My Story and Top 10 Places in North America

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Ryan Young, Oct 23, 2016.

  1. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    If you're not interested in the disquisition of why or how, scroll down to the second post for my top 10 favorite places in North America.

    I left home when I was seventeen, driven on by my wanderlust and angst rather than some befallen past. My parents had been travelers in a time long forgotten so perhaps it was inherent, after all my younger sister followed suit in her due time. I left without warning and without funding as my parents never really knew disposable income.

    My escape from normality was fraught with tribulation and adventure, involving at various times the FBI, gangsters, thugs, cold ravioli, a pseudo salvation by the hearts of a Brazilian/Costa Rican family, and a narrow escape from citizenship marriage. This is not that story.

    After that grand plunge into the unknown a twist of fate set me on a similar but very different path, a two year apprenticeship that led to a career in catastrophic insurance adjusting. I went from scraping by on random manual labor and service jobs to a six figure income based around travel. I became a professional nomad, one who lives out of their car rather than in it.

    From twenty to twenty six I explored all of North America; forty eight states, the entire Canadian railway, and much of central America either for work or pleasure. In those six years I never once lived in the same house for a fourth month; ever relocating out of necessity or boredom, whichever struck first.

    Recently I've grown bored of the entire continent and travel within it has felt repetitive. So I've decided to embark on a grand journey around the globe.

    At this time I haven't chosen a definitive mode of transport, though my preference of some form of lasting personal space has me leaning towards boat or plane. The latter is a more recent idea, and an odd one at that considering my slight fear of flying. In its research I found this forum and in response to my first post someone asked me to share some of my favorite places from my travels. I felt it important to share some of my history beforehand as a person's character drastically effects their experience.

    Before I go into specific places I'd like to share some basic "rules" I follow when traveling:
    First, talk to everyone. In line at the bank, sitting on the bus, and passerby's on the street. Young and old and every color or creed. Simply put, you never know what they have to offer until you've offered conversation.
    Second, budget on the middle ground. Too expensive and everything is the same, simply put there isn't much diversity in perfection. Too cheap opens the door to truly bad experiences, be they unpleasant or dangerous.
    Finally, don't over plan. I don't care how much you've researched online; you don't know what makes a place special until you get there. Personally I love lists and hate itineraries, knowing things I want to do but not when or if I will.
     
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  2. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Without further ado, and in no particular order, my top 10 favorite places in North America:

    Sedona, Arizona, USA
    My home town, and it has a small mountaintop airport! Beautiful, serene, heavily stylised (even McDonald's has turquoise arches) and expensive. Walt Disney once tried to buy the entire town and when he was thwarted he instead put a ride called "Thunder Mountain" in every park. Take a jeep tour, have a sandwich at Sedona Memories, visit the stupa and Chapel of the Red Rocks, but most importantly go out for a walk or hike as often as possible. Don't expect much for nightlife and definitely expect to break the bank a bit.

    New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
    I really can't say enough, my favorite city by a long shot. The French quarter is a must see but don't spend too long there, beware the mighty hurricane/hand grenade. Frenchman Street to the west is where I spend most my time but don't neglect Tulane and the warehouse district. An odd and unique facet is the antique shops, back in the old days immigrants would sell off all their belongings before steamboating up the river to make their stake. Sunday second lines are a must, every Sunday of the year unless a hurricane hits. Personally I detest Mardi Gras here (filthy beyond belief) and would instead suggest jazz-fest, satchmo-fest, or just crawfish season.

    Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
    If I retired in Tulum I could die happy, beach side Mayan ruins and cenotes being the main reasons. More than that this place is incredibly relaxing. Mostly Euro tourists here while the Americans tend to stick to Cancun or Playa. Go to Puro Corazon for French-Mayan fusion but otherwise just enjoy the simple life of a small Mexican beach town. If you happen to be there for turtle season go to the ruins where they have a sectioned off beach for then to lay. Shutterbug paradise when you can get a turtle, crystal blue ocean, and Mayan ruins all in one frame.

    Asheville/Boone, North Carolina, USA
    I'm a sucker for little forested mountain towns and both qualify. If you're a barbecue fan then you'll enjoy the fierce competition of Eastern vs Western NC, ketchup or vinegar base being the main discrepancy. This area gets very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer but even upstate New York has trouble keeping up with their fall and spring. Apple pie moonshine is heaven but is doesn't stop there, they put everything into their shine. If you're lucky enough to find a bootlegger party they are epic, this stuff goes down like candy and can easily send you calling for a cab or bowing to the porcelain gods. The gem and mineral shops are more plentiful here than anywhere else I've seen and some truly remarkable specimens (especially quartz) can be found relatively cheap. Don't underestimate people because of their accents, I've been schooled in discussions of politics, religion, socioeconomics, you name it, by people who sounded like Larry the Cable Guy.

    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    This is a drinking city and considering it's in Canada that says a lot. Live music every night, fantastic beer selection, and a massive nightclub that serves till 3 AM but doesn't get going until 2 when everything else closes. Spicy donair putin is like gastrointestinal warfare and worth every groaning minute, plus they're 24/7.

    Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
    Polar bears... Yes those white, living VW beetles of hungry death, and they're all over twice a year. DO NOT wander alone. Aside from that you're incredibly close to the arctic circle which means breathtaking frozen landscapes, northern lights so intense you feel like you could grab them, and alcoholic Inuits eating seal and shooting pool.

    Waimea Bay, Hawaii, USA
    During the winter time (I think) this place is packed with surfers daring some of the biggest waves you'll ever see, but I prefer fall or summer when the crowds head south. Get a cheap room at the Backpackers hostel, I prefer private rooms in the back house over the more expensive beach side apartments or shared dorms. Turtle bay resort is available for those with trust funds but it's too ritzy for my tastes. Hawaii is big on hitchhiking and either partaking yourself or picking up others is a great way to meet locals and get the insider info. Turtle bay has open mic nights every Sunday, stay till the end to see Sherrif Brown and possibly Jack Johnson. I hitchhiked to and from every time without waiting more than 10 minutes. Be warned: there's Staphylococcus in the ocean and rivers. H2O2 spray bottles are highly recommended and I spritzed my feet every time I got in because of the sharp volcanic rock. Some people are too afraid of sharks but I love night swimming at the little beach right across the road from the hostel.

    Panajachel, Lago Atitlan, Guatemala
    This one's specific: Book a stay at La Fortuna Atitlan. Handmade wood cabins, professional cooking on site, wood fire hot tub, extremely private, boat only access, amazing views of the lake and twin volcanoes, but most importantly: affordable. Then go explore the nearby towns and especially their colorful markets and unique cuisine. My god the hot chocolate is to die for and especially with a dash of cardamom (always shorthanded as "momo").

    Caye Caulker, Belize
    "Go slow" is a term you'll hear a lot here, and there's only a handful of cars on the entire island. It's the only place I've ever found with a walking speed limit, enforced by the shouts of locals and they mean s..l...o....w. I caused a hell of a ruckus when I had to run across to catch my boat. The ragga-muffin catamaran trip all the way to south Belize is amazing and I can't recommend those guys enough. A few words of warning: crime is a real problem here and throughout all of Belize so keep your wits about you. Also, there's a mosquito sprayer truck that circles the island once or twice a day. Cover your food, cover your mouth, and I even timed my meals to avoid it. The beaches as unmaintained and trashy so don't expect much in that regard except on the north side where a hurricane literally cut the island in half, however the snorkeling and boating experience is top notch.

    San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
    Its hard to find words for this place, not because of how different it is but how similar. A mountain town nestled in the cliffs of southern Mexico, and a city with vibrant food and nightlife. It's both extremes in so many ways that aren't contradictory but instead feels cumulative. The food, the music, the art, the history, all wrapped up like if you squeezed all of Mexico into a tiny town then zoomed way in. One thing I can speak to is the plethora of tiny village surrounding it, Mayans living much the same as they did hundreds of years ago with just a touch of modern living. If you have the good fortune to explore them be respectful of the people there, put the camera away and treat them like fellow people rather than creatures in a zoo. This isn't the kind of place where they live old fashioned to give tourists a chance to see what life was like, this is their lives separated from the modern world. Then go into the downtown area and sip whiskey at a jazz bar while discussing Zapatista separatists. Much on chuplines (assuredly miss-spelled, spicy crickets) and sample a wide variety of spirits at the fantastic mezcalaria's. Hot chocolate is again a must, I prefer 10% azucar with momo, and check out the amber galleries. Do the people a favor: do not give money to the panhandling children. Parents will send out their kids looking deceptively poor to panhandle and it's encouraging alcoholism and laziness despite how sad it is. I found my middle ground by buying a couple kids lunch.


    Honorable mentions:
    New York City, New York, USA
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Santa Barbara, California, USA
    Bellingham, Washington, USA
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  3. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I just don't see how newark NJ didn't make this list.
     
  4. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Or Chattanooga...:rolleyes1:
     
  5. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    I actually spent quite a while in Newark after hurricane Sandy but I had very little free time and never really got to explore. Much like right now in Florida, working 16 hours a day 7 days a week doesn't leave much for enjoyment. By the time I was done with claims there I'd been moved to long island.
     
  6. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    It's sad to let one experience ruin a place, but my first night in Chattanooga someone crawled under my Honda element and hacked out the catalytic converter. Left a bad taste and haven't gone back since.
     
  7. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix En-Route

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    Sacramento? Get out.

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Oops, that was supposed to be Santa Barbara lol. Yes Sacramento is just a bike path with boredom on one side and a river on the other.
     
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  9. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix En-Route

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    Santa Barbara is fantastic.
     
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  10. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I've gotten a lot of use out of that catalytic converter, thank you. :ihih:
     
  11. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Bahaha, the aftermarket replacement I got is still giving me problems so if you could ship that over to AZ I'd appreciate it.

    Apparently they scrap them for platinum.
     
  12. flyingriki

    flyingriki Ejection Handle Pulled

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    What is it with these lonely people that congegate here with bozo blather? Am pretty sure most times it's because their wives wont listen to their bs. That's what facebook and twitter are for. Get a freaking clue!
     
  13. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    And for us youngins there's the perpetual party/Chlamydia-generator know as Isla Vista just next door. Fortunately that statement isn't entirely from personal experience.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  14. flyingriki

    flyingriki Ejection Handle Pulled

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    It's Isla Vista bozo.
     
  15. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix En-Route

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    Don't know if this was tongue in cheek or not... but there's an entire thread started by @Ryan Young in which a couple people WANTED him to post something exactly like this in this very forum... sowahhh... there's that.
     
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  16. Brad Z

    Brad Z En-Route

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    Apparently stealing catalytic converters from Honda Elements is a thing. I had a friend here in DC who had his stolen while he was at work on a Monday, had it replaced on a Wednesday, and then had that one stolen again on thursday. Thieves target Elements, I guess it's easier to steal off of them (or they have more valuable metal inside, not sure).

    By the way, Halifax is a great town, but it sounds like you visited the Liquor Dome. I'm getting a headache all over again, yikes.
     
  17. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Deleted my last comment, I'm not here to argue with you about what belongs here or doesn't man.
     
  18. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Police told me not to bother filing a report it's so common. Apparently the element's height and the CC's position make it easier to pull off rather than a greater reward.
     
  19. flyingriki

    flyingriki Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I spend half my time in Belize. Often go out to Ambergis and Caulker Cayes. Your comments relative to Caye Caulker are complete bullsh*t. So, I suspect, may be the rest of your non aviation themed blather. They have crime like any other place on earth. But pretty damned mellow.
     
  20. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Now that you mention it, I somehow managed to lose my wallet, light my hair on fire, break my hand, and almost get arrested thanks to that liquor dome... Think it's Cheers or Charlie's or something like that.

    The hair thing was totally the bouncer's fault, guy hands me a lighter with a six inch flame. That's also why I broke my hand...
     
  21. flyingriki

    flyingriki Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I lost both my Catalitics in front of my house in a college town and a lovely neighborhood. So what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?
     
  22. flyingriki

    flyingriki Ejection Handle Pulled

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    This thread is too stupid for words, I give up....
     
  23. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    I was wondering about that...
     
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  24. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    There's an easy solution for that...
     
  25. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    I don't like being called a liar, namely because I go out of my way to be honest, but I'm trying to be civil here. In San Pedro I used to hang out with the pilots at Pedro's bar and hear them talk about the (apparently) insanely short runway they described. I dont know what you think is incorrect but enlighten me.

    And here's a photo of me on Tobacco half way through said sailing trip through Belize.
     

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  26. JCranford

    JCranford Pattern Altitude

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    Good, cuz you're not contributing anything to it that your absence won't improve
     
  27. flyingriki

    flyingriki Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Cute photo. Sailing through makes you an accurate commentator, right! Ryan, here's a suggestion. Go to Trip Advisor.com, open an account, start filing all the travel stories you want that friends and family seem to ignore....
    People will read your often inaccurate reports, thank you and you'll accumulate points for your bs. Then maybe we can get back to aviation here....just saying...
     
  28. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix En-Route

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    What a coincidence! I grew up in San Pedro!

    ... California.
     
  29. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Is it possible to ignore someone on here or do you have to just overlook them? I hate that I'm buying into this but I'm subject to that nag of having the last word.
     
  30. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix En-Route

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    Riki isn't usually insane. Weird.

    You can go to an individual's profile and block them. Makes for smoother, more productive browsing.
     
  31. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Struck a chord I guess, thanks for the tip. Deleted all of my comments so I'm out of it anyways.
     
  32. Bozo

    Bozo Ejection Handle Pulled

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    strange post of the OP, very strange and not really believable imo
     
  33. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    Says someone who joined today. Or maybe....
     
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  34. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Alright Rik-zo, as you may see I fancy myself a writer and my goal is to live a life worth writing about. That's why I've done all that I've said and share what I've done with any who can spare a moment. Rather than fighting fire with fire, let me share one of my oldest writings. My code:

    Earn your keep so you have room to speak
    Speak true when you do so word is bigger than you
    Hurt none cause there's never any pride in deceit
    Know what you want, get it, always keep the receipt
    Plan far ahead and keep your eye on the moment
    Work your hardest and when you f*** it up own it
    Learn yourself in others eyes and teach what you know
    Invest in yourself cause you always reap what you sow
    Stand up for the weak and keep your back straight
    Hold onto the good and drop the dead weight
    Open your mind to others and show proper respect
    Don't stress or regret but always know in retrospect
    Always share the love and never give unto hate
    Control your own destiny never rely on a fate
     
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  35. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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  36. Cajun_Flyer

    Cajun_Flyer Pattern Altitude

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    N'awlins is on the list, so we're all good.

    For the record, Mardi Gras can be GREAT there (totally get why you don't dig it), as long as you attend the parades outside of the main downtown area.

    Love Frenchman St. (loathe Bourbon St).

    Hurricanes are deliche, but, yeah... stay away from the Hand Grenade.
     
  37. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Who dat?
    There's so much to say about that city, last time I fell in love with the west bank and every time I go I find something or somewhere great that I'd never heard or thought about.

    If you like NOLA I'd highly recommend Halifax, it's like Canada's version with their own spin. That being said, there's really nothing like the big easy, god I miss it just typing this.
     
  38. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    Like your rules to live by when traveling. I've been to 4 of the 6 in the continental US and lived in one of them, Santa Barbara. So which fire was it that you were there for? Or was it the earthquake or the oil spill? On N'awlins don't forget French Quarter Fest and Essence on your list of fests if you get back there. What about Bellingham got it on your list?
     
  39. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Being from AZ it was natural to start with CA when I first broke out, in that story I alluded to at the beginning was mainly traveling the west coast south to north and back again. Later my high-school buddies went to SB for college so it was the place I returned to most in CA, though I never had work there.

    Bellingham is very similar to Durango, Boone, or Flagstaff. College town in the woods, great local music scene with plenty of would be intellectuals for me to relax and debate with. I went a different way in life but I do love the creativity of college towns.

    There's a park in Bellingham, right next to the ocean I believe, that often has live music and a wide variety of people. I went with one of my tried and true methods of barbecueing unsaid park and offering everyone who passed by some free food. Within hours I felt like a local and was invited to stay at a party house on Franklin Street. Fell in love, had my heart broken, made friends I still keep in touch with.

    My connection with Bellingham is largely due to the people who punctuated the experience, hence why I didn't give it a full review, but I imagine any social 20-30 year old would have a great time.
     
  40. rwellner98

    rwellner98 Line Up and Wait

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    I wonder when was the last time you were there? I used to love Tulum, but it's grown rapidly lately to turn into kind of a mini-Playa del Carmen. Much like Playa del Carmen itself used to be a sleepy alternative to Cancun. Can't stop progress I guess...
     
  41. Ryan Young

    Ryan Young Pre-Flight

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    Two or three years ago, maybe a bit more, but that's kinda disappointing. Anyone who bought land on West Yucatán ten years ago is a freaking millionaire now.

    In that case I'd offer up Isla Mujeres as a great alternative. Just North of Cancun, kinda like a cheaper Cozumel, and hopefully it hasn't exploded like the rest of the peninsula.

    Also, on that note, Ek Balam in central Yucatán and the ATM cave in West Belize are the most incredible ruins I ever saw on the routa Maya. Tikal being a close third. (No idea if any of that is spelled correctly)