Saturday, August 20, 2011

Last Leg - Going Home

The last leg of our road trip was our drive back to Las Vegas from Lake Tahoe. It took us a total of 10hrs straight drive with some stops to eat, rest or toilet break. I only relied on my mobile phone's GPS application since my old GPS bugged down on our way to San Francisco. To make sure and for added directions support, I printed out the driving directions from Google maps and my dad had with him his California - Nevada official map handy.
As we drove along, we noticed that the GPS guided us to a quite longer route, so we tried to divert to another route based on my dad's map but we missed one turn to bring us to the eastern direction towards the state of Nevada. Fortunately there were other alternate routes to link us to the US 95 South freeway. Once we hit this freeway, I tend to relax since this was just a matter of following this highway all through Las Vegas. One thing bad though, part of the highway after the town of Tonopah was being worked on and all motorists on both directions were using only one lane. So we took turns to pass that part of the highway which took us an additional half hour delay. We enjoyed the scenery along the way and we noticed the difference between the landscapes of California and Nevada. It was already dark when we reached Las Vegas and I think it was about 8pm when we reached home.
I am thankful to God for keeping us safe on all the drives we took for this road trip, my car for not bugging down on me and doing a very good job. Although my GPS failed on me, I guess we were still lucky since there were no major hitches along the way and it just added more thrill factor to the adventure.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Falling In Love with Lake Tahoe

While I was still planning this week-long California road trip, I didnt include Lake Tahoe in our itinerary. It was my mom who wanted to see this famous lake. She fell in love with it when we tried the Soaring ride at the California Adventure few years ago. She was dreaming to visit this place. While searching to book a hotel in Lake Tahoe, I became interested to visit this place as well mainly because of the pictures that I saw online. We decided therefore to stay for 2 nights in South Lake Tahoe after our 3-day sojourn in Folsom, California.
It took us about 2 hours drive from Folsom to our hotel in South Lake Tahoe. I fell in love immediately with its weather. The sun was shinning brightly but the wind breeze was chilly....very different from Las Vegas. We arrived around noon and after checking into our hotel, we went to Emerald Bay on the south-west part of the lake. Emerald Bay was recognized as a National Natural Landmark in 1969. It contains the only island in Lake Tahoe, the Fannette Island. The view of the bay is the most photographed view in Lake Tahoe. When we went back to our hotel by the end of the day, we went to the backside of our hotel for some view of the lake from the beach. Our hotel was located next to a marina so we had a short walk on the marina's wharf.
On our second day we went up to the top of the world. We took a cable car ride up to Heavenly Mountain overlooking the lake. The view was spectacular on the observation deck on top of the mountain. The Heavenly Mountain Resort offered summer activities during this time but it is a well-known ski resort during winter.
After two days in Lake Tahoe, I fell in love with it. This is now my official retreat place where I could stay and relax close to nature and away from the rigors of life's daily routine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Roadtrip - Third Leg

Our next destination after San Francisco was Folsom, California to attend the Maasin Fiesta hosted by the Maasinhons in Northern California. It was their first major celebration but actually it was their fourth time to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Assumption, the Patroness of Maasin City together as a group.
It took us about 4 hours from San Francisco to Folsom. Halfway to Folsom, we stopped by at a friend's house, also a fellow Maasinhon and had lunch with his family. At Folsom, we were able to attend the last Novena prayers for our Patroness.
The following day was the fiesta celebration itself. There was a Holy Mass before the actual party. We have met a lot of old friends and acquaintances. Most of them actually knew my family specially my parents and my brother since they were colleagues at one point in the hospital where they worked. There were lots of reminicsing of old times, laughter, food and of course a Filipino party will not be complete without the dancing.
A continuation of the celebrations which we commonly called "binuwagan" was held the following day in a park in Folsom. It was actually a family day for everyone. We had plenty of food and drinks and everyone participated in some parlor games. Badminton and volleyball games were played by the kids and the final activity of the day was the First Tennis Tournament of Maasinhons.
I was glad that we were able to attend the fiesta celebrations in Folsom. My brother was able to get in touch once again with his former colleagues and my mom and dad were able to meet once again their old friends when they were still in the Philippines. What I love about these group is that they were within the same age group and all of them worked hard with each other to be able to come up with a very successful fiesta celebrations.
I would like to thank the Maasinhons in this part of the California State for the warm reception they have given to us. They made us feel that we were also part of their group even if we were just visiting from the Las Vegas' Kaba-Maasin group. More power to you guys and more success in your future fiesta celebrations.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Day in San Francisco

I had a lot of plans to tour around the beautiful city of San Francisco but I have to consider the physical condition of my parents and my brother who were travelling with me. As much as I wanted to take the famous 49-mile scenic drive to cover much of the city but this would take some time. The walking tour was also out of consideration because of the obvious reason that my mom could not handle too much long walks anymore. Armed with my phone's GPS, we ventured to Lombard Street and took the most crooked road in the world downhill. My phone's GPS had some difficulty in getting us to the Fisherman's Wharf but fortunately someone lead us to that area. We spent the whole afternoon in Pier 39. We took the Bay Cruise which took us under the Golden Gate Bridge, closing on the Alcatraz Island and then towards the Bay Bridge before heading back to Pier 39. We also had our seafood dinner at Pier 39. We then proceeded to a viewing point near the beginning of the Golden Gate Bridge to take pictures of this famous massive structure. I wanted to stay longer and wait for the darkness to be able to take pictures of the bridge lighted up. Unfotunately, the bridge was engulfed with thick fog at dusk and it was already bitingly cold and windy. We decided to head back to our hotel instead.

Roadtrip - The Second Leg

Our second leg of the roadtrip started from Long Beach to San Francisco. We were planning to have several stops along the way to get some pictures & to get some rest. Our first stop was at Solvang, a very nice Danish-style city. The city is home to many bakeries, restaurants and merchants offering a taste of Denmark in California. We stopped by at the park near the Old Sta. Ines Mission church and had some light lunch.
After Solvang, we proceeded to San Luis Obispo to visit the Old Mission church there. San Luis Obispo is located between Los Angeles and San Jose in the Central Coast and is one of California's oldest communities.
From San Luis Obispo, we headed further north towards Carmel-By-The-Sea but this time we were driving along California Highway 1. It is a state highway that runs along much of the Pacific coast of the U.S. state of California. It is famous for running along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, leading to its designation as an All-American Road. It was almost dark when we reached Carmel-By-The Sea. Carmel is situated on the Monterey Peninsula, the town is known for its natural scenery and rich artistic history. Actor Clint Eastwood was the Mayor for one term from 1986 to 1988. We were able to get some pictures on their gorgeous white sand beach. This was also the point that my GPS bugged down on me. Fortunately my mobile phone's GPS worked fine and guided us to our final destination in San Francisco.
Since it was dark already, and my GPS was not working, we decided to proceed to San Francisco and skip a visit to Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey. Guided with a map and my mobile phone's GPS, we reach our hotel near the San Francisco International Airport at around 11pm. We were on the road for a total of 12hrs, including the several stops along the way. My highlight of the whole leg of this trip was driving along the Pacific Coastline along Hwy 1. The sights were beautiful coupled with the danger in driving along a two-way lane of foggy and winding road.

Monday, August 8, 2011

First Leg of Roadtrip

My brother arrived here in Las Vegas last July 31 from the Philippines. He will spend the whole month of August with us. Since his stay is quite limited, we planned a roadtrip adventure for the whole family starting from Southern California towards North California then proceed to Lake Tahoe and Reno in Nevada and then back here in Las Vegas. We are trying to fit the whole trip to about 10 days.
Our first leg of the roadtrip is going to Long Beach to visit my mom's causins. It took us about 4 hrs drive in going to Long Beach from Las Vegas and fortunately the traffic was not really heavy along the freeway since it was a Sunday. We arrived in our aunt's house around 2pm. Bonding with the family was quite heart warming. What was good in Long Beach was their chilly weather in the evenings and mornings, way different in Las Vegas. We will be staying for two days here in Long Beach relaxing and sightseeing. We will proceed with our next leg of this trip early Tuesday morning towards San Francisco via Hway 1. Driving through Highway 1 along the California Pacific coast will be the most picturesque drive that you'll experience. The downside though is that this will be the longest drive of the trip.
Will update more on our trip in the coming post.