US Visit

I have just come back with my family (Jenny and daughter Erin) from the States, as part of a quality-time holiday. As a background, early this year I asked Jenny if it was alright with her that I took a week out going to World Fantasy Con 44 in Baltimore – a big deal as Erin is autistic and at times she is high maintenance (not to suggest this is endemic). Jenny’s response was well played and I liked it – why not go to LA for two weeks, and I can do a quick fly-in/fly-out to Baltimore for the Con. Plan set and paid for.

Baltimore was amazing and my first world con. Highlights include:

  • Having a wonderful dinner at a seafood restaurant with Kaaron Warren, Joe Haldeman (and his lovely wife and sister-in-law), Janeen Webb, Dena Taylor, and many others.
  • Seafood was a highlight in itself.
  • Meeting so many great writers, and developing almost instant-friendships.
  • Attending insightful and entertaining panels and presentations (particularly liked Kaaron’s Australian landscape presso)
  • Visiting Edgar Allen Poe’s grave (and the atmospheric gothic church next to it)
  • Being able to impart (and take on) quality publishing/distribution knowledge among peers
  • And on an important professional level, successfully pitching two writing projects that still need to go through an assessment process, but have progressed beyond my expectations. More on this if they bear fruit.

Yes, Baltimore was fantastic (the domestic jet hopping was another story) and professionally, very important for me and my publishing imprints.

I viewed the LA wing of the holiday initially as an emphasis on having Erin experience the time of her life – and it worked. But having said this, boy I had a great time. Disneyland and Universal were mind-blowing, particularly the virtual rides etc (I rode the Pirates of the Caribbean 4 times, as I did the Harry Potter virtual), and I can honestly say Disneyland does make you feel happy. We bought tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party, and it was worth every cent – at 6pm non-ticket holders left Disneyland, leaving thousands of partygoers (as opposed to tens of thousands of visitors) and rides ended up having queues lasting but a few minutes in many cases. I left the party early to connect to a flight to Baltimore, but Erin and Jenny partied beyond Midnight.

Erin loves basketball and is a fan of the LA Lakers. Managed to get tickets to a home game and the three of us had an amazing extravaganza presented to us. Again, well worth the investment.

We visited the Tar Pits and other notable attractions in LA. We even experienced Target US and Walmart shopping in Burbank. That was an experience.

LA is a huge, bustling city but we found everyone we met were friendly and upbeat. We felt welcomed and it did make a difference.

We most certainly will come back.

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