My first trip to Los Angles was when I was 11. It’s one of the most vivid trips from my childhood. Part of it I can remember as if it was yesterday, like breakfast (and the subsequent conversation with our waitress) one morning at the InterContinental Hotel Los Angeles, located just off Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City. “Oh, you are nearly a Southern Californian being so tall and with such curly hair, but not with that accent.” I blushed, as she continued on, telling me that maybe, just maybe I’d be playing for the Lakers being so tall. 20 years later and I’m back in Los Angeles, just off Santa Monica Boulevard still, but this time I call it home.

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Growing up, Los Angeles (and in general, Southern California) stood out to me as this Rivendell-esque type of place. It resonated with me much more than many other cities, since it was home to so many things I only found in bits and pieces elsewhere, from beaches to mountains to celebs to Disneyland. And when I visited Los Angeles at age 11 it didn’t disappoint, even if our cab driver drove off from the Getty Villa without my mom.

So at the end of last summer, just months after my 30th birthday, I packed up all of my things in my car and fulfilled a travel dream I’ve always had of driving the length of the Pacific Ocean coastline from Seattle down to Los Angeles. However, when I arrived in Los Angeles, I found myself never wanting to leave, and I haven’t, nor do I have plans to, as I have an affinity toward Los Angeles and creating a home life here like I’ve felt no other place. That’s right, this good ‘ole boy who grew up in rural North Carolina went Hollywood.

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Anyone who follows me or knows anything about me knows that I love Vegas. But those who really know me also know that I’m not a club or casino guy. Maybe I’ll throw a $20 on the Blackjack table and put my winnings on the num. seven horse, but to me, the best of Vegas is found beyond the doors of its casinos and night clubs. There are a lot of places around the world that you can play Blackjack or get jiggy with it, but it’s not just anywhere that you can visit a speakeasy, ride in the world’s largest observation wheel, drive a bulldozer, or fly an airplane. Because these days, what happens in Vegas, goes on Instagram. So with that in mind, today I share a round-up of some of my favorite photos from Las Vegas.

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