Sunday, July 26, 2015

Davis trip report

The weekend was pretty fun as my family went on an overnight trip to Davis. I know we just came back from another trip last month, but Dad had several thousand Hyatt Gold Passport points that were close to expiring. I'm certainly not complaining!

Day 1

Our first stop was the Petaluma Marina. Seeing that it was almost noon when we arrived, the three of us had lunch in the car before taking a look around. The only thing of interest was an office complex with a handful of shops, but we still had a great time taking pictures.

Mom had been wanting to go to Bodega Bay for a while, so that's where we went next. Despite the relatively short distance, the drive took longer than expected due to traffic. The reason for coming to Bodega Bay was to see some of the spots where The Birds was filmed. Our previous visit here was around 20 years ago. Can you believe how fast time flies?

This was followed by dinner at an Indian restaurant in Vacaville. The food was super spicy but otherwise delicious. We checked into the hotel before going for an evening stroll on the UC Davis campus. A major attraction of the university was the arboretum. However, my parents and I decided to come back the next day as it was getting late.

Day 2

The morning started with a tasty breakfast at the hotel, after which we returned to UC Davis to see what the arboretum had to offer. The gardens were beautiful and had all kinds of plants. The lack of crowds made this a pleasant experience.

The next destination was the Budweiser factory in Fairfield. We've passed it many times but never had the chance to check it out until now. The tour was informative and included beer samples. This was definitely the best part of the trip. The plan was to visit the Jelly Belly factory as well, but we changed our minds after finding out it had no tours on weekends.

The final stop was the local WinCo Foods for groceries. While I didn't see that many interesting snacks this time, Mom bought lots of soy milk and flour. We began heading home at this point as my mother didn't want the soy milk to go bad in the heat. The smooth traffic allowed us to get home fairly early - which is probably a good thing, considering that I have to work tomorrow!

Conclusions

This trip was quite enjoyable despite being just one night long. The highlight of the vacation was the Budweiser factory tour, although the UC Davis Arboretum comes a close second. I didn't know the campus could be such a lovely place. It's not often that we go on more than one trip during the summer nowadays, so this was nice for a change. You can view pictures from our trip at Flickr.

In other news...

Happy one-year anniversary to my cousin Connie and her husband Luc!

Currently listening to: "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey

Saturday, July 18, 2015

an amazing train trip to Sacramento

Today was pretty exciting as we went to Sacramento with the China-America Shanghai Friendship Association. Our family friend Ching-Lin had invited us on a field trip organized by the club, to which we happily obliged. There were around 30 other families!

The morning began with a rendezvous at the Amtrak station in Fremont. This was a new experience as we had never been on Amtrak before. Although the train had a 8:20 a.m. departure time, my parents and I had to get up fairly early as the organizer of the event had asked everyone to arrive by 7:40 a.m.

The ride to Sacramento was about two and a half hours long. The train picked up numerous other families at various stops; there were so many of us that we took up nearly an entire car. Ching-Lin acted as the tour guide during the ride; his knowledge of the history of California was particularly impressive.

After arriving in Sacramento, our party split into groups and rode the bus to the California State Capitol. It was almost noon at this point, so we had a picnic lunch in the adjacent Capitol Park before signing up for a guided tour of the building. The tour was quite informative; I had no idea the Capitol could be so fascinating.

Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park awaited us next. However, the front doors were locked. We thought the place was closed and were about to leave when someone noticed a second entrance. The tour guides were awesome and more than happy to accommodate our schedule. The mansion was beautiful and gave us a glimpse of what life for the 1% used to be like. It's a shame photography wasn't allowed inside. I can't wait to be able to download pictures from my brain. ^_^

The final stop was Old Sacramento. Our families took a stroll to the picturesque Tower Bridge and checked out local shops. The weather was extremely hot, but one of the caf├ęs had cheap ice cream. I enjoyed a double scoop before heading back to the Amtrak station.

It was hard to bid farewell to all the cool people we met. The evening concluded with dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant in Sunnyvale. While the tapas were delicious, the fish wasn't too fresh and the water tasted terrible. To be honest, this wasn't exactly a stellar dining experience.

The field trip had a few funny moments. There was a cutout of Doge in a window at the California State Capitol. One of the girls noticed that I recognized the meme and decided that "Mr. Doge" was my new name. It was rather comical to say the least. The other thing is that several moms asked me whether I was still in college. That made me feel young for sure. :D

The only downside is that there were few people my age; most of the millennials in our group were high school students. I guess twenty-somethings don't hang out much with their families anymore. The day trip was nonetheless a major highlight of the summer. I definitely hope similar events are being planned for the future. In the meantime, you can go here for the pictures.

Currently listening to: "Come and Get Your Love" by Redbone

Sunday, July 5, 2015

4th of July long weekend report

The 4th of July weekend wasn't too bad even though the weather was pretty hot most of the time.

Friday

The day started with a mishap: I had forgotten we have today off and was under the impression that it would be the 6th. As a result, my parents and I wasted a good 25 minutes carpooling to the office only to find that nobody was there. This could all have been avoided had I checked my holiday schedule. *facepalm*

The rest of Friday was fairly uneventful because of the heat, although we walked to our family friend Sheila's house in the evening to give her some of our lemons. She and Jeff invited us in for some ice cream and tea; their hospitality was truly amazing. All of us had such a good time chatting that it was well past 10 p.m. when we got home!

Saturday

The plan was to visit Bodega Bay as Mom has been wanting to go there for some time. She later suggested going to Santa Cruz instead after seeing the temperatures were still quite high. However, the forecasts showed a lot of traffic along the route, probably because everyone else was thinking the same thing. In the end, my family went hiking in Los Altos Hills.

The three of us later stopped at Nob Hill Foods for some ice cream before going for a stroll around our neighborhood in the evening. There were several local professional fireworks displays this year, some of which were visible from our street. It's nice to be able to catch a good show from the comfort of our home.

Sunday

It was so hot outside today that none of us wanted to go anywhere. On the other hand, my parents and I watched Dog Day Afternoon for Henry's movie club. I also saw Riddick and Guardians of the Galaxy for fun. Guardians of the Galaxy was totally hilarious; I'd absolutely love to see a sequel.

Last but not least, the U.S. won the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. I can't think of a better way to end the 4th of July weekend.

Currently watching: Guardians of the Galaxy

Thursday, July 2, 2015

new iPhone 6 Plus!

So my family each got an iPhone 6 Plus as part of an updated contract with Verizon. They're all the 128 GB model; my parents got theirs on Tuesday while mine arrived this afternoon. From my initial impressions, the iPhone 6 Plus is really nice. It seems to be faster than the iPhone 4s and has a noticeably longer battery life. The larger screen also makes it easier to use. The only downside about the iPhone 6 Plus is its somewhat bulky size, but that's probably something I'll get used to.

However, there are two annoying issues. The first is that I'm having an extremely hard time importing my custom ringtones. Although iTunes indicates that the files have been synced to the new phone, they simply won't show up. I've tried several different solutions and rebooted the phone multiple times, all to no avail. This went on for about two hours, after which I eventually gave up. I don't understand why Apple has to make what should be a simple task so complicated.

The other thing is that I lost two months of progress in Angry Birds Epic after syncing my files to the new phone. I used to play the game on the iPad 2 and iPhone 4s before switching to the Kindle Fire HDX due to iOS issues. The iOS version would frequently start lagging and eventually crash. I figured the app might work better on the iPhone 6 Plus, but when I copied the data over, the save file from the iPhone 4s somehow overwrote the current one on the Rovio servers. Shit happens.

While it's only a game, I'm a little pissed off about losing hours of work and tons of Lucky Coins. In any case, I've contacted Rovio customer support; let's hope this is something they'll be able to sort out. *fingers crossed*

July 3 update: Rovio managed to restore my Angry Birds Epic save file. Their customer support is pretty amazing. :-)

Currently playing: Angry Birds Epic