Motel memoirs, legendary lakes and a dinner at Jake’s Famous Crawfish of Portland.

I’ve decided to really pay more attention to the motels we’re staying in because I think it will be a neat idea later on to chronicle the places we stay over our six month journey in one massive post. Eclectic, diverse, elegant, unusual and often quirky in interior decor design choices I’m enjoying the wide variety of standards we’re staying in. We enjoy the luxurious comfort of some of the more expensive but by the same token – so long as the beds past muster when it comes to our mandatory bed bug check – we’re just as happy in a no tell motel low budget place. For six months this will be our predominant types of accommodations. It’s kind of fun to think we’re roadtripping across the States in much the same way Sam and Dean Winchester do, minus the cool American muscle car but thankfully also minus the save the world pressures.

Our overnight stay in Lake Tahoe after we drove from Yosemite was here at the classy Budget Inn. It was clean and the wifi turned out to be little sketchy but it did us after a long drive and was one of the cheapest on that stretch of road.

We stayed here on Highway 97 just outside of a little town called Chiloquin after driving through from Lake Tahoe. The Rapids Motel was comfy but did seem a little isolated which led me to not getting quite as much sleep due to my overactive imagination helpfully recalling all the horror movies/shows I’d seen in my life involving lone travellers (or couples) being the targets of some disgruntled and disturbed psychopath who seems to come up with new and unusual ways of disemboweling people in their sleep. I love my brain.

We were up early this morning so as to get in the best view of the famous Crater Lake National park before we drove onto Portland. Once again the standard of the National Parks in this country is ASTOUNDING. Could not believe the majestically serene vista that awaited us. We were hard pressed not to stop at every outlook post we saw – there are heaps of them – and just gaze endlessly at the perfect glass surface of the lake. Conveniently the boats started going on the lake just as we left – which worked for us as we both agreed no one should be allowed to put a ripple in that vista.

The view heading on up onto Rim drive a 33 mile road right around the edge of the lake.

Had a great meal out with friends I’ve made via my love for Supernatural (see Tim good things do come from being overly dedicated to a particular TV show :P) and got to try out a Portland local legend eating place by the name of Jake’s Famous Crawfish restaurant. The food here was excellent, top notch, our waiter very convivial and informative and confirmed that yes indeed the cast of both the TV shows Leverage and Grimm frequent the place of a regular basis.

I had the Dungeness Crab legs saute and they were delicious. Best crabmeat I’ve ever tasted and Tim had the Pacific Salmon. All good things – plus the bacon wrapped stuffed shrimp appetisers? So damn good I could have happily finished a plate full of the things, good thing they only served them as an appetiser 😉

In conclusion we are staying here tonight:


The shower head is perfect. And the TV reception is good so we are busy watching the Olympics. Wish NBC would be a little less biased in their coverage though – or else most Americans are going to wonder who all those other were that marched into the main arena in the Opening Ceremony!

Tomorrow I’m checking out the world famous Powell’s Bookstore. 68,000 square feet of shelf space! Seventh heaven for a book fanatic such as me. Hmmm, hope the Post Office is not too far away.

 

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A hiking we will go…

Today before we departed for Lake Tahoe we were up early again – 6am and it was totally worth it to get up into Glacier Point mountain and get to a couple of trailheads I’d picked out the night before. Based on length (fairly short) and difficulty (moderately steep) and the pay off view at the end at the trails. The good thing about getting up there early was the coolness of the weather and the fact that we had the trails to ourselves mostly but as we were trekking back there were more and more people arriving. I’m not a people person when it comes to hiking I must admit. Less is more.

Tim and I did the first trail – Sentinel Dome which meant we could scramble up a granite monolith that gave us 360 degrees uninterrupted view of the Park. It was very much worth the effort 🙂 A round trip of around 3.5kms.

Half Dome doesn’t look nearly so huge from up here.

Nor does El Capitan.

The wildlife is pretty quick to size up any possible opportunity for extra food gathering.

This was part of a dead tree trunk up on top of the monolith. Who’d have thought dead wood could be so interesting?

How trees grow at all out of granite is a mystery to me but I do like how they grow in an unconventional way.


Tim hiked back to the car after Sentinel Dome and I went on to Taft Point. This was about a 3.5km round trip hike and it took the hiker right up to the top edge of a cliff face, Taft peak I assume. If you have an issue with heights this was NOT the place for you. I was able to confirm that I was still okay with heights – though I did like the pithy little railing section which guarded against would be fallers for about three meters of about a 50 meter section of edging.

7,500 ft above sea level which is a bit of a drop really, when I looked down I felt quite confident that whoever chose this as their option to depart the mortal coil would be safe in the assurance of success. Although the mess factor? Pretty high.

I bravely stuck my foot through the railing in the interest of photographic art or course. Those green bits down there? They look much further away when you’re standing on the edge.

And that’s El Capitan looking more like El Cadet from this perspective.

Oh and there’s the road we drove in on. What do you mean you can’t see it? It’s right there about 2mm long on the top left 😉

And then we drove out of Yosemite…which was a long and very winding road over 60 miles long. I’ve decided I’m much more a fan of kilometers. Mostly because they’re shorter. You’ve gotta add 600 meters onto every mile and that just seems like too much effort to me.

Coming soon…maybe….if we stay longer than five seconds LAKE TAHOE! Away!

 

 

 

 

Yosemite – diminishing human existence since the 1800s.

Places like Yosemite are few and far between – that’s a good thing because otherwise humankind would never get anything done because what would be the point? The vast scale and earth changing results of the movements of Mother Nature, of the Earth’s crust create an environment and vista that leaves you breathless and at the same time thinking what possible meaningful, long lasting impact could I ever hope to have with my somewhat ridiculously tiny number of years on this planet? Let’s say for generosity’s sake – you get a hundred years. If some of those sequoia trees could emote you’d be lucky if they graced you with a slightly raised branch of disdain – a hundred years to them is a mere blink, a slightly elongated section of root system. To the monoliths that grace the park – it’s not even a flinch of an eyelid. Yes one could be moved to somewhat fatalistic and maudlin musings in such an environment but I refused as usual – too caught up in all the places I had to check out. Again another visual feast for the eyes and the camera!

We got up really early (6am is early when you’re on holiday!) and hit the road at around 6.30am as we knew we had a long drive to get on into Yosemite National Park.  We said goodbye to Tonopah as the sun rose and as it faded into the distance in the rearview mirror I did wonder what prompted the Tonopah inhabitants to want to stay in such a town.  I whine about Perth being isolated but really Tonopah was probably slightly bigger than a place like Eneabba in Western Australia.

I’d like to think this is probably the standard of notell motels Sam and Dean Winchester frequent.

Tonopah! Come for the … and leave so you can go somewhere else!

Sadly no check in from the Winchesters but that National 9 Inn did us alright.

The Mazda 3 is a smooth albeit fairly gutless ride (I miss my V6 Ford I must admit, but probably not the filling it with gas part – I’m calling it gas instead of fuel or petrol because I’m assimilating with Americanisms) and I was doing mostly 80mph (around 130kph) on the very long, vast stretches of the Hwy that took us west into Yosemite. We did pass one Highway Patrol car coming the other way but at that point I was a mere 76mph so he didn’t even pause. (Speed limit was 70mph in case you were wondering – and I have been very good obeying it to the point of being overtaken on most of our driving jaunts). But long, flat straight roads did have me yearning for that Dodge Charger STR8 or a Chevy Impala – the Nevada and California roads lend themselves much easier than our Perth roads to the enjoyment of a powerful car. But I digress.

So pulling into Yosemite Park (after enjoying a lovely stretch of road signposted with the warning Dips for the next 3 miles – these Dips were less Dips and more like a roller coaster for automobiles, fun but slightly disconcerting going 55mph over a crest you can’t see the back of) there was a short line of cars in front of us. The height of summer seems to be popular with travellers from all over the world. The Park Ranger gave us a friendly hello, asked where we were from and upon receipt of our 20 dollars gave us a seven day pass to the park. Sadly we’ll only get two days use out of it but it’s still well worth it.

We hit the trail heads after checking out the Ansell Adams gallery (where you can pick up an original gel print black and white Adams photograph for a cool 45 THOUSAND dollars) around 12ish and managed to get some short hikes in that gave us quite few good photographic vantage points. This is where Tim’s camera lens is in its element as he had the widest lens on his. But I still managed to snap about 70 photos I liked – 10 of which I’ve selected for this post.  The main impression I have had from Yosemite (besides the absolutely wow factor in terms of scenic views and pictures) is mostly that Mother Nature is having a good chuckle at how small and insignificant the tiny puny humans are that are pottering about all over her surface. We will be heading back in tomorrow to do a few different hikes (Tim may or may not join me on those depending on the steepness levels) but I do hope to get some more views of the park.


Trusty Mazda 3 – it tells you if it feels your tires are too soft.

This guy wasn’t so much as tame as more like “I’m old and I’m mottley and I really don’t give a rat’s arse about some bipedal species that skirts around me like I’m some sort of nervous nelly”


Half Dome


El Capitan

Tonight we are staying in the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort and as I suspected Rustic is a euphemism for no phone or wifi in the rooms (although I must say the hippy eco alternative lifestyle family friendly community style kitchen homemade food is surprisingly good) – so this post will be uploaded retrospectively once we hit Lake Tahoe (the next planned road trip stop after we leave Yosemite tomorrow).

Viva Las Vegas!

What can one say about Vegas that hasn’t already been said before? Nothing really. And yet here I am still persisting with my own little first impressions…let’s see,

In Vegas the drinks are all hours, all day, all types and all together too cheap,
the hotels are plentiful (one could even say excessively so) and turn interior design into it’s own art form, the cabbies are swift and from all walks of life, the food is some of the best I’ve ever had, the opulence and decadence is striking in that I am mesmerised by it and yet slightly disturbed by how so much wealth can be concentrated in such a small area in the middle of a desert. It’s like some sort of psycho-social experiment studying human behaviour in the midst of entirely man made environment designed to do one thing – get people to spend more money.

We stayed here:

And it was VERY comfortable

Best, most comfy bed ever and the pillows were just PLUSH. The pools were numerous and populated hugely all day from about 10am to 9pm each day.

But now onto Vegas:


Vegas is a place that reveres females who have this form I’ve noticed. So no reverence for me whatsoever and I was refreshingly okay with that – some of those forms seem to go to extremes to keep said forms in such a shape, I’ve made peace with my love of food and aversion to cosmetic enhancements 🙂 There’s always stuff I aspire to work on but not to the expense of enjoying my pain free (I’ve never consider my gym torture sessions as pain – too many endorphins get released for that to happen *vbg*) and food lovin’ life.

This place is super fancy…and the inside? Amazing as you can see from the pics below.

A garden array designed entirely with real live flowers!

Caesars Palace Mall was just a massive visual trip – this is a shopping mall with very high end stores but is also decked out in marble columns and arches and a whole Atlantis theme – complete with massive aquarium. The ceiling alone did my head in.

This Ramsay incarnation was a little daunting.

I love fine dining don’t get me wrong but The Cheesecake Factory? That’s like my ultimate go to USA comfort food!

Also in the Bellagio – they boasted the world’s biggest Chocolate Fountain – as endorsed by the Guiness Book of Records.


This thing started above the ceiling out of eye shot and trickled all the way down through this splendid Patisserie.

We got to see Penn and Teller’s Show.


Front row seats which were great. Some of the best entertainment I have had the pleasure of for a long time. I love magic when it’s done well and this is some of the best I’ve seen. Tim talks more of it on his blog too.

Here endeth my Las Vegas blog entry – although Tim does go into more detail especially on the food front HERE. Onto YOSEMITE! This park totally deserves ALL the capitals 🙂

 

 

 

Seattle – The Emerald City

We had Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday in Seattle (Sunday was spent travelling to Las Vegas which thanks to United Airlines turned a half day trip into an all day affair finally getting us into our hotel in Las Vegas after midnight) and managed to get a few sights in whilst maintaining a fairly laid back pace.

On the Wednesday we managed to get down to Pike Place Markets after stopping in at the Kent REI store – a well known chain of of Recreational Equipment and clothing stores. It was pretty late in the day though and the markets were shutting down so we decided to come back the following day but we still got a good look around and saw the famous fish chucking markets.

Found a little place called Merry Tails in these markets – had fun checking out all the Border Collie items and maybe making a few purchases 🙂 We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe during the Happy Hour and scored a cheap and filling meal and also scored free live music gig tickets for Friday night – which we promptly forgot about and missed! D’oh.

Thursday we had a lazy lie in and headed out to the Pike Markets round lunchtime and carried on down to the wharf area – called Fisherman’s Landing which has the new ferris wheel and the aquarium.

This had quite a few travellers taking snaps – I think I just found it bizarre and more than a little unsanitary. It’s the Gum Wall.

And it covers quite a percentage of wall!

Thursday we checked out the Markets a little more thoroughly and then we took a half hour walk through to the Experience Music Project Museum which had some pretty cool exhibits. It had a Nirvana exhibition and an Icons of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Horror plus an Avatar display.

Seattle is pretty much a hotspot for spawning many of the bands that have made it big. And plenty of those who have made it big in the alt rock scene.

Stargate fans will recognise this one.

This was fun – practice your screaming for the camera in case that horror movie role ever comes along and falls in your lap.

I think I need more work – it almost looks like a scream of laughter rather than terror.

JASON!!!!!


ALIENS!!


AVATAR!!!!

We then used our trusty phone navigational systems to locate a restaurant recommended by David and Daisy called Lecosho. This food was YUMMY!!!! And the service was excellent. Tim probably has more pics on his blog since his blog is like the food journaling of this trip. HERE.

The next day we had tickets to go see The Dark Knight Rises – which was very entertaining and as a bonus we got to see trailers for The Hobbit and the new Superman movie The Man Of Steel. Plus a couple of other interesting looking flicks. It was the day after the tragedy in Colorado and we certainly noticed a couple more police patrolling around but really – if someone has it in their mind to do this then there is very little a few extra cops present are going to be able to do. This longer tweet on Twitter by Jason Alexander (yeah he’s just some actor who was on Seinfeld) was one of the best responses to the whole event. Americans as a group of people can certainly do something to lessen the chances of so many fatalities happening. But will they? 69% of the NRA membership voted themselves to restrict the ownership of the semi automatics and the automatic weapons and yet it still didn’t go though. Gun ownership is not the problem – ownership of military weapons that can kill this many in this short a time is. I see an obvious application of compromise here and yet there’s still such a loud resistance. Anyway – this film was good and no one should let something like this stop them from seeing it.

We headed back to the Hotel after that and then made plans to check out Museum of Flight at Boeing Field the next day before heading out to Auburn to catch Florence and The Machine at the White River Amphitheatre.

I know this! I’ve been sending HAND WRITTEN postcards. I am socially correct after all! My soul is saved!

Anyhoo after that we started the drive to Auburn and by way of the magic of google found this place.

The staff were quite surprised to learn we’d travelled all the way from Australia and we got our yummy appetiser Rock Wings free for our troubles. They asked how we found them as they were curious. The service was excellent, the food very good and reasonably priced and the music and decor great. Tim even grabbed a tee shirt. A good find by Google.

Then it was onto Florence and The Machine –

BRILLIANT! Great concert venue, Florence herself is amusingly left off centre with her barefooted self admittedly crazy cakes dancing. Her voice is even MORE when it’s live and it’s great to hear that her live voice is identical to the album and even better cos it’s live. Some of her songs hit notes that gave me goosebumps it was that good. Tim surprisingly knew more songs than he thought he would. It was a good night. 🙂

And that concluded Saturday evening…the next day it was bye bye Seattle and Hello LAS VEGAS!!! Las Vegas definitely needs a blog post of it’s own. That’ll be next!

 

 

 

 

 

THREE DAYS!!! Part Three

So in conclusion of the last three days – Nerd HQ Panel with Jared Padalecki (the guy who plays Sam Winchester on TV’s Supernatural) and then off to Washington and Mount Rainier National Park.

The Jared Panel was great – I’d been lucky and managed to nab early tickets so we ended up in Row 4 and the whole room was no more than 250 people if that. Jared was laid back and relaxed as usual, took questions from the floor and was as gracious and earnest as usual. He fielded queries about his latest music video filming project, about his new son, about his possible superhero name, the advantages and disadvantages of being so tall, his favourite most memorable episodes to film, his payback from other cast members for the stuff he pulls on them, the stunts he most likes to avoid and ones he’d most like to do, his current top five on his playlist, what his 30 year old self would tell his 22 year old self, if being “taller little brother” to Dean affected the relationship dynamics, his preference for dramatic over comedy as comedy scares the crap out of him in terms of his work, his own nerdy preferences – Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings, having to take on Jason in Friday the 13th and many other questions. Interspersed with his usual off tangent antics and lots of laughs it was well worth the 20 bucks each ticket cost. Tim came with and he wasn’t too bored either which was cool, plus he got some great photos.

Took a whole bunch more than this of course….but I’m sparing the non Supernatural readers out there ;-P Moving on….moving on!

So we arrived in Seattle, Washington around 2pm and grabbed a rental car and drove off to Daisy’s place in North Washington, about a three quarter hour drive from the airport. Daisy and I went off on hike that was a bit of a drive away but A. Very pretty B. Dogs could come and C. Was a good steep workout trail 😉 I felt like some exercise and it was definitely that. Didn’t take my Nikon as it was a bit heavy and we were going at a pace so snapped a couple pics with my crappy phone camera instead.

Juno and Jessie consider going in after Solar – a head on the water off to the right 😉

It really was very pretty and very green and very cool so altogether perfect terrain and climate for hiking in – wish I could take my guys through something like this on a regular basis. After we got back we were pretty hungry and so headed out to TK’s Irish Pub for dinner where I had to try the Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Wedges. Here they are!

There was enough for a couple each which was good because these things taste so good they are without a doubt one of the worst things for you. We had salads after that, Tim had the bangers and mash and David had the burger. Definitely stopped the rumbling stomach in it’s tracks.

And so to today – Tuesday. Today was trek out to Mount Rainier National Park day and we’re glad we did. That mountain is stunning and huge and just perfectly picturesque.


This literally looks like a postcard to me.

It’s just all so very VERY green.

Trying or artsy sunshine rays.

My midget snow angel hand.


Found this in the visitor’s store. Thought of a few gents who are fond of bourbon and their cake.

Ginormous Ram Pick Up Truck, US Flag and a mountainous background. There’s something very ‘America’ about this scene.

THREE DAYS!! Part Two

Okay – The Comic Con Experience! This is something I typed up on the plane from San Diego to Seattle and it turned out a little long. Oh well.

San Diego Comic Con 2012 – An Aussie First Timer’s Experience
We arrived in San Diego on the Wednesday afternoon before Comic Con started. Our plane landed at 7.15pm and rather than going straight to our hotel I had the cab driver takes us down to the Hotel Circle and badge pick up location that closed at 8.30pm. I was able to successfully secure both mine and Tim’s  Sunday badges and my Thursday badge. We had done our best to secure the four day badge but unfortunately by the time we got through on the website these badges were the only ones left – I think we were lucky to get them really but it is definitely on my bucket list to do the four day experience one year. So long as we can launch a successful military like operation to secure badges when they go on sale.

We then went off to our hotel – called The Keating it was definitely a bit on the posher up scale side of our accommodations so far. It was 250 a night so not cheap and we’d probably choose a cheaper option next time, but what it was good for was locale – it was close to everything which is great because for all the great things about San Diego – their public transit is not one of them. We were located on the corner of F street and 5th avenue about four blocks from the behemoth that is the San Diego Convention centre. It was also good for the service and attentiveness, the modern and art deco feel, the comfort of the bed and pillows was divine and the saucy playful vibe (Condoms, lube, and obstretric?! Wipes provided bedside combined with the dark red velvet lighting to give a certain ambience that had us discussing if indeed this building had served as a house of pleasure in the past ;-)….), there was a very comfortable liberal feel to the place and it was occupied by all types of alternative and family people.


Yep that’s the bed on the right bottom corner and the shower on the left side.

I had considered lining up for panels on Thursday – there were definitely a couple at least that I was interested in but due to only having a two day pass I had to make a decision – do the massive exhibition hall or line up overnight for hours to ensure a seat at the panels. You realize fairly quickly with some very limited research that the panels are very popular and that if you want a decent seat you need to be prepared to do the hard yards in terms of queuing. If you’re happy with just sitting in the back few rows then you can get away with a couple hours of queuing. If you’re like me with the mindset of hell I’ve travelled a long way for this, I have a decent camera, I want to get good shots and I want to be able to see and hear everything well then you queue up the night before. So we made the decision to do the Exhibition hall – which I lined up for from about 7.30 am – they let us in just after 8.30am I think. Why do you need to get in early for this? Well it’s a case of merchandise purchases. There is, for fans, some rather cool collectibles and memorabilia available for sale however due to the sheer size of this event they will often sell out fast. So I wanted to get in early and make sure I grabbed everything I wanted.

To be honest the Exhibition Hall is sooo massive one really needs a very well researched and highlighted map in order to strategise the best way to make sure you don’t miss a thing.  I spent from 8.30am through to 1.30pm in there and I still hadn’t covered it all. The range of vendors, displays and stalls is so wide that I would contest that there is something for everyone in there. I viewed art, of all types, illustrators, writers, sculptors, painters, drawers, animators, tatooists, costume designers, jewellery makers, watch makers, steel design workers, clothes design, leather workers were some that I remember.  Then there were the masses of comic book sellers, the graphic novels, the children’s books, the adult’s books, the new releases in the sci fi, fantasy genre, really writing of every type and classification, including popular culture psychology and philosophy that had me fascinated. I love the academic take on the impact on society of all these stories that are getting told. The Hall really is just one huge Telling Stories place. Every single stand that you stop at is all founded in the stories told by people. My English teacher, reading fanatic  in me was in 7th heaven. At around 1.30pm I came out and gave Tim my badge to use so he could have a good look round. And no this is not the way you’re supposed to do it – but as the badge holder was the right colour and I get called Simon anyway when people don’t know what I look like I figured they wouldn’t be stopping Tim and asking him for ID. In fact in the whole two days ID was not checked once – the only things carefully examined was that you badge looked legitimate and that you had the right day/colour on. They were always checked though to see that you had them before you went through those doors, this year no one was even allowed into the lobby areas without one.

So Tim walked around for a few hours and then I went back in so I could take photos (in the meantime I had dropped back my freebies and purchases back at the hotel to lighten the load somewhat). And I was amazed by how much I hadn’t seen in the several hours I’d spent in the place that morning! So by the time 5.30 rolled around I felt satisfied that I had seen it all and judging from the way my legs were feeling I had certainly covered a lot of ground. It was a good day, even with all the masses of people in the place, foot traffic seemed to move all the time and there open spaces frequently. I do have one MASSIVE regret from the day though. Early on in the day as I was walking around I noticed a guy dressed as Jack Sparrow – no big deal HEAPS of people were dressed up bing stopped every five minutes if their costumes looked particularly good for photo ops. Anyway this Jack Sparrow I noticed with a smile had the whole sway down, full costume, perfect make up and everything, he gave me an apologetic grin as we nearly crossed paths and I moved out the way thinking his drunken staggering was gonna cause a collision, but gees he certainly did a great Jack Sparrow. And he seemed to be going all the same directions I was as he stopped at a table I was at and looked at some art. It turns out that really was Johnny Depp of course. AND I DID NOT ASK FOR A PHOTO! And yet he was happily being snapped all the time as he wandered round the place. Apparently when he wants to check out these sorts of cons incognito he dresses up as Jack Sparrow. Of course. I found out about this on Sunday when several queue buddies informed me that he’d mentioned it in some interview on a panel somewhere. Kicking myself about it! I love his acting and I love a lot of his work so would have loved a pic with him! Dammit. I remember also noticing his rather cute butt too as he swayed off in front of me once. You’d think I would have guessed! LOL!!

Sunday was the other day we had passes for. Sunday started at about 1am for me by the time I got down to the line up which already had about 200 people in place once I arrived at the Hall H line.  I was lucky enough to get in line with a Vancouverite chick in front of me and a San Diego chick behind me and somehow the time seemed to pass quite quickly as it was kinda hard to grab any sleep on the paved sidewalk so we wended up just talking about all kinds of stuff but mostly about all the stuff I should do whilst travelling in California and later Vancouver. Also we talked politics and the differences between Australia and the US. We talked schooling and English classes and surfing and avocados and the fact that I was surrounded by Doctor Who fans. Those in the line were fans of one or all of the following shows – Fringe (their last stint at SDCC as they are in their final 13 episode season 5), Supernatural, Doctor Who, The Cleveland Show (Seth MacFarlane) or Sons of Anarchy. The panels followed one after the other and Hall H closed at 5pm. Tim joined me round 5am and were eventually let in at 9.30am for the 10am panel start. Hall H is the biggest panel hall holding 6,500 people. I think we were about halfway back so not a great spot for photos unfortunately. I resolved then and there that when I come back that I would be at the front of the line next time even if it meant camping out from when the last line cleared out on the Saturday afternoon. However we could definitely see everything (albeit the actors looked very small) because the massive overhead screen was very good quality high definition feed. So often I snapped photos of the screen as well. The Fringe panel was interesting and fun with a lot of laughs.


This was one quarter of the line to get into Hall H – they

They showed us two very cool clips, one done just for the fans who attended the panel – no doubt it’s all over Youtube by now but it was clear thought and efforts had gone into the creation of it. I can see how Josh Jackson can come across as somewhat of an arrogant arse sometimes who tends to try and deflect from the more serious introspection with humour. I think he is probably a really nice guy but I think his first impression is often brusque and dismissive. I read that he has no patience for any kind of stupidity and once he’s decided that you are liable to it he simply doesn’t give you the time of day. Some might see that as intolerant but I certainly can understand it. Someone told me that he and Anna Torv (the female lead) absolutely detest each other and I could definitely sense this in their interactions, nothing overt just the way Anna’s body language and deliberate avoidance of eye contact was seen and everytime he addressed something she said it was always to almost make light of it. Also the seating choice was interesting. Anna and Josh are in a strong romantic relationship on the show as Peter and Olivia and yet they sat separately on the panel with John Noble (Walter) between them, I suspect John is somewhat of a buffer for the personality clashes. Jasika who plays Astrid on the show was just as gorgeous and genuine and emotive as I suspected and John Noble just as dry and witty and tonally brilliant to listen to his. His voice is soo unique and unbelievably deep and expressive. Lance who plays Broyles was also a great contributor. The guy who was the panel moderator knew his stuff too and asked all the right questions and interjecting with humour at the right times.  Fans asked some great questions and the Fringe fedoras given out to every attendee were great.  Fringe is a great show and I haven’t quite caught up yet – still have a few Season 4 episodes to finish but I’m looking forward to watching the final season (brought about by the campaigning of fans partly) and seeing the arc finish strongly and do justice to a great story arc.

These two pics taken by @timtolbin

The following also taken by Tim.

Next up was the Supernatural panel and this panel left me conflicted. I loved seeing all our guys up on the stage – Jared, Jensen, Jim and Misha along with Mark Sheppard and Jeremy Carver the shows new front runner but veteran Supernatural writer plus Ben Edlund (writer and director). The guys were looking mighty fine as usual and Jensen seemed particularly bouncy as he came in.

The guy who was moderating was announced as an Editor for TV Guide and also a huge fan of Supernatural. I’ve forgotten his name (in fact I don’t think I even took the time to try and recall it) and to be honest he sucked. If he was a huge fan of Supernatural well I couldn’t see it. The questions he asked gave the guys NOWHERE to go. It was ridiculous – it should be common knowledge before they even start – they are not going to be giving anything substantial away about the upcoming season. The only things we established were this: Jensen’s episode is a MOTW type one that he’s really enjoying as it is a nice return to the mythology of S1 and S2. Castiel will be in Season 8. In what way? Misha couldn’t say. Jim couldn’t ad anything other than “Anything’s possible”(which he’d mentioned he’d already said those words about seven thousand times this weekend) and the fact that Sheriff “Rhodes” lol should be back and that he should definitely have screentime with her. Mark added that Season 8 should be about investigating Crowley’s loveliness and that his relationship with boys is very give and take and is working well. Jeremy did declare that the relationships the guys form whilst apart (which has been stated is not for very long but longer than a summer – time has passed when S8 starts up but the brothers are reunited quickly) do have a significant impact on their relationship when they get back together. Sam’s romantic interest is confirmed and Jensen concluded that Dean’s only romance is the car pretty much. Misha didn’t really get to say anything other than how uncomfortable he felt due to expectations of forthcoming answers he either didn’t know or couldn’t say anyway. Jeremy was very hedgy about stuff and was no doubt deliberately vague about a lot of stuff. Ben? Well Ben goes off on these stream of consciousness tangents which I get the feeling make complete sense in his head and leave him feeling he has given us all a lot of insight when really I’m pretty sure the audience was just left with a collective sense of needing someone to translate Edlundese for the rest of us. Even Jensen made comments about Ben’s rambling style of talking a lot but saying very little! LOL! I like Ben, don’t get me wrong, I think his head is a marvelous place and he is one of my favourite writers but in a large audience panel like this he really didn’t add a lot of substance to the conversation I must say. I’m sure his more private interviews done with press probably casts a much brighter light on the subject of Season 8.

I felt Mark and Jim were both woefully underutilized in this panel sadly and I couldn’t help thinking they should have got Richard Speight to moderate as he has a very good knock for making sure everyone on stage is contributing and he would know what questions to ask just because his familiarity with the show is quite high not just through his work but also through his interactions with all the fans at cons. SPEIGHT FOR 2013 SUPERNATURAL PANEL MODERATION!!! Both Richard and Rob were in the audience too which was cool. Sebastian was supposedly swanning round the place as well.

Needless to say I felt all the guys up there did their absolute best given the lack of inspiring questions and you could see in particular both Misha and Jensen feeling especially stifled by the lack of material to work with. The fan questions were like a breath of fresh air. Although I did cringe when one asked about Destiel I felt Ben Edlund’s articulation of it so Jensen had an understanding was the best contribution Ben made to the whole panel and Jensen was able to handle what could have been awkward with his usual suave aplomb. There was also an Izzard opportunity for Jensen when one fan asked the eye rollng question of how does the show explain how the brothers look nothing like each other. Jensen responded with “why do you think they made me cut my hair short – because if I had hair like Jared’s we’re practically twins! – so now all you’re left with is this face” And of course everyone cheers and he goes into his alright settle down expression followed by his subtle actually keep going look. This lasts a little while and seems to be a favourite of his from his love of Eddie Izzard’s comedy.

Misha frequently had that deer caught in headlights look.

The clips they showed were a recap of Season 7 (no new footage from S8 of course) and then right at he end the gag reel – which was STUPENDOUS!! I cannot wait to see the whole thing – the clips we saw were hilarious and seriously these actors don’t really give a crap obviously about all the fan fantasies out there because they continue to happily provide excellent fodder with their antics in the gag reel (Jensen sen frequently drawing attention to his crotch area, Jared miming bending Misha over and giving it to him to name just a couple.) I was most pleased to see Jared making Jensen break several times with Jensen practically crying over the fact that he could not resist the goofiness of his costar’s face as he pulled all sorts of ridiculous expressions at him. Jensen is much like Jim in terms of being like a rock (Misha finds it very frustrating since Jensen just throws him a smirk and he’s doubled over) during takes so it’s great to know that Jared’s skills at disrupting takes stretches to his best buddy.

Jared frequently makes Jensen cry.

They stood up and said a collective goodbye after Jensen was once again the most gracious star thanking all the fans and attendees for turning up, showing their support and just generally being the best bunch of fans out there.

So that was the end of our Hall H experience. I totally enjoyed it, wished a few things were different but in general felt the whole thing is very worth the whole queuing trial you go through. Hopefully SDCC will figure out a way to fix this in the future.