Halo Fest @ PAX 2011 Seattle, WA
1230 Hours, August 24, 2011 (Military Calendar)\
We traveled to the motel to check in. Both of us were pretty tired from the trip, so we walked up to the IHOP which was fortunately handy to the motel. I had been to an IHOP back in '85 but we don't have them in Canada (in my area anyway) so for me it was a treat. We talked about our trip and about Halo and the fact that "international" in IHOP must refer to the food and not the franchise.
Back at the motel, we decided what to do with the late afternoon/evening but were too tired to see Seattle. Just kept talking Halo into the evening, until Grimbrothers One and IV (Jeff and Matt, respectively) showed up at the same motel. We all talked shop (i.e. Halo, duh) until it was time to rest up for a full day on the town in Seattle.
0825 Hours, August 25, 2011 (Military Calendar)\
We took the motel shuttle (the one thing the inn DID provide) to the Sea-Tac Airport and boarded the Sound Transit light rail into downtown Seattle. We walked up from the Westgate terminal about two blocks to the Washington State Convention Center to see where PAX and Halo Fest would take place. We knew Halo Fest was going to be glorious as we could already see the life-size Jorge-052 statue in the window!
Got to see my partner in crime on the Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, Mr. Vociferous (Jeremy), formerly of the Ascendant Justice site, and now a go-to Halo lore guy at 343 Industries. He was busy with Halo Fest preparations so he couldn't stay long, but we'd been looking forward to meeting in person since before working on the Visual Guide even. Awesome fellow...a highlight of my Seattle visit for sure!
We then met up with some folks from the HBO and Waypoint forums (some of whom were from the Seattle area) and as a group ventured out in a few cars to an authentic Mexican eatery called Gorditos. Brad and I got to ride with Kevin in his decaled up Halo car. I recalled seeing a video of it on HBO and not only was I seeing it for real, I was getting to ride in it. As one graphic artist to another...top notch job on the graphics, Kevin! So, Gorditos. Awesome. Hadn't had the chance to have authentic Mexican cuisine before. This was amazing. Too bad I only had the one meal...would've loved to sample more on the menu. We were met late by Angelic Lionheart (Brandon) who is a whiz at driving around unfamiliar territory with a GPS.
After a great meal, we ventured out to beautiful Bellevue in the cars to visit a Mecca of sorts to most of us: Bungie Studios. It was a pipe dream to expect to get inside as they don't often give tours, but even seeing the place firsthand and taking pics to show we were there would be fun.
We arrived and made our way to the second level to Bungie's main entrance. We saw a (probably nervous) security guard at the desk inside as well as a box of the Legendary Edition Reach and the helmet and body armor of an ODST from the live-action commercial promoting the ODST game. The outside of the studio sported a large Reach mural and a few window decals of Noble Team members.
We loitered outside the studio the better part of 20 minutes like drooling fanboys making the guard ever the more nervous as we stated inside and took pics of what we could see. A few Bungie employees walked past and into the studio looking askance at the 20-odd trolls wearing Halo t-shirts hanging out at their place of employment.
We decided to head back to Seattle proper from Bellevue as we weren't getting in and it was getting to be close to suppertime. Brandon prophetically opened his camera-phone and recorded his lament that Urk should come around the corner and rescue us.
And with that phrase spoken, Eric "Urk" Osborne literally walks around the corner at that moment, sees a gaggle of rabid Halo fans between him and the safety of the studio, glances at his watch telling us it's about the end of their work day, but to follow him if we wanted the "quick tour". He made his way to the door and held it open for us and actually had to further motion to us to follow as we were so dumbstruck by our change in fortune that we stood there motionless for a second!
Inside Bungie Studios! "There are those who said this day would never come." Count me among them, Truth. To say I was honored and impressed beyond words doesn't do that thought justice. This was the studio that forged a near 10-year obsession for me. And I was inside it! I introduced myself to Urk who seemed as happy to meet me as I him. I got a picture with the man and the myth, a full-scale Master Chief statue. Damn, those Spartans are big! (Fairfax snuck into that pic as well, having traveled to Seattle).
Next we got to see some of the Weta Workshop weapon props made for the (we're-still-waiting-for-it) Halo movie that made it into the Landfall commercial. I couldn't let the opportunity pass so I boldly stepped up and asked Urk if I could pick up a weapon. He said we could go ahead and, as a scale modeler, I was in heaven! I got the chance to wield the Covenant Carbine and the Brute Spiker. Both felt right. In my many scale charts I've done I've had a good feel for how big these weapons are in real life and these didn't disappoint. The Spiker actually has a squeezable trigger that would light the two muzzles. The Carbine was just plain heavy. Brandon and Isaac were quite fond of the UNSC Sniper Rifle. I wanted to be greedy and see them all but we were a large group so I wandered on and gazed awhile at the piece of the Believe diorama that Bungie had obtained. It was the part of the model with the Chieftain triumphantly raising a presumably dead Spartan-117 aloft. As a model enthusiast, the detail was exquisite!
Next on the semi-self-guided tour was the infamous trophy wall. Some Weta sculptures and awards from Bungie's numerous and well-deserved accomplishments.
Got to even peek inside the mo-cap room which was still within the area we were allowed to roam. Saw a Marine's body armor nearby from Landfall. On our way back to the door a few of us got to say hi to Marty O'Donnell himself! Honored to shake your hand, sir! Someone in the group had the presence of mind to take a group shot of us and Urk in front of the Bungie logo and shield in the lobby before we left. Huge thanks to Urk once again for taking a pathetic lot of slack-jawed fans and giving them a tour to remember!
What an adventure! We were randomly saying to one another, "We got to visit Bungie!" and this went on into the night in complete disbelief.
Brandon, Brad and I split from the others (everyone seemed to be going separate ways at this point) and we headed to the waterfront area in Seattle to the famous Pike Place Market. We were arriving just as things were closing up but it was neat to have gotten there. Two more HBO denizens arrived at the Sea-Tac airport so we ventured out to get them. There we met Chris101b and Bryan. Still hungry, we met up with some other HBO folks and found ourselves in the company of Padraig08 (Pat) and friends at a small pub. The pizza and beer were good and the dark-haired waitress was nothing short of breathtaking! Great pub...highly recommended. Can't recall the name of the place, but that waitress was unforgettable. Anyhoo...back to Halo.
So we end off our night and head back to the motel courtesy of Bandon's superb driving skill despite the conflicting directions uttered by a certifiably rampant GPS AI. Mexican food...in-person HBOers...tour of Bungie. So ends my second day in Seattle and HALO FEST HASN'T EVEN STARTED YET!!!! If I was forced back onto a plane that night, it would still have been a fulfilling vacation.
0945 Hours, August 26, 2011 (Military Calendar)\
We made our way to the third floor and the grand entrance to Halo Fest proper. First thing that greets you as you enter Halo Fest is the Weta Warthog, none the worse for its trek across the ocean from new Zealand. Amazing to see, but as I paced it out in my size 12 shoes I came to the realization it was only 13ft in length instead of the proper 19.7ft. Only 66% of actual size. I guess they had to base it around a working car frame. Still, upon my audible revelation, I thought I heard a person comment aloud, "Christ, is that Loftus?!" My reputation precedes me, apparently. :) We weren't allowed to get into the Warthog which would've been nice...though I'm led to believe that a certain special Pete Cooper of "Operation: Chastity" fame was granted such an exalted privilege. Remember us little people, Pete. Outstanding chap, that Pete. One of the folks I was glad was able to make it. He traveled farther than me for this event.
Next to the Warthog was a life-size statue of Noble Team's Emile. You're scary, you know that? Got a pic to illustrate how I would not win in a fight with him...even as an immovable statue. The Noble statues in the venue were life-size versions of the poses that make up the Legendary Reach statue that came with the game.
Moving on there was a large screen and a booth manned by 343 Industries folk and other volunteers giving out swag. Next stop was another chunk of the Believe diorama. Hunters, Marines and building fragments. Larger than you might have expected...the Marines were larger than McFarlane figures. Near this display was an Elite in an attack pose and a stationary UNSC turret where people could pose 'firing' at the life-sized Elite. Both were flat cutouts, but the sense of scale was impressive.
Jun and Kat statues were in the next segment of the room with the Anniversary multiplayer game stations and another section of Believe diorama. This one included the Scorpion tank. The tank was a good 3ft long at a rough guess. Immense!
Around the corner from the diorama was the Commissary—the store where books, CDs, action figures, Mega-Bloks, apparel, Grunt plushies and more were being sold. In front of the Commissary was the seating for the stage at the end that facilitated most of the panels that went on over the weekend. The Carter statue was in this area.
The first panel up in the room was the Halo Community panel. Before the panelists took to the stage, some of us from HBO vied for front row seats and got 'em. The emcee for this panel was the lovely, the inimitable, BS Angel (Jessica) whom I'd just met only a short time before. She was trying to peek over the podium and adjust the too tall mic more to her liking. Peering over the podium, she asked us in the front row if we could see her OK to which I responded, "Stand up, Jessica!" She darted her head around the side of the podium at me and glared with eyes I've only seen in the most ferocious of animals before they make the killing pounce...her stare burned through my skull and through the chair behind I think...I smelled burning vinyl. I resolved then to keep the 'short jokes' to a minimum. Damn...did it again. :) Actually, I want go on record to say there's a helluva lot of generosity and spirit in that tiny frame...and, Jess, you treated me with more genuine friendship than I could have imagined...thanks again for all you did for us all at Halo Fest!
The panel's star attraction was HBO's illustrious leader, Louis Wu (Claude), whom I met just prior to the panel. An imposing giant of a man with as much warmth and genuine friendliness as comes across in the many documentaries we've all seen him in. Pretty sure he was bigger than 1:1 scale. One of my other reasons to suck up my travel phobias and fly across the continent. Awesome to have finally met you in person, Claude!
The other panelists included a Halo trickster, the Halo Charts guru, the main Halo guy from the 405th (more fellow modelers, yay!), the Podtacular host and a striking redhead crazy for Grifball.
After the panel, some of us wandered out to garb some grub. We ended up in a nearby food court that didn't adequately plan for the rabid throng of gamers descending on Seattle. Jimmy John's, the sandwich place we went to ran out of bread...not funny when you're starving. Well, I found it funny, but then, I'd ordered just before they ran out. Sorry Claude. :) Gamers sat with other gamers; it didn't matter who. I shared a table with a couple of guys from Washington D.C. there for PAX. After lunch, I wandered over to see where Brad and Claude had gotten lunch, and found Bungie's #1 fan Miguel there as well. Another long-standing HBOer I was happy to meet in person. You're a funny and genuine guy, Mig! And I totally back you up that your phone is not pink, but 'Covenant purple'.
Later in the afternoon, the panel for the Halo Universe (or more accurately the voice actor panel), was on. During the lead up to the panel several of us were secretly ushered over to a corner of the Sheraton where we found ourselves mingling with the voice actors! I got to meet Marty O'Donnell for the second time and got to meet Jen Taylor, Steve Downes, Pete Stacker, and Tim Dadabo (who'd been mingling in the Halo Fest area but I hadn't seen him then). Apparently Tim was asked to sign a guy's shirt and instead of his autograph, Tim wrote on the guy's back, "Kick me, I'm a Reclaimer". THAT's an actor who gets into a role!
Marty was a delight to talk to...very open and genuine. Pete Stacker was not who I was expecting to see. How Captain Keyes comes out of his voice is puzzling, but it's real close to his natural voice. One of my heroes from Halo 1. Steve Downes is also a class act. They were all so giving of their time for us fans. I'd overheard Jen Taylor mention to someone not to talk too loud about her as she was an unannounced guest and a surprise for the panel. I made my way over with this info and introduced myself. I followed up by saying I'd heard she was a surprise guest and would be happy to keep her secret for a hug. She grabbed me around the neck and we hugged. Happy. She was awesome to talk to.
The actors then went into the panel room and took the stage. Those of us fortunate enough to be near them were let in before the gathering crowd to occupy the front rows of the panel. Treated like rock stars we were! The panel was funny and informative.
When the panel ended, we again got to mingle with the stars. I got a picture of myself with Jen, Marty and Steve. After a short while around them, they felt like good friends with whom we were on a first-name basis. Unreal! I do regret not asking Jen Taylor to join me for supper. The second best thing to actually dining with Jen Taylor would be bragging that I got turned down by Jen Taylor. :)
Met some other HBOers after the panel as well. Avateur and his girlfriend Wilshire2. I'd been online with Avateur a week or so before and knew he'd be there so I was on the lookout. Wilshire2 I knew often played in his group but I had no idea they were going out. Awesome to meet you in person Wilshire! Oh, and you too, Avateur. :p
For supper, the HBO gang walked down from the convention center towards the famous Seattle Space Needle. Got as close a shot as I could. Didn't quite get to it, but we were only a few blocks away at the Hurricane Café.
Too big a group for the staff's liking, but they were going to make some cash so they sucked up their discomfort. We were sent to a secluded room (away from the Muggles I guess), and most of the HBO crowd occupied a long table. I sat at what we called the kid's table. But it was the best table because it had artiste extraordinaire Leviathan (Levi), his super-awesome hottie girlfriend Maddie, and our HBO t-shirt champion Kanbo (Robby). Levi, Robby and I discussed the finer detailed points of Halo and Maddie tolerated us. :p Actually, she's a trooper and chimed in with some Halo talk as well. This is where our first big HBO group photo was taken on Kermit7's camera by a helpful café staffer.
The evening plan was the giant VIP Party for those lucky enough to stick around after hours! Got to meet many more 343 Industries folks that evening. I tried looking for Jeremy to hang out with. Met his cohort Cocopjojo (Jacob) also formerly of Ascendant Justice. We'd played on Live a few times and I was looking forward to meeting him. We tried to find Jeremy but couldn't. Ninja. There was also a large Halo-themed cake...enough for the whole crowd.
I met up with 343i's Kevin Grace. His surname does him justice as he was so nice and very generous with his time and attention. He was also going to help me track down Jeremy and as we moved about, he was introducing me to 343 colleagues. What was a little embarrassing and yet the most humbling introduction Kevin gave of me was this: "Guys, this is Stephen Loftus who worked with Jeremy on the Visual Guide. You guys know how much Jeremy knows about Halo? Well when Jeremy has a question, he comes to this guy". I think I was going to tear up...Kevin, I really loved getting to spend some of the VIP party with you. You treated me better than I deserved. Major highlight of the trip. Kevin Grace.
Finally found Jeremy and we hung around for a while and got to play some Anniversary multiplayer together. He showed me the History wall of all the Halo games.
While walking around with Jeremy, Avateur, with his group, stopped me to ask a question about something in the Visual Guide. I told him he might as well get the answer from the author himself and introduced him to Jeremy (Vociferous). The look on Avateur's face was priceless. Having just waylaid Jeremy for a while, heh-heh, I stepped back a few steps and found Jonathan Goff. I had brought along my copy of Evolutions and got him to sign his Headhunters story and we chatted about Halo. Coolness.
Into the evening, none of us wanted to leave, but it was closing time. We loitered out on the sidewalk because we weren't done partying. We saw Sage's Beard and I guess by extension, Sage Merrill, and another Bungie familiar to all of us on HBO, JonnyOThan (Jon Cable). A few more Bungie folks were seen leaving the premises and with that, we called it a night and turned in. Brandon the Lionhearted saw some pretty flashing colors that evening, but that's a story for him to tell if he wishes... :)
1400 Hours, August 27, 2011 (Military Calendar)\
The next event was the toy panel, "Halo: Building a Universe". Sat through some of the panel with 343i's Alison Stroll until some Fest task got her up and about. It was cool to see Todd McFarlane for reals. I've been buying his Halo action figures since 2007. As a scale modeler, the making of an action figure isn't too different from model scratchbuilding. I've done many of the things they do there to make toys. Cool. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to meet Todd in person. During the panel, Adam (405th) and another occupied the Halo 4 Chief and Noble Six costumes. Cool to see. Had my hand up a few times to answer the Q&A contest after the panel to win toys. I wasn't called on the one asking the diameter of the Halo ring, but Kanbo was. He actually gave me his prize (a Reach action figure armor set) as he'd already had that one. Curiously, I didn't already own that one. Thanks again, Robby!
Right up afterward was the Halo Universe Fiction panel. The panelists included Cryptum's Greg Bear, new trilogy author Karen Traviss, 343i's Kevin Grace, and a Marvel comic artist and Marvel writer. Great panel and lots of cool talk of what's to come. I was called out by Kevin Grace (about 25 min. in) when he was talking about generating new fiction and the community's penchant for dissecting and analyzing that info. Sounds like some great new fiction is on the way though!
The evening was a particular highlight for me. A few chosen leaders from the various Halo communities were invited for some private play of Halo: Anniversary's multiplayer maps and some party time at 343 Industries itself. They had only room enough for 24 guests, along with Tim Dadabo and Pete Stacker. I was invited because of my work on the Essential Visual Guide. 343i's studio is in the Seattle 'burb Kirkland in the former Safeway building that Bungie occupied during the development of Halo 2, 3, and ODST. A lot of gaming history here. Approaching the building, I first noticed the special employee parking spot. "Reserved Parking - Chief of the Week". Cute.
Sadly, not a lot of pics taken inside. I took a few of the front lobby area. There's a giant Anniversary poster, some framed artwork of the 'Definitive' novels, and lots of other posters and collectibles in the corridor that used to be Bungie's 'trophy wall' seen on the famous Bungie webcam. We could only venture from the lobby to the trophy corridor to the play test room (with 17 stations of Xboxes). Watched some Anniversary maps played for a while (as there were 24 of us and only 17 stations...I arrived later than most as Mr. Vociferous doesn't quite know the route between Seattle and his workplace...though we had some awesome Halo discussions while we retraced our route.) (Sorry Jeremy, I had to call you out on that one!) :)
Shortly after arriving, pizza arrived. I grabbed two slices and a Coke and sat on a couch in the lobby. Pete freaking Stacker grabs some pizza and sits down next to me! Then, Tim Dadabo sits on the other side of me in a chair! The last chair across from us was occupied by Grimbrother One! Can you top that?! I tried not to talk too much Halo with them as they must've heard that constantly while at Halo Fest. Pete and I (yes, we're on a first name basis, what of it?) talked about his home sound studio and the engineering principles behind anechoic chambers. The guy's a genius when it come to the sound medium! We also talked about his daughter out east in the hurricane's path that had been moving up the eastern US that weekend. Pete also told me definitively that I WASN'T flying out Monday morning, but as it turns out, I did. He also mentioned some of the voice work he's done for games in casinos which is the industry in which I work. Pretty cool! Tim and Jeff were talking shop and Pete and I interjected some conversation as well.
After out pizza, we were back to the play test room and this time I got to play on the remakes of Headlong, Timberland, and Damnation. Can't wait for November. We also got a sneak-peek that night of the video to be shown during the Halo 4 panel. We all had to sign NDAs not to Facebook, Tweet, or discuss our knowledge until after the panel Sunday morning. Miguel Chavez was told to put his camera away. He asked is he could turn it around and record his expression at seeing the video. Pete, in his Sgt. Stacker voice, told Mig to the effect: "You will write a letter to your next of kin should you discuss what you've seen here tonight. And I hope there's a lot of them because there are going to be many, many body parts." Mig put his camera away. Stacker's awesome!
At the end of the night, we gathered in front of the trophy wall for a group hug photo. The photo setup was caught on Waypoint's ViDoc about Halo Fest. I'll make a shot available here. We signed our NDAs on the way out and found our rides back to our hotels. What an incredible night!
0400 Hours, August 28, 2011 (Military Calendar)\
First order of business of the day (well, after breakfast), was the Halo 4 panel (which I still couldn't discuss). It was held in Seattle's magnificent Paramount Opera House a couple of blocks from the Convention Center. A group had already formed outside and we found ourselves at the back of a long line. Not a problem. We're HBO! I'm still unsure why, but security folks for the event moved us along and past the waiting throng and ushered us inside the opera house. Have I mentioned that we were treated like rock stars this whole weekend!? About 25 of us lingered inside the lobby chatting about Halo until the panel was set up. I got to meet Commander Tony, the current Grand-Poobah of Halopedia which was another treat for me...seeing as much of my article info and images end up there. He's a great fellow and I enjoyed our conversation.
Time to go inside and get seated. The event staff had another treat for us! We were sent to another entrance with stairs and were told we'd occupy the front rows of the balcony! What!? Rock stars, man! We filed in and sat down. Someone noted that the seats were numbered and we were in the low hundred where we were. Everyone's first thought was to find number 117 of course. Turns out seat 117 was randomly occupied by Levi's muse, Maddie. A comedy of errors ensued as Mig tried to get Claude to see seat 117, the nameplate of which happened to be between Maddie's knees. Juvenile pranks aside, congrats, Maddie, for nabbing the seat we all would have loved to boast about and for not killing the lot of us for our brief reversion to grade school maturity!
This opera house was enormous and the ceiling was impossibly far above us even from the balcony. An epic locale for an epic panel. Halo 4. Panelists include the main artist, sound guy, creative guy, the exec producer and our beloved Frankie. The panel is online but suffice it to say Halo 4's shaping up to be an epic-scope game! Got an additional video of the perils of new sound design. The Q&A section of the panel mostly involved the expected "No", "I don't know yet", and "We can't discuss it".
Back at Halo Fest, we met up with some of the 343 management, notably Halo 4 exec producer Kiki Wolfkill (from the previous panel), Alison Stroll, and the tip of the 343 pyramid, Bonnie Ross. This was on the second level of the Halo Fest building where the event staff and 343i folks could hang out away from us Halo fans. We saw a costumed Brute from the "We are ODST" commercial. He was in a hurry to be somewhere so the only pics I could snag are blurry. Claude and I made sure Levi got to present his Fistful of Arrows print to the head of Halo 4's art department. They had a nice discussion and I hope they're impressed enough to give my man Levi some work in the near future.
Up to the Halo Fest third floor, I got to wander around with Levi and Maddie. We played some Anniversary Firefight together. We wandered to the Halo story panels at the back corner of the floor and talked about the giant UNSC ship concept art and traded cameras to get our pics taken with the full-sized Master Chief statue. I don't think I was supposed to but I stood on the disc platform the statue was mounted on so I'd have a good indicator of John's height compared to mine.
Also in the Halo History section were cabinets filled with Halo paraphernalia including some full sized weapon props.
It was then time for Eddie Smith's art signing. We weren't too far back in the line. I was looking forward to meeting Eddie Smith as he was the concept artist for some of Halo 2's assets. In particular, he's responsible for one of my fav objects in the game, Cairo Station! It was a pleasure talking to him about it. He was initially confused about what I was talking about until it was put in terms he could relate to...he knows it as "human space station" as his efforts concentrated on the concept stage. I told him I had a few other questions about the design and would email him after the con to discuss and I didn't want to hold up the line selfishly. (I still owe you that email Eddie!) While waiting, I chatted up a cute blonde wearing a 343i t-shirt. She was minding the Commissary and Eddie's signing gig. I found out Michelle is Atlantic Canadian and lived only a few hours from where I used to live, so it was great to meet someone from my neck of the woods who's working at 343 Industries! Michelle, did you notice the Sobeys bag I had all my swag in? A taste of home. :) She'll know what I mean. We talked about her job which includes the write-ups you see on the backs of figure packages and other merchandise. She indicated she even used the Visual Guide recently to find out some info for some Halo merchandise packages. Even she had heard of me. Man, Jeremy must talk about me a lot at work!
The remainder of the day was wandering Halo Fest and talking to the HBO folks and 343i employees we could find. I even found Joe Staten whom I wanted to meet. He was just visiting the con with his son when I tracked him down. He graciously gave me an autograph and stayed for a short chat until his young boy was wandering too far out of sight. Thanks, Joe!
When Halo Fest finally closed its doors, saddened, we said our goodbyes to the 343 staff that took care of us so well and threw us the best party they could. A group of us decided to wander to get something for supper. We ended up downstairs of a little place a few blocks away from Halo Fest. Turns out some of the 343 staff wandered that way too and we ended up having a fantastic meal with HBO folks and 343 staff! I think I had the best table in the house. Grim One to my left, Levi to my right, and the lovely Maddie right across from me. ;) Grim IV and Lionheart were also at the table. Jessica (BS Angel) and her 343 tribe were at the table behind me. Memory's getting fuzzy on the details one month later but the table ahead of me had Kermit, Padraig, and crew. I think the entire downstairs was all Halo fans. Ideal as we were a little loud. More teary farewells after this final meal of the weekend together. Thanked Jessica AGAIN for showing us Halo fans such a good time...got my third or fourth hug in and said an actual goodbye (having said goodbye to her inside Halo Fest, outside at closing, and now again after supper). I was OK with it as she's very huggable. :)
The HBO crowd still with us wandered back to the Sheraton to say our goodbyes to HBO's head honchos, Claude and Mig. We still had Brandon, Isaac, the Grims, Levi, Maddie and Brad with us. They were in the Sheraton lounge having a few drinks so we joined them before trying for the midnight light rail ride back to the motel. Got a pic with myself, Claude, Mig and Isaac and another with myself and the Grimbrothers. Snapped a pic of the group, and finally, a pic with my bud Levi and the always-stunning Maddie.
We all said our goodbyes after a nice discussion. We ended up missing our light rail ride by about ten minutes, so we crammed five of us into a taxi van and went back to the motel.
0430 Hours, August 29, 2011 (Military Calendar)\
So ended one of the best weeks I have ever spent in my entire life! (When I say "best weeks ever" its with the caveat that I've been with my lovely lady for 14 years, so, you know...perspective...she WILL be reading this.) :)
The memories made here and the friends met will be with me always. HUGE thanks to all (HBO/343i/Bungie) who made this an unforgettable experience of a lifetime!