around sedona

jump

That day my family decided to go to Slide Rock State Park, it was not that far from where we are staying. However, my in-laws did not join because they wanted to stay indoors due to my wife’s nephew who had a bad case of nose bleed.

It was packed at the state park and it was a good hike from the parking to the actual slide rock. I thought the reason why it’s called slide rock is because of the rock formation where water flows became so smooth that you can literally slide down with the flow of water. There was also a spot where water is deep and people jumped in from a good height of about 15 feet.

Though the weather was so hot, the water was surprisingly cool. After staying for a couple of hours, we headed back to our condo and grabbed lunch and rested for  bit.

Later that afternoon, we headed out and drove to the town proper. We strolled and checked out local stores. Grabbed a drink at a bar with a nice scenic view. The red rock formation that surround the town looked even more amazing during sunset. Before we headed back to our condo for the night, we grabbed some dinner at Barking Frog. It’s a Mexican restaurant and it was better than the Mexican restaurants we have tried here in Jersey. However, I liked their Barking Frog beer more.

As always you can click the picture above to see other pictures I took.

Grand Canyon

brave soul

My cousin told me that the pictures in this set were already throwback, since it’s been more than a year since I took them. I have already forgotten why it has taken me this long to upload them. I am not going to make promises I cannot keep, however, I will try to at least post a couple each month from now on.

It may have been about 2 hour drive north from Sedona to Grand Canyon. I was excited to actually see the place and check for myself if it was just a glorified hole in the ground. I was mistaken, I was in awe when I saw the Grand Canyon and I could not even imagine the vastness of the place. There were areas that have fences and others were completely unprotected.

There were buses that takes you from various scenic spots along the canyon, however, you may choose to walk along the path. If you have time and if you like to walk, I highly recommend walking. If you are not pressed on time, stay a while like late in the afternoon before dusk (grab that camera and fire away). As you will later see in the pictures I took, most of them were in the harsh sunlight. I have to tweak the pictures a little to get  a decent exposure, at least.

I was so afraid of heights and being there confirmed it. I could not even brought myself near the edge of the railing much more just on the edge. I was even afraid for my wife and daughter when they were posing near the edge. I knew there was this new structure they built where in there is a glass overhang that you can walk around, we did not go there since we were busy getting from one end to the other and forgot about that new structure (good for me). By the way, the other day our tour guide from Pink Jeep tour told us that a few months ago they found a crack on the glass overhang and had to replace it, that was not reassuring since no one knew how it cracked.

Anyway, you have to visit the Grand Canyon to experience natures wonder and see for yourself and not just hear from other people that it was just a hole in the ground. Click on the pictures to see the rest.

 

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.

 

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.

 

williamsburg 2015

jamestown port

jamestown port

We went back to Williamsburg, VA again this year. The plan was to go to Massanutten Resort but I forgot to reserve. Apparently, I need 30 day notice to use my fixed time share. That policy was crap, when you have a fixed week that should be fixed whether you use it or not or traded it which should show up in their system. If it’s floating then that’s a different story. Sad to say I just forfeited our fixed week stay and my kids were looking forward to go back after more than five years.

It was a good thing that Diamond Resort, who was the new owner of Powhatan Plantation resort at Williamsburg, had an availability. I used up our points which was expiring this year for this vacation.

We have been to Williamsburg, Virginia several times in the past 10 years and stayed at the same resort. This resort to my opinion was situated in a perfect spot. It’s close to a church and it’s close to all the historical sites: Williamsburg; Jamestown; and Yorktown. If you want to go to the beach then Virginia beach is just an hour drive not considering traffic. Powhatan Plantation was also close to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

After spending a few days visiting the historical sites, my wife and daughter wanted to go to Virginia beach. We visited Air and Space Museum at Hampton on our way to the beach but decided just to look in Hampton for beach instead of driving through traffic to Virginia Beach. We found one and it was very quiet and my wife and daughter swore that it was good, less crowd and the beach was awesome and it was close the parking.

Another common thing we always do in Williamsburg was to dine at “The Cheese Shop“. This is a nice store where you can order sandwiches and enjoy it inside the store or outside. I recommend this place. I tried different sandwiches every time we visited and sampled the local beer as well.

Click on the picture above to see the rest of my pictures I took.

eagle rock 2015

eagle rock

eagle rock

This picture was taken late winter this year. The Butic family and our family went to visit this place to take advantage of our benefits since we were both property owner at Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock is located at Hazleton, Pennsylvania. It is gated community with a lot of amenities for property owners. What they boast is the golf course designed by Arnold Palmer. They also have well known Filipino celebrities like Manny Paquiao and Lea Salonga. Though, I could not confirm or deny because that was told by the sales agent.

Every winter season property owners get season tickets for ski lift. As you can see the newbie snowboarders and skiers rested after probably from a lot of spills and falls. Click the above picture to see more pictures.

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.