Sunday, July 25, 2010

back from Ukiah

Just because summer break is over doesn't mean the fun is. Case in point, my family just got back from another short trip!

Day 1

We were just a few blocks from our house when a garage sale caught our attention. Dad pulled over so we could see what was available. Though I saw some nice stuff, there wasn't anything we needed. It wasn't long before we decided to leave.

The next stop was a small plaza in Santa Rosa. I wanted to look around after lunch in the car. The place wasn't that big, although we enjoyed checking out Borders and Cost Plus World Market.

Our car wouldn't start when we got back to the parking lot. Dad called AAA and was told the battery had gone kaput. To save time, he accepted the offer to have a new one installed. There was actually a Lexus dealership just around the corner, but we took the AAA guy's word that his service was cheaper.

Ukiah was just an hour to the north. The plan was to go hiking in Smithe Redwoods State Reserve and Richardson Grove State Park after checking into our hotel. That was what made our last trip to Ukiah so much fun. However, my parents and I had trouble finding either place. I later realized my memory was wrong - the parks are located near Leggett rather than Ukiah. Oh well.

The three of us went to Denny's for dinner before visiting the nearby Wal-Mart. Other than that, the evening was uneventful as there wasn't much else to do.

Day 2

The morning began with a stop at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmage. This was our first time here in several years. We participated in some of the activities before joining the other practitioners for lunch. To support the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, my family bought some vegetarian food and made an additional donation as we left.

The plan was to visit Point Reyes next, but our GPS kept giving us wrong directions. That went unnoticed for over 30 minutes, after which we decided not to turn back due to the high overhead. On the other hand, my parents and I stopped at a roadside oyster bar on our way home. Price aside, the oysters Rockefeller was delicious. The day ended with a nice dinner at the Szechuan Taste Restaurant in San Francisco.

Conclusions

The trip was supposed to be three days long, but we shortened it to two days due to the lack of attractions. Despite the change in plans, all of us had a great time. Speaking of which, the afternoon snack at the oyster bar was my favorite part of the trip. Sometimes it's the little things that matter the most. You can see pictures from our vacation here.

In other news...

Dad recently got an Olympus SP-800UZ digital camera. The 30x zoom and 14 MP resolution are amazing!

Currently listening to: "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

one more quarter to go!

The final quarter at St. Mary's College has started. It's hard to believe I'm almost done with graduate school. Time certainly flies!

Summer was short as we didn't get out until late June. However, I'm not going to complain because the break was really awesome. The 4th of July concert and the trip to Riverside come to mind. :-)

Currently playing: Larry and the Gnomes

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

back from Riverside again

I just got back from Riverside again with my parents. You may remember that we went there several weeks ago to learn more about the statistics department at UC Riverside. The purpose of this trip was to get a closer look at the housing options.

Day 1

It was a hectic morning because we still had to pack up. This is normally done the night before, but we were all exhausted following the 4th of July concert. The rushing didn't help as we found out the flight had been delayed by almost 90 minutes. I could have used that extra sleep. :\

The flight itself was uneventful. After the plane landed, my family picked up a rental car before checking out various apartments in the area. I liked the dorms better, but the apartments were cheaper and had fewer restrictions. Some of the offices were closed for the 4th of July weekend, so we decided to come back in the morning.

The day ended with a nice dinner at IHOP. As odd as it sounds, this was the best part of the trip. There weren't many points of interest around here, although we saw a beautiful sunset from our hotel room. That was another great moment.

Day 2

The breakfast at the hotel was also delicious. We then went back to the apartments for a better look and soon found one that we liked. Two other Asian families were eager to make friends with us; one of them even invited us in for a chat. They were really nice people. I was getting hungry at this point but felt it would be rude to ask to be excused.

The three of us then had lunch at Coco's Bakery before going to the UC Riverside campus to thank a professor who helped me get a conditional admission. The next stop was a furniture store for quotes as the apartment we picked didn't offer furnished rooms. There was a bit of time left, during which we checked out a local supermarket.

We arrived at Ontario International Airport to find that our flight home was also delayed, this time by about an hour. Lesson learned: always check flight status before rushing to the airport. On the other hand, I had a great conversation with a girl who was also studying statistics. :-)

Conclusions

Because the purpose of this trip was to learn more about the housing near the UC Riverside campus, our itinerary didn't include any tourist spots. That said, I really enjoyed the dinner at IHOP and watching the sunset. Traveling is always fun regardless of the reason. I've posted some pictures from the trip here.

At any rate, I'm extremely excited about moving to Riverside in September. It'll be challenging but probably nothing I can't handle. Bring it on!

Currently listening to: "The Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July report

The 4th of July was pretty awesome as we had a little party before going to an amazing concert!

Party report

You may recall that our family friend Kitty invited us to their house for a barbecue on the 26th. To return the favor, my parents had the Jaus and two of their relatives over for lunch. Mom made lots of food, all of which was delicious. Though Lawrence had to leave early for personal reasons, the other guests stayed for several hours.

Symphony and fireworks

The three of us headed to Shoreline Amphitheatre for the 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular with the San Francisco Symphony after a short rest. At first we thought it would be all classical music, but there were hits from various genres. The best part was when the Star Wars theme came on during the fireworks. That was an incredible experience.

As an added bonus, the orchestra played several more pieces that weren't on the program. The event concluded with a raffle drawing. That was pretty fun even though we didn't win anything. Due to traffic in the area, my parents and I didn't get home until just past midnight!

Follow-up on the fake FBI guy

I recently contacted the FBI and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff to ask whether the "FBI agent" at Roaring Camp was legit. However, because neither agency has responded, I went ahead and filed a report with both of them. I've also sent a copy to the Santa Cruz Police Department for good measure. Here's to hoping the guy gets caught. It's funny that I'm doing America a favor on her birthday by reporting a fake federal agent.

All that having been said, I hope to attend the Moonlight Train Dinner Party again to make up for what happened last month. Mom isn't too keen on the idea, but I'm sure it would make a great date. If only I wasn't single. :-)

Even though that guy ruined our evening, the concert definitely made everything better. The other good news is that we're heading to Riverside again after a good night's sleep. I'm super excited!

Currently listening to: "Bright Eyes" by Art Garfunkel

Historical note: Pictures from the party and the concert are on my Flickr account. A video of the fireworks is available on YouTube.