Catch-Up Post – Chicago TARDIS 2022

Now that I’ve finally published the final post from my trip to Italy, I have to keep the momentum going with my next catch-up post. This one will feel pretty familiar as it’s all about somewhere I go regularly. No, not London, but you’re getting warm! This one is about my annual trip to Chicago (well, Lombard – close enough) to attend one of my favorite Doctor Who conventions, Chicago TARDIS. After the comparatively quiet event they hosted in 2021, it was nice to get back to a more “standard” version of the convention, complete with more attendees, thought definitely still not feeling as robust as its pre-pandemic counterparts.

It probably won’t be a surprise to learn that, as I almost always do, I road-tripped my way to this convention from the Twin Cities. Because the convention always happens over Thanksgiving weekend, my own turkey-related plans dictate when I’m able to go. This year, I went on Friday, after spending Thanksgiving with my husband and his parents. I’m very glad I still got to spend the actual holiday with them before heading off to Lombard to geek it up for the rest of the weekend! This time, my friend Bill, who also lives here, came along for the ride, which I appreciated as having a passenger makes the time go by so much more quickly! Because the convention starts on Friday (programming gets going by late morning) and because, as usual, I was working this convention as a guest liaison, I wanted to get an early start, so I found myself at Bill’s house by 8 AM, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Or at least, ready to hit the road for the roughly six-hour drive. 🙂 Thankfully, Bill was ready as well, so we were shortly on the road to Lombard!

The drive was thankfully uneventful, which may have you saying “Well, duh – of course it was. You were only driving to Illinois after all!” Well, dear reader, I’ve made this drive in snow and rain, which makes it a bit more stressful, and one year I even got a flat tire on the way to the convention, so it’s not always sunshine and rainbows! But we had some good conversation and, before we knew it, arrived at the Westin Lombard. I actually had to hit the ground running as I had to meet up with my guest and dear friend Sophie Aldred, who I was working with throughout the weekend. I did try to check into my room right away, but it wasn’t ready yet, so Bill and I had to wait to find a home for our stuff. And then when my room was available an hour or two later, it turned out they put me in the wrong room type! At this convention, I’ve fallen into a habit of booking a nice, big corner room to allow for space for my friend and roomie Felicity and I to have more space for our friends to hang out in the evenings, but the hotel put me in a different corner room. To be fair, I think it’s because they upgraded me to a corner room with an outdoor terrace, but a) it wasn’t as big as I needed and b) no one needs an outdoor terrace in a Chicago-area hotel in late November, so I asked to be moved to the right room type. 🙂 Thankfully, the hotel staff were great about it and immediately found me another room that worked. In fact, it worked even better than the rooms I’d had the previous couple of years because it was even bigger and even had a little kitchen space (not needed, per sé, but appreciated for the extra space).

Thanks Lombard!
Not sure I’ve ever bothered to get a picture of the exterior of this hotel before!

The sleeping area and living room area of the room. The sectional folded out to provide a second bed, but as a sofa, it gave us plenty of space to hang out with friends.

Nice to have this kitchenette, mostly to operate as a bar area as we hung out with friends in the evenings. 🙂
Good-sized bathroom, too!

So how about the convention? As usual, it was a very good time! While masks were still required this year, so it still felt pandemic-adjacent, there wasn’t as much COVIDness attached to it. The 2021 event had a very different vibe, owing to happening very much in a pandemic world, which greatly impacted the number of folks who chose to attend. It was nice to see more people back in 2022, making things feel more “normal” in a world that had felt anything other than normal since March 2020. Attendance levels still weren’t back to pre-pandemic levels and there weren’t as many vendors in the dealers room or as much general hustle-bustle throughout the weekend, it was still a lot of fun.

As I said above, I volunteered my time as a guest liaison again and I was delighted to be working with my friend Sophie Aldred! I’ve been friends with Sophie (through my friend Ruth Ann) since my second UK trip in 2005, so it’s always a delight to see her, but it’s especially great to spend a weekend working with her. And since the convention wasn’t too busy, we had plenty of time to catch up on each others’ lives. Because I’m “working” though, I never get to very many full panels during this convention, but I try to pop in and see at least some bits of some throughout the weekend, especially if I have friends on them, and I did get to do that again this year. And I found time each morning to get a nice walk in as well, since the weather was mostly cooperative (not too cold and not snowing yet, though it did rain one morning – boo). And the benefit of having that nice, big hotel room is that it provided plenty of space to hang out with friends in the evenings, so we did that every night, in addition to also getting out of the hotel for dinner on both Saturday and Sunday nights. Hurrah!

As usual, I have a smattering of photos from throughout the weekend, both inside the hotel, and even a couple from outside the hotel, too.

Folks in the audience for opening ceremony. Even though the room was far from full, it was definitely MORE full than the previous year’s convention.
Maybe a smaller group of guests than most years, but still some good ones!
A selection of guests from Big Finish doing autographs in the dealers room.
Attendees lining up to get an autograph from the lovely Wendy Padbury, who played companion Zoe Heriot in the late 1960s.
Another autograph session, this time with Seventh Doctor actor Sylvester McCoy. My friend Trey is sitting next time as his guest liaison!
A nice clockword droid mask on the masquerade table. I love getting the chance to photograph things like this up close!

Speaking of things I love, I also enjoy sneaking photos in the photo studio while the real photogs are doing their thing.

Poking my head into the video room, which I do at least once at every convention. Yes, I already own pretty much everything that would be shown in the video room at a Doctor Who convention, but there’s still something a little magical about the communal experience of watching the show with other like-minded folks.
Guests milling around backstage before heading out a for a large, main stage panel.
And here they are on stage!

Panels in one of the smaller function rooms, featuring some of my good friends. Always cool to see them in action!

This was one of the evening receptions, featuring Sophie and Sylvester with a smaller group of attendees.
Speaking of Sophie and Sylvester, here’s another photo of them, this time on the main stage, basically interviewing each other (if you’ve been to a panel featuring either of them, you know they don’t really need interviewers!).
Another main stage panel, this time featuring my friend Ken interviewing Wendy Padbury and Frazer Hines.
Sophie was signing some stuff in the dealers room when this young one came up and started telling her all kinds of stories. Fun to see that enthusiasm from young fans!
Back on the main stage, Sophie decided to sneak up on her co-panelist (though obviously in full view of the audience!).
At the end of the weekend, she was also on the main stage with a group of young fans, who asked some great questions of her.

I’m always very grateful to the convention team for allowing those of us who work as staff and volunteers to jump into some of the professional photos. I only got a few this year, but they were all fun!

Like I said above, I even got a couple photos of us all hanging out, both in the hotel and out to dinner one night.

This is a bit short and sweet for a blog post, but I definitely had a fun time at Chicago TARDIS this year, as usual. And after the convention fun ended, I was so glad that Bill, Sophie, and I had the chance to go visit our friend Ruth Ann at her home. She’s not been well enough to get out much lately, so wasn’t able to attend the convention this year. I’ve known her for the better part of 20 years and have traveled internationally with her many times, but then the pandemic interrupted our normal venues for seeing each other, so it was extra special to get to see her this year.

After a lovely catch-up with her, Bill and I hit the road for the drive back home. The weather continued to cooperate, so we didn’t have any snowstorms to contend with and we both got home without issue. Hurrah!

So, what’s next? Well, would you believe some more catch-up posts? I’ve got another convention to write about, plus a whole other trip to a new-to-me country. Take that, pandemic! Stay tuned. 😀

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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!