I've been to RTX 2016, you know? In my last journal entry, I talked about buying my RTX ticket. Well, I'm well beyond that.
Around mid-June, I flew to Canada, where I joined my parents. We drove along the Rocky mountains, which were beautiful. I had a way too close of an encounter with a black bear, but fortunately it didn't react. Day 5 came out the day after my flight, and I watched the first episode while jet-lagged. Boy, what a terrifying experience that was. We drove from Calgary up to Hinton, and back in time for an Ingress anomaly satellite. I got a lot of walking done between the anomaly and the Mission Day the following day. I walked across downtown Calgary at least 3 times those days.
The day after, I flew to Austin, Texas, where I stayed for a week, ending with RTX. At the airport I already came across a couple of Guardians and an RTX attendant from Holland, and I already knew it was going to be a big event.
It was hot. I mean, I heard people talk about Texan summer, and I thought I knew the heat from Israel, but it was something else. Whereas we have this level of heat for a couple of days, 5 max, the entire southern part of the United States experiences it for the entire summer. So I had to battle myself to go outside for touring and eating. I guess I landed on some poor food joints. Now, I'm not a food critic, but I'll say this: I didn't eat for close to 24 hours by the time I reached my motel room, and I got a recommendation for a diner nearby by the reception guy. As hungry as I was, I went to the Star Seeds Cafe and ordered buffalo wings and a hamburger. It was rather poor. The wings were sour to a point I wasn't sure they were made right, and the hamburger lacked in taste. Jimmy John's sandwich wasn't that much better. On the other hand, on the last day before RTX I came to Hoover's Cooking and it was a blast. I kinda feel bad I didn't get there earlier in the week, so that I could have tried more dishes.
On the day before Hoover's Cooking, I walked to the capitol and did some Ingress missions going around it and down Congress avenue, ate a hotdog at Frank, as recommended by a local. That hotdog was so alien to me, I had troubles processing the taste, but overall I got out of there with a good feeling, though not quite full. I continued to walk to the convention center, for recon, ate at the small hamburger place on the other side of the road to the south of the convention center, which was pretty good, and continued to ride a train up north to meet up with Kyle, Ethan and Reid from the YouTube channel WhiteLightningHQ. Great guys, despite being occupied by boring stuff such as finding me a way back to my motel, it was fun.
RTX came. In the motel, I already saw people with passes and shirts having breakfast. On my hike to the convention center, I saw people walking in that direction, and a nice attendant even pointed me towards the pass claim. The lines are my biggest complaint. Everything was a line. You want your pass? Stand in a line. Want to go into a panel? Stand in a line to go inside a room with a SECOND line. I wish I had a VIP pass.
On the first day, my schedule wasn't very tight, and I felt like I wasn't getting the most out of the event. The hamburger place to the south was closed, and it just didn't feel like my day. The panels I did get into were pretty nice, though, which I think were only Achievement Hunter BTS and RWBY music.
On the second day, I had such a good time, that day in my memory has a banner over it saying "IT WAS GOOD". I got into the RWBY panel I missed the day before, I got into the Day 5 panel. And the shining star of that day's incredible success was Jeff Williams' Freelance Orchestra, which was insanely fun. I sat next to a couple of RTX attendants from a country in South America which eludes me, the seats were great, and we had loads of fun. Day 2 of RTX was a success. Whatever I expected RTX to be, day 2 delivered. Just to illustrate, you know how RT's guys say RTX is the place where you can approach any attendant and make friends with them? The concert started with this quartet playing some obscure music, which got less and less obscure until they started playing the Halo theme, in which point you could hear the entire audience hum the theme's choir along with the music. It was, in a lack of a better word, magical. At that point, you knew you were surrounded by people who really DO share your hobbies.
On the third day, I got straight into the booth hall to find the quartet from the concert, and buy their 4-track RWBY trailers' music cover CD for a friend who wasn't blessed to be present at the convention. I then continued to buy a T-shirt at the physical RT store whose line wasn't packed like in the previous days. I got the Very Fine Line shirt, which I sort of messed up like within the first time I put it in the washing machine with my hat. I got to Supergiant Games' booth to check out their new game, Pyre, and went on to the RWBY Chibi animation panel, which was a fun little thing, and the RTAA panel which turned out to be a panel you must go to in every RTX, which was a pleasant surprise.
All in all, RTX was my first convention, and it was one hell of an experience. Totally worth it.
After that I flew to Paradise, Nevada, and joined a tiny organized group to travel and hike around Utah's national parks including but not limited to Zion, Bryce and Arches. Monument Valley was also part of it, with a tour lead by Navajo people.
It was rough, it wasn't something that fit my personality much, but overall I'm glad I tried it out and had the experience to take me out of my comfort zone and into some situations I would have gotten into otherwise. I could write so much more about his part of the trip, but I already wrote a lot already.
After that was done, my tour guide gave me a lift to the Greyhound station in Vegas, where I embarked on a bus ride from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Washington DC. I mentioned that gap between Las Vegas and NYC in my previous journal entry, and that's what I came up with: a 3 days long bus ride to Washington DC, a 4 days long stay in DC, and an other shorter ride to NYC.
The bus ride was awful. I won't blame Greyhound for it, their buses were pretty roomy, the seats were comfortable, and each seat had its own power socket for personal electronics. It was just too long, and some crazy woman on board was disturbing everyone's peace for 2 days straight. I have troubles sleeping on buses, and that woman did NOT help my situation. I got to Washington DC dead tired, at 4 something AM, and I had to wait until 11 to get my bed in the hostel I booked. Also, when I got to the hostel's neighborhood, I saw a taped off section of the sidewalk with two police officers who told me some guy was lynched on the street. After seeing splatters of what I assumed to be blood, I knew I had to spend the next 5 hours outside, and keep myself awake at all costs.
I got into the hostel at 10am, slept on the couch for a hour until I got woken up and led to my bed, at which point I spent the following 24 hours sleeping.
Out of the four days of my stay in DC, I spent 1 day sleeping, 2 days indoors because I was too tired and unmotivated to go outside besides getting food, and 1 day actually going outside to the white house, to the national museum of American history, to the national museum of natural history, to the Washington Monument and to the Lincoln Memorial. All on foot.
After my unfortunate bus ride, I decided I won't be taking a bus to NYC, but a train instead. I ventured forth to the train station where I bought my most expensive train ticket to date, an express to NYC. Seated on the quiet cart, I had a pleasant ride, watching YouTube videos and anime. From Manhattan I took a subway to Brooklyn where I met up with a friend who took me to her home, where I stayed for the remainder of the trip.
In NYC I had a mixed experience. When I went out, I went OUT. I took a subway to Manhattan, and roamed the streets, seeing what people say you need to see in NYC, mostly. Natural history museum was my first destination, but it didn't feel any better than the one I visited in DC. I then walked down to Times Square, and up the Rockefeller building. One day I got to Times Square's area and walked over to the High Line, which I highly recommend, then down to the WTC memorial site, then over and across the the Brooklyn bridge, into a crazy storm that engulfed the city. I watched the Broadway show The Book of Mormon with my host, and I completed many Ingress missions.
On my off days, resting, without a key to the house I couldn't go out even to get myself lunch, or else I'd get locked outside and had to wait 4 to 6 hours until anyone got home. It was basically stay home or stay outside.
By the end of the day, the hosting family was nice, and gave me a chance to speak some Hebrew in this foreign country.
In terms of culinary experiences, I had more bacon than I even had, which didn't impress me. I had Subway sandwiches whenever I didn't know where to gamble my lunch on, and it was pretty good (Subway is no longer available in Israel). The ribs in Hard Rock Cafe in Paraside, Nevada, are incredible, and so is the chicken fried chicken breast at Hoover's Cooking in Austin, Texas. New York pizza is nothing special, really. I had pretty much the same thing in Israel, and I couldn't find anything unique about the ones I had in NY. It turns out I'm capable of having a salad for lunch, which is news to me.
In terms of cultural experiences, Canada and USA are not so different. Americans love standing in lines. Handling money in the USA sucked. I met an aspiring Alabama dude with crazy dreams and weird beliefs about the world outside of the USA. I met a mentally unstable probably New Yorkish woman. I met a couple of black dudes who asked me to film them meeting at Times Square a focus on their shoes. I felt that the USA is so large and full of so many languages and accents, I wasn't so foreign and self aware myself.
I will now proceed to upload some select photographs.