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Road Trip to the Painted Hills

Monday, September 11th, 2017 No comments

Last week for vacation week for me. I think it’s been a while since the last time I had an entire week off, not counting last year’s unemployment.

I didn’t really have any plans for my vacation except that I knew I would go to Rose City Comic Con. I was content on playing video games or watching TV the rest of the time. On Thursday of the week before, I reminded Xander that I was going to be off for a week (not surprisingly, he had forgotten) and he suggested that we take a road trip to Crater Lake. The next day I remembered hearing about fires in that part of the state and I went online to discover that the lake wasn’t visible most of the time because of the smoke. So, on Saturday Xander suggested that we should go to the Painted Hills instead. The plan for whatever idea was to leave Monday and return Wednesday since we had to host game night Wednesday. Xander found a cabin near the Painted Hills which was very inexpensive, but didn’t have running water and used a generator for electricity.

We left Monday around 2pm with Reese. I usually leave Reese behind because he can be a handful and having a dog can limit what you can do. We almost took him with us on a trip to the coast a few weeks earlier, but left him behind in the end. My biggest concern on this trip was keeping him cool. He has a lot of fur and doesn’t handle heat well. The owners of the cabin promised us it would be hot. The Airbnb listing for the cabin did promise air conditioning, however.

Early in the trip we we through the Gorge. There was a big forest fire started there a couple of days before by some kid throwing fireworks. It got smokier and smokier the closer we got to the the place where the fire started – the Eagle Creek Trail. Xander, our friend David, and I hiked this trail a little over a year ago. We made a stop in this area because I wanted to get gas. I shouldn’t have been surprised to find out that the gas station was closed. The scene at the gas station was somewhat apocalyptic. We couldn’t see any fire, but we could see enough smoke coming from the trees to know that the fire was close. A flock of birds flew overhead along with helicopters. There were cars pulled over on the side of the road. The sun was red. We let Reese out of car and he seemed very confused. The interstate we took was closed later in the day and it is still closed a week later.
Eagle Creek Fire

The rest of the drive down wasn’t quite as interesting. We listened to podcasts and the radio. At times it seemed like we were the only ones on the road. I guess it’s a benefit of travel on Labor Day. We saw lots of windmills up close. We drove through some really small towns. We were on a lot of winding roads, which I hate. Why couldn’t they just build a straight road there? As we were getting close to the end, we encountered some livestock in the street and some people, along with their dog, trying to herd them. They got all of the cows in the other lane, but I was afraid that if I moved at the wrong time, the cows could charge my car and do some serious damage. Eventually they got all the cows into the grass and we could safely pass.

We drove the last part of the trip in the dark. I don’t like driving in the dark in unfamiliar areas, but oh well. A city with lots of light would have been fine, but it was hard to see at times. We arrived at our destination in Dayville, OR around 9pm. The cabin owners had told us to look for a steep driveway. We didn’t know just how steep. My car could not go up this steep, unpaved driveway. We got out and decided to walk even thought we didn’t know how far it was to the cabin. It was hot outside and going up the steep driveway was hard on me and Reese. When we got up to the top of the first hill, I was winded and we couldn’t see how much farther we had to go. Xander decided to scout on ahead. I was looking for other places we could spend the night on my phone. Even if we made it to the cabin, I figured it would be hard getting all our stuff from the car to the cabin. And walking back and forth for two days would be annoying. Thankfully, a few minutes later a truck came back with Xander and the owner of the cabin. He took us to get our stuff and drove us to the cabin. It would have been a pretty long walk from where we stopped to the cabin. He told us that we were the first ones since they started renting the cabin in December that didn’t make it up the driveway. He left the keys to the truck with us and told us we could use the truck to get back and forth. We never saw either of our hosts again after this because they were working and we were out a lot. The cabin was roomier than I expected and it really cooled down at night. Since we left most of our entertainment in the car, we just hung out for a while and went to bed.

Our hosts lived off the grid. They use a generator and solar panels to provide electrify to their home and the cabin. They had a solar shower outside the cabin and an outhouse as a bathroom. There were also horses in a pen outside the cabin.
cabin

We headed out to the painted hills on Tuesday, which was about an hour away. More long, winding roads. Once we got close to the trailheads, you could see the hills and they were amazing. We didn’t actually spend that long on the trail. Just long enough to walk around a bit and take some photos. All of us were getting really hot. I think it was in the 90s and the time and it was supposed to get up to 106 later in the day.
Painted Hills

Once we left we went back to Dayville, we went in search of a watering hole. Xander had it in his mind that he wanted to teach Reese to swim, but we couldn’t convince Reese to get in the water. Xander got in a little and I put my feet in the water.

After this we decided to drive to the nearby town of John Day. It’s still a mystery who John Day is.  I promised I would prepare a powerpoint presentation on him one day after we got back. We drove around the city a little, got some pizza, and headed back to a picnic area we found along the way. After eating, we took a walk around and came to stream with some deer in it. Reese went down to the water and took a drink, but still wouldn’t get in.  We stopped to take some photographs on the way back.
cows

The cabin was still hot when we got back so we hung out outside for a while before we went outside. We couldn’t get the air conditioner to work. We had a Magic the Gathering tournament. Late in the night we watched a movie called “The Road to Galveston” on a VHS cassette that was in the cabin.

We got up pretty early to drive back home the next day. Much of the drive was smokey and we couldn’t see too far in the distance. We drove through areas that looked like it had been affected by fires in previous years. It’s sad to think that so much of the state is burning.  The drive seemed to go on forever. We made it back around 2pm on Wednesday. There was some ash in the air, which I had seen people posting about while we were out of town.

A couple of hours later, Xander and I hosted game night at the Q Center. I was so out of it. I played a couple of games and spent the rest of the night on the bench outside talking to people who were taking breaks. Lately, we’ve had this tradition of going for drinks after game night, but I was too tired. We went home.

On Thursday, I did a lot of cleaning. The rest of my vacation was devoted Rose City Comic Con, which I will talk about later

I’m glad that I got to go on a road trip with such a great friend and my dog. They were great company and we had very few problems. I wonder what the next adventure will be.

Twin Peaks Festival 2015

Monday, November 30th, 2015 No comments

I’m going to catch up on blogging about some of the events I participated in this year.

Back in July I returned to the Twin Peaks Festival. It was my second year. I didn’t think I would go back after last year, but after news broke that Showtime was bringing the series back, I decided I wanted to go back. Matt H and Mel were coming back, but also coming were Caitlin (from The Twin Peaks Podcast and Intro to Brisco) and Matt A (from Hooplecast and a frequent contributor to several podcasts that I listen to). We all rented a cabin together about in Snoqualmie Pass, which is 20 minutes away from where most of the festival activities were.

Since it’s been so long, I can’t remember the day to day that well. I got there the morning the festival started. I intended to get there the night before, but I had to stay to get some work done. They posted a video of the cabin on Facebook the night before, so I at least got to see it. When I got there the trivia contest was about to start. Matt H participated in it and did pretty well.

I remember going on a a hike to see Ronette’s Bridge. We climbed over a fence to get a good view because the way we came was closed. On the way back I hurt my knee a little bit on the landing. It took a day or two for it to feel better. I also poked a hole in the top of one of my shoes. I still haven’t replaced these shoes yet. We met some people on the bridge. One is from Portland. I may be having a transplant dinner with her and her friends on Christmas Eve.

I remember the bus tour, which was fun, but pretty much the same as the year before.

I remember eating at Twede’s and seeing Kimmy Robertson at a nearby table.

I remember the celebrity dinner, where I got to meet and get pictures with a few cast members, including Ian Buchanan and Catherine Coulson. Unfortunately, Catherine Coulson passed away from cancer a couple of months later. She seemed fine that night. The dinner went really late, so we didn’t stay for the costume contest or the dance.

I remember drinking with some new friends: Gary, Stephanie, and Michael. Stephanie and Michael knew each other. Gary went with us as we toured some of the sites and all 3 came back to our cabin to play board games with us one night.

I remember the picnic, where we got rained on a good portion of the time. We got a walking tour of a few more sites afterward.

I remember my car not starting when we were supposed to go the last official event of the festival. It was a long drive and I was bummed out about my car. We got to see more shooting locations.

When we got back my car still wouldn’t start, and I had to have it towed to a nearby city early the next day. It cost a lot to get it fixed. I had to miss out on the rafting trip we had all planned to go on. It took 8 hours for them to finish with my car because they were backed up. I spent time exploring the city I was in. I can’t even remember the name of it now. I arrived back in Portland after dark. That whole ordeal put a damper on the end of the trip and my car hasn’t quite been the same since.

I’m glad I went back to the Twin Peaks festival. It was good seeing friends I made the previous year and making new friends. David had been in North Bend a week or two before the festival and I believe filming started on Season 3 shortly after the festival ended. Maybe I’ll go back in a few years, but I don’t see myself going back next year.

Back to the Homeland

Friday, June 26th, 2015 No comments

Three weeks ago, I was in my home state of Mississippi. I hadn’t been in Mississippi since December 2012, about 2.5 years earlier. It was past time.

I was there from June 3-7. I had planned on going to Mississippi for Super Bulldog Weekend in April. However, a high school classmate of mine passed away in January and a group of students decided to have a multi-year class reunion to commemorate those who we have lost. The span of years represented kept growing as time went on. In the end I think 11 years were represented.

I stayed with my friend John and his partner while I was there. I arrived on Wednesday night after a decent amount of time traveling. I didn’t have to leave early in the morning this time, which was good. Once I got to John’s we went to bed shortly afterward.

On Thursday, I met John and one of his co-workers for lunch. Afterwards, I drove around the Jackson area for a while. I drove past my old high school, went by my mom’s house (she’s in Georgia now), and went to my favorite Dairy Queen for some ice cream. I was a little disappointed not to see my favorite DQ employee who worked there for so longm even after I moved away. After ice cream, I went shopping. I got some Target clearance cloths, one of which was a shirt that I wore to the reunion. I also used a Best Buy gift card to buy a video game named Catherine for John. When John got off work, we went to his gym to go the one of the classes there. I think later that night we played that video game and watched Buffy. Buffy might have been the next night.

On Friday, John had to get his car fixed. We got some breakfast, but John slept a good bit of the day and I did some more sight-seeing. That night we went to a comedy show in Jackson. There were a lot of racist, homophobic jokes, which is okay if you’re funny. These guys weren’t that funny. We played the video game some more that night.

I don’t remember what happened during the day Saturday, but that night John and his partner went to see Mad Max while I went to my reunion. I had a great time at the reunion. It was more fun than I expected. It was great seeing people that I hadn’t seen in 18 years, though I keep up with some through Facebook. Some people have changed a lot, some not so much at all. A lot of people told me I looked exactly the same. Once I left, I went back to John’s for breakfast at dinner. We played that game until 7 am the next morning. We almost beat it. I just wanted to get some sleep before my flight.

I think I got about 3-4 hours of sleep before I left for the airport. I said my goodbyes to John and was off. After I left I got a text saying my flight was delayed an hour, so I could’ve gotten more sleep if I had known sooner. After a layover in Charlotte, I arrived home that night after a long flight.

The trip to Jackson was short, but great. I came back 4.4 lbs heavier. Ouch. The following week in the gym was rough. I hope it’s not as long before I’m in my home state again.

Raleigh 2015

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 No comments

Jay and Jack

This past weekend I went to Raleigh, NC, for Jay & Jack’s annual charity podcast for Autism Speaks.  I was supposed to go last year, but backed out because of so many things happening all at once.  There was a point where I thought I might have to do it again this year, but I was determined to go and thankfully was able to.

In my head I thought that my flight left at 6 am on Friday morning.  The night before after I got in bed around 10 pm, I checked my itinerary just to be sure and I learned that it actually left at 5:15 am.  The last few times I had early morning flights I didn’t get up soon enough, so I barely made it there in time. I got up at 2am after sleeping a little under 4 hours.  I got there in plenty of time.  There was no line at security even though there is usually a decent line for 6am flights.  The flight there was long, but I had TV and books to pass the time.  Dan picked me up from the airport along with a few others we went to a restaurant and met up with the others.  Most of the people I had met before at SDCC 2011 or had contact with them online.  I did meet some new people though.  After dinner we walked over to an ice cream place.  When we were stuffed we went back to our hotel and played a card game before going to bed.  I was rooming with Jon this weekend.  I roomed with him at SDCC 2011.  I didn’t get to see him much back then, so I was glad to be able to hang out with him this weekend.

I slept about 10 hours that night.   I missed a chance for an early morning run that some of the group went on.  Hopefully, they’ll keep that tradition alive next year.  By the time I got up, it was time to go bowling.  I like to bowl even though I’m not good at it.  I got to meet Dale for the first time at the bowling alley.  After bowling, we went shopping for snacks and headed to the ice plex for the 12 hour charity podcast.  I’ve listened to bits and pieces of the podcast every year since I’ve known about, but I don’t think I’ve never listened to the entire thing. It was a lot of fun.  The guests were entertaining and we kept ourselves entertained.  I guess I did miss a little bit when everybody started skating.  I didn’t actually skate myself.  Maybe next year. We went to bed around 4 am.

On Sunday, I got some breakfast with a few people and we went to Jay and Colleen’s for a barbecue after doing some grocery shopping beforehand.  There was so much beer and food and it was so good!  It was nice We played Cards Against Humanity and watched the season premiere of Game of Thrones. It was nice getting to hang out with the group one last time.  We had a short after-party at the hotel later.

Monday morning a small group of us had breakfast and the hills drove Vicki and myself to the airport.  My plane didn’t leave until that afternoon, so I had a long wait.  I watched TV and got caught up on emails.  After a long time in the air I arrived back in Portland late Monday night.

I had an awesome time in Raleigh, meeting new people and seeing people I hadn’t seen in years.Going into it, I thought it would be at least a couple of years before I went back.  Now I know that I’m going to try my best to go back next year.

Thanksgiving 2014

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 No comments

This past week was Thanksgiving.  After Hawaii I had said that I wouldn’t use any more vacation days this year, but I decided to take Wednesday off so I would have a 5-day break.  I was happy that for the 2nd year in a row I got to have a Thanksgiving meal.  While we were camping in September, Alston and his girlfriend Stephanie asked me if I wanted to join them for Thanksgiving.  That was the last mention of it until the week before when I asked Alston if it was still on. Alston said that everybody else had backed out, but I was still welcome to come.

I looked online and got an idea for something healthy to cook: roasted Brussel sprouts.  I also made a sweet potato pie.  When I got to their place they had snacks ready while the other food was being prepared.  They made turkey, stuffing, corn bread, mashed potatoes and cranberry relish.  It was a delicious meal.  I wasn’t so keen on the Brussel sprouts, but I just didn’t like the taste.  We all ate so much.  It had trouble standing up straight for very long after the meal.  We ended up going for a walk afterwards.  According to the scale I put on 3 lbs that day.

I took my PS3 over there.  While we waited for the turkey to finish and after we ate, we played video games.  I had never played most of the games we played and I owned them.  I ended up letting Alston borrow my PS3 a few days later.

It was great spending Thanksgiving with friends since I couldn’t be with family.  Hopefully, I can keep the streak alive next year.

Hawaii Part 2: The Rest

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 No comments

The second part of my trip was better in some ways and worse in others.  After LOST 2014, I didn’t have a schedule of activities, which left me free to do whatever I wanted.  However, I was alone most of time and there were occasions when I had time to kill, but not really anything I could do.  Not having a car hampered me a little, because I couldn’t go to some places by bus before they closed.

On Tuesday, I did a lot of walking around to explore Honolulu.  I was still getting used to the bus system at this point.  Once I got on the something like the 9 bus, but it turned out to be the 9S bus, which went to a completely different place.  Each bus said the areas it was stopping by, so maybe if I knew the area better I wouldn’t have as many problems.  I only wasted a little money though.  I got to see the Christian academy where the last scene of LOST was filmed. I think other scenes were filmed there as well. I went to see another movie this night.  It was The Giver, which was much better than I thought it would be.  It seems like a lot of people don’t like to go see movies while on vacation, but I do.
Sacred Hearts Academy

On Wednesday, I went to Diamondhead and hiked all the way to the top.  I was so tired and sweaty by the time I got to the top. Afterwards, I took another trip to Waikiki Beach.  I had wanted to go to a non-touristy beach, but this one was more convenient.  I got dinner at a cheeseburger place.  I went to see another movie, A Walk Through the Tombstones.  It wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be, but it was still solid.
View of Waikiki from Diamondhead

On Thursday, we found out that Bonnie Craft passed away.  Bonnie is a big time LOST fan.  I never met her in person. She was one of the LOST fans who friended me on social media leading up to LOST 2014.  I exchanged a few messages with her on Facebook.  I think she was the one behind the thank you video that was played at the final event because she asked for photos of us.  They told us then that she had pneumonia and wasn’t able to attend LOST 2014.  I don’t think I knew at the time that she was actually in Hawaii.  I heard this day that some met her at the check-in before the Jorge Garcia Q&A, but I don’t think I did. After  I found out that she had passed, I saw her last posts from Hawaii telling people to go on without her because she wasn’t feeling well.  I then saw tweets from earlier where her sister was trying to get an update on her condition from  and shortly after that the news broke.  Very sad.  That day I went on another hike, this time to Manoa Falls.  It rained on me a good bit of the hike, which was fine because it cooled things down.  I ate dinner at a Korean BBQ place and wondered the city until it was time for bed.
Manoa Falls

On Friday, I didn’t plan on doing much because I was tired.  People came over at 8 am to do an inspection on the apartment I was in and to fix something.  I did some podcast prep after they left.  It rained a good bit that day.  I didn’t get to see a friend like we  had planned this day because he was busy entertaining another firmed from Minnesota.  Maybe I’ll see him next time I’m in Hawaii.  It rained a good bit this day..  I ate dinner at a another burger place and went back to my room after that.

On Saturday morning I went to airport way early.  I was just ready to get out of that apartment and start making my way home.  Someone I met at the last LOST 2014 event was on my plane.  I tried to get his attention before we boarded, but I don’t think he saw me.  We landed in Portland a little after midnight and I made it home after midnight. It was so cold compared to Hawaii.

A few more observations:

  • I saw a lot of military people, probably because of the nearby military base.
  • So many places there were cash only.  I didn’t eat at some places because of that.
  • I had shave ice almost every day.  It’s great!
  • I think I became an expert at the bus system by the time I left.  But I was relying heavily on Google Maps, which tells you exactly which buses to take and where to transfer.
  • I got to see a lot of crazies on the buses, but they weren’t that bad.
  • I never felt like I was in any danger while I was wondering through unfamiliar neighborhoods late at night.

I had a great time in Hawaii.  It was expensive, but it was worth it.  I don’t want to go anywhere else for a while.  I am worn out.  I have a few trips already planned for 2015, but they are more spread out.  I’m pretty sure I’m not going on the one I have planned for January.  I just want to stay home.  In 2016, I think I’ll take fewer trips and dedicate more time and money to each one.

I’m so ready for Fall.

Hawaii Part 1: LOST 2014

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014 1 comment

I’m in Hawaii!!! It’s my first time here.  I came here for the LOST 2014 fan event, but also just to visit Hawaii.  Instead of waiting for the end of the trip to write one long entry, I decided to break it up into two entries.

I left Portland Friday morning.  The plane ride was the longest I’ve ever been on.  I think it was about 5.5 hours.  It was light flight with not so many people but lots of cargo.  Because of that, the plane’s balance was off.  They made some people in the front of the plane move to the back to balance things out.  I had never heard of that happening before.  The pilot said he had never seen that on so large a plane.  Someone who still doesn’t really like flying doesn’t want to hear about problems with the plane.  The flight was smooth except for the final descent.  We had some of the worst turbulence I’ve even felt.

The first thing I noticed when I got here was the heat.  Everyone is saying it is unseasonable warm.  I keep hearing people say that this is the time of the year that the trade winds stop, so it gets hot, but this year is worse than normal.  I’m sweating so much that I feel unclean the whole time.  I don’t care that it’ll be after midnight when I get home in Portland.  I’m taking a nice, long bath.

This is my 5th trip since the middle of July, so I’ve been trying to save money each step of the way.  I went the Airbnb route to find a place to stay while I’m here.  It’s a nice apartment in a nice neighborhood, close to some non-touristy places to eat.  The biggest drawback is that I’m a couple of miles from where the LOST 2014 event was.  I’m relying on public transportation to get around, so it’s a bit of a hassle to get over there.  I can’t really come back here to rest between events, so I’m out in the heat pretty much all day. I feel clean for about 5 minutes after a shower then, I feel like I need another one. I probably should have staying at the event hotel while the event was going on and then moved to a less expensive place when it ended.  Also, I should have rented a car, which I still might do.  Don’t be so cheap, Will.  But that’s how you afford to do a lot of the things you do.  Decisions decisions.

Friday after I got in, I chilled at at tea café while I waited for my host to get off work.  After I “checked in”, I walked around this neighbor and did some grocery shopping. My host is a really nice guy.  He gave me some tips on where to eat, what to eat, and some places to explore.   He does have company sometimes, and at times they’re making lots of noise when I’m trying to sleep.

On Saturday, LOST 2014 began.  The first thing was a Q&A session with Jorge Garcia.  He was great.  I got to get his autograph and get a picture taken with him.  We had an awkward moment hugging each other because the person taking the pic couldn’t figure out how to take a pic with my camera.  The same thing happened with Chris Mulkey at the Twin Peaks Festival.  After this I started giving people instructions on how to use my camera.  Not everybody listened though.  After the Q&A, I had some time to kill so I explored a little.  I got some shave ice like my host suggested.  It was delicious.  I also went to Waikiki Beach for a little while.  There were some awesome beach bodies on display.  I wish I could look like that.  Next, I went to the event hotel and read in the lobby for a couple of hours.  I followed the Mississippi State game while I was doing this.  Then it was time for the welcome reception and costume contest.  At this event and the Q&A, I got to meet people that I had become friends with on Twitter and Facebook leading up to this weekend.  There were a lot of cool costumes.  I really have to dress up for one of these events. The winner was a Bad Robot / Claire thing.
Me and Jorge Garcia

The only thing I had planned Sunday was a tour of the LOST filming locations.  It was so hot, but it was worth it.  We got to see Dharmaville, the beach that was used as the crash site in the pilot and for other scenes throughout the show, the place where the Nigerian village scenes where shot, the stadium where Desmond met Jack,  the road where Kate was on in the Australian outback, the waterfall where Kate and Sawyer found the Halliburton, the convention center that served as the Sydney airport, a gas station which I think was involved in Kate’s storyline, and a church that was involved in Sawyer’s storyline, and probably some other things I’m forgetting.  Some places we drove by without stopping.   I know some people have gone to the church used in “The End”.  I may try to do that before I leave.  The guide on our tour wasn’t that great.  He knew a lot about Hawaii, but didn’t know as much about LOST as I would’ve have liked, just the facts he had in his notes.  At first he tried to tell us that Sawyer met Jack at the stadium, but the people on the bus quickly corrected him.  He seemed to have trouble finding his words at times.  The scenery that we saw on the tour was beautiful.  After the tour I went to the beach for a little while and then I went to a movie theater and sat in some air conditioning for a little while.  The apartment that I’m staying in doesn’t have A/C.  The Drop is a pretty good movie, 4 out of 5 stars.
Me and Jorge Garcia

waterfall

Monday was the final day of LOST 2014, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of the premiere of LOST.  I slept late that day because the first scheduled event was the group photo that afternoon.  I got there early like I did for every event.  While I was waiting I felt something hit my shoulder.  I turned around and saw something orange and gross on my shoulder.  I don’t know if it was from a fruit or if it was bird poop.  Do birds poop orange?  I immediately took my shirt off, walked shirtless across the street, and bought another shirt.  There are shirtless people all over the place here, even inside stores, so it wasn’t a big deal to anyone else.  It was for me though.  It’s probably weird that I have no trouble being naked around people indoors, but not shirtless in public.  I did go to that nude beach last month though.  That seems like a really long time ago. Anyway, after the photo, I got something to eat and hung out on the beach some more.  That night was the anniversary party and charity auction.  They had LOST-themed food.  After the expected acknowledgments of everyone’s hard work, we saw pre-recorded messages from a few of the cast members and a thank you video for the event’s organizer.  Also, they announced LOST 2020 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the LOST finale.  They said they are looking at locations that would make it easier for more cast members to attend.  I’m assuming it’s going to be in L.A.
LOST-themed cake

I had a great time at LOST 2014.  I wish there were more activities, so there wasn’t so much down time.  If I were staying at the event’s hotel, it probably wouldn’t have been a big deal. I think I missed out on social opportunities by being so far away from everybody, but I did have fun meeting people I did from various places.  I think there were 15 countries represented and I walked to people from all over the United States.  LOST has brought a lot of people together.  I’ve made a lot of friends over the years that I never would have if not for LOST.  I’m glad we found each other. If at all possible, I will be attending LOST 2020.

 

PAX 2014

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 No comments

For the third year in row, I took a Labor Day weekend trip to Seattle for P.A.X.  This was the 10th year of PAX and my 3rd year there.

On Thursday, I left  work around mid-day.  I offered a ride to people on the PAX forums and one person took me up on that.  His name was Jake.  I had told him that I wanted to leave at 2:00, but he didn’t arrive until 3:30. He was a nice guy, but between him arriving late and the horrible traffic going north to Seattle, I missed the event on the Microsoft campus that I wanted to go to that night.  I could have made most of it if we had left on time.  He was also one of my roommates for the weekend.  I used to forums to find roommates again.  You never know what you’re going to get.  I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag all weekend.  The person who booked the room seemed reluctant to ask for extras keys at first, so until Saturday I had to rely on other people to let me in the room. I saw one roommate this first day.  He was the one who initially let us into the room.  I never heard from him again after that.  I think he flaked out without paying his share of the room.  I didn’t have to pay extra because of that.  This might be the last year I use the forums to find roommates.  Maybe I’ll be able to convince some friends to go next year.  Probably not.
Hotel Room View

On Friday, I got up to go line up in the queue room.  I have to do the queue at least once every year.  The first day is the best day to do it because of all the excitement.  When they let us in, I went around looking at all the sites.  It’s sensory overload in there.  There weren’t a lot of big time games that I was interested in checking out, so I was more interested in the cosplayers.  I did get a Patrick Rothfuss pin for a coworker and I also got the same one for myself.  After I while I walked over to Benaroya Hall for the Rooster Teeth panel.  I caught the end of the opening panel with Mikey from Gearbox.  After some more time back in the convention center I went to see a panel called “Queer Visibilty in Tabletop Games”.  That night I went to the WildStar party.  There were some members of my MMO guild there who recognized me.  It turned out that they are also from Portland.
Queue Room

On Saturday, I hung around the convention center some more.  I got actually got to play a game or two, but nothing that had a long line.  At this point I had started to hear about some indie games that I needed to check out and I was starting to get more excited about games.  Every year I find out about some indie games that I probably wouldn’t have heard of if not for PAX.   Sometime this day, I got League of Legends skins for a friend that asked me to get one for him.   I went to the Firaxis panel.  While in line, some guys got me to play Spaceteam with them on our phones.  I had never heard of it, but I have heard of games like it.  It was a blast.  I always like playing games with random strangers like that.  I brought a board game with me to PAX for situations like that, but never got to use it.  In the panel, Firaxis showed off the next Civ game.  That’s going to be so much fun. Later I went to the Major Nelson Radio panel.  It’s always fun.  They had a guy from Insomniac Games talking about their upcoming game Sunset Overdrive.  I had never heard of it until PAX.  At the end, they said that they had a bus outside that seats 40 people.  If you get on the bus, you get a free dinner at Lil Woodys, a burger place.  Apparently, this bus was taking people back and forth all weekend, but those people had to pay for their own meals.  I didn’t rush outside.  I walked at a leisurely pace.  I ended up being the 45th in line, with about 15 people behind me.  I was a little disappointed, but it wasn’t a big deal.  I overheard Jeff Rubenstein, who was on the panel and helped plan this free dinner thing, tell the bus people to come back after they dropped everyone off and pick up the remaining people.  He said that he would pay the difference.  Pretty sweet!  To show my appreciation, I pre-ordered the game on the way to Woodys.  I’ve seen footage of it since and it looks pretty cool.  The burgers at Woodys were great.  The fries seemed a little undercooked.  That night I met up with some of my guild members, different ones from the night before.  They play some of the same games that I do, but I wasn’t familiar with them.  They’re really nice and I had a great time.
Sunset Overdrive Bus

On Sunday I got up very early to go to the Gearbox panel in Benaroya Hall.  I got there over 2.5 hours early and there was already a decent-sized line formed.  Their panel was great just like last year.  I always want to throw money at them when it’s over.  Everyone in attendance got a free season pass for the next Borderlands games.  I spent a little more time in the convention center.  I watched the League of Legends competition for a good while.  I can see how people can really get into this stuff, even spectators.  I might have to play some soon.  I had never heard the term esports used for games like this until this weekend, but I guess it fits.  After this I went back to Benaroya Hall for Patrick Rothfuss’s panel.  He’s a very funny guy.  I really need to read his books.  I’ve had The Name of the Wind for a long time.  I’ll get to it one day.  Later on I went to a panel called “A New Tabletop Gaming Canon”.  I mostly went because one of the hosts my favorite Game of Thrones podcast was on the panel.  It went well and I’ve already ordered one of the games they spoke about.  That night was the annual PAX Pink Party.  It was in a different place this year though there was a Pre-Pink Party at the old place that I stopped by for about 5 minutes.  I didn’t know anyone at this party, so it was a little weird at first.  Then one of my guildmates that I met the night before showed up alone, so we spent the rest of the night hanging out with each other.  We both left after the cosplay contest.  It turns out that we like a lot of the same TV shows.  He lives in Vancouver, B.C.  I hope we stay in touch.
League of Legends Tournament

On Monday, I went back to the convention center.  I knew I wouldn’t have much time because I had to get back to Portland to pick up Reese and to record a podcast.  I went to the annex to check out the PC free play area where one roommate was working as an enforcer.  I checked out the console free play on a previous day, but I didn’t have time to play. I wanted to watch some of the League of Legends competition, but they were full because it was the last day.  In the end, I just sat down and watched people play the new Dance Central games.  I was tired.  I went back to my hotel room and left.  Once again, my passenger held me up because he wasn’t ready at the time we decided upon.  The hotel only charged me for 2 nights of parking. After the big parking bill last year, I had planned to park at the airport and take the train in to downtown.  However, on Thursday night I was so tired and disappointed after missing the Microsoft event, I decided to save some hassle and just park at the hotel.  It ended up being cheaper than if I had parked at the airport.  Score!  The ride home from Seattle was quick as usual.
People playing Dance Central Spotlight

I had a great time at PAX as always.  Once again, it was exhausting, but it was worth it.  There didn’t seem to be as many cool freebies as last year, but that’s okay.  I made some new friends that I’ll hopefully be in touch with throughout the year.  I never got a chance to play tabletop games this year, but I have some ideas for games that I want to play with friends here in Portland.  My only regret is that I don’t get to do this more often.  I plan to go to PAX South in January.  Maybe I’ll get to go to PAX East or PAX Australia one of these years.

Now I’m ready for the fall.

Austin Vacation

Monday, August 18th, 2014 No comments

I spent most of this past week in Austin, TX.  My buddy, John, asked me to come down to see the Nine Inch Nails / Soundgarden show with him.  Since then, a new guy named A.J. has come into his life.  A.J. joined us on this trip.

John and A.J. drove to Texas and I flew down on Wednesday of last week.    It was my first time meeting A.J.  All we did that day was eat and go to a club.  I knew that a friend I knew growing up worked at a bar in Austin.  I figured out which one it was and we went there for drinks and music.  Tony is the name of the friend.  I can’t remember when I first met him, but I knew him up until the first year or so of college at Mississippi State.  He then moved to Texas.  It was good to see Tony.  I got a free drink and we all got free shots.  I hope to see him again the next time I’m in Austin.

We slept late on Thursday.  We went to eat lunch at a lounge in a nearby hotel.  We also changed rooms because the beds were too small.  That night was the concert.  It was hot out there, but it quickly cooled down.  I can’t remember the name of the opening act, but there was too much screaming and yelling.  Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails were awesome!!!  Both bands played the song of theirs I wanted to hear the most, “Spoonman” from Soundgarden and “Closer” from NIN.

On Friday, John and I got massages while A.J. went to the gym.  It was a very good massage.  It was different from what I’m normally used to.  This guy advertises himself as a Reiki Master.  I don’t know a lot about it, but I noticed that he was rubbing me very quickly and sometimes it burned.  John and I were both tired for hours afterward.  We got some food and did some shopping after that.  Later we went to the one of the Alamo Drafthouses.  I had never been to one of these before.  We saw Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The movie wasn’t that bad, but it was far from great.  The experience was great, so I really enjoyed myself.

On Saturday we went to Hippie Hollow, which is a clothing optional resort.  I mostly just wanted to see some sights.  It was hot, so we didn’t stay long.  It was nice being in the water though.  After that we went to Franklin Barbecue, which we heard is some of the best barbecue around.  It was pretty damn good.  That night we chilled at the hotel and drank more.

On Sunday we said our goodbyes and left.  They left a few hours before me, but we each made it to our respective homes around the same time.

I had so much fun on this trip!  I definitely want to go back to Austin one day.  I drank more than I normally drink over several months, but I don’t regret anything.  I can’t wait to see John and A.J. again, whenever that might be. I enjoyed getting to know A.J. on this trip.  He’s a great guy.  I wish I could hang out with all of my distant friends more often, but I’m grateful for the time I do get to spend with them.  Until next time…

Twin Peaks Festival 2014

Monday, August 11th, 2014 No comments

The first weekend in August was the Twins Peaks festival in North Bend, Washington. I sent my friend John a link about it months ago and he said that we should go.So, we went. John was one of the reasons I first started watching Twin Peaks. The Twin Peaks podcast was another. I remember thinking it was a weird show and not being into it much at first, but I liked it more as I went along.

He flew up to Portland the night before the festival . We had some drinks at my apartment and caught up with each other. The next day, partially because we were hungover, partially because we wanted to do some things in Portland, and partially because we got stuck in some bad traffic in Washington, we didn’t make to North Bend until later that night. We got there just in time for movie night, missing the activities earlier in the day. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who arrived at that time. I got to meet Matt and Mel for the first time. I had known of them online for a while from the The Twin Peaks Podcast, Carny Cast, and appearances on other podcasts. Then I became their co-host on our own podcast.

The next day we got up early went on the filming location tour. Matt and Mel were on the same tour as us. It was great seeing many places that were used in the show. That night was the celebrity dinner and costume contest. Several actors from the show were there like Kimmy Robertson, Chris Mulkey, Wendy Robie, Sherilyn Fenn, etc. Jenn Lynch and James Marshall had to back out due to other commitments. I got autographs and pics with Kimmy Robertson and Chris Mulkey. They were both very cool.

On the last day, John and I had breakfast at Twede’s with Matt, Mel, and others. We had to skip the rest of the day’s activities so we could head back to Portland. We hit a few stops in Portland and John left for Mississippi the next day.

I had a great time at the Twin Peaks Festival. It was great to hang with John, meet Matt and Mel, and make some new friends. It’s not something I would do every year, but I could see myself going back some time in the future.