Saturday, July 30, 2011

Afternoon at Bellevue Botanical Garden

Inspired by a text, today I decided that even if my knee is busted, I would go do something outside. So looked up my list of todos, and picked up the Bellevue Botanical Garden.

So armed with my camera, I went about just playing with it and walking around. It was pretty nice actually - definitely was a good idea to go outdoors on this beautiful day. They had a show going on during the time (hence the dude in the angel outfit) of Alice in Wonderland. Didn't really sit to watch the show, but I thought it was pretty cool that they were putting on a show like this for the kids. On a side note, that angel outfit looks pretty cool.

It was a pretty nice place to take photos. Apparently looking online, some people actually take their weddings photos there. I can sorta see it, but not at the same time.

Anyhow, next time I think I will definitely bring the long lens and try out them close up shots of the 'bee with the flower'. Tried a few today but didn't turn out as I wanted it to. This is probably the best one out of the 'bee with flower' pics...

Definitely will go back again when weather's nice to continue playing with the camera.

First Kobe Beef Experience

Today would be the first time I try Kobe Beef (beef from a Wagyu). Supposedly they are awesome in taste, due to its high fat content (people call that marbling - I guess it sounds way better that super fatty beef.. heh heh).

So on the menu, there was the Australian Wagyu. The taste was pretty good, really soft, though the flavor wasn't as good as say the rib eye that the people next to me had.. haha. For me, this cut was called the 'Zagato' cut (Don't remember exactly the name, but it sounded really cool - it's basically a marketing term for a new york strip like cut or something).

PS - this was taken with my camera phone. The light is a bit dim, but still pretty good quality me thinks. Ahh... technology, what marvellous things it can do... .. .

Bejewelled Master = Me!

After talking to a good friend a few months back shortly I got my data phone, I found a free Bejewelled game (Jewel3) offered free. So having pretty much filled up most of the bars on the facebook one, what better way to kill time when waiting around to have a game handy? (the wonders of a data phone never ceases to amaze me).

So my first game I placed in the top 10, my second top 5 (though it couldn't post because I didn't have data turned on :(). So it was only a matter of time before I would play my 3rd game ever, and obtain gold.

Today marks that day! So after a month of on and off playing.... I have achieved it. Number 1 in the WORLD!.. wuhahaha.

Random youtube victory song...

Bejewelled master out.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My awesome blind bandaid fun...

This didn't occur to me till later on the night... Given the stitch was at the back of neck, how am I going to actually be able to see where I am putting my bandaid on???

So the first night, I went about painstakingly wasting 5 or 6 bandaids, finally getting one that I 'think' I placed on the right spot (though I swear there must be one where the pasty part of the bandaid was on the stitch).

So after such an ordeal, the next day I go find fellow Kirkland native to be my personal doctor (or as some people call him... nurse) - to apply my morning bandaid... haha.

But the night time was still an open issue. But with my ample life guarding + first aid training, I procured a few first aid items and went to bat. Instead of using a bandaid, I would switch to gauze, and the just tape it down with bandaids (because as it turns out, I keep forgetting to get gauze tape... .. .). With the bigger surface area, I am bound to miss sticking the bandaid's sticky part to my wound.


(this was the most recent one... I have heard (from fellow Kirkland native) that the early few looked horrible with all the bandaids Not bad for a blind patch job :).

PS. the size of the wound is fully covered by probably half a bandaid... but this safety net is clutch!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another visit - another second session.

Another appointment (not part of the prescheduled two other appointments I will have next week)...

This time I would have an exoto knife to my Doc scrapes the back my neck, then comes back and goes ... errrr, yea, I need to take a piece of your skin.

So here I am, going alright, and then he starts working at it. Didn't really hurt all that much, so I thought, good stuff. Then when I finally take a look, I see a bunch of blood on the gauze, and apparently they go on to tell me he tells me he had to use a stitch!... errr..

Now that means I have to delay my hair cutting for 2 weeks. I wonder how I can shower.. hrm... .. .

The good thing though, this appointment took only 30 minutes. Sooo efficient. I likkke. But then again, now I have yet another appointment in 2 weeks to take off the stitches (or stitch in my case).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spent $700+ on tires today...

Drove in today on the donut, and got the blown tire checked out. Supposedly I must have hit something to cause such a mark, but totally don't recall that.

Apparently tires have this little mark put by the government that if you get to it, it means your tires are no longer legal for the road. Guess who hit that! :P

$700+ ... in one morning - worse than a bad casino outing... .. .

My first set of tires.. RIP at 29.2K miles.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Morning Tire Switching

Woke up, did some quick reading online, and off I went to switch out the flat.

Result: Success!

The unscrewing of the lug-nuts were a bit tough. As I suspected, I couldn't do it by hand (and this was the most difficult part I think). So listening to the online video, I put my full weight on it by standing on it. With that, the lug-nuts were safely loosened. Internet is great isn't it? After that, the rest of pretty straightforward. Though it took my probably 30 minutes or so to switch it out, not bad for a first time and reading the instructions every step of the way - quite contrary to the Ikea building experiences.

Looking at the tire, turns out the inner side was all messed up (see pic below). Have no clue how I could have gotten something like this since I have not offroaded with this car before. But I guess this means the tire pressure light was right for once afterall.

Mission Complete!

The inevitable has come... (flat tire)

So for a long time now, I wondered... what would it be like if I have to switch out a tire. I've seen it done a few times, but never really done it.

A week ago, the tire light came on randomly one day when I turned on the car. Pulled over and looked, but really didn't see any deflation. So thought it was once again just the Mazda being it's summer self (it does it every summer... I'd almost call it a feature... my own summer warning light :) ).

In the wee hours though, as I was driving back from I90 getting off the ramp - I hear this rumbling sound, and the smell of burnt tire. Hrm.. suddenly I think the tire pressure monitor light was on to something.

When I really knew something was up was when I went over a manhole cover, and my car's just felt like the suspension got shot. Getting home, I look, and yup, one of the tires have gone completely flat.

Through all of this - I learned that going 85ish on I90 will aggravate whatever potential leaks you have... hahaha.

Task of the day tomorrow (or today) - put on a donut... .. .

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Movie Day!

Working pretty hard the last couple days, so that I could attend Moviepoolooza - where I'd get to watch Captain America, and Transformers :).

So my work day today was: Wake up, then drive to the cinema. My lunch consisted of 1.5 bags of popcorn and

Captain America is pretty cool. I have to say, the whole 3D concept is pretty neat. There was a whole 'weak become strong become hero' theme to the movie too, so I thought it was actually pretty inspiring too (I guess sometimes I read too much out of a movie)... I was actually planning to do some work after I got back, but then I went out for dinner instead :). I will work harder tomolo!

After dinner, Travel Buddy + some new friends came over for some random drinking fun. Played some dice, some rock paper scissors, and flip the quarter in egg cartons for drinks, polishing off a couple bottle of wines in the process.

The flip the quarter game was a game I was never good at - and still pretty bad at. What was a bummer though was that it seems I have lost my rock paper scissor skills - will have to work at that... lol.

Pretty good night of some light drinking - come to think of it..last time we did this was almost a year ago.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Japan vs. USA - Women's FIFA Final

So after catching the France vs. USA game on Wednesday, I marked it on my todo to wake up and watch the Finals of the Women's World Cup. Thinking it was at 2pm, turns out it was 2pm eastern time (aka 11am our time)... duh.. I guess I should have realized that all the good sporting events market in eastern time... lol. Luckily though, I woke up a bit earlier than usual (12:30pm)... thinking I'd get ready to watch the game, so I was able to catch the 2nd half onwards.

The game was really good. One of the better matches I've seen. Japan's #10 was amazing - only word to describe her was wow. So fitting that she wears that jersey. She was easily the best player for both the teams. It is pretty awesome that this Sawa person even scores in extra time to tie the game back up.

The other cool thing I thought was how the Japanese defender played that last play - where she essentially took out Morgan (the US striker) right outside the penalty box. It was definitely a red card play, but it was the right play. What I liked most though was the defender wasn't going in for a kill, but just going for denying the breakaway. Pretty classy in some ways - if it wasn't for the defender, pretty sure Morgan would have closed out the game.

Goes without saying, Morgan was pretty awesome. The goal in the France game was just pure finesse, and the goal in the final she had was well deserved. The pass was nice, but I can't help to notice how she really created the opportunity for this one herself. In the run to the ball, she cuts the D's run by running on the other side, causing the other player to have to slow down. Doing that allowed her to get that few steps ahead - it was so subtle, but was the key to the play. Apparently she was the youngest person on the squad, but I'd bet alot of players probably won't do something like that.

Originally I was going to take a break since the tally is now a bruise near the rib area, and a busted ankle that hasn't fully healed - but because of this awesome game, it inspired me to play injured the double header today. So here I was, warming up, ankle was feeling pretty good, the aspirin was dulling the bruise, my shots were on target. It was gonna be a good day I thought. Then I make an attempt to pass, and then I hear in my knee two distinct snap snap... First time this has ever happened, but yea, it hurts! In some ways, it's both sad and funny because a) it was before the game even started b) no one was around me c) my knees didn't touch the ball d) all I did was kick the ball...

So the good part of it is that I knew I didn't break a bone (if I did, it would be pretty bad if all it took was to kick a soccer ball lightly, I must have osteoporosis or something). So with that, I played the first game... haha.

The other team didn't have enough players, so we loaned a few of ours... and then we lost... lol. I guess this is what happens when you loan the best players on your team to your opponents!

After the first game, the pain started kicking in, so I sat out for the 1st half of the 2nd game, and played maybe about 5 minutes total of the 2nd half. This game we did win though! 2 wins in 2 weeks (out of 4 games)... still an improvement :).

With that, this first season is over - onto the next one (which starts next week)...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Doctor Doctor Doctor

Woke up this morning in pain. Specifically, my whole left side was in pain. It hurt even to get out of bed! But soldier Mson pulls up his strength, and calls the nurse hotline... gets himself an appointment to make sure he is not dying... hahaha.

Checked it out - turns out it's just my muscles all tensing up thanks to "dude who elbowed me in the ribs last Sunday" ...nothing happy aspirin can't fix :). Phewf - I was actually pretty worried that something was busted.

But so per Doc's orders, popped a few advils, took it easy and let nature take its course.

...And that's why I never like going to go see a doctor... I either don't visit the Doctor for years, or I see them just wayyy too often. The tally thus far...

These past two weeks: 3 visits to the clinic, 3 phone chats, and two pending visits

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beer View Mirrors

Resourceful me finally finds the link

The Kobe Terrace post was awesome! Loving the farmer pose pic from back in May.

A Visit with the Doc

So since I booked a bunch of appointments with the Doc, today was the day I give him the laundry list of things that I need and want to get checked out.

When I told him about my weird day, he first asked about coffee (which I responded no to), then asked about alcohol. And to that I went yup, the night before I had about 8 to 10 shots equivalent over one day. I swear his eyes sorta jumped out after I said that (I guess he hasn't heard of the one hour one drink rule :P). Then he goes on to tell me that I should limit to 2 drinks a day.

Apparently caffeine and alcohol can cause the heart to beat rapidly. And lo and behold, there's a general term for it, called tachycardia. Now that might explain that recent episode, but I don't recall now if the past ones happen after I drink (which I believe didn't). Even though it hasn't happened all that much, nevertheless, continue I monitor for this closely.

In hindsight, I think I missed the bit on checking out my allergies - but a 2 hour session is more than plenty for me for a day... .. .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Camping Weekend in Glacier View

First camping trip of the year! Pretty excited. It was actually amazing that we were able to fit everything we brought in one corolla. Our car had 4 people, a big cooler, chairs, tent, and our bags. Somehow we were able to make it all fit. Though the car looked like when I was moving back into res back in Waterloo days, but still, it was pretty amazing.

with our goods loaded, we set out to Wenatchee, a place near Leavensworth. The exact place as we find out later is called Glacier View - and it is a pretty awesome campsite. We got in at around 8ish, to meet up with a few others who had arrived earlier to grab the campsite.

We quickly proceed to set up the tent to avoid setting up in the dark. Here is a picture of our beautiful tent the next morning, that took 4 people to figure out how to set up... We quickly proceed to set up the tent to avoid setting up in the dark. Here is a picture of our beautiful tent the next morning, that took 4 people to figure out how to set up... but we did get it setup. The location was great - Lake front setting, surrounded by two trees that broke the wind pretty fun, and the ground was sandy (not hard). Definitely a very nice spot. Our tent was also pimped out with a thin mattress, so it was just an awesome tent! Goooo team!

The first night, I find out that my flashlight is apparently a bit busted :(. So had to ghetto it the rest of the weekend - good thing it was still operational. The first night, ended up drinking a few beers, then drank some 15 Year Glenlivet (yes, scotch and camping... a little unorthodox, but it's actually felt really right! :) ), and chilled by the fire. What a nice first night!

Waking up the next day, it was really windy. So us city folks decided that avoid the windiness, and also the mosquitoes, to head into Leavenworth... I thought this was pretty funny in some ways. Here we were car camping, got in the night before, woke up the next day, then back to civilization we go for the day. It's like we basically did a trip to Leavenworth, but instead of staying at a hotel or hostel, we pitched a tent and stayed in the outskirts of town instead... hahaha. Oh, we also had lunch at Leavenworth (and ice cream too... haha).

At Leavenworth today, there was this street art show set up, so I went through looking through the pictures that were for sale. The pictures were really pretty, but what was perhaps more interesting was that these places that these pictures were taken, it's totally places I could go to (and heck, some of them I've already been). Given I also think I now have the gear I need to take these pictures, I am actually not too far off! Haha - wouldn't it be great to one day set up one of these booths, and have people ogle at the pictures I take... heh heh... wouldn't that be neat?

After spending the entire day at Leavenworth, we had back to the camp site, to find a few people throwing in the towel because it was too cold, and heading back into the city to trade the tent for a nice bed under a warm house.

Meanwhile, back at the campsite, it was hotdogs and food galore. Ate sooo much, and also took some time to play with the camera to do some star trail and fire pics. Still not where I'd like it to be, but it's a start...

Had a nice chat by the campfire, then called it a night and slept. Another great night by the lakeside tent hearing the whooshing of the waves, then packed up the next day and went back home.

Ahh... Camping... sooo nice!

On another note... It's not until the very last day that I found out where the stalls were (not once did I pee in it this whole trip) :P... lol.

First Victory in Indoor (after 5+ games)...

Debating ever since coming back in the afternoon from camping, I decided in the end to go to the double header game this week.

We lost the first (though we would have been alot closer with a real goalie), and won the second (when we solicited a goalie from another team). Even though the first game was a loss, it wasn't a blowout loss like the games we had before. There were some nice tic tac toe goals too that we had, which I was real happy to see.

In the second game, with the awesome solicited goalie and a couple good midfielders, and everyone's mind set on playing together, we easily beat the other team who looked very sluggish. Though the team we played against was probably alot worse than the team we played in the first game, it is a win... the first win on this team for me - woohoo!

The not so good part was I had 3 or 4 opportunities to score, but missed them all :(. In that 2nd game, I had two where I had essentially single-handedly tore down their defense, and was less 10 yards from the net... and I missed. My shots just weren't hard enough! Gotta work on that - still don't know the angles in this indoor soccer rink.

In other news, my ankle did hold up for the most part. Though I did put this awesome ointment on it, but not bad otherwise.

I give myself a 7.0 for the first game, and a 6.8 for the second using the Fifa '11 scale

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Karoake - without a liquor license but with Liquor???

Today was lil genius's bday celebrations, so I made the trip into the city.

Supposedly things started at 8pm, but getting there around 10pm, I was still the first one at the karaoke joint.... wtf!?!?!

The Karaoke place was interesting. They had the ipad with an app for picking songs. It was a neat concept, but the app was uber slow and after you picked a song, it would go back to the main page (which made it annoying). The other thing was apparently they have chinese songs on it (that weren't that old). So this marks the first karaoke place that has a liquor license that I have seen in WA for the past 4 years. Kudos to this place!

Even though there was this momentous occasion, in which I even provided the establishment with dice and cups to bridge the gap, the sad part was no one was really drinking this night. So perhaps out of the 15+ people there, only 4 people drank. Tsk tsk tsk... C'est dommage.

The other funny thing - once again couldn't find my car... hahaha. Tried the whole use bing maps to mark down where I parked, but I think I shifted the pin when I was zooming in. Funny how even when I am sober, unless I take a picture of the intersection, I never remember where I park... lol. Eventually after walking back and forth along the same street and backtracking, I did find my car, and voila - home I headed!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Back to Work!

Having been around only for 2 weeks in June, have to say it's been hard to focus on work... With all the travel planning, digging out of being behind, haven't really done

On another note, in the blink of an eye, it's been 4 years! Time just flies by too quickly nowadays... .. .

July 4th Weekend - Day IV - The Final Day of Random Things

After good pizza hut, woke up the next day at 8am to make our way to the meteor crater. One thing to note - last night's sleep was great, for the first time on this trip I didn't wake up in the middle of the night. The first night the AC was just roaring away, the second night, a train would come every 15 minutes (though luckily for me, I only heard it come through 3 times unlike the rest of my travel buddies... hahaha).

The meteor crater was sort of interesting. It was a really big hole come to think of it, but I think it would be cooler if there was some more gimmicks to it. Then after this, we went back to Sedona, to do a hike before we head to the airport. Finding this one last night, it looked like it was pretty cool, and it would be a pretty easy hike (longer than Cathedral Rock, but not as steep)

Driving our awesome non SUV rental car, we tried to go as close to the trailhead as possible, but eventually about a quarter mile into the dirt trail, we parked the car on the side and made the trek on foot (since all we saw for big drops on the raod).

So with my busted ankle and the trusty camphor/menthol cream that is a great local analgesic, the hike was on!
Picture en route to Devil's bridge. Made some really stupid poses at the top and spent easily half an hour there... once I get my hands on them, I shall link it to this post. To make my mark, I also signed the guestbook with my name, with the commment - hiking with a busted ankle.

The sky had a few clouds and the view was just amazing. I actually liked what I saw here alot more than at the top of Cathedral Rock. I think the different colors (ie. green, white, etc.) really makes it pretty - compared to Cathedral rock where everything was really just red (the rocks), and blue (the sky).

On the way back, we see this old couple trying to make the ascent, and since they looked like they were dying, the good Samaritan me gave them one of my bottled waters so they have a chance of making it to the top. With that, I complete my good deed of the day.

With the hike complete, we reached the tail end of our trip, grabbing yet more food at a fast food joint. So the tally for this trip is that we ended up having KFC twice, Pizza Hut once, and What-a-Burger once. I feel fat!

At the airport, aside from just chilling waiting for the flight, I tried to do the whole data phone checkin thing at the security checkpoint. Unfortunately, turns out not all airports nor airlines can do it. For Southwest, apparently they don't have the scanners to do online checkin in PHX. However, this airport made up for it with a body scanner that was alot faster (it actually only top less than 10 seconds to scan) - totally different than the ones that I swear takes a minute.

On the plane as we took off, the flight attendant pointed us to look out our windows to see the city shooting fireworks all around Phoenix. It was a pretty cool sight as little flashes of fireworks of different heights just fire out from the ground. Not a common sight at all - pretty cool!

And with that, ends the July 4th weekend of 2011.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

July 4th Weekend - Day III - Part II - Achieving Refuge Status

So coming to the conclusion that the helicopter ride back up wasn't happening, we set about just chilling on the boat for the next 2 hours taking a lazy ride further down river. In some ways, it was really just 2 hours too long this ride. After having spent the entire morning and an hour after lunch at the bottom and being wow-ed by being under the massive canyon, another 2 hours of the same scenery really isn't all that magnificent.

But it was a nice lazy ride, the warm breeze and the splashes of water was nice, but it would really have been nicer to be on the helicopter ride.

Anyhow, 2 hours later, we finally dock... to find that the greyhound was no where to be found. The weather has also warmed up now that we are back on land, so it was a scorching heat with the bright red sun beating down on us. Waited what must have seemed like 30 minutes, and the 2 buses finally come. Not too impressed with the tardiness, but hey, at least it's not a school bus again.

So an hour or so into the bus ride, the bus driver stops and tells us that 5 people on the bus needs to go to the West Rim and so he was going to take this detour. This detour would add an extra 2 hours+ for those on this bus. Wtf?!?!

Now this is where I am very confused.
1) The tour is suppose to end back at the lodge, so I have no clue why these 5 people would be taken to West Rim
2) Just what were these 5 people's reason to 'MUST' go to West Rim for? To catch a flight (which can't be right since there's no airport around)? Or just to see the Grand Canyon from there... as if 4 hours of staring at it is not enough?
3) There were at least 20 to 30 other people on this greyhound...

So apparently the driver might be the manager I was told, so it was pretty ridiculous that he had to nerve to tell (not ask) the other 20 to 30 people on the bus that we would need to waste 2 hours of our time because of this. Obviously all of us went wtf... why do these 5 people get preferred treatment. And more importantly, shouldn't they just boot off those 5 people and put them in a smaller car or something?

So this driver (or maybe manager) seemed pretty adamant about what the mass majority of people that day thought was a poor choice, giving the rest of the people the choice of either:
1) Asking that the people on the bus fight for ~15 seats on the other greyhound
2) For those who really needed to get back to the lodge at a reasonable time, sit on the corridor of the other greyhound if a seat cannot be found

Well, so the 20 to 30 of us all cram into the other greyhound, 14 of us got seats... and the rest? Well, only Option 2 was left (so yes, 15 to 20 of us actually all sat on the corridor of a greyhound, pure refugee style). There were alot of disgruntled or simply appalled people on the bus - not just the people sitting in the corridor, but even those who have seats were just amazed at this situation.

The only thing that probably saved a bloodbath was the lady driver. She was one of them very nice ladies - had she been like the male driver, I am pretty sure even in a 1st world country such as this, things would be turning out pretty ugly.

So making the best out of the situation, Travel Buddy and I decide to make 3 videos. One at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end. This will be linked once I get the videos. But for the next 2.5 hours, we would be like refugees, sitting cramped in this Hoola Hoola arranged $350 a person day tour of the grand canyon... lol. You'd think $350 goes pretty far... even in the US of A!... Dammm inflation?

Anyhow, it wasn't too too bad I guess. I mean, it could be worse - like stranded in the middle of a sandstorm, or having to walk back to Hoola Hoola lodge. Right?

Amidst the refugee ride, we did get some good information on what to do for our final day. The original plan was that we would do a day hike to get halfway to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, but having spent the last 6 hours at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, it wasn't really all that appealing to look at the same rock formations, but from a mid level vantage ground. So talking with others on the bus, we hear about this meteor site near where we were, so that would be one of the places we'd check out the next day.

Arriving back at a reasonable time, we drove 2 hours to Williams, and then went to Pizza Hut. Superbly slow service (slow to the point where they gave us free food), but the wings were really good there. Interestingly, this is the 2nd time in a row that Pizza Hut had to compensate me for their poor service. The last time it was a long wait time too. I wonder if this is a new thing Pizza Hut is doing... Hrm...

Reading back, pretty sarcastic post... hahaha...

July 4th Weekend - Day III - Part I - Grand Canyon... the bottom of it

After talking about this for 3 years, today was finally going to be the day where I go to the Grand Canyon... ... the BOTTOM of it that is! :)

The plan today - wake up, grab the complimentary breakfast, then in baller style take a yellow school bus down to the bottom of the grand canyon, where we'd be meet with our tour guide who would take us on the Colorado River on a metal motor boat, going through the rapids. Lunch at the bottom of the canyon, then if the weather holds up, we would get helicoptered back up, or if it doesn't, spend 2 more hours in the river... where a greyhound would meet us to bring us back.

So lots of side stories for this one, enough to qualify the trip back into a soldier/refugee trip...

After boarding the yellow school bus, we begin our descent. Having woken up so early in the day, dozed off for most of the bus ride. Woke up towards the end, to see just how far down we were into the canyon (4000 ft I think was what they said). It was pretty cool as the drive went on, I would see trickles of water, and eventually building up into a river... which meant we were there!

The white water rafting experience was really nice. It was a different kind in that there was no paddling involved, nor inflatable rafts. It was instead a metal motor boat, and at that point I realized that it probably won't be too crazy because... well, the metal boat wasn't padded! It would really hurt if someone would go overboard, since they would be bound to hit some piece of metal on the way down.

So after putting our stuff in the dry bag, we headed off. The first few rapids definitely was... refreshing... haha. It was pretty hot, and so it was really nice to be drenched with water.

After a couple rapids, we stopped by and got out onto an island where there was a waterfall. It was pretty cool as we got to stand right underneath it and make stupid poses... lol.

Then onwards to more rapids. In the last rapid, the boat operator let loose and finally went through the eye of the rapid, so it was consecutive rounds of boat up, boat down. Previously he had been taking it easy because there's a 8 year kid on the boat, so he was being nice. But this last one was really fun. The only bad part was the lady next to me, on the 2nd up and down, flew into me. While this prevented her from sliding further, it also made me loose my grip on the metal railing... and my wrist went BAM, into the metal corner. That'd hurt :(. My wrist would have a little bruise because of it. Grrrrr...

We ended up through 8 rapids in total, and lots of pictures (including my $7 underwater camera) and videos were taken. These will be posted once I get my hands on them.

Overall, it was pretty awesome so far. We were at the bottom of the grand canyon, hitting rapids and getting wet. Went on land deep inside the Grand Canyon, played in waterfalls. The scenery was just spectacular, and definitely a totally different perspective than from up top. After lunch, we continued to go down river.

As a part of this down river ride to the helicopter pads, I finally got my chance and jumped into the river. Yes, I didn't jump in the Nile because it was diiiirty, but now I can say that I swam in the BOTTOM of Grand Canyon! :). A check mark well worth the hypothermia I could have gotten if I was left in the water for maybe a minute longer... haha. The only thing though was I wished that the down current was a little bit stronger, so that I can really float down the river just like that time in the Ottawa River.

The other cool thing was that we were actually boating away from a storm! We actually cut our lunch short so that we can be avoid of a looming storm. By looming, I meant that half the sky behind us was black, and the other half (the side we were in, was blue and white. It was a really cool sight. What was also scary/interesting is that we saw lighting touch down on a part of the canyon... in front of us!!! (yes, we were in a metal boat, with water all around us). The lighting actually caused the spot it hit to smoke up. Too bad we didn't capture it on camera. But yea, storm was looming.

Rushing away from the storm, we see helicopters flying off and thought: "sweet, we would get this complete experience". But turns out it wasn't meant to me :(. as we continued down the the various helipads, we started seeing that those helicopters weren't for us... and this is where the trip that Hoola Hoola had organized started to go slightly downhill. Originally if we got on them... it'd be an easy perfect score for them, and I would recommend this trip to anyone and everyone who goes to the Grand Canyon. But alas, the story shall unfold such that the Hoola Hoola organized trip deserves only a score of 75 because of its poor finish. More on the next entry... .. .

Note: Pictures to come... need to develop the film and get the pictures and videos from others

Saturday, July 02, 2011

July 4th Weekend - Day II - Day at Hot Hot Sedona

After waking up, we started driving to the tourist center. On the way, we detour to the famous church of Sedona (not quite sure what the history was there... but since it was a landmark, it was worth a look). What struck me wasn't the church, but on the way to it... So this house (or mansion) shown on the left wasn't really an attraction, but I think it was a pretty nice house. I mean, look at the 'backyard'... there's a waterfall there! And not shown in this picture was a pond and also a gazebo. This mansion is on its way to the famous church at Sedona - but if you compare the two... slap some history into this mansion, I wouldn't mind paying to see the inside of this this mansion!

And of course, here's a picture of the church itself :). So after checking out the church, went to the tourist center, and was told that because of how hot it is, it is not really recommended that we do hikes in the afternoon portion of the day. So being on 10am, we would set foot on one of the hikes... the Cathedral Rock.

The Cathedral Rock itself wasn't a long hike, but the elevation does climb up pretty quickly. It was a nice first hike, but didn't really see all too much I thought. Saw a bunch of bedrock... but that was about it... haha. But the hike was pretty nice though, my ankle held up, so it was good too.

After the hike, we took the recommendation to take a dip in the river. With the scorching heat, one of the folks at the tourist information said that there is a river right around Cathedral Rock... so after descending, we went towards that. Pretty awesome I have to say... a nice dip in the water, almost wanted to call for delivery. Always wondered how it works actually if I ordered take out on a hike. Something like:

..Call some takeout, Pizza pizza, KFC, etc....
Me: "Hello, do you deliver?"
Store: "Why sure"
Me: "Is it still 30 minutes or it's free?"
Store: (in some really energetic voice) "Why of course, 30 minutes or it's free, that's our guarantee!"
Me: "Alright, I would like a 20 piece bucket delivered to top of (insert hike name here). AND I will give you 40 minutes :)... ready... set... go!"...

Anyhow, knowing that the store clerk would probably flip at us... we got out of the river and drove to KFC. It seems like every time I go on a trip with Travel Buddy, we always end up eating at KFC... lol. I guess it's now a tradition. Supposedly though this KFC was special, in that it would have a great view. So we drove around, found the KFC, but then ... nope - it was just a regular KFC... tricked I say :(... But the food was good.

Originally we were going to do a 2nd hike before heading to our next hotel, but with the scorching heat, just seeing a bunch of bedrock that looked all the same, 3 folks with old or recovering ailments (me with my ankle, another with a busted knee, another on antibiotics), we decided that we would leave early and head for the hotel (2 hours drive away)... because the alternative, a 6 mile hike, doesn't sound all too appealing.

So onwards we drove, and arrived at the hotel at a decent time. The hotel, Hulaipai Lodge (henceforth known as Hoola Hoola - because that's a much awesomer name than Hulaipai) was open (yay!), and so we took full advantage of the facilities (aka a salt water outdoor pool, and a hot tub). Easily lazied ourselves for a couple hours, then had dinner at Hoola Hoola lodge, because this is Indian reservation land, so basically they had a monopoly around the area (no restaurants for miles). The stew I had was pretty good, though it wasn't really warmed up as hot as I liked. The best part though of the meal was the blueberry smoothie... because after the morning hike, I think I was actually a bit heat exhausted (my head was hurting, I was feeling tired)... but the blueberry smoothie basically fixed all that. Sweeeet. So after dinner, I decided to go do some weights for a bit (first time in 2 years now...). Pretty good feeling I thought, definitely should look into doing it more.

Also we find out that the white water rafting tomolo won't require us to paddle, but it would be on this metal boat. Pretty excited about it, especially with my ~$7 underwater camera that I purchased especially for this. (Once I develop the film I shall post).

With this day, the trip has officially demoted itself back to being a non soldier trip. While the first night and hiking in hot hot heat was definitely soldier trip calibre, lounging in the pool, backing out of hikes, and 'motor white water rafting' definitely demotes this adventure... lol.

The slight down part though was that I realized that I left my pants at the hotel from the other night (La Quinta)... We shall see if they return it back to me. If they do, I shalll give them a good review. If they didn't, I shall give them a bitter one... hahaha.

July 4th Weekend - Day I - En route to PHX

After having been back to work for a couple weeks, it was time to go on a short mini trip :). This time it would be to a national park, then to the Grand Canyon - the bottom of it, then hike a trail in the Grand Canyon.

The plan - Move around places daily, long gruesome day hikes, driving for hours at a time... From the start, this was going to have the elements of a soldier trip.

But first things first... had to get there. So after picking up all the other partners in crime, I drive in traffic to try out a new park and ride, which turned out was 10 minutes further than before... (note to self: not going there anymore). We ended up arriving at the gates just before boarding - which as you all know, is a bit too close to comfort for me these days. It was a pretty full flight - but I was pretty lucky and got the emergency exit seats, so plenty of room!

Arriving at Phoenix, the awesome data phone comes in and hunts us down an Applebie's. I have to say, data phones are great... not quite sure why I didn't move to one for so long.

The portions were huge at Applebies (much bigger than and I also noticed that there was a sign saying that the kids eat free on Wednesday. I can only wonder how many people take advantage of this. As decent Applebies is, if a kid came and ate every Wedensday... I would imagine they turn faaaaaat!

Anyhow, after dinner, our awesome driver drove us to our first destination... Sedona. We arrive at 12:15am to the place (Wildflower Inn)... only to find that the reception was closed, and the phone number that was left there goes to voicemail. So here we are, 12:15am in the morning, after a 3 hour plane ride and a 4 hour drive, in the parking lot. I sure wished I brought my sleeping bag with me on this trip... lol.

But being extremely resourceful, 2 of us went next door to the hotel, and found a room for us to crash for the night. The deal wasn't as good, but meh, it would be a roof under our heads.

So ends the first day. Tomorrow - onwards to see bedrock!