Reunions.

While my intentions were to write this once I got back from my last trip… it’s been a trying week and a half since my return. But since I have a few free moments, I thought I would write about the second “homecoming” that I’ve had this year.

My 20th anniversary high school reunion happened this month. Just staring at those words seems surreal. It doesn’t seem like two decades have passed, and yet, there is no way that I could have crammed in the last two decades worth of experiences in on your average Tuesday. Even for me, that’s a stretch.

That’s not to say that getting to this point wasn’t a challenge in itself, as I had to work to ensure that I’d actually get the time at all over the last five months. While not the way I generally prefer to do things, it did all work out in the end.

I am a “Class of ’94″ graduate. I lived in my hometown of Corsicana. I would like to think that I got along well with everyone during those early years. At least, I didn’t have any notable problems or any “school bully” trope that I had to deal with through several years worth of therapy. But I also realize that I was very much my own individual. While liked, I wasn’t really invited to parties, or events, or to hang out in the larger social circles. That’s not to say that I didn’t have friends. I had great friends that I spent days with riding on 4-wheelers, or “mudding” in trucks, building fully decked out clubhouses with full running electricity and heating and A/C, and a zipline over a creek that separated our two yards. I played video games, collected comics, and didn’t listen to country music. I was shy, and never found a girl to date, or went to homecoming or prom.

Those who really knew me would sit together and create comics and other assorted artwork, and kept each ourselves busy with poking fun at life in general, and pulling all sorts of ridiculous stunts and pranks. Most people probably didn’t realize that I had a lot of issues going on at home, how my Mother and I didn’t always see eye to eye, or the fact that she nearly died during my Sophomore year.

My Senior year.

My Senior year.

When it came time for my class to graduate, most went off to college, or the military, or just simply moved away to other cities. And I stayed behind, going to our local junior college where my Dad taught. And for me, everything began to change. I moved in and out of my parents house so often that they could have put a revolving door on the place. I started dating. And one day, I answered an ad for our local video game company in town to test a game. While people graduated, got married, and had kids, I played Doom and Mortal Kombat 3 on a professional level. It was also around that time that Mom had gotten cancer and died in 1996.

And yet I stayed in Corsicana, a professional “joystick jockey” that turned those days that I conveniently came down with a “mysterious illness” whenever a new Nintendo game was released into a full-time career. I had great friends, and we were larger pranksters and adventurers than ever before. I terrorized drive-thrus and tennis courts and bachelorette parties dressed as Sub-Zero. I started meeting a lot of sci-fiction and action film actors. I eventually moved to Denton to go to UNT. I still worked in the video game industry in Dallas, and worked for one of the local film festivals….

And then 9/11 happened.

With my job lost, Dad getting re-married, and my heart broken from a girl I had fallen for at the time, I decided it was time for a change. And San Diego called my name. I was still in the gaming scene, but the industry was changing, and whether I was no longer a match for the industry that I loved, or had just simply overstayed my welcome, a new career path began to form. I moved to Los Angeles to become an actor.

Everything happened so fast. Too fast, in some ways. I worked between L.A. and San Diego in numerous films and televisions shows. I met a litany of incredible people, many of which were people I had idolized. I met Jen. The San Diego industry dried up in 2007, and I was ready for another change. This time, it turned out that Las Vegas was calling me over.

My time was spent either freelance writing, or acting. Dad passed in 2008, also from cancer. I ended up with our house a few years later, thanks to his help. I began working closer with music and film personalities, everything from Miss Universe to the Academy of Country Music Awards (oh, the irony). It was such a long ways from where I had started in my small town. And yet there I was, set to find myself back where I started 20 years later.

It’s hard coming back to where it all began. Not because I don’t enjoy my hometown. Far from it. But it’s almost a museum to a life that I once had, but can’t really return to anymore. My parents are gone. Most of my favorite places that I grew up with are either closed down or turned into churches (Cinema IV managed to be converted into a church? Really?). The local newspaper doesn’t always paint a pretty picture of the state of affairs there, sometimes seeming far from the quiet town I once knew. But I knew that I had to return for this.

The drive was long. Jen and I trudged over 17 hours worth of driving to make “good time”, barely sleeping in a motel off of Route 66 (at a motel called the Sands that featured the “Elvis Room” – A room full of various Elvis stock photos and his marriage license, which they somehow procured), and over at my sister’s, where her strange dog paced the floor ALL NIGHT LONG making weird Chewbacca “hooting” noises. We ate dinner with the family and Danny before we made the next leg of our journey. I was crazed from lack of sleep that Friday morning before the football game and post-mixer. Our hotel in Corsicana was a dump that smelled of mildew and likely had the cast from Deliverance plucking banjos out in those backwoods behind that place. It was a stark reminder that the days and nights of staying at Dad’s for my stays are long since over.

I had forgotten Friday night high school football. No, Texas Friday night high school football. They’ve built a new stadium since my academic days there, and the lights could easily rival any casino out of Las Vegas.

Football in Spaaaaaaaaaace!

Football in Spaaaaaaaaaace!

But after wandering all over the stadium, with no one knowing where my class was located, Jen and I eventually found a group of familiar faces.

Familiarity rings true.

Familiarity rings true.

And there I was, talking to a group of people I had spent almost my entire life growing up with, and yet being reintroduced to. The strangest part for me was that I remembered all of these faces as still being 18-year old kids. Modernizing an entire section of my past to the present day took some getting used to, but it was pleasant, and enjoyable falling back into some old familiar patterns. I don’t have as many links to my past as I used to. Finding that sense of connection tends to be more than invaluable to me these days.

We went to a small bar in Corsicana (also getting used to the idea that Corsicana has bars, considering that they used to be a “dry” town), where I continued to catch up, boast about our wayward youths, and take photos. It was nice hearing how everyone had grown up and had their own lives and careers and experiences. Toby showed up to crash the event, and we drove around the town for a bit updating me on all the changes that have taken place before we called it a night.

In true '90's fashion, I summoned my best "Kids In The Hall" by "crushing their heads".

In true ’90′s fashion, I summoned my best “Kids In The Hall” by “crushing their heads”.

The next morning, Jen and I began our day at the cemetery to pay respects to my parents. I haven’t been these since 2009, and the feeling of my family residing in a small space in the ground these days hit me so much harder than it has in a while since it was now right there in front of me. 20 years ago, they were seeing me through my Senior year. Today, I placed a bouquet of flowers onto a space to remember them. I let myself have some time before I began the next phase of this revisitation, and that was going back to high school.

The old(?) alma matter.

The old(?) alma matter.

Candidly, my high school weirds me out these days. Not due to any latent trauma resurfacing, as it’s more the fact that they built another high school around the existing high school. So what I remembered from my youth is essentially covered in a hard candy shell. To coin the popular phrase as I tied to wrap my head around this concept truly was a moment of “I can’t even”. And oh my God, so many gyms. There were probably gyms built into the bathrooms at this point, and I wouldn’t have been surprised.

Once we got into the areas of the school that I actually knew about, the tour took a far more familiar, yet surreal turn. Again, mildly stunned by all the changes, but it was almost like nothing changed. Someone brought a copy of an old newspaper with our Senior predictions, and I saw mine: Apparently, I was going to find my way to fame and fortune due to my demented sense of humor.

Pfft. Like that would actually happen….

At least the Tiger was familiar....

At least the Tiger was familiar….

I spent a little more time driving around town, trying to acclimate to just… everything. Blockbuster is a title loan store. Movieland is a scapbooking store. I don’t even know what exactly went down with our former mall. Still, places like Old Mexican Inn with it’s legendary “orange dip” remained the same, and Jen, John, and I had a nostalgia-laden lunch there. I also took my own private journey to reminisce through Corsicana, past old homes, old work places, where Dad taught… and I was kind of taken by some of the simple beauty of the little town. You forget cool breezes, and tree-lined streets, and the way the sky looks and how trains sound in the distance. So different from the light-up casino and desert environment that I live in now. I paused for a moment to really take it in. So much has changed, but the “feel” still holds true. For the first time on the “go go go” schedule this trip had been, I found a moment to relax a little. But it was time to get ready for the main dinner.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to my hometown’s country club before. I don’t know how that came about, but there you are. But I found it a good spot for everyone to meet. The atmosphere was a lot of fun. I was able to reunite with more people that hadn’t shown to the previous events where we shared more stories, and I got a chance to really talk. Trying to get back into sync with a group of people you haven’t seen in 20 years over a series of nostalgic and/or loud venues was a bit of a stimulus overload before, but this worked.

I swear that I don't have a drinking problem....

I swear that I don’t have a drinking problem….

Dinner was good, people danced (and threw me money as I do so – perhaps taking that “Vegas Entertainment” aspect seriously), and I got to bust out “Love Shack” with a few of the girls as my backup singers – I’m not going to lie: This was a dream come true. I’ve wanted to do that song for forever with backup singers, and who better than with the people that I shared all the best of my teen angst with? Lightning could strike me now, and I could honestly say “I’m good.”

Photo originally taken by James Roberts.

Photo originally taken by James Roberts.

And like that, my reunion was over. My brush with high school came to a close. And yet….

Jen and I made one last stop before we returned to the hotel. We drove to my old home and stopped just outside the driveway. Unlike all of those events and get-togethers that I had done in my high school days, this would be one time where I could not go through those doors now… or ever again. It had been a house of so many things, but at the end of the day, it was where I had once belonged. I think that what any of us had wanted when we were teens: To simply be accepted. To find where we were at “home”. I reflected on that time in my life… the people that were a part of that history, and for one more night, I had a small reminder of a far gentler and uncomplicated history. Bittersweet that so long a time has passed, but grateful for that moment at all, and the people that provided it that one final night. I was barely aware that I had teared up as I said my silent good-bye, then drove back to get ready for the long trip ahead that next morning.

That next day (after stocking up on some much-needed Texas food supplies), I drove back to my sister’s to say good-bye to the family. Jen talked with my sister as I tried to convince the kids that leg wrestling was a brilliant idea, and what could possibly go wrong. Again, far too brief a time, but I had family in my life, and it left me ready to go back to my life in Vegas.

The trip was long and boring, perhaps a lot to think about, but I left with a sense of closure and fondness for a world that I rarely get to revisit, but had loved so dearly.

I was ready to go back home.

Burning Man.

The adventures of Burning Man are a post dedicated onto itself, but too many strange things happened during the “getting ready” stages that simply can’t be ignored.

As I was leaving a store, I stepped down off of a curb, and heard a “crack”.

The best way I could describe the sensation is that I saw “pink”. Not the singer. The color. Everything in the world turned pink.

Next thing I know, I was sweating, getting really dizzy, and was having trouble concentrating. Two ladies saw me, and helped me to my car.

I had twisted my ankle.

Smuggling a golf ball in my foot.

Smuggling a golf ball in my foot.

I thought I would go to one of those “doc in a boxes” since I don’t have insurance, so I drove a few feet (yes, stupid I know) and get near the on-ramp for the 95. I was stopped as the area is residential, and waited for the light to change. I guess the guy in front of me grew impatient, as he suddenly threw his car in reverse, and backed full speed into the front of my car. It crunched my bumper, and broke out one of my headlights.

The second wreck.

The second wreck.

So two completely unrelated incidents happened right after each other.

I was in a staggering amount of pain and trying to stay conscious, but I managed to get home. Thanks to a lot of help, a makeshift splint, and this recommended recipe that actually worked, I was able to support myself with a cane.

And I kind of had to get mobile as fast as possible again. It was Classic Gaming Expo time.

Pimpin' with Pac-Man.

Pimpin’ with Pac-Man.

Using a cane, I hobbled around the Classic Gaming Expo. Not much there as I would have liked, unfortunately. I got to play the Fix-It Felix Jr. arcade game from Wreck-It Ralph, bought two classic games for my Lynx, ran into my friend Geoffrey and his girlfriend Rachel, and saw a conference with Howard Phillips, who ran the Nintendo Fun Club/Nintendo Power thing WAY back in the day. I just felt the event needed something more. It just makes the rich history of gaming just seem a little… barren.

Fix-It Felix.

Fix-It Felix.

Nester was nowhere to be found.

Nester was nowhere to be found.

The rest of the month was spent healing, calling the car repair company yet again, and getting ready for my trip. Days turned into weeks, and finally, on one not so ordinary day, my latest trip began.

Burning Man, as I’ve learned, is not something that can be easily explained. I had a number of people tell me this months before going, so I felt that I had learned little as to what to expect out there outside of preparation and survival. There was also the slogan of “My vacation is your worst nightmare.” But the funny thing is, all of those people were right. Outside of a few stories, you really can’t understand it until you’ve been there yourself.

The very name “Burning Man” conjures up some image of a new age, hippie lovefest, where people are trying to figure out the existence of double rainbows and getting whacked out of their gourds. Early on, I gave up on trying to explain to shopkeepers as to what I was doing, instead referring to it as a “camping trip” to save us all some time. It was a lot of preparation. A LOT of preparation, especially for a first timer. But I did survive my experience quite well.

Pulling in to the city....

Pulling in to the city….

Burning Man is a week long event in the middle of a place called Black Rock City. By the time it’s all said and done, it becomes the third largest city in Nevada, outside of Las Vegas and Reno. The rest of the state, from what I learned, is a West Texasesque drive with only the tiniest of towns, and is otherwise undeveloped with little provinces that don’t look out of place from the late 1800′s/early 1900′s. In short, it’s a long drive.

The last time I was clean.

The last time I was clean.

Black Rock City (or “The Playa”) is its own natural desolation. No plants, I saw maybe three bugs during the course of 11 days, and looks not unlike the surface of the moon. The dust out there has the consistency of confectionery sugar or talcum power. It’s incredibly fine, and gets everywhere. And stays everywhere. If you try to clean it off, you’re fooling yourself. Showers and wipes only hold it back so long, so you have to learn how to accept the dust. You have no choice, really.

One of the sunrises.

One of the sunrises.

Before the Man burned.

Before the Man burned.

I hadn’t even gotten into the sandstorms. Imagine this dust flying towards you in huge waves, with periodic white outs that render you unable to see more than two feet ahead of you at times. The temperature was on average 90 degrees in the day, and 30-40 at the coldest points of night. “Dubstep” becomes part of the natural environment.

Party Naked Tiki Bar.

Party Naked Tiki Bar.

It’s a man-made, fully functional city that’s built out in the middle of nowhere, with a community built on gifting to others and what you bring out there to represent yourself.

My "addition" on a thrift store painting.

My “addition” on a thrift store painting.

The best way to describe the overall sensation is this: Take the following things: Tron, Dr. Seuss, Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Willy Wonka, Disneyland, Christmas, Halloween, Mad Max, New Year’s Eve, and Mardi Gras, let a mad scientist throw it into a blender, and you might start understanding the overall vibe.

In the background, "El Pulpo Mechanico" lurks....

In the background, “El Pulpo Mechanico” lurks….

My experiences were often surreal: I rang the bell and rolled in the dirt upon arrival. I rode on stegosaurus shaped cars listening to Towa Tei. I discovered a full size pirate ship half buried in the desert. I rode a train out to the middle of the desert and danced the night away. I sat in a little cafe in a replica of New Orleans’ French Quarter and ate gumbo. I got a facial and massage at a spa (twice in fact, as you appreciate the clean). I heard the readings of the “Great Prophet Hello Kitty”. I went to an “Inconvenience Store” where payment of my purchases required me to scale this rickety three story scaffolding to tie a stuffed gorilla to the top of it, making me question my sanity. I wandered the desert for an entire day to see if I had what it took to survive the environment. I was gifted elaborate costumes to which I wore almost daily. A lot of girls complimented my backside, which is funny because I never thought of having one. I fought dust storms and danced in clubs. I ran into my friend Sarah Jane, as she literally roller skated into me. I took pictures and wrote in my journal. I paid homage to my Dad in an elaborate Temple, while saying good-bye to negative elements from my present and making plans for my future. I watched a sunrise with friends that changed the entire experience for me.

Meeting Sarah Jane.

Meeting Sarah Jane.

And my outfits got stranger.

And my outfits got stranger.

And cooler.

And cooler.

And more fun.

And more fun.

And there were three experiences that held the most profound of impacts:

An all-night staying out with George, Shannon, and Gabe. So many things happened that evening, that’s it’s hard to explain. There was the usual all-night revelry, but there was a moment that we had to huddle together to fight off the worst sandstorm of the entire event in order to make it back to camp. We later found ourselves under a giant light sculpture with 3D glasses. A bond happened to us that night through conversations and spending time together that genuinely affected me, and the duration of the remaining event. And then we watched the sun rise together, as our little group, surrounded by the remaining awake members of our camp. Of everything that happened, that was my favorite experience.

The gang at sunrise.

The gang at sunrise.

The Man burning was incredible. All of the art cars drove out to the center of the Playa and essentially transformed the area into a mini city. It was a huge celebration as the Man raised his arms to the sky before the ceremony began. The fireworks were spectacular. The best I’ve ever seen, like Disneyland exploded. And the burning itself was huge, a massive wave of flame that exploded into the night. During the event, a new friend, an older gentleman, gave me a large and sincere hug, and it emotionally caught me off guard, as no one has hugged me like that since my Father passed.

The Man raises his arms.

The Man raises his arms.

Sam and I.  And some rowdy unicorns.

Sam and I. And some rowdy unicorns.

The Man burns.

The Man burns.

Overall, The Temple was beautiful and emotional. Going inside, it was a collection of photos, letters, items. Not only to those who had passed and were gone, but to missed chances and lost opportunities in life. Someone begged to find love again. And there were messages of hope, and dreams, and the want to embrace life again. Before I knew it, reading all of these messages of loss and redemption filled my eyes with tears. I found myself putting more of my past to rest, to removing negative elements from my present, and recommitting to the future. The night it burned, I walked a mile out into the desert, being flanked by other travelers and art cars during this pilgrimage as “Born Slippy” played from the Trainspotting soundtrack. The burn itself was swift and largely silent, and with it went my own messages of commitment, restoration and redemption. It was a beautiful experience.

The Temple.

The Temple.

Memories to those lost....

Memories to those lost….

Dad.

Dad.

The burning of the Temple.

The burning of the Temple.

As for the people that I met during my travels, within my little family that formed out there: I’ve never experienced such genuine kindness anywhere. People seemed genuinely interested in how you were doing. People greeted you warmly. People would just hand you things if they thought it would be helpful. After a dust storm where I was left coughing, someone handed me cough drops and water to make sure that I was alright. People served up huge feasts in camps. People shared coffee or other drinks as you walked by. A friend even washed the filth out of my hair one day, and it felt like honey and angel spit (which you know just has to be good). Of the 60,000 people that were said to be out there, 99.9% of them were beyond generous and kind. It really took me back and gave me pause as to how I handled relationships in my own life, and how I’d rather remain being like that.

Ultimately, it became an exercise in better understanding artistic expression, self sufficiency, truth, loyalty, self-confidence, compassion, generosity, inspiration, creativity, community, and self restoration. Oh sure, there was definitely some needless drama, but there were also 1,000 other things going on at any given time so that was negligible. What I learned is that Burning Man is very much based on choice: You choose what you want the experience to be. If you want to sit in your tent reading Tolstoy and eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, you could. If you want to fill your body with every substance known to man and dance all night long, you could. If you want to explore the various art sculptures and mutant cars while taking part in what these camps have to offer, that’s another option. As long as you are nice to people, and respect what’s around you, people will leave you to do your own thing.

The desert ship.

The desert ship.

But I also learned how to best enjoy the experience:

* Bring a bike. If you don’t think you need one, you are fooling yourself. My blisters say “Hi”.
* After a week plus for 24 hours a day, I still don’t like dubstep. It’s not to say that I didn’t give it a chance, what with it playing non-stop and all.
* Even though it was explained later, “Freebird” was just an inappropriate choice for the solemnity of the Temple Burn.
* Removing clothes is not exactly a form of self-expression. Between the heat and the dirt, you get to the point to where you exclaim “I hate you, clothes!”, and that’s pretty much how all that starts.
* Coffee and ice are the ONLY things that you can buy out there with money. Everything else is based off the gifting concept.
* Don’t mess around with the dust. It’s high alkaline, and the stuff in it will mess you up if you don’t take it seriously. I saw quite a few people in the med tent while getting a blister treated.
* It’s not what you do or don’t do, it’s how you handle yourself as a result.
* Bacon actually is a remarkable form of commerce out there.
* Nothing is ever as bad as it seems, unless you make it so.
* A face mask and goggles are vital out there, because you never know when a duststorm will hit.
* You don’t so much clean dirt out there, as you simply just organize it into better and more manageable piles.
* Just be NICE to other people. What you put into something is exactly what you get back from it. It’s amazing how far one can get with that simple concept.

I stayed in Burning Man for the final week of the month….

Wine, Ducks, and California.

With the beginning of the month, came the end of the ACMAs.

Show marquee.

Show marquee.

With the day of the show, the final rundown took place, which meant I got to see Reba again (who is just a delight in person), more Steve Martin (Yes!), and then I got to see a duet of Lionel Richie and Blake Shelton sing “You Are”.

Lionel singing that song is “The business”, and Blake Shelton is habitually a good-natured joker during rehearsals. “You Are” obviously being written as one guy singing to his love, but with two guys singing it, it becomes this very odd duet, where Blake started to flirt with Lionel to mess with him, mostly singing all romantic to Lionel, to which Lionel shot a confused look down in the area where my colleagues and I were standing. I just shrugged my shoulders and shook my head. And then I belted out laughing because it was bizarre and funny.

“I thought you were going to get down on one knee and propose to him”, said one of my colleagues to the pair. “No, they already have one wedding in the show”, I added. The two laughed at both comments.

Shortly after, in my litany of odd jobs, I studied for and became licensed to serve alcohol at events and such. In this case, it was for a huge wine event last weekend. Wine drinkers come in two waves, I learned:

There’s the general public which just wants to consume as much alcohol as they can in a three hour period. Being completely sober in a room full of hammered drunks is a good way to sour a person on the whole idea of drinking. It gets weird and a little sad.

The second group is the wine connoisseur (or “wine snob”). Granted, they appreciate the wine concept a little more, but you can’t help but wonder if the whole concept of “sampling” was just invented by some “popular” fellow in olden times as a joke to see if people would follow, and it stuck without ever realizing there was a punchline involved.

I understand smelling the wine. I understand sampling small amounts to try a variety of types. I understand savoring the taste. I understand cleansing your palette and glass with water to separate tastes.

I don’t understand swishing it around in your mouth like some sort of mouthwash.

Seriously, these people all but gargle the wine as they swish it around, culminating with a spit into a bucket like they are in a “Do Your Best Fountain Impression” contest. And they’ll spit it via a good 3-4 feet red or white arc from where they are standing into a bucket, no less. It’s not “fancy”. It’s disgusting. And then they dump the remnants in the bucket, wasting the rest of it. I also understand how long it takes to create a good bottle of quality wine.

I sat there and kept thinking that someone probably would have liked to have tried that, as some of the popular brands diminished over the course of the night. Watching these Listerine inspired spitters all night grossed me out. Of course, the aim got worse during the course of the night.

And of course, in the rush of the crowd, and in offering to help someone with a tricky bottle that was difficult to open, said bottle exploded red wine all over my new white shirt.

I looked like the end scene from Carrie fully drenched in a bottle of Cabernet.

“That bottle has been really difficult to open”, the woman offered as she took the bottle back. “Yes, I can see that”, I said as a droplet of wine pooled on the rim of my glasses and then dripped onto the mass of my shirt. That shirt was never salvaged. It looked like a Rorschach blot designed by a madman.

But Spring had sprung, and I bought a grill to start barbecuing. I grilled all sorts of meats to show off my cooking skills, and given my native Texan status, I’ve found over the years that I have three inherent abilities I never knew existed within me: Grilling, firing guns, and riding mechanical bulls.

Work at the Museum was focusing on the next Science Festival and hatching baby ducks.

Fun fact: This is the same breed as Scrooge McDuck.

Fun fact: This is the same breed as Scrooge McDuck.

Quack, damn you, you adorable little....

Quack, damn you, you adorable little….

I also worked on some film that didn’t have a name during time of filming, so in saying “Go see it”, I can’t. I’ve seriously no idea what this film is called. I may never know.

The end of the month prompted a drive to San Diego to spend time with friends. I spent time with Brooke:

Out by the Whaley House.

Out by the Whaley House.

And Chris, going down an impossibly steep hill:

Thus, "Jive Walking" was created.

Thus, “Jive Walking” was created.

We visited all manner of friends, the Cajun place where I used to cook (still love their gumbo), and even visited my old landlady during the time lived in El Cajon. It was a very sweet reunion with a lot of people, and I visited a lot of my old stomping grounds there.

We even went to Downtown Disney, and to an excellent Korean dinner in Los Angeles with my friends there:

The Los Angeles gang reunites.

The Los Angeles gang reunites.

It was at that point where I genuinely missed my life in San Diego and Los Angeles and realized that, even though it is no longer “home”…. In a way, it still is, and always will be.

Bedrock and Pop Stars.

Work was pretty much just work. Not much had changed, save for a strange addition we were “gifted” by a patron.

The found a camel spider in their house.

Evil.  Evil creature.

Evil. Evil creature.

Part spider, part scorpion, yet neither, it’s fast, aggressive, fearless, and has a jaw like the Predator. Go ahead, look it up. Meanest damned thing I’ve ever seen. It tried to attack me through its glass cage, and when the lady brought it in, it was pretty much dead. But it came back to life. And it was also very pregnant.

After giving birth to a gazillion eggs (none of them made it), it died as it lived: Angry.

Other outside adventures led to the Star Trek convention, which really wasn’t that exciting and it was massively overpriced for what it was, but I did go just to see William Shatner, Kate Mulgrew and Patrick Stewart talk:

The Captains.

The Captains.

I also did another audition in Los Angeles, and spent time at the Santa Monica Pier afterward:

The Pier.

The Pier.

Met Keith Robinson, founder of Intellivision during a bar-hopping trip at Insert Coin(s):

Old-school gaming.

Old-school gaming.

And went back to Valley of Fire for some hiking.

Perched in the rocks.

Perched in the rocks.

In getting ready to hike, I brought some of the usual hiking supplies, including a machete in case I got caught on branches or anything like that. The only problem was in that walking past a group of other hikers, the blade fell out right in front of them, and they stared at me like I was the next Jason Voorhees. Oops.

Big rocks.

Big rocks.

But the real fun of the month was driving over to Valle, Arizona to finally check out the Flintstones Bedrock Park.

The main sign.

The main sign.

I LOVE “Americana” and roadside kitsch. I may even have a weakness for it, to be honest. So when the opportunity to check out this $5 wonderland, I was all about it. Behold its glory:

Quittin' Time!!!

Quittin’ Time!!!

The cheesy photo ops!  They're endless!

The cheesy photo ops! They’re endless!

More Stone Age cars!

More Stone Age cars!

This place is literally in the middle of nowhere. Outside of a giant Fred Flintstone sign, and a few stone-age cars and cartoon dinosaur bones in the parking lot, you have no idea that they have a fully realized (circa 1972) version of Bedrock past the turnstile.

Mysterious volcanoes!

Mysterious volcanoes!

Prehistoric phones!  Without apps!

Prehistoric phones! Without apps!

Giant wooden steaks!

Giant wooden steaks!

To get into the true spirit of this glorious, cheesy wonderland, I decided to go barefoot, which I regretted instantly as there were a billion sticker burrs that got lodged in my feet, and some of the rides were clearly not as well maintained as they could have been , so I scraped my knees, but who the Hell cared? I was having way too much fun.

Roasting pterodactyls!

Roasting pterodactyls!

Posing with Fred.

Posing with Fred.

Posing with Barney.

Posing with Barney.

I even killed an hour or two at the Grand Canyon, and thankfully again, no dead bodies.

Scenic, isn't it?

Scenic, isn’t it?

Arizona is also the closest state that houses Whataburger, one of my favorite burger places from Texas, so this epic journey took place just to find the damned thing, and I stocked up with more than enough food for the drive back, and lunch the next day.

I also found out that one of Michael Jackson’s home was actually pretty close by where I lived. It was a place called “Hacienda Palomino”. Seven bedrooms, Twelve bathrooms, a chapel, secret tunnels…. All for $12 million, or $15,000 a month, whatever speaks to your wallet more.

The King of Pop's Vegas home.

The King of Pop’s Vegas home.

The courtyard.

The courtyard.

Upon discovering the house, it was around Michael’s birthday, so they had a big banner to celebrate the day:

Happy birthday, MJ!

Happy birthday, MJ!

But it’s a beautiful house. I’ve been trying forever to get to tour the place, but I figure that sheer tenacity will get me through those doors one day.

The house's tile logo.

The house’s tile logo.

It seems to work everywhere else.

Keep It Classy, San Diego.

“Busy” was most definitely the word of the year, as I got booked for a shampoo commercial in San Diego.

Fortunately, Brooke let me stay at her place, and she lives close by the shooting location, so it was a very leisurely (if early) drive to set. I usually enjoyed my film shoots in San Diego, as the weather remained generally perfect throughout the year. February… early February is a little bit of a different story. Especially early in the morning. But for this commercial, I got to enjoy a warm and semi-private room with the other principals until shooting started.

Get yer peanuts, popcorn, back braces....

Get yer peanuts, popcorn, back braces….

I was playing a concessions vendor at Petco Park, and let me tell you, I gained an all new respect for that line of work, as they literally have to be strapped into those harnesses. And they’re not easy to get off, either. I had to sit and stand like a pregnant women, which illicited chuckles from the other actors at my staggering about to gain balance. But goofy harness aside, it was a fun and very easy shoot to do.

But since I had free time, and wasn’t attending a wedding this outing, I thought I would revisit San Diego. I lived in San Diego for a little less than seven years, and by the time I had moved in 2008, I had just felt a little burnt out by the place. A lot of things and memories and people happened there, and while I had some great times, it wasn’t always easy, and some of my experiences never settled well with me. True to my “rebuild/reclaim” attitude, I started out at the beginning to set things right with me.

The Doctor is in.

The Doctor is in.

Meeting up with Brooke later, I went to eat at one of my favorite places in San Diego: Shakespeare’s Pub (their website plays Monty Python’s “Always Look On Th Bright Side Of Life”. God, I love this place). I feasted on steak and kidney pies and a pint of Guinness before going down to the Gaslamp Quarter to visit Amy at the gallery:

Some of my best friends.

Some of my best friends.

I used to spend a lot of time in the Gaslamp on weekends, as it just had a fun vibe about it. the same went for Balboa Park for the end of the weekend, when I just needed to relax before going into the weekday grind of working in the video gaming industry.

Balboa Park.

Balboa Park.

And so, I made sure to revisit the park with its excellent museum row to check out their Natural History Museum.

Finally, something thinner than me.

Finally, something thinner than me.

But all fun must eventually come to an end, so I made my way back to Vegas, which was now in its ungodly cold wind season. I remained clever by working on my home office, determined to bring my creative ideas to life, one way or another.

Museum life was the same, with the usual litany of tour groups. Again, I took great pride in teaching the kids in my own imitable way:

As I was taking a tour through our International Wildlife gallery (the animals in the gallery came from that final scene in the film Roadhouse, by the way), some kid looked up at the ostrich we have on display and said: “If I ever saw an ostrich, I’d go up and punch him in the face.”

“Why would you want to do that”, asked one of his classmates, confused by their friend’s unrevealed need to punch said big birds.

“Actually, no you wouldn’t”, I said as I crouched down. “See those big feet the ostrich has? He has incredibly powerful legs. If you look at his toes, those big toenails are actually very sharp claws.

I leaned in a little closer, making eye contact. “If he were to kick you with one of those things”, I continued, giving a sidelong glance, “he would ruin you.”

The kid blinked in surprise, and then mumbled “I guess I don’t want to try and punch one after all.”

“Respect the nature”, I said, standing back up.

He became one of my better behaved students that day.

It wasn’t all fun and games, as I had to dismiss my first volunteer: Some creeper with a backpack and a porn addiction that took to stalking one of the female employees. I didn’t enjoy kicking anyone to the door, but there’s my level of weird, and then there’s “not haha goofy adventures” weird. That, and he tried to contact my sister online. That would be “No” on trying that.

But I was too busy with my personal life to focus further on such matters. I got to visit Jet Nightclub at the Mirage for some private event, and went out to other museums, such as the Lost City Museum in Overton, Nevada.

Being a nice day, a drive was in order, and we passed these on the way to Valley of Fire:

Smurfing awesome.

Smurfing awesome.

I wanna ride the rails all night....

I wanna ride the rails all night….

Valley of Fire is a state park that gets its name from the bright red rocks that make up the area. While we didn’t stop that time, it made for a nice drive-by.

Rocks.  And lots of them.

Rocks. And lots of them.

At least Spring was around the corner….

A Pirate’s Life For Me.

As I’ve learned over the years, this always comes out eventually, so I may as well get it out of the way now:

Arrrr!

Arrrr!

I was a pirate in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

The second one, actually. Dead Man’s Chest. Largely in the scene where the kraken attacks the Black Pearl. You see me in the film, but they did some reshoots, and I lost part of my scene. Still, I had my “15 minutes” from the experience. I still get recognized from time to time.

Which leads into this entry, and where that backstory took me.

Not that I wasn’t busy at home. I was nursing a monster cold as I worked on the pilot for a TV show called The Odds, and a trip to Los Angeles to finalize a decision I was making for the month. I did, however, make a point to visit some friends:

Rayko, Rain, and I having dinner.

Rayko, Rain, and I having dinner.

Before my decision was made, however, I did a few more adventures in Las Vegas. I watched The Lion King musical at Mandalay Bay, did stand-in work for the American Country Music Awards, and went to a very unusual “garage sale”.

Star Trek: The Experience was supposed to come back. Some wealthy businessman in Dubai bought EVERYTHING, right down to the carpet and wall fixtures, and was going to reopen it on Fremont Street. But that never happened. So he decided to sell his unused collection of everything in a public sale. The stuff had seen better days since the closure:

*sniff*  It was like Star Trek III all over again.

*sniff* It was like Star Trek III all over again.

Bridge seats.

Bridge seats.

Of Birds of Prey....

Of Birds of Prey….

And Borg Chambers.

And Borg Chambers.

I did pick up a few chairs from the restaurant, which I now use as patio furniture. I like having things with a backstory.

But as for the previously unmentioned “Big Decision”, I decided it was time to return to the high seas, and attempt to set sail with Captain Jack Sparrow once more.

I was flying to Kauai, Hawaii to audition for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

So I booked a plane ticket and was on my way:

Taking to the air.

Taking to the air.

To land in Kauai.

To land in Kauai.

Kauai wildlife.

Kauai wildlife.

From the desert to a tropical paradise, the transition had… improved.

My hotel looked like something out of a 1960's postcard.

My hotel looked like something out of a 1960′s postcard.

The beach at morning.

The beach at morning.

An old driving bridge.

An old driving bridge.

The scenery was incredible.

The scenery was incredible.

My last big acting adventure with Pirates ended five years before. While I knew that particular chapter had closed, I felt that the overall story wasn’t over just yet for me. I knew that when the time came, I would find a way to see it continue. And in standing on the island, it seemed that I had made good on my word.

I made the front page of the local newspaper.

I made the front page of the local newspaper.

So early one morning, I made my way down to the place where casting was held, along with a much smaller casting call than what I experienced back in Los Angeles. After doing a brief orientation, I dropped my headshots off to the casting director, who was pleasantly surprised to see me.

“Well, I’m back”, I said, greeting her warmly. “Think I have a shot?” “We will see you for the next round of auditions in a few days”, she smiled back. We chatted for a brief moment, then I was left to my own devices. The casting call even made the local papers.

You never leave me to “my own devices” when stranded on a tropical island.

But I did have to extend my stay for over a full week to compensate, which was awful, given the perfect weather, the copious amounts of rum and fresh seafood, the perfect weather, the friendly people, the perfect weather, the coffee plantations, the perfect weather….

It was Hell on Earth, and I was stranded.

At the beach.

At the beach.

In the rainforests.

In the rainforests.

Shave ice became my new dessert love.

Shave ice became my new dessert love.

Hanapepe is where they based the town of "Lilo & Stitch" off of.

Hanapepe is where they based the town of “Lilo & Stitch” off of.

Incredible waterfalls.

Incredible waterfalls.

Kauai is one of those places where you drive around, and see things that you thought only existed in books or from another time. You see how they do and approach things in such a simple manner, and you start to realize that people tend to overcomplicate things in their daily routines at home for no real reason other than for a false sense of control or power. And standing in the face of a huge waterfall, or the mouth of a cave, or so high in the mountains that the clouds play across your face, or watching a sunset go down over this ocean, the genuinely raw power of this changes you. I felt so different spending moments out there with no real time schedule.

The ocean.

The ocean.

Head most literally in the clouds.

Head most literally in the clouds.

Kauai at sunset.

Kauai at sunset.

The week and my stay were drawing to a close with no word on… anything. As much fun as I was having, I was starting to mentally write the process off.

Then the call came.

On that Thursday, casting wanted me for a proper audition… if I showed up the next day or Saturday on Oahu. I deliberated it, but I had already invested money in staying longer, and couldn’t maintain this indefinitely. I couldn’t stay any longer. I had already exhausted enough options as it was. I could afford to island hop.

“I can’t believe I’m going to say this, as it hurts me to even think about it. I’ve waited five years and traveled 3,000 miles for this moment, but I can’t keep holding out for this. I’m sorry, but I can’t make it.”

“But you can’t give up”, the casting director said. “You’ve come so far, and you should at least find out if you could have made it or not. Besides, you already have the odds stacked in your favor for having acting talent.”

Wasn’t that the point of this entire trip, I remembered?

“You’re right”, I admitted. “I shouldn’t give up. I’ll find a way to Oahu.”

“No. No….”, the casting director abruptly said. “We don’t leave for the airport for another hour. Can you come to the Kauai Mariott? We’ll just audition you here.”

I raced full speed to their hotel.

I ran full force into the hotel and into the tower where production was being held. I nearly fell into the office gasping and sweating from running so hard. If they needed a disheveled look, I had that down in full. They let me rest and compose myself, and improv my scene. I didn’t have to beat up four other guys at once this time like in my previous audition in 2004, but they liked what I did here. They gave me a break for trying for this part as hard as I had, and let me hold a very fast, very accommodating audition.

Hula dancers.

Hula dancers.

The beard was starting to grow.

The beard was starting to grow.

I don't.... I don't even know.

I don’t…. I don’t even know.

But finally, it was time to go back to Vegas. It had been a very full week of lounging on the beaches, and exploring caves, waking up to watch the sunrise (thanks in no small part due to the legion of roosters on the island), and watched the whales in the sea.

But I had room for one more adventure.

Boat's eye view.

Boat’s eye view.

So I kayaked (first time, mind you), out to the middle of one of the rainforests, ran barefoot through the jungle, and had lunch under a waterfall.

Shoes are for wimps.

Shoes are for wimps.

Tragically, I didn't wait 30 minutes after I ate.

Tragically, I didn’t wait 30 minutes after I ate.

Big waterfall.  Real big.

Big waterfall. Real big.

Seeing as how I had already checked out of my hotel, I paddled back to where my car was, and drove right to the airport. I looked rumpled and very tanned as I boarded that plane, but whatever happened, whatever came of this casting call I flew across the globe for, I didn’t mind. It was an experience that I would carry fondly with me forever.

The Gulf Coast.

After “The Summer of Madness”, I found myself often quoting Terminator 2: “I need a vacation.”

Resolve on getting a house was shaken, and to be honest, I was just over it at this point.

So I went to Disneyland:

My favorite ride!

My favorite ride!

As soon as I got home, and doing a Toyota convention at the Venetian, I booked a travel package to Pensacola, and was on my way.

But I had to stop in Dallas first. I couldn’t very well just do that (incredibly long) drive through Texas without seeing my sister and my friends, so that’s exactly what I did:

An artsy shot of my sister and I.

An artsy shot of my sister and I.

Town East Mall, where I used to hang out.

Town East Mall, where I used to hang out.

Toby, Me, Martha.

Toby, Me, Martha.

I invited Toby to join me, so down the I-10 we went, from Texas to Louisiana, briefly passing through New Orleans, then Mississippi, then Alabama, where we stopped at a Hardee’s, where I was reminded of the Southernness of our situation:

We ordered our meal, and the girl handed us our beverages. “Here’s y’all’s joinks”, she said.

….

“Joinks”?

I looked at Toby, who looked equally as confused, and then started to grin.

“What was that”, I said, hoping to illicit conversation.

“Here’s your other joink”, she said, handing the second Coke over.

From that point, all drinks became “joinks”.

As it became night, we finally pulled into Florida, then Pensacola Beach, which has one of the most iconic signs of my childhood:

The Fish Sign.

The Fish Sign.

As a kid, I briefly lived in Pensacola, you see, and I always went to the beach after school. I’ve returned since, and I always return to this place, my little piece of Heaven:

The white sands and green waters of Pensacola.

The white sands and green waters of Pensacola.

For the next few days, Toby and I vacationed in paradise, eating seafood, shell hunting on the beach, and exploring old fort ruins:

The beach.

The beach.

I'm sailing!  SAILING!

I’m sailing! SAILING!

Lunch time... of FEAR!

Lunch time… of FEAR!

I don't know what I was saying, but I bet it was amazing.

I don’t know what I was saying, but I bet it was amazing.

Another day in Florida.

Another day in Florida.

Watching the waves, man.

Watching the waves, man.

If you wondered what I was looking at....

If you wondered what I was looking at….

Sunset on the beach.

Sunset on the beach.

Waking up in the morning was pretty much this.

Waking up in the morning was pretty much this.

And pirate themed restaurants.

And pirate themed restaurants.

And old Spanish forts.

And old Spanish forts.

The Ball Tower.

The Ball Tower.

The sign at day.

The sign at day.

It wasn’t the only thing we saw while there:

The Naval Museum.

The Naval Museum.

The Blue Angels.

The Blue Angels.

I even got my own plane!

I even got my own plane!

I also found my Grandmother's house that I lived in when I was six.

I also found my Grandmother’s house that I lived in when I was six.

Now, during all of this, my realtor kept calling me, trying to convince me to take back the original house (I told him vehemently “NO”), and kept asking me to sign things, review documents, etc., no matter how many times I told him and his secretary that I was on vacation. Finally, I just ignored the whole lot of them. I had to. They were driving me crazy, and weren’t going to ruin my vacation.

So Toby and I went to New Orleans.

New Orleans is a magical place. Even after Hurricane Katrina, it was still as lively and fun as ever, with voodoo, jazz bands, great food, beads, and a lot of booze:

Beware those who disturb the tombs... or those who nearly get locked it.  Uh, which we didn't.  Shut up.

Beware those who disturb the tombs… or those who nearly get locked in. Uh, which we didn’t. Shut up.

The Big Easy.

The Big Easy.

Jackson Square.

Jackson Square.

One of the most famous voodoo shops.

One of the most famous voodoo shops.

These stores are everywhere.

These stores are everywhere.

On Bourbon Street.

On Bourbon Street.

Dumpster humor....

Dumpster humor….

But it was back to Dallas, where I spent time with more of my friends. We spent a lot of time laughing, and catching up on old times. I was in a much happier place being back since 2008, where each trip became progressively harder on me. Here, it was just a collection of loved people and memories. All part of restoring the “old” me that I felt had disappeared during the course of the last year.

The gang.

The gang.

But I also chose to return to my hometown… to say good-bye. I couldn’t do it the last time. I wasn’t ready, and it turned out that the time away….

Things change when you leave home for good. Certain threads are broken that can never really be replaced, and home… outside of a few lingering places, felt more like a museum of my memories.

Dad’s home had been bought, and the yard was overrun with monster trucks and scrap metal thrown about the lawn. I tried to see if I could access one of the backways to see the yard, but the brush had grown so thick in the following years, that I had no way in.

I decided it was time to visit the gravesite of my parents. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I felt that I needed to. I did make a brief stop by Dad’s old workplace, where I ran into one of his close friends and colleagues. We talked for a while, and he told me that for months after Dad passed, he would drive by the old house until one day he finally realized that Dad wasn’t coming back, and that was no longer Dad’s home. He had to finally accept that it was time to let go, and it was time to move on. He looked at me sympathetically. “It’s time for you to let go of that house, Guy. It’s no longer your Dad’s.” I had once dreamed of owning that old home, and with all the house issues I had been facing, I grew more and more homesick for it, but he was ultimately right: I couldn’t go back. Not anymore.

I finally made my way to the cemetery where I stood in front of the marker bearing my parent’s names. I thought about the events that led me to this moment, and the aftermath. I reflected on the year and a half before it. My life. The fights over the estate. The accident. The failure in securing a house…. I never had time to properly grieve because no time could be made. I was always too busy. It was then that I suddenly recalled a quote from an older issue of a Batman story that had popped into my mind: “We mourn lives lost. Including our own.”

And in that moment, a year and a half of rage and loss and grief rose to the surface. I had held back for so long. I always had too many things to do. Such a tight schedule that I always had to maintain since Dad died. But the thing about not having a schedule is that you find yourself having time to deal with the “secondary things”. The things you have to put aside until you can deal with it later. But it was time then.

I found myself looking at my hometown differently. It was a reminder of where I had started. What defined me for so long. And now it was time to close the book on that part and start a new chapter. And so, in taking in a few final memories, I went back to my sister’s to prepare for my drive home, released, rejuvenated, and restored.

And it was fine. I had a lot of roadside oddities to explore along the way:

Native American Reservations.

Native American Reservations.

Petrified Wood Stores.

Petrified Wood Stores.

Dinosaurs eating people.

Dinosaurs eating people.

Cartoon dinosaurs and campgrounds.

Cartoon dinosaurs and campgrounds.

And on my next visit to the Grand Canyon, only a squirrel was found.

And on my next visit to the Grand Canyon, only a squirrel was found.

My realtor was jumping up and down to continue the house hunt, so I searched online for places that we actually would, you know, want.

It was the morning of my birthday that we discovered a new house. And with that, some luck began to change….

The Magic Kingdom.

“Guy Chapman! You just survived one of the worst years of your life! What are you going to do next?”

“I’m going to Disney World!”

Vacation time!

Vacation time!

And that’s just what happened: A week long adventure into Orlando, Florida, for the Missus and I. All the while this was being planned, I ended up starting a job as promotions for an indie-horror film The Revenant, which was a whole other adventure in itself. While this post will be more photos than writing, a few stories will be shared.

Magic Kingdom

I am a theme park junkie at heart. Especially Disney theme parks. It’s a little difficult to keep me under control as I bounce from ride to ride with the force of a five year old on a few 2 liters of soda.

Years later, still a pirate;s life.

Years later, still a pirate’s life.

There's always room for 1,000.  any volunteers?

There’s always room for 1,000. any volunteers?

Visionaries.

Visionaries.

Everybody's got a laughing place!

Everybody’s got a laughing place!

Fireworks.

Fireworks.

Epcot

Spaceship Earth.

Spaceship Earth.

I love Epcot. Looooooooove Epcot. It’s bad enough they have a space simulator, excellent restaurants and the World Showcase, but they also have, well, me there.

Metal Me.

Metal Me.

Back in 2001, as part of their ongoing “Millennium Celebration”, they had a chance to buy these metal plates that would be one these stone slabs in front of Spaceship Earth. I chose to do one during my previous visit there. Eight years later, with the brochure sent to me from way back when, I was able to track myself down.

Hollywood Studios

Being in the movie business, this is always a fun park for me, due to my natural tendencies to act like a giant ham at any given opportunity.

Their armor is too strong for blasters!

Their armor is too strong for blasters!

It's not easy being green....

It’s not easy being green….

As much as I fight it, Texas tendencies kick in, and I start riding anything.

As much as I fight it, Texas tendencies kick in, and I start riding anything.

For the Jell-O, man!  The Jell-O!

For the Jell-O, man! The Jell-O!

Animal Kingdom

The entrance.

The entrance.

Full of animals and a freaking sweet rollercoaster, I got my nature on, and revisited a few old photo spots from another earlier trip.

The Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life.

Blizzard Beach

I don’t know what I was thinking, letting some nine year old kid set the standard for my experience, because that line of thinking got me to ride the Summit Plummet:

And my backside was never the same.

And my backside was never the same.

This 120 foot, nearly straight-down drop that sends you at a speed of nearly 60 MPH. Sitting down to go, you can’t see where you’ll be going. Seriously, it looked like I was just going to drop off a cliff. I kept edging more and more, and nothing. Until finally, the drop caught me so off guard, I was trying to brace myself, but couldn’t. My screams were real. Even worse, I was going so damned fast, my bathing suit completely rode up my buttcrack, turning it into a thong, as I hit along the vertical straightaway at the end, I was skipping along the water, each time, the sting of the fast-moving water, slapping my ass harder and harder with each impact. I skipped the water about six times. As a result, I screamed “Fuck” loudly six times with each hit. I got up, disoriented, my bathing suit completely lodged in my ass, exposing my red and water burned (yes, burned) cheeks to the world, horrifying children and parents alike.

I stuck to the lazy river after that….

But I did run into a few friends along the way:

Stitch!

Stitch!

Reporting for Star Command duty.

Reporting for Star Command duty.

The rest of the month? Work and such, but what really can compare? Levity aside, it marked the one year anniversary of Dad passing, thus putting an ended to all of the dreaded “one year” anniversaries that come with losing a loved one. I was ready to keep moving forward, now fully recharged, to keep seeing what else Nevada had to offer.

As it turns out, there’s quite a bit….