Finally got around to putting an edit together of our Nashville trip from OVER A YEAR AGO. What a time it was to be able to just hop on a plane to meet your friends in a new city for the fun of it.
Our friend Jon turned 30, and a group of us descended upon Nashville to celebrate it. It was a quick two-night trip, but we did a lot with a little.
We pushed our way down Broadway, watching the bands play at one honky tonk after the other. We sang at the top of our lungs in a year-round Christmas themed karaoke bar, packed in shoulder to shoulder. Some of us were even brave enough to do it with a microphone. We learned about craft cocktails, and then drank some. We hit the dance floor at a bar disguised as an unassuming single family home. And in a period of two days we ate more Nashville hot chicken than any respectable physician could recommend.
It was a lot with a little, but most important of all, we raised our glasses and wished our friend a happy thirty.
In the spring over the span of nearly two weeks, I ventured through Bangkok, Maldives, and Hong Kong with my wife Alexis, and our friends Drew, Kelsie, Tyler, Kara, Andrew, and Kirsten.
Our adventure started in Bangkok and our time there was short. We toured temples, experienced traditions, and after all these years, had Thai food in Thailand. We were lucky enough to witness the Thai New Year too. A celebration where the people flood the streets, literally and figuratively, and drench each other with water from head to toe for three straight days. You’d think dumping a bucket of water on a complete stranger in the street might be a little risky, but there wasn’t a person young or old who wasn’t laughing. We got soaked. Kara has family in Thailand, and they were kind enough to invite us all to their home. We ate new foods, sang karaoke and visited a temple in their community. We had a blast, and in all my travels it stands as one of the more truly authentic experiences I’ve had yet.
Most of our trip was spent in the Maldives on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean. Our days were spent both swimming and drinking like fish. We lounged, laughed, and lounged some more. We chartered a boat and jetted across the water searching for whale sharks and mantas. Diving off in a moments notice to catch a glimpse. We were like a poorly trained, clumsy group of Navy Seals. We swam ashore a deserted island and brought our vodka along. We found a turtle who didn’t seem to mind company. And by our last day it was hard to confidently say what day or time it was anymore. To go out with a bang, a looming storm forced us to meet our seaplane a ways away from our island on a floating dock no bigger than a modest area rug.
Our time In Hong Kong was short, but we marveled at the countless skyscrapers in every peak and valley of the lush and rugged land. A skyline that seemed impossible to have been built. We visited shrines and practiced traditions. Easter was celebrated sipping cocktails in the worlds highest bar and we wandered the city streets with little direction, but still found drinks, dumplings, and a tiki bar along the way.
It was a whirlwind two weeks of adventure, and just might’ve been too much if we hadn’t spent most of it floating mindlessly in the bluest waters I’d ever seen.
I’ve known Jason maybe nine years now. First met him as just the brother of someone I was becoming fast friends with, but it wasn’t long till I called Jason a friend myself. We’ve done a lot together over the years. From stumbling around Los Angeles blind-drunk, exploring the streets of Barcelona and Madrid, to somehow jumping out of a perfectly good airplane together. I’d say I’m not sure how he got me into that last one, but Confidence is his middle name, and he can be very convincing.
Jason is getting married soon, and to show him just how much we all love him, a few of us hopped on planes and rented some cars for his bachelor party. By “a few of us,” I meant 23 grown men. Most of whom I’d never met. At face value, all the ingredients of this turning into a mess were there. Two things were certain going in though. First, was that Jason was all our common ground. Second, was his brother Drew was organizing the whole thing. In another life, Drew might’ve been a master clockmaker. What I mean is, he’s very good at taking a lot of moving parts, and making them all work together. So about a month ago, we flew in from almost every corner of the country to set out on an adventure together that started in Salt Lake City.
We spent our first day getting acquainted over some food, beers, and disc golf. If you’re unfamiliar with that last bit, it’s just how it sounds. Golf with discs. We even had the discs custom made for the occasion. Jason loved the discs and the game. As for me, I may’ve come close to causing an car accident when a rogue disc escaped me on my first throw. Predictably, Jason destroyed everyone and took great pleasure in that.
Our first night we stayed in what I’d a call mansion, but I’m no expert. An indoor hot tub, in-ground trampoline, and sleeps over twenty seems like it qualifies to me. We drank, ate, laughed and narrowly escaped brawling over a few hands of poker. I may have also beaten my personal record for consecutive time spent in a 104° hot tub, which I generally measure in hours.
As much fun as Salt Lake was, we were already moving on by morning. Our plans had us on the road bright and early, heading a few hours south to Bryce Canyon National Park. My body was in disagreeance, but it was hard to be sore about it when every color of the rainbow was passing by my window in the form of rock, flowers, trees and skies
Wasn’t sure what to expect once we got there. Hadn’t read up on the park before hand, and was glad I didn’t. I’d never seen land sculpted in such a way. Certainly not with my own eyes. We could’ve been standing on another planet by the looks of it. They really are pretty pictures, but truly, you just had to be there.
Some of us ventured down into the canyon depths. The deeper we went, the richer the colors. It seemed bottomless for a minute, but the bottom did come, and so did the start of our hike back up. It was a little rougher than I think anyone thought it’d be. The group took their time, by necessity and through common sense, but I unfortunately had already committed mentally not to stop. There’s that saying, “no man left behind,” but there’s also that other one too, “if you’re going through hell, keep going.” I was half expecting a medal when I reached the top.
It’d already been a long day and the next was planned to be an even longer one. Our lodging that night was another mansion as far as I was concerned. Equipped with a game room, home theater, gym, and honestly I lost count of how many bedrooms. Before we wound down for the night, we feasted on a Chili’s catering spread fit for royalty, and Jason’s brother and best man Drew, gave a toast. It was well delivered and one for the books. Not solely for it’s words though, but also for what was in our glasses. By the grace of God, Drew managed to commandeer two bottles of a particularly rare bourbon. If you’re familiar with it, you understand no matter how green your money is, the stuff is just hard to come by. It was the first and probably last time I’ll ever come to have it. Even the glasses themselves were special, branded with the logo of Jason’s yacht servicing business he operates in South Florida.
I couldn’t believe it when my alarm went off the next morning around 6am. I shared a room with Jon and Duncan. Between their snoring, it sounded like I was in the middle of bustling lumber mill. A few hours into that, I got the brilliant idea to seek refuge in the closet. I managed to get maybe a collective two hours of sleep there. Like I said, I couldn’t believe it when my alarm went off. But the road was calling, and we had about an hour drive to Zion National Park.
Yes, I was exhausted, delirious, and maybe as cold as I’d ever been, but that was all fine once we started walking through the park. It’d be hard to fix your mind on anything else other than the natural splendor you’re entirely surrounded by. We hiked in the shadows of towering cliff walls, walked under falling water, spotted a few deer, and explored long enough to see a frozen day turn warm. With that, meant it was time to be hitting the road and moving on to our next stay.
Every day we’d spent on the road traveling to these parks, we were also working our way towards our final destination. Somewhere to cut loose, throw caution to the wind, and wake up whenever the hell we wanted. Had to be no where other than Las Vegas. It was a bachelor party after all.
We pulled into the Cosmopolitan on the strip by late afternoon, showered, and got to business. Jason and his groomsmen stayed in a huge suite, large enough that it had its own network of hallways in it. We all got together there and kicked things off right. Jason gave a speech from the heart, and we raised our glasses to him. We surprised him with some shirts we had made to walk around and look like fools in. He has his Captain’s License so it seemed right to superimpose his face on Cap’n Crunch’s body.
Our first night in Vegas, I told myself I’d be in bed by before midnight, hoping to pay back some of the debt I was starting to owe my body. It was a nice thought, but I ended up being out till 8:30am. Drinks were flowing, dice were rolling, and cards were turning. I got to teach Jason how to play craps, and he fell in love with the game. The sleep depravation was really a small price to pay considering Jason is usually the guy teaching me something.
I paid the price the next morning of course, or more accurately the next afternoon. It was our last night though, and the dice weren’t going to roll themselves. Everyone spent the day scattered to their games and vices of choice but we all regrouped in the suite for a drink and a surprise I didn’t even see coming. Drew got a legitimate magician to come up to our suite and perform. I’m a logical person, but I just can’t explain some the things I witnessed that man do there. We were all just shy of losing our minds watching it all. Someone actually left the room because it was too much for him. Funny, but really gives you an idea of just how damn good this guy was.
With us all on the verge of a mental meltdown after witnessing what seemed to be actual magic, we headed down to Momofuku for our last dinner together. It was here that Jason’s dad Andy gave a speech that had a rowdy group of mostly drunk men, silent and hanging on every word he spoke. Jason also took the time here to walk around the table and personally thank each and every one of us for being there and for being in his life. All the while we were moving through a full course dinner, and an open bar of specialty cocktails. Everything was insanely delicious, and served as one hell of a base for the rest of a night which we spent doing all the things one does in Las Vegas.
After 4 nights, our adventure came to a close. One by one, we each headed back to our own cities, scattered across the country. Tired, hungover, and smiling.
I don’t think anyone could have guessed such an ambitious trip, with such a limited time-frame, and so many guys of diverse backgrounds who really didn’t know each other, would go off without a hitch. This is largely because the best man knocked it out the park meticulously coordinating the entire thing. But there’s something else to it too. Everyone wanted to be helpful. Everyone wanted to make it work in anyway they could. Of course we all had a blast, but I promise you, each of our top priority was to see Jason have the best bachelor party he could. No one blinked at the vacation days, the travel, the spending, or the 5am deathly hungover wakeup calls. This was for our friend, and there really isn’t much that any of us would let get in the way of that. It speaks volumes about Jason, and it’s because the kind of guy he is that made the whole thing work.
It was an adventure I was lucky to be a part of, and one that I won’t forget. Thanks for having me Captain.
With my wife Alexis and our good friends Drew and Kelsie, we ventured to the island of Japan for the better part of two weeks around Christmas and New Years. We spent our days taking in both the man-made and natural wonders. From the shrines of Kyoto, to the endless urban sprawl of Tokyo.
We sipped beers traveling 200 miles an hour on rail, watching the country crawl across our window. Amazed and terrified that just a few feet away, trains traveling in the opposite direction blinked by at the same breakneck speed. We took part in traditions. Ate strange foods. Walked through shrines and structures that’ve stood hundreds of years. We watched snow fall to the ground while we floated in a heated pool. We celebrated Christmas in the most bizarre way any of us ever will. It involved animatronic dinosaurs. We wandered and drank and wandered some more. We brought in a new year, in a new place. And we saw Mickey Mouse in a seemingly alternate universe.
It’s a place of a very different culture than my own, and I was only able to experience and capture just a fraction of it, but it’s made for one of the more humbling and memorable experiences I’ve had yet.
Second trip to Hawaii in six month. Could get used to it. We have Kirstin and Nick’s wedding to thank for it this time around. Some rain clouds kept us all on our toes up until the moment of the ceremony but it turned out to be a beautiful day and night. Thankful to have been invited along for the ride.
Impromptu trip to Hawaii thanks to our MVP status friend Drew. It a was time for slowing down, and connecting in ways you’re just not able to when you’re a gang of ten plus. Thankful for the laughs, the drinks, and the ears. Thankful for friends like these.
We’d already come halfway across the country for a family trip, and figured we may as well just keep on going. We knew we’d be heading to New York City to see Alexis’ brother Tony and Olivia, and of course our unofficial godson Gnarly. We wanted to see somewhere new first though. Alexis had never been to Philadelphia. It’d been a long time for me, and our friends Drew and Kelsie said they were in, so that settled it. It was a trip of exploration, late nights, loud music and drained glasses. I was run ragged by the end of it, but it’s always worth it. Tough to beat the company.
You forget just how much family you really have until you get them all in the same room. We did just that for my Grandfather’s 86th birthday. All his grandchildren, some of us scattered across the country, came together for him. Can only hope all those years down the road the story goes the same way when it’s my turn.
My Mom’s side of the family got together for us at my Cousin Michelle and Mario’s house too. It was a great time. We ate, we drank, we laughed, and saw lot’s of faces. Some I hardly recognize anymore.
Going back is always a nostalgic flood. A reminder of where I come from. Things get so busy, you almost start to forget. But we always go back. Thankful for a small place in a big world that will always have us. You know what they say, home is where the Italian beef sandwiches are.
Jenn and Duncan have been inviting us up to Sacramento to float down the American River with them pretty much every year they’ve been up there. We’ve missed a few, but this was the third time for Alexis and I. We love it. It’s brings close friends who live far apart, together again. There were 16 of us this year. 17 counting a baby girl on the way from Jenn and Duncan.
Have this feeling that this time might be one of the last of this scale. Things are changing. Priorities are changing. Life isn’t slowing down. So I brought the camera.
Even though these memories are just a few days old, and their pictures are still perfectly sharp and clear in my mind, can’t help but smile watching the footage. Have to imagine that feeling only amplifies with time. It’s not the most fun being the guy carrying the camera around everywhere, and I’m sure it’s not fun having it pointed in your face the whole time either. Seems important though.
If there’s anything we’ve all learned this time around, it’s when you’re on the river, bring a damn knife. Life jackets couldn’t hurt either. For all the worried mothers out there, we’ll just leave it at that.
Drew E. Cohen, the leader of the pack, had a bachelor party and it was one for the books. Twelve of us shared a cabin in North Lake Tahoe. There was poker, a hot tub, alcohol, billiards, a personal chef, monster trucks, karaoke, and eight feet of snow. As alcohol often does, it led to some heart felt speeches and even some tears. Though, none of mine of course.
I designed some t-shirts for the weekend gang, and Michael wrangled getting them printed. The design was just an oversized image of Drew’s face staring dead at you. We wore them the whole time. Some folks in town were asking who the mystery man was on our shirts. Was he that MMA fighter they wondered? Why were we so many of us wearing it? Were we going to see him tonight? They were a hit, and if we’re being honest here, I still wear mine every few weeks.
There were plans to do this that and the other while we were up there, but the weather was so severe, that we couldn’t really wander too far from the cabin. Setting record snowfall for the month of January will tend to have that effect. It was so severe, that we decided to abandon ship and leave the cabin a day early to avoid getting stuck as things worsened.
We made our way back to Sacramento, where most of us flew in and would be flying out of, to continue the party for our last night. Not having Sacramento in the original plan, we scrambled for a minute on what to do. By the grace of God, there was a Monster Truck Jam event going on. It was awesome, and I felt like I was twelve years old again, only I was many inches taller, and fairly intoxicated.
Karaoke followed, but that’s where my account of things start to get a little fuzzy, as I started traveling through space and time. All in all though, it was a great time, with great company, celebrating the next chapter of our great friend’s life. Cheers and godspeed.
The highlight of course, was George winning a bet…
Shot at Sue Bierman Park in San Francisco, looking at the Bay Bridge. Recently there for a short work trip. Haven’t spent much time there before, just a day, years ago for a friends birthday.
I took the longest bus route I could find from the airport to my hotel. Wanted to take in as much of the city as I could. Spent the first day there scouting shoot locations. Essentially an all day walking tour. Spent the second day at the shoots, and that was that.
Fun to see and be part of the process away from my desk for a change.
Visited Seattle for the first time. Beautiful city and geography. Good eats, good drinks, and good company.
The idea to go was suggested and agreed upon, among friends sitting in a hot tub with full beers in hand, with plenty of empty ones nearby. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the idea would fade away in the sobering light of tomorrow.
People don’t really do what they say, especially if they said it after a few drinks. But as luck would have it, we did what we said.
Here we go.
Alexis. Drew. Magic Johnson’s Friday’s. LAX. San Jose. Terminal Drinking. More flying. My first stamp. Lima. Our apartment. Carolina. Sebastian. 4am 90s top 40. Taxis that weren’t taxis at all. Karaoke. Pisco sours. Sushi. Con permiso. Agua con gas. Agua sin gas. Tour busses. Catacombs. Chili’s. Our taxi ran out of gas. Ice cream. Another plane. Cusco. Our hostel. Cinemax. Michelle. Dancing in markets. Hiking. Hunted by wild dogs. Altitude sickness. Snickers grande. Canadian Irish pub. Dos mas please. A train. Aguas Calientes. Jurassic Park. Hot springs. Market bargaining. Machu Picchu. Touring. Hiking. Photo ops. Wonder. Naps. Rain. A late train. A missed bus. High-speed taxi driving. Intercepting and boarding our bus. Frostbite. Arequipa. Sand boarding fail. Rafting. Rafting rescue. Cerveza hunting. Bibs. Alpaca. Another plane. Back to Lima. More Chili’s. Ramada. Security cameras. More Cinemax. Another plane. San Jose. More flying. LAX. Mckenzie. Home.
That was my trip to Peru. Exhausting, but I wouldn’t do a thing differently. If this was difficult to grasp, then I described it perfectly. You really had to be there.