phxdown

Photography | Travel | Inspiration | Phoenix, AZ

My Year End Recap 2016.

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This was an odd year for me. It was the first time in my years of traveling that I didn’t travel solo (internationally) nor did I visit any new countries. Even though I long to see more of the world, sometimes that’s just the way it works out. I’m happy I finally got around to seeing some of the places in Arizona I’ve always wanted to visit. Overall it was a good year for me. And though I didn’t procure any new passport stamps, I still learned a lot and made some incredible memories I’ll never forget.

Trips were planned, then cancelled, re-planned, re-cancelled but I understand when others are involved it makes it that much more difficult. There was a 10-day itinerary planned for Lima, Peru that didn’t quite work out. Planned down to the night of eating at Central Restaurante, the restaurant voted best in Latin America. Staying in Miraflores, playing on the beach in Paracas, Sunboarding in Ica, the Nazca lines, a night bus to Cusco, lazy days in Aguas Calientes, then ending in a long and beautiful day at Machu Picchu. I’m still sad that I didn’t get to drink any Pisco Sours. Someday.

Two trips to Thailand fizzled. The first was to be “epic” and basically a recreation of the Duke Dumont video. Bangkok, Full Moon Party, Phuket but alas it wasn’t meant to be. The second trip had a friend and I staying in Bangkok for a few days then up north to stay in a resort on the River Kwai. The way the fog rolled over the river in the jungle looked so surreal. I’m still thinking about going there someday.

As a result of all these trips falling through, I had more vacation than I expected. So I made solo plans to either go to Okinawa, Japan; Rome, Italy; Taipei, Taiwan; Marina Bay, Singapore; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Bali, Indonesia and others I’m sure. Several of these places I was a click away from booking the accommodations. But enough of where I didn’t go this year, and recap where I actually did go.

My first trip of the year was to Salt Lake City, Utah. I have a good friend that lives up there and graciously let me stay at his place and drove me all around. It was my first time snowboarding and let’s just say I made it down the mountain alive. I thought I lost my ID on the mountain but turns out the snowboard rental desk misplaced it when I went back to return my gear. Utah is probably the worst place to be without your ID because of the strict alcohol regulations. The next day we went off to go snowshoeing with new friends Scott and Rebecca who hosted me to a great steak and asparagus dinner washed down with several locally brewed beers. I want to thank them and my buddy Jaime.

Then in April I traveled to Cancun and Guadalajara, Mexico with a few friends. They flew Spirit Air and I knew not to. Let’s just say I had a much more pleasant trip getting to Mexico. I had never been to Cancun but really wanted to see Chichen Itza and as a bonus prize, I got to swim in a cenote which was amazing and one of my favorite memories to date. I had been to Chapala/Ajijic/Guadalajara before and still I tell my friends who grew up there that even though I’ve been all over the world, Chapala is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Luckily I got to sample more of the food and Guadalajara nightlife this time. The food here is some of the best I’ve ever had in the entire world. It’s only a two hour flight and I feel I’ll always have a place to stay there. How fortunate I am.

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Ethereal

After returning from Mexico, I laid low for a few months. This is when the trip to Peru was to take place. But still in September I took an impromptu road trip to Los Angeles, California for a day with a couple of friends. We stopped at the Morongo casino outside of L.A. at about 3am and saw all kinds of horrible people gambling, fully awake like it was the middle of the day. Drove into the city and had a good breakfast then picked up our cargo. We ate at a pizza place that sadly stomped on the childhood memories of my friends as it’s now a depressing shadow of what it used to be. Nostalgia hurts no matter which way it goes. On the way back we almost ran out of gas. You’re nearly on empty and our choices were either go ahead 40 miles or back 20 miles to get gas. Which way do you go? There was a gasoline service that would come but they were going to charge $45 a gallon. No thanks. It was an extremely long day but had a fun story to tell in the end.

Another quick trip to Heber-Overgaard in northern Arizona for a two days, one night. It was extremely quiet and the weather was amazing. Nice atmosphere to relax and see a little more of northern Arizona while sampling the food of a sleepy one road town. It was the first time I’ve ever read a book in the silence of the woods while swinging in a hammock. You don’t have to fly thousands of miles to be far away.


A week later I went on my big trip to Tokyo, Japan. I’ll always have a love for Japanese culture. My first trip to Japan was much more touristy but this time was an intimate walk down side streets of Tokyo and slowing down to take it all in. My friend arrived a few days after me and we criss-crossed the streets of Tokyo and had a great time. Another trip for the ages. I was invited by a lady friend that had asked me to go to Japan a few weeks earlier and when I found that the second trip to Thailand fell through, I booked my ticket to Tokyo the next day. Seared salmon sushi, honey toast, and takoyaki equals pure gustatory heaven.

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Prissy in Shibuya.

Even after returning from Japan, I still had a full week of vacation to burn. So I decided to break the week up into several smaller trips. The first was to Las Vegas, Nevada for three days. I’ve been to Las Vegas more times than I can remember but this time I just went for the purpose of taking photographs with a real camera and eating all the food I could fit in my tummy. I think on one day I ended up walking almost 24 miles and climbing 50 floors according to the Apple Health app on my phone. Even though I don’t gamble or drink too much, I’m always up to go to Vegas mainly for the food.

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The Las Vegas Strip facing north.

I came back for one day then drove down to Tucson, Arizona to eat Mexican food and visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum; a place I’ve wanted to visit for years. In my hotel room I looked up restaurants nearby and found El Charro. I guess it’s THE place to go in Tucson for Sonoran style Mexican food. Had a great dish and a house margarita which became my best performing Instagram photo to date. At the Desert Museum, I arrived not really knowing what to expect. It was like a zoo, museum, ecological park all rolled into one. The way everything was laid out and the raptor birds flight show was amazing. All this just about 2 hours south of me and this is the first I’ve been. I enjoyed every second of my trip there.

The last of my smaller itineraries was to Camp Verde, Arizona to visit the Out of Africa Wildlife Park and see the snow. The drive up from Phoenix is quite majestic since you climb so high that I was driving through a flurry of snow and watched it fall down the mountains all around me. At the Out of Africa park I had a wonderful time wandering around and learning about the animals. I got to feed a tiger raw meat, watch a reticulated python slither around and be pet by people to get over their fear of snakes, and watched the staff feed the predator cats. It was a bit odd to see safari animals roaming around with snow on the peaks in the mountains on the horizon. Something I’ll never forget.

All I can say now is that some plans for 2017 are being made but if it goes anything like 2016 went, we’ll have to see if they come to fruition. And now as the year has come to an end, I wanted to thank everyone that visited my humble little site. Whether you’re a follower or somehow wandered over, again thank you so much. I hope in 2017 all of you who wish to, put a lot of miles behind you. Good luck and safe travels.

February:
Salt Lake City, Utah.

April:
Cancun,
Guadalajara, Mexico

September:
Los Angeles, California

October:
Heber-Overgaard, Arizona
Tokyo, Japan

December:
Las Vegas, Nevada
Tucson, Arizona (Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum)
Camp Verde, Arizona (Out of Africa Wildlife Park)

Approximate total miles traveled 18,410 (round trip air and land) miles. Not counting miles traveled on foot.

Author: phxdown

My mind tends to wander. Wander far away.

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