Two Weeks in the American Southwest


Okay, so California isn’t actually considered the Southwest as it’s known as the West Coast, but we’ll just pretend. The title is long as it is already. My company offered unpaid leave for the month of July, and since I had used most of my vacation days due to my family emergency and wanted to save the rest to visit in Thanksgiving, I jumped at the chance for another trip home. My brother informed me his family was making a few vacations in Southern California, so I planned my days to go back home!

I used to attend the San Diego Comic-con International often – I’ve attended in total 8 years, with the last 3 years before moving being consecutive visits, with my last visit being just one week before leaving the country. I was mortally saddened when I couldn’t attend last year; seeing all my geek friends dressing up and having all that geeky fun was tough to watch from halfway around the world. So when my brother mentioned he and his family were going to attend this year, I managed to snag some last minute time off AND a 4-day pass and joined them.

Oh Em Gee Lego Darth Maul!

Introducing my niece and nephew to Pinkberry, just where I discovered it the first time.

As I mentioned in my previous post about the Middle East Film and Comic-con, conventions were a staple for me back when I was a video game reviewer and geek blogger. Not only did this mean going back to my geeky roots a bit, but also meeting up with the friends I made while working in the video game industry who live all over the US, but always come together for a convention. I used to plan big costumes for these events, but due to the last minute planning and lack of resources in Dubai, I donned my Transformers pinup dress, and then later threw together a last minute costume from one of my favorite video games, Left 4 Dead, to join my brother’s family in a little impromptu costuming.

My brother and his kids, all of us dressed as the 4 survivors in the video game, Left 4 Dead

It ended up working nicely, a group of my friends put together a costuming group consisting of female versions of male video game characters, so I was able to join in the fun:

L-R: Meg Turney as Beserker from Borderlands, Raychul Moore as Nathan Drake from Uncharted 2, and myself as Louis from Left 4 Dead. Photo by Chanh Tang.

I also happened, by chance, to stumbled across an offsite signing for one of my favorite characters from The Walking Dead, Steven Yuen, who plays Glenn. I’d been carrying around a poster (yes, I really AM a huge nerd) each day in the hopes I would find one. For anyone who hasn’t been to SDCC, you have no idea how difficult it is to score autographs or check out really popular panels. They usually involve waiting in line before the sun comes up and throw in about 6 more hours before you actually get into the panel. Offsite signings and meet and greets are so hush hush you literally have to crawl everywhere to find them. I just happened to be walking in the downtown Gaslamp district (just across from the convention center, a hub for offsite events, dining, shops and evening socials) and passed a gameshop with a signing. The great part is, the wait in line was only about 30 mints (once he arrived) and there were so few people he actually spent a few minutes chatting briefly to every fan!

Awww, look, I made him laugh!

He didn’t even question the huge fake gun…

The best costumes the whole con. Found them while waiting in line for Steven. The dude mentioned he’d spent time in Dubai…

Check out this super cute mini Edward Scissor (knife?) hands!

On a different day of the convention, many of my industry friends put together a huge cosplay group – one that started last year and has grown this year. It’s the Superhero Disney Princess group – organized by my dear friend, Ashley Hay, costumes inspired by a popular fanart of what the princesses would look like as superheros, found here. Unfortunately, I couldn’t join the group due to short notice, but I may be joining next year in place of Jasmine (my friend Janessa) who may not be able to make it next year.

They made me an honorary princess!

Instead, that day I wore my Transformers pin-up dress – a retro style dress made out of old bedsheets I’d made with my mom for a group for SDCC  2010.

Photos by Eurobeat Kasumi

HelLOOOO Captain America!

AHHH Shaun of the Dead!

A massive cosplay group shot hosted by

Awesome Chewbacca, posing with my friend Raychul Moore as Snow White

My coworkers from my blogger days at, L-R Candace, Becky, Ashley, Raychul Moore and Chrissy

In addition to meeting up with old friends from my gaming days, we spent evenings hanging out with our family in San Diego…

Niece Marilyn, Nephew Sebastian, and their cutie little cousin Miles

We headed back home to Phoenix, Arizona, after our 4 exhausting days of trekking the con. I only had a few days back in the valley before heading back out to Southern California again with my brother’s family for a round of amusement parks.

I squeezed in as much social time as I could – one of the best ways to do this is usually hosting a dinner party! (not by me though, by my dear friends 🙂

Mexican lasagna!

Kevin, who spent 2 years in the Ukraine for the Peace Corps ended up home the same I was, and Robert, on my right, DJ/photographer/cook and party host extraordinaire

Amy and Linda

Back en route to SoCal, the family had plans to hit up the various amusement parks in the area. Because I was short on time and wanted to see more friends in Phoenix, I tagged along for on day at Disneyland (because you can never have enough Disneyland!) and then took a quick flight back to Phoenix before heading back out to the middle east. Since I used to have a season pass the Disneyland when I lived in Phoenix, and have even been back twice more after moving, not many pics were taken…

The elusive Donald Duck!

Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters!

Back in Phoenix, we scheduled a long-awaited (at least for me!) trip down the Salt River. It’s a popular destination during the summer; high temperatures and chilly mountain water, throw in a few rapids and cold beers and it makes for a pretty great lazy day.

Andrea (and her well positioned waterproof camera cover), and Robert

And on my last day at home, I spent it with my sister and adorable baby niece Camille shopping and eating sushi…

We eat the sushi, she just eats the creampuffs….

Pooped after a long day of shopping!

All in all, it was a great trip back, and I managed to meet up with all my friends from all over the country, and catch up with my friends and family in Phoenix as well. It only made me excited to try and make it back to SDCC 2013 and future trips back home!

Also, check out all my talented friends’ pages:

DJ Robert Michael/Robert Garcia Photography

Ashley Hay – awesome graphic artist and costumer

Raychul Moore – Girl gamer extraordinaire

Meg Turney Cosplay

SuperHero Disney Princess Cosplay Group

Eurobeat Kasumi Cosplay Photography

Chanh Tang Photography

James Gilstrap Photography

4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Upgrading to New Horizons | jessy's journeys

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s