After deciding to move to San Francisco, a huge decision that included my leaving my beloved dream job living in Las Vegas as the editor-in-chief of Vegas magazine, I knew I needed to clear my head. And for me, that means one thing — getting out of town! My first trip? Seattle Washington, to visit an old friend from my East Village days. I had just graduated from Columbia University Journalism School, and my new roommate, a bubbly redhead, took me under her wing. To kick things off, she bought me nachos from Burritoville to cheer me up after a disastrous move downtown. I should have known right then that a lifelong friendship was born. Now married with the cutest daughters, her four-year-old and I especially bonded, first on the famous Duck Tour, and later on the ferry to Bainbridge Island. My secret weapon? I let her take photos with my iPhone. This one is pretty good, right? She was determined to take the perfect photo of the ferris wheel, promising me we’d ride it. It had been a chilly July day, and we were dead tired after so much activity. So I just nodded my head and promised we would.
I get such a kick out of the fact that just a few miles down the road, a Mediterranean-style village of shops and (mostly Italian) restaurants boasts a go get ’em-style spirit and idyllic plans. Yes, Celine Dion lives there when she’s performing at the Colosseum. But Lake Las Vegas once had so much more to offer! These days, it is getting back on its feet. Hotels like the Westin are putting a lot of effort into creating programs for exploring the man-made lake and surrounding areas. I was lucky enough to hit the ground on foot while doing some fun work for the esteemed AFAR travel magazine, which is based in San Francisco. Personally, it quickly added a few destinations to my Vegas bucket list: Bernard’s Bistro (Chef is beloved by all locals for not deserting his business during the rough recession), and the Italian hot spots Luna Rossa and Sunset & Vines. It turned out to be a wonderful afternoon. Someday, Lake Las Vegas will reach great heights! In the meantime, the area has awesome outdoor sports (it is also very close to my favorite adventure activities, zip-lining and off-roading in Boulder City), and is building a tight community. I can’t wait to visit several times in the next few weeks — and to see where it goes in the future!
I’ve always wanted to go back to Turkey — the few days I spent in Istanbul just barely scratched the service. I stopped in the diverse, impressively spread out city on my way to spending a few weeks in Bulgaria. There was so much to do and see — and one of my favorite parts was the shopping. Everywhere you turned, there were cheap tchotchkes, colorful candies, bright corn and other street food, and of course its famous markets… plus rugs like these that I passed every morning leaving my hotel. I just loved this stray white cat seemed to admire the rugs as much as I did! This was such a special time for me, too. Istanbul Turkey and (three towns in) Bulgaria was my “good-bye to Costa Rica” trip, before I left the good and the bad that comes from checking out for a year to live in paradise — and then leaping back into a whirlwind of long days and fancy parties that make up living in Las Vegas.
I haven’t been on a lengthy plane ride in too long of a time. I’m overdue!
As much as I love the peace and rejuvenation effects of the tropics, such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Maui and Borneo, I also thrive on the excitement of big cities. In nature, I relax, breathe deeply, sleep well. But cities get me going — yes, my heart races, I talk too fast, and I am often out of breath. But all of that inner turmoil is where my world changes. I lived in New York City for five years and often miss walking outside of my apartment to run off to the next party, dinner with friends, or a run along the water. I am less of a homebody in the city, because of how easy it is to simply step out into a world where anything could happen. Recently, on my way to the wineries in Napa, I woke up in a friend’s gorgeous San Francisco apartment and took in this view. The endless buildings reaching the horizon? It’s all a blur, isn’t it… I can see what’s right in front of me, but have no idea what awaits farther out. There is something big out there for me, I’m sure. Leaps of faith are difficult, but you can’t discover new ground without losing sight of the land behind you.
I am petrified, but I choose to jump. And I won’t be looking back.
When you live in the desert, you develop a certain appreciation for endless rolling green hills like these, at Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma. Seven siblings, one winery — what’s not to love? As if that wasn’t enough, Benziger is Demeter-certified Biodynamic, the highest level of organic farming. My friend Tiffany and I had an amazing time during our visit, riding around on a golf cart with the youngest sibling, Kathy. Each grasping a glass of crisp chardonnay, we toured the gorgeous property, basking in the sun (it had been a little cloudy in at the wineries in Napa that morning). We had such a great time at our official tasting back at the main house and purchased several delicious bottles of cabernet and pinot noir, as well as some snacks for our ride back to Napa.
Greetings from Vegas. Yes, there is more to my town than the Strip! I’ve made it my mission to show off the gorgeous land right outside of the city proper, from the Wild West ranch country to desert off-roading and even out a little farther to the Hoover Dam. Hiking in Red Rock, shown here, is one of the most popular outdoor activities for locals in Vegas. You can see why! The landscape is breathtaking. I got to take a ride out there one morning before work during a super-fun American Muscle Car drive with World Class Driving. (Talk about getting out of your comfort zone!) I ended up having a blast. And with views like these…