#travel

A Golden Girls Cruise? You Can Finally Throw a Party and Invite Everyone You Know!

Picture it. Miami Beach, 2020. You board a cruise ship and prepare yourself to embark on one of the greatest journeys of your life surrounded by lovers of all things Golden Girls. Well—it’s happening. From February 24-29, 2020 Flip Phone Events will host a 5-night Western Caribbean cruise that will depart from Miami, Florida (the home of the Golden Girls) with stops in Key West and Cozumel. It will be a trip of a lifetime that you will be telling all your grandchildren about in your golden years.

The hit show that lives on in the hearts of so many gays (and non-gays) starred Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty, and Betty White and has provided popular culture with infinite references that live on beyond its final air date in 1992. The organizers at Flip Phone Events love it so much that they knew a themed cruise would resonate with fans.

 

 

Activities on the cruise will include:

  • Caftan Sail Away Party with Cheesecake
  • The Rusty Anchor Karaoke Party
  • Golden Girls Trivia
  • Shady Pines Craft Corner
  • Key West Golden Girls Bar Crawl
  • Golden Girls Costume Contest and Fancy Dinner
  • One Night in St. Olaf Dance Party (Including a game of Ugel and Flugel)
  • Dorothy’s Bingo
  • Plus much, much more!

According to the event website, the cost of a cabin can range from $986-$1,181 per person, depending on how luxurious you want your experience to be.

But if you’re up for the journey, you have until March 5th to secure your spot or it’s back to Shady Pines for you!

Now, excuse me while I wrap my hair and go drink some lemonade on the lanai.

h/t: Flip Phone Events

 

Travel Thursday: Connecticut’s Saybrook Point Inn is the Alternative to a Busy City Trip

As someone who resides in New York City, I’m always looking for a place to travel to that will allow me to get away from the hustle and bustle and into the peacefulness and tranquility. Connecticut’s Saybrook Point Inn, which is located about two hours away from Manhattan and is easy to get to regardless of where you are from, is a spot worth going to if you are looking for this and more.

Saybrook Point Inn, located in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, is a quick drive from the town’s Amtrak stop and easily accessible via car or ferry, the latter of which if you are coming from Long Island. Notable past inhabitants of this beautiful area included legendary actors like Katharine Hepburn and Art Carney.

Here’s a disclaimer: this is not a party-heavy area. It’s not even a party area. It’s an alternative to that in the best way possible that allows your body, spirit and soul to recharge so that you can get back to your normal life in a better way. Given how busy many of us are, a place like this is a necessary stop sign for the ones who are always on the go.

There’s a lot to look at here. This is a place that isn’t just your basic variety of rooms to venture into and sleep in. Saybrook Point Inn goes above and beyond that to give you a unique experience that includes an actual Lighthouse Suite for rental. Yes, you can stay on water while experiencing the breathtaking views of Old Saybrook.

They also have these buildings called Tall Tales and Three Stories, which essentially gives you a beautifully colored and designed room (each with an individual spin) plus bonus essentials like a sprawling living space, kitchen and so much more. Once again, it’s a sight for sore eyes as you awaken to the beauty of the town while staying in an area that could easily be seen in the pages of any major architecture and home design publications.

You don’t have to go far for your culinary experience as well, as their restaurant on premise called Fresh Salt includes some of the tastiest seafood options out there and then some. Old Saybrook is more of an old-fashioned town, so don’t expect to find that many hotspot eateries surrounding the luxury inn. Hence why eating at Fresh Salt should be a requirement, as they provide the best of the best cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Dine on their delicious egg options in the morning to prepare you for the day. Relax and watch the waves crash while eating a yummy Lobster Roll with all the fixings during Lunch. Enjoy an evening with a loved one while feasting out their unbelievable Cioppino, Meatballs, Calamari and more. The food I’ve had at Fresh Salt has got to be some of the best I’ve experienced in several years, and the mood inside only enhances just how great it is.

There’s more! Sanno Spa, located in the main inn at Saybrook Point, gives you an even bigger reason to chill out with the bevy of services they provide. Facial, massages, etc. It’s all there and the customer service inside is top notch not to mention how beautiful their space is.

Bottom line: Saybrook Point Inn is superbly awesome and a place I would go back to time and time again. A spot you’ll want to check into this year and beyond. For more information, click here.

Sex on the Beach Will Be the End of One of the Hottest Destinations in the World

The island of Ibiza is a popular travel destination for many gay men because of the sandy beaches, beautiful men, and the cruising spots that offer a rendezvous under the hot sun. One of the most popular hook up spots in Ibiza are the sandy dunes of es Cavallet—but after years of pounding down hard on the hot sand, local geologists and biologists have declared that too much sex on the beach is creating irreversible damage to the ecosystem which is part of the Parque Natural de ses Salines (Salines Sea Natural Park).

Spanish media outlet Diario de Mallorca reports that es Cavallet in Ibiza is one of the most sought out cruising spots in the world, and people from everywhere visit this nude beach in search of finding some fun.

 

 

Joan Carles Palerm, Biologist and President of GEN, shared with Diario de Mallorca:

On the coast there is a thermal wind which moves from sea to land. In the first section there are small plants that are capable of resisting that wind and the consequent movement of the earth it causes on the ground. They are a species that live very little time, but their short existence is vital for the dune system because when the wind reaches the dunes, it rises thanks to them. That allows other plants to settle there such as the lotus or the beach grass.

Palerm asserts that movement of the natural formation of the dunes causes a destruction of their shape which causes a ripple effect to the rest of the system. This causes erosion, creating gullies that crack the ground and expose juniper roots.

Authorities have fenced around the areas in question in hope that people will begin to respect the dunes so that they may begin to take their natural form once again. Additionally, guards have made it a point to constantly remind beach goers that they are present in a natural park so that they are aware that people will constantly be watching, hopefully deterring the cruising from happening.

At this rate, who needs global warming?

h/t: Diario de Mallorca

Travel Thursday: Embark on a Delicious Foodie Journey in San Francisco

As a lifelong New Yorker, I scoff at the idea that any other city can compare to ours in many facets, one of which being the types of food my The Big Apple has to offer.

Yes, every city has their claim that they are the best when it comes to the diverse culinary scene they have, but I wholeheartedly believe that the only part of the United States that rivals NYC when it comes to food has to be San Francisco.

I’ve been to San Francisco twice before and was amazed by the overall landscape of an area that really isn’t that big compared to other touristy-type places. Something that also impressed me on a multitude of levels was the array of dishes I had while there. My waistline wasn’t too happy with me, but my taste buds were as everything I ate was simply delicious and I left the city with a full belly and a smile on my face.

I went back to San Francisco last week with my partner to experience their food scene once again, as well as check into some fabulous hotels during my time there. I was once again dazzled and amazed from a culinary point of view regarding the places that I ate at, as each had a very distinct view of the plates that put in front of me.

Whether you are in the mood for a tasty piece of fish while gazing at the Golden Gate Bridge, chowing down on Chinese hot pot in Inner Sunset or enjoying a wonderful piece of sourdough on the Embarcadero, these places have you covered when it comes to all things tasty. Take a look.

Fast-casual is a concept that has really taken off in major cities. We aren’t just talking about your typical conglomerates that serve basic dishes for a basic lunch. These are places that are providing top quality ingredients that will make your lunch experience that much better, as you are essentially paying for something that is worth the price you pay.

One of those places that was my first culinary stop in SF was Lemonade Yerba Buena, located in the financial district. Lemonade is sort of a one-stop shop when it comes to the kinds of food you can dine at all day long. They have so many fantastic items to choose from, whether its hot bowls, poke bowls, sandwiches and more that even the pickiest of eaters will have a hard time saying no. I decided to keep it “hot” while there and order some of the warmer dishes, notably their Texas BBQ Brisket with a side of Mac N Cheese and Mashed Potatoes. HEAVEN. FREAKING HEAVEN. The brisket was fall off the bone good and I wish I was back there to get another try. Also, they are called Lemonade, so expect to see a variety of this sweet and tart drink available at your disposal. More info here.

Bistro Boudin, located along the Embarcadero, is a sight to be seen that is within the much bigger Boudin brand. Essentially this place is known for many things, one being their expertly made sourdough bread which customers can see being made while at their whimsical and fascinating location. There is also a ton of history when it comes to Boudin that they can witness as they make their way through several parts of the location including their gift shop, restaurant and more.

Regarding Bistro Boudin, it was simply superb. You are whisked away inside a gorgeous space that overlooks the San Francisco water which happens to be very romantic at nighttime. The menu itself is a bevy of deliciousness when it comes to their seafood, pasta and burger items. Notable picks that we had that you should try while there included their Angel Hair Pasta with Herb Grilled Shrimp, Filet Mignon with a bunch of sides and their Cioppino, which hands down had one of the best broths I’ve tasted in many years. Worth the visit and then some. More info here.

Another place along the Embarcadero that happens to be neighbors with Boudin is Franciscan Crab Restaurant. I found that Franciscan had a similar aesthetic to Boudin in terms of its overall look and menu, however the entire experience was still yummy based on the food they provided us. I am obsessed with all things bread bowls, as my mother made them a lot growing up and they are out of this world good, so Franciscan’s version with a Crab Chowder did it for me and then some. Their Spicy Shrimp Pasta and fish options were also stellar as well. More info here.

If you are looking for a place to go that is minutes away from the legendary Castro area of San Francisco, then Finn Town is your spot. The location, which acts as a tavern with some very tasty American fare, is all decorated for the holiday which only enhances it a cozy & homey vibe. It’s sort of like a gay version of Cheers without being officially gay. Definitely a place to go to for some great appetizers, burgers and more with your buddies. More info here.

Perbacco, located in the financial district, is a place that defines “power lunch”. The upscale, bi-level space is filled with businessmen and women who want to dine on something a bit more decadent during their busy day, and who can blame them? The place is gorgeous in terms of aesthetics and the food is just as fantastic. Go for one of their stuffed pasta dishes, as it will fill you up and keep your energy going throughout the day. For instance, their Agnolotti Dal Plin, which is pasta stuffed with roasted meats and vegetables, is mouthwatering from the first to last bite. Yum. More info here.

A quick mention that I must add is IPOT in Inner Sunset. This was not originally part of my itinerary, but my partner and I stopped by there with some friends shortly before I headed back to NYC. Its Chinese hot pot done in all the right ways, where you choose from a variety of broths to dunk an assortment of meats, vegetables and more into with a ton of amazing sides. There is usually a wait, but it’s worth it if this is the sort of cuisine you are into. More info here.

There are also two fabulous places you must stay at when you visit San Francisco. How are you going to eat all this darn food if you don’t have a place to crash afterwards during your food coma? If you are looking for a place that has a more hustle and bustle feel to SF, then The Clift Royal Sonesta is for you. The all-encompassing hotel has everything you need under one roof.

Want a great breakfast spread? Head to The Velvet Room where all kinds of morning goodies await your every culinary need. Feel like grabbing a drink with friends? No need to go outside, as the hotel has a great bar called The Redwood Room that is dark and moody with a chill vibe where you can sip on some tasty cocktails and catch up with friends.

Not only that, but the rooms at The Clift Royal Sonesta are gorgeous, comfortable and relaxing. There are also great amenities like WIFI, a spacious gym and more so you can enjoy your experience on a much higher level. Also, they are in a fun area of SF named Union Square which is filled with a ton of great shopping opportunities that are only steps away from its property. More info here.

If you are looking for someplace quieter, then the Inn at the Presidio is perfection personified. I had no idea this area of San Francisco existed, but I am so glad that I found it as the surroundings act as something quite magical that I will truly never forget.

The Inn at the Presidio is a much more intimate experience that is smaller in size but huge in its execution. The rooms are cozy, sophisticated and have a touch of class to it that only enhanced the wonderful time me and my partner had. The view from the hotel is stunning as well, especially during sunset where walking around feels like something out of a movie. There is also much to do around where the hotel is, such as going to see a movie, hiking, getting some breathtaking views of The Golden Gate Bridge and more. More info here.

Overall my experience in San Francisco, foodie or not, was a 10 out of 10. It always is a 10 out of 10 because this city is just wonderfully luminous, and I cannot wait for the day that I can go back there. For more information, click here.


If you have travel ideas, places we should visit, or work for a PR company and are looking for writers to visit, please reach out to customerservice@instinctmagazine.com and address your comments to the Managing Editor.


 

Head South for the Winter--and Keep Going Until You Hit Palm Springs

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—we LOVE Palm Springs! Whether it is for a quick boys trip or a nice romantic getaway, Palm Springs has you covered. One of the great advantages of living so close to one of the best gay hubs in the U.S. is that if you decide last minute to get out of town the desert is less than two hours away! It’s the perfect holigay!

There is so much to do in Palm Springs that no matter the time of year, you will get a much needed escape and you’ll be planning your next trip before you even leave.

On a recent trip to Palm Springs, I was pleasantly surprised how much the destination had to offer even if you are only there for one night. We planned a quick trip to watch one of our favorite drag icons--the skinny legend—Trixie Mattel and we ended up getting much more than we expected out of our adventure to Palm Springs during the winter.

STAY – Riviera Palm Springs

If you’re looking for a great place to stay for a quick overnight trip to Palm Springs, the Riviera is where it’s at! This luxurious resort is located right in the heart of Palm Springs and has so much to offer. The pool is beautiful, but if you want to beat the winter cold—the spa will hit the spot. The rooms at the Riviera are large, comfortable, and will make it hard to want to leave the hotel. The chic midcentury modern motif makes the Riviera the perfect desert oasis.

If you want to splurge a little and get a nice place, I definitely recommend the Riviera. Otherwise, an Airbnb might be the way to go if you don’t mind staying a little further away from the action.

EXPERIENCE – Trixie Mattel | Outlandish Performance Events

The main reason for heading to Palm Springs on a whim was to catch one of Palm Springs’ Outlandish Performance Events featuring Trixie Mattel, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3. The events take place at the historic Camelot Theatre at the Palm Springs Cultural Center and are part of a season of LGBTQ+ acts that are a perfect excuse to get to Palm Springs.

Trixie’s final show of her tour Now With Moving Parts was just short of 2 hours and featured a mix of her folk music, comedy, and an extended traditional drag routine that was giving the audience LIFE! With 3 costume changes, Trixie definitely showcased why she deserves to be in the Drag Race Hall of Fame.

 

 

Outlandish is a series produced by Matt Farber, the founder of Logo. This season’s performances included John Water, Miss Richfield, Pam Ann, Randy Rainbow, and Baloney! San Francisco’s All Male Revue.

For more information on Outlandish Performance Events, visit: outlandishps.com

EAT – Rick’s Restaurant and Bakery

One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to wake up and find a great spot where I can sit down with a nice cup of coffee and a good breakfast soaking in the day. We stumbled upon Rick’s after some quick Yelp reviews and when we arrived we saw there were crowds of people arriving. That’s always a great sign!

Rick’s is your typical diner, but what sets it apart from any other joint is that it has the biggest cinnamon rolls in Palm Springs…and possibly California…and possibly the U.S. I don’t know, I’m not an expert on cinnamon rolls. These cinnamon rolls are gigantic! Bigger than my hand and towering with a thick layer of gooey frosting—and they still serve it with a side of butter. It’s definitely shareable, but if you love your carbs…don’t share.

Their breakfasts are traditional and come in large portions, but try finishing them after you’ve already wrecked that cinnamon roll.

If you’re looking for a simple, easy place to grab a bite before you head back on the road or head to the Palm Springs Museum—check out Rick’s—and take the cinnamon roll challenge!

Check out Rick’s Restaurant and Bakery if you’re in Palm Springs!

EXPERIENCE - ROBOLIGHTS

Something really special about Palm Springs that many people may not know is that the city is a major attraction during the holiday season. Not only is the main strip on Palm Canyon Drive lit up in holiday spirit, but there is a major attraction that welcomes thousands of visitors per year to a residential area of Palm Springs. If you haven’t experienced Robolights, you HAVE to. Obviously it only happens during the holiday season, so if you’re planning a trip to the desert, why not forego your usual summer escapade and make the trip in December to check out one of the best holiday light displays you will ever see.

 

 

Since 1986, Palm Springs resident and installation artist Kenny Irwin has been transforming his 4-acre property into a surreal winter wonderland. The light display features larger-than-life robots that welcome you into their dreamlike holiday world with eccentricities and surprises around every corner. The light display is available every night during the holiday season from 4:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., including holidays and rainy days. You are immediately transported into a foreign planet where mannequins, werewolves, repurposed materials, toilets, and over 8.4 million lights make your visit unforgettable.

 

 

Artist Kenny Irwin says:

Though ROBOLIGHTS is an extraordinary experience for people of all ages and back grounds to inspire imagination and creativity in people it also to encourage respect for the limited resources of our world in the form of sustainability that you see in the art made out of recycled items. At ROBOLIGHTS, You are taken into a parallel universe walking through immensely long zig zagging pathways that leads up to hundreds of giant robots, aliens & huge displays everywhere, space ships, rocket sleds and art created out of apx thousand tons of stuff including donated junk from over the last few decades that has come from family, neighbors, friends etc. Junk that would have otherwise ended up in a land fill but has been transformed into art everyone can enjoy.

If you go:

The house is located at 1077 E Granvia Valmonte, Palm Springs, California

There is a $5 suggested donation

Park at Ruth Hardy Park just 2 blocks from the house and take the 7-10 minute walk. Bundle up ‘cuz it gets cold and possibly bring a flashlight since there are very few street lights in this area.

Give yourself a good 2 hours to walk around and explore as much as you can. There are so many awesome visuals and interactive installations that your curiosity will make want to stay all night!

You can TEXT 1-760-774-0318 to make an appointment to see art inside year round in case you can’t make it during the holidays—lights probably won’t be on, but there is SO MUCH TO LOOK AT!

DRINK/DANCE – Toucans Tiki Lounge

One of the best spots to party in Palm Springs is Toucans Tiki Lounge where you will find crowds of locals mixed with out-of-towners drinking and dancing the night away. Toucans is at the beginning of the Palm Canyon Drive strip as if welcoming you to the heart of the gay Southern California desert. Toucans is every bit a tiki lounge with its giant tiki torches and tropical aesthetic. People dance under the cabana dance floor surrounded by go-go boys or hang out in the outside patio with their famous tiki hurricanes. Some nights a week Toucans hosts drag performances while other nights they host bear night, Latin night, and other dance parties. If you’re in Palm Springs, Toucans is a great stop on your night out while on gay holiday.

So if you’re looking for something to do during the winter months, don’t hesitate to head to the desert and make your holiday a Palm Springs holiday.


If you have travel ideas, places we should visit, or work for a PR company and are looking for writers to visit, please reach out to customerservice@instinctmagazine.com and address your comments to the Managing Editor.


 

Travel Thursday: Why Bristol, Rhode Island is a Must Visit This Fall

When it comes to traveling as a gay man, having a quote unquote “gay scene” as part of your experience isn’t always a want or a necessity. There are areas we can head to that have zero gay bars, parades, etc, but still have a wonderful time in while feeling completely invited by the community itself.

Bristol, Rhode Island is a great example of this. I recently spent a couple of days there last week for the first time in my life and can safely say that I will be back as soon as I can. Located about 20 minutes outside Providence, Bristol is an area surrounded by gorgeous water, fabulous museums, a lush history, delicious food, and ambiance that is on a whole other level compared to its surroundings.

What is great about the area of Bristol is how much of a hidden gem it is. I’ve been traveling to and from Providence for fifteen years now, and never once visited this area. I’m glad I did now, as the places that I went to, the food that I ate and the location that I stayed in was truly incredible.

The history to Bristol is fascinating. Fun fact about it, they have the oldest 4th of July Parade in our entire country. The streets that you walk on in this area have red white and blue in the middle as opposed to just the white stripes, which is fitting given that they hold this record.

Beyond that, the area is pretty much like something out of a travel magazine with just how beautiful everything is. Rhode Island is nicknamed the “Ocean State”, and Bristol is a prime example of why it’s like that given how beautiful the bodies of water are that surround its location.

It’s a complete 180 from the rustic, city life of Providence, and that’s fine. Both have their own aesthetics, and Bristol’s is a lot calmer and more relaxed compared to its capital city.

Let’s talk about where to stay, where to eat, and what to see. For one, the Bradford-Dimond-Norris House is far from a typical place you would stay when traveling. It’s an actual house, a BnB, and a wonderful place to rest your head at night. The family that owns it takes hospitality to a whole other level, and makes you feel so invited outside of the beautiful insides that they have helped create. Two words really describe this: elegant and historic, as the rooms you will stay in transport you to a different time period that definitely isn’t 2018. Essentially: you won’t want to leave.

As for the food, keep in mind, this is the “Ocean State”, so seafood is something that they can brag about and then some. There are, however, other great spots that go beyond our crustacean obsession when it comes to the food we put in our mouth. The Bristol Sunset Café boasts a delicious assortment of breakfast options that will leave you feeling full and ready for the day ahead. Le Central and The Beehive are your lunchtime experts in terms of some great sandwiches and soups. And finally, for the seafood, you can’t go wrong with The Lobster Pot which provides succulent scallops, lobster and more in a gorgeous setting that overlooks the water.

The attractions in this area are what help make Bristol so beyond amazing. Mount Hope Farms, for example, is a 127-acre estate that hosts several special events throughout the year including a ton of weddings and whatnot… and can you blame them? The space is out of this world gorgeous.

Same goes for Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum which you will need a ton of energy in your system prior to arriving (scratch that, both of them you need it due to its sheer size). Blithewold has so much to see its hard to figure out where to begin. Whether it is their lush greenery, iconic views, 45-room mansion that is chock full of a bevy of information about its inhabitants and more, these are two places that are worth checking out during your stay in Bristol.

Overall, Bristol is a truly magical place to visit for this city boy and I look forward to the day when I can go back again. For more information, please check out their official website.


If you have travel ideas, places we should visit, or work for a PR company and are looking for writers to visit, please reach out to customerservice@instinctmagazine.com and address your comments to the Managing Editor.


 

Meet the Gay Traveler Who is on the Adventure of a Lifetime

In 2016, a 30-year-old Mikah Meyer embarked on the trip of a lifetime—one that many of us would only dream of taking. He packed all his things into a van and set out for a three-year journey to visit all of the United States National Park Service Units in a single trip—that’s 417 total!

His motivation? To honor his late father’s memory and live life to his fullest. At the time of his father’s passing, Meyer was 19 and never officially got to ‘come out’ to his father who was a pastor. It wasn’t until the Nebraska native was 22 that he officially ‘came out’ and began his own internal journey of accepting being a gay man as well as a faithful Christian. He went on to form a group called “Queer for Christ” in hopes of sharing with other like-minded individuals that it was ‘okay’ to be queer and religious.

On the 11th anniversary of his father’s death in 2016, Meyer, believing that he would not receive support or funding for his trip to all of the National Park Units, made a choice to not be ‘out’ as he ventured on his way. Not knowing what the road ahead of him would look like, Meyer set out in search of clarity and closure with the mantra “Chase your dreams before it’s too late.” But nine months into his journey, Meyer received a message from a young, closeted boy who inspired him to continue the rest of his trip openly, honestly, and proudly. His travels have gained a lot of attention on Instagram because of the snapshots of the picturesque landscapes he’s visited.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

If you ever need a lake to reflect, this is your place: Crater Lake National Park.

A post shared by Mikah Meyer (@mikahmey) on

 

When his journey is complete, Meyer will have the World Record for the youngest individual to visit all the U.S. National Park Service Units as well be the first person to visit them all in a single trip. Oh, and on top of that, he’s a trained vocalist who tours churches around the U.S. singing and sharing his inspiring story.

I got to know Meyer in more detail as he shared his story with Instinct. He's shattering stereotypes by proving to the world that there is no such thing as a gay man who doesn't like the outdoors. In fact, right now as you read this, he’s hiking Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, and I hope he gets to read it too--the first chance at WiFi he gets:


How/why did this journey to visit all the National Parks begin?

I lost my dad to cancer when I was 19. He was just 58 and was a big road trip fan. Since he was in hospice and died during my freshman year of college, I never got those long father-child road trips to college my 3 older sisters said were so formative.

So a few days after his funeral I took a road trip to heal. Have done one every year since his passing, and wanted to do something “epic” at age 30 to share this lesson that tomorrow’s not guaranteed; that everyone should pursue their dreams ASAP because we might pass away sooner than we hope.


Where did you start and where do you plan to finish?

I began this journey at the Washington National Monument on April 29, 2016, and will end on April 29, 2019 just a few hundred yards from where I started: walking from the Washington Monument to finish atop the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.


How many National Parks have you visited to date and when do you expect to be done?

I’m 368 parks done as of today, will have 30 left by the start of 2019, then will end with site 417 on April 29, 2019 (the 14th anniversary of my father’s passing).


How have you been getting around from place to place? Sleeping? Eating?

I’m living in a self-converted cargo van called “Vanny McVanface.” Doing the #VanLife by sleeping in hotel parking lots, on side streets, and anywhere I can stealthily park for free overnight. I drilled five 100-watt solar panels into Vanny’s roof so I’d have enough power to charge an efficiency fridge, and I eat out of there or fast-casual restaurants where I can plop down with my laptop and get a few hours of internet access.


Are you traveling alone?

I am. It’s definitely the hardest part of this trip. As an 11 on an extrovert scale of 1 – 10, I thought meeting new people constantly on the road would help me survive. But the large amount of time required alone in libraries or behind my computer to pull this off, and the lack of time with friends I’m not just meeting or catching up with, has become way harder than I ever expected.


What’s the longest stretch of driving you’ve done on journey?

As part of 65,000 road miles thus far, I drove the Cassiar Highway from Seattle to Anchorage and the AlCan from Fairbanks to Fargo. Both took over 60 hours of driving time and 7+ days, and gave me mad respect for America’s truckers! They also allowed me to finish some dystopian future, teen-lit trilogies I’d been looking forward to checking-off my Audible playlist—suspenseful stories helping keep me alert for moose on the road!


 What have you learned thus far on during your travels?

Gosh, where to start. The biggest thing has probably been that for this wanderlust--for someone who always thought the answers were “out there!”, I’ve discovered how much it means to me to have a community I’m actively part of. I’m looking forward to finishing this trip so I can cultivate the grass under my feet, rather than assume it’s greener somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong! I still love traveling. I’ve just learned the value of having a place to land beyond where the plane’s wheels touch down.


What have been some of the biggest obstacles for you?

Funding. Funding. Funding. I started this project having only saved up 1/5 the money experts said it would take. I had a Pollyanna belief that companies would all want to sponsor this journey--to donate a RV, insurance, and other expenses--and that turned out to be the furthest thing from the truth. The people on YouTube who get sponsored receive that financial support because they have huge followings. I’ve learned it doesn’t so much matter the substance of what you’re doing (when it comes to funding projects this way) as it matters how many eyes are watching. Cue Logan Paul…

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Water. So much water at Niagara Falls.

A post shared by Mikah Meyer (@mikahmey) on


What have been some of your favorite locations?

The hidden gems. The places you don’t see plastered all over travel magazines or “Best Of” lists. Many of my favorite sites were ones I’d never heard of until I embarked on this journey to check off every single site the National Park Service manages. Sites like Dinosaur National Monument, Buck Island Reef National Monument, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore show you that sometimes the most beautiful things are the ones most people have overlooked.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My final night on Saint Croix provided my favorite sunset of Buck Island. Cheers, St. Croix, next: Saint John!

A post shared by Mikah Meyer (@mikahmey) on


Single/taken?

“Hey Mom, this is the guy I was telling you about who lives in a van!” – Yeah, those words have not happened. I’m driving solo in Vanny’s cab.


Have you met anyone ‘special’ along the way who you might want to continue your travels with? Any friends?

I call myself an “Adventurer” because more than anything, I’m excited by the prospect of what could happen, who I could meet, what could become. So in my 20s, I chased a lot of magnetic connections made over a romantic weekend or a serendipitous meeting. After trying to date guys long-distance from as far as Memphis to Switzerland, my 30s find me more excited by the thought of meeting someone I can see on the reg and building something magnetic together.

I’ve definitely met people who provided that initial spark, whether of friendship or potential romantic relationship, and am open to them or a future someone being the person I share upcoming amazing places with; or at least making the long drives less teen-lit dependent ;)

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Horseshoe Bend Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

A post shared by Mikah Meyer (@mikahmey) on


Part of your mission in your travels is to tour churches around the nation and share your experiences as an out gay Christian, how has this process been?

It’s been amazing actually. I started singing at churches because I was running out of money and was going to have to quit this project, but took the advice of a friend that suggested I “sing for my supper” using my professional singing background to fund the journey. After struggling horribly at fundraising while getting messages from people who called me a “lazy millennial” and told me to “get a job,” I found there was a large segment of Christians really energized by someone willing to share their existence as an openly gay Christian and reflect their belief that God loves all people—especially LGBT people.

Quite simply, I would not be here today was it not for the financial support of the 100s of churches I’ve sung/spoken/preached for across the country. So whether they were super excited to have a guest presenter who was gay, or were leery but still willing to give me the chance, I owe a huge word of thanks to the churches who’ve allowed me to share this message with their congregations, and in turn an LGBT-inclusive message with the outdoors, travel, and adventure communities.


Do you have an official ‘coming out’ story?

Oh Lawd do I have a coming out story. On National Coming Out day I posted some of it through this segment from my National Parks Cabaret, the rest will have to wait for the book:

 

 


Have you encountered any push back or negativity from these church visits?

I have had hecklers in person--who’ve come from outside the church I was visiting--telling me they were sent there to correct what I was doing. And especially on the internet, people feel more free to come for me (can someone please help anti-gay people learn how to turn off the CAPS LOCK key? I can predict the words of a message solely based on its ALL CAPS AND LACK OF PUNCTUATION).

But the churches who’ve invited me to present have been amazing. Some are already affirming of LGBT people, though my favorite are those who invite me because they want to start a conversation that hasn’t yet been presented in their church. Those are the ones where people especially pour out stories of their LGBT loved ones, because I think it’s the first time they’ve felt allowed to in that space.

Regrettably, I’ve yet to figure out a way to visit those churches that have already staunchly formed their stance against LGBT people. I’ve been turned down by a number who say they “welcome, but do not affirm LGBT,” which didn’t feel very welcoming…

My dream is to speak at Liberty University’s weekly convocation, because it’s essentially the ultimate current gathering of those who follow a theology that calls LGBT people flawed. I think of the 10% of their students, and those at so many Christian colleges, who’ve never seen an example of a faithful LGBT Christian, and would love to show them a person they’ve been told doesn’t exist. I know the school(s) will likely call me Satan or say I was there as a false prophet, but I just want to do whatever I can to help people not spend their lives hating who God made them, or marrying someone of the opposite gender in an attempt to cure themselves, as I for so long believed would be the solution to my “problem.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Usually I provide the rainbow. But at 5am on the Park Road, @denalinps decided it was gonna one up me!

A post shared by Mikah Meyer (@mikahmey) on


What might you say to a member of the LGBTQ community who thinks it’s not possible to be queer and still have faith in a higher power?

The original followers of Jesus were as queer as they came. Hello, a group of 12 men traveling around together in the desert with a leader who can turn water into wine! Sounds like Palm Springs #SquadGoals

Honestly, the first Christ followers were radicals. These Jews who would come to be called Christians were ridiculed by society, jailed, and murdered because they preached a message of love and acceptance over arcane laws and hypocrites. 

Pretty “queer,” both in being outside the norm and in the lived experiences of many present-day queer people, if you ask me.

Jesus’ message and actions are consistently about acceptance and love for the outcasts of popular society. It’s people carrying on his message--often times those claiming to be the most holy of all--who have warped God into being about wealth, power, and shame. Very little has changed since Jesus preached that the Pharisees (the religious leaders of Jesus’ times) were misrepresenting God.

If you compare the love and acceptance of a pride parade to the churches who preach that God hates all of us and wants to send us to hell if we don’t adhere to their church’s specific interpretation of scripture, it seems pretty obvious that LGBTQ people are a lot closer to the original followers of Jesus than anyone else.


What happens when you are done with this travel adventure?

I can finally go on a second date!

Aside from returning to more normal things like sleeping in a climate-controlled room or knowing where I’m showering every day, I am very much looking forward to focusing on my personal life again after 3 years of total dedication to this project.

However, to build on this national parks journey, I will continue performing my “National Parks Cabaret” that has helped fund the project, and I’m really excited to have signed with both a literary and speaking agent as ways to help others live vicariously through this road trip so many have said “is my travel dream!”

My ultimate goal though, is to create a sort of “Queer Eye” follow-up, with a travel show that goes beyond the genre’s safe, typically straight white hosts. Utilizing diverse queers (myself and my African-American best friend from Memphis—who’s the most brilliant comic I’ve encountered) to showcase the world from not only a queer perspective (in all aspects of the word), but through the different lenses of someone who’s traveled the world, and his best friend who’s hardly made it out of the most forgotten parts of Memphis.

Netflix, if you’re reading, Torris and I are packed and ready.


Anything you’d like to add?

I’d love to come speak or sing for readers’ colleges, companies, churches, Gay Men’s Chorus or LGBT Center. Reach out at www.mikahmeyer.com/contact and we’ll find a pit stop down the road!

If you want to come say “Yass Queen!” at one of my current stops, I keep everything up-to-date on the Events tab of my “MIKAH” Facebook.com/mikahmey Page.


We’re with you every step of the way, Mikah!

Keep up with Mikah Meyer on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube as he conquers this voyage of a lifetime.


If you have travel ideas, places we should visit, or work for a PR company and are looking for writers to visit, please reach out to customerservice@instinctmagazine.com and address your comments to the Managing Editor.


 

Atlanta GA, San Antonio TX Receive Perfect Scores in LGBTQ Equality

LGBTQ equality has been slowly but surely advancing in the United States. There have been setbacks such as the numerous bathroom bills or county clerks not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the good, in my opinion, outweighs the bad. Certain states have excellent anti-discrimination laws to prevent people from discriminating against LGBTQ people and even some cities in traditionally conservative states have been stepping up in support of LGBTQ people. Namely Atlanta, Georgia and San Antonio, Texas.

According to Project Q, Atlanta received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index, which measures things such as anti-discrimination laws, making restrooms accessible to transgender individuals, and protection from forced conversion therapy. This is the sixth consecutive time that Atlanta has received this score, where as nine other cities in Georgia received failing scores. HRC president Chad Griffin said in response to the exceptional score that it is “vitally important that cities like Atlanta are stepping up to provide crucial, commonsense protections for their LGBTQ residents and visitors.”

And it is. Positive change starts small, and by Atlanta and its residents standing up for LGBTQ rights in a state that has no protection for LGBTQ individuals, Atlantians are saying that they want to achieve full equality.

Another city that received a perfect score, according to My San Antonio, the Texas city also received a perfect score in the Municipal Equality Index, making it another safe space in a traditionally conservative state without LGBT nondiscrimination laws. This is the first year that San Antonio has received such a score. Robert Salcido, executive director of Pride Center San Antonio, said "For LGBTQ Texans, legal protections and services vary widely depending on where you call home." San Antonio received a perfect score this year due to increased services for LGBT seniors, added policy language directed toward anti-LGBTQ bullying programs, and other things, says Salcido. 

Other Texas cities that have received a high score on the MEI are Fort Worth, Houston, and Austin. Other cities did not score as well, as Corpus Christi received a meager score of 48 and Laredo scoring a 0.

It is my hope that cities such as Atlanta and San Antonio will lead by example and show other cities that having equal rights for LGBTQ people will ultimately create a more egalitarian society. 


h/t: Project Q, My San Antonio

What are the Safest Manhattan Neighborhoods for LGBTQ Travelers?

Manhattan is one of the biggest and best cities for gay culture. Thousands of people who identify within the LGBTQ spectrum visit "The Big Apple" every single year in hopes of finding some of the best food, entertainment, nightlife, and more while there.

It’s also important that our community is aware of what neighborhoods within Manhattan are its safest, as hate crimes unfortunately still exist here.

GeoSure, an award-winning smartphone app that helps travelers across the most reliable safety information available with easy-to-use ratings that range from 1-100 (the lower the score, the safer the neighborhood), developed their own list of the safest neighborhoods for LGBTQ travelers in

New York City overall ranked a 31 for a score.  Philadelphia comes in at 45, Washington DC in at 40, Fort Lauderdale at 39, and Miami at 49. 

Take a look at what areas of NYC ranked where below: (numbers at time of publication)

Manhattan Neighborhood   LGBTQ
Chelsea 32
Midtown East  32
Upper East Side 32
Hell's Kitchen  40
Gramercy Park 28
East Village  32
SoHo 32
TriBeca 28
West Village  40
Morningside Heights  33

Why the high numbers within Hell's Kitchen and West Village?  It is most likely because the app uses self-reporting to give the ratings of each region.  It seems more concerns have been reported within those two areas. Keep in mind the main number for the area is the overall rating and users must slide up to see the LGBTQ Rating. 

The app is still new and may not have a number for all of the cities out there.  As usage increases, the numbers will be more accurate. Just like YELP and other rating apps, GeoSure gives a good approximation of quality based on others opinions.

As always, be safe and look out for yourselves.

h/t: GeoSure

Travel Thursday: Why Philly is Fabulous in the Fall for Our Community

Philadelphia happens to be one of those places that is great to visit all year round. There's always something super exciting going on in the City of Brotherly Love, especially when it comes to activities that are LGBTQ specific.

The fall season in Philly has no shortage of these events for our community, which should only enhance your desire to want to visit as what they have in store in the upcoming months there is nothing short of spectacular. 

Take a look at 5 great reasons why you should Visit Philly and experience this incredible area for yourself.

Outfest

An event that can only be described as simply fabulous coincides with National Coming Out Day on October 7th. Stellar drag performances, food, dance parties and more will be happening in less than two weeks in Philly's spectacular Gayborhood that is encompassed by some iconic gay bars (more of that below). 

Food, Food, and More Food

Philly is known for their, wait for it, cheesesteaks, but there’s so much more to this city when it comes to the assortment of cuisines you can experience. If you are looking for seasonal American fare that includes some of the tastiest sandwiches I’ve ever had, then try The Love. on S. 18th Street. If you are jonesing for that cheesesteak, which is par for the course, then Jim’s on South Street is iconic beyond words. People actually take photos of the wonderful men and women working there who serve them some of the tastiest cheesesteaks in the area (and possibly the world). Also, if you are looking for a great dessert with a twist, then Sweet Charlie’s will do the trick as they hand roll all the ice cream they make. It ends up looking like something out of an art exhibit with flavors bursting out of every spoon-filled bite you take.

The Laramie Project

The popular staged retelling of the story of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student who died in October 1998 after being severely beaten in rural Wyoming, is something that all generations needs to see as it played a big part in our LGBTQ history and movement towards securing better rights for us. The play, which debuted two years after Matthew's death, eventually became a major television movie starring Christina Ricci and Steve Buscemi. It will take place this coming weekend, September 28th through the 30th, at 401 Dekalb Street in Norristown, More info here.

Opera Philadelphia’s O Festival

Opera Philadelphia's O Festival has returned for its second year. It started on September 20th and will close this coming Sunday. Two of the shows that they are putting on have a big LGBTQ theme to them that encompasses the world of fashion, art, gender-bending and more. More info on both here.

Bar Central

Philly’s gay bar scene rivals many cities like New York and Boston as one of the best in the Northeast. There are a variety of great spots to hit up while there, including Woody’s, The Bike Stop, U Bar and Boxers, all of which are very inviting and will make you feel welcome the instance you walk in.

For more information on all things Philadelphia, please check out their official website


If you have travel ideas, places we should visit, or work for a PR company and are looking for writers to visit, please reach out to customerservice@instinctmagazine.com and address your comments to the Managing Editor.


 

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