Thanksgiving Road Trip – Chicago TARDIS 2018

Wow, it’s almost Christmas! Which means 2019 is just around the corner, though I have no idea how time passed so quickly. But the fact that Christmas is nearly here means that Thanksgiving just happened, right? And Thanksgiving generally means travel, so it’s time for a quick catch-up post to fill you in on my Thanksgiving travel!

Of course, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without some turkey and family time, so my travel started with a road trip to Wisconsin with the husband to visit his family. We hit the road on Wednesday afternoon for the relatively short drive (less than three hours, so short by my standards!) and made it to Wausau before we knew it. We had a lot of fun hanging with family and, of course, eating while we were there! The day after Thanksgiving though, Scott and his parents had to make the drive back to Minnesota to do a little holiday decorating and shopping, while I was off to Chicago to attend Chicago TARDIS. Yes, that’s right, after not attending in 2017, I made the return journey to one of my favorite Doctor Who conventions. Although I’m not necessarily back in the habit of going every year because of family stuff around Thanksgiving, I wanted to get back there this year to see some of my friends I don’t get to see as much at other cons, particularly my friend Ruth Ann, who’s been dealing with some health issues this year. I’m happy to report she’s doing well and that she ran the Guest Relations department of the convention as fabulously as she always does!

As for the actual convention weekend, if you’ve read my other convention-related posts, you’ve probably noticed that they’re more on the short-and-sweet side, mostly because convention weekends follow a pretty predictable pattern – hang out with friends, talk about Doctor Who, consume adult beverages, eat occasionally and then repeat. 🙂 Although I almost always do an excursion of some kind when I’m at Gallifrey One in LA every February, I don’t get to do that at this convention because I’m not there as long and also because I have to drive six hours each way to get there and back! This means that, in all the times I’ve been to Chicago (actually Lombard, a western suburb), I’ve only spent time in the city once, and that was on a trip separate from this convention! Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t have fun when I’m there – it’s just more limited to fun around the convention, though we make the occasional field trip for dinners out, usually to Lou Malnati’s for some famous Chicago deep dish.

Back to the convention! As usual, there were a number of guests from the worlds of Doctor Who there and, also as usual, I volunteered my time as a guest liaison, which involves working with a guest (sometimes a couple of them) to make sure they get where they need to be, shield them from the occasional over-zealous fan, and generally make sure they have what they need. This time, I worked with Pearl Mackie, who played companion Bill Potts in Series 10 of Doctor Who. She was a delight! Very personable, great with fans, and willing to make sure everyone who wanted to see her for an autograph or photograph didn’t get turned away (as an example, she stayed nearly two hours late during one of her autograph sessions!). Although volunteering means I have to work my friend time and other convention activities that I want to do around my volunteer schedule, I enjoy it and it’s almost always been worth the time commitment! It’s not usually too big of a commitment anyway and my evenings are always (mostly) free of volunteering, so I still get to have lots of fun. That was true this year as well, where I was able to attend some panels hosted by friends, enjoy chatting in the evenings, and generally have a good time. The convention did feel somewhat quieter this year, but as I’ve said before, most of what I get from conventions is the time I spend hanging out with friends and I had a great group of friends there, so we had a lot of fun!

Onto a few photos of the Doctor Who-related fun!

Behind the scenes of a photo shoot with guests Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury.

My friends Bill and Robert with a Fourth Doctor cosplayer.

Popping into a recording of the Doctor Who Target Book Club podcast.

Pearl on the main stage for an interview with Lars Pearson.

Dalek and TARDIS in the photo room.

Close-up on the TARDIS door.

This semi-transparent dalek was later seen rolling through the halls pulsing, flashing, and playing disco music!

The most recent incarnation of the Master, Missy, with her earlier, decayed counterpart.

The Doctor’s wife, River Song, conversing with their electronic pet, K9.

Guest Ingrid Oliver, who flew to Chicago on just a couple of days’ notice to replace another guest, taking photos with fans.

My friend Felicity, who also volunteered as a guest liaison, sitting with her guest (Graeme Harper) during an autograph session.

Guests Jon Davey and Ross Mullan being a little cheeky in the photo room.

Pearl with my friends Lynne, Michael, and their daughter in the photo room.

My friend Robert hosting a Godzilla panel. I was bummed I couldn’t attend the entire thing!

A glimpse at the line of people waiting for Pearl’s autograph. Hence why she stayed so late!

I stopped into the Saturday night party, which featured several guests along with a group of fans who paid for the opportunity to attend.

My friend Greg hosting his paranormal panel. Another one I wish I could have attended for the full time!

Cyberman head in the charity auction.

The real heart of conventions for me – hanging in the bar (or restaurant or lobby – we’re flexible!) with great friends. 🙂

The brunch on Sunday morning – another opportunity for fans to purchase a ticket to spend extra time with guests.

A collection of daleks in the lobby. This is where I saw that transparent dalek shimmying away!

A few great cosplayers in the hallway.

Pearl taking a photo with some of her family from the area.

Another fun photo, this time featuring Pearl with the actress who played her mother in Doctor Who as well as actual mother. Pretty neat!

Sneaking a photo of Pearl from backstage while she was being interviewed by several young fans.

Sneaking in another photo by the TARDIS at the end of the weekend.

I always like getting a photo in the green room while everyone is gathering to go to the main stage for the closing ceremony.

In addition to the handful of photos that I took, I always have to share the professional photos I get with guests:

With the always-delightful Wendy Padbury and Frazer Hines. Love them!

Veteran director Graeme Harper, who my friend Felicity was guest liaison for this year.

Ingrid Oliver was a VERY late addition to the guest list (to replace Jenna Coleman) and could only be there for one day, but she was excellent, as always.

My first photo with the lovely Pearl Mackie. She was a joy to work with!

My friend Emma was a guest liaison for Rosie Jane, who played Pearl’s mum in a couple episodes of Series 10.

Of course, I also had to get a solo photo with “mother and daughter.”

Tony Curran played Vincent van Gogh in a couple of episodes and he was also lots of fun. The surprised look here was his idea. 🙂

He decided we should do a “regular” pose as well.

Catrin Stewart was another very late addition (also replacing Jenna Coleman) and, while a bit on the quiet side, she’s very sweet.

A fun pose with Pearl Mackie!

A very Charlie’s Angel pose with Ruth Ann and Pearl. Love it!

There you have it – Chicago TARDIS 2018 came and went! Unfortunately, just after the convention, I (along with at least two dozen others) came down with norovirus – ugh. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s also known as the “winter vomiting bug” which is as fun as it sounds. Meaning, NOT FUN AT ALL. I’m just thankful it didn’t hit me until AFTER the six-hour drive home and also that it only lasts a couple of days. Being a virus, there’s nothing you can do to cure it, so you just have to ride it out, which I did, but I hope to never again! Despite that, I had a really fun weekend and it made me look forward to the next time I see my friends at a convention.

Before another convention trip though, it’s time for a return trip to New York City! Scott and I will be there later this week, so watch for fresh posts very soon (or just jump into the first post by clicking here).

Big Apple, here we come!

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!