August 18th, 2016

chestnut husky

FA United 2016

FA United was in Herndon, Virginia, this year. It was at the Hyatt Regency, just across the highway from the Dulles International Airport. I have to admit I had mixed feelings about the con moving to Virginia. For one thing, this would be my third trip to Virginia this year, after Fursonacon and Fur The More. Is it an overload of Virginia-ness? Also, I figured the con would have fewer attendees this year because I heard many folks from New Jersey who were regulars at FAU weren't planning to make the trip south. Still though, some of my friends were at this year's FAU and I recognized some folks from Fursonacon as well.

The new location is both good and bad. I thought the hotel was terrific! Every room in the hotel is a suite and somehow, FAU negotiated a group rate that is lower than what I paid at most other cons. So it's a win-win. Plenty of space to lay out my gear. This is the first hotel I've stayed at that uses RFID keycards. Instead of slipping the card into a slot, you hold it against the card reader on the door. Possibly for security reasons, the keycard is also needed to activate the guest floor buttons in the elevator. On the last day of the con, I realized that I could simply keep the RFID keycard in my handpaw when fursuiting. It was kinda neat and cute when I activated the elevator reader by pressing my paw against it. Two downsides to this hotel though. First was parking was inadequate. On Friday night, the parking lot was nearly full by the time I got back from dinner. Because of that, I didn't even drive out for dinner Saturday night. Instead, I got takeout earlier in the afternoon and kept it in my room for later. The other problem, of course, was the hotel wasn't within walking distance of any stores or restaurants. It was about a mile to the nearest strip mall and the oppressively hot summer weather wasn't conducive to walking that distance.

FAU didn't have a whole lot of scheduled programming that was of interest to me. I was in the fursuit parade (which thankfully did not go outside in the 100°F weather!) and the fursuit games. I also attended Majik's sewing panels, where I made a red star squeaky toy and an ice cream cone. I also went to the Majik Mystery Loot Brawl, where my prize was a corgi ear and tail set. This game is similar to white elephant gift exchanges at some holiday geocaching events. At each turn, the player can either pick and unwrap a gift or steal someone else's already-unwrapped gift. I didn't get my first choice of gift but this was good enough.

So those events were basically it for me. The upside though was I had plenty of time between events to get meals and find geocaches and Munzees. I went for the "Virginia Trains and Roads" multicache early in the morning (before it got hot) to qualify for the weekend's Mission GC souvenir. Geocaching was actually only so-so in that area. Munzee, on the other hand, was amazing! There is a very active Munzee community there and the Munzees are well-maintained. Out of the hundreds of Munzees I went for, I think only three were missing or worn out. That is excellent because I've been to areas where the failure rate was up to 50%. I also used these games to decide where to eat. Every time I went out for a meal, I took a look at what special Munzees or geocaches were out there. I went and got that, and then took a look to see what restaurants were nearby. That led me to some interesting local favorites and ethnic restaurants. (That's another nice thing about the area. The DC Metro area has a lot of good Middle-Eastern and Indian restaurants, and most of those places are good for tasty but moderately-priced takeout food.)

Will I be back next year for FAU 2017? Probably. Can't say for sure because a lot can change in a year, but I did enjoy the hotel and the area, and a smaller convention with less programming is a nice change of pace after Anthrocon.

The caches...Collapse )