Friday, September 7, 2012

Bears and Mooses and Jensen, OH MY! Supernatural VanCon 2012 - Part 1

“Supernatural” Immersion!

So this was my first VanCon. I’ve done a couple of LACons, a Chicago Con, and a couple of Aussie cons, but I’d never made the pilgrimage to where it all happens. I use the word pilgrimage because that’s what it was like for me…a journey to worship at the shrine of everything “Supernatural”!

It’s a 14-hour flight from Australia to Vancouver, and on this particular flight there were 8 “Supernatural” fans… 7 Aussies and 1 Kiwi… all heading towards the thing they love most! It was a pure coincidence that we all ended up on the same flight! As usual, I was travelling with my convention cohort Hazel. We’d booked our first lot of accommodation not at the convention hotel, because that’s kind of expensive, but a hotel that seemed to be close so we wouldn’t have far to travel when we moved to the Sheraton for VanCon. This was us in the taxi driving up Burrard Street…. “Hey, oh wow! There’s the Sheraton!!! Yay! Wait….why are we pulling in across the road? Wait…. WE ARE ACROSS THE ROAD?!” Yes, unknowingly, we booked the hotel directly across the road! The other exciting thing about this accidental hotel bookage was our room looked directly over the “Houses Of The Holy” church….right onto the steps where Sam and Dean stood. The “Supernatural” experience had well and truly kicked off!

The thing about being in Vancouver is you’re on high alert, constantly on high alert. The boys live here, the crew lives here, the show shoots here…everywhere you look is a past location, everywhere you look you’re hoping to see someone or something to do with the show. The other thing is, being convention week, there are fans everywhere…and that’s one of the best bits of the whole thing, catching up with other fans.

On our 1st day, we had our first “Supernatural” experience; we ate at the Guanaco Food Truck. Yum! Did you know there’s an iPhone app that tells you where all the food trucks around Vancouver are situated at any given time? We actually just came across the Guanaco Truck. We knew that they were often on the corner of Seymour and Robson, so we happened to be in that area and saw it. Like I said, yum! We sat on the steps of one of the University’s campuses and scoffed it while watching this huge Pickle mascot resting on a seat, trying to keep out of the sun. It was hot! Not something you see everyday…a big pickle, just hanging out! That night we caught up with fellow Aussie fan, Amy (different Amy to me, obviously) and had a few drinks and chatted about the coming weekend and how excited we all were!

Guanaco food!

On our 2nd day, Hazel and I got some new tatts. Yes, we always get new tatts to mark each convention. This time around we both got 2, but one of them is secret squirrel….a girl’s gotta have some secrets! My main one, though, is definitely "Supernatural inspired." It was designed by my friend Stars, a fellow fan who for the last couple of years has co-hosted the Crossroads Podcast. So, not only is it special because it represents my love of the show, but it also represents the fandom and was created by a pal and fellow fangirl…special all around! That night, we caught up with more Aussie fans, Shelley and Scott. I’d met Shelley and Scott in May at All Hell Breaks Loose 3, but this was their first Creation con.

New Tattoo

On our 3rd day, we’d arranged to have dinner with another couple of Aussie fans and friends, Kim and Amanda, at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Gastown. We headed into Gastown early to check out the sights and grab some lunch at The Steamworks…where we ran into Shelley again! Then when we left The Steamworks, we walked straight into Kim! Ok… I need to say that Vancouver is a big city, so this was all kind of weird! Anyway, the three of us then spent the afternoon checking out the area before meeting up with Amanda for dinner. Now, you need to know something about Amanda; this was her fourth VanCon and she is the fount of all things "Supernatural" locations! I’m pretty damn good on the show, the mythology, the titles and even the actors, but Amanda knows where everything was shot! Everything! She’s put together the most amazing catalogue of locations, maps and images…. We now call her Encyclopaedia Amandica!

On our 4th day, we had a special set visit to “Arrow”. I’m a promo producer, well, head of a promo team, in Australia, and the network I work for will be showing "Arrow" later this year, so they teed up a set visit for me via Warner Brothers. Yes, I did try for “Supernatural,” but the set was closed to visits during the dates I’m in Vancouver…I can only assume because of VanCon. Anyway, Hazel and I spent about 4.5 hours out at the “Arrow” studios, getting a guided tour of some of the 8 standing sets, and watching Stephen Amell shoot various scenes. We also got introduced to Stephen and had a great chat to him. He’s a lovely guy and very, very pretty! He’s also super excited about the show, as were all of the crew I managed to speak with. They were a lovely bunch…but then, TV people generally are. It was a fantastic day…and I’d tell you more about it, but I’m not allowed! Sorry…. Afterwards we met up with a whole lot of fellow fans, some old friends and some new friends, for dinner and drinks at a the Fountainhead pub the location of the “No, I'm Mulder. You're a red-headed woman” scene from “The Usual Suspects”.

On our 5th day, we took a Supernatural road trip! ROAD TRIP! Hazel, me, Shelley and Scott all hired a car and Kim and Amanda had Kim’s hire car and we formed a convoy to head to Whistler….via some locations! First stop was just out of Squamish at the mine that featured in the season 3 "X-Files" episode “Paper Clip”…we’re "X-Files" fans too, but most importantly….this is also the location which has the General Store from “Wishful Thinking”. We got to see the bridge that the boys walk over, where the suicidal, girl-drink-drunk teddy smashed through the rear entrance of the store and the store itself, where the boys sat outside and pondered what on earth has huge feet, drinks girly booze and likes porn? We went in the store too, where the owner was pretty blasé about us taking photos of his booze shelf!

“Wishful Thinking”

Next stop was Squamish proper, with more “Wishful Thinking” locations. The martial arts gym that doubled as the Chinese restaurant, the pier where Sam and Dean identified themselves as FBI agents, the path where Dean yelled out “Run, Forrest, run” and the steps where Dean lamented over not being able to save naked chicks! Yes…I did sit on the step and have my photo taken. Then it was off to Whistler….except we got side tracked!

“Wishful Thinking”

So we’re whizzing along the highway, just outside of Squamish, looking at the pretty views. I was driving (wrong side of the car, wrong side of the road!), following Kim, when she suddenly turned off down a side street. At first we were confused, until we saw a filming sign! Kim pulled over and I pulled along side and we looked at each other shrugged and everyone agreed we’d be crazy not to investigate. So we drove…and drove…and drove…and drove… down some back-road in Vancouver…and drove…and drove…then we drove some more! It was a long road! Finally we came across the film crew…which was nothing and no-one we recognised, (mass booooooo) but what we did discover was a fantastic view of a snow-capped mountain with a glacier, very beautiful, and a lovely glacial river. So all was not for naught, we got some pretty photos! Then….finally….we went on to Whistler!

After Whistler, we had one more location stop on the way home, Shannon Falls, where they shot “Wendigo”. There was much joking about disappearing into the woods, not answering if someone yelled for help, did anyone bring the peanut M&Ms, oh, sweetheart, I don’t do shorts…you get the picture. It’s super pretty there but a bit creepy! It was the last part of a brilliant day!


On our 6th day; oh, our 6th day was soooo much fun! It was a great big “Supernatural” Day! Kim picked up me and Hazel and Encyclopaedia Amandica, and we hit the road to spend the day looking at past locations. Encyclopaedia Amandica had her trusty "Supernatural" locations folder and led us on a grand adventure! First stop was the Denny's that doubled as BigGerson's in “Bad Day At Black Rock”.

“Bad Day At Black Rock”

At first we didn't get THE booth, it was free but they said no when we requested it and sat us somewhere else. But when we sneakily ran down to take a quick snap shot at it, the manager succumbed to our fan-girl persuasions and gave in to us! So we sat and had breakfast at Sam and Dean’s booth! I sat in Dean’s seat….of course….my excuse was, I’m the one with the freckles! We went outside and took some goofy photos with Hazel pretending to fall over and me telling her she sucked. We then wandered the area looking at a few different sites, including the hotel where Dean dropped Sam before driving off and killing Amy and the hotel from “Party On, Garth” where Bobby reappears.
After that, it was a visit to the dam and the bridge that featured in “Simon Said”, before heading to “Asylum” and Riverview. It’s open, so you can drive through there, but you aren’t supposed to take photos, not that there are any signs or anything. But when we got to the front of the deserted building we did a super slow drive by and took a few quick snaps and….got busted! Some PA who was part of some tiny crew that we had no interest in, came over and tried to throw her weight around. We weren’t fazed. Don’t mess with "Supernatural" fans, lady, we don’t scare easily! Also…learn some manners! Seriously, she was plain rude and there was no need. Anyhoooo, empty threats of calling security on us and bluster completely ignored, we drove through the rest of the complex that is open to the public before heading out to our next location, Port Moody. On the way into Port Moody, we swung by the location for “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie” Isn’t it awesome? Do you recognise the crazy mascot on the wall that was in the background of some of the scenes?

“Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie”

We checked out the woodchip mill from “Yellow Fever” and the pier from “Wishful Thinking” where Dean tells Sam he remembers Hell. Yes, I sat in the seat….well both seats, as apparently there is a bit of a continuity issue in that scene! We also saw a seal! But he was screwing with us and wouldn’t surface for enough time for us to get a good photo! We then checked out the location of the “Kneel before Todd” scene from “Wishful Thinking” and where Todd sent Dean flying into the garbage bins.

“Yellow Fever”

Next stop was the building from the end of “The Man Who Knew Too Much”. This was a fantastic location. The building is brilliant! It’s an artist’s studio, and when they shot there, they had to remove all the art, as they were worried the heat from the lights would melt the paint. We got bailed up by a couple of huge noisy and harmless dogs, but once they were contained…and after they’d tried to kill us with love… we were able to get some great shots of the location!

“The Man Who Knew Too Much”

After that, it was on to Fort Langley, which is totally location heaven. We checked out the main street which had featured in “Out With The Old” and “Shut Up, Dr Phil” as well as Jared's movie “The Christmas Cottage”. We re-enacted the scene by the river from “Croatoan” and “Hunted” where Dean tells Sam that he might have to kill him. We hung out where Dean confessed his love of “Black Swan”.


“Shut Up, Dr. Phil”

We saw the “99 Problems” pub and went to the church from that episode and were lucky enough to be welcomed inside. They were getting ready for a wedding, but they didn't mind us having a poke around, and we seriously just lucked out because it’s usually all locked up. It’s an absolutely gorgeous old church with a lovely memorial garden, and yes; we slid into the back pew!

“99 Problems”

Then we headed to a block of shops that doubled as the “Croatoan” doctor's office as well as the location from “The Song Remains The Same” where Cass collapses, and the hotel where Dean takes him and gets offered dope!

We then headed home via the 'apple grove' - actually hazelnut trees - from “Scarecrow “ and checked out the neighbour’s house from “Weekend At Bobby’s” and the patch of grass that doubled as Crowley’s gravesite in Scotland. We also saw the dog that comes out to visit Jensen when he’s doing his walk through as part of his director tech check on that episode! Remember? In that little mini-documentary about his first outing as a director?

“Weekend at Bobby’s” The dog is on the back porch!

It was an absolutely fantastic day and so much fun to see where all these episodes were shot and share the experience with fellow fans that understood ALL the references! And let me tell you, there were plenty of references!

Well, that’s the end of part one… part 2 is about how I accidentally got to see Supernatural filming!


Supernatural VanCon 2012 Part 2