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 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.

punta cana DR day 3 vacation

stingray bay punta cana

stingray bay punta cana

The scheduled activities for that day was swimming with the sharks and snorkeling in the afternoon. That morning we were free to do anything after breakfast and I suggested to rent a speed boat as was suggested yesterday. We went to the beach to rent a speed boat, it was $100 for two hours, and we needed two. However, we were not told to make reservation, hence, we were not able to do so.

Why the heck did I suggest the banana boat instead? What was I thinking, I don’t like the water because I cannot swim. Minutes after into the banana boat ride, the guy running the boat made a quick turn then the banana boat being pulled by the boat tilted and down we went. We were all wearing a life vest but mine was a tad bigger and I thought i was still sinking. Panic set in and I was so afraid. The guy did not even know that we were already in the water. Got back to the boat and my wife, daughter and sister-in-law decided to go back again to the banana boat and I stayed in the boat. Again, minutes later the guy did the same mistake again and they all fell in. I decided to just go back to the shore and ended the ride.

That afternoon, we went to go swimming with the sharks but I told them that I will not join them snorkeling nor swimming with the sharks. We boarded the party boat and brought us in the middle of the ocean where they have this huge fenced in structure where they kept nurse sharks as well as sting rays. I only went to touch the sting rays and went into the water (it was just shallow). The belly of the sting ray was so smooth and slippery and it was the direct opposite of its top part which was rough (like sand paper). They went to another tank where they can snorkel while the sharks swim under them. I was just taking video of them  as well as submerging the goPro to get a look at the sharks.

Before the party boat went back to the shore, we stopped in the middle of the ocean and most of the people were led back to the open sea to snorkel. Then afterwards, the crew host announced it was an open bar and gave us some food to snack on. They opened up this big bottle of Mamajuana for us to taste. It was a mixture of rum, wine and honey, and it was strong. They claimed that it’s some sort of aphrodisiac. There were a lot of dancing while going back to the dock.

Click the picture above or just click here to see pictures taken during that day.

punta cana DR day 2 vacation

macao public beach

macao public beach

The second day was our first full day at the resort. I needed to give my resort voucher to the manager which I had to contact my travel agent. She was kind enough to email all the things I needed: the voucher for the resort and the voucher for the shuttle transportation from/to the airport. Went to the front desk after breakfast and sorted everything out.

We also talked to a travel agent at the lobby for other things we may want to do outside the resort. My wife and sister-in-law booked us for an adventure buggy ride that same day, swimming with sharks and snorkeling the following day, zip lining the next and for the last day a spa.

While waiting for the adventure buggy, they spent their time at the resort beach and used the kayak (included with the resort stay). After their kayak, they spent more time swimming and I just enjoyed my mojito strolling along the beach. If you want to save a lot of money, all you need to do is stay in the resort and avail of all that is included. All food, all drinks and all shows. Well you can eat the whole day and get drunk from sunrise to sunset if that’s what you want.

We ate lunch and grabbed some take out just in case we get hungry doing the adventure buggy. We got picked up outside the main lobby and we went out the resort and picked up several more people from other resorts nearby and we drove for half an hour. This was a case of getting something different from what was pictured or even stated by the travel agent. The buggy we used were not as great as in the picture, we thought we were able to get a decent buggy and drive it along the beach but no. We got to drive a crappy buggy and drove it along the DR public roads. Our first stop was the public beach called Macao. The beach was gorgeous, better than our resort beach. We parked the buggies and got to spend half an hour there, most of them swam. Then the next stop was the tobacco and chocolate plantation, we got to listen to a presentation then purchase some of their products. Then the last stop was to their self proclaimed best attraction, the underground river. This was a photo opportunity because they took pictures of you while you dove into the water which was dark and cold. Then we head back to where we started and board our shuttle back to our respective resorts.

We then prepared ourselves for dinner and it was an experience. There were buffet restaurants that you just need to walk-in while there were other restaurants that were sit-down, where you need reservations. The reservation was tricky, you needed to fall in line around 5:30 PM at a restaurant you wanted to dine in to get reservation. If the restaurant was popular then you need to be there earlier otherwise you will be fine.

We were unlucky to get seated at a Japanese restaurant hibachi style, it was one of the popular restaurant there. We just got lucky to dine in at a Greek restaurant, all of us in our group agreed that the only dish worth eating was the ceviche.

After dinner we went to the resort main lobby to listen to music and grabbed a few drinks before calling it a night. Click the picture above or click here to see other pictures. All the pictures were shot using GoPro Hero +.

denisha’s birthday

birthday cake

birthday cake

My daughter is simple. She does not like to have a big party held in a fancy place and big expense. She just asked us to celebrate her birthday in the park with friends, and so we did. This celebration was for her birthday as well as for her high school graduation rolled into one.

My wife and a friend called the management for the Washington Lake Park in Sewell, NJ to reserve the a covered area. They were told that for this year there was no reservation and it will be first come first served. There was no reason why it was no reservation because it was clearly stated in their website that there was a fee to use the facility.

Last weekend, everything was set, food were ordered and will be delivered on site at a specific time. A cake was ordered and will be picked up just before lunch. We woke up early that one weekend morning and went to the park to setup the place. There were eight tables in the gazebo. As we were setting up the park ranger approached my wife and told her that if there will be a party later on showing a contract that we were to leave the place. The park ranger explained that the reason for the no reservation for the gazebo was because someone lost the reservation book last March and somebody might have reserved for the place before it was lost.

We gambled and continued with the celebration. We had all the food and cake, we started the celebration and had the candle blowing because the cake was melting. The celebration was going smoothly till the mid afternoon when another party came and demanded for us to leave. One person was respectful while the other was just plain rude. But before we left we asked them to show the contract which they did have.

We packed and transferred to the nearby tables (without cover and under the trees). The kids were playing somewhere in the soccer field and did not witness the scene. They were just surprised to see we were no longer in the covered place. We still managed to continue our celebration and after a while guests took home food and we called it a day.

My daughter opened her gifts back at home and she was thankful for those who attended and gave gifts. She was happy and I guess that was all that mattered. You can click the picture of the cake, which was actually beautiful, or just click here to see other pictures and a video.

sister vilma’s 25th anniversary

sister vilma

sister vilma

We  met Sister Vilma at Saint Margaret Church in Woodbury Heights, NJ. She was one of the sisters in their parish. She’s a Filipina and she has been serving our Lord for 25 years. She has also been assigned in various countries as well as states here in the US.

That day was her anniversary. The parish priest has prepared a celebration for her, inviting her family as well as people who has been so much part of her life. Our prayer group was also been fortunate and was invited in the celebration.

We attended the mass wearing our traditional Filipino attire and brought native dishes to share in the celebration. Our children performed a couple of native dances and they were great.

Click the above picture to see the pictures and videos or just click here.

2014 deptford high school spring concert

spring concert

spring concert

I was on time coming back home to the US because after a few days my daughter had the spring concert. She plays the flute for the wind ensemble, however, during that concert she also had to play with other group for the combined performance.

I commend the music program of Deptford because the music teachers are so dedicated. Even though the budget had been slashed for multiple years now, the teachers used their own resources to make due for their respective programs. Click here to see the pictures I took and videos of their performances.

6 may 2014

cemetery panorama

cemetery panorama

Yesterday we drove from Laguna to Baguio City to visit my mother in-law and to pay respect to my deceased father-in-law and brother-in-law who were resting in a cemetery near Loakan airport.

The drive was pleasant specially taking the new express way, though, we got lost after we exited. We arrived in Baguio after dark and we got lost getting to my in-law’s residence. We were able to call her nd ask for assistance. We spent the night there and told her that we will be leaving the next day after the cemetery.

That following day after breakfast we head out to the cemetery and I told them that it was my first time to see the airport even though we have lived there for a very long time. I grew up in Baguio City from when I was in grade 3 until I graduated college. I guess it goes to show that I was not outgoing growing up.

The picture above was a panoramic shot of the surrounding at the cemetery. Another shot in the gallery (when you click the picture or click here) was the one of the roads leading to Baguio City. After the visit, we drove to Good Shepherd to buy some sweets to take home. We need to drive back to my in-laws because of the stupid coding (you can only drive your vehicle on certain days depending on your ending plate number). Then we called a cab to go back to the town proper to buy more stuff and to grab some lunch.

We separated when we got to the town proper to get more things done quickly. My father and I stopped by at my father’s favorite eatery. I had to leave him there because I could not eat at that place and we just met at Jollibee after he ate before we walked to Barrio Fiesta (a popular Filipino Cuisine restaurant).

Let me tell my my experience at that restaurant which by the way I will never go back to whenever I am in Baguio City. We were ushered by the hostess at a table for four where she literally has to hand wipe the table because there were hair balls on the table, I don’t know from who or what. She did not even bother to ask us for a different table even though there were a lot of unoccupied tables. Then, the funny part was I had to change my order twice or trice because the waiter who took my order came back to tell me that they don’t have this or that or the meat was still frozen. Clearly it was not the same restaurant we ate at several years ago.

After we came back to my in-laws, we readied ourselves for the trip home. We had to pick up my brother along the way because he stayed with a friend yesterday.

We stopped by the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan, we always visit the shrine whenever we are in the Philippines. There were also a few shots I took from that place.

After the visit, we drove back to Laguna but not without getting lost the second time.

father’s day at chestnut park

the trio

the trio

the fathers in our prayer group was given a small celebration at chestnut park in mantuaNJ. everyone brought something for potluck: different dishes; different deserts and drinks. the celebration also coincided with the celebration for the various kids who graduated in kinder, grade school and high school.

the highlight of the event was the basketball game between the teens and the grown ups. Well, you can imagine how that went.

hard rock cafe shoot

hard rock cafe

Last month, I did two private event shoot at Hard Rock Cafe. During the first shoot, I was surprised at how the restaurant has changed. They have added a new room facing the interior of the gallery and they can open or close up the glass windows, it was pretty amazing. I have taken five exposures of the picture displayed here, and since I did not bring my tripod with me I had to do the shots hand holding the camera.