Photo Journey of Williamsburg and Marscon

I’m back from the writing class earlier than I expected.  I thought my brain was going to be fried and I would need a break, but it turned out I didn’t need the time.  I also found time to attend my first science fiction convention of 2013, Marscon. Tamora Pierce, who wrote the Lady Knight series, was the Young Adult Guest of Honor, so I wanted to see her.

But come the day before I was to drive up, forecasters were predicting 5 inches of snow!  DC is never prepared for even a dusting of snow, so it would be likely to turn the entire commuting area into a dangerous mess.  So I dashed on out Thursday morning, about three hours early, hoping I could outrun the storm.

By the time I hit Quantico, it had started to rain.  It was the kind of rain that is sloppy and messy.  Of course, all the silver cars left their headlights off.  Do you know how hard it is to see a silver car without headlights in a downpour?  Lights, people!  This is what it looked like from the Petersburg rest stop:

Rain failling on I395 as trucks and cars drive past

By the time I got into Williamsburg, all I wanted to do was warm up.  Even with the heat on full blast in my car, the cold got into my bones, and I spent most of the afternoon and evening just trying to get warm.  It didn’t help that the hotel was cold, either.  It was built in a long thin line, with balconies for every room.  I’m betting it’s really nice in the humid, hot summer.  But in January, the cold got in both ends and just hovered in the hallways.

No snow until about 10 in the evening.  This photo was taken from my balcony the following day.  Not sure what the building out there is though — a gazebo of some sort I guess.

Snow dusting on the ground around a gazebo, taken from my 1st floor balconey

Since I had a lot of hours before Marscon started, I wandered off to play tourist in Williamsburg.  It was a beautiful clear day, but deceptive because it was still darn cold!  The wind kept trying to blow right through me.

Statue of Thomas Jefferson with a quill and scroll on a bench

Thomas Jefferson spent a cold night out.  It’s called a “Sit-by-me statue” — but I wasn’t posing next to him in this cold weather.

After that, it was a stop off in The Peanut Shop — and samples.  Lots and lots of samples.  They put out samples of all the different types of nuts they sell.  Among other things, I bought banana chocolate jam, peanut brittle (crunchy, not hard and sticky), a peach habanero sauce (I may regret that one), and peach syrup.  Lots of nuts, too.  Yum!  I did resist temptation and leave them out in my car for the duration.


Where would Virginia be without the required cannon?  These are everywhere.

Street view of a vacant Williamsburg, historic houses lining the sides.

Then it was off to see historical Williamsburg.  It was pretty dead.  This area probably has a lot more going on during the summer time when the tour buses are coming in.   It was quiet out, and the wind was icy.  Some people wandered around in costume, like this man representing John Page.

A white horse bites off the head of a snowman as his Revolutionary war costumer rider and a woman in a purple jacket watch.

Yup — his horse bit off the head of that hapless snowman.  Guess it looked like dinner. After Page rode off, the woman in purple fixed the headless snowman.  Hmm?  A zombie snowman?

Then I declared “Done!” because the cold really was getting to be too much.  By evening, my scratchy throat that I thought was just the weather turned into a cold.  More warming up at the hotel, such as it was, and then it was off to Marscon.

The con had moved to a new hotel this year because they’d outgrown the last one.  Even this one  wasn’t big enough.  They had 1,000 attendees.  People were parked in the fire lanes and blocking other cars.  In some places, there was barely enough room for cars to pass through without hitting someone.

Each con has its personality.  Marscon is really a partying crowd.  The con parties lasted until 4:00 am — I suppose I should had a warning on that from the zombie in the Hawaiian shirt in the lobby.  Not sure what the hotel staff thought of that, but the clerks were sticking the flowers everywhere on the lobby desk.
A zombie dressed in a Hawaiian shirt in a case, and surrounded by brightly colored paper flowers.

I’m thinking this was why the workshops didn’t do much for me.  I usually try to hit the writing ones, because I enjoy those, but I’ll go to other ones that catch my eye.  In this case, Allan Wold did his writing workshops again.  I had those last year, and they were very good — Marscon is a good place to take these because you’ll get a slot in the class fairly easily.  But since I wasn’t attending those, there wasn’t much.

But I went to this to because Tamora Pierce was here.  I attended several of her workshops, including one where she described how she uses photos of people for her characters.  Some highlights:

  • The young Gene Simmons was an early choice for Numair.
  • Kel will get a squire (she didn’t say if the squire would be male or female).
  • A certain Champion is pregnant.

After that the cold finally won, and I retreated to try to keep from getting too sick.

Tamora Pierce arrives at the table.  Two other writers are already seated.

Next year?  My goal is the try to do a con a quarter, so maybe Mysticon instead.  That’s in Roanoake.  More places to adventure!  Though it’ll probably snow …

9 thoughts on “Photo Journey of Williamsburg and Marscon

  1. I’ve never been to a SciFi convention. Hopefully, someday! Loved your Williamsburg photos with the dusting of snow. Hope you’re all rested up and over your cold and ready to write!


    1. Cons are always a lot of fun. It’s such a different atmosphere because you can be weird or strange and no one’s going to care because they’re all busy doing the same thing!


  2. I love this photo-essay! Especially since we’re still new-ish here and looking to visit some of these places (and cons).

    I’m hoping to get to Balticon this year. What’s your experience of it been like?


    1. Haven’t been to Balticon yet, but my critique group says that it is more focused on small press publications.

      BTW, don’t forget to hit Great Falls, but do it on the Virginia side. The view is a lot better.


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