Autumn-berries in sunlight

Senshi-Con, Denali, and general internetage

I am temporarily sneaking onto my grandma's internet (hiding out in the bedroom XD). I drove down this weekend to have a table at Senshi-Con, Anchorage's anime con (more on that in a minute). I am staying for the next few days to help Grandma move into her new senior-facility apartment and to provide various forms of assistance for my mom in facilitating the process.

Last night I couldn't sleep for awhile and I ended up writing a long report on Senshi-Con, which I did not have Internet to post, so that follows under the cut, and then some late-fall pictures from the Fairbanks-to-Anchorage drive last Thursday.

Okay, so, Senshi-Con. First of all, I've never been there. I've actually never been to an anime con at all. My big convention-tabling days were back in the early 2000s, and it was all comics conventions, mostly small press ones with a few big ones like Wizard World Chicago thrown in. I had absolutely no idea how my books would sell at an anime show. Turned out they sold pretty well! I think I could've done better if I'd marketed myself better and had more swag for sale -- this wasn't a comics-buying crowd, really, so much as a crowd that was looking for prints, key chains, and other cool gift-type things to take home with them. But I still sold enough to make back all my costs, and talked up my webcomic a bunch, so that was good!

And also, homigosh, Senshi-Con is BIG. I guess I was expecting a small local con, because Alaska, you know? I sort of forgot that Anchorage is, you know. A city. And while it wasn't, say, Wizard World Chicago levels of big, it was certainly on a par with something like SPX for size and number of attendees.

And they were ALL DRESSED UP. Since I've never been to an anime con before, I'm not sure if this is an anime con thing generally, or just a Senshi-Con thing. But I have never been to a con with so many cosplayers by volume. Probably 90% of the attendees were in costume, AT LEAST. In the first few hours of the first day, particularly, the number of people walking by my table who were NOT dressed up was maybe a dozen, out of hundreds or possibly thousands. (After that I think some people got tired of it, especially the ones with more elaborate costumes, and started walking around in street clothes.)

But, wow. It was such AMAZING sensory overload.

The crowd in general was also WAY more female, and more diverse, than I'm used to seeing at comics cons. It was something like 60% female, probably at least a third Asian plus a lot of other ethnicities too, a number of people who were evidently queer, and just generally not the overwhelmingly white and majority male crowd that was the norm at the comics cons I had tables at in the early 2000s.

In addition to cosplayers by the ton, there were also a lot of people who were just generally taking advantage of the occasion to dress up. There were a lot of Lolitas and Renfaire people, for example. A group of six or seven, I assume Japanese, young women came by my table in those super-expensive silk kimonos, with their hair and makeup done gorgeously -- they were pretty clearly out for the evening and not cosplaying something. The Anchorage Japanese consulate, of all people, had a booth where they were taking pictures of people in authentically designed Samurai armor. (I walked by it several times on my con walkabouts and/or bathroom dashes from my table before noticing who was running it, as per their sign. I gathered from snatches of overheard conversation that, in Japan anyway, Samurai armor and the wearing thereof is legally restricted by the government, so government representatives needed to be involved for this? Something like that.)

And the cosplays were really something. Most of them were amazingly elaborate. I saw very few that weren't absolutely going all out with theirs (and let me mention again that nearly everyone was dressed up -- it wasn't just that the 10% of the crowd in costume had really done a great job on their cosplays: it was EVERYBODY). The majority were anime and video game characters, and fandoms that tend to overlap with those, like Stephen Universe and Homestuck (SO MUCH of both of those, omg; also SO MANY UNICORNS and/or My Little Ponies). But there were also a smattering of just about every fandom under the sun. Most of the Korras and other Water Tribe characters I saw were being done by Native Alaskan cosplayers (and there was also a really adorable Korra and Asami who were clearly a couple, and whose costumes were amazing -- I wanted to take a picture for [personal profile] frith_in_thorns, but I sucked at taking pictures generally). There was a group of stunningly detailed Mad Max cosplayers. I was a little surprised, overall, that I didn't see more Mad Max cosplays, and particularly more Furiosas -- theirs was the only one I saw at the whole con. But they were really, really good costumes. There were the usual smattering of gender-bender costumes (nearly all the Buckys I saw were female, and a really AMAZING female Vegeta I wished, again, I'd gotten a picture of), including several guys cosplaying female characters, which again is something I don't recall seeing at comics cons. And then there were the costumes that were just total hilarious oddballs, like the family who came dressed as interlocking Tetris pieces, or the guy who was dressed up as Bert the chimney sweep from the Mary Poppins movie who went around the con singing snatches of the character's song (in a thick Cockney accent, of course) and doing bits of the dance number from the movie.

It was also really nifty to me how many of the cosplayers and Lolitas were moms with their kids along, often in costume too. There was a whole family who came as the cast of Firefly, including a Jayne who was a little girl of about five, with a Jayne hat and a big plastic gun, who was having an absolute blast mugging and looking fierce for all the people stopping them to take pictures. While, for the most part, the kids weren't dressed up as elaborately as the grownups, especially the young kids, there were a few family groups where it was clearly the kids who were the ones who were into it, and some of the child cosplays (I mean kids in the middle school to young teen age bracket, not LITTLE kids) were as detailed and gorgeous as the adult ones.

I wish I had pictures, but while I did TRY, none of them really captured the spectacle of the thing, and the handful of pictures I took of individual cosplayers were taken with my phone, and came out blurry or dark or otherwise not that great.

So you get Denali pictures instead.

Prior to Senshi-Con (I'm cleverly going in reverse chronological order here) I did the 6-hour drive from Fairbanks to Wasilla. Wasilla is an hour north of Anchorage, and that's where my family lives, so I stopped over in Wasilla before spending the weekend in Anchorage and then driving back out to Wasilla again.

I really love the Fairbanks-to-Anchorage drive, and I drive it several times a year, but THIS -- late fall -- is not a time of year that I've driven it much. (And the weather is now reminding me WHY freeze-up is a terrible time of year to go anywhere. It snowed 6 inches in Fairbanks the day after I left, has been raining buckets in Wasilla/Anchorage the whole time I've been here, which is supposed to turn to snow on Tuesday. And then another storm system is supposed to move in this weekend. Driving back is going to be awful no matter when I leave. >_>)

But ANYWAY, I've driven the highway a lot in late spring, summer, early fall, and winter, but have not seen it much at this time of year, after most of the leaves have fallen and the mountains gained a cap of snow, but before the landscape is thoroughly snow-blanketed. So here, have some pictures.

Tamarack trees. Tamarack, aka larch, is a kind of deciduous conifer that looks like a normal spruce/pine tree until it turns yellow in the fall and loses all its needles, at which point it just looks dead.

Denali from wayyyyy on the north side (around Nenana).

Frozen waterfall along the road in Denali National Park.

Although the waterfall had started to freeze, there was still water flowing. Closeup of a rainbow at the bottom.

Across the road from the waterfall, since I was stopped anyway, I walked down to the Nenana River to take some pictures of the lovely blue-green, glacier-fed water.


A couple pictures of the mountains in the park itself. The highway skirts the eastern edge of the park, and (ironically) Mt. Denali is not visible from the road inside the park -- it's concealed by mountains along the road. This was also not a particularly scenic time of year because everything was brown; two weeks earlier, it would have been flaming reds and yellows (like this or like this, for example).

South of the park, there are several lookouts alongside the road where you can get nice mountain views looking north, so here is one of them.

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OTOH I enjoyed your gorgeous Denali pics, but OTOH I sure wish I could see a pic of that family that cosplayed Firefly.

(And hey, do you still do cons as far away from you as Chicago?)
Thank you! :) I actually DO have a picture of them; it's just a blurry and terrible phone one, and I accidentally left my cable out in the car, so I can't download it. However, I will upload it soon for you to see! :)

I haven't actually had a table at a con that far away since I left. However, I still have friends in the Midwest that I visit occasionally, so I've been to Wizard World Chicago once or twice since I left. And I want to get back to SPX one of these years!
Not a native, but from 2000-2004 I lived about 2 1/2 hours south of Chicago, in Champaign, IL. I didn't get up to Chicago as much as I now wish I had while it was so accessible to me, but I did spend some time there.
Well, I'm the opposite : IN Chicago, with SOME trips to Champaign (when I had friends at school at U of I).

So, are you a native of Alaska?
So, are you a native of Alaska?

I am! Born and raised. Those four years in Illinois were the only time I've lived outside the state; my husband was going to grad school at UIUC.

btw, here's the promised crappy cell phone pic of the Firefly family, which really doesn't do justice to how adorable their costumes were:

love the pictures

I'm glad the con went well

Lots of cosplay is pretty common at anime cons
Thank you! :)

It was very striking. I am used to the cosplayers being outnumbered by the people not dressed up.
I think in recent years with geek culture being more mainstream and with (as much as I hate to give reality shows props) shows like face off, heroes of cosplay and geeks who drink people are more willing to cosplay
Drive SAFE.

Denali Park is supposed to get as much as 20 inches of snow by Wednesday. It's not supposed to be as bad here, but we're still hunkering down for a dump.

In the words of 2-year-olds everywhere: UCK. Thanks for the heads-up!

.... Actually though, if it manages to stay cold, it won't be quite as horrific as if it warms up again, turning everything to slushy ice.
Oh nice pictures, whetting my appetite even more. I'm planning to go to Alaska next year - still not sure, though, what season I'll go - June/early July or August/early September... But are the glaciers still worth seeing in late summer/early fall? And what about the mosquitoes which would be the major point for not going in June - are they really such a plague? *sighs
Ooh, I hope you have fun! :D That is really a dilemma, too. Usually I tell people to come up in the fall, because it's absolutely GORGEOUS. But you have a point about the glaciers -- I think that would probably be more fun in mid-summer because the weather is less likely to storm and it's warmer. (Although, in all honesty, I have only been on a glacier cruise once -- in June -- so I have no idea what it's like in the fall; maybe it is perfectly lovely! Even in June it was quite cold, though.)

Whether the mosquitoes are bad depends on what you plan to do. If you're going to be doing long wilderness hikes or camping out ... yes, the mosquitoes will be a problem in June. However, if you're not doing that -- if you're going to be doing things like bus tours and shopping and day hikes in the parks or whatever -- you will be fine. At worst you might have to put on repellent if you're going to be spending some time on hiking trails in boggy areas.

I really hope you have fun! \o/ If you end up in the Fairbanks area, drop me a PM and we can get coffee or something. :D
Glad you enjoyed the con, sounds like it was fun!! The photos are gorgeous, Alaska sure is beautiful!! Though here's hoping you're able to drive back without too much problem!
*waves from Friends of Friends, and also, possibly, Tumblr* Wasilla! We lived there for several years, oh, 31-32 years ago, and Anchorage (Ft Richardson) before that. I always enjoy your pictures, though they make me homesick big time.
You know, I keep having dreams about traveling up to Alaska. I think they may be trying to tell me something ;)

I need to look up cons in my area. I know we have them but they tend not to be massively advertised.
I rather hope the five-year-old playing Jayne hasn't seen the show! That's awfully young to be subjected to that mix of violence, anti-heroes, and racial and sexual problematics. I love the fact that whole families were dressed up, though. The amount of work (and sometimes money) involved in even a single costume boggles my mind.

I had to get an idea of what this looked like, and Google Images led me here. "sensory overload" sounds about right!

I hope you have a safe and uneventful trip home!
Wow that sounds generally awesome! I have never been to a con (despite living in a large city >.>) and always found them to be intimidating. Like I'd have to prove my fannishness, you know? But your account really makes it seem quite fun!
I didn't start going to cons until I was in my 50's, and the first con I attended I went all the way across the country by myself and attended a con where there weren't any fen that I already knew IRL. I have been told that this was "brave," but I just felt it was a thing to do whose time had come. As for "intimidating," the big commercial ones may be so (I've never attended one of those), but the ones that are small and not-for-profit fan-run cons are just like "OH, MY PEOPLE!"

*encourages you to consider attending a fan-run con*