Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

A Visitor

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013 No comments

John was here in Portland for 10 days.  He arrived on Thursday the 14th and left on Sunday the 24th.  He told me he wanted to come here for his 30th birthday (the 21st) about 5 or 6 months ago and we’ve both been looking forward to it since.  We had a blast!  I wanted to write as much down as I could recall to help remember the trip.

Thursday – John’s flight was scheduled to arrive late Thursday night, shortly before midnight.  I saw online that it would be arriving a little late.  At some point, I stopped my car while I waited.  Some security lady told me that I couldn’t stay there and I had to circle around.  When I tried to start my car, it wouldn’t start.  I waited for John to arrive and then went to get help.  The airport sent someone to jump my car and we were on our way.  It was a great way to start John’s trip.

Friday – John went out and explored the city while I was at work.  My company had a party celebrating the opening of our new office here in Portland.  After John and I went to get my battery replaced, we chilled at my apartment that night.

Saturday – We got up and drove to Vancouver, British Columbia.  It was my first time leaving the country and John’s first time in Canada.  The hotel was pretty cool.  We went out to some clubs that night.

Sunday- We went to Granville Island and had lunch with my married friends Michaela and Dave.  After that John and I drove to Cleveland Damn and went on a short hike before it started to get too dark. We decided to go ziplining the next day in Whistler. We were exhausted after that, so we went to bed early.

Monday – We drove up to the mountains to Whistler.  I believe they had some winter Olympic events there in 2010.  The zipline tour on Cougar Mountain was so much fun. We got quite a bit of snow. We spent the night at Michaela and Dave’s in Richmond.  We had a steak dinner and some great beer.

Cougar Mountain, Whistler

Tuesday – We made our way back to Portland.  We stopped in Steveston Village, which is where they film Once Upon a Time.  It was cool seeing some of places where they film the show.  When we got back to my apartment we watched the latest 2 episodes.


Wednesday – I went to work and John did some more exploring.  Later John went to dinner with Breck and Mickey, two people that we knew back in Mississippi but have recently moved to Portland, unbeknownst to me.  After that John and I went shopping at Powell’s and Buffalo Exchange before heading home.

Thursday – This was John’s 30th birthday.  I got him a cake and an hour-long massage.  That night we went out to dinner at a pub and we went out to a club.

Friday – We had lunch at Little Big Burger.  They have delicious fries.  We drove to Tillamook near the coast for a wine and cheese tasting.  I discovered some great wines we both brought back something with us.  I don’t remember what we did that night.

Blue Heron French Cheese Company

Saturday – We went to the first ever Portland Comic Con.  We had 3-day passes, but I think we did everything we needed to in that one day.  We got to get Morena Baccarin’s autograph and see a bunch of stars.  That night we went to see Skyfall ant Baghdad Theater with Breck and Mikey.

Portland Comic Con 2013 crowd

Portland Comic Con 2013 - Morena Baccarin's autograph

Sunday – That morning it was time for John to go back to Mississippi.  I always hate parting from friends after having a good time. After he left, I cleaned a little, took a long nap, did some grocery shopping, and watched the Oscars.

I was glad that John got to visit.  I was worn out after being on the go for 10 days straight, but it was worth it.  I hope he’ll be here again soon.  I think he liked Portland and the Northwest enough that he wouldn’t mind living here.

PAX 2012

Monday, September 3rd, 2012 No comments

This weekend I went to PAX for the first time. PAX is the Penny Arcade Expo, and it’s a convention devoted to nothing but gaming. I guess I didn’t know what I was getting into because I don’t hear as many people talk about it as San Diego Comic-Con. I figured I would have a good time, but it was many times better than I thought it would be.

I drove to Seattle Thursday night after working at home for the day. I didn’t know that anybody I knew was going until the week of the con, so I had already found roommates on the hotel share thread on the PAX forums. This was a mistake. I should’ve just ponied up the money to get a room by myself. The guy who booked the room asked for my share of the money soon after I responded to his post because he was short on money. When I got to the hotel, we didn’t have a room because his card got declined. He said that he was getting a direct deposit around midnight from his job and we would have a room then. He was there with his online gaming group. They were split into 3 rooms. Our room had 5 people and the other two rooms had 4 each. These people were freaking weirdos, and that’s coming from me. I hope they don’t see this. They even admitted that they were strange and apologized for how strange they were. The guys in my room were okay, but the others in their extended group were out there. I left my stuff in one of the other rooms and we went to a bar while we waited to get our room. As I expected, his money wasn’t available at midnight. He asked me if I had a credit card that I could that I could use and he would forward me the money later. I said something vague like “I can’t do it”, but the truth was I just didn’t want to. I thought about getting my own room somewhere nearby. I guess he found someone else willing to use their card. We finally got into our room around 1AM. One guy snored so loudly that it was hard to sleep. I think I got about 2 hours of sleep that night. At least somebody called him out on that. Not that it did any good.

The next day I got up to go the convention center. I had an idea of which panels I wanted to see, but I didn’t know what else I would end up doing. My roommates had talked about getting up early to get in line to play games, but I didn’t really know what they were talking about and I wasn’t really interested. When I got to the lobby, I asked the front desk to call me a cab. I saw some guys in Telltale Games shirts outside and they got in the first cab that came. It turns out that was supposed to be my cab. They invited me to share the cab with them and they paid for it. Neat, huh? When I got to the convention center, I just followed the flow of people. I ended up in the line for the Exhibition Hall where you can view and play games and see other stuff. While we waited in line here and everywhere else, the staff gave us stuff to do and entertained us. Comic-Con could learn something from this. I decided I wasn’t going to try to play any games because I didn’t want to wait a long time to play a demo I could play in a few months. Mostly, I walked around and watched other people play. I heard the wait to play Borderlands 2 was around 8 hours. I focused a lot on the cosplayers and props/decorations. I did see one of the Telltale guys I shared a cab with at the Telltale booth. The whole weekend I played maybe 2 or 3 games, but I did get cards with codes for games. I didn’t get much schwag other than this. There was so much to see. I tried to at least walk past every table. I spotted some guest stars from Supernatural at one point. Between visits to the Exhibition Hall I went to a couple of panels, like the Destructoid Live panel. I went to a party that night and had a great time.



Rob Benedict and Richard Speight, Jr


The second day wasn’t as interesting because I had seen the Exhibition Hall. I went to the Major Nelson Live panel. There was stuff going on all over the convention center. Even though I had seen much of it the previous day, I was still discovering a lot of things. I found a dark arcade (the way it should be) and I played some board games. I really want to get into board and card games now. People were playing them in dedicated rooms and on the floor while in line. I bought 1 game at the convention and I’ve bought another 1 since I got back. I ended up going to a Harmonix panel late that because I wanted to sit down for a while and I didn’t want to go back to my room yet. It ended up being the best panel I saw the entire weekend. Right when I was about to leave the convention center for the day, I stumbled across the console freeplay room where they had tons of consoles setup and you could checkout games to play. I wish I had known about this sooner, because I would’ve spent a lot of time here.



I decided to come home Sunday instead of Monday morning. I had seen everything I needed to see and I wanted to give myself more time to recuperate. Also, I didn’t want to spend another night in that room. I was thinking about going to a popular museum in Seattle, but I’ll have to do that next time.

I had a great time at PAX. It’s a lot more relaxed that Comic-Con. I did learn a few lessons. Never go in blind on the roommate situation. That threatened to put a damper on the weekend and I’m glad it didn’t. Also, I shouldn’t go to cons alone. It’s a lot less awkward when you know someone there and have someone to hang with. I either need to make more friends who like to go to these things or convince more of my current friends to go. Lastly, this isn’t really a lesson, but I need to dress up for a con one time. I think it would be a lot of fun. I’m glad that I’m fortunate enough to be able to go on these little adventures. I’m looking forward to the next one.

San Diego Comic-Con 2011

Saturday, July 30th, 2011 No comments

My first Comic-Con was a blast. I had so much fun. I got to meet people in person that I had only known online before, go to plenty of panels, see some celebrities up close, and do a little partying at night. It’s definitely something I intend to do again one day.

View from Manchester Hyatt

I did a lot of reading before the event on what to expect. Yes, I had all the supplies that I needed and I was expecting plenty of waiting and little sleeping. Even so, Comic-Con is something you have to experience for yourself before you can fully understand what it’s like. I was overwhelmed at times by all the people, the walking, the long lines, and trying to get so much done in so little time. It was a little stressful. I don’t mind big crowds. I kind of like being in a large crowd of people. However, I got frustrated sometimes when I had to walk 10-20 minutes in the wrong direction while carrying a backpack and a bag of swag just to find the end of the line. Then I had to go in the right direction for however long until I got to where I was going. I got so much exercise that I didn’t feel bad about missing gym time. I was back for 5 days before the soreness went away. Oh well, I guess that’s what you have to do at Comic-Con. I heard regular attendees say that some things were worse this year than previous years as far as lines and registration are concerned, so I wasn’t the only one feeling frustrated. I have a feeling that the system will be tinkered with like they do every year, so some of my frustrations will go away.

I spent the most time at Comic-Con sitting in panels. Some I really wanted to see. Some I was sitting through just to see ones that came later. The ones I was most interested in were in Ballroom 20, the second biggest room at the convention. Once I got in there, I just stayed until the last one I wanted to see that day was over. My favorite ones were the Game of Thrones and Fringe panels. I was most excited about those beforehand and they’re the only ones I HAD to see. I ended up enjoying 2 panels that I sat through to see later panels so much that I’ve decided to start watching those shows myself. Those are Psych and Futurama. People have been telling me about both of those shows for a while, but I’m finally going to take the plunge. I like that I got lots of swag from the panels that I attended, even if I had to go to a different place to claim it. What I liked most about the panels were being that close to the casts while they joked and answer questions and seeing whatever footage they aired.

One day when I didn’t feel like waiting in line for Ballroom 20 and camping out in there all day, I went to a random panel taking place in one of the smaller rooms. It was a Star Wars comic book panel. The panel was boring, but it was crashed by Seth Green, which made it cool. Before a Locke& Key screening that night, I saw a panel on Reign of the Dinosaurs, which will premiere on Discovery in September. They showed a few clips and it looked good. I’ve never seen a dinosaur get high on mushrooms before. Werner Herzog is involved with it somehow and he made a surprise appearance. Back to Locke & Key. It was so good! It’s a shame that Fox decided not to move forward with it. Hopefully, it’ll get a lot of buzz coming out of Comic-Con and another network will pick it up.

When I wasn’t in line or in panels, I spent a lot of time on the Exhibition Floor. I had heard that it would be chaos and it was. Once you get on the floor you really just have to keep moving. There was so much to see and so many people. It took a very long time to get from one end to another. This was a good place for random encounters with celebrities. I saw Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, etc) and Robert Kirkman (author of The Walking Dead) signing autographs. I walked past Brian Tong from CNET. One time I wasn’t paying attention and almost ran into Stan Lee while he was talking to several people. Unfortunately, my camera didn’t work when I tried to snap a picture and he was quickly taken away when he finished his conversation. I got so much swag from the floor and from the panels that I had to ship it back before I left. There’s no way I could’ve gotten it all in my luggage.

I didn’t get a lot of autographs. For limited autograph sessions with bigger stars and the casts of TV shows, they had a lottery system. You had to wait in line for the lottery and if you won then you could get an autograph. I didn’t want to spend a long time in line for a chance at getting an autograph. The one time I didn’t decide to get in line, they capped the line ahead of me as soon as reached the end of the line. There were times when I’d hear about impromptu autograph sessions on the Exhibition Floor that I would’ve loved to have attended, but I was either already in line somewhere else or somewhere else not even close to the floor. The easiest autographs to get were from people who were set up next to the registration area. I didn’t want to pay to meet all of those people. I did get one from Steve Blum, who does the voice of Wolverine in the X-Men cartoons and video games. I could’ve met people from Buffy and Angel, Richard Hatch from Battlestar Galactica, and Virgil from the WWF/WCW, but I decided against it.

Me and Steve Blum

Other than at the panels and at the autograph area, I didn’t have a lot of celebrity sightings. When I was talking to a friend while wondering around the convention center, he spotted Joe Hill. Joe Hill is the author of the Locke & Key comics and Stephen King’s son. Cool!

I got to do a few things outside of the Con. Not long after I got off the plane a group of us went to Ocean Beach. I had never seen the Pacific Ocean before and hadn’t been to a beach in over 8 years. It was fun. The water was COLD! Thursday night I went to the live Revision 3 show at the House of Blues. A DJ, Mike Relm, had an entertaining performance. Then there was a recording of Epic Meal Time. Those guys are too intense for me. The show ended with a live Diggnation, in which Tony Hawk was a surprise guest. I watched the video and I saw myself once. I could be in there more. It was a great experience. One day I went to eat at Café Diem, which Syfy does every year. They take over a restaurant, name it Café Diem, and serve food named after characters from their shows. On my last night, I saw Nerdist Live at 4th and B with special guest Matt Smith and Karen Gillan from Doctor Who. Wil Wheaton was also a surprise guest. This was a blast! Great for any Doctor Who fan. It even made me like Wil Wheaton again. We got to see standup and songs that aren’t included in the podcast. Smith and Gillan handed out TARDIS burritos after it was over, but they had left by the time I got to the front.

Nerdist Live

One of my favorite memories of the Con was when I went to visit 2 friends, Matt and Meg, at the Suvudu booth on the Exhibition Floor. They are a married couple who live in Brandon, MS. I keep meaning to go down and visit them, but I don’t get out of Starkville much. I met Meg once when I was down there, but I had never met Matt in person. I promised them that I would see them in San Diego. The first time I went, Matt was at the booth, but Meg was gone. The next day I returned just as they were setting up to do an interview with George R.R. Martin and Christopher Paolini. Matt conducted the interview. I didn’t know who Paolini was. Meg explained to me that he’s the guy that wrote Eragon. Of course I knew who Martin was. He’s the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, a book series that I am a major fan of. The HBO show Game of Thrones is based on this series. The name “longklaw” that I use online comes from this series. It was so cool being that close to him. I was definitely star struck. He walked right past me at one point. Before the interview he saw me standing there and I got to wave and say “Hi”. I listened to the entire interview while they recoreded it. It should be showing up on if it’s not there already. After the interview was over, some fan pushed forward and started talking to him. I knew he had somewhere to be, so I didn’t want to wait to try to have a word with him next. Maybe next time I’ll get to geek out and tell him how much of a fan I am. Next time.

Matt preparing to interview George R.R. Martin and Christopher Paolini

My biggest regret is that I didn’t spend as much time hanging out with people after dark either at the hotel or at places as I wanted to. Because of other plans I made in advance of the convention (Diggnation, Nerdist, etc.) and needing to sleep because of the day’s activities or in preparation for the next day’s activities, I went days without seeing people that I had planned to spend to time with. Some people I didn’t get to see at all. I wasn’t able to keep my phone charged during the day, so it was hard to communicate. Also, I wish that I had taken more pictures of people in costumes.


I had a great time at Comic-Con this year. Next time I want to hang out more with friends and go to events that aren’t officially part of the Con. The Nerd HQ stuff would’ve been a lot of fun and I saw some video game stuff that I didn’t get a chance to check out. Also, I would probably go to more of the smaller panels. Oh, I would bring more batteries too. That being said, this trip was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. It was exhausting, but well worth it. I’m glad I didn’t come down with the con crud/nerd flu like a lot of people I know did. I took Halls Defense for 2 weeks leading up to the con, all during the con, and for a few days after I returned home. I’ll be repeating that next time. If I don’t go back to Comic-Con next year, I definitely want to go the year after that. Maybe I’ll even dress up. As much fun as I had, it’s good to be back home with Reese.

You can find my photo album on Flickr or on Facebook or Google+ if you’re friends with me on either of those.

Comic-Con is Coming

Monday, July 18th, 2011 No comments

San Diego Comic-Con starts Thursday. I’ve wanted to go for years, so I’m glad to finally get to go. I’m excited. I’m at the point where I’m panicking a little because it’s so close and I’m not ready. Everything should be okay by the end of the day.

I’m spending Tuesday night hanging out with John in Jackson. I’m heading to the airport and leaving early Wednesday morning and I’m getting back late Sunday night. I’m looking forward to spending some time at the beach, attending the con during the day, and going out at night. I hope to meet many people that I’ve met online, but have never met in person. It sucks that a lot of people who have gone previous years aren’t going this year. Oh well. There’s always next year.

I’ll try to remember to take lots of pictures. I’ll mostly be using a point-and-shoot camera, so I won’t be able to post the pictures right away. Eventually, all of them will end up on Facebook, Google+, and maybe Flickr.

Austin Again

Friday, May 27th, 2011 No comments

I made a quick, stealthy trip to Austin a couple of weeks ago. A small video game company flew me out there to interview with them. My boss knew about it, but I didn’t tell many other people about. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I’m flattered that they paid for me come out there. I don’t think I’m going to get the job, but it was great being back in Austin again, even if it was only 15 hours. Strangely enough it was 1 year ago that weekend that I made my first trip to Austin to see Conan O’Brien. I’m pretty sure that city is going to be my next home. It’s just a matter of when.

Side Note: It was my first flight in over 11 years. I went from Jackson to Chicago to Austin. The trip back was Austin to Houston to Jackson. This all took place over about 30 hours. I was so tired of flying once it was all over.

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Austin, TX

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 No comments

This past weekend was a 4-day weekend and I took a trip to Austin to see Conan O’Brien and enjoy the city. It was a long drive, but I like long drives sometimes. Austin is now the farthest west I’ve even been in the United States.

Because of the weather and the lack of time I didn’t get to do as many touristy things as I wanted to. I mostly tried to go to restaurants and stores that I wouldn’t be able to go to in Starkville. I ate some very good food and spent way too much money shopping. I enjoyed driving around and getting a feel for the city. Thanks to my iPhone I never got lost. I love my iPhone! I saw lots of cool sites and attractive people. Austin has a very nice, very diverse population.

Conan O’Brien’s show was hilarious. His opening act was Reggie Watts, who I’m pretty sure walked past me on the street before the show. He’s freaking hysterical. Conan’s act was a combination of standup, songs, and skits from his TV show. Once again, freaking hysterical. His special guest for the night was a musician from Austin named Charlie Sexton that I had never heard of. At one point during the show, I laughed out loud so hard and so suddenly that I got this very sharp pain in my side. I couldn’t move for a few minutes. I thought I had literally busted a gut. That spot was hurting me for a few days. It would be just my luck to injure myself at a comedy show. This show was definitely worth it. Can’t wait to see Conan on TBS later this year.

Overall, I had a great time in Austin. I wish I could have stayed longer. It’s a great city and I’m sure I’ll want to go back one day. I’ll probably be traveling by plane that time. I kept forgetting to take my good camera with me, so all I have are a few crappy pics from Conan’s show taken with my iPhone. I put them on my Facebook page.