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A long weekend that was

It really was--on the road that is!

So now you know where we've been. Hubby had blogged about it right away. I didn't even dare drop a hint earlier, I am paranoid that way.

My philosphy--while I can still can and before I grow old and weary, I think a road trip will always be a great experience for the adventurer in me.

I could have just stayed home and really rested and enjoyed a long and relaxing weekend but no--I just couldn't pass an opportunity like this. We made up our minds too close to the holiday and too late to buy plane tickets at a good price--so we drove instead. Dreading the drive but I had to get back up on the horse, so to speak, after that recent car mishap in October.

We had a great but tiring trip. I told myself I wouldn't do something like this ever again and now after the long drive to LA and then to Las Vegas and back--I am saying it once again--I am NOT going to do that EVER again--at least if I do want to go back there, we will fly.

I planned everything last minute. Had a hard time deciding between two Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas, Zumanity or Mystere. We decided that Mystere is a better choice since my LA aunt is coming with us. Zumanity is quite erotic and different from the other Cirque shows. We've seen Mystere a few years back but it was our first Cirque show ever so we decided to watch it again and also there were photographers going around for pictures. It's not my favorite thing but hubby LOVES it. I turned him down the first time we caught the show. So I'm making up for it. They take pretty good studio like pictures.

I tried to get tickets for their new show. They've sent me notice about it but did not know that it was their opening weekend during the Thanksgiving holiday. So tickets were sold out. Next time we'll try to catch this show. I just love going to Las Vegas.

Mark this year as well as our first Thanksgiving with no turkey on the table since we've turned vegetarian. What did we have? Baked fish, a good helping of my aunt's famous pancit and vegetable lumpias--yumm!!

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker



Somehow the Thanksgiving holiday had heralded the beginning of the cold--near freezing temperatures here in California.

This morning when I woke up, the weatherman forecasted a very chilly day and week ahead. Some areas dipped into the lower 30s last night. Sun's out but it sure was coooold!

The cat has decided to sleep in between our heads at night so that she can get the warmest spot of all.

Kept the heater on auto last night and this morning my throat was drier than the mojave desert.

Which made me wonder how the homeless people were faring during days like this. I am glad that they said there are more shelters that opened where they can seek a warm bed at night. That is hard!

Because of this, I am very thankful for a lot of personal things for myself and my family--yes, not to the Pilgrims but to God.

This season I feel I should give something back as well. Share the blessing with others.

Like give out some of my still good jackets that I no longer use and comforters and pillows that stay in storage most of the year. I'd want to be able to give used clothes to the needy instead of through Goodwill and Salvation Army folks who end up reselling it in their stores.

I'll post some orgs later on that accept stuff like these and actually give it to those who really need them most. If you know of some, please do not hesitate to share it, I may be able to call and donate as well.

Now I wonder if there are any back home (Philippines) that do the same thing. Bantay bata? Any ideas anyone?

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker



Black Friday

I really don't know how they coined that term for the day after Thanksgiving sale here in the US.

It's been a holiday full of firsts...

First time hubby ACTUALLY gave in and took Friday off from work (yay!)

First time I saw a terrifyingly long line that encompasses the area of almost the entire store (literally!)--no wonder I don't like shopping.

First time I actually got ready --um--staight from bed to the car kind of thing--to go shopping at the ungodly hour of 6am! Same with hubby too, he didn't know what he was getting into that day (haha)

First time we celebrated Thanksgiving without a turkey. We had baked fish instead and vegetarian pancit, lumpia, fruit salad with cream cheese and a homemade cheesecake (courtesy of our great culinary expert sister).

..to name a few.

And a holiday full of lasts...

Last time we're ever going to make a long trip anywhere by car, on a holiday and on another bad weather day. Our holiday itinerary SF-LA-Las Vegas. Well, I actually said this a couple of years back when we drove from SF-Seattle, sightseeing included all in the span of three days.

Last time I'm ever going to shop in So California on a Black Friday. I heard in Walmart, you'd have to elbow yourself through the crowd just to shop--no way!

Last time I'm ever going to be caught falling in line for 2 freaking hours just to pay for a sale item that I need to pay full price first. How's that? First pay full price then send the rebate (double, that is) by mail. BestBuy--tsk tsk!

Last time I'm gonna indulge in my last minute travel whims just because it's going to be a long weekend (cross my fingers).

Last time I'm going out on a major sale day without a shopping list in my hand. I felt I could have done more and finished my list last weekend if I only had one.

Short of sounding like a whiner, and inspite of it all, we ended up having a great time!

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker


Mind your manners

During times like these, it would help if coughing people would just cover their mouths.

On one of our drive stops for a bathroom break this long weekend, my sister just received an unexpected and unwanted gift from some stranger walking by. This old lady didn't even have the manners to cover her mouth when she coughed out loud as she passed by my unsuspecting sister (yuch!!!).

Do you stop and admonish someone like this and risk coming off like a disrespectful younger person? People can be just so callous at times. I felt bad for my sibling, she's been really careful and very conscious about not getting sick and all it took was one cough right smack in her face.

It just reminded me of this one CSI episode about transfers like these--it's so true!

Now she's the one who is nursing a cold at home. I feel it's going to be a long, long winter cycle.

She's been pumping herself up with lots of Vitamins and fluids and we are hoping that the buck stops there!

Please -- for those concerned, mind your manners and keep your virus to yourself!

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker



Aches and Pains

It was a stressful week at work last week that the persistent ache on my back muscles were radiating north and giving me a really terrible headache. Doesn't help that I just came out from a bout of flu earlier either.

It was that bad that I gave up my lunch for a massage appointment instead. The other gym I go to has this service, so I took advantage of it since I do get some discount from the membership. The only one I could get was at 6p--with a masseur! But I was that desperate, so I took that appointment.

Thirty minutes later --voila! kinks are gone and good as new!

I went to set up another appointment for lunch today, this time for an hour. I think I fell asleep. If I could only afford to do this more often, I would. I am willing to give up lunch for an hour of massage.(haha)

Here's what I think are the benefits of getting one:

  • Pain relief
  • Improves one's circulation
  • Better sleep
  • Stress reducer
  • takes out bad toxins
  • will make you feel better and relaxed

Got anything to add to the list?

One can never go wrong with getting a massage.

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker


Weekend at the movies

I gave up on shopping until I produce a shopping list, so this weekend we went off to the movies.

Do you realize how expensive it is to see a movie these days? $9.50 each! No wonder I've been waiting for them to come out on DVD instead. We always try to catch the matinee show but last week we had to pay the full fee.

This weekend, we don't want to fall into that trap again. We caught the matinee and saw the movie "National Treasure". I love these types of movies and they don't make them too often these days. However, I just am not a big fan of Nicholas Cage. I think he's trying too hard to look and act like "The King". Otherwise, the movie was entertaining.

We had popcorn for lunch--too much of it actually, it was threatening to come back up again. Then we found another theater that was about to show "The Incredibles". I've been wanting to see this when it came out last week. So we sneaked in and saw the movie as well (sshhh)...it was really hilarious. I am really dreaming of working at Pixar these days!

Ocean's Twelve and Meet the Fockers will be showing soon, those are on our list.

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker



Here's our attempt to usher the shopping season this weekend.

We actually had people to shop for in our minds but what did we end up buying?


I think we badly need to prioritize our list AND overhaul our sensibility. I don't know why we always end up wasting dollars for our cat--seriously, we always fall for it all the time.

This cat of ours, who we have a love/hate relationship, she always gets the goodies all the time, without her asking for it. All she has to do is look cute and pitiful at times (ala Puss in boots in Shrek2) and she had effectively sent a subliminal message in our feeble minds when we go out shopping--I THINK.

This WAS actually the only item we ended up buying that day. I was totally bonking my head the minute that man behind the register rang up the sale. I am sooo not falling for this again.

I certainly HOPE SO...

PS--she only played it for a few freaking minutes and she's totally over this toy already!

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker




I'm a die hard meat lover.

Well that was actually then--I am still surprised when I realized I've turned compeletely 360 and gave up red meat and poultry somewhat cold turkey.

Ok--somewhat because I still eat fish and some seafood.

And I wish I still had that copy of a Time or Newsweek article where they defined the different types of vegetarians. All I am sure of is that I am not a vegan.

What caused the turn around?

See, I've always oppossed a sans meat eating habit/lifestyle. I've laughed off the possibility of me ever turning down a meat entree. I always thought red meat is something the body needs. Of course it's also part of any American nutrition, in fact it's even in the food triangle. And last but not least, it's so flavorful and tasty.

I think my health had a lot to do with the change. Back home, I hardly ate meat as it was expensive. When I came to the US, I think my body went into shock and overdrive when all these became readily available and affordable. Weight gain was inevitable. Now beset with poor eating habits brought about by an unbalanced nutrition, came a slew of health problems. I hated it. Every year, I seem to be vulnerable to a surprise ailment.

What's next? I don't want to wait till I get the coveted heart problem nor the Big C which now seem to exist in my family.

So I am doing something about it.

A friend had given me a copy of a lecture done by a surgeon turned cardio and nutrition doctor. The film looks like it was made two or three decades ago but what struck me is the message that still holds true to today. He's already defined what was wrong with the American diet then, what else changed these days, the present, but the intake of an average American person. I agree with his facts, which I know is well founded by years of research and experience with his patients.

What struck me most is that our physiology does not require us to really eat meat. We can readily get the proper nutrition from plant based food. What grossed me out is the fact that the excess fat we carry in our body is not really our own fat but the fat of the animal we eat -- ewww! I can see why loosing the weight was hard to accomplish. What made it worthwhile is that the thought of any clogged arteries is most likely reversible if one takes a break from eating what's causing it to be clogged in the first place.

I am not sure if I can really give up eating fish besides I eat it in moderation. Nowhere in the Bible did I read we needed to eat a cow anyway. Good news of it is that I've started to loose weight and am feeling healthier and more energetic these days. And yes, it seems like a whif of a barbeque cooking doesn't make me crave, want nor long for it at all--isn't that strange?

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker




I wish I had known about this at the first sign of my sore throat.

It seems I wasn't the only one at work that got sick that week I was gone. I ran into our HR manager the week I returned and she mentioned about taking more Vitamin C supplements. She said she's been watching any tell tale signs that she's caught something and that she cuts it short immediately by taking supplements to prevent it from progressing to a full blown flu.

I heard this was developed by a school teacher and that Oprah herself endorses and swears by its efficacy. Great, kind of too late for me but it may not be too late for others.

I actually bought one just to satisfy my curiosity. It comes in an effervescent formula (like alka seltzer that you dissolve in water). I feel like this sounds familiar with something I've taken back home but I can't seem to remember what it was nor remember the name of it--anyone? They recommend to take it at the FIRST sign of a cold symptom or before entering crowded environments like airplanes and offices. Just what I needed -- um, two weeks ago!

The formula contains seven herbal extracts, antioxidants, electrolytes, amino acids, 1000 mg of Vitamin C. These I like, as I try to stay away from heavy duty medications. I haven't tried to dissolve one but it supposed to taste great as well.

I thought it's one of those that I needed to order from those TV infomercials but I am glad that it's readily available at Walgreens or your local drugstores--kewl!

Well, now I know, next time I feel something coming, I will definitely "plop" the Airborne!

Keep healthy this season everyone!

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker



Nasty bug

That was a nasty "bug" I caught two weeks ago.

It put me out of commission for a week! I actually stayed home and just practically slept and watched TV. It's been a dream of mine to just take time off and just do nothing, unfortunately, it's not the same when you are nursing a terrible headache, cough, and fever.

By the third day, I was bored to death and I felt like I've made a permanent dent on our bed from staying too long on a reclining position. I also thought it's ridiculous that I've NOT gotten over this after 5 days. I don't feel like visiting my doctor either just to get a strong prescription and a note that I was really sick. I can't believe I am incapable of shaking off this thing that was plaguing me. That morning, I thought, I woke up feeling okay or better than the last few days. So I attempted to go to work.

Well, that was a totally bad idea. Lasted only until 10am and had to get back home -- pronto! I prioritized what needed immediate attention on my Outlook inbox and left. I think all I managed to do that day was spread the virus into the general public--stupid me!

Following day, Thursday, I actually got a call from the boss and he actually said for me to stay away until I am 100% better--geez, talk about feeling like you have the plagued--but ok--I'd rather stay home and watch TV than deal with work that week anyway. Plus, now I am wondering if I got this from him, he was sick and didn't report for work for two days that week either. I am sure I won't get the chance of taking a week off anytime sooner, so why not? So there, I didn't have to call in again for Friday, even if I felt better that day, I stayed home and took utmost pleasure --er languished pala-- for another day off from work.

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker




Carmel lies just south of Monterey. It seems ridiculous not to pass this way if you are already in Monterey. The 17 mile ride from Monterey ends in Carmel. This quaint town boasts a number of artists, old town charm look and a former mayor and resident named Clint Eastwood.

It's one of my favorite churches. I am sure there may be better ones down in San Diego but I haven't been to all 21 Missions, so this remains to be the closest to my heart.

The corridor in black and white.

I finally figured out how to adjust our camera. Going crazy with the BW feature. The Missions back garden is my favorite spot. In the summer, it's very colorful with all different kinds of blooming plants.

A shot of the from the holy water font down the aisle to the altar. I wanted to get the "California" engraved on the font in the picture.

The Carmel Mission

Taken from the back garden. The Mission boasts of a huge fountain in the middle of the plaza, a cemetery on the side of the church and a museum running along the corridor on the foreground.

Spanish inspired from the roof to the climbing bouganvillas.

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker


17 mile drive

I don't usually take this route since they require you to pay to see these sights. The 17-mile drive entails us driving through a neighborhood full of coastal mansions and private properties with the best view in the world--I guess they have reason to collect money from visitors. If I were a resident I wouldn't want to feel like a pass through by the general public. Anyway, the fee doesn't seem to deter the throng of visitors I saw along the stops.

The drive passes through a golf course where the PGA players like Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh play for a win. It is proud of its difficult course.

The famous of all stops. They call this the Lone Cypress. This part of the coast is teaming with Cypress trees.

White Cypresses = dead trees.

Trying to take water in action on film -err - shot. This took me countless takes, it's not easy to wait and keep a steady hand at the same time.

a fallen cypress in BW

The wildlife was welcoming my aunt this weekend. She's also seen a Cayote (who posed) in Yosemite, enjoyed the stinking 300 seals that had taken resident on the side of Pier 39 in downtown San Francisco, Elks abound in the 17 mile drive neighborhood and was hoping to see a bear as well that one night in Yosemite. Glad they weren't THAT welcoming!

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker



Monterey is a special city for us. It's a beautiful place. I call it the center of an abundant marine life. This coastal city has spectacular views and lots of animal life just waiting for anyone to appreciate.

It's special because it's also the place where we got married, for the second time, that is or what I call the "pretend" wedding. To make the long story short, I wasn't aware then the Catholic church doesn't allow a priest to perform a wedding outside of its church walls and we've already made the reservation for the place before I realized this fact. We'd gotten officially wed the day before at a church in San Jose officiated by my Dad's priest friend from HS.

Monterey Plaza Hotel along Cannery Row

This is where we had our wedding ceremony outside overlooking the sea. When I saw this site the year before I got married, I had no idea I'd be having it here.

A sea otter feeding himself near the hotel. He dives to forage for food and turns over when he's floating and opens his goodies using his chest as his "food plate". They are protected by the city as their population is dwindling.

Driving along Pacific Grove to the south. This gave us a smile. This seal is actually resting on a tiny rock balancing on his stomach. It's such a funny sight, I think he feels comfortable and dry in that impossible position.

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker


An unexpected Mission

We saw a sign. I call it providential. After the mishap, I think we needed to stop to calm our nerves. San Juan Bautista Mission was our answer. I had not planned to stop by as I neglected to print the locations of the 21 Missions in California. I only had Carmel planned for the weekend.

There were a number of Latino people making their way to church. Initially I thought it was the general population of the town until we sat down and the one hour and a half Mass was conducted entirely in Spanish.

The missions are scattered along the coast of California from San Diego to Solano (north of San Francisco) by Spanish Franciscans. It is a big part of California's history.

San Juan Buatista Mission. Three centuries old.

A close up of the church's campanilla

The missions were built along the El Camino Real. The street still exist but a part of the original was memorialized here just next to the church.

Inside the church. The podium on the left seem to exist in most of the missions I've visited so far

The entrance to the church. They all seem to have this corridor theme univeral in all of the missions.

A giant cactus. A subtle reminder that California used to be a part of Mexico.

They have the oldest and unique plants.

I've noticed that these berry trees are abundant in the area and all the way to Monterey. I actually wanted this on my garden.

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker


Mishap en route

I rammed hubby's car into a wooden 2x4 sign post on the highway trying to navigate a short interchange in the rain.

His car was pretty strong, I cracked the front fender but no dents at all! That sign went under the car and it actually prevented us from shooting across the other freeway against traffic.

My life didn't flash before me but it sure made me so mad at myself for not being able to make that turn. Hubby's car is an SUV, it's made for this kind of terrain, but somehow this freeway interchange required me to go from highway speed down to 20mph in just seconds! What are they thinking, if I braked that hard, we'd end up on a dangerous spin, turn upside down (horrors!) or over shoot the island and into oncoming traffic. It didn't make it easier with that puddle of water that it felt the wheels had a mind of its own, the car had hydroplaned while turning. I think that wooden post totally saved our lives. This never happened to me before but I know stepping hard on the brakes would have a regrettable result.

For that I am thankful and feeling blessed that He took care of us and we all came out unscathe.

Of course not bruised but I totally scared the hell out of my passengers, especially my visiting aunt. My reputation as a driver has gone down to 0% in reliability :-(

Hubby was mad but he expected to see the worse and refused in the beginning to look at the fender. He is okay now, he's such a calm and forgiving guy! whew--lucky me!

Now -- need to shell out more dinero to get this baby fixed.

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker



Even if it was raining and we were constantly reminded by signs flashing about 100 miles away that the valley was closed, we kept heading east. By the time we arrived at the entrance, the closure was lifted (a rock had fallen and they closed the valley in the morning) and we were able to get in.

My aunt got to take her snow pictures on our way in. Unfortunately, I thought I had a picture of it from my sister, who was the camera person in Yosemite. I only had a few winks of sleep the night before so I was just concentrating on driving that day.

We took the valley tour for two hours and finished the valley before night fell. Early tomorrow morning, we are saying adieu to Yosemite and heading on west to Monterey.

going to the center of it all--Yosemite Valley

the meandering Merced River

Had enough time to hike up to Bridalveil Falls (shortest hike of all falls)

Fall leaves on the grounds of the Ahwanee hotel

Of course a trip is not complete without my tree picture. I think this is a Ponderosa Pine. We didn't have time to drive south to the Mariposa Grove where the giant Sequoia trees were. Yosemite falls in the background.

This is the sight that greeted us on our way out of the park at 7 am the following morning. Three Brothers on the left. They've named all the rock formations. I didn't get a picture of Half dome which is the symbol of Yosemite.

El Capitan (The Chief) on the left is very popular for rock climbers. The weekend before, they've plucked 2 Japanese climbers who froze to death when a blizzard hit the valley. If you have time, you can take your binoculars and watch the number of climbers challenge this vertical rock. It may take days for some to reach the top so you will get to see how they sleep at night. They pitch a tent and sleep hanging (like a cocoon). I don't know how one can sleep soundly in this condition.

Last year, when we went for a visit, the northern part of the park looked like this--

Hiked to Vernal Falls.

Tioga pass on the northern entrance of the park

Mono Lake, outside Yosemite Park (North)

These are called Tufas ("toofahs"). From underground springs, these are limestone formations made from the combination of calcium and carbonate. There are volcanic domes on the lake which are currently inactive at the moment.

Some tufas have jutted out from the lake quite high.

Next time, we'll stay a little longer in Yosemite.

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker


Up to the mountains and down to the sea

Well not really literally but it just felt like that was what I had to do in three days last week--cover as much land in the proximity of Northern California for my long missed aunt.

I think I even neglected to tell hubby that I planned to go west to Monterey after Yosemite. All along I assumed he knew what I had in mind (haha). Actually everything was still up in the air if it weren't for the lodging reservation that I made earlier. I thought it would all depend on the weather, which was really iffy that week, wether we'd go or not. Seeing my aunt on Friday afternoon just set it, I can't possibly let her down now, so we went.

Yosemite lies about 200 miles SE from San Francisco. For those of you who have been here, you know what I mean by what serene and pure beauty is all about. It has something in it that sets itself in its own calibre. It must be the rock formations, the trees, the waterfalls, the rivers and lakes that you get to see in one compact area that makes it very special and unique.

Also, my aunt wanted to see snow, so since it's raining in the bay area, I can't go wrong going to the mountains for snow and snow indeed she got! The beauty of bringing my aunt is that she's a history teacher back home--she knows how to appreciate the sites through what she's read only in books back then. She's fun to talk to and to learn from as well. I haven't seen her for so long, back then I don't even remember many times that I've interacted with her that much since she's the strict type, working long hours and had a routine that she stuck to religiously through the week.

There were also quite a number of suggestions from her sisters in NY and LA that I was getting anxious on how I can fit all of them in three days. But I covered pretty much what I thought she'd like. So it was going to be Yosemite, Monterey (where hubby and I got married) and Carmel (for the missions).

Pictures to come...

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker


Peterson murder case

The sensational case that's been running here for the last 5 months is on Court TV practically the entire day today.

The prosecution side just delivered the closing arguments and they seem to have nailed this circumstantial based case in the head!

I can't wait to see what the defense has prepared tomorrow when they deliver theirs.

If you are not aware of what this case is about. It's about Laci Peterson, a young mother-to-be who went missing on Christmas eve two years ago, she was 8 months pregnant. Her husband ended up on trial for it because of his many snafus and what I call an undiagnosed but classic sociopathic behavior. They arrested him after his wife's badly decomposed body and the body of his (unborn) child washed up in two separate areas last March in the bay area marina where he said he went fishing the day his wife went missing.

They have full coverage of the case on Court TV. Finally, this case will be over and I hope the jury will hand a verdict and not be hung sometime this week.

I've had the TV on this channel since I got home while I drifted in and out of sleep.

I just want to finally have an end to this for the sake of Laci's family. And let this NOT be another OJ Simpson outcome please!

Read up on the Peterson case here

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker


Cough and Fever = Flu?

I am not sure if I've got a common cold or the full blown winter flu.

I can't even recall how I got this -- was it from our train's circulated air or from a cough from a fellow train rider OR was it from the super duper hectic schedule I've had these past weeks that it's finally caught on in the form of a flu?

I actually went to work today only because I've been missing a lot of Mondays lately. By 10, I was miserable AND my boss also called in sick! I think I did my share of spreading the virus today so I went home.

By now (evening), I've slept too much already. It's so cold when I'm out of bed and too hot when I am under the sheets. I hate being sick!

I think it's time to update my blog...tons of things to post.

Copyright 2004 Wandertrekker