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Kharmin’s Grand Adventure

“Adventure is a wonderful thing!”
OwlPooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin

Having a two and a half year old child certainly alters the selections of DVDs that are viewed in our house. One of her favorites, Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, has the whole Winnie the Pooh gang at a loss because they cannot find their friend. Pooh is especially distraught because he feels happiest when “you and me become ‘we’” and everything is right in his silly-old bear head. He cannot believe that Christopher Robin left him without saying goodbye– only leaving a pot of hunny and a note.

The gang takes the note to Owl, the wise sage of the bunch, and sorting through the sticky honey that Pooh inadvertently spilled on it, he is able to make out that their friend desperately needs their help. Muddling through the words, he determines that Christopher Robin is at a place called “Skull”, a fearsome and dreadful place. The gang sets out to rescue him, much to Owl’s delight, and he breaks out into song about how wonderful adventuring can be; however, he declines to join the group as he ushers them on their merry way (“I salute you,” he says, “and those of you doomed to never return, I salute you twice!”).

So what does this have to do with me? Well, this past weekend I embarked upon an adventure of my own. As I’ve stated before, I have been playing the online version of Magic: The Gathering. The company that produces it, maintains an online forum and over the past two years I have “met” quite a few interesting people. A few months ago, it was suggested that we all meet for the weekend near the company’s headquarters and raid…um… tour the facilities.

My wife was quite skeptical about the whole thing, but after some determination on my part, we decided that I could go. This meant a trip to Seattle, Washington which would include an airplane ride with at least one layover. The date was set, and the tickets purchased (I used and off I went!

While on the plane, which due to a crazy delay in Denver (the plane was boarding, but we had no pilot! I volunteered, but was turned down when I said, “How difficult can it be to get to Seattle from Denver? Just go west and when you hit water, turn right.”), I got to thinking: here I am, going to a place I’ve never been, to meet people I’ve never met, at a time I never thought I’d do so. What an adventure!

It gets better.

One of the players (we’re collectively known as beebers) offered to host the event as his house was near the headquarters we wanted to visit. Although he did warn us about the train tracks that run by his house, he never really mentioned that they ran a mere 15 yards from his house. Oh, and that there was a signal planted there which instructed the engineer to wail on the diesel’s horn because of the upcoming intersection. Immune to the incredibly loud freight train, our host slept through the 3 trains per hour that passed by the house all night long. I should know; I counted them.

The next morning, on a mere 3 hours of sleep over the past 36 hours, we made our raid on the game’s headquarters. Having been warned of our coming, they met us with smiles, t-shirts and other swag before giving us the grand tour. We met quite a lot of the game’s team and were well received… until they fed us to their dragon!

It so happened that this was the same weekend as the PAX07 Convention, at which the company had a booth. Not to be outdone by the dragon attack, we showed up the next day at their booth and continued to harass them. Well, we didn’t actually harass them, but we did stop by and meet more of the employees that we weren’t able to meet (oh, and to score some more swag. I got a Gleemax brain– how cool is that?)

We concluded the weekend with excellent food (I had a wonderful vanilla milk shake from Tully’s– so good, I had two! I am probably the only one who goes to Seattle, enters a coffee shop and orders a milk shake), some gaming and very good discussions. The trip was a blast and meeting people whom I had only spoken with through game-chats and forums’ threads was worth it. Friendships made on-line were solidified in person, and we all promised to try to do this again.

So now I sit, homeward bound on a 737 (with a layover in Vegas!) typing up this experience for you to read. I am on the red-eye and should be landing tomorrow morning at my home destination, hopefully with enough energy to secure my luggage, find my truck and drive back home to a quick shower before I tumble into bed. Sleep should come easily as I will have no freight trains to disturb me (actually, they ran fewer of them as the weekend went on. Either that, or I was too fatigued to be awakened by them).

Perhaps not such a grand adventure by Pooh standards, since I didn’t have to rescue anyone. Nonetheless, I am returning home triumphant in that the journey accomplished that which it was set out to do.

Thankfully, no one needed to salute me twice.

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