Here's the full story! (Updated May 2017)
I went to the U.S. in early October 2015 to participate in the New York Comic-Con. It was amazing! Truly! A bit too crowded for my taste, but the number of attendees over the 4 days the convention was held reached 170 THOUSAND! So the convention in itself was quite a feat to pull of alone, so kudos to all the invisible personell that made the CC what it was!
Did I wear a costume? Yes. It was from the Fallout franchise, more specifically Fallout 3. The outfit is basically an Armored RobCo jumpsuit (complete with logo on back) the Ghoul Mask, and the Alien Blaster. I had lots of additional props on my person, like a keychain with old keys, Energy Cells (ammuntion for one-handed energy weapons), RadAway, bottlecaps, and other Fallout stuff. Originally I was going to wear a Pip-Boy 3000A, a fancy wrist-watch that is iconic to the franchise, but I didn't receive it in time. The jumpsuit belonged to my father, he used it (up to 2006, when he passed away) as labor-coveralls, which ment it was already heavily worn, stitched, and sun-bleached by the time I found it.
The Alien Blaster was bought from Etsy, for a reasonable fee. It has functional LED wiring throughout the gun, as well as funtioning reloading mechansim with the Alien Power Cell that comes with it. The prop maker goes by the name of TheWastelander. He provides great dualogue and customer service, just so you know.
The Ghoul Mask is custom-made by an artistic friend of me. She's on Newgrounds, actually! Her profile name is bella-art. She does commissions whenever she has the time to work on them (note that she is almost always working on something, and when I asked her if she tired of it, she said no, never, because she enjoys it so much). She takes her work really personal and professional at the same time, and she can draw or paint just about anything you can imagine, in case you got some "ideas" you would like to see to fruition, including NSFW-material. I've got a couple of works by her, myself, and communication with her before, during, and after she finished the commissions were phenomenal! She was present at the C-C, which is partly why I flew across the Atlantic all the way from Norway. 2 birds with 1 stone, they say. I was successful in encountering her and her boyfriend which was a absolute joy!
Since they are both artists and exceptional with pencils (and the like), I observed them working together on a Sci-Fi-comic Bella was working on, an interesting sight to behold. You may ask yourself "if she's a pencil artist, how come she managed to make the mask?" To that, I will answer "connections". Bella has been an artist for quite some time, not only with pencils, but she has done some sculpting work as well, and she is capable with needle and thread. But the real mastermind behind the mask was her mother, who creates costumes (dresses, gowns, those sorts of things) in Tel Aviv, Bella's country of residence.
After I introduced Bella to the Fallout universe, and expressed my desire to go to the Comic-Con dressed with the Ghoul Mask (which is basically the facial skin of several zombielike horrors cut off and made into a mask, so the Feral Ghouls won't eat you), she explained that she might be able to help me with that. So I sent her some pictures of the mask and some measurements, and she said that she and her mother will give it a go. So out into the city she went, and bought several scraps of leather of different color, and in the end, it was downright identical to the mask in Fallout 3, right down to the number of seams (pseudo-seams in real life) under the right eye. She painted the leather fantasically, complete with ear-remains, blood splatter here and there, and went for a shoelace mechanism in the back for opening/closing the mask. So that's the history behind that item.
So, when the Comic-Con was over, I shipped the outfit and most of the props back home (no reason to carry all that cumbersome deadweight), and spent a week in south Brooklyn, in a great hostel on Moore Street (Moore Hostel), and did all the "touristy" things: Times Sq, Liberty Island, Hard Rock Café (I collect clothing from the restaurants all over the world), Empire State Building, etc. I spent two weeks in NY, one in 42nd st., Manhattan, close to the shipyards and the Javits Center, where the C-C was held.
After that I went to Washington, D.C., and walked in the footsteps of The Lone Wanderer, the player character in Fallout 3. I also went to the National Mall (Lincoln Memorial, the top of the Washington Monument, stairs of the Capitol Building, Natural History Museum, Aerospace Museum, and so on).
I also went to Arlington National Cemetary, The Pentagon, and Roosevelt Memorial Island, which are all represented in the game. I spent a week in DC, before I took a plane to McCarran Airport, Las Vegas, Nevada, where I spent a month in total.
In Nevada I walked in the footsteps of The Courier, the player character of another game in the Fallout franchise, Fallout: New Vegas. I started my journey chronologically (McCarran doesn't really count at this point) in Goodsprings, and got a ride by one of the workers in Goodsprings General Store to Primm. From there I followed the I-15 towards California, reached a the east-going junction on my left where I slept (have to remember to bring earplugs next time).
I then headed down the road towards a small but picturesque settlement by the name of Nipton. I spent a night there, and then walked onwards towards Searchlight.
I called it a night halfway in between, since I didn't have aheadlamp. I heard a lone coyote howling somewhere in the distance. Exciting! I had read up on Mojave's fauna before going, so I knew it would most likely not attack.
The next morning, after 2 hours of walking, I got a lift from a nice couple :)
We reached Searchlight, and I lived quite well there for 5 nights, at a motel named El Rey (the funny thing is, there is an El Rey motel in Fallout: New Vegas, it's located right outside McCarran!). I walked to Cottonwood Cove, and enjoyed the sunset and begging of a multitude of birds that were after my foodstuff. I went back to Searchlight, after being offered a ride from one of the few locals, a young man of Asian decent, in a total hunk of a car. Well, all one actually needs in a car was there... I spent some time in the Searchlight McDonalds(TM), due to free "beverage" refill and free Wi-Fi access.
Then I started down the long walk towards Nelson, the small remains of a Mining Boom town. I walked for about 3 hours, when a gentleman in his early 50s (I reckon) offered to give me a lift to wherever I was headed. I accepted, and was driven to Nelson, which proved to be quite the sight. I've seen sandstorms, rainstorms, hail, the potent stars of the desert night sky, unshackled by any lamp posts or city lights, and strange and random junk people have tossed out the window for unknown reasons (a wire cutter, gloves, a cell phone cover, underpants, and more bottlecaps than I care to count (I've found about 30, I think.) BUT, the ancient preserved buildings of the old Nelson was really special. The landscape, too, was Arizona-esque, with spires jutting from the beige rock near the route down to the Colorado River. Anyway, I was hesitant to get out of the car I found myself in because of the rain we experienced. It was no mere drizzle, let me tell you! No, the rain POURED down, exploding on the windshield (there was even a few minutes of hail!). Bill, the driver, told me that it was close to flash flood material, right there. So we went back up through Nelson, and towards Boulder City and Hoover Dam, my next destination. Bill dropped my off at the Nevada Inn, before he drove back home to Henderson. I stayed the night there, and then followed the old railroad tracks (supply railroad for the Dam under it's construction) to the dam the next morning.
Walked from Boulder City to Hoover Dam, via the Alan Bible Visitor Center, some 5 hours by foot from Boulder. After procuring some maps and directions, it was 5 in the afternoon, so I went to the Marina to get a bite to eat.
After, I went back to the center, now closed, and devoid of people, and hung around on a bench, resting, and enjoying the relative silence and free wi-fi access. I sat there for a while, pondering whether or not I should pack up and push on, or stay and rest some more.
The Hoover Dam Lodge/Casino was visible not far away, so I went over, inside, and dropped down on a very comfortable couch in the lobby. I sat there watching documentaries on the TV into the small hours. I tried not to dose off, as that would undoubtidly lead to my ass getting thrown out. When it neared 6 in the morning, I was almost in a trance-like state, half asleep, half awake. A door opening and shutting behind me snapped me out of it. A security guard came over and said something in the lines of "hey man, you've been sitting in that couch all night, please order a room or leave." I explained my situation (trekking through Nevada, no sleep in 24 hours, low on food, aching feet, etc). The guard nodded and said "All right". Cheching the time and glancing outside, I saw that daylight was finally emerging, so I thanked the guard for not throwing me out immediately, and set out on the old railroad path that led to the dam.
Took -2,5 hours to get there, through the massive train tunnels, rugged mountains on my right, and the slowly diminishing Lake Mead on my left. Went up to the new overpass, magnificent view, then down onto the dam itself. You don't fully realize the scale of the dam until you are standing on it. After a meal at the on-site café, I waited around the parking house elevators, trying to hitch a ride back to Boulder City, to no prevail. I was being as polite and non-threatening as I could, but still, the dam police approached in a car and said they've gotten word of someone making the visitors "uncomfortable"! I explained my situation to them as well, and asked if they could give me a courtesy ride to Boulder. "No", they told me, and disheartened, I went back up to the parking garage roof, and through the pass on the right hand side, back the way I came.
To my surprise (and slight worry), two police cars were standing by the road, just before the tarmac path gave way for gravel. They said they could give me a courtesy ride to Hoover Dam Lodge! After a series of mandatory questions (any drugs, weapons, etc, etc) and a short pat-down, I was put in the back seat, and off we went! Arrived at the Lodge, ordered a taxi, and got back to Boulder City, and to the Nevada Inn.
Stayed there for about a week, waiting for a shipment (Bottlecap Mine + Nuka Grenade), and enjoying having, for once, a temperated, quiet room with a mattress TV and a fridge.
After the package was received, I checked my funds. Enough for a flight home, and not much else. I needed to find the cheapest way possible across the U.S., from Las Vegas to New York. I had no wish to get back out there on the road, living in the great uncertainty of the long walk and the squatting to needed to survive. So I ordered a ride with Greyhound, and booked the flight accordingly.
After that was done, I used my remaining cash on an evening on the Las Vegas Strip: took a bus to Vegas, got off about a mile (1,6 km, I believe) south of the epic Stratosphere tower. Dusk was setting in, and up the Strip I went, past both amazing and iconic sites: the Rome and Paris section, and the Venice Section. They all had copies of the tourist attractions most famous from their respective places: Rome had the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, Paris had the Eiffel Tower, and Venice had canals.
I went up about 3/4 of the Strip, before I got to Hard Rock café, had an awesome burger, bought a T-shirt, and took a taxi back to Boulder City. I packed my things that evening, and the following afternoon I took a bus to the Greyhound depot, and started the 60 HOUR trip across the U.S.
Left Las Vegas shortly before sunset. We drove north-northeast, towards Utah. The bus drove through Hidden Valley, and through a long, winding canyon pass, beatifully lit by the setting sun, in colors ranging from orange, gold, copper, bronze, blue, and purple. I always get sleepy when I'm on a bus, and this tome was no different. Fortunately, I remained awake till daylight was gone, determined to see as much as I could of the serene desert lanscape. Unfortunately, my sleep was very erratic. We drove from small town to small town, stopping 10 minutes in each place. Before doing so, the bus driver would turn on the bright lights, and yell the incoming stop over the speakers, abruptly awakening anyone who was asleep.
This continued on throughout the night, and there was little sleep to be had, maybe two hours in total. Travelling on to Colorado, we started ascending the Rocky Mountains. I felt almost at home there! Small ski-resort villages amidst mountains and valleys covered in snow, and the evergreens covering much of the hills. The downside was that chains had to be attached to the wheels, rattling immensly, appearentely being much too loose. So no sleep in the Rockies, either. We descended in the evening, finally taking off the chains, and letting me have some much needed, albeit, sporadic shut-eye.
When I awoke, we were not far from Denver, where I switched bus, and proceded into the Plains along Interstate 70, which we deviated little from for the rest of the journey. Hate to say this, but the ride frin Denver was boring. Really boring. Remember the Windows hills with the grass and the sky? Good. Imagine that, but flatter ground, wilting grass, and grey sky. That was my view for at least 12 hours. Endless yellowish plains in all directions. Much of the same in Kansas, but with some cultivated lands.
The ride went on through Missouri. Arrived at St. Louis at nightfall, saw it's famous arch about 1,5 miles (lets say 3km) away. Christmas lighting was already up in the trees of the streets, predominantly blue. Very nice.
Went on through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virgina, Pennsylvania. Scenery didn't change much throughout these states.
Arrived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then the bus went south towards New York. At 6 in the morning, I went off at the Port Authority Building in Manhattan, not far from Times Square. The plane was to leave at around 5 in the afternoon, so I took a taxi to JFK, and waited patiently. Had some proper sleep i a comfy chair in a lounge in one of the terminals.
The check-in, the venture to the gate, and boarding went smoothly. Went overseas via Reykjavik in Iceland, trip took around 10 hours. I then had to wait 3 hours for the flight north, and then take a 2 hour bus ride back home. Arrived tired, fatigued and hungry, but a thousand moments richer!
So that's my U.S. trip, in broad strokes and horribly downscaled, though. If there are anything you've read in the text you would like embellished, please let me know. But beware! I could probably write 3 paragraphs about a 10 second event :)
I have no grammar correction while I'm writing this, so if there are any typos, then... they're there.
This gargantuan pile of text is too damn long for me to proof-read immediately!
On a side note, I slept outside 6 nights in total.
Alright, now for the 3 pictures from 2015!
Full body shot. The brown bits on my legs and shoulders are actual iron, from an old wood stove.
In the IV bag there's apple juice.
The pictures were taken from here:
The photographer showed up in a Vault suit, and gathered as many people with Fallout inspired costumes as he could find, and we had a little photo shoot with him. Great guy! I actually met the guy in red again at the 2016 NYCC! Paul's a great guy, really passionate about Fallout. He ran around with a Tri-Beam Laser Rifle and the Nuka Breaker!!
I'm in the process of obtaining more, I attended an awesome photoshoot hosted by "Spuds" Zupatsu. Lots of people took pictures of the Fallout geeks :)
If you have read *all* of the text above:
If you haven't: I don't blaim you.