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Soooooo, without further ado this is latest trip info.
What it is
The West Coast Train Trip, or "PAXTrain" for short, is a coordinated effort for PAX-goers to ride the same train at the same time going up the western coast of the United States - both as an alternative to driving or flying, and to enjoy an intimate "mini-convention". It replaced the West Coast Supertrip in 2007.
Why the train?
Ask anyone who's flown, driven and taken the train up - the train was the best experience. We don't care if you're new - this ain't no private party, and all people going to PAX are welcome. We didn't even know anyone else in 2007 and have become fast friends. We invite you to join us!
How to get on the PAXTrain
We are riding Train #14 - Coast Starlight departing September 2nd, 2009. from California. If you are in Chico, CA or north, get on the same train, but on September 3rd, 2009. We're going back on Train #11 - Coast Starlight departing September 7th.
You'll need to be prepared to survive on PAXTrain. Following is a list of stuff you probably should bring if you want to have a liveable experience on the rails.
You are allowed to carry on two bags, and check three (if you board at a station that allows checked baggage). We suggest checking a suitcase for your PAX supplies and packing a seperate carryon bag / backpack. This pack should contain personal effects and clothing, as well as everything else you think you'll need on the train.
Earbuds and an eye mask. It is considered PAXTrain courtesy to be quiet in all coach areas, where people may be sleeping - but still, be prepared. If you're upstairs people will be walking through at all hours.
A toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, a comb, and if you need them, shaving razors and cream. No showers are provided for coach passengers, so if you're on the train for two days bring wipes or a sponge or something to wash the stank off in the bathroom sink the second day. Ignoring basic hygene highlights a disregard for your fellow gamers, who are great people who don't need to know what you smell like after two days without cleaning yourself in a cramped environment.
Snacks. There is a snack cart and a dining car, but it's not cheap. You can save some money if you bring some food and water with you.
Your meds. Nobody needs to see you off them.
We also recommend the following items:
A power strip. We plan on bringing power squids and some power strips, but there are never enough outlets.
A handheld system - a Nintendo DS is the preferred item for wireless gaming. A PSP is welcome but has more of a personal role rather than multiplaying with the cool kids.
A book for pleasure reading. We advise everyone to take a break from train festivities to "regroup", and read a book or listen to music.
Headphones, preferrably a pair of earbuds rather than studio headphones, but to each his own.
Cash. Dining with fellow PAXtrain goers is a good way to relax and get to know some people. Expect about one breakfast (from the snack cart), two lunches and two dinners with each trip (either from the snack cart or the dining car), each meal running about 10 dollars. The food in the private dining car isn't bad. Apart from that, bring spare cash for snacks or bring your own in your travel backpack.
People's willingness to bring their expensive toys to share is part of what makes PAXtrain such an awesome experience. Some of our needs are already met and addressed. Like last year, TNTrooper will provide a plethora of consoles to use, RCars2 will bring the networking equipment, and Transparent will bring his 26" television. Please understand that if you are joining up any later than San Jose, it may not be "worth it" for the train trip. We need supplies on the front as soon as we hit middle California, not before. If you want to assist us, here's what we need:
Power strips and extension cords. Power management becomes a problem on the train. If you can, grab something from home before you go, or go buy a cheapie power strip for 15-20 bucks. This seems small and unimportant, but it's the foundation of all of our operations!
Card games. Bring your Magic deck, your Fluxx deck, your Curses deck, your WoWTCG deck, your Pokemon deck, or shit, even a Sailor Moon TCG deck, I don't care. Bring it. If you have a silly game that's easy to learn bring it, We didn't Playtest This was a big train hit last year.
Fans. We are going to need at least two. An electric fan can reduce the temperature of a room by up to 10 degrees, the arcade cars will need them. Small but powerful portable fans are a boon.
Television sets (optional). Small, lightweight affairs. Don't bring anything you can't afford to replace if it breaks, but don't bring some ancient monolith because you were planning on giving it to Goodwill anyways. If you're BYOC and have a big monitor that can double as a TV, we'd apprectiate you offering it's use for the good of the Party. One 22" BYOC monitor covered, and the 26" Vizio television from last year will make a reappearance. The arcade car has a (small) television if we need it. Extra TVs and monitors are optional, not a necessity.
Consoles, mainly two Wiis and two XBoxes. Seeing as how we may have at most three televisions, having a million consoles seem redundant, and let's face facts - people are going to be getting the most into Smash Bros. Brawl and Rock Band. So one Wii and one XBox360 with a Rock Band Kit (with the DLC ON THE HARD DRIVE IT WAS PURCHASED ON) are all we need. TNTrooper has the hookup with a classic gaming setup, and is coordinating our console efforts.
The network will be taken care of by RCars2 again this year.
You win 10,000 internets if you bring snacks to share with everyone during the trip. Whatever it is, we don't care, as long as it isn't hilariously messy or unsafe. Please do not bring home-cooked goods - we have no way of knowning what's in your killer brownies, duuuuuude.
This is all the essentials - if you want to burden yourself with bringing more, that's fine, but it's also window dressing. If you're thinking about bringing more shit and saying "I'll hook it up in my hotel later after PAX closes", you're so wrong - you should either be sleeping or heading to a bar or party, not going back to the hotel to play some video games. You just did that all day.
TNTTrooper will be, as last year, providing a spread of classic games for use in Headquarters. There are not enough props in the world, but pass 'em to him anyways.
We now have some rules on PAXTrain. They're simple. Don't sweat it. But if you break them, again we will be miffed and we'll find appropriate punishment for you. These rules mainly apply in Headquarters (the Arcade cars or obs deck) as that's where most of the magic happens.
Don't be a dick
Just don't. Play nice, children. And if you don't like someone, don't start shit stirring and backtalk.
Don't be an asshole to the train staff
Train staffers are generally pretty cool and will let us do what we want with little explaination. Be nice to them, and if they tell you to do something, do it.
Don't be a loud prick
Other people may be sleeping in other cars. Or whatever. We usually sack the arcade car and half of the observation car as our Headquarters and keep it there - that muffles the sound pretty well, I've tested it, even when shouting. Still, noise discipline. Be quiet in the coach areas and sleeper cars, be polite in the dining cars and don't try to overrun the observation deck during the day if other people are using it. We try to keep the downstairs tables and the half with
Don't be a freak to kids
When kids are around, mind your tongue. Pretend Mommy's right behind you. Don't give anyone a reason to complain about PAXTrain.
Don't get too hammered
WE HAVE HAD NO PROBLEMS WITH THIS SO FAR AND I WANT TO KEEP IT THIS WAY. I'M NOT POINTING FINGERS, THERE'S NOBODY TO POINT THEM AT! Let's just keep it that way.
We've never had any real problems, but vigiliance and diligence will be what keeps it that way. These rules are also loose guidelines more than anything so don't flaunt them or play the legalist. If you play the rules lawyer, we'll treat you like a rules lawyer. Anyone in gross violation of the rules or common decency won't be welcome at group festivities - you're now persona non grata and everyone hates your guts, and you're banned from PAXTrain events.
Again, we've never actually had to do that! Everyone's been cool and has watched each other's back, kept everyone else in check and been real champions, doing their duty to assist their fellow gamers when they are falling out of line. We work better as a loosely organized motley band than as a full regiment. We've done terrific! Just keep diligent - we have a legacy to consider, and we want to keep good relations with Amtrak.
How to drink your vodka straight
Amtrak now has a policy against outside alcohol on the train. They probably just want to sell more of the overpriced stuff in the snack bar. We won't tell you what to bring or not bring, but know that the risks / consequences of bringing alcohol are your own, as we aren't condoning private stashes this year. Openly drinking your own stuff in public areas is discouraged.
The PAXTrain "staff" will be assessing the situation and reacting appropriately. We got some rookie drinkers on PAXTrain '07 (the only year Amtrak allowed outside booze). If you're new to drinking, we have some info for you right here to help you get in the swing of things - most vets already have some sort of system on how they handle the booze. Here are the four levels of inebriation as the apparatchiks will ID them:
Not Drunk - You've had one, maybe two. You're not feeling it. Drink a little more, if you want, or not. Maybe you're just not a beer (or liquor) guy. You don't need to be drunk to enjoy PAXTrain. Most people weren't drunk at all last year. It's overblown how drunk we were. (Or I am cleaning our images up and rewriting history.)
Buzzed - You've had a few and you're feeling pretty good. Bit of a headrush. Congrats - you're buzzed! Now slow down and enjoy it. Drink a bit after an hour to keep the buzz going. Don't feel like you need to drink a lot to look like a big man.
Drunk - Congrats, you're drunk. Now sit your ass down. Being drunk is not a good thing. Lay off the booze and get some chips. A pro alcoholic can "maintain", cutting through his drunkenness and working with his lack of motor skills to help him calm down and get it out. Be careful - we'll try to help keep you quiet and unseen, but if the train guys spot you drunk, they can call the cops at the next stop and have you hauled off to the drunk tank. That means no Paxy Pax for you.
Wasted - What the fuck is wrong with you? If you're clearly wasted we're throwing you out of PAXTrain events and the word will spread you're persona non grata. Go to the bathroom quietly and puke before the train personnel eject you from the train - and into the arms of the police, who will arrest you for being drunk in public.
Anyone who is really wasted will be asked to leave the festivities - sit in your coach seat for a while and maintain. You wanna drink on the PAXTrain? Fine. Just don't be a little newb about it.
"You just want to be with that ugly bitch WHO ISN'T PRETTIER THAN ME!!!" (New Years party reference, this chick was a horrible drunk) If you've battled with depression before, you might wind up being an overemotional drunk. So unless you're certain you can maintain, if you feel weird about it then don't get drunk so you don't embarrass yourself.
Don't feel pressured to drink more to seem hardcore. A pro alcoholic will tell you that a low alcohol tolerance is actually very good thing, and look back to the time when a few beers would buzz them as their salad days.
Beer before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer? You're in the clear. Be sure that you remember this rhyme, or else you'll wind up doing time - puking up your guts all over the stall, in the bathroom straight down the hall.
Since we won't have a PAXtrain alcohol stash we can't exactly cut you off. Just remember if you're out of hand you'll be asked to go somewhere else until you can maintain.
The Hot Spots - I'm Going off the Rails on this Crazy PAXTrain
The majority of all PAXTrain activities happen in two locations: The coach car with the arcade room (which will likely be the home of Rock Band), and the Obseravtion Deck (which will be designated as the Obs Deck or simply as Obs). These areas are beehives of activity and the "home" of most of our console systems. We'll have to play it by ear, balancing the use of the arcade cars and observation car between PAX goers and the rest of the passengers took a little doing last year.
The Arcade Car(s): These are private rooms, allowing us to speak freely with no cause for the concerns of other passengers and is fairly soundproof, allowing us to get a little loud (not too loud). Here you can find our primary console setups. It is on the first story of a coach car, with no other passengers to heed, and has a luggage rack for storing our critical gear, a water dispenser for more drinkable cold water, and doors to exit in case of a smoke break. When the door opens to the arcade car, get quiet for a second until it closes; otherwise, speak away. Amtrak closes the arcade cars at 11pm
The Obs Deck: Obs is a public area for all passengers. It was the only suitable area for us to use as the main areas of our activities on PAXtrain '08. We have to be conscious of the other passengers during the day, but last year we pretty much had it to ourselves at night. Obs has a large, spacious observation deck on the top floor with a number of private tables, benches and seats to view the countryside, use a laptop, play cards or do whatever, but due to the furniture it is not a good place to hold a mass congregation unless everyone sits down. The first floor of the obs deck has a commissary for buying snacks, drinks, booze and small meals. The prices are a little high, but not complete robbery - still, it's advisable to bring your own foodstuffs. Also on the first floor are more tables and furniture and more observation areas, we tried to leave this area open last year as we pretty much took up all the tables upstairs. Wireless connections will be set up and administrated from a table on the upper floor, you can take advantage of it from the whole obs car. At night, we appropriate obs for PAX-y uses, but it is still a public area, so don't be a total boor or drunkard. This is when we typically chill and watch movies.
The Dining Car: The onboard restaurant of the train is pretty good. Or, at least it was last year.
We are actively trying to have better arrangements with Amtrak this year, check back for news about the group purchase.
We will be having the following events on PAXTrain:
Tournaments: TBD. At the very least there will be Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Rock Band 2, and D&D going on.
Meals: Amtrak takes Lunch and Dinner reservations before meals happen. Find some people and make a reservation for four. It's a great way to commiserate with people in a more relaxed environment than the public areas.
Movie Night: CURRENT FILM LIST: TBD. Do you have something you want to watch at night in the observation car? Bring it with you and / or let us know. Last year Dr. Horrible was the big hit of movie night.