Thursday, July 9, 2009

Seattle trip - part 2

As mentioned, I did play some pickup Ultimate on Sunday at Marymoor park. It was fun, and a good 2 hours of running. Unfortunately this would be the last exercise I got before Potlatch.

I went to the Cheesecake Factory with Renee, Matt, and Jonah for dinner. I've never been to Cheesecake Factory before, maybe because I don't care for cheesecake. I didn't realize that it's not only a restaurant, but that they have an absurdly large menu including many different types of food! It was pretty good too.

After dinner I stopped at a game store and picked up 2 games. I got Lost Cities: the Board Game for Jeremy and Amelia as a thank-you for putting me up (and putting up with me). They like the card game, and Jeremy was asking about the board game version. I also got a game that looked pretty interesting, but that I'd barely heard of called Masters of Venice. In that game you bu and sell stock in companies, and you also buy, sell and trade resources (which the companies deal in). the stock value and prices go up and down as you buy and sell things and as the companies "do business." It's a little confusing at first, but everything really works the way you'd expect based on supply and demand. Jeremy, Aaron and I played Masters of Venice twice. Aaron and Jeremy both did far better in the 2nd game, while I actually might have done worse!

Tuesday morning I drove to Vancouver, and it was just 2.5 hours from Jeremy's apartment to Jay's. The border crossing was interesting. I've been to London and through Mexico City, but both of those were by plane and I just filled out the paperwork on the plane and nobody grilled me about what I was doing in the country. I have crossed the boarder on foot in Nogales before, but that was many, many years ago and at the time they didn't care where you were going or what you were doing. I didn't really know what to expect at the Canadian border, but the experience turned out to be kind of amusing...

First I drove up to a booth at which a lady asked me some typical questions... what are you doing in Canada? Visiting a friend. What is your friend's name? Jay Cormier. Where did you meet Jay? In Las Vegas at a trade show. How long ago was that? Last April. How long will you be staying? Until Thursday. Nothing too exciting. Then she told me to pull under the canopy and go inside this building, so I did. Inside the building there was a waiting area, and counters behind which boarder agents stood. One of them called me over, and began by asking some of the same questions as the lady in the booth. However, he was getting much more detailed with his inquiries... What are you going to do with your friend Jay? Play board games. He gave me a quizzical look so I elaborated, like Monopoly, only different ones. What board games are you going to play?

Really? I thought, is he really interested in which board games we plan to play? I was torn as to how to answer this. Part of me wanted to be accurate and honest, but of course we hadn't planned ahead as to which board games to play. Part of me wanted to list off several Euro-strategy games, like Masters of Venice or Glory to Rome (which I had in my car), but knew he wouldn't have any idea what I was talking about. Part of me figured he just wanted to make sure i had some answer, and that part of me realized I was hesitating to answer while I ran through all these thoughts... so I finally said ... there are a thousand different board games, I don't know which we'll play. He went on with his questioning... Where are you from? Tucson, Arizona. You came all the way up here from Tucson to play board games?!?

Um... yes? He obviously doesn't know me. I didn't say that though, instead I said I'm on vacation in Seattle. Finally he was done with his inquisition and he asked me to wait. I sat down while he did whatever it is they do, and then he came back, called me back up, and sent me on my way. The whole process didn't really take very long, but it was surprising to me how interested they were in what I would be doing while visiting my friend. Also, I'll note that everyone I interacted with at the border was very, very grumpy.

Vancouver was nice. Jay actually lives in New Westminster, which is like a suburb or something. Like Tempe to Phoenix maybe. We hung out, talked about games, played some of his designs as well as a prototype being published by Tasty Minstrel. We went to a game night on Tuesday, and on Wednesday jay had a meeting with this comedy group which I tagged along for. It was pretty fun, I've always wanted to be involved with comedy in one way or another. Wednesday was also Canada Day - there were a million people out at the beach, and there were fireworks that night. Thursday morning Jay had to get back to work, so I headed back to Seattle.

There's a girl who works at Google in downtown Seattle that I knew in college but haven't seen in 10 years. It's too bad, too, because I really liked her 10 years ago! I found out she worked at Google, and tried to find a way to contact her, but to no avail. More recently I was able to contact her through Facebook (go go gadget social networking) and it turned out that while she was leaving for India on Friday, she was able to meet me for lunch on Thursday. We caught up a little bit and I saw some of the Google offices - looks like a cool place to work. While I was in the area, I stopped in at my friend's law office and surprised him. He didn't have much time to talk, but he invited me to play games the following Tuesday starting at 10am (planning to go all day).

It was still too early for anyone to be at Potlatch, and I had agreed to pick up some teammates, but not until 7pm, so I went to Renee's house and hung out with her for a while. Then I went to the airport and picked up some teammates and settled in for a weekend of frisbee! I made another airport run later to get 1 more guy, and I saw a bunch of people I know from various places... that's one of the things I love about a big tournament like Potlatch - running into people like Jeff Hartline, Giles Peng, Jen Shannon, Lauren from Flagstaff (now from Boulder), Lori Starr, Deb Weis, Dave Keifer, people from Phoenix, and of course my teammates from Victoria, Portland, Washington DC, Boulder, and Sacramento. Of course this time there were a handful of Tucsonans there as well, and I spent some time hanging out with them.

This year we didn't do near as well as we did last year, though much of the team was the same (guys anyway), and I think our women were probably stronger than last year's... we weren't gelling very well, there were clashes of attitude, and people just weren't on the same page much of the time. We had a lot of simple drops and throwaways. It was pretty frustrating, and while last year we went 6-2... this year we were only 2-6. Frustrating as it was though, it was still a fun weekend of frisbee in great weather.

Sunday night I went to dinner with Jeremy and company at Red Robin again. They put about 50% more chicken on my salad than normal, so that was good :) Monday I hung out with Renee, we did some errands (buy cat food, go to library) and had lunch at a grocery type place which was pretty good. Jonah was very well behaved the whole time. Later I played some Boom Blox on the Wii while Renee tried to get some sleep, and finally Renee and I met Matt for dinner at a place called Z Tejas.

After dinner i decided I wanted some ice cream, so I went to Cold Stone before returning to Jeremy's, where he Emily and I played Lost Cities again, and then Jeremy, Aaron and I played another round of Dominion. We played several games of Dominion while I was there, and they have a stuffed sheep which they use like a trophy - I managed to win the sheep before leaving, thus taking the title with me... just in time for intrigue (an expansion) to come out next week! Haha!

The next morning, everyone went to work, and I packed my stuff to get ready to leave. My flight wasn't until 3:15, so I decided to go to that game day thing for a while - it was in a Microsoft building which happened to be only a couple blocks from Jeremy's apartment! Good thing too, because when I was almost to the building, I actually ran out of gas! It was pretty embarrassing - and the car gave no physical warning. It had a low fuel light, but didn't act at all funny before simply cutting out in the middle of the road. I drifted into a parking lot and about 30% of the way into a parking spot before the car stopped going. I felt pretty stupid for letting this happen, but luckily I was right next to where I was going, and my lawyer friend was able to give me a ride to a gas station real quick. I ate lunch at the Microsoft building (it's a cafeteria they meet in to play games), and then finally had to get on my way.

I got to the airport just in time to return my car and check in for my 3:15 flight. I got to the counter just after 2:00, but the check-in computer told me it was too late to check in! A man working for the airline said he didn't know why, but he got me checked in. I had to check a bag, which I hate doing (even moreso now that it costs $20), but he took care of that too. When I got to my gate I thought something was fishy... nobody was boarding, or waiting to board, and the sign said the flight to San Francisco (where I had a connecting flight) was at 5-something, not 3:15. It turns out the plane had mechanical problems, so to make sure I didn't miss my connection they put me on another airline through Phoenix to Tucson, arriving 1 hour later than I would have. 2 different people called the baggage people and let them know to put my checked bag on the right plane.

When I arrived in Tucson, my bag did not come out in the baggage claim. I figured it must have gotten on the plane to San Fran after all, and maybe missed the connection and was still up there. After talking to the US Air people about it and arranging for them to deliver the bag when it did arrive, I decided to just check the United baggage office, as United was my original carrier... and sure enough, somehow my bag was right there. I now suspect that the bag was put on the 5-something flight and DID make the connection, and had been sitting in Tucson for an hour. I'm glad I checked!

Finally, I got home, and my little kitty cat was very happy to see me! She curled up within reach and I was able to pet her all evening, and she even slept in my bed with me (which she hasn't done since she was really little)! Evie is so cute! I was sorry to leave Seattle, but it was also good to be home. Except for the weather - when we stopped over in Phoenix the pilot said local temperature was 104 degrees... at 7:30pm!

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