Every time I return back to the good ol' USA for some travelling - either in new places I've never been, or in states I haven't been to for years, I am reminded of how amazing a country that it is, and how fantastic it is to travel.
Being away in the wide world, it can be easy to forget how great it really is. Either by being surrounded by the often misinformed and opinionated foreign view point, or by simply being awash in the enormity of choices of amazing, exotic places to see in the world.
The list in the back of my mind (and yes, written in every travel journal I've ever had) of where I want to go, what I want to see and do - is filled with options from the US, but always I feel this list pushed to the back.
Because after all - it's Home. And how can travel around home, be as adventurous as that in far away lands?
Perhaps it's because the life I lived in the US in my early days each year becomes a father removed existence, or maybe it is just that the older you get and the more you see - the more you realize that some of the world's greatest sights are right on your own doorstep - and far away or not, they are just as amazing.
So when I come back to the states now, I do it with the vigor of a European on tour of the great wild, western unknown. A visitor to the new world, and what all it has to offer - and in that mindset - America becomes a traveller's paradise.
And it is in this mindset, that I drove into Arizona for the first time. In a bright silver convertible - heading south through the deserts from Nevada - we crossed into the Grand Canyon State, and the instant affinity I had with the place makes me smile to this day to think of it.
No Texan would ever claim to feel that any other state could claim the top spot as 'Best US State.' And I admit I am no exception. So in my travels around America, I rarely look to fill any allocated spots in my mental list of favorites.
I do, however, have a vague notion of favorites - and those these change over time (as things always do) Arizona almost immediately leaped into the vague place in my heart known as the Top 5.
I can't really recommend it highly enough - especially for anyone who feels drawn out west, or loves to see the sun set over the desert. For photographers, there is no better scene than a cactus in the red afternoon light, and the red rocks of Sedona are something that - once seen - will stay in your heart forever.
The Grand Canyon holds it's own in grandeur and magnificence with any natural sight on the planet - and very few places have I been where I felt the age and dignity of a place as I did standing at sunset on the South Rim.
There's a crisp, pleasantness to the cities and towns like Phoenix, Surprise, Flagstaff and Sedona. Drive around the state as much as you can, and allow what ever time you have - because there is an awful lot to see.