Secret Saturday: Austin Or Bust
For a number of years I have wanted to go to a convention. Comic-Con is up there on my list but it’s expensive, far away, and my costuming skills aren’t quite up to par for that sort of event (because I’m sure not going to a con dressed like a “normal” person). There are conventions in Detroit and Chicago which would be easy to get to, but they’re always timed incredibly poorly as far as my schedule is concerned (“do I want to get married or go hang out in Detroit dressed like a video game character?”). I just haven’t made it to one yet, which is fine, but every time one passes I get a little disappointed that I still haven’t hit that particular activity on my bucket list.
You are now thinking I must have a really depressing bucket list if going to a geeky convention is on there. It’s a little bit of an eclectic list, I’ll give you that.
Anyways, I’ve mentioned a number of times here that I am a fan of Red vs. Blue. We made references to it at our wedding, and was the inspiration for the name of our dog. The company responsible for it, Rooster Teeth, also puts out several other shows/series we keep track of. Part of our weekly routine is making sure we catch up on our internet videos, most of which stem from their site. Their podcasts are what entertain me at work, though I think my coworkers are afraid I’ve lost my mind since I will start giggling to myself at my desk while listening to them.
In 2011 they got the brilliant idea to host their own “convention” after spending many months travelling back and forth to visit others. The first one was a gathering of about 500 people and mostly consisted of “come hang out with us, see the office, and be a part of filming an episode of one of our shows”. It was so popular (originally they were only supposed to sell 200 tickets, but demand was so high and there was a problem with their ticketing system that they ended up selling over 500 in the span of a few minutes) that they expanded it the next year. They took over the Austin Convention Center and made room for about 4,000 people. Several vendors were there, and among other things the attendees had the opportunity to play against each other in small tournaments, as well as had access to the first public demo of Halo 4 (lucky jerks!). This year is supposed to be even bigger, and the last I saw they were planning on about 7,000 people.
Geoff and I will be 2 of them.
I asked about going a few months ago as a “test the waters” type joke. Geoff knew I wanted to go at some point, it was just a matter of when. Since we already sort of have a plan for travelling summer 2014, we can’t really do it then, and if all goes according to the previously discussed plan (I am hesitant to use the phrase “current plan” because I think we’re both sort of having some doubts at this time but haven’t really talked about it) there could be a baby in the picture come the following summer. I’d like to think that it wasn’t a “now or never” situation, but it started to sort of feel that way, so I pushed a little harder to see if it was possible. Geoff eventually made me a deal: if I could get us down there, get us a bed, and get tickets to the event for a certain budget, we could go.
I am not exaggerating when I say I had about $7 to spare in that budget. Flights and hotels for 4th of July weekends are not cheap. They weren’t the most, uh, wonderful flights, but they were flights. Geoff took a look at it and said something along the lines of having apparently given me an unrealistic budget, so we bumped it up a little to get flights that weren’t quite so shady. We made the mistake of waiting until after we got back from the honeymoon to start booking stuff, and at that point the hotel we were planning on using (as well as our backup) were booked up. That left us scrambling to find a replacement. We managed to get a rate through a travel site that was pretty comparable to the reduced rates that had been available for the hotel block for a different hotel. While it wasn’t our first choice, we’re still only 2 or 3 blocks from the convention center so I’m happy.
We haven’t gotten our plane tickets quite yet. We’re still trying to figure out where we want to fly out of and how much convenience is worth to us. There is an airport literally 1 mile down the road (I think by the time you drive around to the entrance it’s like 4 miles, but if I felt like breaking numerous laws and off-roading a little it’s 1 mile), but it’s a small airport so flying from there comes with a price. Then there’s the Grand Rapids airport which is far enough that the ticket price drops and we have to arrange some help getting there, but close enough that we don’t have to do any ridiculous scheduling to make an early flight. And of course we’re smack between Chicago and Detroit, so those are options as well. Of course they’re cheapest, but they’re also far and we’d likely have to drive ourselves, meaning we’re paying for overnight parking for a couple of days. There’s an intricate web of pros and cons here, so we haven’t quite worked through it. We have a couple different options from different airports picked out that we’re keeping track of just in case ticket availability starts to become an issue, but that’s as far as we’ve gotten.
In short, it’s going to be a bit of an expensive weekend, but holy crackers am I excited! There are some other events going on outside of the convention itself that community members are organizing, so we’ll probably partake in some of those in some form. It’s also an easy crowd to get along with and impromptu parties seem to happen a lot over the course of the event, so even if we go with nothing specific in mind I highly doubt we’ll have a dull moment.