Oct 262012
 

So the last two and a half weeks and have been a whirlwind of activity. Yuki’s brother and sister in law in town, a trip to Vegas, out of town friends coming into town, Orangecon 2012, a trip to Monterey/San Francisco, a short excursion under the sea, Yuki’s parents in town, my aunts and uncles in town, my cousins in town, and more friends in town. Up to my eyeballs in activities. But it was damn fun now that just about all visitors have left, and I’ve been back to work since the beginning of this week. Things are slowly returning to their normal, yet oddly busy schedule. The year’s not quite done with us yet as there’s still a full schedule come November with the group’s Book of Mormom outing and SCGMC 2 posted below. With my left hand slightly heavier; I’ll get some highlights from the past few weeks out before they are archived and possibly forever forgotten.

Strap in, this is going to be one of those posts, but at least I’m going to do this in two parts…

We picked up Yuki’s brother and sis in law on Oct 6, so this is where this two week long story begins. Grabbing them from the airport, I do a quick drop by Dan’s as the monthly build gathering was on the 6th. There are about 5 or so people sitting around building. I figured this would be a small gathering, but even this low took me by surprise, but it worked for those guys to get a great deal of work done and was a fairly low key gathering. We dropped off the weary travelers at our house so they could shower and take a short nap while Yuki and I ran off to the local H-Mart and picked up some provisions for KBBQ at the house. I called my parental units to have them come over for a quick dinner. Dinner was fairly low key and relaxed. The following day, we drove them to Hollywood, the Getty Center, then Santa Monica and third street. Sometime during all this, we got a call from Yuki and Jeff’s cousin Endra booking us for dinner that night, so our time on third street was limited.

I worked the following two days, but managed to grab some steaks and lobsters the previous night as we hit up the Irvine Costco when we hit up HMart so we would have at least one home cooked meal before our travels. Jeff and Sylvia hit up Disneyland on Monday, which just so happened to be Columbus day so needless to say, the park was packed. Yuki and I headed over there after I got off work, she had spent the day running errands. We had dinner and got on one ride; then spent the rest of the time wandering the shops on Main Street. Tuesday, Yuki and Jeff’s cousin Vicki (lil shoes) comes into town. By now the steaks are decently aged and the previous night, I made the lobster creme brulee so Nicky and Angel joined us for dinner. I got in a few games of Gundam Battle Operation before crashing out, we had to get up early the following morning.

Vegas

Waking up, I hear Yuki in agitated discussions. Someone had dumped out her contacts, so we needed to take a slight detour to her place to pick up some spares before heading off to Las Vegas. We still don’t know who did it as no one has fessed up, but the issue has long been forgotten. We get into Vegas around 10 and go to check into our room. The lobby is packed with people checking in as there was a Linkin convention. The idiots in front of us are just asking dumb questions and doing nothing but slowing down the already slow process. Getting to the hotel staffer, I handed over my id and credit card and she pulls up our reservation. She’s obviously not expecting 1500 sq ft Marquee suite to pop up on her screen and audibly exclaims “Wow!” Getting her composure back, we get our keys and she has us wait while she grabs the manager on duty as part of a “meet the big spenders” type of fun. The meet and greet done, we grab J&S along with lil shoes in tow, we head up to our room. Yuki is quite nervous on our long walk down the hotel corridors to the last door in front of us.

The group is satisfied, large rooms, large living room, and a 180 degree view. I get a text from Dave as he’s landed and headed to check in at the Excalibur across the way. We head over to Mandalay Bay for their buffet thinking they’d have the full seafood spread, but are disappointed as it was the lunch menu. Dave joins us at the buffet and we stuff ourselves. After getting our fill, we pack the car with 6 of us, Yuki rolling in the trunk space of her CR-V and we head over to the north side outlets. Dave and I head to downtown, not in the least bit interested in outlet gallivanting. We gamble; rolling up and down for a little over an hour before finally leaving down. Wandering up and down Fremont street we see homeless James Brown, midget Elvis, and a host of various sideshow rejects; at the very least we didn’t get propositioned for bus fare so that needle tracks Jack can get his “meds”. The last bit of sun we will see over Vegas for the rest of our trip slowly fades behind growing blue grey clouds. The smell of dreams washing away in the cold wet air fills our senses; time to leave. We picked up the asian shoppers and head over to get light sustenance and some alcohol. The rain has stopped but the ground was still quite wet and we headed out to walk the strip. Drinks in hand, we continue our never ending game of drink once for every hooker, drink twice for hookered up couples, drink three times for negotiations in progress, and drink four time for the tranny hooker. A slight hunger takes us and we grab dinner at Pink’s; which is somehow different from eating in LA; the shorter line is always welcomed; perhaps the line has some sort of correlation to the tastes. Light sprinkles force us inside Paris, and we wander from there over to Bally’s and by the time we get outside of Bally’s, it’s a full on down pour. We back track from the strip to Ballys and grab two cabs to take us back to the MGM.

S&J, lil shoes, and Yuki head up to the room and Dave and I go gamble while we wait for Angel and Nicky to arrive. We both get off to a rocky start, but things turn when the guy next to me hits a royal flush, netting him 750 for his $5 spot and $50 for both Dave and I for our envy bets. We’re hoping that Angel and Nicky arrive soon so that we have reason to leave the table while still up. Winning a few more hands, A&N show up and we leave without any sort of hesitation. We’re up. We head up to the room and Dave heads off to the Excalibur to meet up with us around 6:30 the next morning for our planned hike to Ice Box Canyon at Red Rock.

Motivation in the week hours before the sun rises is at an all time low. Nicky gets up, Angel gets up, I get up, and slowly everyone else starts popping up. S&J called out. Yuki wanted to call out, but is pushed to come along since lil shoes would prolly bail if she didn’t come along. We get into the park and stop for a couple of zones for some quick shots.

When we get out to the starting point for Ice Box, upon exiting, we are hit by a sudden down pour, that suddenly stops, then starts up again. We can actually see areas getting dumped on while we’re dry, and watch as the rain moves in against us. We immediately high tail it back to the cars and I re-position the CR-V much to A&N’s chagrin; they thought I had given up and that we were going to head back to sintown. I suggested that we wait out the storm as I could see a clearing coming towards us.

We waited for about a half hour. Yuki decided against coming along as she was worried that we’d get hit with another sudden down pour. Hitting the ground running, we crossed the wet desert and took the high ground above the dry river bed. The rain has given the canyon walls a reason to cry, feeding growing moss magically clinging to these vertical surfaces.

Up, down, sideways, and under trees and brush we push and almost reach the end. I believe we were only a few hundred feet from the end of the canyon before I called it as it was getting late, lil shoes wasn’t able to follow, and we were seriously pushing our luck with the lull in the storm.

We headed back taking the lower route along the mostly dry river bed. The sharp jagged rocks were starting to take their toll against my thin walking shoe soles. I had considered bringing my hiking boots but left them for the sake of slight space savings. Red Rock is so close to Vegas yet such a sharp contrast against the fabricated pretty shell that “represents” Las Vegas. Red Rock is the actual reality.

We triumphantly return to the vehicles after a rather steep hill climb to exit the river bed area and crossing the desert. Leaving, the rain is again upon us, and we were wise to have decided on turning back when we did. Yuki was in a foul mood as she was pretty much kicking herself for not following us into the ever closing arms of the Ice Box. Dave is dropped off and we head back to the hotel to shower and ready ourselves for the rest of the day. J&S went off on their own, so the group met up again, at Mesa Grill in Caesar’s Palace. Missing the exit, traffic, and just blinding wandering out the damn Caesar’s finding Mesa put me if a fairly foul mood, but that went away, lunch was ok, I enjoyed the soup. Yuki was expecting a little more being a “Bobby Flay” joint, but I expected as much as my expectation were once upon a time let down by other “celebrity chef” owned Vegas restaurants. We would return to Caesar’s that evening for the buffet which has been touted as being quite impressive. At this point, we separated along gender lines.

Dan had arrived and we went to pick him up then headed to the closest shooting range that was fairly well known. Not the typical shooting range experience I expected. Then again, this was the “tourist” shooting gallery. If Disney ran a shooting range, this is the closest reality of such. You did not simply walk up to the counter, pick out your weapons, buy your ammo, grab your safety gear and be on your merry way to blasting round after round through paper targets into a massive pile of spent rounds. No, we had a tour guide, one that head the weapon, clipped in pre-loaded cartridges, and handed the weapon to you so you can pull the trigger while he stood there watching within arms reach. After firing off the MP5, we recommended that Dave get his dad to pick one up for the Arizona house. After firing all our rounds, Angel noted that we’ve successfully added another activity to the general Vegas trip schedule. Even with the Mickey Mouse operation, it was a fun time. Knowing better, we will hit up the more traditional shooting galleries on future trips. This place is perfect for bringing the women folk. Yuki forbade me to bring lil shoes. The women folk ended up back at the hotel for 2 hour long naps. Dropping off Dan and Dave to get dressed for dinner, we headed back to the hotel with the plan for everyone to meet up there. We would meet up with S&J at Caesars’.

Deciding that we would take a cab to Caesars’, we pre-gamed with rum and cokes. Dressed up, we headed out and at Caesars’ got on line for the buffet. Amazing food. Probably one of the best buffets I’ve had to date. Having our fill, we split up to meet back at the hotel. Angel was beat, and wanted to relax. We had given up our attempt to grab a cab outside of Caesars because the line was about as long as a block. We hoofed it. Angel and Nicky felt the need to get some more alcohol, so we stopped by the CVS where whilst standing around, Dan was effectively molested by a random gay dude. For which I can only imagine was his motivation for verbally creeping out the hard working Hispanic chick at the kiosk we were standing near. Heading back out onto the strip the rain starts up slowly. We continue our trek, hooker drinking game in full force. And the rain starts coming down, we’re seeing lightening strikes clearly; and all this works to quicken our pace back towards the hotel. It’s a downpour when we reach the safety of the hotel. Back in the room, I attempted to snap some shots of the lightening but the city is way too bright, or I just don’t know how to shoot such pictures. I will need to do some more research. But folks are sitting in the dark, enjoying the light show. An hour pass and Dave Dan and I head down to gamble. Getting to the casino floor, we see a blond propositioning a few potential clients before disappearing. The place is crawling with working girls. Not feeling the tables or machines, we wander across the street to New York. Picking up a paigow table, the three of us sit down and spend a few hours here. At one point, I was up 200. But the problem with being up and early, always equates to the eventual returning to 0. We left around 2:30 to our respective abodes. Showering when I got back, I crashed out as soon as I laid down, it had been a fairly long event filled day. I drove out to stateline and then left Yuki take over.

We returned to LA around 1:30 and just went to lunch at Pheonix before returning to the house. I still needed to finish up some work on Morrigan for Orangecon the following day, so I spent a few hours working on her. At a stopping point, Yuki and I headed out to pick up Brian from LAX. Picking up the crew at the house, we went up to Earthen for dinner. I did some final touch ups on Morrigan and the Midnight Zaku and just had those two and the Jungle diorama ready for the IPMS show the next day.

OrangeCon

Yuki needed to clean her house and the plan was to take S&J to Universal Studios, so they left the house around 9. I left shortly after with Brian; leaving lil shoes sleeping at the house. Heading over to Cal State Fullerton, I needed to make a little bit of a detour as the roads were blocked off for some kind of a parade. After weaving my way around, I finally get to the venue and park; while walking towards the event, I get a text from Brandon to lay off the age thing with his girlfriend. *sigh* Nothing such as this will ever end well. Regardless, I get a little chuckle and get my stuff settled and checked in. Some damn good stuff is on the tables. One of the clubs’ premier armor builders has built the Hard Graph Type 61. Very impressive. Angel shows up, Dan shows up, Sean’s running around, and then Brandon shows up. Dan, Angel, and I are competing in the scifi dio as well as in the scifi mecha categories with Brandon and his Enki kit. I snap some pictures but soon it’s time to head back to the house to pick up Vicki for lunch.

Getting home took a little while as the roads were still blocked. Apparently there was some sort of a heritage parade or soemthing. Getting home, I’m surprised to see Yuki’s car, apparently the blocked roads kept them from getting out of Placentia, and they gave up on the idea of Universal Studios. Some confusion on things and we just end up grabbing lil shoes and heading to Rosine’s in Anaheim with the crew. At lunch I learned that Dan also received the same message as I did, this discussion occurs whilst Brandon’s gf was in the restroom of course. Dan then claims 25% responsibility and putting the rest of the 75% on me for any harm done to their relationship at the build gathering. To both Dan’s and my surprise, Brandon corrects him stating that Dan was the 75% and I’m only 25%. Bonus, I’m less caustic than Dan; win! Brian pays for the lunch and heads out to grab a geocache; a relatively new form of entertainment for him he started up in April. Read more about it in the link if you’re interested. His geocache logged, we’re off back to the house. The group splits up, Dan, Angel, Brandon, and his gf head back to Orangecon. Knowing that the judging always lags, Brian, lil shoes, and I just hang at the house. I get a few games of GBO in before heading back.

We get back as the awards are already in the process of announcement. I snap a few more pictures and just wait for the results. Dan gets his first ever first place for his 72nd scale Spitfire. The scifi diorama category is dominated by us, and we placed first for my Jungle dio, 2nd for Dan’s desert GMs, and 3rd for Angel’s Duel.

Next up as the scifi mecha category for which I picked up the first for the Midnight Zaku and Dan picked up a third for the Valkyrie. I forgot who picked up the second; I was too busy gloating at Dan for my win. The benefits and one of the biggest reasons for attending this event is the bragging rights we hold for a year until the next competition. For the scifi vehicles category, the Type 61 tank wins first with the Falcon getting a second, I missed what got the third.

I took a great number of pictures at OrangeCon and only showed the smallest of genres within the scope of the show, click the following link for all the pictures I took at OragecCon 2012: http://gamerabaenre.com/?page_id=2652

With OrangeCon behind us, we split back off and return to the house. It’s about 5 in the afternoon and I taunt Brian with the possibility of a dive; but mention that since my tanks are being serviced and his need of a weight belt, required hitting up the local dive shop, for which I was pretty sure was already closed. Looking up the shop’s hours, I learn that they don’t close until 6, so keeping my word, I make the call to get ready. We force lil shoes to come along with us. The tanks we get are steel 72s, Brian grabs a 17lb weight belt and I consider the idea that I may not have enough weight since these tanks are lighter than mine. But I figured I usually dive over weighted, we head to Shaws cove. There are two large groups of divers, probably an advanced class. Earlier, before splitting off from Orangecon, I mention to Angel that we should meet up later for dinner. I send him and Nicky a quick message to meet at Jazz Cat at 8PM. I send the same message to Yuki. Then we suit up and head down. I figured Jazz Cat would put Yuki in a good mood for when we tell her about our dive.

Getting into the water, we kick out, lights on, and try to sink. Completely deflating my BC, I still sit at the surface. I’m definitely underweighted. I try kicking under and immediately float back to the surface. We call it as it would be too troublesome to exit and add some weights, then re-enter. We were already on a pretty tight schedule so we got out and unsuited and dried off the best we can. A message on my phone showed Yuki’s acknowledgement for meeting up at Jazz Cat. We take off and head back to the house to quickly drop off our gear, change and head up. We’re about 15 to 20 minutes late – but Jazz Cat was fairly crowded and we would need to wait another 45 minutes or so before we could even be seated. The decision was made to cut out and head over to Garden Cafe. Yuki was in mid questioning of Vicki about what we were up to for the past few hours when I cut in with a new subject about Garden and then grabbed her for the car ride to the other restaurant. I don’t need lil shoes ratting me out so soon. Dinner goes well and near the end of dinner, I purposely let slip that Brian’s wallet is soaked, just to see if Yuki picks up on the little tidbit of information. She bites, questioning how is it possible for his wallet to get wet. My response was simple, it got went because he forgot to take it out of his pockets. Which further baited the discussion. Then let spill that we attempted to do a dive. Yuki then points at Shoey complaining that leaving her with me was useless as she wasn’t able to stop us from diving, least of all reporting back to her that we did attempt the dive. More jokes are made and Yuki concludes that the attempt to bribe her with Jazz Cat failed miserably. For which Brian quips that it all works out since our attempt to dive failed as well. The dive did work to test out our gear with the new tank weighting and let me know that I needed to add more weights before our trip north.

End of part 1

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