PAX East – Day One – The Ride

This isn’t actually the day one that you’re thinking of. You see, Grim is from Detroit, and if there’s anything we like to do more, it’s drive. It’s the motor city, and chances are if you live in or around it, someone in your immediate family works for the auto industry. Day one for me was actually late on Wednesday night derptastically packing my things after I had gotten home from work. I’m not much of a planner. Packing up the bare minimum of clothes and supplies to make it there was absolutely done last minute. I have no shame.

Involved on the short list of essentials was a fancy new 5000maH battery with two USB ports to keep my phone alive and rocking through the barrage of mixed wifi and 4g signals. Phones tend to freak the hell out at these sorts of things, and getting all that signal is really aggressive on battery usage. I had just gotten in a new bluetooth headset because the old one stopped taking a charge on Monday at some point, very convenient. Thank you NewEgg 2-day shipping, you’ve saved that piece of the trip. Damn near forgot my hat, although I really had planned on shaving my head to avoid needing it. Lazy bastard that I am, scheduling things like haircuts with overly chatty cougars, really not high on my list of priorities.

It’s not a likely stop for a trip from Detroit to Boston. But my trip took a detour deep into the middle of Ohio. Making that 14-hour drive across multiple states alone just wasn’t going to do it for me. My long time gaming buddy and guildie Kayin was in the clear for a weekend away from Wifey. He even got a job a couple months ago so he’d have money. He swears this is coincidental, I’m nothing if not a skeptic.

So, the 14 hour trip turned into something more like 19 hours, and I decided, starting at 9pm would be a good idea. I got down to his hour around 1am, and drove until the sun came up. You ever take a 15 hour car ride with someone that you’ve only met IRL once but have been gaming and hanging out with virtually for years? There’s a brief period of awkwardness before everything slips right into normal. No worries at all. Right, that once was St Patricks day in his little hole of a town getting drunk on Bud Light and passing out on his couch. If you needed to know.

So the trip mostly consisted of late 90’s hard rock, dubstep remixes, comedy bits via Netflix, random conversation about gaming related activities. Really, it was like any other night, except the driving. Here’s something interesting I learned about driving across the country. Every state we went through had a speed limit of 65. Michigan is 70, you know, because we drive everywhere. Other thing, Michigan has no toll roads at all, as opposed to every other state that seems to have them every hundred miles or so. Why do you people insist on making it so damn hard to get around?

Making a note to get a damn EZ-Pass next time I’m driving across the country.

It’s been a few years since I’ve driven on the East coast. Well, at least as far north as South Carolina where some family lives. I did take a boat from the Great Lakes out to the ocean and down to Florida though. That was interesting as a kid. I recall seeing the Statue of Liberty way off on the horizon, and it’s been something on my list of shit to see ever since. Naturally, a second detour to New Jersey was required. Let me go there for a second, there is NOTHING you need to see in New Jersey. We had a course plotted to Liberty Park. Almost made it there, except the freeways on the east coast are so goddamn dyslexic it’s incredibly easy to miss a slight left. We took the long way around, ended up driving on surface streets and see a bunch of the locals. Not interesting.

Liberty Park, eventually, was fairly nice. We walked out to the pier and got a couple good pictures of her backside. The view of New York was really good as well. The (millenium tower) was about halfway finished and the bottom part was looking great. We took about 20 minutes in total to take in the fresh stank of the Jersey shore before getting back in the car and promptly missing the exit to the freeway. We spent the next hour or so on a series of bridges. Oh the joys of driving cross country.

We did finally make it to Boston around 7pm, making the total trip time for me something like 22 hours, but that’s fine. I did this weird passive sleep state when Kayin was driving that left me totally refreshed. The first day of PAX started in the morning, and there was much beer that needed drinking, Sam Adams told me so. We stayed at the Hampton in Cambridge, nice place, terrible view, friendly staff. I’d recommend it if you just need a place to sleep. The rooms were the same size as the rooms in the Westin. Most hotel rooms for that matter are the same size. Oh, and there was free parking, a very valuable commodity in larger cities. The hotel was kiddie corner to one end of the T-Line (subway/train/bus public transit system) which turned out to be quite beneficial.

Once we had gotten settled in, unpacked, bored, and thirsty, we ventured out into the city. The young guy at the front desk of the hotel pointed us to the Government Center Station to find places to drink (turns out he didn’t really have a good idea where to drink, but alas). We headed over to the train, and fumbled around with the ticketing bullshit before giving up and buying a week pass for 15$. Boston is really nice. There was literally nothing that I saw even remotely threatening. I don’t know what the rest of the country is like, but when you’re in Detroit, little things worry you all the time. I’ve never walked around a city at night and felt relatively safe, but Boston had that effect on me. It was soothing!

We ran into a herd of about 100 Pokemon once we hit the Government Center stop. They were bar hopping, which was really funny since most of the bars fill up when they hit 50 patrons. Dozens of people standing around outside in Pokemon costumes huddled together for warmth with a small contingent of gawkers taking pictures of them from various cellphones (no doubt using Instagram). THIS. This is what PAX was all about for me. Weird people being weird without being effectively judged. I mean, people tried to be all judge-y, be PAX’ers just outnumbered them and were oblivious to it all. It was cool, but that just wasn’t our crowd. We made our way around them and found another bar instead.

There was Hockey playing on all of the TV’s. Karaoke being sung on the stage, very poorly. Beer specials were 1.50 a bottle and going down fast. Things got fuzzy quick, and the night was under way. After about 6 beers or so someone started playing Tribute by Tenacious D and butchered the first couple of verses. I was helping, and realized that I probably had a few too many to drink. When Grim is singing in public, it’s very near time to go home. Or vomit on the side of a building and keep drinking. I remember taking the train back to the hotel, waking up sometime after dawn and taking off my pants, then waking up again and wondering where the hell my pants went.

Ah beer. You’ve brought us late to the beginning of PAX, and what would be day two.

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