I left home on Wednesday afternoon after getting the day's mail. A journey of 300 miles begins with naming your coyote. Since I took the Lancaster route to get to the PA Turnpike, my first stop for a geocache was near the town of Kinzers. I thought that might work for a name, so Kinzer the Coyote it is. After that, I found a bunch more geocaches in Lancaster, Akron, Lititz, and Mount Joy before heading out on Route 283 to get to Harrisburg and the Turnpike. Mount Joy, in particular, had quite a number of geocaches I could do at night along country roads with no traffic at all. Just past midnight, I decided I had enough and continued driving to the PA Turnpike and then all the way to Pittsburgh.
I arrived in the Pittsburgh area at dawn. It was obviously too early to check in at the hotel so I picked up a few geocaches in the Edgewood neighborhood. Early in the morning, that area was quiet and I only encountered one drunk wino while looking for a cache. Then I went to Primanti Brothers in the strip district for breakfast. I remembered from last year that they have a private parking lot so I drove right there instead of parking near the hotel and walking. Also, there's a geocache very near Primanti. After finding the cache, I went in and had a bacon and cheese sandwich. Yes, I'd been looking forward to these sandwiches stuffed with fries and coleslaw all year. What's surprising is one of the restaurant staff recognized me from last year. I guess I really do go there a lot whenever I'm in town.
I parked at the Grant Street Transportation Center, just across the road from the hotel. I think many furries did the same because this year, the parking garage under the Westin doesn't offer a discount to people staying at the Westin. So it's $20/day for the Westin parking garage vs. $13/day and $5/day on the weekend for parking at the Grant Street Transportation Center. As far as I was concerned, the choice was clear.
The rest of the day had a pretty light schedule. I met up with my roomies freakylynx in the morning and terminotaur and marauderosu later in the day. Some time in the afternoon, I fell asleep because I was tired from the overnight drive so I have to apologize to Termy for missing his phone call.
Picked up my con badge early in the afternoon. That was a very quick process since I was pre-registered. Kudos to the registration staff. Had lunch with Freaky Lynx at Liang's Hunan, where there was a Chinese buffet every day. coyoty joined us during the meal.
In the evening, I went out with ^..^James (That's how he writes his name.), Freaky Lynx and catmandux to Primanti in Market Square. Haven't been to this one before. Also, ^..^James didn't tell us where we were going until we got there, so it was a surprise. (Not really to me because I already know about Primanti, but having Primanti sandwiches twice in a day is new to me! :) )
Did my first round of fursuiting that night in the raccoon fursuit. Wandered around the hotel area and convention center in fursuit. That was when I found out that they closed the convention center rooftop but I didn't know why until later. I heard that someone was walking on the other side of the rooftop railing. Because of him, no one else had access to the rooftop except during a few scheduled events.
Went to the opening ceremony, where I heard about that rooftop incident. Couldn't believe that there was already a problem even before the con had started. On the plus side, halfway through the ceremony a bunch of fursuiters did a choreographed dance to Walking The Dinosaur to surprise Uncle Kage.
Visited the Dealer's Room briefly in the afternoon to drop off the plush toys I was donating to the charity auction, but had to hurry out to meet up with jbadger and friends (Pepper Fox and ?) for lunch. We went to Lidia's. After that JBadger and I took a walk to the new geocaches in the area. We also checked out a costume store along the way but there was nothing we wanted there.
After that, I got into the coyote fursuit and went to the DLCC to pick up a fursuiter tag. It's a numbered laser-etched wooden tag that they were handing out one per fursuiter. I love how this con has neat souvenirs every year. After that, I wandered around the DLCC and the Dealer's Room in fursuit. Every year, there are more and more Pittsburgh locals coming to the downtown area to see the furries. They are friendly people though. I took a walk out on the street in fursuit to cross over from the DLCC back to the hotel and somehow wandered into a photoshoot. This guy was having his picture taken with every fursuiter. Wonder if I'll come across the result on Facebook.
Later that afternoon, I went to Fernando's for an early dinner and ran into the Furst State crew. Made a little joke about traveling 300 miles to meet up with people who are local to me. It was a surprise to see Slaphappy as I thought she wasn't coming to Anthrocon. I had a buffalo chicken sub.
In the evening, I went to "Recess", which is a light version of the fursuit games. I missed the early part of it but I joined in and played a few games of tag and musical chairs. After that, I went to the fursuit-friendly dance, which had a lot of 80s music. It's great that they now offer a slower-beat alternative to the regular dance every night. I've been to the regular dance in fursuit but found it a bit too dark and fast-paced in there.
Had an early start to the day because I needed to be at the masquerade rehearsal in the Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom at the DLCC. I was in two skits this year: "It's Raining Men" by ikariyalter and "This is Anthrocon" by magnusdiridian. While waiting for our turn up on the stage, we discussed what each of us would do in the skits. Then we got up on stage to do them and get feedback from the masquerade director.
Not long after masquerade rehearsal, I had to be back in the ballroom for the fursuit parade lineup. This time, it was a shorter parade. We just went down to do a loop in the Dealer's Room and then to Hall C for the photoshoot. Then we just dispersed after that.
Had a long break for a late lunch so I walked out to Primanti Brothers in the strip district. Had a colossal fish sandwich. Then I shopped at Wholey's Market but only bought bananas.
In the evening, I wore the raccoon fursuit and went to the masquerade green room to prepare for the masquerade. There was not much of a wait there because we were queued up several acts in advance. There's a long service corridor connecting the green room to the Spirit of Pittsburgh ballroom so that's where we waited. The problem was the corridor was warm and there was no water for performers who were standing there in fursuit waiting for their turn up on stage. To their credit, the masquerade crew corrected the problem and brought a box fan and drinking water to the backstage area.
It was pretty quick once we got going. I went on the first skit then came backstage and got back in line for the other skit. Virtually no stage fright this time and both were relatively simple skits as far as the moves/gestures were concerned.
After the masquerade, I went out to Golden Palace Buffet for a late dinner. Had a shredded pork pan fried noodle. Came back and attended the fursuit-friendly dance until pretty late at night.
Shopped at the Dealer's Room in the morning. I only bought two items, both shirts. (like I don't already have enough t-shirts :) ) Then I attended the Fursuiting Retrospective panel, a discussion about the early days of fursuiting at cons. I've actually been in the fandom long enough to have seen what they were talking about so it was a bit of a trip into nostalgia.
Took part in the fursuit games in the afternoon. I wore the coyote fursuit. Purely on a whim, I wore my Phoenix Coyotes hockey jersey over the costume because it looked sporty that way. There were supposed to be four games but we ended up doing only three because of time constraints. First game was one where you had to use a hockey stick to guide a ball around some cones and then do a slapshot into a goal. (two cones at the end) Because of the hockey jersey, I looked the part. Too bad I wasn't actually that good with a hockey stick but I did succeed.
The second game was charades. I thought I did well enough. The first word I got was "ape", which was easy to mime. The second word, "mail", was somewhat harder. I acted out folding an envelope and putting it into a mailbox and by some miracle, someone from the audience guessed the word correctly. The third game was one where we did a mini-skit and were judged by audience reaction. My team did a Benny Hill chase since one of us actually had the "Wacky Sax" tune on his iPod. Found out that it's very hard to do a chase when you have no peripheral vision in fursuit.
After the games, I went to Furry Research panel presented by drg_kcgerbasi. She is a social scientist from Niagara County Community College who conducts a study of the furry fandom each year at Anthrocon. Unfortunately, because of the timing of the fursuit games, I missed most of the panel but I'm sure any interesting results will be published later. Went to the closing ceremony afterwards. This year's stats: 4238 attendees; 713 fursuiters in the parade.
Took a walk out to the strip district for dinner. I couldn't get any of my friends to come along for dinner so I thought I would be going alone but when I got to Primanti, I saw a bunch of friends there. The place was packed! I guess everyone had time to go out a bit further once the con was over.
When I got back, the hotel was crowded because everyone who didn't go home on Sunday was hanging out there because the DLCC was closed. There was a Dead Dog Party going on with music and a dance. I got into the coyote fursuit and went to the dance for a bit. Hang around afterwards getting into random photoshoots and shenanigans.
Time to pack up and leave. Couldn't believe there were still so many people in the hotel lobby. Also, the elevators were very busy because everyone was moving luggage from their rooms. I got done moving my stuff to the car before noon and had a quick breakfast / early lunch at Fernando's. Freaky Lynx and I were the last to leave the hotel room. We noticed a few things left behind. There were two small items: one rechargeable battery and a USA flag pin. There was also a mysterious bunch of clothes in one of the drawers that didn't belong to any of us in the room. Weird. My guess is these may belong to someone who had the room on Wednesday night and we didn't look in that drawer when we checked in so we didn't know the clothes were there until check-out day. Anyway, I washed the clothes and will hold these for safekeeping in case someone claims them.
The trip home was remarkably smooth with no major traffic delays. (There was only one minor construction delay on US-30 near Gap.) Geocached along the way. Also met up with the Furst State crew by chance at the Somerset eastbound rest area when I went in for water after getting a geocache in the field behind the parking lot. We dubbed this meetup TurnpikeCon.
On the way home, I geocached in the Harrisburg area after leaving the PA Turnpike at exit 247. Found a bunch of geocaches in Highspire, Lower Swatara, and Middletown. I ought to return to this area for more geocaches since it's really not that far past Lancaster. Then I had fish and more at Long John Silver's in Lancaster.
Before going home, I decided to check out the Park City Mall in Lancaster since I still had a bit of time. Boy, they have one strange mall layout! I guess it's efficient once you get to know the stores but when you first get there, all you see is 8 corridors that look the same going in 8 directions. When I got to the Park City food court, I noticed that most of the food vendors had closed for the day but they were selling off their leftovers. I bought out the Chinese food vendor's remaining stock. They packed it tightly into a set of food containers and gave me a bunch of condiments and plastic forks. I thought that was worth getting since I can reheat the food a bit at a time and have Chinese food for lunch or dinner every day.