mortonfox: (rakket)
This past weekend, I went to FA United 2017 at the Hyatt Regency in Herndon, VA. There was also a pair of Flagstack events on the other side of Washington, DC, so I left the con Sunday afternoon to attend those.

I arrived in the DC area Thursday afternoon, so there was time for a Munzee-capping spree in downtown Washington DC. I took the Metro from Reston Station. I hit the National Mall and saw some sculptures. The boulder with a face on the car makes me think it's time to start paying attention to those "falling rock" signs. I also went to Chinatown for dinner, which was something I didn't get to do on my previous DC trip in April.

As for FAU itself, I treated the con as a relaxacon, just like I did in previous years. It looked like the con had a bit more programming this year than last year but I didn't feel like I had to go to everything. I hit a couple of panels, went to both loot brawls, and walked in the fursuit parade. Also fursuited in short bursts a bunch of times, went to the dance but only on Friday, and played some tabletop games. Also had a lot of couch time. Hey, I had a hotel suite all to myself. Might as well enjoy it!

Then on Sunday, I went to the Flagstack events in Fort Hunt and Alexandria. They posted two events a few miles apart, because apparently, they could deploy more party flags this way. The eight of us met up at a picnic table in a park in Fort Hunt. Then we split up into three cars. From there on, it was a drive around town with everyone capturing as many flags as possible. We went around the Fort Hunt area first to capture the first batch of flags. Then we went to the second event site in Alexandria and then drove around that part of town to get the other bunch of flags. Then we returned to Fort Hunt via a different route to get more flags along the way. The only snag was we had some problems with cell phone reception in Fort Hunt and between Alexandria and Fort Hunt, which is surprising considering how close the area was to DC. Aside from that though, it was a lot of fun, almost like a video game in the real world. And we're already planning another Flagstack event in Laurel this October.
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
Or more like a Munzee trip with a side of furry con. I'd actually planned to use this trip to get the emerald garden in Anacostia Park in southeast DC, since I'd never captured a virtual emerald garden before, and then get the vast collection of virtuals in and around the National Mall. That's what I did Thursday afternoon. Instead of I-95, I took the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to Anacostia Park. After getting the emerald garden, I took a little walk on the bike path by the Anacostia River for a bunch more munzees. My original plan was to park at Anacostia Metro and take the Metrorail in to the National Mall, but after seeing the somewhat sketchy area, I decided it would be better to park at the hotel and take the Metrorail from there. So that's what I did. It was my first time using the Metrorail and I thought it was fairly modern and impressive. The silver line follows Rt 267 and I-66, and it's a lot faster than traffic on those highways in the late afternoon. Since I wasn't driving, I was able to capture all the virtual munzees along those highways too, at least on the stretch before the train goes underground. I got out at the Smithsonian Metro Station and started walking towards the US Capitol, capturing munzees and even finding a few geocaches along the way. I hit a new one-day record fairly easily with over 6,000 captures and 111K points. Then I took a Lyft to the South Capitol Hill area to find my friend's puzzle geocache, "Roll Call". Had dinner there too because it was a restaurant row area, before returning to the hotel, also via Metrorail.

I did the same thing Friday afternoon, except this time, I walked towards the Washington Monument. Not as many munzees this time - 3,300 captures and 90K points, but I only wanted to get 2nd place on the leaderboard to get the 2nd place badge. (Thursday's munzee run got me the 1st place badge, so I didn't need to do that any more. Yes, it's a weird badge optimization. :) )

Okay, enough about munzee. What about the con? It's my 5th year attending FtM. This time I brought the raccoon and coyote fursuits. I intended to alternate between the two but I wore the raccoon more than the coyote because the latter needed some repair work. There were fewer events/activities of interest this year because they canceled the fursuit parade (replaced by fursuit menagerie + photoshoot) and fursuit games (probably had to make way for floor wars). On the plus side though, the 18+ (i.e. mature/adult) panels on Saturday night were pretty good this year. The lighter schedule allowed more time to hang out, socialize, and get anything I needed done. Just like last year, the convention hotel was the Sheraton in Tysons Corner, within walking distance of a number of restaurants, a Walmart, and the Spring Hill Metro Station, so I was able to leave the car in the hotel garage the whole weekend.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
I bought an early bird membership to FursonaCon in May last year because it's a first-year con within driving distance and I wanted to give it a try. Also, at the time, they were planning to hold it during my birthday weekend and I thought it'd be nice to go on a trip then. Then last September, they made an annoucement that they would be merging with Ring of Fire Con. Unfortunately, that meant the con dates had to be changed to mid-March, which would therefore not fall on my birthday. Oh well.

Truth be told though, I thought it would be a disaster. Would ROFCon, which is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, anime and gaming, mesh well with a furry con? I needn't have worried. Once I got to the Hampton Roads Convention Center, I saw that they had it well in hand. FursonaCon had its own Dealers' Den and Headless Lounge, while the two cons shared a ballroom, gaming rooms, video rooms, panel rooms, and an art show. The big advantage seemed to be that two cons pooling resources can afford to book a hotel and convention center (well, half a convention center. We shared space with a gun show.) instead of just a hotel, so there's a lot of room for everyone. Plenty of room to grow, in fact, since the rooms and halls were not filled to capacity that whole weekend. Plus, the convention center had a lot of wide-open areas for costuming and photography. What about the people though? Generally, the sci-fi/anime folks seemed very accepting of furries. I walked around con space in fursuit, raccoon by day and husky by night (not planned, that's just how it worked out), and got many requests for hugs and photos.

The hotel bears mentioning too. Every room in the Hampton Embassy Suites is a suite. So in addition to the usual bedroom and bathroom, I had a living room with sofa, chairs, and another desk! The living room was a good staging area for laying out my gear and getting into fursuit. Also, the hotel provided a complimentary breakfast buffet, saving me a lot of time since I didn't have to venture out for breakfast. If that wasn't enough, they also had an evening reception every day, with drinks and light snacks. (finger food like chips, trail mix, and assorted veggies)

Geocaching wasn't as great in the Hampton Roads area, so I mostly got those on the Delmarva Peninsula, on the way to and on the way back from the con. There were a lot of Munzee though, around the convention center and at many stops along the way. Enough special Munzees to get me over 3000 points, 3 levels, and 2 badges.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (rakket)
This past weekend was my annual trip to the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, CT, for Furpocalypse. I've had mixed feelings about this con, and FurFright before that, for a number of years, but still kept attending, probably out of force of habit. Furpocalypse seems to be having a tough time setting itself apart from the legacy of Furfright but I see they have made numerous small changes: making the registration line go the other way, new security, more pizza, fursuiter tags, new hosts for the quiz hour, and probably lots of other little things I didn't notice. I thought the con itself was just fine this time around and if I didn't do as much there as I'd intended, it was my problem for not pushing myself hard enough to do those things.

The problem this time was I wasn't too fond of the hotel. The Crowne Plaza has lots of problems, The first night, when I tried to check-in, the front desk staff, who seemed to be a bit lacking in training, took a long time trying to look for my reservation on the computer and had to call someone else to help. Then JBadger and I noticed that the room keys demagnetized rather rapidly by themselves. The keys didn't last two days before failing to open the door, so it was annoying having to go to the front desk multiple times during our stay to have them redo the keys. And finally, the layout of the hotel is downright confusing, although by the end of the con, I started to remember some useful shortcuts to get down to the lobby from the room. The other problem is I'm again noticing some rudeness among con attendees. Aside from the loud expletives that I heard here and there in con space, which I try to tune out anyway, I saw people rushing into the elevator before anyone inside had a chance to exit. What's the deal with that? I saw that happen a number of times, although not as much towards the end of the con. On the plus side, getting drunk-groped and drunk-clinged while I was in fursuit only happened once this time.

But enough ranting. At this con, I attended the usual events: fursuit parade, fursuit games, Saturday Morning Cartoons panel. I watched a movie (Guardians of the Galaxy), which is a change from past years when I typically ignored the movie room. And I attended the "Being a Good Social Potato" panel, which I assumed from the panel description would be a workshop on socializing better, but somehow it turned into a rant-fest on certain types of annoying people in fandom. But it was a fun panel nevertheless. I was also in two fursuit music videos by chance because I was in fursuit in the main hallway when they were asking around for participants. Aside from con stuff, I also took a few trips with JBadger outside the hotel for meals, geocaches, and Munzees. So it was a pretty full weekend with a variety of activities. Only slight regret was I fell asleep early and missed the night dances, but I certainly can't do everything.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
This past weekend was Metro Gathering 2015 in Northern New Jersey. By coincidence, it was also the weekend for FA United 2015 in the same general area. That was really convenient because I could stay at the Hanover Marriott (shared a room with [ profile] jbadger) on FAU's group rate and hit Metro Gathering at the same time. If the two events had been on different weekends, I'd have incurred additional travel and hotel expenses to attend both, so that saved money too.

There were actually 3 geocaching events for Metro Gathering. On Friday evening, there was the "Pre~Metro Gathering Mega Meet and Greet" at Brundage Park in Randolph. It was a casual meet at the park pavillion with an opportunity to hike around the park for geocaches. Signal the Frog made an appearance too.

Saturday was the main event, "The 2015 Metro Gathering Event", at Waterloo Village in Byram. There were tents set up by the event itself, and various geocaching clubs and vendors. There were some games, raffles, and trading areas for pathtags and trackables. MacGyver the Coatimundi was present, and we also had a surprise visitor, a red fox who wandered into the village. Most of the fun of the event though was walking around the area in groups to find lab caches, letterboxes, geocaches, and the Wherigo cache. There was also a series of geocaches along the Morris Canal Trail, although by that time, the rain had started so we got caught in the downpour getting to the last few caches.

On Sunday morning, there was a follow-up event, "Join Chinster for a Mega Breakfast", at Panera Bread in Flanders. Signal the Frog was in attendance there too. That was a comparatively small gathering since most geocachers left after the main event, but there was good conversation.

As for FAU, well I actually spent more time at the geocaching events than at the con. However, I did get the chance to fursuit a bit and hang out a bit. I went to the dances each night and played in the Fursuit Games. The fursuit games this time had no teams, or just one big team, depending on how you look at it because everyone got a prize. There were three games: the limbo, charades, and musical chairs. I didn't do that well in the limbo but got an easy word for charades. In musical chairs, it was down to only 3 fursuiters before I got eliminated, which is a lot better than I usually do at that game.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
This weekend, I was in Connecticut for Furpocalypse. From all appearances though, it might as well have been FurFright Redux 2014. Same hotel, same events, same charity... heck, even some of the prizes and goodies from the games and contests still say "FurFright"! For their first year, it's fine to ride on FurFright's momentum but I hope they'll eventually try new things and remake the con in their own vision. For the most part, I had a good time, which is hard to explain since it's pretty much the same con as last year. It could be that a slight change in the mood made all the difference. Last year, I had the impression that folks were a tad cold and distant but there was none of that this year. The only real issue I encountered this year was one of the hotel guests (not a con attendee) was very rude but I never saw him again after Thursday, so good riddance.

- Friday evening, I got back from dinner in time to join the ice cream and trivia hour. I was surprised that my group won this time. One of the prizes was the quizmaster's fake hair, which I used later at the dance.
- I was at the Saturday Morning Cartoons panel when the fire alarm started, so everyone had to wait outside in the cold. I was wearing my fleece bat pajamas at the time, so it wasn't too bad. Also, at least the alarm wasn't at 4am like FurFright 2 years ago.
- Fursuit parade on Saturday was indoors with the final photoshoot in the ballroom instead of outside, because of the rain.
- Since I enjoyed the sewing panel at FAU, I attended one again at Furpocalypse. This time, I made a squeaky toy.
- Went to the Big Gulp Party on Saturday evening. Thanks to [ profile] dalesql for hosting.
- Fursuit games on Sunday: First game was a relay race where we went in pairs and one fursuiter would push the other around the course on a dolly. Second game was charades. And the last game was the figure-eight musical chairs. (a FurFright original) I was on the red team (Team Ebola) and we got second place.
- I skipped the closing ceremony in favor of a little geocaching spree around Newington followed by dinner. (Goldburger at Goldburgers) I returned in time for the dead dog party and a bit of pizza. Originally, there was a second fursuit parade scheduled for Sunday night but it had been canceled by the con. We got a bunch of fursuiters together and paraded anyway, which was hilarious since no one expected it.

Also, there was geocaching. Connecticut does not have as high a cache density as the Philly area but I still found quite a number. I focused on the Milford, West Haven and Prospect Beach areas (Date Night, WOOF Series) on the way to the con. During the con, I dashed out for mini caching sprees in Berlin and Newington. On the way home, since I had an errand to run in Middletown, I got a few there and a bunch more in Trumbull (America's Pastime series) on the way home. There was some good hiking, although I think fall colors were already past the peak by that time.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
So this weekend, I went to the Hanover Marriott in Northern NJ for FA United. I stayed in New Jersey until Tuesday to combine this trip with the "Triple Tuesday Pints & Patties - 2014" geocaching event. These two events seem to always come one right after the other, so I thought I'd inquire as to whether the Marriott could extend the con group rate until Monday night. Alas, they never got back to me so I just booked a hotel room in the South Brunswick area. (As an aside, it's very hard to find an inexpensive hotel without bad customer reviews and without bed bug reports. I run into this issue every time I try to plan a trip on my own. The Red Carpet Inn is relatively new, so it could be that they just haven't run into problems or nitpickers yet.)

Anyway, just like in previous years, FAU didn't have much programming this year, or at least not too much of interest to me. So it was a chance to relax and meet up with friends, both old and new. And oh yeah, we crashed a wedding or perhaps a wedding crashed us. This weekend, there was a wedding party at the hotel and Miss New Jersey was one of the bridesmaids! They were actually pretty cool with the furries. On Saturday, they did a wedding photoshoot in the lobby. We were trying to stay out of their way but they called us over to join in! That was pretty awesome.

In the fursuit games, I was on the yellow team. What's amazing is we won every single game! (and therefore got first place) I wasn't even sure how that happened. Maybe we just had the right combination of skills or a lot of luck. The games were the scooter race, balloon popping, clothes pegs, and musical chairs. My roomie, Argon Darksteel, was the balloon expert, so that probably helped in the second game. For the clothes pegs game, I knew from experience to just sit next to the bucket and focus on clipping all the pegs on our poor captain's lower parts. >.> And finally, I was the one who won musical chairs for the team. I was worried initially because the team was too close together (in musical chairs, the team should try to spread out a bit initially to try to eliminate others instead of ourselves) but we moved as a block and I was lucky to not be eliminated during the early rounds. Then finally, it was just me and one other player going around a single chair. I was getting a bit dizzy by that time, both from exertion and from circling that chair, but I flopped onto the chair at just the right time and that was that!

On Sunday, since there wasn't much going on in the afternoon, I went to a sewing panel and sewed a cupcake. I already knew a bit about sewing but working with patterns and fleece material was interesting, and I learnt a few little tricks too. Definitely will have to see if upcoming cons have sewing/craft panels too.

Triple Tuesday is a continuation of a long-running monthly Central Jersey geocaching event, which used to be held at Fuddruckers in New Brunswick until that restaurant shut down, then at Fuddruckers in Bridgewater until that too shut down. This month, it was at Red Tower III, another burger and sandwich place, in Somerville. Because I now live farther away from Central Jersey, I only get to attend this event once or twice a year. But it was good to get back together with the Central Jersey group for a few hours.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (selfie gif)
For the weekend, I went to Fur the 'More at the Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, MD. I stayed at the hotel from Thursday to Monday and [ profile] jbadger joined me on Saturday. Although attendance has doubled since last year, the con is still small enough that I could find everyone I wanted to meet up with easily. Yet despite the size, the con had a lot of panels and activities going on that were of interest to me. So there wasn't a dull moment. I liked that they were trying new things, such as the QR code game. Also, this is the first con in quite a while in which I didn't go to the dances but that was only because of the good video programming going on at the same time.

My only suggestion to con staff was to move the fursuit games later in the day because it was hard to get up early on Sunday morning after staying up Saturday night for the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Even that wasn't too much of a problem. Because of the way the games were set up, I could still join in even though I was a bit late. I think the biggest disappointment this year is we didn't get Frankie and Vinnie's, the 50s diner, because another group, International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, had that section of the hotel. Maybe we'll get it next year.

I took an additional vacation day after Fur the 'More to go to the "Peanuts, Burgers, and Fries XXI" geocaching event on Tuesday. This is a monthly event at Five Guys in Toms River. The last one I attended was in December, so I figured it was time to go again. I guess I was still tired from the con, so I woke up late that day but I was still able to do a bunch of geocaches around Berkeley/Holiday City and Toms River before the event. Anyway, it was a good little gathering and I used what I learnt there to finish a puzzle cache before going home.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut halloween)
So this weekend, I was in Connecticut at the Cromwell Crowne Plaza for Furfright. Although for the most part, a problem-free con, this year's Furfright was so-so for me. To figure out why and to get some perspective, I had to look back on the last two Furfrights. Furfright 2011 was pretty bad, or at least bad enough to write a complaint about. In 2012, they either corrected the problems I brought up or I just didn't notice those as much. But that was the year we had the 4am fire alarm and the hurricane evacuation. Those were not the fault of the con but things were kind of on a down note. This year, nothing bad happened. In fact, people who caused trouble in previous years weren't even at the con this year. So why wasn't I having a great time? It was probably my problem all this time! When that realization hit me on Saturday night, I had to stop what I was doing right away and go back to my room to get out of fursuit and think about it.

Could it be that all those things I got annoyed at in previous Furfrights merely masked the underlying problem, which is that I didn't find the con all that interesting any more? Looking back at what I did at the con, it was mostly hanging out. The events I went to were pretty much the same as in previous years. The parades were the same. Even the games in the fursuit games seemed the same to me. Plus, it didn't help that I appear to have grown pretty distant from most New England furries. Maybe it is time to skip a year, perhaps to try a different con or use the weekend for something else. In any case, I have until next year to ponder this.

That aside, there were some things I did enjoy. Dale's party was a nice little gathering. Trivia hour was good too, even if I were there mostly for cookies and ice cream. And I was glad to catch part of Alflor's reading. (I won a copy of his book at the end of that panel, so I'll see what goes on in the rest of the story.) Also, it was good to go out hiking and geocaching in nearby Berlin with JBadger and Scribbles.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
This weekend, I went to FA United 6 at the Hanover Marriott in Whippany, NJ. From the outset, I didn't expect to do much at this con since the programming looked a bit skimpy but I went to the dances, the fursuit games, and the pool party, and I got to hang out with some friends from New Jersey and nearby. I think that was enough to make the trip worthwhile. There wasn't a con suite this year and I missed that, but on the plus side, I enjoyed the pool party on Saturday evening. I was told that Megaplex also has pool parties but I've never been to a con with a pool party, so this is novel to me.

The downside was some friction we had with the wedding party. I noticed that a few of them were harrassing con attendees. My handler and I (when I was in fursuit) too were on the receiving end of some impolite questions but we brushed those off. Then at around 3:45am on Saturday, there was a fire alarm. We found out later that there was a fight among the wedding party guests and someone pulled the fire alarm. Police had to intervene. I wasn't in the hotel lobby at the time, so that is what I heard from others. I hope FA United grows big enough to fill the hotel so we won't have to share with other groups who may be disruptive but that might take a while.

As usual, I went geocaching in that area both before and after the con. I also did a few during the con with my roommate [ profile] jbadger. Northern NJ has some good geocaches at scenic locations like Boonton Falls. However, in making my rounds, I was reminded of a reason why I moved away from that area. On Thursday, I went for "Lemonade" in the Bridgewater area and saw that the cache container was trashed. If that wasn't bad enough, there was an unfriendly sign at the cache site telling us to go away. I'm sure that most people around there are nice but in my experience, a few mean ones can ruin things for everyone else and I seem to come across them far too often.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
This weekend, I attended FurFright 2011 at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, CT. I left home late Wednesday night and returned Monday night. Shared a room with [ profile] jbadger and Dronon, two great roommates. Overall, I had a good time.

The "How Not to Write Crap" panel was surprisingly good and entertaining. I stumbled upon it quite by accident because I was looking for something to kill time before the fursuit performance panels but I ended up staying until the end of the panel!

The "Saturday Morning Cartoon Party" was a nice trip through Saturday morning nostalgia with a representative selection of cartoons. Also, I didn't have to get dressed for it. (bat pajamas! :) )

Fursuit games were okay, although I think it would be a good idea to explain the rules of the various games and make sure all participants understand those before the games begin. There was only a brief explanation before each game started and it was hard to hear from the end of the team lineup. And yes, there was one thing I misunderstood that fortunately, did not affect the outcome of the game.

More notes. Also, a note about potential issues )

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut ramune)
Over the weekend, I went to FA United 4 at Hotel ML (a fairly recent name change because they haven't actually replaced the sign out in front. The "Hotel ML" sign is a temporary covering over the original sign.) in Mount Laurel. I don't go to very many cons but for me, the gap that FAU fills in is a local con that is not too big (531 attendees this year) or too busy but is a step above the monthly furmeets. It's a way to get away for the weekend and relax.

I didn't go to many panels during the con. I attended part of "Making a stage act". I went to the "Juggling: How To" panel, which was fun even if I couldn't juggle worth a darn. Of course, I took part in the fursuiting events, the fursuit parade and the fursuit games. Also fursuited in the closing ceremonies. That was a bit of a last minute thing. I got word that there would be shenanigans of some sort so I changed into fursuit and went down to the ballroom. What happened during the ceremonies was we surprise-group-hugged the NJSPCA lady, who got a kick out of it, and then went on stage to do a group photo for the NJSPCA Facebook page.

The con suite was marvelous. It's a place to hang out and have a snack and it's only two floors up from my room, so I did visit it a lot. They had wasabi peas! I swear I could eat those until my sinuses explode. The only major problem I encountered at this con was the long registration line on Friday morning. I arrived later in the morning so I didn't have to wait as long before it got going, but I heard that some had been there for 3 hours.

Geocaches: Did 5 on Friday: 2 in Swedesboro on the way there and 3 not far from the hotel because I took the opportunity to grab a few before the con got going. On Saturday, I got 2 geocaches with [ profile] jbadger, my roomie, when we went out for lunch. Monday's geocaches, I found in Woodstown, where I stopped on the way home. ("on the way" here was about 10 miles off the Turnpike. :) )

The caches... )


mortonfox: (Default)
Morton Fox

September 2017

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