Breakfast was a rush-job to make it to my registration desk duties in time and we managed to get a bunch of excited puzzlers and their support crew duly registered in time for the day’s tours and stuff…
Most of the action on Thursday was sight-seeing tours to Balboa park and things started out well, until we got news that the buses were going to have to change their pick-up point due to a private function in the area – problem was everyone on the first couple of buses had been told that they’d be picked up where they were dropped off that morning… except the new pick-up point would be out of sight of the old one… so how do you solve a puzzle like that?
Turns out that when you challenge a few puzzlers like that, it brings out the very best MacGyver in them – resulting in a couple of dayglo yellow signs pointing our puzzlers to their new pick-up point – we didn’t lose many of them and we shall speak of this no more.
Jen, Neil, Gill and I Ubered off to the Gaslamp District to go back to a shop that the girls had spotted the day before. We spent a while in the Chuck Jones Gallery looking at some brilliant Snoopy art and a bunch of original Marvin art… Gill and I ended up thinking about a Snoopy print but Neil may have gone a step further…
Lunch was an awesome Alehouse Cheeseburger [highly recommended!] before we went off in search of some good Scotch for our host the following weekend. My Scots scotch adviser recommended a nice Bunnahabhain… [bin-AR-bin apparently, in case you’re wondering…]
Back at the hotel I managed to grab a couple of hours in the Design Competition, before manning one end of the registration table again. When that closed down we rounded up a gang of about 20 and headed out in search of some dinner. Paulette had recommended Seasons 52 off the back of having a nice lunch there so we wandered off up the road. When we rock up totally unannounced at the restaurant they ask us how many are in our party – Jim is the numbers guy and tells them we have 20 (only some of us have actually got there at this point and they aren’t quite sure if we’re telling porkies – we reassure them) – Jim adds that we’d really like to sit together, not really expecting that to be vaguely possible! They ask us to give them a few minutes and then literally usher us into a private room where a couple of waitresses have set up a pair of tables back to back for twenty of us… dinner turns out to be some fabulous seafood topped off by exceptional desserts – Kudos to Seasons 52 Seaport District!
We have a fun walk back to the hotel talking about tongue depressors and I get pressed for the whole back story on the tongue depressor meme that has enveloped MPP-folk from around the world and is now threatening to infect even the International Puzzle Party…
I get a couple more hours in the Design Competition room and have a lot of fun, albeit largely unsuccessful on the puzzle-solving front.
Friday morning sees some more registration activity and bus wrangling – this time taking people to the zoo… drop-offs and pick-ups all work as planned this time and we don’t have the excitement of the day before.
A bunch of us head out to tour Craig Thibodeau’s workshop on the outskirts of San Diego. Robert -Stickman- Yarger and Craig have collaborated on a couple of items of puzzle furniture recently and Rob has arranged for a couple of busloads of eager puzzlers to nose around Craig’s workshop and play with a couple of his recent pieces – including one rather special piece commissioned by George and Roxanne for their new Florida puzzle museum (and home).
It was an absolute treat to watch Craig’s son nimbly demonstrating all of the nooks and crannies and puzzles and tricks on a huge rotating puzzle cabinet – seeing drawers opening and closing of their own accord while the entire cabinet spins effortlessly on a central axis was truly unforgettable.
Craig also gave us a quick demonstration of how he does most of his marquetry – and if I hadn’t seen him do it in front of me, I wouldn’t have believed how quickly he was able to do it… the man has serious skills, and more than a little experience!
I grab a quick bite to eat back at the hotel before wrangling people and tickets for a tour of the USS Midway – there’s no bus as it’s only a 10-minute walk from the hotel and somehow it never gets old telling people “Big grey boat over there, you can’t miss it…” when you could literally see it from the doorstep. After a while I hand that duty over to Marti so we can meet with the hotel folks to check on the arrangements for the evening’s reception out in the courtyard. We tweak a couple of small things but leave things largely as they’ve got them planned out, sure that things will go well.
I head back to the registration desk via the Design Competition room again (again with virtually no luck on solving things!) – I’m getting used to the whole registration malarkey and enjoying seeing everyone and greeting old friends … and actually managing to get almost enough people to sign up for all the volunteer slots that I know I need to get covered.
The Founder’s Reception marks the official start of IPP38-proper, with Jerry welcoming everyone to San Diego and wishing us all a happy puzzle party. We follow the new tradition of asking the first-time attendees to introduce themselves and tell us what sorts of puzzles they’re most interested in… several puzzlers then descend on them to shake their hands and make them feel welcome after the speeches – it’s a great community to be a part of. The hotel does a great job serving plenty of hot food and cold drinks and the lines for service never seem too long – we seem to have struck a good balance between the number of serving stations and the number of guests… it bodes well.
After the formalities there’s a lot of reacquainting and chatting and after a while I follow Eric and Dom into the parking garage next door where Eric’s single wheel motorised skateboard comes out to play… Eric patiently coaching Dom in the finer skills and getting him to successfully complete several loops around the garage, before hopping on himself and effortlessly whizzing around the area at high speed himself – definitely still a kid at heart. [Rumour has it that the night before the one-wheel had been out in the hotel lobby and some big puzzling characters had tried, slightly less successfully to whizz around… but I wasn’t there so I can’t tell you that story, sorry.]