The 1st & 2nd day of my vacation were family days. On July 4th, I crossed over to the US at Calais Maine and was promptly hauled over for a car inspection and extended questioning, supposedly due to random computer selection. Having been reluctantly released as neither a terrorist nor a smuggler of either drugs or valuable miniatures, with a compliment on my miniature painting, I proceeded on. The plan had been to replace my missing maps and get some US cash at an ABM but having strayed off the Interstate and it being a holiday to boot, both items proved illusive. The price of foreign roaming charges for data and voice discouraged me from using my "smart"-ish phone but eventually when I arrived in Brewer when my little google route planner seemed to indicate that I should be on my way to the coast before arriving in any urban areas, I decided to ante up and connected to find out just where I was. Right on target apparently, google just didn't consider Brewer to be map worthy. I wonder what they did? or didn't do? Anyway in no time at all I had located cash and a map, a bag of apples and the right road and was parked watching an Independence Day parade cross the road ahead of me. Upon learning that it was no where near the end, I decided to explore alternate routes. Eventually I found myself enjoying a holiday ice cream cone in 32 degree weather, gazing across the hazy Penobscott River, briefly the border between Canada and the US during the War of 1812, staring at Fort Knox and trying to figure out how to get there.
Fort Knox, Maine. A typical mid-19thC coastal battery, seen through the haze.
By now, I was nearly 2 hours behind schedule and tired so I decided to skip a look at the remains of the British encampment at Castine as well as skipping the admission price to walk through yet another 19thC fort that never fired a shot in anger. (The haze makes it hard to see the layout but it was much clearer in person and very similar to various other forts I have visited. The position on a bend in the river is magnificent.) It turned out to be a good call as I hit heavy thunderstorms which reduced traffic on the Interstate to about 20 kph for nearly an hour but I still hit my campsite in the the hills of New Hampshire well before dark.
Fortunately no M'qma warparties struck during the night.
Extracting myself from the backwoods of New Hampshire took a little longer that I expected and yet another traffic jam on an Interstate didn't help (no wonder I have long leaned towards variable length moves). but eventually, I arrived at Rob's place and as usual we sat up too late talking. On Wednesday I had the pleasure of defending the fort against Norman, the stone mason and wicker-worker whose paint brush had brought the fortress of Adelheim to life.
One of the dangers of trying to plant breaching batteries without a supporting parallel. I have no memory of why a wooden slat is slicing the air just as I snapped the shot.
Thursday saw us loading up 2 cars and heading North to Pennsylvania, me following trustingly behind Rob with his navigator Norman. My internal navigation sensors were already tingling and I was starting to sneak peeks at my not-nearly-detailed-enough map when Rob pulled into a parking lot. A brief council of navigation was held which condemned Pennsylvania's Dept of Highways sign posting habits (or the lack there of) and approved Norman's proposed minor course correction to get back on track and in due course we arrived at the convention center and had our 10 am game laid out and ready to go, almost on time.
This was my first experience of the convention center and despite the excellence and size of the facility, frankly, I didn't care for it. The main issue for me is that our convention was spread out over a labyrinth of rooms and it was hard to find anything or see much in a quick tour. It was also hard to judge attendance. It felt light to me, not because our own games were sparsely attended but because I saw only a handful of crowded games, more empty/near empty tables than usual and thinner viewing crowds but due to the layout of the place that could have been because there was more total space and just bad timing on my few quick tours. Just an impression. There was certainly no shortage of cars in the parking lots. Speaking of which, as a born again country mouse, the sight of acres, nay square miles of concrete and asphalt stretching from the highways beyond the center to somewhere beyond our hotel a mile or so down the road, not even broken by sidewalks and with only token trees planted here and there in holes poked through to the earth, were unsettling to the soul.
The dealers hall was large enough for me to get lost in, several times. I probably should have worn my driving spectacle to aid in navigation. Being light on cash and in the throes of trying to reduce my over all mass of figures, all I bought was a copy of Featherstone's Lost Tales. A worthwhile book despite some disappointment with the introductions and comments but more on that another day. Ok, to be more precise that was all I bought the first day........... Additional loot included two dvd movies that I have had on my "to see" list, Errol Flynn's Charge of the Light Brigade and the last Sharpe movie, set in one of my periods of interest, post-Napoleonic India, some Italeri Union cavalry and a box of supposedly quick assemble trucks for my 1960's forces in case they ever take the field again. The flea market also turned up some "bargains" an old Courier that . caught my eye with articles on the Mexican-American War in California, a 1/48th early 20thC automobile to go with my Zinnbrigade 1900 Prussians in case that ever comes to anything, and the crowning glory, a short score of 40mm Elastolin Prince Valiant kits, no cavalry alas but a few of the poses that I was missing.
I did manage to get in one game as a player, Swedes vs Russians playing Fire as She Bears.
At last, a naval game that made sense to me and played smoothly!
I'll get into our games in another post so its time to dash off north again. By 8pm on Sunday, I was encamped by Lake George. After a quick drive by the reconstructed fort in the morning (couldn't find my way into the miniscule pay for parking lot), I decided that I was too mentally and emotionally tired for sight seeing and did the theoretically 11 hour drive back to my sister's, (technically, my niece's little farm where they both live) in just over 12 hours thanks to construction, downpours and thunderstorms, a closed highway and various other distractions, mostly after night fall (variable moves? activation rolls?). Finally on Tuesday I rolled home to Nova Scotia, pausing at my favorite fort, the twice besieged Fort Beausejour, for some pictures since the topic of sieges was on my mind. In particular I wanted to see if there was evidence of a glacis and covered way despite its hill top location. There is, but more on that at a later date.
I am fairly sure that Fort Macduff bore a strong resemblance to both Fort Beausejour and Fort Anne. More research is needed (not to mention much model construction!)
In short, a good vacation, well worth the cost and effort. Not because of the games, shopping or any sights seen, but because of the friendships renewed (some stretching back over 30 years) and new friends encountered.
The next post will look at the 5 Charge! / Fire& Stone games we ran, the one after will look at some of the things that I saw/read/experienced that got the little grey cells working.