Thursday, December 28, 2017

back from Bakersfield

The holiday season has been nice as we went on a two-day trip to Bakersfield!

Day 1

The trip began with a 255-mile drive to Bakersfield. Aside from a bathroom break at Casa de Fruta and another stop at a rest area for lunch, the drive was uneventful. There was some traffic, although we didn't arrive too late.

We unpacked our stuff and had some rest before going to the local Albertson's to buy food. The three of us had dinner before heading down to the fitness center. It was nice to burn off calories while watching the football game between UCLA and Kansas State.

Day 2

All of us woke up pretty early and had trouble sleeping again. On the other hand, the nice part about getting up early is that there is plenty of time to explore the area. Following a nice breakfast at the hotel, my family headed to Red Rock Canyon State Park for a hike. This was pretty fun, although we spent much of the time in the car as it was getting hot outside. We had to drive some very bumpy gravel roads to get back to the freeway. This was definitely an adventurous moment. On the whole, I'd say Red Rock Canyon State Park was the best part of the trip.

We turned back towards Bakersfield, stopping in Tehachapi on the way. This was a small town and reminded us of Niles. We spend a short time exploring the downtown. Mom then suggested going to the nearby Burger Spot to try out their ostrich burger. It didn't taste too different than a regular hamburger but was still delicious.

Back in Bakersfield, the three of us visited three thrift shops and went to WinCo Foods and Von's for groceries. Dinner again consisted of frozen meals. There wasn't much else to do in the area, although I watched X-Men: Days of Future Past on TV while my parents talked poetry.

Day 3

The three of us spent the morning exploring the downtown after another nice breakfast at the hotel. One notable stop was the Kern County Museum. It was really nice to check out the 50 original buildings from the county. The downside is that we wasted over half an hour here due to Groupon issues, but the clerk was kind enough to let us in for free our troubles.

This was followed by lunch at IHOP. The plan was to visit Taft as well, but we decided to leave that for another time as my parents were tired. The drive home was mostly uneventful.

Conclusions

The main reason for the trip was actually to visit the LIGO Hanford Observatory - which we thought was in Hanford, California. Mom knew I liked science and figured I'd be interested. Only after we left our house did we realize the observatory was in Washington. *facepalm*

Despite the mistake, Bakersfield was still pretty fun. Although we had passed it a few times on previous trips, this was our first time exploring the area in full. The hike in Red Rock Canyon State Park was definitely my favorite part of the trip. It's too bad we didn't have time to visit Taft or Carrizo Plain National Monument due to time constraints, but I'm sure we'll have plenty of opportunities to go there in the future.

Currently listening to: "Fox on the Run" by Sweet

Friday, December 15, 2017

company holiday cruise

So my company had a holiday cruise in San Francisco this afternoon. It was so much fun!

I had to leave my house just after noon as boarding was scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. Dad wanted to start out early because the route to San Francisco is often congested. The good news is that we arrived in San Francisco with plenty of time to spare. Because nobody else was there, my family went for a short stroll around the pier in the meantime. They then dropped me off at the gate as my co-workers started to arrive.

It was soon time to board the California Hornblower and get the party started. The boat then set sail 30 minutes later as dinner was served. The food wasn't that extraordinary - mainly because the prime rib was too tough - but that wasn't a big deal as the main purpose of the cruise was to enjoy the atmosphere.

There was also a DJ on board. Though not many people got up to dance, our senior executive administrator Jonell was more than happy to hit the dance floor. She was the life of the party. A lot of people later got on the observation decks to watch the sunset. This was a wonderful experience and brought back memories of the dinner cruise during our trip to Hawaii in 2002. The cruise also reminded me of the Boat Dance at Berkeley during my freshman year.

On the whole, the cruise couldn't have been better. I'd like to thank Jonell for organizing this event and am definitely looking forward to the one next year.

Currently watching: Wonder Woman (2017)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

book club holiday party report

Two months ago, I joined a book club for people in their 20s and 30s on the recommendation of my father. The nice thing is that we just had our annual holiday potluck and book exchange!

This year's event took at Elizabeth's house. After everyone got some food, each of us introduced ourselves before participating in the book exchange. Because we were going by white elephant rules, people were allowed to "steal" others' books. The whole thing was pretty hilarious. I gave away The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and ultimately received Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Though my top choice was "stolen" by others, I've heard Man's Search for Meaning is a great book too.

Our organizer Dane later brought out some board games. Everyone then decided to play the adult version of Codenames after the exchange. It definitely brought out the 14-year-old in all of us. I think our parents would freak out at all the dirty conversations being thrown around. :P

On the whole, the party was lots of fun. It was supposed to run from 4 to 8 p.m. per the invitation, but everyone had such a great time that some of us stayed for almost an extra hour. I'm glad I got into reading and am definitely looking forward to next year's holiday book exchange. For those of my San Francisco Bay Area readers who may also be interested in joining our club, here is a link to our Meetup group. :-)

Currently reading: Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones