San Diego: where pop culture meets military history

This time last year, I was in the US attending San Diego Comic Con; the biggest pop culture event in the world – and, this year, I’m home enduring a Melbourne winter. But I keep hearing all this wonderful news from San Diego via Twitter and Facebook, and I’m actually really surprised by how much I miss being there (with my people). So I guess attending another San Diego Comic Con is on my bucket list. But, in the meantime, to keep me sane, I thought I’d share this article that I wrote for Mufti, the magazine I edit for the Victorian RSL. Who would’ve thought that I’d be able to find such a fun link between my geek life and work life?

SD 001 red

The ‘Embracing Peace’ sculpture by Seward Johnson depicts one of the most iconic moments in the history of the US; it was inspired by the spontaneous and joyous celebration that broke out in New York’s Times Square when people heard that World War II had ended. Here a newly-wed couple mimics the pose.

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My top 12 moments of 2016

“Departure of a year welcomes so many new memories” Munia Khan

Slumber safari experience at Werribee Zoo

Slumber safari experience at Werribee Zoo

This blog was inspired by my friend Jules Wilkinson, who today posted on Facebook her ‘Top 18 things of 2016’. She later commented: “I worry that the ‘2016 sucked’ narrative is not letting people value the year they had on its own terms. I hope it was a good one for you and 2017 is even more sparkly!”

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San Diego Comic Con

“Comic-Con has become more of a pop cultural festival, and to not be included feels like you’re missing the biggest celebration of the year.” Felicia Day

San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) can be described in so many ways but I think the best word is JOY. For four magical days there exists an abundance of joy, overflowing from people who are unashamedly passionate about the things they love. People from all walks of life, from diverse backgrounds and from all around the world, come together with acceptance and love. It is overwhelming, in the best possible way, and I immediately felt like I belonged.

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An unexpected visit to the set of Supernatural

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” Henry David Thoreau

2015 has been a memorable and exciting year. I spent quality time with my friends and family. I met fantastic people through my new Airbnb business and on my travels overseas. But, without a doubt, the highlight of my 2015 was finding the Supernatural set in Vancouver.

As readers of my blog would know, I’m a frequent visitor to Vancouver. I have family there, I adore the city and, in the last three years, I’ve also attended an annual Supernatural convention (see my blog Supernatural: it’s more than a television show).

I fell in love with this little show 11 years ago, but I really only became immersed in its fandom after I happened upon filming in 2011 (Supernatural, Twitter and the reluctant groupie). Back then, I had no idea about fan conventions, or the incredible online community, or the way the stars of the show interacted with fans. But now, I can honestly say that Supernatural has changed my life. It has given me new friendships that I cherish; experiences outside my comfort zone; travel to new and interesting destinations; and, most importantly, so much joy and laughter – bucket loads of it.

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Keep Austin Weird

“There is a freedom you begin to feel the closer you get to Austin, Texas.” Willie Nelson

Keep Austin Weird and Chuy's t-shirts

As soon as I heard that Austin’s slogan was ‘Keep Austin Weird’, I knew I’d love the place. I wonder what that says about me 😉

Apparently, the phrase was coined by Austin Community College librarian Red Wassenich and was intended to promote local businesses – and it quickly caught on. I saw the slogan referenced in and around the city – and on plenty of souvenirs and t-shirts (I guess, like everything good, it quickly becomes commercialised).

But I still loved it – and, of course, I now own a ‘Keep Austin Weird’ coffee mug and t-shirt, lol.

My t-shirt also says ‘Support Local Music’ and I think that is what I loved most about Austin. They do support local businesses and encourage creativity. I saw lots of quirky bars and restaurants. I saw artwork adorning walls and buildings. I heard local musicians performing; the music spilling out onto Sixth Street. I tasted plenty of delicious southern food; including Tex Mex at the historic Chuy’s, and slow-cooked meats at Franklin Barbeque.

I also sweltered in the HOT weather (38-degrees Celsius/100-degrees Fahrenheit) for the five days I was there. But it didn’t matter. I was so happy. I’d fallen in love with Austin.

Here are some of my favourite photographs… and some descriptions of the places I most enjoyed spending my time 🙂

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Photo story: Bryce Canyon

“Descending into the canyon, I sink into another world. I notice not only incredible geologic gargoyles but also the eclectic plants of Bryce’s innards.” Trail guide, Bryce Canyon Natural History Association

Of all the national parks in the US that I visited last year, Bryce Canyon would have to be the strangest. We arrived late afternoon, drove to the highest point of the park, and gazed across a buckled and fractured landscape that was momentarily bathed in a golden light. It was an incredible sight.

There are 14 viewpoints along Bryce Canyon’s 18-mile (29km) scenic drive and we stopped at three of them – Rainbow Point (9115ft/2778m), Black Birch Canyon (8750ft/2667m) and Inspiration Point (8100ft/2469m). It was the perfect time to gaze at the sweeping vistas, with the colours changing subtlety as the sun sank lower in the sky.

 

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Supernatural: it’s more than a television show – Part 3

“Where the hell are we, anyway?

Dude, we’re not even in America…” Dean Winchester

Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and there is so much to see and do, especially for first-time visitors. But for Supernatural (SPN) fans it’s even more special because this is where ‘our show’ is filmed; where Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles have portrayed ‘our boys’ Sam and Dean Winchester. So I guess it goes without saying that location hunting is high on the agenda.

Fortunately, there are some iconic spots that are easy to find such as St Andrew’s-Wesley Church, which was used during season two’s Houses of the Holy. This is located just across the road from the Sheraton Wall Center, where the convention is held, and there are plenty of other locations within walking distance of here.

When I started to write about the Salute to Supernatural convention in Vancouver, I thought it would be one blog, not three. And it could have been more, which I guess just means that I had the most amazing time. In this final installment I’d like to share with you some of the other fun SPN-related things I did either side of the convention weekend. This includes Russ Hamilton’s location tour and the VFX non-con. If you’d like to read the previous parts to my story, please click on the links (Part 1 & Part 2).

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