We get south as far as San Clemente and the traffic stops. Dead stop. The entire southbound freeway which is, incidentally, the ONLY southbound freeway from this point. The alternate southbound freeway is about 30 miles east and takes you about 100 miles out of the way before getting to San Diego. It's technically an alternative, but really it isn't. So we think AMTRAK! There's a station in San Clemente, so we race for it.... only to find out that this funky little station (literally just a sign stuck in the dirt near a track ON the beach) is only serviced twice daily and we've missed the trains for the day. However, we can go north about 10 miles to the San Juan Capistrano station - and there's a train leaving there in 20 minutes! We race like nobody's business, literally RUN to get to the platform and have to jostle and elbow our way to get a seat. But we made it. Thankfully.
The train was completely packed (and sold to capacity) due to the traffic situation AND the fact that the Del Mar racetrack was opening this week, so everybody and their brother was taking the train to the races. Fabulous! But we got a seat, so who cares, right? And the entire way we're shaking our heads at the poor people on the freeway. Sitting dead-stop still for miles and miles... the back-up went something like 40 miles. The accident itself was an big rig refrigerated truck that had exploded and set a small hill on fire. And where it happened was the portion of the freeway that cuts through the marine base - and therefore there are NO exits. That stretch of the highway for maybe 10 miles (?) has zero exits, so all the cars that were there were stuck. In fact, the rest of Ryan's studio team were there when it happened (at about 7am) and were in their car on the freeway for TEN HOURS before they were allowed to pass. It was all a little suspicious. I didn't get a picture of it from the train, but basically there is this big rig that is exploded [news picture] and the entire cab is gone - just smithereens. And on the opposite side of the freeway is a conglomeration of military vehicles. Hmm... routine training excercise?
But we made it to the convention, as did thousands of other people. I have never seen a week day so packed! All four days of the convention sold to 100% capacity, which was 150,000 tickets per day, but I think a lot of people didn't make it on Thursday due to the traffic jam. Regardless, it was jammed in the convention center. We delivered Ryan to his booth, which was great for them since most of the team was still on the freeway and they were glad to finally have an artist on site to greet the fans. Then Bliss and I went out to roam the halls and see what there was to see (a LOT), and of course, my camera batteries had fallen out of my bag in my car - now in SJC - and the battery was low, so I got very few pictures on Thursday. LAME.
But we got to see an interesting panel discussion about the influence of superheroes and comic books in prose writing, and featured Naomi Novik who Bliss likes a lot. They said a lot of things that made total sense (of course) but that I hadn't thought about before... like the challenges in writing an action scene. On paper or film, a car chase can be really exciting - but who wants to read "and then! they turned left! and the tires squealed! and a hub cap fell off!" for 10 pages? Nobody, that's who.
And then we headed over to the Wondermark booth to meet David Malki! and collect my prizes. He is so super awesome and he even added a bonus goodie to my stash, which included the book Beards of our Forefathers, a print (!), and an original piece of artwork. I know, right? It was thrilling and I got a chance to be very egotistical for a moment when the crowds shuffling up and down the aisle stopped to watch ME be ceremonially bestowed all of these gifts of awesomeness.Shortly after, we had to collect Ryan and head back to the train station, because there are limited northbound trains and we were scheduled for the last one and if we missed it, we were stuck for the night. But we made it and got in the GIANT line for the train. Seriously, wow. But the trip home was smooth and we were all so tired, we each quietly retreated. Ryan fell asleep in about 18 seconds. Bliss put on her headphones and relaxed. I read Beards of our Forefathers and giggled to myself.
When we finally got back to the station and our car, everyone was starving and we settled on Denny's for late-night dinner. The plan was to cram our faces full of pancakes as fast as possible, so we could rocket home and go immediately to bed (because we were exhausted). Of course, we did the exact opposite. We sat around and talked for hours about this and that and these and those, yawning all the while. Eventually, we did go to bed and I kept finding myself on the verge of sleeping and then suddenly thinking of stuff that I needed to do for work (I'd checked in on email earlier and, of course, I had 600 messages) and so I ended up getting back out of bed to send a few messages (dumb!). Even doing that didn't totally clear my mind, so by the time the alarm went off in the morning, I had only gathered a few hours of sleep. D'oh!