We took a trip to San Carlos 10/26 – 11/2 with a friend of ours. To get there we flew into Phoenix and rented a car. It takes about 10 hours to drive from Phoenix. In town we did our standard neighborhood walks, beach time, and restaurants. We also did several geocaches. All of the caches were a bit of hike to get to and one was on an island that only has land access at low tide. On one of the cooler days we hiked the Nacapule canyon trail. The Nacapule canyon is a few miles north of town and part of a national park. We also went into Guyamas to check out a pearl factory and the Three Presidents square. It was a fun trip and I’ve put up a gallery of photos here.
For our 42nd birthday, we made a pilgrimage to the biggest board game convention in the world: Essen Spiel, in Essen Germany. The convention is setup for board game vendors to promote their latest games to the gaming public and press. There is a gallery of all the photos here.
We took a cruise of the Black sea and Mediterranean with my parents and my brother’s family to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. It was a 14 day cruise with stops in Greece, Istanbul, Bulgaria, Romania, Valletta, Sicily and Italy. The ship docked at a new port most days, and we would either tour on our own or take a tour organized by the ship. We got back on board for dinner as a group each night and the ship moved on to the next port while we slept.
It was a great trip and it was very nice to have time with my family. I’ve posted a bunch of pictures here.
We attended PAX East with Mesa Mundi again this year. We had a lot of fun and got some good feedback about our games. It was great to see Toby, Rebecca, Matt and Laura again and nice to meet Liz and the guys from Lifeform Entertainment. It was also exhausting and stressful, but it is worth it to see people enjoying our games.
This year we stayed with the rest of the Mesa Mundi team in Norwood (about 25 miles out of town) and rode with them to and from the convention. We got to spend a lot more time with them this year and even met Toby and Rebecca’s kids. It felt more like we were members of the team.
See all the pictures of the Mesa Mundi booth.
We went to the UK and Ireland with my parents this September. We started and ended in London and took in Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England. It was a good trip and we saw a lot of the countries. We also had excellent weather: We had a couple foggy days and got rained on once. But that is great for the UK in September.
Our tour started in London. London was probably my favorite city because it has an impressive density of attractions and sites and is easy to get around. You can see Westminster Abbey, Westminster palace, Big Ben and the London Eye from one spot.
If you walk for five minutes you pass 10 Downing street, the Horse Guards, several war memorials and arrive at Trafalgar square. The National Gallery is right there, and you are another five minutes from Buckingham Palace and the Royal Society or the British museum. Plus, there are lots of old buildings and historical markers.
Our tour included a driving tour of the city and the tour guide could barley keep up describing the sites that we passed on the bus. On this tour we got to see some of the more famous modern buildings, the Tower of London, and the Tower bridge.
The museums have some impressive artifacts. We especially liked the Rosetta stone and the clock display in the British museum and both Leonardo da Vince’s notebook and Mozart’s ‘Summary of works’ in the British Library. The British Museum as a huge collection of artifacts from other countries. It is really amazing the amount of stuff they took and haven’t given back.
The single site that I was most eager to see was Stonehenge, and I was not disappointed. In fact it was a bit cooler than I anticipated. They have made changes to the site within the past year to move the parking away from the site and make it more peaceful. Between that and the large radius ring that people are allowed into, you could get away from the crowds and noise and enjoy the site.
At Bath we saw the reconstructed Roman baths. The neatest thing here were the “curses”. If you were robbed or wronged by someone (especially if you didn’t know who did it), you could write your complaint on a lead sheet and throw it into the water to ask the gods to punish them.
In Cardiff, we took a tour of Cardiff castle. We ended up touring the portion that were renovated in the early 1800s by the local coal baron. The baron (John Stewart) had good taste, the decorations were lavish and everything was still in good shape. Some highlights were the children’s room with fairy tales painted on the walls, the smoking room with game tables, and the dining room where the table was setup to allow live grape vines to be brought in so that diners could have fresh grapes off the vine for dessert.
We spent a few days in Ireland before we arrived in Dublin, mostly looking at scenery. We had a nice history tour in Waterford, drove around the Ring of Kerry, took a cruise on the Beara peninsula, and kissed the Blarney stone. The highlight of this period was visiting a demonstration farm where they showed life for an Irish farmer before the potato famine. We got to see peat, their poitin still, and the houses. We ate a traditional meal of lamb stew and brown bread and tried Poitín.
In Dublin we saw the Guinness brewery with the tour (very overcrowded) and happened into an Octoberfest. We saw Trinity college with the Book of Kels and the long room that was used for some library scenes in Harry Potter. We went to Kilmainham Gaol and the Little Museum of Dublin where we learned a bunch of Ireland’s history. There was a great quote at the prison: “If the prison does not underbid the slum in human misery, the slum will empty and the prison will fill.” We did a couple of geo-caches and I went to a “Musical Pub Crawl” which was a mix of music and Irish musical history lesson.
Back in England we went to Liverpool. The tour took us to a bunch of Beatles stuff, but there were also a lot of cool buildings. The best was the modern (1970s) Gothic style Anglican cathedral made of red sandstone.
It took a full day of travel to get up to Edinburgh in Scotland. On the way we took a nice boat ride on Windermere lake. In Edinburgh was toured the castle, walked up Scott Monument for views of the city, and toured the Royal Yacht Britannia. The Yacht was used by the Queen for vacations and had a cool room of gifts the Queen received on her travels. It was also interesting to see the vast differences in the bedrooms of the Queen, officers and crewmen.
In Edinburgh we had our most interesting meal of the trip at “Amber” by the castle. They had an extensive (350) Scottish whiskey selection and we both tried one. We learned that the smokey Scottish whiskey gets the smokey flavor from using peat to heat the mash. We also tried Haggis; it could be mistaken for ground beef or mild ground lamb. For dessert we had a whiskey whipped cream with raspberry.
On the way back south to London we stopped at York and saw a chunk of Hadrian’s wall. The part that we saw was small, but it was still neat to see something nearly 2000 years old. At York we toured the old town and saw the impressive cathedral. The next day we stopped at Stratford-upon-Avon to see Shakespeare’s birthplace and Warwick castle. At the castle we saw them fire the world’s largest trebuchet. The last stop before London was in Oxford. We saw the deposit library on campus, the Bodleian, and toured one of the colleges (Brasnose).
Back in London we took in the London Eye, Tate Modern, the Victoria and Albert museum and the Natural History museum. The Tate has a lot of art that we liked and the Natural History museum is housed in an impressive building with a cool main hall. We also walked around Hyde park and checked out Harrod’s department store.
On our last day in London we went out to the Greenwich Observatory where the prime meridian is located. We toured the museum there and saw the telescopes used to make transit observations. We stood with one foot in each hemisphere and found the spot about 100 meters away where GPS registers zero. They are off because GPS uses an oblate earth model, so the only place where the GPS meridian and the original meridian line up are at the equator and poles.
We traveled back to the Tower of London on a Thames river boat and walked around the tower. They are doing a WW I commemoration right now where the Tower moat is filled with one red poppy for each service member who died in the war.
We attended PAX again this year to demonstrate our games at the Mesa Mundi booth. We had a great time playing our games with the attendees and demonstrating Fire Platoon. The Mesa Mundi booth was larger this year and we had a bigger space and a much larger table.
We were on a 60″ table using the new SensaTouch IR sensor and modular wooden table frame. It did mean that we were standing all weekend, but it was actually easier than sitting and leaving over to touch the coffee-table sized screen we were on last year.
From the time the hall opened at 10, till it closed at 6, we were always busy playing games. We mostly played Pair Soup because it is super easy and cooperative. People could walk up and join a game any time. By the end of the weekend we had played 160 games of Pair Soup. That adds up to about 13 hours! We were really glad to have the new tile sets.
There was an overhead walkway above us, and many people stopped at our booth saying that they had seen the game from above and had to try it out. We also played quite a bit of Fas’Jack, Dungeon Raiders, Got It and Yacht with people who stuck around for a second or third game.
We played several games of Fire Platoon and people seemed to enjoy it. People didn’t have trouble learning the game and controls and the tablets worked well. The WiFi was much better than last year, but it was still hard for some people to connect to the game.
The other quadrants of the booth were occupied by d20 Pro; a system for running a role playing game, another game table running a fast paced competitive game called WhackIt, and a demo of the modular table system.
There are lots more pictures of PAX and a few of Boston in my gallery.
We took a trip to New York City to visit my brother and his new baby. We had a great time seeing them and touring the city. They have a nice apartment in Astoria and they were kind enough to let us stay with them for the week.
In addition to meeting my new niece, we also took the opportunity to get legally married. Colorado has separate-but-equal civil unions, but with DOMA struck down, we needed to get married in a state where it is truly legal for the federal government to treat us as married.
We also wanted to go to New York to visit a haunted house called Blackout. Unlike most haunted houses, at Blackout you go through the experience alone, the actors can touch you, you have to sign a waiver, and there is even a safe word. They call themselves a “haunted experience” and I wasn’t really as scared as I was disturbed.
I’ve posted pictures of our sight-seeing here: Gallery.
William’s nephew and his wife came to visit us for four full days last week. It gave us a chance to go places and try activities that we hadn’t gotten around to without the extra motivation of having company. Their visit ended up being a “staycation” for us. When they left, it felt like coming home from a real vacation.
We went to Boston to demonstrate our touch table games at the Mesa Mundi booth at PAX. We allowed a couple extra days so that we could do some sight seeing around the city. The highlight of the trip was PAX. PAX would have been pretty cool even if we weren’t vendors, but we got a lot of joy and satisfaction from watching people enjoying our games.