|You may have heard me mentioned in a couple of Harks post, but let me introduce myself. I am Harks non-gaming girlfriend who has been known to ask questions that inspire him to discuss certain topics in the blog. Over the past couple of years, I have learnt that the EvE universe exists and have been exposed to much more of the complexities of the game than I could ever possibly need (except perhaps for helping me write this post). So when Hark decided to attend FanFest for the first time this year and asked me to come along, I have to admit my first thought was “do I really want to go hang out with a ton of geeks talking about EvE for 4 days?” But I do love spending time with Hark and his friends and the idea that I could share his first FanFest experience tempted me to go. The deal maker was when he explained there was Sister of EvE (SOE) excursion and that I’d get to go 4x4ing on a glacier. I was in and after the event, I do not regret it. In this article I hope to capture the essence of the SOE excursion for those SOE you may be trying to persuade to come with you to FanFest next year and for those of you just wondering what it was like. It also touches on my thoughts on being a SOE, what is a SOE and my non-gaming impressions of EvE. Enjoy.
I am sure I was not alone in feeling excitement as I reached the Harpa on the SOE day to see a long line of stretch 4×4 cars out front. That pretty much set the scene for the day – excitement and fun.
We embarked in a convoy heading to the South west of Iceland. With a car full of 8 women and 2 men, the radio feed of the guide from the first car was often impossible to hear over the discussions of parents’ desperation for grandchildren, LARPing and penises. One thing that was not mentioned in the conversation was EvE. Luckily for us, our driver acted as a very good guide, as did the only other man in the car (yes there were also about 5 male ‘Sisters’ of EvE on the tour), who had previously lived in Iceland. Our first stop was Thingvellir – UNESCO world heritage site. Here we stood on the edge of the North American tectonic plate and stared across valley to the Eurasian plate. Driving through the valley, the rift was more evident in the cavernous clefts in the lava fields, where whole sections appeared to have just dropped away.
Next stop was Geysir hot spring area. Sadly Geysir, the original geyser that all others were named after, was not erupting; but the nearby geyser Strokkhur was sending up massive gushes of water about every 10 minutes. It must have known we were there, because at one point it erupted twice in a couple of minutes. Many photographs taken (it was amazing how many photography buffs there were on the tour), we retired to the nearby Geysir hotel for a fantastic all you can eat buffer lunch, with roast pork so delicious that I just had to go for seconds. The room was filled with laughter and chatter with even an occasional mention of EvE. Typical of any event with lots of women, there was a queue for the desserts and the loos.
We then headed out towards the glacier. This gave the drivers the chance to go a bit crazy off road, which was exhilarating if a little scary at times: Competing against each other to get to the front of the convoy, our car dived down a rocky slope, accompanied by AC/ DCs Highway to Hell on the radio, darted under a bridge and mounted a bank so steep, I ended up parallel to the ground in the front passengers seat. Once the freestyle rollercoaster race was over, we set out onto what we thought was the glacier, a mass of snow in between snow covered mountains. After we’d been going for a while, the driver informed us that we weren’t even on the glacier yet, this was just a road, demarked by the yellow posts almost buried in the snow. eventually we reached the edge of the actual glacier and could get out and walk around. This was not like the ice and crevice filled glacier I had hiked on during my last trip to Iceland, or if it was, it was covered by at least 2 feet of untouched snow, which extended as far as the eye could see. It felt so peaceful to be in a place of such unspoilt beauty. Everyone seemed to have a smile on their faces, even the ones who ended up on their backsides in the snow. The cars moved forward onto the glacier, so we had to walk to reach them. Not a problem for most of the girls, but I did observe one girl in a pair of stilettoes out there: Well I suppose they would have worked as makeshift crampons. Getting the cars turned around and off the glacier was to prove more challenging than getting on. The drivers were very skilled in getting such big vehicles moving in the snow. Unfortunately for our car however, not quite quickly enough when black smoke started billowing from the engine. The drivers did not show any concern, but set about trying to work out what the problem was to get the car going again. Meanwhile we entertained ourselves by debating if we’d fit in the other cars and who we would eat first if we were stranded. My eyes started to scan the horizon for the Skidoo School we had seen earlier, with visions of pulling a James Bond like move; knocking the driver off and taking the skidoo to safety. Luckily it was not necessary as we shortly got going again and headed to Guilfoss. The dual layer waterfall looked stunning, with a rainbow above it, giving the top of the falls a yellow green hue, that perhaps explains its name, the Golden falls. After a short hold up (as we lost a SOE), we then headed to Fontana spa. I think for many this was the highlight of the day, while for me it was just the perfect finish. First we tasted the rye bread, which we were shown was baked in the ground using the geothermal heat. Then we were let loose in the spa which had multiple warm pools, a jacuzzi and three steam rooms filled directly from hot mud below. It was wonderful to lay in the warm water and look out across the stunning view of the nearby lake, special SOE cocktail in hand.
Finally it was time to head back to the Harpa. The mood in the car was very relaxed and relatively quiet as people reflected on the day. I got the impression from the smiles on all the faces that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day. I definitely did and wouldn’t hesitate to join another SOE excursion in future.
I don’t know what I expected the sisters of EvE to be like prior to this trip. They couldn’t easily be grouped into a stereotype: coming from all over the world, with different careers, opinions of the game and differing relationships to their respective EvE players. There were even SOEs who played EvE themselves or worked for CCP. What surprised me was the abundance of strong confident women. Perhaps it was just that only the stronger personalities were willing to go on a trip like this. But I wonder whether this is because it takes that strength and self-confidence to compete with EvE (which some felt was the other woman in their partner’s life) or that with strength and confidence, a relationship develops the space for the individuals to dedicate themselves to a hobby or interest guilt-free. In my case, I believe the latter is applicable. I was surprised by how many of the EvE players were waiting to see their significant others off and were there to collect them, full of smiles and hugs at the end of the tour, a sign of the softer side of these space warriors. Clearly CCP in organising the SOE excursion understand the contribution / sacrifice we significant others make for the sake of the EvE universe and ensured that throughout the day, we were made to feel very special and have the experience of a lifetime.