PAX: Day 0 Travel


It has been 9 years since I last took an airplane. The last time I flew I was 17 and it was to my Grandfathers funeral. I will never forget it, mainly because I can barely remember it. I can however remember the airline flights of my youth and I have to say that much has changed.

My wife and I are currently at PAX PRIME 2011 in Seattle, and we got up at 2am Thursday morning to get here, or rather, she got up at 2am, I played Minecraft and watched Lady Snowlblood before taking a 1 hour nap which ended at 2am. We drove to Omaha. I had planned on sleeping in the car on the way, but construction on I-80 and the sighting of at least one deer had both of us on edge, and so I remained awake. 
We parked the car and went to our gate. It was closed, and the air smelled of stale Cinnabun. There was a single passenger there, a geeky boy, we knew we were headed the right way. Soon after more and more people arrived, some geeks, some not, but it seemed like those of us who were going to PAX had a kind of secret that we kept from the other passengers, and even from the others we knew were going to PAX. It was as if you could not speak its name, PAX is a dream, a sleeping city, and if you invoke its name to early you might wake and find that it was all mist and marsh-lights. So we flew on, not revealing what we all knew, that all the cool kids were headed to PAX. 

 This was the view from our window as we took off towards Minneapolis, a rainbow sunrise to which no picture could do justice. I have my D90 with me, don't get me wrong.. but I was not about to ferret it out of my carry on, I wouldn't have been able to hold it properly on the small plane anyway. It was perhaps the worst flight of my life, I have always dealt with motion sickness, but this was the closest I ever came to actually vomiting, my ears felt as if they were going to explode, and all I wanted to do was get off the damn thing. A far cry from the joyful plane rides of my youth. 
We reached Minneapolis. I took as much Dramamine as my body would allow, and some painkillers. It took forever to walk to our next flight and when we got there all the seats were already taken in the waiting area. More and more people arrived. They downgraded our aircraft. Their exact phrasing was a bit different, but the gist was that instead of the nice big jet with the movie screens in the seats, we got a fully packed marginally larger than our first flight plane, with no amenities and lots of interesting smells. I slept fitfully, the man in front of me had a sharp cough every 15 minutes or so, and the lack of leg room of any sort prevented it from being very restful. 
After three hours of excruciating ear pain, and drifting in and out of sleep, we arrived in Seattle and by some miracle found our shuttle bus. We met a man going to PAX on business, he was from Nvidia, we didn't get his name, and a young woman going to PAX for her first time. She talked about wanting to try D&D for the first time. It took all of my will power not to start blurting out how cool this years setting is going to be since it is set in Neverwinter. We finally made it to our hotel. Smooth sailing in that regards, the On Peak people really took care of everything with our reservation.

The room is amazing and has a great view. We showered and decided to find some food. Not far away, close, I was having some trouble walking. We ended up at the hotel grill.

We arrived too late for the breakfast buffet, but too early for lunch so we ordered breakfasts. My stomach and body both agreed on getting the Japanese breakfast. We also got juice, next time I will not buy the juice, not because it was bad.. but because I could have gotten a gallon of apple juice for the same price. The breakfast was well worth its cost however.

Time for a quick nap.

An hour and a half later we got up and were contacted by Tally, a friend that we met through the internet and Desert Bus, that we had been hoping to meet in person and her S.O. Jer, who we also wanted to meet, or at least I did, kindred spirits being dudes interested in writing, literature, and having the same curse/benefit of being attached to incredibly talented women.

DSCN1228 We arranged to meet them in Market Center. My wife and I wandering for a while before we arranged to meet up at the Original Starbucks. We got lost, twice, and then ended up in, then out, then in line again at the Starbucks… not worth it.

However right as I finally exited with a Ice Tea and iced Chai tea in tow we all managed to meet up. Then came trying to find a place to sit and chat/rest/catch our breath. Did I mention it was hot for Seattle? It was, also, Tally and Jer had their luggage with them… I feel that is important to mention because it shows the strength of their character that

1.) They were willing to meet two midwesterners they only knew over the internet.
2.) They were willing to do so in above normal heat whilst carrying luggage. 
3.) They were friendly and personable the entire time despite getting lost trying to show us an awesome comic book shop.

We did eventually find a place to sit and eat. We met their friend Dikla who was a bit like a friendly force of nature. That is to say, it was like a chatty hurricane sat down and made everyone friends by sheer force of presence. I think every group of people has that friend, they are important, especially among shy geeks. 

After we were finished eating, Jer and Tally wanted to show us an amazing comic book shop that they had found in the Market a few years back. So an interesting adventure began, we passed magic shops and flower stands, fish shops you could feel and smell before you reached them, charm stores, snack shops, little stores that sold ceramic skeletons, we found just about every type of store you could imagine, but not the comic shop. I began to wonder if it was like the Room of Requirement, it only appeared when one had a most dire need for comic books. This, I remind you, was all in unseasonably warm and humid weather, and with Jer and Tally carrying all of their luggage… which included a six pack of beer for some friends they were meeting later. 

Eventually we found it. Or rather, Jer found the back/side door of it that told us to go to the second set of double doors to our right and then take the first fork to the left, we knew we were in the right place when a half dozen cardboard cut out Dr. Who's were around the corner staring at us. We spent a couple of minutes in the shop, where we ran into another of their friends, Ash Vickers. So many geeks converging in one place… I imagine this is how Harry felt when he went to the Quidditch World cup. 

After perusing a bit, and resisting the urge to buy up a bunch of sealed vintage mtg packs we parted ways. We grabbed a few beverages from a different Starbucks, and then went back to our hotel to crash for a bit. Still don't have plans for tonight.. but I imagine they involve food, rest, and maybe a beer.

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