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4 States, 2 Oceans, 1 Week

Scott and Brian Kurtz at Comic-con

Scott and Brian Kurtz at Comic-con

The last two weeks has been extremely busy for me. I racked up quite a few frequent flier miles, got to see some friends I haven’t seen in a long time, and saw a motley collection of Klingons, Stormtroopers, Super Heroes and travel bloggers.

San Diego

My week started out in New York City where I had spent the last week and had the New York City meet up. When I was coming to the US I was talking to my friend Scott Kurtz who was going to be in San Diego for Comic-con, the biggest comic convention in the world. He told me I should come over and check out the convention. Because he had a booth at the show, he was able to get me a pro-pass which gave me access to the expo floor and all the panel discussions. I’ve never been to Comic-con before, and I was interested in going. They do a lot of announcements for movies there and many people get dressed up as sci-fi or fantasy characters. I’m all about the traveling, so I figured it would be a great experience.

By your command...

By your command...

At Comic-con I realized that I am not a geek. I sort always of thought of myself as one, but honestly, I am not in the same league as these people. I used to collect comic books, but I don’t anymore. I like going to movies, but I am not obsessive about science fiction. I never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, Serenity, Star Trek Voyager, or whatever the last Star Trek series was. I don’t buy action figures, I don’t dress up as characters from movies, and I have never played D&D. I was walking in the expo hall and a woman who was handing out fliers turned to give one to me and said “oh, you don’t need one of these, you’re normal”. I’m not sure if that was an insult or a compliment.

Don’t get my wrong, I enjoyed Comic-con, but my enjoyment came as an observer, not as a participant. I walked around the floor trying to find something I was interested in, but struck out. Even most of the panel discussions weren’t very interesting to me. I suppose I could have camped out for hours to see some celebrities hype their upcoming films, but that really didn’t do it for me.

Floor of the expo

Floor of the expo

The costumes that many of the people wear to Comic-con were very impressive. These aren’t your garden variety, thrown together costumes you wear for Halloween. These are get ups that have had a lot of time and effort put into them. I saw a team of guys dressed as the Ghostbusters who had equipment on their backs which were probably more elaborate than the movie. One guys had a very elaborate Predator costume made of latex and many people had hand crafted steam punk outfits.

I did get to see at least part of one panel with Scott and Brian. We went to see a live taping of the Totally Rad Show. The line to get in was really long and we ended up in the rear of the room and weren’t able to really see anything. Scott and ended up leaving early, and honestly, I didn’t really find them very interesting. I prefer Filmspotting as my movie podcast of choice.

Michigan Avenue at Sunset

Michigan Avenue at Sunset

Chicago

Early Saturday morning I woke up and headed to the San Diego airport only to find the longest check in line I’ve ever seen at an airport. It was literally going out the door of the building, and the line for security was equally long. Thankfully I arrived at the airport super early and managed to make my flight with time to spare.

After another layover in Minneapolis (I had one on Wednesday also), I arrived in Chicago, which I hadn’t visited in years. There is something about the skyline and the architecture of Chicago which is really impressive. It isn’t quite as dense as Hong Kong or New York, so the skyscrapers seem larger. It is the same reason they used Chicago instead of New York as the location for Gotham in the Dark Knight. It is the city of broad shoulders you know!

Sean Keener, Heather Pool, Matt Kepnes, and Michael Yessis on a blog panel

Sean Keener, Heather Pool, Matt Kepnes, and Michael Yessis on a blog panel

The reason I was in Chicago was for a travel blog conference hosted by TravelBlogExchange.com. I had picked this conference as a date set in stone to be back in the US, else I could just draw out the process of moving across Europe for ever. I really wasn’t interested in the panel discussions as I was in just being able to meet people I haven’t met in person before. There were far more people there than I expected. I figured maybe 20 to 30 people would show up. There were easily over 100 and I think even more would have shown up if there had been more publicity. I met Nomadic Matt, Mike Pugh who’s travel blog help inspire mine, Chris Christensen, Peter Carey, Pam Mandel, Jessica Spiegel. Kim Mance, Jen Leo, and a ton of other people who I met for the first time and others that I just forgot to list here. The bag of goodies they gave away was especially impressive considering that the conference was free.

By the time I left Chicago on Tuesday I was mentally and physically exhausted from all the running around. My next trip, however, would be my biggest one yet. Home. More tomorrow….

(Note: every photo used in this article was taken on my brand new iPhone)

  • 4 Comments... What's your take?

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Comments

  1. Gary, we were in the same room and we didn’t get a chance to talk. Next year…

    Here’s my recap on TBEX, http://www.nancydbrown.com/journal/2009/8/2/travel-blog-exchange-tbex-conference-in-chicago-illinois.html

  2. jessiev says:

    gary – even though we sat at the same table, i felt sad we didn’t get a chance to talk! i wasn’t able to talk with many people at TBEX – hope next year there is more space, and time!

  3. AVCr8teur says:

    I don’t know how you do it, but you sure get around. Sorry, I missed you at the con since I would’ve loved to talk to you about your travels. Welcome to the iPhone club!

  4. You’re missing out if you haven’t watched Buffy, Serenity, or the new Battlestar Galactica! I’m a fan and proud of it (and I consider myself normal too)!

    Great to meet you in NYC and best of luck as you begin your next adventure in the US – whatever that may be! Looking forward to following along on the journey.

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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