Sunday, September 26, 2004

How I spent my 35th Birthday...

I know I'm long overdue, and I'm going to have to post some of the pictures later, but I thought it was time to get something posted here... seeing as it's the last hour of my birthday celebration, which I kind of celebrated the last couple of weekends... in entirely different ways.

First, as I described in a previous post, I went over to Denver to spend the weekend gaming with a friend of mine. I had invited a few others, but Darryl was the only one with the time off and could afford to go... but that worked out just fine for us.

I rented a car for the trip (I'll post the picture of it tomorrow), and picked it up late Friday night. This would allow me to return in late Sunday night... which turned out to be a good thing. I think we made it back within 15 minutes of the time it was expected back.

So Saturday morning we headed out early-ish, after a mandatory stop at the new Krispy Kreme that has opened in Grand Junction during my absence. Actually, I saw that it was being built when I was home in February, and fully expected it to open shortly after I left... which indeed turned out to be the case...

So we got on the road around 10:30am, with an over-abundance of sugary sweets, drinks, and a cooler that Shelley had thoughtfully packed for us. Have I told you how cool my wife is lately? Well, believe it... she is one of the coolest people I konw! Just ask my son, he'll tell you (though we're both a bit biased...).

The first stop of the weekend was at a place in Glenwood Springs called Dragon's Lair, which is the place I first discovered Dragonsport a couple of years ago, just before I took the job that took me to New Jersey, then eventually overseas. I've always wanted to get back there, and this was the perfect opportunity.

You'll really have to spend a few minutes browsing the website to get a better idea what Dragonsport is about. If you've seen the movie Paycheck with Ben Affleck, you've already seen it in action. The websites are a bit cluttered, and of the couple of times I've visited there, it seems to me the website very much reflects the organization of this place. I really think this thing has a lot of potential, if the owners get a little more focused. Personally, I wish they would completely get away from trying to inject Star Wars themes (use The Force) into the realms of magic and dragons, but I get the impression that the owner is a big sci-fi fan, as well as fantasy (much like me), and can't resist the dream of becoming a Jedi... and who can blame him?

So after a couple of hours burning calories, we stopped at an Italian restaurant and put some back on, and resumed our trip.

Now something I haven't shared with you at this point was a bit of my last-minute planning. As I said in a previous post, the plan was to go to Dave & Busters and then go to Maximum Gamer the next day (a gaming LAN cafe). The night before we left, I was online and found that there was a D&B and MG right next to each other, in the same complex... there was also an AMC 24 Theatre in the same area. I thought it would be PERFECT...

... not so much.

First, we found the complex without a problem. The directions I had printed from Mapquest were dead-on, and as soon as we arrived, we spotted a hotel directly across the street. So far, so good...

A quick call to 411 and I was talking to the front desk of that hotel... $165 a night??? If that didn't include dinner, late night snacks, breakfast, lunch, and a foot rub, there was no WAY that was going to happen. So we jumped back in the rental car, and begin scouting things out. Fortunately we found La Quinta Inn a couple of miles a way, and it was a bit more reasonably priced. We checked in, changed our clothes (3 hours in the car after 2 hours of Dragonsport tends to make two tubby guys a bit ripe smelling...), and begin our night of fun and gaming!

It's going on 5pm, so we figured we could spend a few hours in D&B gaming and get something to eat there. Unfortunately, after about an hour and half, we were completely bored. I know that's hard to believe, but it's true. You see, this D&B didn't have the biggest attraction (in my opinion) that the other one has: Battletech simulators. This is another experience that you'll have to get a better idea of what these are about. Basically they're a "pod" that you sit in with MFD (multi-function displays) and large viewscreens that simulate piloting a 'mech against other pilots, or as a team.

Since this D&B didn't have these simulators, we briefly toyed with the idea of driving to the other one ... but when we were told that it was about 45-60 minutes away (with traffic that you can expect on a Saturday night), we decided we would just make do with what we had... There was something called the Derby Owners Club, which looked like a betting on virtual horses, but we didn't get hooked on that until the next day. More on that later...

So after we decided we'd had enough of this particular gaming venue, we decided to get some dinner at a Thai/Sushi place we had seen around the corner, then go see the movie Resident Evil: Apocalypse. These choices would just continue our string of bad choices during the course of this adventure.

Interesting side story: when we left, I (of course) left my Hard Rock Cafe Munich hat at D&B ... this is not interesting except for two reasons: (1)Shelley had specifically suggested I NOT take this hat because I tend to leave my favorite hats somewhere... and (2) I returned there some 3 hours later after dinner, movie, and realizing I had left it there and one of the employees had actually found it and put it at the front desk.

Dinner wasn't completely terrible, nor really was the movie, but neither were they shining gems in this saga, and at this point in our evening, it really wouldn't have taken much to catapult either of them to stardom... but such was not the case.

We did have a brief shining moment of seeming victory when we found out that Maximum Gamer was planning a "Lock-In" for that evening. Basically it means they will be open all night, and will keep the minors (under 18) from wandering the streets. However, there were only 5 total people signed up (including us), and the other three didn't show up. So it was just us and the guys running the shop, and with the exception of a few brief matches of Jedi Knight, it was pretty much a dud.

Even our "run for the border" was a complete failure since the Taco Bell was closed... we had to settle for McD's.

So that's how the first official day of my birthday celebration was spent. Nothing was really as we planned or expected, but I made the best of it, and despite it all, had a pretty good time. I didn't think this would turn out this long; and this is only the first day. I've still got the next day, then this weekend to tell you about! I'll post those in the next couple of days, along with some pictures! I promise that it gets better!

No comments: