I am so sorry this took me so long to write. I didn’t know where to start and kept getting writer’s block. I hope you enjoy and would love to hear if you like the whole trip in one go or if I should break it up into individual days! Leave some feedback in the comments below!
Tuesday, May 24
I don’t even know quite where to begin. My flight out was scheduled for 0600 on Wednesday, May 25 (of all days my birthday). I was so excited to go see my friends I hadn’t seen since 2019. I had taken Tuesday off of work so I could finish packing and doing some cleaning around my place. As I finished packing my suitcase and went to jump in the shower I heard my phone quietly alert me that I had a new email. Normally I don’t check right away because I get so many email, but something told me to check it. Swiping on my watch it was an email from Alaska Airlines. I quickly grabbed my phone to be able to see what the full email said and was shocked. Here it’s 2230 the night before my flight and I get notice that my flight has been canceled and I would be receiving a credit towards a new flight. No mention of getting rebooked, no mention anything about getting me on a new flight or anything. Just to check my email in a few days. So I did what anyone else would do and called customer support. Only to be greeted with “your estimated wait time is 4-5 hours”. Dismayed I resigned myself to wait on hold. An hour into my hold time I finally received some partially good news, I’d been rebooked for Thursday at 0600. I waited a bit longer in the hopes of being able to get rescheduled for the later flight out of town on the 25th but alas no go.
Wednesday, May 25
Well, since I didn’t get to fly out I spent the day relaxing. Could I have worked some to not have to take PTO that day? Sure, did I really want to? Absolutely not. I was on vacation, my out of office reply was set, my notifications were off, and I was hellbent on trying to enjoy the day. I had dropped Roxy off at my parent’s house so they could watch her while I was gone, but here I was still in town. I know what would have happened if I had gone up to their house at all. She would have been very upset if I didn’t take her home with me. So I resigned myself to no dog with me for the day. After hours of doing very little except some cleaning around the apartment it was dinner time. I decided to go grab a beer and some food with my family before trying to go to bed at a semi reasonable hour. Anyone that knows me knows I couldn’t fall asleep till about 0100. Just in time for my alarm to go off at 0400 so I could get up and load the rig to head to the airport.
Thursday, May 26
Finally the morning has arrived and I was off to the airport. The flight was uneventful, the connecting flight also uneventful, but with extra leg room due to being an exit row. I was very much ready to touch down in Phoenix. I honestly don’t remember much of the flight or the airport. Upon arrival I met up with my friend and we grabbed my luggage. I need to remember when I go to visit him that my large suitcase barely fits in his Mustang. I think I tell myself that every time I go visit him. I digress. First stop: camera shop to pick up a Canon EF 2x Extender and the camera body he wanted for the hockey game on Sunday. We made our way to Trevor’s Liquor and then back to the camera rental shop because I realized I didn’t bring my 50mm f/1.8 lens. It worked out, we picked up the 35mm f/1.4 Sigma art lens instead for a wider shot on the food. More on that lens and the EF 2x Extender in a later post. The rest of the day was fairly casual. We grabbed sushi ad Daruma Sushi in Mesa then headed to the BRI Taproom and Arcade where we rocked it on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Friday, May 27
Friday got off to a rough start. We got a late start, I selected the wrong time for parking so had to rebuy a parking space, when we got to the venue the parking lot was full because the Sheraton had overfilled the lot, and the valet was very rude to us. By the time we got to line for Phoenix Fan Fusion we were tired, frustrated, and hot (though that last part is to be expected as we were in Phoenix). It never fails, security at these events don’t know really how to deal with someone with a huge camera bag full of gear. I get it, liability and all, I appreciate that they didn’t manhandle my bag or camera. I’ve had some places that have mistreated my gear leading to some really hostile and tense situations. When you carry as much gear as I do it’s nerve-wracking to have someone mistreating it. Thankfully they were good about it. Once inside we split, my buddy’s wife had some panels she wanted to see, we wanted to hit the merch section. It was a one day affair for us so I wanted to make sure that I was in the merch areas and there weren’t really any panels I wanted to see quite yet.
This year’s convention definitely felt a bit smaller than the last one they had (which I was also at in 2019). The pandemic really hit them hard. It was a definitely nice change of pace though to be at a con again. Seeing everyone excited to be back really made the day worthwhile, minus the fact that I was completely unable to find a stand selling one of my favorite drinks on a hot day, prickly pear lemonade. I was so upset that I didn’t get any while I was in Phoenix. After walking the equivalent of what felt like a trek across the country we made our way a few blocks over from the venue to try to find some diner. I’d been craving fish and chips all day long. Yes I’m aware we were in the middle of a desert and landlocked, but it didn’t change my desire. We found a spot called The Kettle Black where I was able to satiate that craving. The batter on the fish was good, the fries were excellent, and the atmosphere sitting outside in downtown Phoenix was fun. We meandered back to the convention center where we made our way up to the drag show that was happening that night. We enjoyed our time there and the part I’d been looking forward to since I was down there last was about to happen. I’d been waiting to make our way to Melinda’s Alley, a quaint speakeasy under the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix.
Saturday, May 28
Every time I travel I like to find a zoo to visit (I do the same with aquariums, but more to come on that later). The Phoenix Zoo was on my list of places to visit and man was it a lot of walking. The heat didn’t help me at all but at least I remembered to bring my Hydroflask and sunscreen. The Phoenix Zoo is such a great spot to see a variety of both local and global animals. Even saw some local residents that weren’t part of the zoo. The rest of Saturday was mixed with relaxing and good food. We made our way over to an awesome New Mexican style restaurant called Blue Adobe Grille. I had the Carne Adobada, and when I tell you it was some of the most tender, and tasty pork I’ve ever had that’s saying something. If you ever make it to the Phoenix area I highly recommend their food. I was a little bummed with the creme brulee. Not because it lacked flavor but the topping didn’t have the trademark crack. That being said, the custard was smooth and creamy. It was fantastic otherwise.
Sunday, May 29
Sunday morning we got up and got ready, I did some editing on photos to start the day, then we packed up and got on the road. It was time to head to a hockey game my friend’s friend asked him to shoot. It was a lot of fun to photograph something other than wildlife and landscapes. Not my normal, but fun. Sunday was a day to rest for us too. I’d been going basically nonstop since Wednesday afternoon. Being the computer guy I’d promised my friend we’d work on his setup to get him set up to use NextCloud and maybe move him off of DropBox so he could control his own cloud access. We ended the day with Korean food at The Drunken Tiger. I had been craving bulgogi for quite some time.
Monday, May 30
Memorial day, a day to remember the men and women of our military that gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend not only our country but to defend and protect others around the world. Many people partake of the traditions of barbeques with friends, and copious amounts of alcohol. And while I’m totally down for a burger and a beer just take a moment to remember why we have that day. After spending an afternoon hanging out with friends and having the small get together we finished off the night by going to the Creamistry in downtown Gilbert.
Tuesday, May 31
The day I’ve been waiting for (for a very different reason than travel). The day I get to see Top Gun: Maverick. On top of that we chose the AMC Dolby Cinema version of the theater. It was absolutely fantastic. Comfortable seats, the sound really tied it all together. After the movie I wound up meeting up with another longtime friend and we hit up The White Rabbit which is an awesome Speakeasy in downtown Gilbert, AZ. It was a little interesting finding the spot (as it should be) and the entrance was fantastic. I won’t ruin it for those that want to go but it was well worth. Had a couple of great drinks as well as some delicious calamari (yeah, again, landlocked city still pulled off great seafood). This night didn’t go very well after that. We left to go try to make it to a hot dog place, we wound up a few minutes too late to get it so went to go towards Raising Cane’s Chicken (another spot I’ve never been). On the journey there I realized I’d left my Oakley’s at the White Rabbit. Unfortunately they don’t have a phone number listed, nor do they have any way to get in contact with them other than a Facebook message. (They checked with all staff the next day and unfortunately the sunglasses were long gone…)
Wednesday, June 1
My final day, it was both time to go home, but also didn’t want to go back to reality. It was a day full of donuts, panera, walmart (to see if I could find some new headphones since my Bose QC35 II decided they didn’t want to power off and hold a charge anymore. It’s been a rough trip at times…first my sunglasses, now this. I decided to just make my earbuds work, and they are no slouch. I also made a trip to the Oakley store to look at options to replace my sunglasses. Found a pair but need to decide which version I want to ultimately wind up with. That’s a topic for another day. My flight was supposed to leave out of Phoenix at 6:55pm, but we didn’t get off the ground until nearly 8pm. Which is great fun since I had an already tight connection in Seattle. I made it with a few minutes to go and boarding time was once again upon me for the final leg home. Roxy was excited to see me, and I was excited to see her. I always miss her when I’m gone and always excited to see her when I get back. I didn’t crawl into bed until about 1:30am, but alas this journey finally came to a close. Time to start planning the next camping trip. Hopefully next weekend I can get back out.