On the Road (Trip) Again – Chicago TARDIS 2019

After last year’s fun at Chicago TARDIS (and, to be fair, the fun had at almost every other Chicago TARDIS convention in the last decade), I figured I would do it again this year. It’s a weekend of guaranteed fun with good friends, indulging in our geeky proclivities. What could be better?!

Leading up to the convention, there was, of course, Thanksgiving. With Scott’s family in Wisconsin, we’re able to go there the day before the holiday to spend time with them and enjoy a great meal on Thanksgiving before I went to the Chicago area for the convention. The last couple of years, it has worked well for me to drive us to Wisconsin and then for Scott to come back home with his family as it gives them the chance to do some holiday shopping, allowing me to drive to the convention. It’s really convenient for me that his parents live pretty much on the way to Chicago!

Unless you’re new around these parts, you’ll have already read about my previous convention excursions. If you are new, here’s the quick-hit summary – I love Doctor Who (a British sci-fi show that ran from 1963-1989 and has been running again since 2005, not to mention all the books, audio adventures, and more that have been created over the years) and I’ve enjoyed going to conventions that celebrate the show for about the last 20 years. These conventions are lots of fun and feature panels about the show (and related, geeky topics), photo and autograph sessions with the guests (stars of the show, behind-the-scenes/production personnel, authors of books, audio actors, comics artists, and many more), and most importantly, time to hang out with the friends I’ve made over the years. While that cast of friends changes at each convention, those of us that are able to make it always have tons of fun. As usual, I was “working” at this convention as a guest liaison, ensuring my assigned guest(s) (just one guest, this time) gets where they need to be, answering any questions they may have, and making sure they’ve having as great an experience as possible. This year, I was so excited to work with the delightful Louise Jameson, who played Leela, companion to Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor in the late 1970s. She’s still in the world of Doctor Who today via audio adventures produced by Big Finish and has loads of other acting and writing credits and was pure joy to work with. She was a highlight of the weekend!

When I wasn’t fulfilling my official convention duties, I had fun with my friends and even went to a few convention panels. Since these conventions only last a weekend each, we never have a ton of time together (especially for those friends who are trying to go to some panels, get autographs, etc.), but we always make a point to leave the hotel for a group dinner at least once. We pulled together a large group on the Saturday evening and, to avoid the “Where are we going to eat?” game that you always have to play when a group of people makes dinner plans, my friend Felicity and I decided to cut that game off at the knees and just make a reservation somewhere that was a) not too far away, b) had a menu that looked widely appealing, and c) could accommodate 10-12 people on short notice. We ended up at The Clubhouse in nearby Oak Brook (close enough for the hotel shuttle to get us there!). We enjoyed the food and the conversation, though it’s always hard to talk to everyone when there’s such a big group of us (I think we ended up being a group of 11), but we spent time hanging out in the hotel throughout the weekend anyway. That really is what these conventions are about for many of us – seeing friends that we only get to see a couple of times/year, hanging out, enjoying a beverage or three, and even talking about some Doctor Who. 😀

Unusually, we managed to get out of the hotel for a second dinner on the Sunday night. That may not sound like a big accomplishment, but given the number of people and the fact that more than one of us is always working at the convention (and therefore have certain times we have to be physically in the hotel), we just can’t always get out of the hotel, so I was happy to do so twice in two days! And the second dinner was especially delish – we went to an Italian place called Marinella’s that was a little further from the hotel than The Clubhouse, but still very accessible via Lyft/Uber and it was SO GOOD. Two of our friends, Robert and Greg, had already been there once during the convention weekend and were anxious to go back, so I joined them for a return visit, along with our friends Felicity and Bill. The server (and possibly manager/owner, based on how he talked with us) was super attentive and nice and the and food was really tasty. I could see this place turning into a must-visit every year! And with us all going our separate ways on Monday morning, it was nice to have a smaller dinner on Sunday night.

Other than hanging out with friends, enjoying some drinks, and wandering through convention events, there’s not really a good way to describe conventions! So I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the work. 🙂

The hallway in the suite I shared with Felicity. We decided to spring for a bigger room and become the default hangout space for the weekend!

It really was spacious!

It would be nice if there was a second proper bed, but the sofa was a pull-out, so we were comfortable.

Big bathroom, too!

I always have to get a picture of the TARDIS in the photo area.

Wandering through the dealer’s room, which is connected to the photo space.

A little view of what happens behind the scenes at a convention. This is in the green room, next to the main stage, while the guests wait for their time to go on stage for the opening ceremony.

And of course, I got to hold Louise’s bag while she was on stage.

The majority of guests on the main stage for the opening ceremony.

After opening ceremony, the guests come together in the photo room to take photos with the VIP attendees and staff members.

Snuck in another TARDIS photo while I was in the photo space.

A Dalek with a mohawk!

Although I didn’t try it myself, this Dalek was open for people to climb into if they wanted to.

A homemade K9 hanging out by the Daleks.

A photo sesh with Tosin Cole, who is currently playing (as of the writing of this post) companion Ryan Sinclair with Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor.

My friend Trey and I holding handbags for our guests on the Saturday, with bonus appearance by Louise!

On the main stage with several actors who have played companions to various Doctors.

Photo of a photo session for Louise and John Leeson, who played robotic dog K9 on screen with her.

A solo photo shoot with just Louise – lots of people lined up for it!

Looking glam as always.

Louise with an attendee cosplaying her character, Leela.

I snuck into the TARDIS afterwards to get a photo of all the great autographs inside it.

Our group dinner at The Clubhouse.

Snapping a photo of the Sunday brunch, where a smaller group of attendees pays for the chance to have a meal with a selection of guests, including Louise.

A Sunday morning panel, I think about audio adventures.

My friends Robert and Greg talking about Blu-ray releases.

Louise and John being interviewed by Steven Schapansky.

A final photo of Louise before she had to head to the airport on the Sunday night.

Before I knew it, it was Monday morning and I was on the road for the drive back to Minnesota. I love the conventions I attend and I’m always a little sad when they come to an end, but I’m already looking forward to my next one, which is a local con, CONsole Room. And after that, it’s Gallifrey One in February, which is the one I can’t miss (and never have, since I started attending in 2002).

If you’re a Doctor Who fan too, leave a comment below and say hi! And if you’re attending one (or both!) of those events, say hi in person. 🙂

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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!