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Amparo Bertram

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04:08 pm: Birthday Game Week Trip Report
Some friends and I converged on sara_tanaquil's house for a week of board gaming. We arrived Saturday, 7/27, and received a lovely tour of the highway exit ramp on the way back from the airport. We immediately set about terrorizing the three cats playing some cooperative games until quite late in the evening (at least according to Eastern time).

We got up relatively early Sunday morning and spent essentially the entire day gaming. I believe we may also have taken a brief shopping trip, though sara_tanaquil was thoughtful enough to stock up on plenty of potatoes to keep us happy.

Monday we played fewer games, mainly because we took longer breaks between sessions. We also worked on figuring out how to watch Youtube videos on sara_tanaquil's TV, so we could intersperse those among our other activities. In the evening, we played our first game of Dominion, which turned out to be universally popular and was repeated throughout the week about as much as another popular option, Pandemic.

Tuesday, for wednesday_10_00's birthday, we went on an excursion to New York City. We got to see more on ramp/off ramp action and then took a two hour train ride, during which we were lucky enough to get seats together so that we could play a lively game of Love Letter. After a quick lunch at a small Japanese cafe, we visited the public library and browsed the gift shop. We were a little surprised at the guard stationed by the exit door to search everyone's bag upon leaving the library. It seems less effective to me than the standard theft-prevention gate, just based upon the fact that I had a bunch of comic books (that I had brought with me) under a sweatshirt in my bag, and the guard didn't even bother to look deep enough to see them. If I had been intent on stealing a library book, I would have gotten away with it.

Anyway, our next stop was the Kinokuniya bookstore, where we spent a fair amount of time and made a few purchases. We went from there to line up for our reserved tickets to see that evening's taping of The Daily Show. We arrived a half hour early, and we were already pretty far back in the line. In fact, we were some of the last people to get tickets before they started handing out standby tickets. (There were only five people behind us who got regular tickets.) The staff of the show were really friendly and helpful. We were distressed, however, that we were standing directly behind a chain smoker for an hour...and since the tickets were handed out in order, that meant we had to stand with him for about an hour AGAIN when we came back to wait in line for the filming. That was a sickening experience. New York really needs to outlaw smoking on public sidewalks.

Between stints of waiting in line, we wandered around looking for a place to sit down and have a snack. First we spotted a Cold Stone Creamery, and we thought that would be great on a hot summer day, but when we peeked inside we saw that the entire shop only had one table with three chairs. Definitely not a good place for a rest. After more walking around, we stumbled upon Amish Market, which (aside from not having public restrooms, even for customers) was perfect. We picked up four small cakes at their dessert counter to celebrate wednesday_10_00's birthday and hung out until it was time to head back to the studio.

We thought about visiting a gaming shop while we were in the city, but a quick search on available smart phones only turned up one in our area, and it was much too far away to get there and back in time.

Watching the filming of the show was a lot of fun. They gave us dire warnings about not using electronic equipment like cell phones inside, but once the audience was all seated, they gave everyone the go-ahead to turn everything back on and Facebook/Tweet/whatever away. There was a warm-up comedian to coach us on laughing really loud for the microphones; his act was funny, though he did rely a lot on poking fun at random audience members. (This sort of backfired when one person he picked turned out to be in charge of Comedy Central International...though maybe that worked to his advantage?) Then John Oliver came out and answered questions for a few minutes before beginning the show. There was one part where the correspondent flubbed a line and had to do a retake. (If anyone wonders why the audience laughs at "bribing Nigerians" on the 7/30/2013 episode, it's because he said something different the first time.) The disadvantage of being in the audience is that sometimes one is concentrating so hard on laughing really loud at the right moment that it's hard to hear what the host is actually saying.

Once the filming concluded, we headed back to sara_tanaquil's house. On the road, however, we got stuck behind an accident that brought all four lanes to a complete stop. A number of the drivers around us decided it would be quicker to head in reverse to the nearest on ramp and try to escape that way, which worked okay for the first few who attempted it, but it soon turned into a traffic jam in reverse as well. We eventually made it through, though we were too pooped to do much but collapse into bed by the time we got back.

The following morning, we played a couple more games, but we had to interrupt our gaming to prepare for the evening's potato feast (a tradition every time we get together). This time the menu included cheesy potato casserole, hash brown casserole, and potato pizza, with two kinds of potato chips on the side. firesign10 and wrenwyn joined us for food and gaming, though they had to leave far too soon.

Thursday, 8/1, was our last full day together. We crammed as many games into the day as possible, ending with the determination to play Forbidden Island as many times as it took until we could finally win it (playing "normal" level). We did it at last, with only five (flooded) tiles left in the game. Epic!

On Friday, we all woke up super early and went with mangaroo to the airport. (More on ramp/off ramp action!) Once we returned, we played a bit and snoozed a bit (and rescued Lords of Waterdeep from a kitty) and watched more videos. At the end of the day, we thought we'd retire with another game of Pandemic, cranking up the difficulty slightly to give us a quick loss so we could all go to bed. Strangely, we got incredibly favorable card draws, and we were able to stay on top of the disease through pretty much the entire game. We were just about to lose due to running out of cards to draw, when wednesday_10_00 used her very last move to cure the final disease.

Saturday was our last day, and we spent it at a leisurely pace, only playing two games the whole morning. We interspersed that with checking out gaming-related videos and Kickstarter pages. Eventually it was time to pack up the last of our belongings and head back to the airport. I had a really tight connection due to a delay on the first leg of my trip, but I managed to hoof it quickly enough across the Minneapolis airport to catch my flight with a few minutes to spare.

It was a wonderful, memorable week! I'm grateful to everyone who attended (or hosted!), and I can't wait until we get our next chance to meet up.


[User Picture]
Date:August 7th, 2013 12:47 pm (UTC)
I thought warm-up guy lucked out with his poking fun "backfiring" on him, because it made his set funnier than it would have been otherwise. The best was the woman calling him out on asking her the same question FOUR TIMES previously, haha.

Thanks for writing about all the show details, because I was going to post about that and sort of forgot. (Also the backwards traffic jam, because we need to remember that FOREVER.)
[User Picture]
Date:August 7th, 2013 10:55 pm (UTC)
I do want to make sure that you don't forget to post the chocolate martini milkshake recipe!
[User Picture]
Date:August 8th, 2013 03:25 pm (UTC)
Oh! The original recipe is here. For the perfect milkshake amount, I increased the recipe some (for instance, for making two drinks, I used the amount for three of the original drinks). Substitute about two scoops of ice cream (per drink) for the half and half. And you could always add some chocolate syrup if you taste it and don't find it chocolatey enough.

(Mmm, I need to make sure we have vanilla ice cream so I can make some of these.)
[User Picture]
Date:August 7th, 2013 03:11 pm (UTC)
We had such a great time!! Really glad you guys were able to make it out here :-)
[User Picture]
Date:August 7th, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the trip report!! Now that everyone is gone, house is lonely and kitties are sad.

Well, Smoker was sad, for a while. Now all three of them are back in tribe mode, which I don't think you guys got to see too much of on account of their freaked-out-ness (this is when all three travel in a pack and check out everything together, sometimes for hours).
[User Picture]
Date:August 7th, 2013 06:04 pm (UTC)
Although we may not have seen full-on tribe mode, I have to say that your kitties have sold me on the idea of adopting multiple cats from the same litter (or close enough...was Smoker not a littermate?). Their different personalities and their interaction were very entertaining, and it was lovely to see cats who get along. Whenever my family had multiples, they were stranger cats and simply ignored each other.

I miss you, Smoker.
[User Picture]
Date:August 7th, 2013 06:11 pm (UTC)
Amazingly, none of the three are littermates; all three were separate foundlings. They were fosterlings together from a very young age, though, so they behave almost like littermates. ("Almost" because they rarely sleep together like littermates so often do.)

I am lucky that they get along so well, foster-siblings or not.
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