So, I’ve booked my flights and have my tickets. I start to get my equipment together, and I had to call in a few favors (most notably for the telephoto lens and Go Pro, a big thanks to Kevin, my old boss at a college publication and best friend for that). Bought a second Nikon d3200. Not the greatest camera ever, but affordable and excellent for shooting 1080p video in addition to stills. Could easily swap between both modes without having to juggle another piece of equipment (also critical for limited carry-on space). Also had a TASCAM audio recorder (mixed success with this) a lapel mic, shotgun mic, a handheld SONY audio recorder running as backup, a strobe, multiple tripods, lots of extra batteries and other equipment I’m probably forgetting about. With all of this stuff I’m a little disappointed by the quality of certain things because I had limited time to setup on the fly, and I’m admittedly a little rusty when it comes to event coverage (it’s been a few years since I last did something like this), but oh well. Portable lighting and a boom mic would’ve been awesome, but I have no idea how I would’ve carried it.
So, I get all of that stuff together, and the weekend prior I start to feel ill. My sinuses, eyes, ears and throat just start killing me. Every day leading up to my flight I’m getting worse. I wind up having to take a sick day from work the Tuesday before. Haven't been able to go to the gym all week. I go to the doctor, they’re convinced it’s something that can be treated with antibiotics and some over-the-counter medication. I start to develop a nasty cough at nighttime, and the Wednesday prior I’m really starting to doubt whether I can make it. Aside from the money invested at this point, I also didn’t want to disappoint the Tremblays and even though I haven’t announced my involvement publicly, I didn’t want this event to disappear for all of you. Going on no sleep for two days, I finalized my last minute things Thursday, and at 7pm started a series of flights and layovers all the way to Houston that lasted until 8am the next morning. My symptoms intensified on the flights. My eyes were so red I could barely see out of them. I raided the airport stores for various things like Visine and other Could/cough remedies, and they helped, but the longest flight from LAX to Dallas almost killed me (I was a coughing mess much to detriment of the passengers, though to be fair, I wasn’t the only one, the entire plane seem to be filled with sick people).
After I arrived in Dallas I ate something and had some coffee, took more meds, and got on the last flight, arriving in Houston. Once there, the WONDERFUL staff at the Holiday Inn let me check in exceptionally early (about 7 hours early) so I could prep. It was about 9:30 am local Houston time at this point, so I didn’t stick around long. Going on two days with no sleep, I loaded up my gear and walked to the convention center (8 blocks). Once I arrived, I checked in with Christian on the phone. At this point, my illness started to become secondary (maybe the meds started to kick-in) as I started the job.