Sep 202011
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PAX 2011 may be many weeks gone but heaven forbid I let it pass without excessive commentary. I approached the convention with no small trepidation this year, and while it wasn’t quite the mind-blowing time I’ve had previous, it was still crazy fun and I’m glad I didn’t let the sour taste keep me away.


PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo – gaming convention without compare. For four days my husband Mike and I invaded Seattle. This is that story.

PAX 2011

PAX 2011, The RePAXening

We learned an important lesson our first year and that lesson was “don’t try to drive to PAX on the first day of PAX”. Seattle may only be two to three hours north, but those are not a fun two to three hours when you’re stuck in a small car wishing you were instead stuck in an over-long line with a hundred thousand of your closest friends. This year we did it even better by deciding on Thursday several months in advance, because changing hotels for PAX the day of PAX is also not as much fun as you’d hope (see: last year). Superior planning saw us on the road at the very respectable and leisurely hour of 10am, a full 24 hours before the doors would open.

PAX Day 0: Leaving Oregon

Oregon's usually a little less girder-y than this.

It was a gorgeous day and a perfect temperature. We turned the iPod to a “I Love All Of These” playlist and the enthusiastic if terribly out of tune concert began. In no time, we were in Washington!

PAX Day 0: Washigton welcomes us once again.

'Hey Washington.' 'Hey Jet Wolf.'

No literally, Washington is like five minutes from Portland; it’d be like getting excited when you walk from one end of your house to the other.

I’m curious as to why the Washington state sign is sitting behind a flower bed done up like a Japanese flag, but as the sign doesn’t actually talk, I remain curious. And speaking of curious signs …

PAX Day 0: The crazy is strong in Washington.

Well aren't you precious.

You can’t see it very well (Mike got a better picture on the way home), but it’s a billboard featuring a large cartoon Uncle Sam and the rather bold if inexplicable message “NEW TAX FREE COMMUNIST CHINESE CITY BEING BUILT NEAR BOISE”. Oh, okay, what? Is this a dire warning or an advertisement, like “New townhomes starting from $150,000!” I’m guessing communism is bad mmkay, but aren’t taxes also bad? Do they cancel each other out, and if so does that mean that China and Boise cancel out too? It seems to be so filled with righteous anger that it’s impossible to pin down what exactly it’s hating and I think that’s adorable. Sadly I forgot exactly where this is, but I think about an hour north of Portland on I-5. Go visit!

That was pretty much the most interesting thing on the drive. Clear skies, light traffic, and no rushing; just about perfect.

PAX Day 0: Seattle skyline

Seattle, presumably not a communist city.

Having done it a few times now, getting to the hotel and parking was smooth (even as I cursed the parking rates), check-in was painless with a room ready for us, and I’d even packed smarter this time so we had less juggling of bags. Man, I am getting the hang of this PAX thing.

With an entire day (and considerable hunger) ahead, we set out to wander the Seattle streets. Sadly I left the camera back in the hotel room, but the iPhone is, as ever, serviceable.

As seems to be our tradition, we found ourselves in Pike’s Place Market, where we watched throngs of people (is this place ever not busy as hell?), admired stall after stall of delicious fruit, and got some fresh seafood to eat out of a paper sack while watching the waterfront.

PAX Day 0: Near Pike's Place

A beautiful day filled with buildings I do not know.

No longer led by our appetite we left the market to go look at other delightful yummy things because being animals we are all ultimately led by our appetites. This led us to a store whose name I sadly cannot remember, but we were attracted by the dazzling display of candy apples in the window. Not regular candy apples, no – this were more like designer chocolate bars lovingly arranged on an apple. They looked incredible, but far too big for me. I did settle on a truffle and a peanut cup (which were OMG), mostly because Mike was drooling for a Tiger Tail. What’s a Tiger Tail, you ask?

PAX Day 0: Mike catches a Tiger Tail.

THIS is a Tiger Tail. The thing on the stick, not the guy holding it.

It is the chocolate delicacy in Mike’s hand, which happens to be a Twinkie dipped in the finest dark chocolate. A chocolate-covered Twinkie. On a stick. For realz. When we returned to the hotel room, he observed it with keen but cautious interest before declaring, “I’m going in.”

PAX Day 0: Mike, post-Tiger Tail

Neatly captured, the visual version of the surprised 'huh!'

The conclusion? “That’s fuckin’ good!” So there you have it. If you ever come upon a Tiger Tail, bite the shit out of it. Yes, all tiger tails. Enjoy!

But that would be later in the afternoon. For now we merely had the box under our arm and several more miles of walking to do. Did you know that Seattle is very hilly down by the waterfront? Because it really is and that sort of made my knees sad.

We wandered around, poking in and out of any shops that caught our eye, and finally made our way to Top Pot Doughnuts. What was originally going to be a just a couple turned into so very many more, as the very helpful guy behind the counter suddenly decided it’d be half price on a dozen for the rest of the day. OKAY YUM.

PAX Day 0: Top Pot Doughnuts = love

Just seeing this picture makes me miss them.

These lasted us throughout the weekend and were a great addition to our “pack your own food” method of con subsistence which basically means peanut butter for every meal.

The sun was high and the walking was much, so we cooled down in the hotel room for a bit. Speaking of hotel room, we once again stayed at the Grand Hyatt, which is tough to beat for location and pretty amazing rooms. Though this year we got the short stick for view:

PAX Day 0: The view from the hotel room.

Visit scenic SEATTLE!

Please enjoy our AIR CONDITIONER! But ten flights up, and if we had a fire, we were set. Also, I love that apartment building, which I can never see without thinking of Eric Idle’s model in The Architect Sketch.

After a bit of a rest it was back out into the cooling evening. There were several parties about, but we were in the mood for something a little more low key, so with my iPhone as a guide we started checking in on different bars and pubs. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I wasn’t finding it until we meandered back to the waterfront and The Pike Brewing Company. Neither one of us drink beer so that part was lost on us, but we did settle in to enjoy some rum and cokes.

A few too many rum and cokes. And they were very very strong.

Before we knew it, we were laughing and singing and chatting up strangers and I seem to recall that I named our bartender “Tor”, for which I probably should have apologized. This time we did bring the camera, but Mike took it and all we really have are pictures of me drunk tweeting, and you may not see them.

PAX Day 0: The remnants of the Battle of Pike's Brewing.

The tweet that accompanied this picture? 'Wrecked it.'

Somehow or another we made it back to the hotel and while I don’t remember how we managed it, I do have this tweet to commemorate the return:

Made it. Amazing. Time to flip channels and ray donors intim we pads out yay PAx!

I particularly like how I bothered to shift for the “p” and the “a” on the iPhone but couldn’t quite be arsed to do it for the “x”.

Sleep must have come soon after – I know the morning came far, far too soon after that. But it was time for PAX! We’ll sleep when we’re dead.

Next: PAX 2011: Day 1, part 1

  • Goldie

    Did you know that if you double click the shift on the iphone, it caps locks until you click it again?  I did not know this until I had owned one for 3+ years, lol.

    • Jet Wolf

      I totally know that! When I am sober.

  • Goldie

    Also, I am jealous because I live in the middle of the US and we never have anything as cool as PAX here.