Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day weekend + Northern California trip report

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend. At least my family did, considering that we went on a three-day trip to far Northern California. It was a crazy vacation, complete with road closures, food poisoning and whatnot. The trip was otherwise enjoyable, so read on to find out more... if you dare!

Day 1

The first stop was Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. The park is known for its steam trains and somewhat reminiscent of Roaring Camp in Felton. I'd love to go on one of the train rides, but none of us were eager to find out the ticket prices. Railtown 1897 is nonetheless an attraction I'd like to revisit in the future.

Columbia State Historic Park awaited us in the afternoon. Unlike our last time here six years ago, the weather was pretty cool. It was nice to explore the park without burning up. The three of us then headed to Sonora and checked out the stores there. This was overall my favorite part of the trip.

Our hotel for the two nights was in Mammoth Lakes. We were only 20 miles away when State Route 108 was closed due to a storm. According to our GPS, the detour would have taken around 250 miles. Yikes!

Dad tried to cancel our hotel reservation but was told the deadline had passed. Although he decided to go ahead with the detour rather than let the money go to waste, the distance eventually proved to be too much. Just when it seemed we were out of options, my father managed to get the reservation transferred to an affiliate hotel in Auburn. All of us were exhausted from the driving and elected to cancel the second night.

Day 2

Figuring it would be a shame to go home so soon, especially after having planned the trip for so long, my parents decided to extend it back to three days after a good night's sleep. Dad then booked a hotel in Redding. This was certainly a pleasant surprise.

We spent about an hour in Old Town Auburn before heading west. Some of the local restaurants looked nice, but none of us were hungry at the time. I'd love to have lunch in Auburn on our next visit here.

The plan was to go hiking in Clear Lake State Park in the afternoon. However, the trails were dry and didn't have any shade. That made us change our minds; paying the $7 entrance fee only to get sunburned wasn't exactly a good deal.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, although we went to Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay in the evening. The bridge was a cool sight and made for some nice pictures.

Day 3

The morning began with another visit to Sundial Bridge. It was equally impressive in the daytime. We then headed to McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park after lunch. Given that the waterfall was one of the highlights of our trip to far Northern California five years ago, Mom suggested stopping there again.

Visitors were told to expect delays due a "medical emergency" on park grounds. Lots of police, firefighters and paramedics soon showed up. Some rangers were watching the river, and a CAL FIRE helicopter circled above for a few minutes. It quickly became apparent that someone had fallen into the water. The rangers then began closing the area, at which point we decided to leave.

I later learned that a 16-year-old boy had drowned near the waterfall. This is a sad situation and definitely not how we wanted things to turn out. Our thoughts and prayers are with the young man's family during their difficult time. Upon leaving Burney Falls, I realized just how precious life really is.

We headed to Lassen Volcanic National Park after digesting what just happened. Only a portion of the park was open because of the recent storm. However, this wasn't a big deal as we had been to Lassen several times. Seeing that most of the park was closed, my parents and I didn't stay too long.

There was some more bad news: my father got food poisoning from bad quiches. The last stop was Denny's for dinner, although Dad didn't eat much as he wasn't feeling well. We figured it was best to let him get some rest and didn't do much else on the way home except buy groceries at WinCo Foods.

Conclusions

This was undoubtedly an exhausting vacation. Due to the road closures and long drives, all of us were pretty tired when we got home. It's hard to believe we were away for only three days!

The tragedy at Burney Falls made it difficult to enjoy the place. That was a sobering experience. Despite the craziness, the vacation was still quite memorable. I'd say Sonora was the highlight of the trip, although Old Town Auburn wasn't too bad either. Those towns are definitely worth another visit. I've posted some pictures from the trip here.

Currently listening to: "Danger Zone" by Giorgio Moroder

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day weekend report

The weekend was quite special as I took my parents out to lunch for the first time ever!

I spent most of Saturday helping out in the garden. As my mother wants netting to protect the vegetables from birds, Dad and I worked on installing the supports. This was a demanding job, but the two of us got most of the work done. It was a productive day for sure.

Mother's Day itself was pretty fun as I treated my parents to lunch at Sino, an Asian fusion restaurant at Santana Row in San Jose. I've always wanted to do something like this but never had the chance. This is much easier now that I have a job; I usually had to study for finals around this time of the year when I was in school.

Service was relatively quick despite the amount of people. While the main dishes were a bit overcooked, the dim sum and dessert were perfect. The hostesses were super hot; I couldn't resist flirting chatting with them while waiting for the food. Of course, that's as far as I went as I'm sure they get hit on all the time. ^_^

You can see pictures from the lunch here. This is no doubt something I want to do again in the future. At least Father's Day is in only six weeks!

On the subject of which, I helped Dad with yard work for the rest of the afternoon. The good news is that we got all of the poles and wires in place. All we need now are the nets before the garden is fully protected. :-)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Good riddance, Osama.

In case you haven't seen the news, Osama bin Laden has been confirmed dead. Some sources report he was killed in an airstrike; others say he was shot. But that's not important; the matter of fact is that the mastermind behind 9/11 is now where he belongs.

While I'm not one to gloat over someone's death, I can't help but feel that Osama got what he deserved. Justice has been served.

Currently listening to: "God Bless America" by Irving Berlin