RadCon 2020

For the second year in a row, there’s been oddball weather around RadCon. Last year it was a late and heavy snowfall that made it difficult for people from the west side of the Cascades to arrive (the Canadians and east side folks managed to make it, however). This year was a dramatic set of floods that could have affected us if we hadn’t known about the alternate routes.

Nonetheless, our usual route over Tollgate (OR 204) was closed due to washouts and landslides from the weekend before. Amazingly, this was done by a small seasonal creek that dries up during the summer. While it did open up again during our stay at RadCon, it’s only open with a pilot car and one lane traffic through a narrow track around problems and road work. Having seen what even a small creek can do during a flood when I was young–the impact of the Christmas Week floods of 1964 on Highway 58 over Willamette Pass–I was not surprised that a seasonal creek could wreak such havoc, especially after hearing that the flows in the Umatilla River were the highest on record. Lots of wet, heavy snow-frozen ground-hard rain and fast temperature rise…yeah. Also elements in the floods of 1996 on the Willamette and 2011 on the Sandy.

But the other difficult stretch was the washout area on I-84 between Stanfield and the intersection with I-82. One lane traffic at 45 mph, and the morning we left, I saw a picture of the damage. A road worker stood at the edge of the freeway, reaching up to touch the road surface with one hand at full extension. Not sure how tall he was, but that suggests at least seven if not eight feet of washout. However, in spite of the weirdness of our GPS, we managed to find our way through Stanfield and Hermiston to hook up with OR-730 and make our way to Washington through the Wallula Gap, so we avoided that area.

Once we arrived at the Best Western (the other hotel, much quieter and with a much better breakfast that’s free) and got settled in, it was time to think about the con. And writing. I’m actively working on a new book in first draft right now, The Ruby Project, and wanted to hit 30,000 words if not more by the end of the weekend. That meant I needed to get at least 2000 words in for at least two of the four days of the trip. I finished off the 2000 for Thursday after we got to the hotel, and Friday I easily hit the goal. Saturday was 1000 words, maybe more since I did some writing in the Green Room. Sunday was nothing, but I did get 3000 words in today, so I’m still on track, more or less.

I had ten panels for the weekend, one of which was a group reading. Most of the panels were heavy on the writing side, with a lot of editing discussion. Fortunately, with the exception of Sunday, my panels started later so I had time to wake up/eat a leisurely breakfast/visit over breakfast with friends/get my words in. Sunday I started early, but since it was the last day of the con, I wasn’t too worried about that. I was more concerned about dealing with the Art Show, since I hadn’t really worked with this Art Show in person (years ago I shipped jewelry to RadCon for a couple of shows. But that’s an entirely different process).

The panels were all fun. I didn’t walk out of any of them feeling like there were issues. Alas, the Social Media panel had light attendance due to registration hassles (3 pm on Friday with long lines at Reg….yeah). I was surprised at how pleasantly well the “I’m A Liberal and I Own Guns” panel went. Nothing toxic happened, but then again, the general consensus was that “yeah, it’s a tool, yeah, we take them seriously, and OMG the muzzle discipline of some of those protesters!!!!” It could have been different, but then this is a convention being held in an area which is still pretty much rural. Most of us had tales about scary moments–all of us were female, and our tales either involved isolated camping incidents or else intruders in an isolated area. The Horses panel went as such things do, with anecdotes and repetition of “horses are NOT motorcycles, LEARN about them before you write about them.” But we all had funny stories.

I didn’t do the party scene at all this year. I am finding that pacing myself and having quiet evenings really does make a difference, as I’m less likely to feel just totally trashed out and half sick if I get back to the room and chill out before crashing. Plus I was running the infuser with an essential oil that the son’s girlfriend gave us for Christmas. At the very least, introducing a little humidity into an otherwise dry hotel room is a good idea.

So overall, a good time. I had one of the cool moments, too, when after a panel a fan introduced herself to me and said “I came to this panel so I could meet YOU.” SQUEE. SQUEE. SQUEE. It doesn’t matter what side of the panelist table I’m on, those moments are still SQUEESQUEESQUEE and make my day. I hope I never get so successful that I get jaded by these moments! I’m so grateful when they happen.

And…I sold a book, and three bowl cozies in the Art Show. SWEET.

A good con. I came home with new books to read, and caffeinated marshmallows to nibble on as needed over the next few weeks. Heh. I ate one before a panel on Friday and started gibbering a little bit later, to the teasing of some of my fellow panelists. That’s all right, it was fun. And they helped me through a late night panel.

I have a nice glow after RadCon, which is always the sign of a good convention. Smile.


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