Blizzcon 2009 Day -1: In Anaheim

I have successfully made the 395 mile trip south from Santa Clara, CA to Anaheim, CA. This is my first time down in the LA area. Coming into LA on I-5 you cross a small mountain range, and head to Angeles National Forest, which is more of a National Scrub Brush Area than a forest. Once we hit the Los Angeles side of the mountains I almost thought I was in the Seattle area except the mountains had deciduous trees instead of evergreens. That changed shortly as we headed towards Pasadena as that’s when I noticed the horrible smog haze which seems to have settled itself over LA. Back in the bay we’ve had a couple of days where they suggested people with asthma not go running outside, but even on those days I didn’t see such a brown haze as I saw today.

The other outstanding thing out here was the traffic. Traffic was jam packed especially as we were coming into LA around 5PM. It took us a couple of hours to navigate our way around the worst of the LA traffic through Pasadena to Anaheim. Once we got checked into the hotel we walked over the the Anaheim convention center to pick up our Blizzcon registration info and our goody bags. I got a little Raynor marine statue, and a key to get a murloc pet in World of Warcraft. The one item the bag was missing that I really wanted was a Beta key for Diablo III. Sadly there wasn’t one included in the bag. But I did get some official Blizzcon hand sanitizer. Since I left home without my USB camera cable, I’ll post a few pics of the line (long, but it moved fast) and the goodies once I get back to the Bay area.

Travel Time

Tomorrow morning at 9:05am I fly out of SFO on my way to a 10 days in Rome and Venice, Italy. If you couldn’t tell from my lack of blog updates I’ve been pretty much just working long hours, sleeping, and occasionally studying Japanese since my last post. I’ve also taken up playing Dungeon’s and Dragons every other weekend which is suprisingly fun, and not too nerdy (I hope).

So right now I’m looking forward to the trip and spending time away from computers and work! (Sorry I doubt I’ll blog while there, but I might bring a notebook!) Even so I’m not going totally tech free on this trip, while the laptop will stay at home, I picked up 32GB of CF cards for my dSLR  and 4GB of cards for my point and shoot camera so I should be taking lots of pictures. I’m also bringing my PSP for some entertainment while on the airplane. Hopefully, I’ll have some fun photos or stories to share about my trip when I get back. I also might actually beat more than 2 mission in Final Fantasy: Tactics.

Also besides this big trip to Italy tomorrow I have a few other exciting trips planned. I’m going to a friend’s wedding back in WI in the middle of July, and in August I’m taking a couple days off to go to Blizzcon!

Day 1: Japan 7am-4am

I have safely arrived at my Hotel in Kyoto. I got to take my first train ride in Japan and overall it went pretty well consider I can count to 10, say thank you very much, and know a half dozen other Kendo terms which don’t really apply in normal situations.

I started my trip this morning by getting up at 7am and taking care of some minor last minute stuff. The real journey started at 9am when a friend gave me a ride to SFO. I made it to SFO around 9:45 and entered the ridiculous queue United had for international flights. The queue when through this huge maze, and then spilled pretty far out of that. Of course since I had a paper ticket I had to wait in that giant line to check in.

Almost an hour and a half later around 11:00 I had almost made it to the front of the line when United employees let all of us bound for Osaka and Kansi International Airport cut ahead so we could make our flight. After that I boarded a 747-400 for the longest airplane ride of my life. First the seats seemed a bit more comfortable than domestic coach, but not 12 hours more comfortable. The flight goes on for much longer than one would imagine. At several points I wondered if we were getting close, and then I realized we still had a couple thousand miles to go. There was enough time to show four feature films, Transformers, No Reservations, Ratatoulli, and The Ultimate Gift. Of those “The Ultimate Gift” was the biggest surprise and was a pretty enjoyable movie, one I would recommend watching.

Finally, after what seemed like forever the plane landed I was adrift in a foreign land with no real understanding of the language. After a bit of confusion as to what the purpose of my trip was at immigration I entered the country and cleared customs. After messing around with an ATM to try and get some currency (only took me 3 tries), and a short line to pick up my rented cellphone (probably shouldn’t have bothered). I was on my way to Kyoto.

I picked up my Haruka train pass from a ticket sales person (I wasn’t ready to try out the automated machines yet), and started my trip to Kyoto. The one train I rode on so far was very nice. The system reminds me of a combination of the CalTrain and Bart in the Bay Area. Only the seats are comfortable and clean which cannot be said of some Bay Area transit options. After a very smooth ride through what appeared to be one giant connected city, I arrived at Kyoto station.

At Kyoto station I managed to get a pretty decent walking map of Kyoto and then wandered around the station unsure if I should attempt the subway or hire a cab. Being somewhat adventurous I decided to brave the subway and after making my way there took 10 minutes to figure out exactly what ticket I needed to buy for my fare. I then got to ride the Japanese subway which is also a pretty clean and neat system. So far I’m pretty impressed with the whole public transportation system here. It’s TONS better than back in the States.

Anyways I checked into my hotel which has a service level I’m not used to as I usually stay in some of the cheapest hotels around (this one isn’t TOO bad.) My room is fairly small but clean and neat, and the feature 100MB/s internet access. The only other exciting feature is the crazy toilet with heated seats and way more buttons than a toilet should have.

Well that’s it for now as I think I’m going to hit the sack so I can get up early tomorrow and start with the sightseeing.

Land of the Rising Sun

Tomorrow morning I start my first trip out of the country to a place other than Canada. My flight will be leaving SFO at 12:05pm Saturday and arrive around 4:55pm Sunday. With a flight time of just over 11 hours.

Considering how comfortable flying coach domestically is, I really don’t look forward to spending 11 hours sitting in one of those seats to cross the ocean.

In any case this should be an adventure and I plan to take and post a bunch of pictures.

Heading to the Frozen North

Well I’m leaving the bay area today to head home for Thanksgiving. I’m journeying from this land of sunny weather (70°), back home to the land of frozen lakes (35°). While I’m happy to be visiting my family I don’t know if such cold, cold, weather is going to be tolerable after CA has weakened me.

I also get to have my first fun adventure taking the Caltrain/Bart to SFO. I’ve never done the airport trip before so hopefully this is exciting.