Monday morning came, the last day of Dragon Con. Every other con I had been to, all three of them, ended on Sunday. But Dragon, always held over Labor Day Weekend, had that extra day to offer. I was up early so I could get out of my room and still make some of the last panels. As usual, the lobby was almost empty at 8:30 AM, and the restaurant was as always uncrowded at that hour. Breakfast was kind of pricy at $26 for the buffet with coffee and juice. The omelets were masterworks as always, and the luxury of a sitdown meal without having to fight the crowd was worth it. Then it was up to my room to pack and get out of the hotel. The bill had been left under the door the night before, along with instructions on how to check out by phone or TV remote. Since I had no balance, everything having been charged, and had no desire to stand in a long line, I checked out over the TV, then called the bell staff to get help checking out. I was told forty-five minutes, which would still give me plenty of time to get to the 11:30 panel I wanted to attend. At forty minutes the bellhop showed up and helped me to get my stuff on the cart. He was definitely worth his tip, for several reasons, the first of which was how he prevented me from leaving three items behind in my room. We went for the service elevators, hidden away from the guests. All of the guest elevators were packed, with people and baggage going down to the lobby. We waited for four freight elevators to pass, also packed with people and baggage, until one finally came open, empty. As we got out of the elevator for the trip to the bank down to the garage, I could see how wise a choice it was to do remote checkout, since there was already a long line of people and bags waiting for the staff to clear them at the front desk.
I got my car quickly and drove to the nearby parking garage I had parked at the last two years, for $20. This year it was $40, outrageous for the three hours I needed it for. Still, I wanted to make those last two panels, so I parked there. On the way through the hotels again I was struck at how much longer the lines were. Even worse than check in, which is spread over a couple of days. So I made my way to the panel to learn what kinds of tropes and ideas editors were tired of, information I would probably need for future submissions. After that I went to my last panel, where I would get a chance to see and hear James Randi. Mr. Randi looked very frail, and I was not sure how many chances I would get to see him. They mentioned a million dollar challenge for a Dragon Con, where someone would put their psychic powers up against Mr. Randi’s powers to debunk, but James said he hasn’t had a challenger for the last ten years. I’ll leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions about that. Then it was to the parking garage, and the end of another Dragon Con. The ride back home is always a challenge at my age. Singing with the radio, ice on the face, frequent stops, all to keep from falling asleep on the road. There were some slowdowns on I-75, more than I can remember from last year, due most probably to people heading home from the long weekend.
I consider this my best Dragon Con ever, both from things seen and things accomplished. It was great to stay in one of the host hotels, and I will make an effort to do so again next year. Of course, making an effort isn’t always enough, as those blocks of rooms sell out within an hour of opening, and there are a lot of people trying to get them, sort of like sharks trying to get to that one stranded sailor. Still, staying where you didn’t have to worry about shuttles to the event, and could go to late night panels without worrying about missing the shuttle run, or Marta, was nice.
As much as I enjoyed Dragon Con, I was glad to be going home. I don’t sleep well in hotel rooms the first couple of nights, which means I’m sleeping from exhaustion the rest of the time. I have some author friends who go to a con or more a month, and I really don’t see how they do it. One big name author I know has said that he loses a week of writing time for every weekend con he goes to. The equivalent of three months without writing? I would go under like that. Add to that a wonderful cold I brought back from Atlanta, and I’m really happy I get to spend most weekends at my comfortable home, in my own bed. Still, I am looking forward to next year, when again over seventy thousand people who get the same kind of things I do will gather in the center of Atlanta for a weekend of revel and cosplay. See you there.