And I have returned! Good lord, what a trip…
First off I would like to thank all of the folks that made this possible: Jen (Cander from Darkspear), Bill (Xayla from Darkspear), and Jon from work who convinced me that the place wouldn’t burn down if I took a week off, Jae’s uncle (Tanuvasa from Laughing Skull) who is a big WoW fan and who put us up at his place down the road from the convention there in California, Jae’s dad (Drindletar from Laughing Skull) who fed us while we waited for Friday’s paycheck to happen and gave us much needed cartographic support while in California, and all the guys from work who play the game (Darkspear, Twisting Nether, Laughing Skull, etc.) and supply endless hours of fun online.
For The Horde!
The saga of Blizzcon began Tuesday evening with my packing, planning, strategizing, and in my usual fashion planning every minute bit of the trip down to split-second accuracy. But then there’s Jae who doesn’t do anything with any sort of forethought or plan and who is the avatar of pure chaos, and makes sure that I understand that planning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…
Come Wednesday morning at 11:00, when we need to pick up the rental car at 12:00, he staggers upstairs and tells me he still needs to get food for the lizard, and that requires a drive to the other side of Denver, thanks to the average pet store not selling mice for food. I manage to talk him into a fine meal of chicken and egg ala microwave for the lizard and I manage to get us both over to the rental car place right on time.
After a harrowing journey to ‘Enterprise’ we learn that if the car is being taken out of state, there is a $250 security deposit that isn’t listed anywhere on their web site. This is on top of them loosing my online reservation and, as there is no notice, the car cost goes from $90 a week to $144 a week. So now things are about $300 more than I had planned for the last two months. Jae has a little over $250 saved for the trip and I have about $150… Once ‘Enterprise’ is done with us we have a little over $100 to last us till Friday when we get paid.
Ok, so now Enterprise cannot get me the econo-box car I had requested and, as a ‘service’ upgrades us to a 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix V8-powered land-yacht… Remember that due to the increase in costs that Jae and I are now at $100 for gas to get to Anaheim, and now we have a car that gets roughly 18MPG while going down hill and with a stiff tail wind.
Undaunted we return to the house and I prepare several PBJ sandwiches, grab two frozen burritos, two cans of Progresso soup, and two spoons. Jae fills up a gallon jug with water and figure we’ll make do with a rolling pick nick. I run some quick math and based on the 1020 miles we need to go that the car needs to average 20MPG for us to make it… Jae looks at me, then the car, then back to me and states “I ain’t pushing that boat if we run outta gas”, and we proceed with our plan.
So everything gets unceremoniously thrown into the trunk of the rental, I pull the XM radio out of my Toyota and we get ourselves loaded into the car. The route is simple: I-70 to I-15, to I-5, to the convention center and with the XM radio tuned to the metal station we head out at 2pm… That is only two hours late, which is some kind of record for us.
The car comes with ¾ of a tank of gas which gets us all the way to Avon Colorado, which means everything else is down hill. $40 later the gas tank is full, my wallet is almost half empty, and I’m worried that there is no way this fine example of American gluttony will make it to California on $100.
I drive till around 10pm and, to the Pontiac’s credit it manages both a nice 80MPH and about 500 miles per tank. Jae and I switch at the I-70 / I-15 halfway point so I can get an hour’s nap… See, Jae isn’t real comfortable with the whole ‘road trip’ driving thing so I am to pull most of the driving duty.
So Jae meanders us into Vegas where we tank up the car again at a ‘Flying J’ truck stop which, happily, has gas for about twenty cents per gallon cheaper than Colorado and that is another ray of hope that we might actually make it. Interestingly even California was, on average, 15 cents per gallon cheaper than Colorado.
We switch again and I drive the rest of the way to Jae’s family business. We arrive there at about 5am and sit in the car till around 10am when Jae’s father and uncle arrive.
We are then led over to Jae’s uncle’s place where we will be staying and we both promptly pass out.
Friday morning, the first day of the con, sees me up and at ‘em at sunrise and ready to go. Jae and family are not exactly ‘early risers’ so we wind up getting to the convention at 10:30 rather than the 9am I was shooting for.
Now, this too was an adventure: Once we had ‘docked’ the Pontiac in the garage and made it up to the surface the first thing we see is a line of people similar to those you’d find at an Apple Store opening. The line went from the doors of the convention center clear around the Arena and almost to the Disney Entrance which is about a half a mile.
So we trudge towards the end of the line and, once there, discover that ‘this’ line was for folks who had already registered and were waiting to get in. The ‘registration’ line was on the other side of the convention center.
So we hike back around the place and get into the other half mile long line which eventually leads us to entering the convention proper at about noon…
But what and entrance! As we clear the doors the Orgrimmar theme music sounds loud and clear across the hall, which prompts Jae and I to laugh and I let loose with an Orcish “Lok Tar My Brothers!” in an exceptionally loud fashion, and am met with a loud “For the Horde!” and lots of fists in the air. This of course made for several frightened Alliance players in the goody bag line who huddled together looking as if they were about to be a menu item.
Then there was the dance contest where a few folks left with new Dual-Core Pentiums and hot new Soundblaster cards, a ‘sound alike’ contest where the winners won fancy z-board keyboards and one got an Alienware laptop, and the costume contest winner got a $4000 Alienware PC.
The con shut down at 10pm, and after Jae, Drindletar, and I sat around a Denny’s for a few hours talking about everything, we made it back to Tanuvasa’s place at about midnight.
Saturday went a bit smoother with us getting to the con at 10am. I saw the rest of the Invitational Tournament, played some Starcraft ‘Ghost’, chit-chatted with Metzen about the Warcraft backstory, tracked down Samwise and talked art for a bit, finished up the Developer panels I was interested in, picked up about twenty pounds of schwag, and then waited about three hours for the concert…