Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Matthew's Sakura-Con 2017 Report: Part 1 - Prologue + Day Zero

Columbia Center from street level looking up
A journey to the unknown. A place that none of us have ever been to before, yet have dreamed about for years. If anything, it was a test to see how far "we could go."

This was Seattle. This was Sakura-Con, a convention that has been in our radar for years.

Both our blog and this convention are on anniversaries - we're celebrating our 10 years while Sakura-Con is celebrating their 20 years. It seems like fate that we're both celebrating together while accomplishing what was once a fleeting, distant thought.

And this time around, we wanted to tell the complete adventure - not just the convention itself - in a style that calls to us.


The "Road to Sakura-Con" on my end started Wednesday at 7:30pm when Nate had texted me that he had arrived in Sacramento and was waiting at Sacramento Valley Station. Since I don't live far from downtown and therefore not far from the train station, I picked him up shortly before 8pm. Then began the first leg of the almost 12 hour drive, from Sacramento to Medford were Ryan was waiting for us. We made two stops along the way, one a rest stop outside of Williams and one to get gas in a town called Weed - yes, there is a city in California called Weed. What made this leg of the trip interesting was my first interaction with "Miku-chan" driving on snow - the town of Weed is right next to Mount Shasta, but was clear and it wasn't snowing so no chain controls were needed. Of course, Nate and I had a bit of fun attempting to snow drift Miku-chan and having a small snowball fight.

Snow on the ground in Weed, CA
We crossed into the Oregon border shortly after midnight and into Medford city limits about thirty minutes afterwards. Since both of us were hungry and only had light food coming up, we went to Shari's, a regional chain diner that is open 24 hours. But unlike the Shari's that I know next to my house in Sacramento, this one looked more modern. After eating, we went over to WinCo, a 24-hour employee-owned grocery store with competitive prices; we picked up some Crater Lake Soda to celebrate our arrival. Shortly thereafter, I passed out as Nate continued to play card games with Ryan and his roommates.

The one person not present at the moment was Brandon would be joining us for the remainder of the trip up. He would arrive right as I woke up Thursday morning.

I got enough sleep to make the second leg, the longer leg of the journey, from Medford through Oregon and Washington up to Seattle. This would be assisted by an Oregon staple - Dutch Bros, their equivalent of Starbucks. Dutch Bros started in Grants Pass, which is not far from Medford, and there were at least two within walking distance and nearly a half dozen in a short radius - compared to me having to travel to Elk Grove and Roseville just to get Dutch Bros. If we didn't amaze Nate with Shari's and WinCo, he was blown away by the coffee quality and variety that Dutch Bros can offer especially since he was from the Bay Area and had none of these.

After a second run to WinCo for water and snacks, we went off to Jasper's, a local burger joint that was totally worth the visit before leaving. Their shakes were wonderful, the fries were fresh and crisp, and the burger was juicy and packed full of flavor.

The Menu
A view of the Doc Holiday, fries, and the Strawberry-Pineapple-Mango shake I had

Shortly after noon, we started the second leg. We would of arrived in Seattle earlier if it wasn't for a) the constant change in weather, like Oregon weather couldn't change its mind between sunny, downpour, sunny again, downpour again, sunny again, HAILING; and b) Portland traffic and the lack of carpool lanes, which totally canceled out the parts were I didn't have to pay sales tax and don't have to pump my own gas (but won't top me off because blah blah bad for the environment blah blah).

By 5:30pm we crossed into Washington state and had reached Seattle by 8pm, just in time to check-in at the hotel and pick up our badges at the gorgeous Washington State Convention Center.

4th Ave South and South Jackson St looking north towards the Columbia Center and Smith Tower
We made it.

There were only two things left for us to do - a late-night grocery run over at Safeway, and to try out Dick's Drive-In, Seattle's version of In-N-Out. Compared to Jasper's, it was a basic, down-to-earth burger with simple ingredients but for what it was, it was a decent, well-priced burger.

The Washington State Convention Center on the eve of Day One
Pike and 8th with Pike Place Market in the background
Back at the hotel, you would think would be sound asleep after a eight hour drive. But as you can see in our pre-convention thoughts video, we were up well into the twilight hours. And thus began a common theme that would define the weekend - Persona 5 memes, primarily Ryuji's "meat explosions" line, Morgana telling you to "go to bed," and the lyrics from "Last Surprise."

-Day -1 and Day Zero End-

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