove up there and knocked. Some people inside told me the lunch had been moved to A-frame cabin #1. So I drove back to the Turkey Roost and waited with the other supersponsors, standing beside the bunkbeds that had been removed from the cabin to make room for things like poker, this lunch, etc.
Eventually we got to enter, and we all sat at two rows of tables in the cabin. The lunch was in honor of the GoH, Goldenwolf, and was a multi-course affair. We started with salads, then rolls, then onion soup, then shrimp with Hollandaise sauce, and finally the main course: pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes and choice of broccoli with cheese sauce or green beans. I got broccoli WITHOUT cheese sauce. For dessert, cheesecake with a choice of cherries or chocolate. I had chocolate. The whole meal took over an hour, and when it was done, we were all absolutely stuffed.
Which was a bit of a pity, as the next event was a game of Predator & Prey, which I later decided I might have been interested in, but there's running around involved, and I was too full of pork tenderloin for that. Predator & Prey is a LARP in which players pretend to be animals. The predators try to kill the prey, and all the animals search for water and try to avoid trucks and hunters (played by other players).
I sat around in the chowhall scribbling and digesting until 6 p.m., when spaghetti was served. Then I did some more digesting.
I also noticed something: in the two main outdoor areas to hang around with other people (the chowhall patio and the campfire), at any given time, over half the people were smoking cigarettes. I could not hang out in either place for more than about 10 minutes without being bothered by someone's cigarette. At Oklacon 2004, it wasn't much of a problem because the wind did a very good job blowing smoke away in some harmless direction, but this time around the wind kept changing direction and dying down. It was seriously a problem for me.
At one point after the spaghetti, I decided to take a chair down the hill and sit outside, away from everyone else for a while. But the sun was setting and I couldn't draw anymore. Also, some people came down a hill to try to get the frisbee out of a nearby tree where it had gotten stuck again. While two of them worked at that, another one lit a cigarette. And I could smell it! I couldn't get away from the smoke at all. Oklacon? More like SMOKE-lacon.
And smoking was prohibited inside the chowhall, but there's not much to do in there for hours at a time. And I didn't want to be in there during the dances or the Sub Level 03 concert anyway, because it was loud and dark.
I went back to my room at the lodge and realized I was wasting my time at Oklacon. I'd been doing little more than dividing my time between sitting in the chowhall scribbling, and going outside and trying to avoid cigarette smoke. And although there were a lot of people there I was friendly with, practically none of my close friends were there.
And because I'd driven there, I could leave anytime I wanted. I realized I had no reason to stick around another day. So I told the front desk I wanted to check out on Sunday instead of Monday, and I packed.
Sunday, October 2
I loaded the car, checked out and drove home. I took the same route back as on the way up, without incident.
I don't think I'll go back to Oklacon. I also don't think I'll go to Feral, or any other camping con. I'm just not the outdoors type, and such cons don't generally seem to attract the people I really like to hang out with.
Long story short, it's not my kind of con.