Mesa Arizona City Guide

Mesa Arizona City Guide

Mesa Arizona City Guide

Arizona is one of those states that you can visit several times and still not see everything. This is probably why I continue to return year after year. That and my parents are snowbirds so it’s one of the only ways to spend time with them. I digress. Mesa is a rad town nestled between Phoenix and the Usery Mountain Regional Park. It’s the largest populated suburb in all of the US and it’s the third largest city in Arizona. All those fun facts aside, I present the Mesa Arizona City Guide! This is one of those posts that will continue to be updated as I discover more. 

EAT

The Fresh Foodie Trail

Agritourism is easily the best way to experience cuisine within a region and Mesa has this sector on lockdown. The freshest food right from the source is exactly what the Fresh Foodie Trail is all about. 

Queen Creek Olive Mill

The Queen Creek Olive Mill was where I found out how magical olive oil can truly be. Who knew olive trees could even grow in Arizona!? I’m embarrassed to say I’ve visited the area several times and just found out. I digress. The tour opened my eyes to the meticulous and delicate process of creating award winning olive oil. This was one gift shop I was truly excited to exit through. Did I mention they also serve food and prickly pear lemonade? 

Schnepf Farm

We were fully immersed in the trail when we stayed at the Schnepf Farm at the Cozy Peach (more on that later). We dined adjacent to a field, just down the road from where their peach trees were just beginning to bloom. 

Agritopia

Agritopia is the utopia of agriculture communities. It seamlessly mixes residential with farming right in the heart of Mesa! It also happens to be the home of the original stand-up mixer!? They also house a plethora of dining establishments. Pick from the Joe’s Farm GrillThe Coffee Shop, The Uprooted Kitchen (all plant-based and seasonal!) Garage-East wine bar, and 12 West Brewing. There is surely something to please every person in your party.

The Orange Patch

Our final stop on the Fresh Foodie Trail was The Orange Patch – a citrus dream in the form of a classic wooden roadside fruit shop. First of all: ⚠️!CUTE PHOTO ALERT! ⚠️This place is adorable. I could have spent the afternoon relaxing beneath the citrus trees. It smelled delightful. In addition to its cuteness, the orange juice made my eyes roll to the back of my head it was so good. 

SLEEP

The Cozy Peach at the Schenpf Farm

Whenever I think of “glamping” it will forever be synonymous with sixties camping trailers. What a treat it is to roll up to such a picture perfect scene: the sun setting on glistening Airstream trailers. And if that wasn’t dreamy enough, the warm cookie waiting instead our aluminum suite was enough to send me straight into a coma.

SHOP

Mesa Farmers Market & Flea

This is one stop you won’t want to miss. The Mesa Farmers Market & Flea happens every Saturday from 8am-1pm in Pioneer Park on the Main Street. It’s a perfect mix of food and fashion. My personal favourite was Cote and Co, a shop within a gutted school bus cutely named Birdy. IT WAS SO COOL. 

Barnone

Another lovely corner of Agritopia is Barnone, a retail space for local makers. My personal favourites were the Prickly Pear Paper shop – little pleases me more than cute stationery, and the vintage photobooth. I did not hesitate to jump in that booth and capture some shots to remember the day. In addition to that, in Johnston Machine Co. there was a machinist working away on metal while we looked on behind the safety of a glass wall. It was mesmerizing. 

DO

The Dolly Steamboat 

Step back in time and take a cruise around Canyon Lake on the most adorable tug there ever was, The Dolly Steamboat! It’s a great opportunity to sit back and watch the stunning rock formations of the Tonto National Forest. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some critters along the way. 

Goldfield Ghost Town / Superstition Mountains 

What’s a trip to Arizona without a high noon shootout? Did you even visit Arizona if you didn’t see a Ghost Town? The answer is no. Goldfield Ghost Town is one of the first stops on the Apache Trail and it boasts one of the most magnificent views of the Superstition Mountains. Not to mention, the various curios one finds in an old-timey western town – a mystery shack, gold panning, a reptile exhibit, mine tours, and so much more (including the off-themed zipline). 

The Apache Trail

While you’re cruising to the Goldfield Ghost Town and Dolly Steamboat, you’re already on your way up The Apache Trail. Might as well go all the way to Tortilla Flats and put a dollar on the wall of the restaurant by the same name. In fact, best to check out the washrooms in this joint too, there’s a photo opportunity not to be missed so bring a friend. 

Goat Yoga

Now hear me out, Goat Yoga something that everyone should do at least once. There’s something enjoyable and hilarious about having goats jumping around while trying to do yoga poses. Plus they are cute as heck. They even had a couple of stoic alpaca friends hanging out at the center of the yoga circle. My only advice is to wear a t shirt vs a tank and leave the shoes on. These are live animals and they do go to the washroom whenever nature calls. 

Neon Signs of Gilbert

My love of neon will never die. Thank goodness for places like Arizona who appreciate it as much as I do! Be sure to head down to Gilbert Road to check out there dining district and spectacular specimens of neon. It’s a feast for your eyes….and well, mouth too. There are several dining options to choose from.

Mesa Arizona City Guide

I will continue to update my Mesa Arizona City Guide post and the Google Map as I continue to discover more with every visit. I’m always open to new recommendations so please leave those in the comments below! And for more travel content check out my On The Road section.

xo SJ

Photographs – Jesse Sand + Sandy Joe Karpetz

Many thanks to Flair Air & Visit Mesa for arranging this amazing trip!

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ARIZONA TRAVEL DIARY

ARIZONA TRAVEL DIARY

ARIZONA TRAVEL DIARY

Canada is currently in a polar vortex. My latest fashion icon is the Michelin Man; it’s all about the layers. Since I’ve decided to avoid the reality outside my window, all I can bring myself to share on this space is memories from warmer times. Here’s my Arizona Travel Diary from my trip last winter. Hopefully this will keep us all warm until the weather passes and becomes a bit more humane. I also created a list and video about some of the weird places I love in Arizona. You can check that out here: Weird Arizona – 5 Strange Places to Visit on a Trip to the Arizona Desert.

xo Sandy Joe

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One Weekend in Iceland

One Weekend in Iceland

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One Weekend in Iceland

After spending two weeks between a very sunny Morocco and a cozy springtime London, it was quite a change to land in Iceland. It was exactly the type of weather I’m accustomed to in March – cold and windy. With that said, the coldness is part of the beauty of spring in Iceland. It makes the process of going from the door and straight into the Blue Lagoon hot springs that much more satisfying. Layering clothes is just a part of the one weekend in Iceland experience I had. So keep scrolling for the things I enjoyed doing in Iceland.

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Dessert First!

My first stop will always be for sweets. I have an insatiable appetite that I try to keep under control until I’m on vacation. Then, I will let the sugar rush take me. Iceland was no exception. Upon my arrival I made the short walk from Reykjavik Residence Suites to 17 Sortir. I enjoyed a cupcake and a quick snap of my shoes on their amazing tile work. I can confirm that a pair of vans and white cotton socks are NOT enough warmth for the month of March in Iceland. Pack according to anyone but me because I would rather freeze than carry too much excess clothing, apparently.

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Hotdog Heaven

When I went to Iceland, I still ate meat. I do not anymore. With that said, I did have a few hotdogs while I was there. I went to Pylsuhúsið which I recall being very good. Iceland is, after all, know for their hotdogs! However, I feel slightly strange talking about eating meat when I no longer do. This paragraph will have to suffice until I return to Iceland and can update on what vegetarian options are available there. Trust me, I will! So this section is to be continued. 🙂

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More Sweets But Also: Bread

What did else did I eat in Iceland? Aside from the amazing breakfast basket I had waiting for me every day in my hotel, I made sure to enjoy candy and bread. Lots of bread. The Sandholt Bakery was nearby and quite frankly, some of the best bread I’ve ever had. That’s unsurprising as it’s the oldest bakery in Iceland so it’s had a few years to perfect its product. Their use of the word “artisan” is not flippant, its an earned accolade. They have a little restaurant attached to the bakery that is definitely worth popping into.

Vínberið is the ultimate stop for the sweet lover. They stock every fathomable chocolate or sugar delight one might want. They are novelty hamburger gummies and chocolate from omNom, an Icelandic brand I still dream about nearly two years later. If the amazing packaging design isn’t enough to get excited about, the quality of chocolate should be!

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Blue Lagoon (of course)

One weekend in Iceland wouldn’t be complete without making the trek to the Blue Lagoon. While it’s a very touristy destination, it’s easy to get to during a quick stay. It’s located outside of town but easily accessible by bus via FlyBus / Reykjavik Excursions. Had I more time, I would’ve rented a vehicle to experience natural hot springs in the surrounding areas. However, that wasn’t the case this time. Booking ahead is recommended as the more popular times fill up fast. I went with the Premium ticket as I wanted access to a robe. It was, after all, March in Iceland and rather cold to be walking around in a bikini. With that package, I also had the pleasure of trying two different mud masks (how fancy!) It was quite busy but I enjoyed wandering around in the iconic blue water feeling the mud squish between my toes.

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I would like to note that I was wandering around the lagoon alone with my cellphone in a ziploc bag streaming one of my favourite CJSR shows Big A little a. The things you do when you travel alone. 😉

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One Weekend In Iceland

Thanks so much for scrolling along on my short adventure to Iceland! I spent the majority of my trip walking around without a plan and it served me well. I love stumbling across little shops and restaurants. Taking chances on the unknown is just one of the ways I open up to new places. As an anxious person, it’s a great exercise in letting go.

If you like to see more travel content, check out my On The Road section. To watch travel videos, head on over to the Sandy Joe Karpetz YouTube channel (and subscribe if you fancy it). It’s a new project for me so I’m learning as I go along and would love to hear any feedback or suggestions on things you’re interested in seeing!

photographs – Sandy Joe Karpetz

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It’s The Great Pumpkin Sandy Joe!

It’s The Great Pumpkin Sandy Joe!

It’s The Great Pumpkin Sandy Joe! | Smoky Lake Pumpkin Fair

Fall is upon us and with that comes one of my favourite annual spectacles: the Smoky Lake Pumpkin Fair! This was my third year attending and it did not disappoint. It was the 30th anniversary and boasted the heaviest pumpkin in the history of the festival! The pumpkin weighed in at a whopping 1884 lbs!!! But without further adieu, I present: It’s The Great Pumpkin Sandy Joe! Tune into the video above to get a vlog of the whole experience… right down to the infamous pumpkin drop!

A Real Sincere Pumpkin Patch

If this highlight reel didn’t sate the appetite for pumpkin related content, I suggest heading over to my Smoky Lake Pumpkin Festival post. There you can watch a few short clips of the infamous pumpkin drop, see some pumpkin spiced baked goods, and see me blending in with my camo wear. 🙂

It’s The Great Pumpkin Sandy Joe!

Thanks so much for joining me on yet another random road trip! It’s more than likely that I will be attending this fair next year – rain or shine, I’ll be there. In the meantime, if quirky road trips are an interest, check out my post and video about 5 weird places to visit in Arizona. Or my lengthy backlog list of travel articles I have been compiling over the years. As always, if you enjoyed this video and want to see me on the regular, subscribe to my YouTube channel – I appreciate each and every sub as I grow this new corner of my offbeat empire.

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Road Tripping to Gabriola Island

Road Tripping to Gabriola Island

Road Tripping to Gabriola Island

If there is one thing I hold dear to my heart, it’s my annual trip out to the coast. Each and every summer I make a concerted effort to go to to the island and unwind. This year was no different except for the addition of an iPhone X. I always lug my Nikon D800 every where I go. At first it was out of obligation of my job to DOCUMENT EVERYTHING and then it was just out of sheer habit. This time I did bring the camera but it never left the depths of my backpack. Instead, I employed the use of my iPhone X for Road Tripping to Gabriola Island. I have to tell you, it did not disappoint. But hey, don’t take my word for it – just keep scrolling for hard evidence of its power.

Portrait Mode

One of the most fun features to use on the iPhone X camera is Portrait Mode. It’s basically like having a DSLR in hand but without the weight and bulkiness. This magical mode creates the sharpest looking photos with the sought after bokeh background effect. (When photos have a blurred out background). I went a little buck wild with this mode when I stalked the animals at the Alpaca Farm. I have no regrets about that because they were such charismatic critters and deserved all the attention they got. So cute.

COLOUR ACCURACY

Forget the arduous editing process, every photo I took was already worthy of being posted. I cannot even begin to formulate how much time this saves me. Every time I took a shot and looked at it later, I couldn’t help but exclaim “BLESS!” exuberantly as I scrolled through the photo album. Perhaps I might be a bit dramatic but I prefer to think of it as enthusiasm.

Jesse found some new friends to go for a drink with

This was the texture of a parking lot! Yes, the parking lot was a giant rock.

Drawing Comics & Apple Picking

Passing time on the island comes to me unnaturally. I’m so used to the go-go-go attitude of living in the city. Getting back on island time requires a little bit more finessing and letting go. Even though I had insanely good phone coverage thanks to Telus 🤳🏼it was to have the option to not feel obligated to my phone. We spent a considerable amount of time wandering the island’s many walking paths, eating blackberries off of bushes, and picking apples. Beyond that, I joked about starting a gossip rag to rival the local paper, The Gabriola Sounder. I called it, The Gabriola Gabber, and invented “juicy” stories. It brought me back to my childhood when I would spend most of my summer’s drawing comics and writing stories. While, my illustration skills have not matured, at least I still have some semblance of an imagination in this digital age.

Road Tripping to Gabriola Island

If you want to see more from this trip, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel as a vlog is coming up soon and it was shot partially on the iPhone X as well! If you want to peep some island style from last year, check out The Great Escape. 🤙🏻

photographs – Jesse Sand + Sandy Joe Karpetz

Many thanks to Telus for providing me with the iPhone X 

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Sandy Joe Goes to the Stampede: A Memoir

Sandy Joe Goes to the Stampede: A Memoir

Sandy Joe Goes to the Stampede: A Memoir

Up until last year, I had never been to the Calgary Stampede. Which, if you’re from Alberta, is a highly unusual feat to have accomplished by 30. Imagine my surprise when, this year, I was asked to attend yet again. This time, GMC Canada extended an invite that sounded much too intriguing to refuse. The itinerary was stacked, so I drove down in a loaned GMC Terrain and never looked back. What ensued was three days of all things western and wild. I rode a horse for the first time, I ate 7/11 pizza at 3am and reviewed it (for your viewing pleasure), and I even drove a couple of trucks! If you want to know what a roadtrip with me is like, definitely watch: Sandy Joe Goes to the Stampede: A Memoir. Keep scrolling for photo highlights I managed to take while we were out and about. 🙂 Yehaw!

Gone Country

One cannot attend the Calgary Stampede without the proper attire. Despite being a country noob, I have been preparing to play the role of a country gal my entire life. (My collection of western belts tells that story eloquently) To top off my already cowpoke look, we popped by Lammle’s to boot up. I paired my Mae Cowgirl boots by Dan Post with my Bailey Cowboy hat.

Gourmet Cuisine

Describing the above photographs as Gourmet Cuisine is only half true. While we did dine at some insanely delightful places, (re: Pigeonhole, Proof) fair food and late night 7/11 was also on the menu. I regret nothing. Sandy Joe Goes to the Stampede: A Memoir would not be complete without a high / low dining experience. It’s a must. It’s a way of life. I also believe that one must specify both the circumstances and time of day a pizza from 7/11 is consumed because it provides much needed context for questionable choices.

Stampede in 10 Photos or Less

I think this collection of photos accurately depicts the highlights of the Stampede for me. Above is a shot from Nashville North, a large bar tent playing a healthy mix of country and rock music. It’s hard to say, I recognized very little of it. I quickly learned that as long as you had some item of clothing signifying a western style, then you could easily blend in without actually knowing anything. Fortunately, line dancing did not come up so I avoided being revealed as the true western poseur I am.

Sandy Joe Goes to the Stampede: A Memoir

If this wasn’t enough Stampede realness for you, check out my other two posts from last year: Out & About Calgary Stampede and my style feature Sweetheart of the Rodeo – titled after a Gram Parsons tune for The Byrds.

Many thanks to GMC Canada for having me on this amazing trip!

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