Catching Up On: Arizona + Las Vegas

Hey guys! I’m finally on winter break, which means more time to do things that aren’t schoolwork, schoolwork, and schoolwork. I guess I’ll start by delivering that post I kind of promised last time, which will be dedicated to answering this question:

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN SINCE MARCH?

Many places, actually. I’m not going anywhere outside of my house this Christmas for two weeks, so instead I’ll just marinate here in my room and show you guys visually everywhere that I’ve been in 2013, that is, from April to December. Here goes Part I of this catch-up installment.

SPRING BREAK – Arizona and Las Vegas

First up is Las Vegas. I really don’t know why people who do not fall into the category of “drunk twenty-somethings” go to Las Vegas at all. My overall impression of the place was: strippers. Johns. Cigarette smoke. Overexposure. Hot (temperature-wise, because, um, showgirls and prostitutes are not really my idea of the other type). Casinos. Dirty (in multiple senses). Cheap. Of course, I made the best of the situation, etc., but if it were up to me I would have never spent my spring break in Sin City. At least I got some decent photos there though.

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one of my favorite things to do, actually, is simulate bokeh by taking pictures of city lights at night and going deliberately out of focus. so cool!

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casinos…can’t say i enjoyed them, or las vegas in general, but ehh.

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state divide at hoover dam…which was an impressive concrete spectacle.

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yes, concrete

And then we crossed over from Nevada to Arizona. The Grand Canyon was a short distance away from Vegas. While it certainly was a nice change of scenery, didn’t really tickle my fancy either. I mean, yes, I know, it is one of the great tourist attractions/landmarks of America and all, with so much stone and so many canyons and towering great heights, but…in the end it’s just a bowl of rock. With a few tumbleweeds and tufts of desert grass. And scraggly squirrels. And warning signs everywhere about people who died over-hiking in the Grand Canyon so you should pack a lot of water and make sure you can get back up when you go down by nightfall and DID WE MENTION THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DIE IN THE GRAND CANYON???

Maybe it’s just me, though. I’m sure a variety of people such as hikers, geologists, and other athletic types love the Grand Canyon. Personally, my ideal type of vacation would be something to do with lots of greenery, hip and lively downtowns, art museums, and secondhand bookstores. I don’t particularly dig the whole arid Midwest thing. But hey, on a more positive note, there were some pretty parts of the Grand Canyon too.

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overlooking at one of the rims

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oooh, precarious cliff. don’t fall over!

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we bought some dreamcatchers at a shop in the grand canyon and hung them onto our rental Jeep

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road tripping it

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our car. pretty fitting with the terrain, right?

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beautiful sunset over a stretch of desert along the highway

Then we stopped by Zion National Park, where we ventured down into a crevice of the canyon and found this excellent watering hole place. My biggest regret is that we didn’t bring any swimsuits along, because it would have been so great to lay down with a towel on the huge flat slabs of rock by the water, eat lunch under the sun, and then dive into those pristine green depths. Just look at it.

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i caught some other people jumping off the cliff-rock into the waters instead. and hey, the 1/1000 shutter speed worked!!1!1!

And that, I believe, is it! Next up: NEW YORK CITY in April for that national competition that I talked about a few posts ago.

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New York City!

It’s official. The travel information arrived in my email inbox this afternoon. I’m going to New York City…I’m going to New York City!

Thank God, that half year of tagging all photos of the city I saw on my Tumblr dashboard with “nyc2013” was not done in vain. Thank God, that story I wrote with my overflowing imagination about what it would be like to compete in the Big Apple will no longer be fiction, but fact. Thank God, it is me standing in the front of the room with my teammates, the trophy cradled in my palms, just as it was with the team from my school last year. This is, admittedly, one of the biggest things that’s happened to me in my life so far. Not everybody can say they won a state-level economics/forensics competition, and are bound to go on to Nationals at the beating financial heart of the world’s greatest city. It’s all finally happening!

I’ll be in NYC from noon of April 11th, to the afternoon of the 13th. With the segments of the timetable pieced together, we will have at least a whole day to enjoy the cultural and touristy splendor we can cram in. Wall Street, Times Square, and dining out somewhere awesome is definitely on the top of my to-do list! I’ve already been planning out in my head how to handle film rolls and X-ray security at the airports. Plus, funny thing is, my family’s already planned to come to New York City during summer vacation of this year. So, even if all the film turns out to be completely screwed up this time around, I’ll always have the next time!

I can’t wait! This trip is going to definitely necessitate an updated wardrobe, lots of preparation for the actual competition, and tons of hype. April’s going to be a huge travel and photography month for me. Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon during spring break, and then New York City soon after that! I’m actually still in the slog of March right now, with  more piano and econ competitions being chucked in every direction at me, so I can’t lose focus now and turn too happy-go-lucky. Not to mention goddamn school and my slippery-slope GPA. But the euphoria is just so great, you know?

And, and, the new Hurts album Exile which was released all of about a week ago, is the icing upon the icing upon the cake. It’s not quite what Happiness was, but I think all fans of music must accept the fact that quality bands’ sounds will always change, whether slightly or dramatically, with each album. Each album is like a different flavor, a different season: just a different phase of music and of life. Exile is darker, guitar-ier, a collective midnight cult chorus, as opposed to its more melodic, electro-synth older sibling. But I welcome the change.

Overall, it has just been a fantastic week. I do so much hope this warm draft will last a little longer before it has to go. New York City–just keep thinking about it! I get excited every time my mind spins back to it, which is about once every twenty minutes during the day. I am going places!