Part Two: That Bugged Me

Having come to the conclusion that the boat bumper simply jarred a sensor into wanting a reboot we decided to press onward. We went from the parking lot to a gas station to top off on fuel and check all of the fluid levels. There were no indications that the car was losing fluids; but we wanted to have a baseline.

The drive from Pendleton to Boise was relatively uneventful. We drove through the Blue Mountains and Deadman’s Pass and after that there wasn’t much of anything for about 150 miles. There were fields of sagebrush as far as the eye could see. We also saw several properties with homes that were mobile while the 30 vehicles on the property didn’t appear to be.

The closer we got to Boise, the more we realized how truly land locked the city is. The closest “big cities” to Boise are Reno, Salt Lake City, and Spokane. In essence, 200 miles in any direction with a lot of not much.


GEEK ON A BUDGET CASH SAVING CON TIPS #5

***At $50 a year, a AAA membership is worth every penny if you take at least one out of town overnight trip a year. First of all, it gives you free roadside assistance. Whether you need gas or a tow, they’ll get you squared away and back on the road.

Secondly, AAA members get discounted tickets to many theme parks across the land. One trip for five to Universal Studios paid for my mother in law’s membership a few years ago.

Third, AAA will hook you up with all sorts of goodies to help you on your trip. You get maps, coupons for restaurants in the city you’re going to, the works. It’s worth $4 and change a month for peace of mind.***


We arrived at the AirBnb and began to unpack the car. True Neutral and I had been in communication with the AirBnb host prior to our arrival. As part of an ongoing joke with Cupcake we had the host leave a plate of hamburger bun bottoms on the table for Cupcake to see as he walked in the door.

The host was happy to oblige, thus began an onslaught of hamburger buns being placed in random locations for Cupcake to find over the next two days. While he couldn’t make the journey to Boise with us, 

Lord Trekker wanted to be kept in the loop. Every time we got Cupcake with a hamburger bun prank would message Lord Trekker with the word “bunned”. Between Friday and Sunday evening I sent that message 14 times.

When I put the food away I realized that I had forgotten to move up a couple things from the refrigerator at home to the cooler for the trip. We would be making a trip to the grocery store to get the items that were forgotten after grabbing dinner at one of the local establishments.


GEEK ON A BUDGET CASH SAVING CON TIPS #6

***Make sure to eat something before going to a grocery store. By not being hungry when shopping you will dramatically reduce the amount of items that end up in your cart just because “it looked good at the time”.***


After hitting the grocery store we retreated back to the AirBnb. We got the groceries put away and sat down to play a game True Neutral had brought along. With the game Red Rising it took a while to understand the objectives and get used to the flow of play. After that it’s a lot of fun.

After True Neutral won the first match we decided to play again. First I wanted to get some snacks going in the oven. I hadn’t gotten to eat my chorizo jalapeño poppers in quite some time. It was the perfect time to make a double batch that we could graze on all weekend.

Sadly, there was no joy in Mudville. The AirBnb lacked a cutting board, measuring utensils, and a cookie sheet to bake the poppers on. I messaged the host. They told me that they would get those items to me in the morning.

For the evening we’d have to resort to the potato chips and cookies I had from when the Girl Scouts mugged me a couple weeks ago. These snacks weren’t bad. It wasn’t the same as what I was looking forward to. I munched on my cookie while True Neutral destroyed Cupcake and I in the next round of Red Rising.

At this point I decided it was time to call it a night. It had been a long day of driving and the convention would be starting soon enough. I wanted to be sure to get a good night’s rest before all the excitement. The guys agreed and got ready for bed. 

While Cupcake was doing so, True Neutral and I bombarded his room with hamburger bun bottoms. Under his pillow, under his blankets, in the hallway in front of his door, in his bag… nothing was sacred. We had five packages of buns at our disposal, and we weren’t afraid to use them. 

The challenge was to get everything into place and get out before Cupcake saw what was happening. It’s like Santa or the Easter Bunny. If you can make the buns seem to appear from thin air it’s more magical. Mind you, we were considerate jackasses. All of the buns were in sandwich bags so the crumbs wouldn’t get everywhere.

Before you could say crappy night’s sleep Saturday morning was upon us. After the long drive the previous day and a night with an unforgiving mattress my back and hips were stiffer than a hard….piece of lumber. I pulled myself out of bed and half walked/half waddled to the kitchen and started working on breakfast for everyone. This morning I went for the Spam breakfast casserole. We ate and got ready for the day at a nice, leisurely pace. 

This was a new experience for me. Ordinarily I was the one bouncing all over the place telling the others to hurry up. I always want to be in line to get into a convention at least 45 minutes early. This time something was telling me not to. I’ve reached an age where I’ve learned to trust those feelings. I used the extra time to load up with a few more hamburger buns for pranking Cupcake.

When we got to the venue I saw why I was not eager to get on site so early. The queue was completely outdoors where the temperature was a balmy 41 degrees Fahrenheit before the wind chill. There were about 130 people in line to get in. We’d shiver our way through the next 30 minutes together.

When the line did start moving it was a false alarm. People were getting their QR codes scanned in and moving from the front gate to the door of the Expo Center. Along the way there was a table filled with free S.W.A.G. There were prints and free books galore. I snagged a print of Gem Star, the mascot of Gem State Comic-Con, done as a Garbage Pail Kid. I also picked up a couple of books to dive into later.

When we got inside the venue it was a smorgasbord. There were a few comic book vendors, cars that had Marvel themed paint jobs, a professional wrestling ring, and of course, Artist Alley.

I made a beeline for the comic book vendors. After years of buying from them I have a great relationship with a couple of vendors that made the trip from my neck of the woods. 

The Man Behind the Comics was there with his wall of glory. He’s always been good for some Silver Age treasures. This time was no different. I bought Silver Age Amazing Spider-Man and Detective Comics books from him.

To me Travis Naught was the man of the hour. Travis has booths that are very eclectic. He’s been known to have everything from the Golden Age to yesterday. His prices are reasonable and get lower as your pile gets bigger. He had another Silver Age Amazing Spider-Man waiting for me. 

More importantly, we had worked out a trade that put a “Star Wars” AT/ST in his hands while netting me a Funko Pop! figure of Grimlock from “Transformers”. From a pragmatic perspective I took about a $20 hit on the deal. From my perspective, I hooked up a friend to help support their business, gained free space, and acquired a figure I truly wanted. As a repeat customer I’ve gotten well over $20 in discounts from Travis over the years. I’ll make trades like that with him all day long. Plus, Travis is great to help distribute hamburger buns for a joke if called upon.


GEEK ON A BUDGET CASH SAVING CON TIPS #7

***Build relationships with vendors that frequent the shows and conventions you attend. Establishing a rapport can help you in a couple ways. First, if a vendor knows you’re going to spend a fair amount of money at their booth, odds are they are more willing to negotiate on prices.

Building a rapport also helps you get the first shot at books on your wishlist. I have a handful of sellers that I keep updated on books I’m hoping to get my hands on. If they have the books in question we can work something out on the spot. If not, I now have another set of eyes hunting for my books for me.***


As I moved away from the vendors and towards Artist Alley I got a better look at the cars. One was a Tesla with an Iron Man wrap and a personalized license plate that said, “I Love You 3,000”. The other was a Toyota Supra with a Captain America motif. It had a personalized license plate that said, “On Your Left”.

There were a few artists and writers from small press publishers in Artist Alley. I went down the line eagerly asking each creator to tell me about their books. A couple of the creators swung and missed with the question. Another couple fouled it off. 

Mat Heagerty and Tobe Daranouvong hit it out of the park when I talked to them about their books. They were engaged. They were funny. They made you want to know more about their books. 

Mr. Heagerty’s book intrigued me; but it was just about tapped out on my budget for the trip when I got to his booth. I ordered a copy of his TPB, “Unplugged and Unpopular”, when I got home. I bought the first issue in Mr. Daranouvong’s book, “Villain”, at his booth. I’m hoping to have them move through my reading queue relatively quickly.

Having cleared Artist Alley and the comic vendors we branched out to explore the rest of the convention. I saw the 501st Legion. The quality of their cosplay makes one feel like they’re straight off the soundstage from a Star Wars movie. 

The cosplays done by the 501st weren’t the only noteworthy ones I saw during the convention. I saw a very well done Russell and Kevin from “Up”, an impressive orc from World of Warcraft, and Thor. I was even deemed worthy of holding Mjolnir for a photo op.

I was blown away by the amount of people I saw in cosplay at Gem State Comic-Con 2022. It felt like more than half of the people attending were in cosplay. The last time I saw this many people in cosplay at an event I attended was Emerald City Comic-Con in 2018. I’m not talking about per capita. I’m talking about sheer numbers. The people in Boise and the surrounding area absolutely brought it on Saturday.

Having seen everything the show had to offer, our party decided to head back to the AirBnb. True Neutral wanted to watch a hockey game. Cupcake wanted to visit our friend , Trojan, who had recently moved to the area. I wanted to make my chorizo jalapeño poppers and get ready for some gaming.

Walking outside of the Expo Center we got the biggest shock of the weekend. After the doors to the convention had been open for about two and a half hours, the line to get in was still several blocks long. Some of these people would be waiting an hour in less than ideal weather conditions to get inside. That’s true dedication.

We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting Trojan, watching hockey, playing tabletop games, destroying about 30 chorizo jalapeño poppers, and having a good time enjoying one another’s company. The next morning we got up, had breakfast, loaded the car up, and braved the snow to drive the 400 miles bag home.

RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS FROM GEM STATE COMIC-CON 2022:

  1. When staying at an AirBnb take inventory of everything in the kitchen that you will need for food preparation as soon as you’ve unpacked. That way you can either make arrangements with the host or hit the dollar store for any kitchen supplies that you need.
  1. I loved that parking was free at Gem State Comic-Con. It’s a little thing; but not having to pay the $5 – $25 a day for parking goes a long way. At a four day show that works out to $100. That’s a good sized dent on a Silver Age key in my “Amazing Spider-Man” run.
  1. I’m starting to think that physical badges on lanyards are going the way of the Dodo. That is unfortunate. I love the different artwork on them. The badges from the cons I have attended go in display cases with books I got at that particular con. It doesn’t have the same magic holding a line in my Apple Wallet.
  1. The lack of security at Gem State Comic-Con was stunning. No metal detectors. No bag searches. No peace bonding. Nothing. This isn’t the first convention I have been at that didn’t have security. It’s a trend that I find disconcerting.
  1. When we were packing to leave the AirBnb we discovered that there were bedbugs there. This development brought forth a tapestry of profanity out of True Neutral that is still floating above the Blue Mountains. He spent six months battling bedbugs after they came home with him from a special assignment at work. He was a subject matter expert for us and had many valuable pointers.
  • Upon arriving at home ALL clothing goes straight into the dryer. Whether it’s in a bag or you were wearing it when you walked through the door, all clothing goes in (including shoes). Put it on high for 30 minutes and press play. This should create enough heat to kill the bedbugs that may be in your clothing.
  • Your travel bags will need the same treatment. If you’re fond of your suitcase, empty the contents out of the bag BEFORE bringing it into your home. Double wrap the bag in large garbage bags and duct tape it shut. When it gets to about 95 degrees, put the bag in the backseat of your car and leave it parked in the sun with the windows closed. 
  • I didn’t feel like waiting almost four months for this to happen so I threw my bag away without bringing it in the house.
  • Vacuum out your vehicle at a car wash. You don’t want to use your personal vacuum to suck the bugs out of your car and bring them into your home.