Bricks Cascade 2020: 99 Bricks Contest

A month ago I was attending the Bricks Cascade LEGO convention in Portland. A highlight of that event for me was on Friday when I participated in the “99 Bricks” challenge, in which you have to build a bunch of different models out of the same 99 elements, each one to a different theme or subject matter, and you only have 3 minutes to do it in! I think my favorite was the first one I made, a robot:

1: Robot
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Bricks Cascade 2020 MOCs

It feels like a million years ago, but it has only been 4 weeks since my first (and I fear it may be only) LEGO convention of 2020, Bricks Cascade, in Portland Oregon. Despite early worries about coronavirus, I had a pretty great time, and don’t seem to have caught anything. Since then, of course, I’ve returned home and have been sheltering in place and watching with horror at the way the virus has spread across the world. It feels almost impossible that an event such as this could ever happen, much less just a few weeks ago. It’s amazing how quickly we adapt to changing realities. Everyone, please stay home and help flatten the curve.

Anyway, let’s try to forget about COVID-19 for a minute, and talk about the MOCs (My Own Creations) at the event. As usual at LEGO conventions, I tried to take photos of photos of all the MOCs displayed by the builders there, and think I probably didn’t miss much if any. Here’s an image of my MOCs that were on display in the Art area:

Bricks Cascade MOCs 0025
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Bricks Cascade 2012

Last weekend, I went up to Portland, Oregon for the first-ever Bricks Cascade LEGO convention.

I had a real ordeal getting up there. I had standby tickets to fly up Thursday morning from San Francisco, but the flights were all full. I bought a one-way ticket using miles instead on another airline, and then realized that flight was out of San Jose! So I had to take two BART trains, a Caltrain, and a bus to change airports. I got to the airport in plenty of time, but the plane was late coming in… and after unloading the incoming passengers, they didn’t load us right away. After a while we finally heard the mechanic was looking into an oil pressure problem, and after an hour or two delay (during which another – full – flight to Portland took off without us), they canceled the flight. We had a choice to be put on a flight from Oakland – yet another airport – that evening, but I didn’t relish the idea of riding in a crowded shuttle bus in rush-hour traffic and told them to just cancel me and give my miles back. I decided to drive up instead… it’s about a 12 hour drive, and at that point (Thursday evening around 5) I thought I could make it up there by noon Friday and still enjoy the convention events.

However, I didn’t get a ton of sleep the night before, and spending the entire day trying to fly wasn’t exactly restful. I didn’t quite make it to Redding before I started getting drowsy, so I pulled off in a rest area to take a nap. It was too warm to really sleep and I didn’t get more than a catnap before pressing on. I spent the night at a truck stop in Weed. I also took some rest breaks the next morning, and between all the sleeping, and a few stops for gas and munchies and stuff – oh, and I had to stop at a tire shop and buy two new tires for my van – I didn’t get into Portland until 5pm. I missed all the Friday activities at the convention, but at least I made it. I went to the airport and got my luggage (which made it on the first flight I missed), and went to my friend’s house where I’d be staying for the weekend, and collapsed into bed.

My hay fever allergies had been acting up even before I left, but when I got up to Oregon, they really kicked into high gear. I was completely stuffed up, and had to take a Benadryl when I went to bed in order to sleep. I had to take plenty of allergy meds all weekend just to function, but I almost completely lost my voice anyway. As I write this Thursday evening, I still have a residual cough and my voice isn’t quite right.

Saturday morning I checked in at the convention and set up Kermit before the doors opened to the public. I took a few photos, then went out for lunch (vegan waffle with fried chicken from the Flavour Spot food cart) and did my shopping at the LEGO store, then went back to the convention center. I took part in the team speed build event, where we formed four teams of six to put together the LEGO Tower Bridge #10214 set. My team finished last, but at least we got to divvy up the set and each keep 1/6 of the parts. At the award ceremony Saturday evening, they gave me a special “Planes Trains & Automobiles” award in honor of my travel misadventures, and Kermit won “Most Iconic” in the Art theme. After the ceremony I went out for dinner and Voodoo Doughnut with a couple friends, and then went back to my host’s house and to bed.

Sunday, I spent the entire day onsite, except for a brief time away for lunch at Red Robin nearby. I took a lot of photos and spent time chatting with people. Overall, the attendance was fairly light for this event, but that is probably for the best their first year. I’m sure as the word gets out, they’ll have more crowds next time. I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere that a lighter density crowd brings. They closed the doors at 3, and had a brief closing ceremonies in which my name finally came up in the drawing and I got a Friends set. We packed up all our things and cleared out the hall. One unexpected surprise was another Toyota Sienna van with Oregon “I LEGO” license plates! Turns out, one of the local Play-Well people had a Toyota minivan with a license plate to match my California “I ♥ LEGO” plates.

I spent the evening hanging out with my hosts and headed out in the morning, but did some shopping on my way out of town and didn’t really get on the road until after noon. I got home around 5am, after a few nap breaks. It was quite an ordeal of driving, and I really should stop trying to drive all the way to/from Portland by myself in one step. Road trips are so much easier if you drive no more than 6-8 hours per day. They’re better still if not preceded by a day struggling to get on board an airplane, though.

Anyway, overall I had a great time and am looking forward to BrickCon in Seattle in October, and seeing what Bricks Cascade does for 2013! To see all my photos, click the image, or view a slideshow.