Mike Willmoth (mwillmoth) wrote,
Mike Willmoth
mwillmoth

Trip 2015-08 Worldcon (Sasquan) Spokane WA

Trip 2015-08 Worldcon Review

Worldcon 2015, aka Sasquan (www.sasquan.org), was held in Spokane, WA, Wednesday August 19 through Sunday August 23. Although the bid for Pacific Northwest 2015 started out with Seattle, it became quickly obvious that the city couldn't accommodate our needs. We started looking at Belleview next, but their primary hotel didn't like our two-year-out voting system. Next, we looked at Tacoma, Spokane and Vancouver, BC. The latter was too expensive for sf/f fans, so it really came down to either Tacoma or Spokane. One Con Chair visited the former and one the latter. After their visits they compared notes and settled on the latter! We then negotiated the convention center contract and the various hotel contracts (Davenport Historic, DoubleTree, Red Lion At The Park & Red Lion River Inn) over about half a year. By the time the voting occurred at Worldcon 2013, aka LoneStarCon 3, held in San Antonio, TX, we were all set. And, after three rounds of ballot counting (using preferential system) Spokane won the bid!

Jean and I planned to head out early to visit with friends in Portland, then arrive in Spokane early and depart late to be there for Move-In / Move-Out (MIMO). We left home and drove up to Portland, arriving Friday August 14. Saturday, we did lunch at a Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives location (a Thai restaurant), then shopped at Powell's Bookstore downtown before meeting a local friend for dinner at a barbecue restaurant. We left town Sunday and drove northeast through rural Washington and encountered some forest fire smoke before arriving at the Davenport Grand Hotel. The DGH was added to our list of hotels in December 2014; others, like the Ruby or the Best Western, were added in 2015. After parking in the hotel's garage we checked in, then moved our luggage from the van into our room upstairs. Being a brand new hotel it was very modern, very high tech, and we moved everything out of the van's trunk & back seats into our room. One side effect of this was the television remote control got buried and we could not operate the TV without it. I had a brief chat with engineering about that and they assured me there was no way to turn it on, off, change channels, etc. without the remote. I thanked them, then pulled the power cord out of the wall; problem solved! I learned that the Chair, other Vice Chairs, and some Division Heads were having dinner at a restaurant about a mile away, so I met them with plans to order something to bring back for Jean while she rested. It was a nice meal and we got some business done, then I returned to the hotel to get online and handle last minute convention emails.

Mon Aug 17 we took our time before lunch, then we ate nearby before I headed over to the Spokane Convention Center (SCC, across the street) to observe MIMO crew and check on those areas under my control that were moving in, such as Office (under Services Division). I also checked on Consuite and Staff Den at the DoubleTree Hotel which were also under me via Hospitality Division. I met with my Facilities Division team who were onsite, too. For dinner Jean & I ate at another nearby restaurant, then I met with folks to discuss any additional problems or developments. Returning to the hotel room I caught up on con email before crashing.

Tue Aug 18 I wandered over to the SCC again to monitor the rest of move-in. We had a group meeting after lunch, then I monitored the rest of move-in for my areas. Things went pretty well overall. I did try to take the van out for some shopping, but it wouldn't start! Must have been a dead battery, so I had it jumped and we went out to buy distilled water for the Accessibility Desk and Office for use with CPAP machines that folks brought. I left the van running while we shopped with Jean guarding the van, then parked it again at the hotel for the rest of the weekend. I did dinner with friends at the hotel, checked on things at the various hotels, then called it an evening.

Wed Aug 19 we started with our daily Division Head breakfast meeting; I voted for a lunch meeting, but I was in the minority. From there I checked on my divisions, making sure that Consuite, Staff Den and Childcare (all at the DoubleTree) were going smoothly. Childcare was under Services and the Area Head who handled the negotiations with Kiddie Corps couldn't attend the convention. So we had lined up someone else to be the onsite contact, but they couldn't make it. Instead, we enlisted the help of another fan who had worked with KC before. That seemed to go well. Several of us did lunch after a pre-con meeting with one of the hotels, then we had to be at Opening Ceremonies after the other pre-con hotel meeting. It was odd being up on stage, but it went well and we were part of the post ceremony procession out into the park for First Night. There was still some smoke in the air, but otherwise it was a successful offsite (or near-site) event. Events DH / First Night Area Head arranged with the city to have food trucks, music, decorations, etc. We did dinner with other friends, then I wandered around the Davenport Historic Hotel to check on the various parties. We were never able to rent out the Presidential Suite except for Saturday (Baen Books), so the Facilities Division used it as a hangout at night. Party Maven was based on the second floor of that hotel and made sure folks had trash cans, corkscrews, etc. that were needed to have a successful party. The four Worldcon bids for 2017 (DC, Helsinki, Japan and Montreal) were all cranking. We had some trouble with turning off the keycard requirement to access those floors and the hotel erroneously put some non-con folks near those parties. My hotel team got that all fixed. The shuttle system from the SCC to the Davenport worked pretty well and came in handy because of the forest fire smoke that got progressively worse throughout the weekend. After checking on the parties I returned to my room, brought Jean up to date, and did email.

Thu Aug 20 I started with the daily DH meeting again, then headed to our first Business Meeting, then to lunch, then to our first Feedback Session. There were only a few persons who showed up to complain about this or that. Most things we couldn't change; we did for those we could. I checked on my areas again, got reports of glitches, put out a few small fires, then wandered around the SCC. Info Desk and Accessibility Desk were going well. Got to visit the Art Show and Dealers Room. Checked out Guinan's Place in Hall C. Everything was going relatively smoothly. We did dinner with more friends, then I checked on the stuff at the SCC before taking a shuttle to the DHB for more parties. Other than a few more glitches I found things going well. I finally headed back to my hotel.

Fri Aug 21 was another DH meeting, another BM, another lunch, another FS, more wandering with checking, fixing, resolving, etc. After dinner was the Masquerade, but we didn't go. Instead I spent more time at the Davenport parties. I heard it went well despite the challenge of using a ticket system that didn't work very well. Voting closed after we voted and I later heard that Helsinki won the 2017 bid in the first round, overwhelmingly. I was surprised it didn't go to at least a second round.

Sat Aug 22 was DH/BM/lunch, no FS for some reason, then more wandering. Dinner was with more friends, then we had the pre-Hugo Reception to attend. It was interesting and I got my photo taken with our Chair and other Vice Chairs. From there we headed across the breezeway to the Hugo Awards Ceremony itself. Despite one person booing at one point, which was quelled by one of our Toastmasters, it went well. Considering how controversial it was between the various political slates that were promoted online, it was smooth. Jean and I took a handicap shuttle to the Davenport so she could do parties, but she didn't last long with her powerchair. I stayed and hung out with folks, commiserating with those who lost the bid for 2017 and congratulating the bid who won. Montreal was selling off smoked meat, so I bought a large one to take home and much on along the way. It's just another form of barbecue, but excellent.

Sun Aug 23 was our final DH meeting, final BM, lunch, and final FS. I checked on my areas, chatted with fans, visited the AS and DR again before they closed, and helped with those areas shutting down under my control. Many of them planned to pull out Monday. Move-out started Sunday evening and finished up Monday. There was the Old Pharts' Party Sunday at the Davenport Historic (for past Chairs and friends) as well as one or two smaller parties. I was pooped when I got back to our room.

Mon Aug 24 was to sleep in, tour the MIMO sections, coordinate between areas (Services vs Operations) for who stores what, took some stuff to my room for post-con processing, and generally made sure that we got out of the SCC and hotels on time. Hotels team met with the hotels and took them gifts as a thank-you for all their help with our event. We made our room night minimums, so there we only had to pay the smallest amounts for what we used. Jean and I got another jump to shop for a replacement van battery, only to find the nearest auto parts store didn't carry our required model. We had to drive about 20 miles east to Interstate Battery; they kindly installed the new one for free as part of their sale. We returned, did dinner with friends, then got online to wrap things up.

Tue Aug 25 we tooked off for Glacier National Park in Montana. We drove through and it was clear that the glaciers were receding. But it was a great drive with gorgeous views. We stayed overnight in the state capital of Helena, then headed southwest to Yellowstone National Park. We stayed north of the park, then drove south through the park on Wed Aug 26, taking a route not taken in previous trips through. We entered the north gate, then headed south to take the middle of the figure 8 east, then out the southeast entrance. We made it to Cody, WY for overnight. Thu Aug 27 we left for Denver overnight, then Fri Aug 28 for Albuquerque, then home Sat Aug 29.

Our Worldcon trip was fun, stressful for a bit, then very scenic home. The worst part of the convention was the smoke from the forest fires nearby. I only know of three fans who had to be hospitalized; hopefully, that was all. After putting in 5 years of effort to make Sasquan run well it was a welcome relief for it to be over. And the end of 300+ emails per day. Hopefully, the majority of the fans who attended appreciated all the hard work our spectacular team put it to make it happen. We also had a great vacation as part of it. I'm not working Worldcon 2016, at least not on staff :-)
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