Laguna Beach

Drove down to SoCal over the weekend for a friend's wedding. The simple wedding was in Laguna Beach on Saturday night. We also had time to kick it around Irvine, which we did in the Spectrum Center.

This is how the cutting of the cake looked when you mix Tokyo Tea and sleep deprivation. (...and a camera that can't focus in low lighted room)

I caught the wedding garter!


Mariposa and Solano

(Originally posted on Aug 19)

I started this more than a week ago but never finished it until this morning. Anyways, here it is...

The corner of Mariposa and Solano in Vallejo is a place I'm very familiar with. It's where the Burger King I slaved at in high school is located. Or as we used to call it, Love Connection due to several hook-ups that happened there when I was there. Hey, when you're slaving for minimum wage, you gotta find something positive about it. And there's nothing better than making out in a walk-in freezer right next to the frozen fries and burger patties while the cashiers call out orders that no one's making. The good ol days...

Anyways, a couple of weeks ago, while coming back from Home Depot, we were on the corner of Mariposa and Solano when we saw five police cars and a SWAT team armored vehicle heading east on Solano Ave towards Springs Rd. Their lights were on, but their sirens were off, meaning they do not want to reveal that they are approaching. After I made the right turn towards Springs Rd, my niece couldn't hide her excitement that we were following the storm troopers. Of course my first tought was that somebody finally turned-in our "neighborhood pharmacist" but after going over the freeway overpass, we saw the cop cars and the SWAT tank stopped at a house behind a used car dealer lot. The SWAT guy who's upper body sticking out on top of the armored car, pointing a machine gun onto the house looked a lot cooler than the fat asses with their hand gun drawn.

Of course I didn't want to rubber-neck so I just drove by and went home. Home was just two blocks away from it all. As we unload our stuff we bought at Home Depot, we noticed the chopper circling above us. It was pretty bright outside, so there was no need for a spotlight. Anyways, I walked back to the main street and watched cars scramble their way around the scene as the cops blocked Springs Rd, a fairly busy street.

My niece keeps saying that we should walk to Burger King to get food so we can see the action. The idea of maybe running to the scene with my camera take pictures and maybe sell the pics to the local newpaper and get credit for it, came to mind. Since lately I've been obsessing about photography and a digital SLR camera that I can't afford, it would be cool to be credited for a local news. Of course the better part of me reminded me that the headline could easily be something like: "Idiot amateur photographer shot by stray bullet." That should win me a Darwin Award instead of photojournalist award. So I passed on the chance of being a local Peter Parker and just went home to catch ESPN.

Fast forward a couple of days.

My niece, my brother and I were coming back from Sacramento. And after taking the Solano exit from westbound I-80, we found ourselves on the off ramp heading toward Mariposa and Solano. As we approach the intersection, I noticed the lights was green. I told my niece: "Hey, no SWATs this time.".... (lots ofstuff deleted)

(NOTE: I'm removing the rest of this since I got a subpoena from the DA regarding what happened. I didn't get a gag order or anything, but I might have to testify in court as a witness. I don't know if anyone died in the accident, but its now a criminal case).


Disneyland Trip

Last weekend my family and I went down to Disneyland for my niece's birthday. The drive was tiring, but the weekend was really fun. I haven't been to Disneyland in almost twenty years so there's been a lot of changes since then. But the classics (It's a Small World, Star Tours, and that Tea Cup) were still there. The best part was the Parade of Dreams in the afternoon and the Fantasmic show at night.


I've always considered myself a news junkie, so when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast a couple of weeks ago, and my friend and I were away from civilization, checking out national parks in the Northwest, I felt like I missed a big event. But there are things that will not change. Republicans and Democrats spun the news the way that helps their party.

Bush Inc. was predictable when they claim that the disaster is a state and local government issue, and that the BIG FEDERAL GOVERNMENT should not meddle. Funny how when a car thief steals a car and crosses state boundaries, the feds steps in and considers it a federal crime. But when people are dying by the thousands on live TV because of an F5 hurricane that crosses national and state borders, Bush Inc. invokes the "Big Government" argument.

But the funniest thing I think came from Barbara "Momma" Bush when she said that these poor people living in Astrodome and Silverdome are better off now that before the hurricane. She said that before the hurricane, these poor, mostly black, didn't have a roof over their head, and now they do. That got me thinking, I think these people, displaced by the hurricane, are probably wishing they are refugees in Iraq right now, since Bush treat poor Iraqis better than he treat black people that never voted for him.

Another funny comment out of these came from the head of FEMA. While all news stations were airing starving people staying in the Astrodome and Silverdome, the feds didn't bother sending food for a couple of days. And when confronted on live TV, why that was the case, he said that it wasn't until after two days that they were "factually informed" that there were people in the domes. I guess the whole time, they thought CNN and others were using liberal Hollywood green screen tricks to make people appear to be in those domes starving and needing medical attention.

Of course wherever there are disasters, there are people looting for food and anything they want. I remember during the LA riots caused by Rodney King beating verdict, a friend told me he saw a bunch of Filipino teenagers on TV loading a Street Fighter 2 arcade game from 7-Eleven to a pick-up truck. Of course it's only looting if your skin is darker than a paper bag. Otherwise, it's called "finding".

Can you match the picture with its corresponding news clip?


Road Trip 2005 (Northwest)

My friend and I took a 2400+ mile road trip through the Northwest last week. The trip took us to Seattle, Olympic National Park, Mt Rainier National Park and Mount St Helen National Monument in Washington state, as well as to Lassen National Park in Northern California. We drove (a lot!), camped out to save money on lodging, and hiked to waterfalls, beaches and really old and tall trees. We took lots of pictures, ate a lot of road and camping food, and managed to avoid getting speeding tickets.

On yeah, click the pics to enlarge them.

Our plan was to drive as far north as we need and then work our way down. We left the Bay Area around 11PM on Monday night (Aug 29th). And by 11AM the following day we were in Seattle. We had lunch in Seattle's famous Public Market.

These figurines are made of ashes from Mt St Helen's last eruption (circa 1980)

Olympic National Park
Later in the afternoon, we took the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry across Puget Sounds to get to Olympic Nation Park. It was pretty dark when we got to Olympic, but the sky was clear, and we could actually see across the water to Victoria, Canada. We went to a YMCA in Port Angeles to shower and then camped for the night at Heart O' the Hills camp grounds.

The following day, we drove around the park and hiked to the coast.

Peaks of Mt Olympus from Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center

We hiked a couple of miles to see Sol Duc Falls

And then hiked a little more through the forest that leads to Third Beach on the Pacific coast.

We reached to coast around 5:00PM, which was low tide, so we saw lots of star fishes and other creatures on the coastal tidepool.

It was late Wednesday when we finally left Olympic to drive to Mt Rainier. Along the way, we stopped by a Costco for cheap food and gas, we saw Seattle's night lights.

Mt Rainier National Park
We got to Mt Rainier around 2 AM Thursday morning. We tried our best not to wake up our neighbors while we set up our tent. In the morning, we drove around the park.

View of Mt Rainier from Sunrise Visitor Center

We did a little hiking in Sunrise area

A little hiking in The Groves of the Patriarchs allowed us to see really tall and old trees. Some trees are 10 ft in diameter and are 10,000 years old!

In Reflection Lakes, we took pictures of Mt Rainier and its reflection.

We also hiked a little to see Narada Falls

This picture of Narada Falls, shows that even cameras can capture motions.

Mt St Helen National Monument
For Thursday night, we camped in Cougar Rock in Mt Rainier. The following morning, we left early and drove to Mt St Helen National Monument.

This is the view of Mt Rainier from Mt St. Helen's Windy Ridge

This wierd looking tree fascinated everyone. There are hundreds of these trees destroyed during Mt St Helen's eruption in 1980

Most of the land around this lake was part of Mt St Helen and was blown off during the 1980 eruption

Mt St Helen remains active until today. On June, its dome collapsed and steam begun coming out of its peak.

Lasssen National Park
We left Mt St Helen on Friday afternoon, and drove across Oregon, to California's Lassen National Park. While in Oregon, I called my brother to see where the nearest Costco is in Salem, Oregon so we can get some cheap food and gas. We got to Lassen around 2 AM, and once again we tried to set up our tent without waking up our neighbors.

Mt Lassen has a pretty interesting history. It's relatively new, as it was formed just 27,000 years ago. It was also formed "suddenly" (within a couple of years), when 2,000 feet of land was pushed off from the lava bed below. The same lava bed used to supply a giant volcano known as Mt Tehama. When Mt Tehama last erupted (400,000 yrs ago), it's top dome collapsed and formed several mountain peaks and a huge valley. A park ranger told us that 5 miles below Lassen NP is a huge pocket of lava waiting to get out! Also, Lassen's shaped was erroded during the last ice age (about 18,000 to 25,000 yrs ago).

Beaver Dam in Hat Lake. This 5 ft tall dam was built by beavers! The lake was formed when Mt Lassen erupted in 1915 and water from melted snow flooded the area. Mt Lassen was very active, and erupted several times, between 1914 and 1921. This eruption contributed to the government designating it a National Park.

We hiked to Kings Creek Falls

To the left is the cascading portion of Kings Creek Falls, to the right is a wierd lookind tree

We hiked to Bumpass Hell. Which reminded us of Yellowstone National Park. Here we saw boiling muds and steam vents. Oh yeah, the place also stinks just like in Yellowstone

It was Saturday night by the time we got back to Pleasanton. The trip was lots of fun. We didn't have time to see Redwood and California coast, but we figured that's within a few hours from the Bay Area.