Archive for the 'U.S.A.' Category

25
Apr
15

U.S./Florida: Dry Tortugas Nat’l Park


As we were planning our Key West itinerary, we came across a stunning photo of a beach located at the Garden Key. We never knew that almost a hundred miles west of Key West there’s a place that is out of this world! Our minds were already framed on what to expect from the beaches on the Florida Keys that are located in the world’s third largest coral reef that makes the area excellent for diving and snorkeling. Key Largo, one of the keys, has even earned the title of the Diving Capital of the World. However, this means that because of the coral reefs filtering the waves before they reach the shores on the islands, there would be less pulverization of the sand so there are less fine, white sand beaches around the islands. That captivating scenery of the Dry Tortugas National Park’s South Swim Beach convinced us to make the place one of the major destinations that we will be visiting during our first trip to the Florida Keys.

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Situated between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, the remotely located Dry Tortugas National Park is 70 miles west of Key West, Florida which is the southernmost city in the continental United States. It is composed of six pristine islands of which the Garden Key is the centerpiece island.  It is also where Fort Jefferson is located.  It is America’s third largest and most spectacular coastal fort.

 

reaching dry tortugas

Access to the Dry Tortugas National Park is only possible from Key West. You can fly to either Miami or Fort Lauderdale and take a scenic four-hour drive to Key West. You can also fly direct to Key West but I would not suggest this option because you will be missing the breathtaking views of the ending stretch of U.S. Route 1 that terminates at Key West. From Key West you can either take the ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park which is exclusively offered by Yankee Freedom III  (US$190 per adult person for a return trip including breakfast and lunch) or you can take a sea plane which can be chartered at this link (US$299 for a half day tour or US$525 for a full day tour per adult person).

 

things to do at dry tortugas

We just opted for a full day tour so what I will be presenting here will just be activities for those who are on day tour, except for the camping tips.

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We took the ferry that left Key West at 8 a.m. and reached Dry Tortugas National Park at around 10:30 a.m. For the day tour you have exactly four and half hours to spend on the island. Upon arrival you can either join a free one-hour tour of Fort Jefferson or you can just do your own thing. We did the latter and we immediately went to South Swim Beach.

1. relaxing at South Swim Beach

South Swim Beach was my favorite place on the island. From the docking area, you can proceed to the left side and walk past the entrance to the massive fort for about 2 minutes and it will bring you  to what I consider the most picturesque area in the Dry Tortugas National Park.

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You move further south and walk past the amazing white sand beach.

 

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You will end up at this stone structure that also houses the helipad.

 

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From the stone structure, one can have this stunning scenery.  This area is also one of the designated snorkeling places.

 

 

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Visitors would spend most of their time just lazing on this white sand beach and swimming in the turquoise waters.

 

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From this beach, one can also chance upon sea planes passing by.

 

2. going around the fort via the moat wall

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From South Swim Beach you can start walking along the south moat wall and start going around the entire structure from outside.

 

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Then you will come across your first turn to the west moat wall.

 

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We took some photos on the west moat wall.

 

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And then on the east side as well.  It took us around 12 minutes to go around the fort via the moat wall.

 

3.  spending time at North Swim Beach

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Either by going the entire walkway along the moat wall outside the fort from South Swim Beach (described in the preceding section) or taking right from the docking area to the pathway (shown above), you will be led to the less crowded North Swim Beach.

 

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This beach is shorter, less crowded and less charming than South Swim Beach. Nevertheless, this beach also has crystal clear blue waters.

 

4. snorkeling & fishing

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As I have stated earlier the Florida Keys sits on the world’s third largest coral reef and it should just be fitting to do some snorkeling around designated areas in the island.  The protected waters are home to an array of extraordinary sea life. Snorkeling gears are provided free by the boat, Yankee Freedom III.

Fishing on Garden Key is also allowed at five designated areas. Fishing license is required unless you are under the age of 16 or a Florida senior resident over the age of 65.

 

5.  camping

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There is an option to camp on the island up to three nights and that’s what we wanted to do but we did not get camping slots anymore as they only limit the number of campers per day to around sixty-six campers at the eleven camp sites in the island.  So be sure to book in advance if you want to camp.

 

6. touring the inner side of the fort

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Welcome to Fort Jefferson.  This fort was 30 years in the making but was never finished.

 

DSC_5843This is harbor light as seen from the ground level.

 

DSC_5835This is the ground level of the fort from inside.

 

DSC_5832The ground level of the fort has walkways that lead to the entrance to the second level of the fort.

 

DSC_5844 DSC_5845Also on display at the ground level are the boats used by sailors.

 

DSC_5858This is a part of the second level.  Imagine, you are inside one of the largest brick structures in the western hemisphere. There are 15 million bricks that make up this enormous fort.

 

DSC_5857From the second level, the view of the inner part of the fort is just haunting.

 

DSC_5852 DSC_5856Glancing outside from the second level, the view of the blue-green sea is just calming to the eye.  If you have time, you can stay put at any of the windows overlooking the waters and read a book.

 

7. enjoying the view from the boat

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From the boat you can enjoy the view going to the adjacent Bush Key while having lunch.

 

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You can also enjoy views of the harbor light and part of the eastern part of the fort from the boat.

 

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The four and a half hours was really short and I wished we could have camped there for a day or two as I also wanted to experience sunsets and sunrises on the island. We left the Garden Key at exactly 3:00 p.m. and reached Key West after two and a half hours.

 

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This has been my best island experience so far in the U.S.A.!  The scenery was something I have never seen before.

 

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Above all, the beach was incredibly beautiful!

01
Mar
15

U.S.: A Winter Experience


Living through an entire winter season is basically a new experience for me. Being a tropical guy who loves warm weather and goes for gorgeous tropical beaches, moving to the U.S. northeast was a big switch for me.  I have never actually stayed long in places during winter visits unlike my recent stay in New England where I have lived with snow storms and all. Nevertheless, this winter experience is an unforgettable moment for me and it came after one of New England’s most colorful fall seasons yet featured in another blog.

Here are some memorable winter snap shots taken in New England and nearby New York.

 

NEW ENGLAND

Snow came late this season but it came with a force with the first major snow storm dropping almost 30 inches of snow around New England.

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Time to shovel and turn on the snow blowers!

On sunny days, the neighborhood is indeed an enjoyable sight as we roam around seeing the colorful houses amidst the snow-covered lawns.

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And sunset time is lovely too.

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NEW YORK

A recent snow storm dumped almost a foot of snow in New York City and it was just timely as the following day we had a business transaction in the big city giving us the chance to stroll along Times Square, Midtown and Central Park.

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Our first stop was Bryant Park where the Winter Village is also located.

 

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We then briefly stopped at Herald Square.

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Our last stop was the captivatingly beautiful Central Park and we spent our time there until sunset.

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Then it was dark in Central Park.

DSC_5381 DSC_5399Indeed it was another white night in the big city.

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The Empire State building’s spire was lit up as we bade the big city goodnight.

24
Oct
14

U.S. : A Weekend in New England


It has been one of my dreams to spend a weekend in New England and to spend it during fall would be an added bonus giving me the best time to do leaf peeping.  It all happened one weekend in October 2014 and everything was unplanned. Just as we arrived around midnight at the tiny but efficient Worcester airport in Massachusetts from a quick Peruvian holiday, my fiancée decided to drive me to Vermont. I realized then that I was actually living my dream spending the weekend in New England with the fall foliage at its peak!

My fiancée, who’s based in Connecticut, planned to tour me around the six U.S. northeast states comprising New England namely Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire.  Boston serves as its financial, cultural and educational center. It played a significant role in U.S. history as the expulsion of the British authorities from New England in spring of 1776 led to the Declaration of the Independence in July 1776.  

VERMONT

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We arrived Vermont early in the morning after a long drive and we proceeded first to Burlington to check out Lake Champlain.  There was not much exciting foliage to see around the lake so we roamed around town.

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The maple trees were the most colorful ones and they have started to give up their leaves.

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We then chanced upon trees of stunning colors just at the back of Burlington’s famous brunch rendezvous, Skinny Pancake, where we had breakfast.

DSC_0719Further uptown we saw the same sceneries and we stopped to take some more snapshots.

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Pastel-coloured buildings matched the stunning display of fall.

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As we were about to exit Vermont, we stopped at Waterbury for some ice cream experience to cool ourselves off from the red-hot sceneries.


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I had mint chocolate chunks.

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It’s Ben&Jerry’s ice cream!

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We drove out of Vermont into neighboring New Hampshire in search for Lake Winnipesaukee.  The sight along the way was a never-ending display of the different hues of one of the most colorful fall foliage in New England in recent times as confirmed by a number of friends who live in and around the region.

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The hills seemed splashed with colors.  Imagine driving for hours on end with the amazing views.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

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Our next stop:  the live free or die state, New Hampshire!

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No, not yet.  We have not arrived at our final destination in New Hampshire yet.  We had a detour!  Yes, a magnificent detour! We saw a lake, stopped by and searched for that legal (read: no trespassing) spot to view the stunning, colorful sceneries mirrored on water that I could only see on the internet and magazines.

DSC_0768Welcome to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire! My jaw dropped in awe as the entire stretch of the opposite side of the lake was a brilliant display of colors.  I have never seen fall foliage like this.

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I wished I owned one of those tiny houses on the banks of the lake fronting the magnificent display.

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Tilting our views by another 45 degrees, we gazed upon another spectacular view of the lake. I was truly speechless!

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I could only do the thumbs up….
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….and smile!
Onwards to our final destination…
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 …we passed by white houses with colorful trees next to them.
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 We finally reached Lake Winnipesaukee which was our original destination in New Hampshire.
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Because of the unexpected detour earlier, we were less impressed with the scenery here as it was less colorful.
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 The lake was still lovely, though.

MAINE

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We entered Maine with more of the those lakes with beautiful sceneries.
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We even had a classic airplane to go along with the view.
As expected the roadside scenery still amazed us.
We encountered more colors or l would say more reds, along Maine’s highways on our way to Portland which would be our dinner location.  My fiancée already decided we were going to dine at DiMillo’s situated on Long Wharf.
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DiMillo’s was full house and we did not have any reservation.  What a miss out as we realized it was Columbus Day weekend!  We still took a queue number and we were told that the waiting time would be around 90 minutes. To our surprise, we were called in 20 minutes!
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We sat back, relaxed and enjoyed fresh seafood and steak with a pinot noir.

CONNECTICUT

Even if my fiancée was based in Connecticut, we were hardly inside the state and we were mostly roaming around New England.  Finally, on this particular day, a brunch experience at Mohegan Sun was the day’s first major activity.  Mohegan Sun is one of the two major casino resort complexes in Connecticut.
DSC_4333A 10-minute drive from my fiancée‘s place, we ventured into this vast casino and hotel complex when lunch was about to be served.
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Seasons Buffet was our first destination.
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There was a wide selection of delectable cuisine and the place was huge, full of excited weekend crowd.
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Afterwards, my tour of the vast casino started with the glass sculpture….
DSC_4300..then to the Casino of the Wind….
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…where The Mist was located…..

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DSC_4309…and to other parts of the casino showcasing native Indian-inspired designs.
The casino also has a lot of dining choices:
like burger joints…
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 …and other restaurants.
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Our time at the Mohegan Sun finally ran out and we had to leave.
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See you again soon, Mohegan Sun!
We had to be in Truro in Cape Cod, Massachusetts by sunset.
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 As we were driving, we saw another lake within Connecticut and we had to stop.
Calm waters, vibrant golds, blue skies, afternoon sun and a jolly mood ended our day in Connecticut.

MASSACHUSETTS

Driving from Connecticut through Rhode Island into Massachusetts, it was getting dark when we got into the Bourne Bridge crossing the Cape Cod canal.
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We reached Truro in Cape Cod hoping to catch the sunset but we were late for half an hour so we just decided to spend the night further up the cape in Provincetown.
And it was dinner time.
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DSC_4339We comfortably situated ourselves in Bubala’s By The Bay and tried its famous food for the famished. This dining spot is a favorite among Provincetown visitors.  We had mouthwatering orders of stir-fried scallops on pasta, grilled halibut with cilantro sauce and fresh oysters partnered with my favorite pinot noir.
We roamed the city after dinner.
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It took us to nice little boutiques, cool restaurants and bars, art galleries and all…..
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…then to the historic town hall…
…and the Pilgrim Monument, the highest all-granite structure  in the United States.
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We originally planned to go back to Connecticut but we ended up spending the night away at Cape Colony Inn.
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We woke up the next day to a bright, sunny day and we directly went to the beach.
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A day shot of Provincetown’s Pilgrim Monument area from the beach.
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More colorful snapshots on the beach….
…in and around town.
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Provincetown or PTown is definitely one of America’s coolest little towns.
We then had an unplanned detour to an Atlantic Ocean-facing beach.  We had to hike half a mile to reach the beach.
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We finally reached the beach!
 
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A deserted beach where we spent some time.  

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DSC_0920There were gray seals a quarter of a mile from us on the beach.  I was actually interested to check on their resting activities but as the signage showed, we should not disturb them.
Next: The Boston Dinner.
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We chose Top of the Hub because of its amazing views of Boston.  It is situated at the top of Prudential Tower.
With no reservation, the waiting time was around 45 minutes on that weekend night.
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Jazz music soothed our ears.
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A pinot noir was an exciting pre-starter to the senses.

The food was simply delectable.
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my steak
It was a great way to end a busy day.
Oh wait! How could I almost forget the breathtaking 270 degrees night views of Boston from the top.
The Top of the Hub is indeed the ideal out-of-towners stop in Boston.

RHODE ISLAND

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Rhode Island was the last state we checked out.
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It was equally stunning with vibrant display of colors.
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 Again I was attempting to get that classic shot of a mirrored image on the waters but it was a bit windy causing ripples on the waters.
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However,  I was still amazed by the view here….
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….there…
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…..and everywhere!

And on we went to lovely Newport.
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Newport was our day ending destination as we would be watching sunset which we missed to do in Cape Cod.
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We briefly stopped at the city center. Shown here is the International Tennis Hall of Fame flags.
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 Rochambeau’s statue.
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King Park.
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Some yachts, a medium-sized cruise ship and a bridge graced the bay.
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 We finally arrived at the Castle Hill Inn.
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The Lawn and the Terrace Bar were the places where we would spend most of the time while in the mansion.
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We stayed for a short while at the Terrace Bar as we ordered a caffeine-inducing drink and a chardonnay.
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 We then transferred to the edge of the terrace……
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…then to the lawn…
…watching sailboats go by…
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 ..and waiting for the sun to set.
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 Finally, the sun was about to set.
It was a surreal moment watching the sun slowly disappeared along Narragansett Bay.  Another day had ended. It was a weekend like no other, my first weekend in New England.   It was indeed one of my most unforgettable and definitely the most colorful.  Thank God for the beauty of fall and for someone special who was willing to do so much to make this dream come true.  I pray that I will be back next year.  Same season, same place.
07
Dec
11

U.S./Mammoth: Skiing on the 4th of July


This trip was smoothly planned.  After a quick summertime peek at America’s favorite playground, Lake Tahoe, we would try skiing in one of North America’s top skiing destinations, Mammoth Mountain.  It is a favorite training place for Olympic champions such as Shaun White, the 2010 Winter Olympics gold medalist. I am not a professional skier. This would be just my 2nd time to ski after my first in Minakami, Japan. I just wanted to do the unusual: skiing, not during winter, but during summer, on the 4th of July!

The almost 3-hour drive from South Lake Tahoe to Mammoth was indeed scenic.

Snowcapped mountains.

Yellow-green fields.

Breathtaking lake vistas.

Flashy car(s).

And a rodeo.

Yes, we had a brief stop at Bridgeport, CA…..

…where an average crowd was gathered…

…leisurely watching the rodeo.

In fact it was the eve of America’s birthday and a weekend.  Everyone wanted to relax and celebrate.

After the almost 3 hours drive from South Lake Tahoe, my friend Ron and I finally arrived at our hotel, Mammoth Creek Inn.

Yes, a charming boutique hotel.

5 miles to the main ski area, Mammoth Creek Inn is conveniently located along the main road.

A moderately sized room with twin single beds was enough to serve as our headquarters in Mammoth.

Free wi-fi access was an added bonus.

We immediately paid a visit to the Mammoth main area for us to be accustomed for the next day’s activities.

This is the main building in the Mammoth ski area.

The parking lots were almost empty as the place was already closed except for some open restaurants.

We just toured the area…..

….and so we thought this was the main ski area.  We were not aware that behind this mountain is the way to the towering summit of  Mammoth Mountain and the great expanse of its ski area.

We capped the day with tacos and beer at the Mammoth grounds wishing America an advance happy birthday.

Going back to the hotel, I roamed around the 3-storey building. It has a cozy common relaxation area.

Still in the living room area is a single Mac available for free for those who have not brought laptops to access the free wi-fi connection.

I went up to the second level which has a sofa set leading to the balcony that stretches the side of the entire second level.

The stairs leading to the 3rd level.

In the basement is a small jacuzzi.


The next day, after breakfast, we rented ski accessories and immediately went into the ski grounds.

There were already a lot of skiers (I believe 99.99% were Americans) who queued up for a ride on the lift up to the mountain summit to ski down the slopes.


There was only one open lift station, Broadway Express 1.

And yes, it was summer and the day to celebrate America’s freedom and everyone could wear anything!

Some were wearing shorts and some had absolutely absurd skiing outfits and some almost had nothing on top.

Some wore jeans like me and the ladies behind me in this pic.

Well, it was just actually a fun ski.

After one hour of skiing we were down on chairs just watching people ride the lift repeatedly.

Watching the crowd get thin….

..and thick again.

After we have rested, we took the cable car to the mountain summit.

The view was indeed breathtaking as we were on our way to the top.  It was not a completely white scenery, understandably because it was summer but it was still beautiful.


We reached the summit after 15 minutes.

 At the top of the sierra was a relaxation area and a cafe.

It was pretty crowded at the top.

The crowd was a combination of skiers, bikers and just plain mesmerized onlookers.


Yes, the biking area was already cleared of snow for the biking season to start.

Even children took their bikes up to the summit.

This is me at the top of Mammoth Mountain, 11,053 feet elevation.

I just became one of the spectators as I’m still not an expert skier who could ski down from the mountain summit down thousand feet below.

Picture-taking was our main business at the top.

Yes, it was definitely a thumbs up for me.  It was a sizzling summer alpine experience…..and it was time to descend after our quick lunch of pizza and soda in the cafe.

And that’s the mountain summit where we came from, where expert skiers would ski down thousand feet below. The slope has a steep inclination and I was just amazed by the bunch of experts gliding with fun and ease.

We went down to the ski area grounds still feeling high.

Obviously, since it was summer time and there was no fresh snow, the ski area was not in the best condition for even intermediate skiing.  They had to maintain the snow/ice and it was already very slippery and hard. Anyway, there was a time in years past that the resort extended its opening days until mid-August after receiving  more snow in that season. For this season, the resort was open until 4th of July to accommodate those who really want to experience the “4th of July Skiing” which was one of my 2011 dream activities. The ski resort closed the next day and opened again late November this year.

We had to take the long drive from Mammoth back to Sacramento/Stockton area cutting through the mostly long winding and scenic roads inside Yosemite National Park. For everyone’s information, there are now flights from San Jose, Los Angeles and San Francisco going to Mammoth via Alaska Air/Horizon Air or Skywest Airlines.  Yes, the flights are a bunch of saving alternatives for the punishing ~5-hour drive from San Francisco and San Jose and the ~6-hour drive from L.A.

Mammoth really means huge! Whether it refers to the woolly elephants or the enormous ski area size, it aptly defines both!

21
Oct
11

U.S./New York : Balthazar Restaurant


Table for three at Balthazar Restaurant. Reservation done. We’re on our way to try a restaurant recommended by my New Yorker friend. Martha Stewart has also featured the restaurant’s owner on her show and declared many times that it remains to be one of her favorite dining places in New York. Well let’s see if it is a tourist trap.

My friend and I arrived in SoHo an hour early for our 6pm dinner appointment with my other friend so we first dropped by at….

Dean and Deluca for….

…iced coffee and people watching….

….and more intense people watching.

Then we roamed around SoHo within 4 blocks of the restaurant.

SoHo never fails to amaze.

SoHo has the greatest collection of cast-iron architecture in the world.

It has a lot of shopping outlets.

A lot of Renaissance-style building.

A lot of eager shoppers.  We too got hooked and we bought loafers at Cole Haan.

It was almost 6pm so we had to head back to 80 Spring Street between Broadway and Crosby, the location of Balthazar Restaurant.

The airy restaurant (plus its Zinc Bar) can accommodate 200 people.  It opened in 1997 with premium French cuisine.

The restaurant is known for its exceptional design wherein its building was converted from a leather wholesaler warehouse to one of New York’s top restaurants.  There was nothing fancy in the restaurant’s interior.  I liked it but it did not give me chills.


We first had a Bordeaux Chateau Jonqueyres and chicken liver & foie gras mousse with red onion confit and grilled country bread.

Shortly the main course was served. From left, Wes, myself and Roseller.

For main course: Roseller had CRISP BERKSHIRE PORK BELLY with heirloom tomatoes, rocket, pickled spring onions and tzatziki sauce. Wes had a DUCK SHEPHERD’S PIE.  I had BALTHAZAR BAR STEAK with pommes frites, maître d’ butter and béarnaise sauce.

We were just actually seated next to the bread area.

And for dessert, we had a pavlova and…

…profiteroles. I am not fond of sweets but I loved our choices especially profiteroles.

It was a fabulous dinner with my two friends (who met each other for the first time) and it was certainly one of my better dining experiences in America.

I have attached the menu for dinner. You can visit http://www.balthazarny.com/ for more information on Balthazar, a Michelen Guide 2011 Recommended restaurant.  It is not overly-priced. The restaurant’s brunch is highly recommended so if I would get another chance to drop by, it would be in the late morning.  I love brunches and eggs benedicts!


21
Oct
11

U.S./New York : Of Bridges & Pizzas


I was staying at my friend’s posh apartment at 60th street in Manhattan when one day we decided to cross the East River to a vantage point that offers a spectacular view of the Brooklyn Bridge at night.  The scenery has been featured in countless movies.

Directions given by those who have been there, instructed us to go to Empire Fulton Ferry State Park.  So we took the subway station nearest my friend’s place, Columbus Circle, made one line transfer and alighted at High Street station in Brooklyn. After a short walk from High Street station we arrived at….

….the Brooklyn Bridge Park and enjoyed the view of Manhattan from there.  With the sun about to set behind the concrete jungle of Manhattan, it created a silvery gray backdrop.  However, it was still not the recommended position to enjoy the best view of the Brooklyn Bridge at night.  We walked for 7 minutes to the north until we reached the Empire Fulton Ferry State Park.  The park is actually in between Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge.

From the park and facing Manhattan, to the right is the historic Manhattan Bridge….

…and to the left is the more famous Brooklyn Bridge with an overwhelming view of Manhattan’s skycrapers.

Since it was summertime, sunset was around past 8pm so we waited for almost one hour for darkness to set in.

At exactly 810pm , we took this shot of the bridge after all the camera aperture adjustments; not the best but it was okay for us.  It would have been more breathtaking if the WTC twin towers were still there.

As the camera tripod had been set, we took turns in having our portrait taken.  First my friend, Roseller….

…and then myself.

Before we left the park I had a shot taken on the rocks with the Manhattan Bridge as background.

We ended the day below the Brooklyn Bridge at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, judged as New York’s best by some reviewers.

Was it good?  Definitely it was!  The coal-brick oven is probably the key to its divine taste. It was worth queueing for and in my opinion it’s not over-hyped as some are claiming. Is it really the best?  I can’t tell.  To rank it as the best pizza in New York, I should have tasted all the other competitors such as John’s Pizzeria, Lucali & Lombardi’s.  But surely, it was one of the best tasting pizzas I ever had.



20
Oct
11

U.S./San Francisco : Rocket Boat


If you have been frequenting San Francisco as a visitor, you are likely to ask what else is new in the city by the bay.   Well, we actually asked ourselves that question on a recent visit to the city with my sister’s family and some friends from the Philippines and Japan.

Hmmm we were thinking, the Golden Gate Bridge is still not golden.  The eternally chilly, foggy summers are still persistent.

The legendary cable cars are still packed and Alcatraz still mesmerizes.  Finally, we got an answer : the Rocket Boat!

It is a 30-minute thrilling ride on San Francisco Bay.  It has been dubbed as the roller coaster on the sea!

The area around the famous Fisherman’s Wharf signage became our base on that day.  With a number of youngsters in tow we started walking four blocks away to Pier 39 to buy the tickets for the thrilling ride.

Just as we arrived at the boarding station and purchased our tickets, the boat was just leaving for the 30-minute ride. We actually made a mistake of purchasing the slow boat cruise to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Our friends from Japan continued to board the slow boat but my sister’s family and I exchanged our tickets for the Rocket Boat ride as the kids wanted some excitement rather than just board a boring cruise ship.

We just stayed in the Pier 39 area and waited until the boat came back.

Finally we saw the boat heading back!

And then we were ready to board!

At the boat’s entrance, everyone was given a transparent plastic coat as protection from the splashing water during the ride.

My sister’s family were ready.

so I was….

..and the others too!


The boat slowly cruised its way to San Francisco Bay passing by the resting sea lions, Pier 39’s most famous residents.

In a few minutes we were on the bay with a magnificent view of the city.

Then the boat went up, went down, made sharp turns, 360ed and it was really a roller coaster on the waters aptly accompanied by Heart’s Barracuda music!

A victory sign for the ride!

Then we approached the Bay Bridge

…crossed it…

…cruised right underneath it that if it would break into two, we would definitely perish!

Then a number of times we just went around the two-decked bridge……


…..enjoying the city views that you can’t get aboard those normal cruise ships as they go the opposite way.


We even stopped to take a closer look of the AT&T Park from the bay.

And it was time to head back to Pier 39. Was the $24 worth it?  Absolutely! Everyone had the ride of their life on the bay!

As we drove up and out of the city, it was the same feeling I had every time I depart from America’s most captivating city by the bay.




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