A Tribute to My All-Time Favorite Unassuming Vacation Spot: Parker, Arizona

I’ve been to some truly exotic locations across six continents, fallen in love with cities thousands of miles from home, and found myself fascinated by foreign cultures few get to experience first-hand. But, at the end of the day, if you were to ask me which travel destination has meant the most to me over the years, I’d have to tell you that it’s a lackluster town of 3000 people a mere four-hour drive from home.

Colorado River Sunset, Parker, Arizona

But with some truly spectacular sunsets, like this one from our trip there in 2012.

Meet Parker, Arizona. Who would have thought that this little town in the desert is one of my favorite places in the entire world? But it’s situated on the Colorado River and is the destination for my family’s annual River Trip™, invariably one of the greatest weeks each year.

My dad has been a regular of Parker since he was a teenager, bringing his ski boat and friends out to the spot for camping, water-skiing, ski-bobbing, and soaking up the 110°F/43°C sun. For almost fifteen years, my sister, my best friend, and I have been joining him for the best annual tradition I know. The sad news? Now that we’ve grown up and have our own lives, jobs, and busy schedules to attend to, that “annual” trip hasn’t happened since 2012.

The inflatable friends known as Ski-Bob and Skip.

The inflatable friends known as Ski-Bob and Skip.

BUT in the most exciting turn of events to happen to me in a long time, the stars have aligned. I’ll be heading home to California next week for my cousin’s wedding, and the fab four of The River have managed to align our schedules while I’m there. We’re going back!

Over the years, we’ve grown familiar with specific spots that would never be considered tourist destinations for most but are now absolute must-sees whenever we go. There’s the tiny convenience store in Desert Center, California that houses a supposed dinosaur egg, the “government conspiracy” we discovered at a deserted army airfield (can’t share details, or they may send the Cigarette Smoking Man after us), the mediocre pizza place that we love for its perfectly crushed ice, and the grocery store parking lot where we sit on the boat trailer by night eating popsicles.

Then there's the Shoe Fence in the middle of the desert, the successor to the long-running Shoe Tree that was burned down several years back.

Then there’s the Shoe Fence in the middle of the desert, the successor to the long-running Shoe Tree that was burned down several years back.

Of course, the real attraction is the Colorado River itself, where we water-ski, swim, and race around on the ski boat. There’s nothing like the feeling of the warm wind rushing past you as you cruise The River, lost in your thoughts.

Waterskiing, Colorado River

Check out my mad water-skiing skills

What makes the trip extra special this year is getting to spend a few days with three of my favorite people in the world who I don’t see nearly enough of now that we’re spread around the world: my dad raising my three little siblings back home, my sister in law school at Stanford (when she’s not getting flown around the country to interview at prestigious law firms), my best friend killing it as a pastry chef at an esteemed restaurant in Berkeley, and me over here in Australia.

Colorado River, Parker, Arizona

The River Crew in 2012

Working full time, life gets pretty hectic, and these days I rarely have time to stop and smell the proverbial roses. The River will be the perfect anecdote to this, and I absolutely cannot wait to go. See you soon, Parker!

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