Monday, December 10, 2007

Fish Out of (or Without) Water

I'm finally, after a series of delays and debacles, back from Arizona. It's a shame my wonderful trip was capped off with terrible service trying to get back from Phoenix (Delta, expect a letter of complaint soon).

In any case, I had a good time, and I was fascinated by just about every aspect of the trip. I'd never been so far west, or even seen a mountain that was not part of the Appalachians. As you can imagine, I was shocked by the size of those in Arizona, from the moment I landed -- heck, even before! As we flew into Arizona, I was like a kid with my face plastered against the airplane window.

If you'd like to see my pictures, and what I'm calling my fish-out-of-water-story-told-through-pictures recount of the trip, the Flickr set is here. Notice the address in that link -- I've created my own "Down the Shore with Jen" spot on Flickr, and I hope to be adding shore pictures soon. And if you're still not enticed, maybe this picture will grab your interest:

For the full story, check out the Flickr set.

I went on this trip for work, so I was asked a lot what I do. When I said anything about "travel writing," most people wanted to know about all the exotic locales I go to. They're shocked when I say that my main focus, travel writing wise, is New Jersey (and those jokes about Newark and Joisey, which is not even how we pronounce it in South Jersey, are really lame, especially after the fifth time I heard them last week).

Why travel write about your own back yard? Because it's my own backyard, and who knows it better than I do? There's only so much you can learn on a short trip -- while I visited a lot of different places in the Phoenix area, I wasn't able to find that corner BYOB that demands reservations even for lunch, or who has the best bike tour in the region. There wasn't enough time. With New Jersey, especially South Jersey, I'm a life-time expert. I was born here. I live here. And I'll probably die here. Who better to delve into the nooks and crannies and figure out what would be of interest to a traveler? I guarantee you that if you looked within a 10 mile radius of your home, you'd find something of interest to a visitor. So take a closer look -- you'll be surprised at what you might find.

This also reminded me of my grandfather. After returning from World War II, he vowed that he wouldn't go overseas again until he saw all 50 states in his own country (and he was close to reaching that mark before he passed away in May). What a neat idea. And after my short trip out west, I've realized that he was right -- our own country, which is a very big backyard, has a lot of wonders to be seen.

With that, I'm off to edit. As I mentioned, the page proofs of The Jersey Shore, Atlantic City to Cape May: A Complete Guide are on my dining room table. I'm through the Atlantic City chapter already. It's a bit scary to think that this is the absolute last chance I'll have for changes, but exciting, too. It'll be nice to see the dang thing in print.

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