sedona, arizona

red rock

red rock

I can tick off one more state in my list of visited states in America. The first time I came here, I told myself that I will try to visit each and every contiguous state since I can drive to each one of them.

I can say that Sedona, Arizona is far better than Las Vegas. I know this is debatable because different people have different opinions and different likes and dislikes. Yes I know there are a lot of things in Vegas if that is your kind of thing but personally, being with nature is far better.

GPS displayed that Sedona was about 4 hours from Las Vegas and I thought that we could get there faster, but it was not so. Just miles after Nevada-Arizona border changed the whole thing. The first scenic stop was amazing and next and the next, only to find out that it was getting dark. No regrets because it was once in a lifetime experience.

It was unfortunate with my passengers that they did not have a choice since they were not driving. We had to stop at every scenic stop along the way en route to Sedona. Well, I guess it also benefited my passengers so that they can take their obligatory shots and selfies for Facebook. As for my shots, I still have no idea when I can post them or even get to them.

Case and point, I am just posting this after months of taking them. Don’t get me wrong I still love to take pictures but I guess it is the work that takes most of my time. I need to get back to when I was feeling naked if I did not have my camera with me.

Back on this topic, the drive was not boring and if all the roads that I will be traveling on will be the same then I would not mind at all. What caught my attention along the way aside from the view was a young black girl carrying something on her back on the far right side of the highway. I did not know where she came from or where she’s going since there were no houses or towns that I can see for miles. Or was it just a mirage, may be my mind was playing tricks on me like some scene in a Western movie.

More to come about Sedona trip, for now click here for the first day of our Arizona trip.

 

hoover dam

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

It was hot when we got there, what can you expect in the desert. Surprisingly better than the summer wether in Philadelphia, I would take the 100 + degrees in Nevada over 90 + degrees in Philadelphia. I guess it was all about humidity.

This was my second time to visit Nevada but my first time to this modern marvel, the Hoover Dam. I just cannot imagine the engineering accomplishment as well as people’s hardwork in building such a structure. I have to admit that being there was an experience.

Of course, this involved a lot of walking and drinking lots of fluids. I did not take a lot of pictures not because it was noon time but I just like the walk and appreciate this structure, not to mention that there were a lot of people, excuses excuses.

Overlooking Hoover Dam was the Mermorial Highway bridge as you can see from the picture. You need to do a hike to get to the bridge and oh boy it’s vibrating when you are walking on the bridge. Unfortunately, due to my fear of heights that I wan not able to take the best position for the perfect Hoover Dam shot. Click here to see the gallery.

However, what stood the most was the story about the “Dam Dog”. There was a dog that strayed at the work site and the workers adopted him. The dog accompanied them at work and went home with them as well. Each day on their way to work, the dog carried his own food in a brown bag.  Unfortunately, the dog was run over by a truck. The dog was taking a rest under the truck for some shade and the driver did not notice. The dog was buried at the site and was given his own memorial at the Hoover Dam.

Sinjin’s Graduation

 

sinjin'sGraduation_001

happy graduation

My son graduated last month and we are so thankful to God for his accomplishment and proud of his completion. I know that my parents and other relatives, who were not able to witness the ceremony were also celebrating with us on their own way.

I have witnessed my son’s journey through college, how he worked hard through his personal ups and downs in school and outside the school. He was able to balance his academic life with his personal life. I have seen his transformation from high school life to college life and how he coped with the adjustment.

Surprisingly, the graduation ceremony was not over the top and it was not as big as other colleges or universities. It was over in 3 hours. I could have sworn that the attendance was a little over than his high school graduation which lasted almost the same time.

As usual I have to take pictures. The one above was a rushed shot before he left for the graduation. He had to leave earlier than us. You can click this here to take a look at the rest of the pictures during the graduation and after.

Now that he’s closing this chapter in his life, another one opens and I am just praying to God that he will be able to go through it with less frustrations and pains. We all know that it is not always a bed of roses when you start working, but with right attitude and with God’s grace it can be. Though, I am praying that in due time that he will find a job that he will enjoy and love.

 

longwood garden (winter 2015)

 

yellow flower macro

It has been months since I visited this website, funny thing, this is my website. I really thought that I would be able to put stuff up in here about photos I took and write up a little something, but it was easier said than done.

The picture above and the pictures in the gallery link were taken last year at Longwood Garden. We took my mother-in-law and her grandson to this garden last year when they arrived from the Philippines. It was my first time in a long time that I held my Sony A900.

Aside from the camera, I brought with me a monopod, an off-camera flash, and wireless trigger (forgot that I only took the lens that was on my camera at that time – 100 mm f/2.8 macro lens). I took obligatory shots of people I was with at that time. However, I was on my own most of the time and was taking pictures of anything that interested me. I hoped that I had brought my tripod with me to get tack sharp macro pictures of flowers and plants.

I only hope that after a long time of my hiatus that I can still take good pictures. I also hope that I will pick up my camera more often and practice more. I have heard that to be good at something, you need to do it a lot (say invest 10,000 hours).

I miss going to Gloucester County Photography Club, the people there are awesome. One of these days, I will stop by and pay them a visit to get motivated and boost to pick up my gear and just shoot.

Don’t Steal My Bicycle

chained bicycle

chained bicycle

It was during Pope Francis visit to Philadelphia when I took this picture. It was Saturday and we rode the PATCO from Lindelwold to Philly. Security was tight at Lindenwold and Philadelphia was so much more. There were a lot of armed security from all branches of government (uniformed and non-uniformed).

Well, strolling along the city was some what a joy because there were no traffic in the streets but there were a lot of pedestrians. My kids and myself were walking towards the park in the middle of the street like everybody who visited. I happened to see this chained bicycle to a light post and what struck me was the wheel was bent and I thought to myself that even if was not chained I would not think somebody would steal it.

Was the person who rode that bicycle got into an accident and just chained it with the intent of retrieving it later or was it caused by some person with no regard to personal property. In any case, it was worth the shot for any purpose, but at the moment for the purpose of jump starting my blog.

When I was not working it was difficult to work on my blog because I was so busy looking for a job and attending classes. However, when I finally found a job it was the same thing, I was busy adjusting with my new job and learning things that were still new to me. In addition to taking work home to get ahead.

I need to get back into shooting as well as getting my pictures off the card and process them. Me and my excuses.

the office

the office

the office

I really enjoyed watching the series of “The Office“, and today was the last episode. I was sucked into watching this when I saw my kids watching the reruns they recorded . They suggested that I need to watch it from the beginning to understand or try to understand what the show was about.

I usually am picky watching TV series because as what Sheldon Cooper said in one of the “The Big Bang Theory” episode, “it’s a commitment”. I was glad to see the whole series because of the story or even the characters the actors portrayed. There were some stand out characters in the series but other characters actually completed and complemented the main ones.

After watching the final episode, I was hoping that it did not end. The show was about shooting employees of a paper company for reality TV. The crew followed each and everyone of the employees in their daily routine in and out of the office. The show was an attempt to give the audience a glimpse of how to create a reality show. The show was scripted well to make you laugh, enjoy and in the cry. But don’t forget about the moral that you can take away. I could say more about the series but I don’t want to spoil this for others who haven’t seen the show.

Kid you not, this is like a really good book that you don’t want to put down until you finished reading the entire book. By the way, my kids told me that this was copied from the UK version of the same title. I have not seen that one yet and I may check it out.

Too Late

Christmas Group Photo 2014

Christmas Group Photo 2014

I fell off the grid.

I have not touched my camera in almost half a year because of a life changing event. I would like to put things back the way they were and hopefully by posting this picture I took last Christmas, it will ignite my passion back.

So much has passed and I cannot undo or get them back, but the only thing I can do is get up and start all over again.

This picture reminded me of what was and this picture was a slice in time that you cannot go back but only remember or reminisce. Some people you still see and others just fell off the way side, how you wished that things don’t change but they do. Because change is the only constant in our lives. The challenge is how to deal with changes that will come our way. Changes may be for the better or for the worse but just the same, changes. To those friends who I rarely see or has never seen, don’t be a stranger we are still friends. To see the picture bigger just click on it.

Here’s to starting my blog again and getting back into editing pictures.

a visitor from down under

lolita

lolita

Last year when I went to the Philippines for my mother’s birthday, my relatives from Australia also paid a visit. It was a sort of two birds with one stone kind of thing because it was also a reunion for all the cousins who has not seen each other in almost 25 years. My Aussie relatives arrived first and they stayed in Sofitel, then myself after a couple of days then my brother.

Well this blog is not about that but a plan I learned from my cousin Lolita. She was planning to visit the US of A that fall.

It was nearing her visit but I have not heard any chatter in my social media coming from Australia about her visit. My other cousin Charmaine mentioned that it was a 50/50. It was indeed a 30/70 split learning from Lolita when she finally made it to our home on Thanksgiving day.

I learned from the social media that she’s coming over when i finally saw her picture post at the airport. She decided to join her friends at San Francisco missing the LA leg of their trip. Then Vegas and after that to Miami then NYC. She has toured more in her stay here than myself being here for more than 15 years.

I was happy that she enjoyed her tour and her visit to our home, in New Jersey, was a subdued one compared to others. I was not much of a host during her stay because I really have no idea where to bring guests. I needed to ask my son where would be a better place to show my cousin since they were almost the same age and I am almost twice her age. Fun was not my middle name it was my brother’s. I am more of where do you want to go kind of guy. I only showed her Longwood Gardens at night, then shopped at Philadelphia Premium Outlets then a drive in Philadelphia at night with a stop at the iconic Pat’s Cheesesteak across Geno’s.

It was amazing shopping with her because she did not need Black Friday or Super Sale events to get discounts. She got discounts from men and women just because of her amazing looks plus throw in that Australian accent. The question is will I fare the same as her if and when I visit the land down under? I doubt it, though we’re cousins she’s the type of person who the camera would love and I on the other hand would rather be the one behind it.

Her stay was rather short but I just hoped that she enjoyed her stay. Click the picture above to see other pictures or just click here.

las vegas get-away day 3

fountain at the bellagio

fountain at the bellagio

We planned to drive to Hoover dam that day after our mandatory meeting with the Diamond Resort staff to brief us about our account.

Do you know Murphy? Well you should know him. If you think that nothing will go wrong, there will. That’s Murphy’s law. Well anyway, we got ourselves ready for breakfast and then one of the staff was assigned to us to talk about our account with Diamond Resort. We actually stated in the get go that we were not interested in buying more of what it was they were offering but it was a tough battle since it took us way past lunch time to get out of that meeting.

Our Hoover dam plan seemed to be not happening. My wife and I decided to eat at Goldilock’s (another one of the known food places in the Philippines). To our surprise they had a nice spread for lunch and we ordered the lunch package for 4 and yet we were able to almost finished the entire thing, actually hold that, we actually did. We also found out that they serve breakfast (buffet style).

My wife decided to buy some pastries at Goldilocks’ since they’re famous for that anyway. She also decided to buy more at a local Filipino bakery close to Jollibee. I decided to stay in the car and wait for her, wrong decision. She came back after a long while with a lot of plastic bags and it filled up the back seat of the Yaris. I got surprised and told her that how will those things fit in our hand carry, long story short we were not able to make to the Hoover dam because it was close to 5 PM and I did not want to drive there and did not want to chance getting stuck somewhere out there in the dark. However, we did buy a box to put all that she bought. We went back to the resort to pack up our stuff and I disagreed with her when she bought all those stuff.

At night, we decided to eat dinner somewhere at the strip. We parked our rental in the Bellagio parking and started to walk around. It was pretty crazy walking at night along the strip because there were a lot of people and traffic was crazy. We decided to try to eat at Paris and then went back to Bellagio to watch the fountain show, twice. Then just before midnight we drove back to our resort. Click the picture above or just click here to see other pictures.

las vegas get-away day 2

welcome las vegas

welcome las vegas

Woke up and found that I slept well, I usually find it hard to sleep for a day or so in a new place, probably because of the flight and was just flat out tired. Went out the balcony and saw that there were already a lot of people in the pool below.

We had a full day a head of us and we need to get a good breakfast to start the day. My wife suggested Jollibee, I guess she missed eating the traditional Filipino breakfast, TAPSILOG (cured beef, fried rice and egg) or LONGSILOG (Filipino sausage, fried rice and egg). As for myself, it does not matter.

After breakfast, we planned to park our rented car in one of the hotels and just leave it there and walk around. We went to the Venetian and parked the car, it was really difficult to navigate at first but I got the hang of it after one wrong turn. We started our walk around tour using the app I downloaded. Being inside the hotel/casino, you will lose the sense of time and that was the design, I supposed. we were walking inside the Venetian for a long time and I found out that it was connected to the Palazzo as well. We decided to take the gondola ride inside the Venetian. We opted to share the ride with another older couple from Delaware, it’s cheaper that way compared to having the gondola just by ourselves. After, my wife went window shopping, and the trouble with that was, you are going to buy something, regardless.

Went out of the Venetian to walk to the other hotels, as soon as we got to the the exit the heat from outside was just too much. It was a dry heat, you don’t get sticky as much as you get in Miami or Manila. We stopped by a shop and bought a large piña colada with alcohol of course and we shared it. We were drinking while walking at the same time, I guess this was the only place you can drink alcohol and not hide it and not get citation.

We went to Ceasar’s next, but we were taking a lot of pictures using my Sony Alpha 99 and taking videos using my GoPro Hero. At the back part of Ceasar’s there was a huge aquarium and on top was some sort of statues that move. Apparently, these statues stay hidden at first and comes out during the scheduled show. The show was about how the Atlantis disappeared. It was okay for a free show.

Before we headed back to Cancun Resort, we stopped by the famous Las Vegas sign and the White Chapel. Got back to our room and we had to get ourselves ready for the show we booked for the night, Cirque Du Soleil – O. Since the show was not until 10 PM we attended a dinner/presentation for the time share owners.

The show was at the Bellagio and we got there just in time. The stage in the show was water and the platform appears and disappears. It was nicely done and choreographed. After the show, we missed the water fountain show outside the Bellagio, instead we went to the old strip at California Hotel and Casino. My wife’s friend suggested to try “bulalo” in a restaurant inside that hotel. It was a different experience at the old strip, the parking was paid and it was outside. Inside the hotel were mostly Filipinos and I was surprised that there was still a queue in the restaurant. My wife loved her order but I ordered steak but I could not eat it. I have to say that it was not appetizing to eat there, don’t know why but I guess it’s just me. I thought I was eating at Denny’s or IHOP, LOL.

It was early in the morning and we decided to go back to Cancun and end our second day at Vegas. Click here to see the pictures I took or click the picture above.