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.

 

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.

las vegas again

paris in vegasMy second trip to Las Vegas. We were only supposed to go to Sedona, AZ, however, my wife squeezed the points left for this year for a three night stay at Polo Towers. This location was better than Acapulco Resort because this was in the strip (just behind Planet Hollywood).

We rented a Kia Sedona at the airport and drove to Goldilocks for a late lunch. I thought we ordered so much food for 6 people. I would recommend the “crispy dinuguan” whenever you get a chance to get to Las Vegas and eat at Goldilocks. After our huge lunch we drove to our condominium, it was two adjacent rooms good for 8 people and full kitchen. We were on the 10th floor but not a good view since our balcony was facing the parking lot.

We settled in our rooms to get some rest before we pounded the strip. Did not have have to drive the rented car since we are on the strip. We walked from Planet Hollywood up to the LINQ (of course the obligatory pictures along the way). They have an attraction near the LINQ called “The High Roller”. It is like the “Eye of London”. Being afraid of heights that I am, I still went to ride it ($32 per person) and you don’t feel it move but you can see that you are slowly going up and over. Other people can ride on cabin with open bar for $50, I think. The ride is about half an hour long.

Since my company are tired, we took the mono rail for $5 per head. We are about 3 stops away but need to still walk to get back to our condominium. We called it a night since we have an obligatory time share meeting the next day.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

ocean city 2014

boogie board

boogie board

The Alliance of the Two Hearts prayer group at Infant Jesus Parish usually plan beach outing each summer and this year we went back to Ocean City, NJ. The beach was just an hour away from us not to mention this seemed better than Wildwood. The group went to beach after we came back from Dominican Republic, which was great because we got to join them, coming from me who disliked the ocean or the sea. I guess, my reason going to the beach was my family first and then I got to relax and enjoy people watching.

We got to the beach early to get cheaper parking and to get a prime spot on the beach. We put up our umbrellas and tables, yes tables, for our food. If you could have seen our group carrying coolers and other stuff one would think that we were going tailgating.  The beach was not crowded when we got there but it did not take long. Click here or just click the picture above to see other photos.

 

punta cana DR day 5 vacation

sunrise at punta cana

sunrise at punta cana

Our last day in Grand Palladium at Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, had come to an end. It was a nice vacation, it was not long and it was not short either. It was just right. Yes we were going to miss the open bar and the smorgasbord but we had to go back to our daily grind and start saving for the next vacation.

Since we had packed most of the stuff the night before, they had time to go to the beach one last time and enjoy. I still did not swim and all I did was just to be their personal photographer. I enjoyed the sunrise and the nice cool weather.

After the swim, we headed back to our rooms and gotten ready to checkout. But before we checked out we went for breakfast one last time, picked up our luggages and settled everything at the front desk. We waited at the lobby for our shuttle ride back to the airport.

Goodbye Dominican Republic, it was a great time and we hope to be back soon. Click the picture above or just click here to see other pictures.

punta cana DR day 4 vacation

zip line

zip line

Our last full day at Grand Palladium Punta Cana in Dominican Republic. It was a busy day for us, zip lines in the morning then spa in the afternoon.

After breakfast we had to travel about an hour and a half to Anamuya Mountain where the zip line adventure was located. The travel was okay except for the last half an hour because the mountain road was not exactly a paved road. It was a bumpy ride. Our guide was so informative by sharing things about Dominican Republic. He said that they have the largest gold deposit in the world. Their share the island with Haiti. The gasoline price is outrageously high and they use motorcycles as some sort of taxi. They have rolling blackouts except for tourist spots and they use bottled water for drinking and cooking and rain water for everything else. You will see tanks on top of their houses for collecting rain.

The zip line adventure was awesome. There were 12 stages and the crew were so helpful, they even rigged my goPro to my helmet. However, the videos did not come out the way I want them because instead of pointing level or down it was pointing upwards, bummer. You can click the zip line adventure to check out their website and additional information.

When we got back to the resort, the girls have a spa schedule while mine was still 7PM for a massage. But I had a duty to reserve for the elusive Japanese restaurant. I chilled in the room and decided to stop by the restaurant by 530 PM. When I got there, there was a great number of people in line. I was able to reserve for 830 PM dinner. Went back to the room to get change for dinner but need to stop by the spa for my massage.

We had dinner at the Japanese restaurant, hibachi style, and it was actually a let down. It was not even close to what we were accustomed to back in the States. I really could not tell why it’s always booked every night.

After dinner, we went to lounge in the lobby and had a couple of drinks before heading back to start packing up and sleep. Click the pictures above or just click here to see other pictures.