Two Nerds Take On Chicago

You may remember my briefly mentioning a trip to Chicago in last week’s WIP Mountain update. While the trip was back in late September, I have yet to write about it in this space.

Well, today’s the day!

Friday

My friend Tia and I flew down to Chicago early Friday morning on 9/23 for Creation Entertainment’s last annual Stargate convention, appropriately named The Final Journey. We enjoyed our stay at the convention hotel, the Westin O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, which is just outside of Chicago. We grabbed breakfast at an MSP Airport Caribou Coffee on our way down to our gate and arrived to our destination at about 8am. It was a short airport shuttle ride over to the hotel. Since our room wasn’t available at this early hour, we asked to have our luggage held for us at the hotel’s front desk and then it was off to downtown Chicago for a little sight-seeing before the convention.

After we found our way to the Rosemont train station, we took the Blue Line straight into downtown Chicago, then hopped over to the Green Line to reach Adler Planetarium. At just $10 per 1-day pass, we were able to go anywhere in Chicago our nerdy hearts desired in 24 hours’ time. A great deal, if you ask me!

adler

There was a lot to see at the planetarium. We enjoyed the “Destination Solar System” show, took in the “Mission Moon,” “Our Solar System,” “Telescopes: Through The Looking Glass,” and “Astronomy In Culture” exhibits, and enjoyed lunch in the Galileo’s Café.

We also took time to explore the gift shop. While I didn’t bring the universe turtle or the giant Chewbacca home, I did give them big hugs. The treasures I did find were the awesome constellation cowl (with a zipper!) that I wore for the rest of the convention, as well as a book I’m excited to read called Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses, from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets. I’m planning a trip to see the upcoming solar eclipse in person, so this book is a must-read!

On the way out, we also enjoyed the view from the Sundial Plaza and some of the statues leading up to the planetarium itself.

Our next (unplanned) stop was the Climbing Earth playground near Soldier Field. Fun astronomy and geography-themed place to explore, and I’m happy to say that my little rocket-gnome finally did make it to the moon safe and sound!

werneronthemoon

Our actual destination was the Bean, officially known as the “Cloud Gate,” in Millenium Park.

thebean

That was about it for our “downtown” experience of Chicago. Most of the fun was still to come back at the hotel, so back on the train we went! We arrived just in time to go down to the theater for a Q&A with Paul McGillion of SG:Atlantis, who did autographs shortly after.

Tia stayed downstairs for the Celebrity Cabaret event. I opted to go to bed early after our busy day of adventure.

Saturday

Today was Tia’s birthday! Our first order of business was breakfast, but I had some birthday shenanigans to take care of first. While we were getting ready for the day, I snuck Tia’s present out of my suitcase and onto her pillow, attempting to maintain a non-existent poker face while I waited for her to find it.

Tia’s breakfast came with tiny bottles of ketchup and jam, which Werner used to start planning a gnome-sized grocery store.

The first event in the theater was a Q&A with the one and only Jewel Staite of SG:Atlantis, and Kaylee of Firefly fame. This was followed by a Q&A with David deLuise of SG-1, a costume contest showcasing some truly amazing costumes, including a spot-on Vala cosplayer who kindly let me take a picture with her. Claudia Black wasn’t one of the featured guests, but this was still pretty darn awesome! Right after this, I ran down for a photo op with Jewel Staite. She is a truly wonderful person and I’m ecstatic that we got to meet her in-person!

With all the time spent listening to the featured guests and sitting in autograph lines waiting, I spent a lot of time stitching and stitching. Before I knew it, my finger crocheted cowl was finished! Next time, I’ll remember to bring a second skein. Creation Entertainment provided almost-life-size banners of the SG-1 and Atlantis stargates, as well as the on-stage stargate prop that the featured guests would travel through from backstage. We and many other fans had plenty of fun taking pictures in front of or pretending to run through all three stargates throughout the weekend.

As we considered our lunch options near the hotel between events, we stumbled across The Donald E. Stephens Museum of Hummels, which is located in a nearby shopping mall. I had to stop in – Grandma always loved Hummel figurines and would have loved to see this collection. We enjoyed seeing the collection, but more importantly had a great heart-to-heart conversation with Cecelia, who was running the museum that day. I explained how Grandma enjoyed Hummel figurines and how I had finished a Hummel cross-stitch that she had started before she passed away. It still needs to be framed, but soon I’ll be mailing a picture of the finished cross-stitch as promised. Mom and I hope to visit the museum again together in the near future.

After lunch, it was time for a Q&A with Christopher Judge of SG-1. I built up the courage to get in line to ask him a question about the crazy things he’d had to do while playing his character Teal’c. One of the stories he told us involved wearing his full suit of armor, being told to run and just keep running, only to come back to the set to find everyone laughing about their prank. We also enjoyed a Q&A with Joe Flanigan of SG:Atlantis and witnessed a Stargate-themed wedding before waiting in line for autographs with Joe Flanigan, Christopher Judge, and Jewel Staite. I had a second autograph ticket for Jewel and asked her to sign one of the pictures for Claire, who was not on the trip with us. I also told her hello from an entire family of Firefly fans. She signed my picture from the photo op with the message “Shiny to meet you, Becca!”

Just before this round of autographs, we stepped out to the vendors room where Tia got a few more signatures and I gave David deLuise my phone so we could take a few goofy selfies. He was a ton of fun to meet!

For dinner, we went out to Giordano’s to celebrate Tia’s birthday. The pizzas were delicious! We also enjoyed the leftover cold pizza for lunch the next day.

giordanos

Sunday

We treated ourselves to a fancy breakfast in the hotel restaurant the next morning before returning to the theater for the last day of Stargate celebrations.

hotelbreakfast

First up was a Q&A with Alaina Huffman and David Blue of SGU. Then we spent some more time exploring the vendor room before Tia checked out the Stargate Novels panel and I ran downstairs for a photo op with Michael Shanks of SG-1. Unfortunately, all the good photos were taken without my glasses on, but it was still an amazing experience! Later, we watched the Stargate & Sci-Fi Auction, and enjoyed a Q&A with Michael Shanks. Our last convention activities were our final autographs with Michael Shanks and Alaina Huffman.

Finally, it was time for a rather late flight back to MSP. We left at 11pm and made it back just after midnight on Monday morning. That still left the drive back home from Tia’s house. We were very thankful to be back in our own beds, but very sad that our nerdy adventure had come to an end. Would we go back in a heartbeat? Indeed!

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