Travel Log: San Jose/Milpitas, CA to Lake Tahoe, CA/NV

A shot from inside the main library in San Francisco
A shot from inside the main library in San Francisco

Today we all woke up early since we were to have breakfast at my Aunt’s place in Sunnyvale. We arrived at my Aunt’s apartment around 6:45 – 7:00 A.M. It was weird being back here after such a short time. For breakfast my Aunt and Grandmother made pancakes, sausage, eggs, rice, and coffee. It was very good and filling, I ate a lot. We socialized a bit before we had to go on our separate ways. Our first stop after eating at our Aunt’s place was in Daly City. When we got there we first had to get gas. The gas station looked oddly familiar, especially, with it being overcast at the time. According to my parents this was the gas station we would always go to back in the day. I remember we had to use the bathroom here too. The bathroom was kind of sucky because it was a single bathroom that catered to both genders and it was also on the side of the car wash. This meant that the wait time to use the bathroom could be either short or very long depending if a single person is in there or a whole family goes inside. Luckily for us we only needed to wait for one person. When I was done a whole family went inside and I felt sorry for the people who were also waiting in line. Afterwards we then went to the Serramonte Center, which was the mall we would frequent when I was a teenager. Actually it looked exactly the same and much of the stores were at the same place, specifically Hot Topic, Game Stop, Target, Surf City lol, etc. The only difference was that there was a UNIQLO in the mall this time and EB Games is gone. We actually went to this mall just to look for a sweater so we didn’t get to spend too much time here going through memory lane. My little sister and I went around looking for a good sweater and I remember checking out UNIQLO first and found a few good ones but none in my size except for a few. We then looked around at the other stores. At Hollister I remember this cute Asian girl helping us out. I remember when I asked her for her name I thought she said her name was Shaggy but I misheard it because her name was actually Jackie. We both laughed about it before we had to go. My little sister and I then went back to UNIQLO and got a grey sweater that looked pretty decent and was at a decent price as well. Afterwards we had to leave the mall for the next stop.

Our next stop was actually San Francisco. Its always nice to be here in SF. It’s such a nice metropolitan city with so much to see. Just driving around SF is an event. We had to go here specifically because I had to turn in an application form to the main city library. The way to this library was a different way then we would usually take. Its much more inside the central business district and right across from what looked like to be the city hall. When I went inside the library it amazed me on how huge it was. When you go inside you had to go downstairs to get to the rest of the library. Basically the librarians who check your books out are at the bottom of the library, while the books and offices are on the other floors. It was interesting and very cool too. When I got down to the main area I had to take the elevator up to human resources. When I got up there it was still pretty cool. Even though its mainly an office floor area there were different exhibits as if I was in a museum. I kind of wish I got more pictures of the exhibits but oh well. I found the human resource office after circling the floor a bit. The ladies working the HR office were real nice and helped process my forms quickly. Afterwards, I then headed out the building to find were my family parked. They parked just around the corner and believe me just walking to the car felt like an adventure in of itself with all the different characters of SF surrounding me. There were construction workers, hurried business people, skateboarding kids, etc. all in a few minutes of walking. Afterwards, we then headed to the Fisherman’s Wharf area. We parked near the pier but a bit far from the Musee Mecanique. When we parked my parents were already taking some pictures lol They especially took a lot when we got to the pier area. I told them that I would get some fried calamari from this place I went last time with my brother a few months back. It was a bit of a walk and it was super sunny with no clouds. I probably had to walk about ½ – ¾ a mile to get to the calamari/clam chowder place. On the way there I saw a lot of street performers. Two came in mind. One was this old Chinese man playing this make shift cello thing that looked like it was made with a broom, an old can of beans, and a single cello string. It sounded incredibly oriental and pretty good although it looked very homemade guerilla style. The other performer was a one man band guy but at this time he was still setting up his equipment. Afterwards, I visited a small tourist trap to look for a hat and postcards. Luckily I found a real nice US 101 hat that I still wear quite frequently. I think it was like $8.00 too! I also got a few postcards before I headed out. I then got to the clam chowder/calamari place. It was interesting because it was the same guy who was working last time who was also working today. I got the calamari and headed back to my parents. On the way back the one man band guy was finally playing at volume 11 right next to the old Chinese guy with the homemade cello. The one man band guy had this big crowd, while the Chinese guy was by himself with his bucket. I then met up with my parents in the pier area were the carousel was. In this area there was a bunch of different stores. I specifically remember seeing two biscoff coffee places. I met up with the rest of my family and we ate before we had to head out.

A shot from China Town
A shot from China Town
A shot of the Wharf
A shot of the Wharf
This is the pier with the Carousel, there are a lot of stores here
This is the pier with the Carousel, there are a lot of stores here
One man band!
One man band!
Near the tourist trap where I got my hat
Near the tourist trap where I got my hat
Musee Mecanique
Musee Mecanique
The reliable Clam Chowder/Calamari place
The reliable Clam Chowder/Calamari place

When we left the pier area we then had to make our way towards Lake Tahoe. On our way to Lake Tahoe we made a stop in Fairfield because my dad wanted some coffee at Starbucks near a Raley’s. We parked at the Raley’s, while my dad went to get the coffee at Starbuck’s. In the mean time I went inside Raley’s to check it out. For the most part it looked like a Safeway but not as modern in a way. When I went inside I asked the worker guy where the bathroom was and he gave very specific directions on where it was. For some reason I didn’t like his attitude, something was off about it like he was patronizing me or something. Oh well, I then went to the bathroom and then checked out the sodas. I was like cool, I’ve never heard of these sodas before so I get a few and when I went to the self check out the thing was charging me full packs for single sodas. The patronizing worker came by and said something like “You don’t want to pay a six pack for a single soda, do you?” It was real weird. I’m sure he meant well but he could have just said “let me help you out with that”. I then put the sodas away and settled for two bottles of sparkling water went on my way. Afterwards, we then were on our way back to Lake Tahoe. We didn’t make much stops in between but we did pass by Sacramento and Roseville, which brought back a lot of memories. You could read more on that in my past travel logs. When we got near the Lake Tahoe area it felt like we were back in Colorado. It was a mountainous region with much forestry everywhere. It felt as if we were driving to Grand Junction, CO or something when we got to the Lake Tahoe area. When we got to Lake Tahoe we got some gas at a gas station that also looked like a log cabin. All the locales there looked like the locales of Colorado lol You know, flannel shirts, trucker hats, blue jeans, boots, etc. After we got gas we then got to our hotel. When we got to our hotel, to my surprise our Aunt, Grandmother, and Grandfather was there also. They were going to spend the night at the same hotel as us but different rooms of course. When we got to our room I rested for a bit before heading out to the actual Lake Tahoe. Surprisingly, I had an old postcard of Lake Tahoe I got from an antique store back in Colorado. I wanted to see if I could happen upon the same spot where the postcard was taken as well. On my way to the Lake I asked the Concierge for some directions. I remembered only the first part, which led me down the right path. While I was walking to the Lake I then had to ask a tourist guide for more direction. I went on my way again before making a stop at an old school looking motel. I went to the small front desk area and rang the desktop bell. I hear a voice from the other side of the door saying “Who’s there?” And I sort of shout “Hi, I’m looking for directions?” And the guy came out the door and he gave me directions to the lake. This were the last set of direction I would need. I then headed out to the lake and thankfully at this time around 6:20 P.M there was no entrance fee to the lake. I then looked for the spot and almost right away I found the exact spot where the postcard photo was taken. I then lined up a shot of the postcard with the actual background and its surprising on how much it still looks the same after all these years. After getting some shots I headed back to where my parents were. They were across the street at the shopping plaza. We walked around the plaza and it looked almost exactly how it did when I was back in high school. I was actually looking out for this specific milkshake place that I went to a long time ago. To my chagrin it was not there anymore, I believe the Cold Stone replaced it any time ago. Me and my family looked around a bit and we noticed a singer-songwriter performing near the pizza place. We then met up with our relatives to look for a place to eat. We checked on a few of the hotels and all the buffet places were closed, surprisingly. We then headed back to the shopping plaza and I recommended the pizza place. It looked pretty full and they said the wait would be long. Thankfully, another party cancelled so we got seating fairly quickly. We got some buffalo wings, salad, and three pizzas. They were all very good. After we were done eating we then went on our separate ways. Back in the room I got some well needed rest.

The Lake Tahoe area, It looks just like Colorado
The Lake Tahoe area, It looks just like Colorado
Postcard and the actual place!
Postcard and the actual place!
A shot from inside the plaza
A shot from inside the plaza
Lake Tahoe at night, its interesting because Lake Tahoe is in both California and Nevada!
Lake Tahoe at night, its interesting because Lake Tahoe is in both California and Nevada!

Travel Log: From San Diego, CA to San Jose/Milpitas, CA.

The Garlic Fields of Gilroy. The smell of garlic fills the air.
The Garlic Fields of Gilroy. The smell of garlic fills the air.

Today we woke up fairly early. It must have been about 6:30 A.M when I got ready. When I was done packing up my things and getting ready at Kuya Jun and Ate Raquel’s house I headed to the kitchen because they had prepared a big breakfast. It consisted of rice, eggs, bacon, coffee, and Pan De Sol. I ate quite a bit actually. After eating and socializing a bit we then headed out. We thanked them a lot, I remember that they also gave us a case of water too. At first I thought we had enough water but down the line this extra case of water would prove imperative. We left the house probably around 7:30 A.M. I remember traffic leaving the San Diego area towards Los Angeles/Hollywood was not too bad. The road was incredibly full but it was going the full speed! It was insane, California drivers are probably the most aggressive/insane drivers I’ve seen in some time. Imagine a road super full of car. Also that its so full that it should technically be a bumper to bumper traffic at 30 mph. However, everyone and their grandmothers still drive at 70-75 mph! On top of that, there are those who go way faster cutting in and out of very small areas. Overall, it was pretty intense.

Our first stop was to get gas and coolant in a town called Downey, CA. Its right at the outskirts of Los Angeles and probably in the same county as L.A. We got gas at a little gas station near the interstate right across the street from a Starbuck’s. After getting gas we actually then drove to the Starbuck’s. Its funny because the two places are pretty close but the way Public Works designed the road made it so that you had to drive down the next street and make a U-Turn to get to the Starbuck’s due to the immediate traffic light not allowing for such turns. When we got to the Starbuck’s we got our coffee before heading out to look for coolant. While we were driving to the Auto Zone I noticed that we passed by the “World’s Oldest McDonald’s”. It was interesting because I noticed a giant golden arch. Notice I didn’t say arches. I’m not sure if it broke or if it was purposeful but the world’s oldest McDonald’s only had one arch. We were passing by and weren’t hungry so we didn’t make a stop there unfortunately. We then got to Auto Zone and got the coolant and then we were back on the way north towards San Jose/Milpitas.

Our next stop from Downey would be to a small town called Kettleman City, CA. It reminded me a bit of Baker, CA but a little bit more modern albeit smaller. What caught our eye was an In-N-Out and a huge tourist trap called Bravo Farms. We were a bit hungry by the time we got to Downey so we decided to check it out. We first stopped by Bravo Farms since it was a tourist trap and also claimed to have a restaurant in it. From the outside it looks like multiple different buildings but its actually just one big building on the inside. When you go inside there are a lot of knick-knacks and memorabilia of California on sale. These ranged from postcards to vintage toys to jars of jam. It was definitely a sight to behold. In the back area there was this kind of restaurant. It was more like a upscale BBQ joint that only serves small portions and or sandwiches. It didn’t look too appetizing. After looking around a bit and looking at our options we decided to go to In-N-Out. When we got to In-N-Out the line was pretty darn long. You know how there are two sets of doors you have to go through to before you get inside? The line went out the first set of doors, so that meant you were kind of inside but not really. The line went pretty fast and the orders went out pretty fast too. It kind of astonished me on how full the In-N-Out was here in this very small town that basically consisted of two gas stations, one tourist trap, one McDonald’s, and one In-N-Out amongst the residential housings of course. We were lucky to get seats and out order came out very fast actually. It was incredibly good. It looked like we came at the right time because by the time we were eating the line went out through the second set of doors and then some. Meaning that if you were at the end of the line you’d be waiting in the blistering heat for a while. After we were done eating we then got gas and ice for the cooler. We were then prompt on our way up north.

Bravo Farms at Kettleman, CA.
Bravo Farms at Kettleman, CA.
Inside In-N-Out at Kettleman, CA.
Inside In-N-Out at Kettleman, CA.

The next stop we made was a huge nostalgia trip for me. It was at Casa De Fruta at Gilroy. I seriously have not set foot here since I was probably a freshman/sophomore in high school! It also looks exactly the same from how I remembered it, down to where my favorite candy was. I remembered this sour gummy candy strips that could only be found here. To my surprise it was at the same side, same section, and most likely same cubby lol I got quite a bit of that and a few others as well. I remember my parents getting other things too like fruit and jam. After we were done looking around we then headed back on the road. When we hit the central business district of Gilroy it brought about again a lot of nostalgia. The shopping center and the distinct smell of garlic in the air really brought me back. We didn’t really stick around too long before we got back to the famous highway US 101. When we hit US 101 it was a hop and a skip to San Jose/Milpitas. When we got to our hotel in Milpitas we contacted my older brother to let him know we were there. It was cool again to see my older brother only after a few months. This was a lot better than last time I met him back in Roseville where it took years before I saw him then. When we all met up we went to Uncle Larry’s house to meet up with our relatives. It was really weird to see them all after just a few months. The last time I was there I have not seen them for years. It was good to be there again and catching up on old times. We stayed there the rest of the night before heading back to the hotel to get a good night’s rest.

Casa De Fruta!
Casa De Fruta!
Inside of Casa De Fruta
Inside of Casa De Fruta

Travel Log: San Diego, CA (Church, Zoo and Mission Beach Boardwalk)

Grizzlys from the San DIego Zoo!
Grizzlys from the San DIego Zoo!

Today I woke up early to get ready for church. I probably got up around 8:00 A.M. I believe for breakfast the nice Auntie in the house prepared coffee and Pan De Sol. Pan De Sol is a Filipino dinner roll. Afterwards we headed out to the chapel. From the house the chapel was probably only about fifteen minutes away or less. You still had to get on the interstate for sure to get there though. When we got there the parking lot was fairly full but not too full where parking was difficult. When we parked the brethren greeted us and they were very nice. Its been so long that for the life of me I can’t remember their names nor much of anyone I met that day. I remember one of the brothers was a scan officer. After meeting him I went to the secretary’s office and meet some of the secretaries of El Cajone locale. I then got my certificate of attendance before going inside the sanctuary. Interestingly the actual sanctuary was still in need of renovations. So the sanctuary the locale was using in the mean time was this side hall area that would have been the function hall. It was fairly spacious with a few pillars in odd places. Such as, if you were sitting in the front of the back half of the sanctuary there would be a few pillars in the way of the front. To mitigate this, they set up a TV where you could see the front of the function hall. Interestingly, while we were waiting for the service to begin I saw a person who looked like my old friend Richard from Hawaii! I remembered that he moved to Washington after Hawaii so I wasn’t too sure if it was really him. So I had to wait until after the worship service to find out. The service itself was very good. When the service ended I got to meet a few more of the brethren. Two of them were Kadiwa officers, Michael and Keven, they were incredibly nice and invited me to the Kadiwa meeting too. I then saw Richard’s day, bro Herman! That basically confirmed that Richard was there. I talked to Richard’s parents for a bit before I got to see Richard. We caught up on old times very quickly. It must have been around two years since I last saw him previous. After talking for a bit we actually went inside to check out the Kadiwa meeting. During the meeting they showed a video from the incmedia website. It was interesting for sure. After the meeting I got to meet some of the Kadiwas also and they were all cool. Afterwards, we had to head out and then I bid my farewell to everyone.

We then went to this Chinese buffet place nearby. It must have been a ten minute drive from the chapel. The building itself was very clean and bright, it was different from the Chinese buffets back in Colorado. The buffet itself had basically everything you could ask for from a Chinese buffet, it was very good. We then headed back to Kuya Jun’s place where we will be staying once again for another night. We basically went back there so we could change before we headed to the San Diego Zoo. From the house the zoo was a good fifteen to twenty-minute drive through the interstate. There was a lot of people there, which kind of surprised me. I thought that on a Sunday afternoon there wouldn’t be a lot of people. I think we were there around 2:00 P.M. It also surprised me on how pricey it was. I was expecting the entrance fee to be around $15.00, such as in most zoos, however it was like $35.00-$45.00! But we did find out that the zoo was super big. There was basically every animal you could think of. I remember the first area we went through was this bird area, which you had to go through doors to get inside and out. This bird area was also close to the monkeys also. We then walked around more and saw a host of other animals including bears, flamingos, giraffes, etc. Around this time we noticed that it was 3:30 P.M and that the park closes at 5:00 P.M! Oddly it says on the website that it closes at 9:00 P.M so I guess the hours change around the year. When we noticed the time we walked so much more faster and made sure we saw the rest of the exhibits before the park closed. One of the more interesting exhibits was the Panda exhibit, which had two pandas just chilling and eating bamboo. Supposedly the Panda exhibit is the most popular of them all and it shows. This was the only exhibit to actually have a line of people waiting to see the animals. We then finished our round around the zoo. The last exhibit we saw was the petting zoo. My little siblings really wanted to check out the petting zoo. There were goats at the petting zoo and we got there just in time before they had to put the animals away. After this we then checked out the gift store, which had just about every knick-knack you could think of. Overall, the zoo was interesting and if you’ve never been to a zoo and you have the chance to go to the San Diego Zoo it’s a must go.

GIraffes from the San Diego Zoo
GIraffes from the San Diego Zoo
Such an interesting bird, its called a Secretary Bird
Such an interesting bird, its called a Secretary Bird
Panda!
Panda!

As we were leaving the zoo we were wondering where we would go. We took a minute and then we decided to check out the Boardwalk at Mission Beach. From the zoo it didn’t feel to long to get to the boardwalk, perhaps fifteen minutes or so. Mission beach is that very stereotypical beachside town area that would come to mind when you think of San Diego. There were random tourist traps and a big boardwalk area with lots of people. We got parking near the boardwalk area actually. My and my little sister walked around the boardwalk area first. In the boardwalk there were different carnival rides and a huge arcade. We walked around looking for something to eat. I noticed a burger place and this ice cream joint that gave out huge servings (more on this later). After we looked around a bit, my sister and me walked around the beach area. It was interesting, very crowded. I would dare say that it was way more crowded and active than even in some beaches in Hawaii. After staying in the beach for a bit my sister and me met up with the rest of our family at a local joint called Mr. Roberto’s, which is an interesting hole in the wall type joint that specializes in Mexican cuisine. Actually, when on our way to Mr. Roberto’s we ran into this girl who had the uniform on from the place that serves ice cream in huge amounts. I made a comment about it and we laughed about it. After this we were back on our way to Mr. Roberto’s. When we got there I remember trying their fish tacos as well as a regular taco. It was incredibly good, especially the fish tacos and the different sauces they had. After eating we went back to the boardwalk area and my siblings went on a few of the rides including the carousel. While they were going on the rides I went back to the ice cream shop. The line was out the door but it went pretty fast. I probably only waited about ten to fifteen-minutes. I wanted to get served by the girl I talked to earlier but oh well. The girl who served me looked very tired and you could tell from her despondent demeanor. She did the job but the other girl looked much more fun. I got birthday cake ice cream and mint ice cream. The birthday cake ice cream was so good I wished I just got two scoops of it. The mint flavored was a bit standard. Oh yeah, the size of the scoops were ginormous, basically they are the size of the large scoop at Cold Stone, but you get two of these huge scoops for the price of one basically. After getting the ice cream and eating it with my siblings I walked a bit around the boardwalk looking for a tourist trap to get some postcards. I found one on the front side of the boardwalk and snagged about three postcards for a square price. Afterwards, it wasn’t much longer before we headed out. We then went back to the house and I was so tired I just got ready to sleep when we got back.

Boardwalk at Mission Bay in the afternoon
Boardwalk at Mission Bay in the afternoon
San Diego Beach
San Diego Beach
Mr. Roberto's
Mr. Roberto’s
A typical scene in Mission Beach
A typical scene in Mission Beach
Line went out the door but went fast
Line went out the door but went fast
These scoops are huge!
These scoops are huge!
Boardwalk at Mission Beach at night
Boardwalk at Mission Beach at night

Travel Log: From Las Vegas, CA to San Diego, CA

Somewhere outside of the Las Vegas, NV city line
Somewhere outside of the Las Vegas, NV city line

Today I woke up around 9:00 A.M to get ready for our road trip out to San Diego, CA. I took a shower and got ready. I remember my parents asked me to get some coffee at the Starbucks downstairs and a few Krispy Kreme donuts from the gift shop. When I got down to the Starbucks it wasn’t too busy. I was probably the third person in line. It didn’t take too long to get the coffee. By the time I did get it the line somehow got so long it went out the door. I have no idea how that happened but I’m glad I came in on the time that I did. I then walked up the next floor to get some Krispy Kreme donuts. After this I headed back to the room and it wasn’t much longer before we headed out. When we got outside the hotel it was super hot already. It must have been around 9:45 A.M but it was incredibly hot. We then got on the road and it wasn’t too long before we hit the deserts of Nevada/California. We stopped at one of the gas stations outside the Las Vegas city line near the next town. It was like one of those gas stations in the movies where it looks like its out in the middle of a desert where they upcharge the price on the gasoline. To be honest the gas was a bit pricey here, I don’t remember seeing prices this high since Hawaii. We then got back on the road to California. There wasn’t much to see on the way besides lots of deserts and some mountainous features. When we hit the California/Nevada Stateline there was the most incredible traffic ever. It stretched for miles around the mountainous area. At a lot of points when you get to a vista area and look in the distance it seemed that there was no end to the traffic. Apparently there has been construction miles and miles down the road. The traffic actually started around Primm, NV and ended near Baker, CA! That’s about fifty miles of going anywhere from 5-35 miles! I was actually driving this section and even though it was technically a short stretch, it felt like forever. I’m just glad its all over with. When we got out of the mountain pass and about five to eight miles away from Baker the traffic started to subside. After a hop and a skip we finally got to Baker and there was no more traffic.

Baker, CA is an interesting little town. At least from what I saw, it looks like it covers a small stretch of land that hugs the interstate. If you ever played Grand Theft Auto Five, Baker CA, looks exactly like Trevor’s hometown to the T. It very well could be since Los Santos is supposed to be Los Angeles and Sandy Shores might well be Baker. We then made a stop at the travel center in town. We stopped here to get some food. Before I went inside I took the opportunity to walk to the back of the gas station because its right next to the Mojave Desert! Actually, the pictures below look like I’m in the middle of nowhere but if you turned around you would see the travel center. I then went back inside and checked out what kind of food they got there. I remember seeing a yogurt land, Fatburger, and another store I think it was KFC. I then went to Fatburger and noticed that they sell their burgers in Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and Double Extra Large. I got the Large Fatburger but with no buns. I remember it had a special name to it but I can’t remember for the life of me. While I was ordering I asked the cashier girl if this was a “everybody knows everybody” kind of town. She said “yes, actually, these guys are my neighbors”. When she said that I freaked out. It was real interesting and kind of cool to be working in a place where your neighbors are too.

Mojave Desert near Baker, CA
Mojave Desert near Baker, CA
Mojave Desert near Baker, CA
Mojave Desert near Baker, CA

It didn’t take long before my food was ready. My mom got something similar and my dad got some chicken tenders and my siblings got other foods as well. After we were done eating we got some yogurt land. It was very good and I remember trying lots of different flavors. It didn’t take much longer until we left. I was going to drive again from this point. I remember I drove us down to Temecula, CA where we got more gas. It was almost a three hour stretch of driving. Past the Baker area it became more green and by the time you hit Riverside it started to look like what you expected California to look like. When we got out gas at Temecula, it was just a hop and a skip to San Diego. When we got to San Diego we visited family friends and ate at their house. It was very good. After eating I got to meet Kuya Jun and Ate Raquel. When I first met Kuya Jun I thought his name was John and I was calling him as such for a while. They invited my siblings and I to watch Jurassic World. We then hopped in their car and headed out to the local mall. The drive was about fifteen minutes to the mall. It was nice to see all the scenery in the San Diego area. It looked incredibly busy and its insane that you have to drive on the interstate to get around. The mall itself was an outdoor mall similar to Ala Moana in Hawaii. When we got there we first checked out the Lego store for the kids. After looking at a few stuff we then went to the Build A Bear Workshop. Ate Raquel offered to buy my younger siblings some Build A Bears, I was super thankful. In the store I got to meet a few more San Diego brethren. One was Kuya John and when I pointed out that they had similar names they made the correction. I also met Kuya John’s wife but I couldn’t remember her name for the life of me. We talked for a bit inside the store while the kids were getting their Build A Bears. Interestingly we talked about gun rights in California and how ridiculous it was. It was a nice talk. My little sister got a Toothless (from How To Train A Dragon) and my little brother got a Raphael (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Afterwards we then headed for the theater and Ate Raquel and Kuya Jun got my siblings and I tickets. I was once again super thankful. When we got downstairs we had to wait a bit before the movie started before we could go inside. Kuya Jun and I put the dolls and a few other things back in the car in the meantime. When we got back down we still had to wait a little longer. While we were waiting for the movie to start we got to talk about Hawaii and how they visited Hawaii for a wedding in the past. We were trying to figure out which chapel they visited. I wanted to believe it was Waipahu but from their description it could have been Wahiawa. They also talked about how they loved Ko Olina and it just made me miss Hawaii a lot. It wasn’t too long before the movie started and we got our seats in the back. People in San Diego seem pretty confrontational. Not the friends I made but the random people in the theater. One guy was talking very loud about how dumb these people were from not moving their seat so that the guy could sit near his friends. I mean geez, sometimes you just got to let it go. The movie itself was very good. It was probably as good as the first Jurassic Park and the third Jurassic Park. I was just happy that it was better than the second Jurassic Park. After the movie we said our goodbyes to Kuya John and his wife. We then went out to get some Carne Asada Fries from this local Mexican joint. It was like this small stand that was also a small building. We then went back to their house since we were staying there the night. The Carne Asada Fries were so good I almost ate the whole platter by myself. I then said good night and got ready for sleep.

Travel Log: Las Vegas, NV (part two)

Circus Circus in Vegas
Circus Circus in Vegas

Later On The Afternoon In Vegas

After waking up from a short nap it must have been around 4:30 P.M. I checked the internet to see if there was anything else interesting besides the Las Vegas Strip. I remember reading about Fremont St. Experience, which is supposed to be another popular attraction. From the hotel it was about five or six miles. I thought to myself, well that sounds like walking distance. So I headed out and started for Fremont St. Actually, on the way down from the elevator I remember making small talk with some lady. She was in town with her family for her daughter’s wedding. I congratulated her and we went on our way. I think her name was Cathy or something like that. At this time it was still super hot. The kind of hot where you immediately sweat when you get out on the sun. Thankfully, it was starting to get darker and cloudier. It was still hot nonetheless. On my walk up the road I saw a bunch of people selling water in coolers for a $1.00. I felt sorry for these guys, they probably make profit but they were all sunburnt red. During my walk I made small talk with some guy at the traffic light about it being super hot. He was an interesting dude. He came all the way from Georgia in search for a job in Las Vegas. He said he was still looking but is hoping to get a job at the hotels. We walked in talked for a few blocs before he had to go on his way. His name was Kerwin. Kerwin also let me know that Fremont St. was still a few miles up the road. I thanked him and we went on our separate ways. As we separated ways I stumbled on the first of many tourist traps. All of the tourist traps had similar deals where its like buy three shirts for $10.00 or two bottles of water for $1.00 and so on. All the tourist traps I came upon also had practically the same wares. Slight variance in merchandise and prices in each though. A little bit up the road there was Luv-it Frozen Custard, which I remember seeing on yelp earlier. Its supposed to be a popular and good custard place. I walked up to the front door and it was locked. Apparently, you were supposed to go to the window on the side and order kind of like on a drive-thru window. There were three girls working there and they were all pretty. I ordered a Western Sundae, which was a hot fudge sundae with walnuts in it. Overall, the sundae was very good and well worth a stop. It was even better since it the weather was still really hot.

The front of Luv-it were I thought I could enter lol
The front of Luv-it were I thought I could enter lol
Western Sundae
Western Sundae
The side window were you order
The side window were you order

I then headed up the street and came upon the Welcome to Downtown Las Vegas sign, which looked like it came straight from the movies. It’s a bit funny, the area surrounding this sign was a bit slum like with abandoned 70s motels, empty and dirty lots, and questionable people. A little bit further I also came upon the infamous Pawn Stars pawn shop. It looked exactly like it did on TV. It was also kind of weird being there since I remember seeing a friend taking a picture at that spot a few months ago. I have not seen this friend in real life for a few years so it was odd to be in a place were she was at but she was not there. Throughout this street there was a bunch of Wedding Chapels and even those Elvis style-wedding places too. Actually, one of the Elvis style-wedding places has a sign that says that Bon Jovi was married there. Also, its interesting to note that one of the hotels had a wedding reception going on inside. A little past this wedding area it became a bit more modern and surprisingly cleaner. There were these huge modern buildings off to the side but I did not have enough time to check them out. However, I did satiate some thirst to explore by checking out this serene park to the side. It was quiet and tranquil in this park. Surprisingly, there was also another liberty bell replica made by the same company that made the liberty bell replica found at the Truman museum in Independence, MO! I should make it a point to find all the replicas lol! The other side of the park reminded me of downtown Honolulu in a way. Mostly because it was fairly clean and spacious although there were tall buildings. I then walked up this road all the way to Fremont. St. From the park it was just a few blocs away.

Welcome to Downtown Las Vegas sign
Welcome to Downtown Las Vegas sign
Pawn Stars!
Pawn Stars!
An interesting antique shop I found.
An interesting antique shop I found.
Bon Jovi was married here at this Elvis-style wedding chapel lol
Bon Jovi was married here at this Elvis-style wedding chapel lol
The park
The park
A liberty bell replica!
A liberty bell replica!

When I got to Fremont. St. there was still a bit of sunlight. I’m not sure what time it was when I got there but it must have been around 6:00 – 6:30 P.M. Not bad for walking five plus miles. Fremont St. the Experience was insane. It was like walking into the modern day biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. There were a lot of casinos, tourist traps, and very questionable people. It was just odd being there. I felt like I was in a sort of hyper reality where anything could happen. There were people in costumes like the ones I saw near the Ceasar Forum Marketplace earlier the day. Furthermore, the Experience also had this sort of wire ceiling where they have videos showing on it. There was also a zipline that went throughout the Experience. While in the Experience, I went to a few of the tourist traps. I ended up getting some postcards and one of those two water bottles for a $1.00 deal. For the two water bottles deal I got one regular water and one sparkling water. The sparkling water was surprisingly good and satisfying. After walking the whole Experience I headed out to Fremont St. East.

Fremont St. The Experience
Fremont St. The Experience
Pretty iconic shot right here of the Experience
Pretty iconic shot right here of the Experience
A shot of one of the tourist traps and an interesting character if you could spot him lol
A shot of one of the tourist traps and an interesting character if you could spot him lol
A shot of the inside of a tourist trap. They all usually look like this
A shot of the inside of a tourist trap. They all usually look like this
There is a huge weight scale in front of this place, also the people inside were all wearing hospital gowns lol
There is a huge weight scale in front of this place, also the people inside were all wearing hospital gowns lol

Fremont St. East was so much more normal compared to the Experience by a long shot. Being in Fremont St. East felt like being on Broadway back in downtown Denver. It had a bunch of different boutique shops, hipster level restaurants, and cafes. I ended up going to one of the cafes and thankfully I went to The Beat Coffeehouse. This is because, it was also a record store and it also connected to Emergency Arts. I didn’t get to look through all the records but it seemed to be a mix between classic and new records. I went straight for Emergency Arts when I saw it. When I went inside Emergency Arts I was greeted by one of the artists there. It was Jeff Knox who is a local photographer. He was working on one of his projects but he was kind enough to give me the lowdown on Emergency Arts and showed me his studio. Emergency Arts works kind of like Redux back in Charleston, SC where an artist rents out a studio. Here at Emergency Arts, I don’t think its subsidized by the government like Redux was. Because a lot of artists have a studio at Emergency Arts, there was a lot of different artwork to look at. Jeff Knox himself had a lot of wonderful photography up for display in his studio. Knox uses a lot of different camera techniques and has a clever use with colorful lighting. I’ll have a sample of Jeff Knox’s work below. Knox also let me know that I could look around the whole building including upstairs to check things out. I then thanked Jeff and took a look around. The upstairs area was nice as well with a lot of artwork throughout. Upstairs and downstairs were both full of nice art. I took a few shots of the various artwork around. I then headed back to The Beat Coffeehouse to order some coffee. When I was ordering a small coffee the guy next to me was like “dude you gotta get a large man”. I was like “I would but its getting kinda late, I just need something to get me going”. I was pretty tired and coffee sounded pretty good. I think they said they roasted their own coffee but the coffee they did get was organic. The coffee itself was pretty good and reminded me a bit of Caribou coffee. I sat on the couch for a minute to catch my breathe before heading out. When I did I realized I had to take the bus. The crappy part about the busses here on the strip is that they cost more than the other buses. I ended up paying five dollars for a two hour pass for this bus. I could have saved a dollar or two if I just have bought the day pass for the bus. The bus ride back to the strip was a bit lengthy but heck, it beats walking the five miles back.

Jeff Knox jeffknox.com facebook.com/jeffknoxphotography
Jeff Knox
jeffknox.com
facebook.com/jeffknoxphotography
A sample of Jeff Knox's work
A sample of Jeff Knox’s work
A shot from upstairs at Emergency Arts
A shot from upstairs at Emergency Arts

2015-06-12 20.44.53

A look inside an artist's studio
A look inside an artist’s studio
A sample of art
A sample of art
A sample of art
A sample of art

When the bus got back to the strip it was about 9:00 P.M. I was on the bus for about forty minutes to an hour by that point. I wanted to see more of the strip so I took it all the way to the Excalibur hotel. It was interesting, it had a bunch these Disney land looking castles. I then walked down the strip all the way to Hershey’s Chocolate World. It was interesting inside Hershey’s world. There was a bunch of Hershey’s memorabilia and Hershey’s Kisses on the wall. They even had the “World’s Biggest Hershey’s Bar” for sale as well. The main attraction inside was in the middle where they had a lot of different baked goods for sale. Luckily for me they had the New York style Black and White cookies. Prior to this I’ve only heard of these cookies on TV so it was a treat to get them. It was like four cookies for $12.00, which was a good deal considering that one cookie would have been $5.00. I then headed across the street for Coca-Cola world. I heard that you could try Coca-Cola from around the world so I was definitely excited to go there. However, when I got inside, to my chagrin they closed off the sampling area upstairs. I asked one of the workers and he said that they close off the sampling area earlier than the store and that they had a lot of variety of stairs. Oh well, I then headed out and looked for the bus back to the hotel. I got on the bus as it was about to depart. When I got back to the hotel it must have been around 10:30 P.M – 11:00 P.M. As I was walking inside the hotel I saw the most beautiful girl I’ve seen all day. She kind of looked like Taylor Swift without makeup. She looked super normal compared to everyone around. She had blue jeans, boots, canon camera, and yellow t-shirt, definitely a different kind of fine. I only saw her for a few moments before we both got lost in the crowd headed separate ways. Oh well, I had a lot of fun in Las Vegas while I was there.

New York in Vegas?
New York in Vegas?
Hershey's Chocolate World!
Hershey’s Chocolate World!

Travel Log: Las Vegas, NV (part one)

The Vegas Stip in the daytime
The Vegas Stip in the daytime

The Day In Las Vegas

I woke up around 9:30-10:00 A.M to get ready to look around town. I looked on yelp for interesting places to see and one of them was a place called Is Sweet in Chinatown. Actually, there seemed to be a lot of interesting things in the Las Vegas Chinatown area. It also didn’t seem to far from the hotel either. It looked like I just need to exit, turn left and keep walking down and I would eventually be there. So that’s what I did. After leaving the hotel I turned left at the corner store Starbucks thinking that I would eventually hit Chinatown. On the way, the Vegas strip looked interesting and surprisingly much less busy as compared to 3:00 A.M in the morning. It was also extremely hot. Perhaps anywhere from 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit! Literally, when I stepped out of the shade and into the sunlight my skin immediately started to sweat profusely lol! At this point I had no hat or sunglasses so the sun was a bit of a pain. If you’re planning on walking the Vegas strip in the morning make sure to bring either sunglasses or a hat! While walking the strip I saw many things. There was a White Castle Burger place. Interestingly, near the Caesar Palace Forum Market Place there was a bunch of people in costumes. There were two Bumblebees from Transformers, Mickey and Mini Mouse, Elsa and Anna from Frozen, Spiderman, and more! The odd thing about them though was that there were buckets next to them. Apparently, they are there so you could take pictures with them and in turn give them a tip. It was really odd. It was essentially like seeing Mickey Mouse or Elsa and Anna panhandling. I myself wanted to take pictures of them but I didn’t want to be accosted for tips. I then headed down the strip. As I was walking I was thinking, “where’s Chinatown?” Nothing in the near distance looked like Chinatown and I started thinking I went the wrong way. I then got in front of the Caesar Palace and asked a tour guide where Chinatown was. He said that I was going the wrong way and that I had to turn back for a mile or so. He also gave me information that I couldn’t walk over or under the interstate to get to Chinatown and that I had to take a bus. Thanks for that information, I thought I could just walk under the interstate or something. I then headed back, through the costume people, and back to the hotel. The bus stop was actually real close to the hotel from the other end that I did not go through. Instead of turning right, I was supposed to turn left out of exiting the hotel. When I got here the bus stop was at the next corner. When I got to the bus stop I was in the opposite end. I found that out from the local I talked to. His name is Jeff and got me some information on the buses. He let me know that the Chinatown bus was on the other side of the highway and that the bus fare was $2 for a one-way ticket and $3 for a two-hour ticket and $5 for a 24-hour ticket. At the time I thought the two-hour ticket would suffice but little did I think ahead. I then headed back and conveniently a CVS was there so I could get change for the bus. I got the change and headed to the other side of the highway to get to the bus stop. Thankfully, when I got to the bus stop the bus has just arrived. When I got inside the bus I asked the bus driver lady if the bus was headed to Chinatown and she said yes. I then got my seat near the middle of the bus. The bus itself was real nice and new as compared to the buses back in Hawaii. It was about a ten to fifteen minute ride to Chinatown. Before I left asked the bus driver where the bus stop was that headed back to the strip and she pointed it out.

A view of the strip from the daytime
A view of the strip from the daytime
White Castle is in one of those small colorful buildings.
White Castle is in one of those small colorful buildings.
This is from the Caesar Palace Forum Marketplace where the people in costumes were
This is from the Caesar Palace Forum Marketplace where the people in costumes were

The Las Vegas Chinatown

Chinatown here in Las Vegas was nice and modernized. It was also spacious and clean. This is compared to the Chinatown back in Honolulu. This Chinatown was not as architecturally or geographically ethnic as the Chinatown in Honolulu as well. Overall, it reminded me of Little Saigon back in San Jose. I walked around the first plaza and there were a lot of restaurants and little stores. I remember seeing a restaurant that had pictures of famous people who ate there; amongst them I could remember seeing Paris Hilton in one of the pictures. In the back of this plaza I also noticed a pizza place that seemed to have good prices on their pizzas. I then walked across the street to the second plaza. This one was interesting because it had a Ranch 99 in it. I wanted to go inside but my two-hour pass was quickly ticking and I wanted to find Is Sweet. Around this area, I remember asking a couple if they knew where it was and they said that they were just tourists also. I then looked around this second plaza a little more. I noticed a place called Volcano Café, which I remember from looking at it in Yelp. I also saw a Taiwanese restaurant that had some interesting dishes on display. I kept this restaurant in mind to eat at later. At the end of this plaza was a place called Chinatown Mall. I was like “Chinatown Mall? What could be there?” I then went inside the Chinatown Mall. Inside was a big set of stairs that led to a massage place and a discount showroom area. In the bottom was a more conventional looking mall area that was a bit narrow and wrapped around the mall in a circular shape. I first went upstairs to check out the discount area. It was a huge show room with a bunch of knick-knacks to look at. Imagine an antique store but with purely oriental stuff. There were cell phone charms, tea sets, dresses, and much more. It was also a bit weird cause I was the only person inside with the workers at their spots. They didn’t really stare at me the whole time so it wasn’t too weird. I felt a bit weird taking a few pictures inside. I was looking for anything interesting that could be a cool souvenir but alas I didn’t see any. I then went downstairs to look at the different stores in the “mall”. I saw a boba place that is called No. 1 Boba Tea. It looked interesting but I held out for Is Sweet. Across from it was a food court like area but with only one food stand. I then headed towards a bookstore like place. It was interesting. It was full of books in Chinese and perhaps some of them were translations too. I also saw a green military cap with a red star. It looked interesting and I was about to get it but oh well. There was also this huge section with a lot of Chinese New Years stuff. Inside the store I looked at a few of the books. Some of them that stuck out were How To Read Chinese books that were pretty pricey. I then saw these bracelets that I remember my friend from Taiwan had. They were these bracelets with small wooden balls around the circumference. I got one in black and one in brown. I asked the cashier girl if they meant anything and she said no. Throughout the whole time she was helping me with stuff too.

Chinatown "Mall"
Chinatown “Mall”
A view from the first plaza
A view from the first plaza
A view from the first plaza
A view from the first plaza
Ranch 99 from the second plaza
Ranch 99 from the second plaza
A view from the second plaza
A view from the second plaza
Inside the "Mall"
Inside the “Mall”
A shot from the discount showroom
A shot from the discount showroom
A shot from the discount showroom
A shot from the discount showroom
No. 1 Boba Tea
No. 1 Boba Tea
A shot from inside the bookstore
A shot from inside the bookstore
A shot from the bookstore
A shot from the bookstore

Taiwanese Restaurant (The Little Kitchen Cafe)

I then finished looking around the “mall”, the only other store that looked interesting was a bakery but I wasn’t too interested in getting bread at the moment. I then headed out and went back to that Taiwanese restaurant since I was getting hungry and it looked interesting. When I got inside this cute Chinese girl sat me at a table near the cash register. The room itself was pretty small. My seat was probably six feet or so away from the entrance and literally to my right is the cash register lol The girl gave me the menu and a cup of water. From the menu two things stuck out. First was the stinky tofu. I remember watching Andrew Zimmern do a special in Taiwan and he ate stinky tofu. He described how rancid it smelled and things like that. So I wanted to try it out also. The second thing that stuck out was Taiwanese sausage. What could that be and how is it different from other sausages? The girl came by to get my order and I ordered a half order of stinky tofu and the Taiwanese sausage plate. I got the half order of stinky tofu because the picture showed twelve pieces and that’s a bit too much for me. I also asked the girl what something was in a picture. It looked like it was a bun with some sort of topping all over it. She said that it was “taro”. And I thought oh it’s a “taro bun”. I then kept it in mind to order later. It didn’t take too long for the food to come. The girl brought over the Taiwanese sausage plate first and then the Stinky Tofu a few minutes after. The stinky tofu itself did not immediately stink. You had to put the tofu to your nose to smell the stink. The tofu plate also came with a dipping sauce with three sauces that I cannot describe. It was a bit like a less salty soy sauce with intricate nuanced flavors from the other sauces in it. Both the stinky tofu and the sausage plate came with Kimchi. The sausage plate came with other sides including two salad like sides and this dark brown egg. It wasn’t a thousand year old egg for sure, but it had a very dark brown color. It tasted fairly normal though. Under the sausages also was a ground beef stir-fry. In terms of taste, the stinky tofu had a crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle texture. It tasted a bit bitter with most of the taste coming from the smell. The smell wasn’t stinky in a sense but it was odorous. Its hard to describe, it was fermented without tasting bad. The sauce added extra flavor and the tofu also went well with the Kimchi. As for the sausages, they tasted both sweet and fermented. The sausages were tasty, easy to eat, and the fermented taste made it edgier to eat. The sides were all good as well. It was so good I ate it all. I then asked the girl if I could get the taro thing and she said “Oh we don’t have any right now, its just a topping.” I was like “just a topping?” I then looked at the picture and next to the buns were sliced taro pieces lol Oh well, perhaps next time again. I then asked the girl for her name. It was pronounced “E-May”, I have no idea how to spell it, perhaps its Emay, or Ymay, or even Imay, I don’t know. I thanked her before I went on my way.

A shot from inside the restaurant. The left picture has a picture of that bun and next to it on the upper right are taro slices lol
A shot from inside the restaurant. The left picture has a picture of that bun and next to it on the upper right are taro slices lol
A shot of the menu
A shot of the menu
Taiwanese sausage in the left and stinky tofu on the right
Taiwanese sausage in the left and stinky tofu on the right

Back to the Hotel

On my way out I went to look for Is Sweet again but alas as I was walking down the road I noticed that my two-hours was almost up. Darn, I then headed back to the bus stop. It kind of sucks because I just missed a bus and since there was heavy traffic I was afraid that my two-hour pass would expire waiting for the bus. It was also amazingly hot and the bus stop had little to no shade. The bus arrived at the nick of time. I think my pass would have expired in five or ten minutes! The bus was a bit more crowded than earlier. I still got the same seat near the middle from earlier though. During the bus ride a guy dropped a pamphlet and he asked the guy in front of him to get it. The guy in front thought the guy behind him was trying to sell something because he kept waving his hand saying “no thank you”. I then took it upon myself to get the pamphlet to return to the old man. The old man said “thank you, God bless”. I said “no problem”. After this, it was about fifteen or twenty minutes back to the strip. I headed out and back to the room to take a short nap.

A shot of the bus I took back
A shot of the bus I took back

Travel Log: From Colorado Springs, CO to Las Vegas, NV

Road out of Grand Junction, CO towards Utah
Road out of Grand Junction, CO towards Utah

Colorado Forever

Well, the day started with a church service early in the morning. The service itself was nice and it was done around 6:40 A.M. Afterwards, when I got home I got ready for the family trip. Our first leg of the trip would be Las Vegas, NV. We left the house around 7:30 A.M. We predicted to be in Vegas around 10 P.M if there was no traffic or anything. The first part of the trip was fairly familiar since it brought us through Denver and up towards Grand Junction, CO. I fell asleep during the first part of the trip. I woke up when we got to Idaho Springs, CO, which is a small mining town in the middle of the Rocky Mountains in a narrow valley. We stopped at a gas station/McDonald’s. I was surprised because it was actually pretty busy inside with lots of tourists. I got two McDoubles from McDonald’s and I also got a glass bottle of Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola from the gas station. The locals of Idaho Springs, CO were real nice. We then headed out of this gas station. I noticed as we were leaving all the other cars in the parking lot all had different license plates lol When we left Idaho Springs we headed back West towards Grand Junction. The next stop we would made on I-70 would be in Eagle, CO, which is another small town in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. This town was in an open area as compared to Idaho Springs. Also, when you exit into Eagle you have to navigate a bunch of roundabouts to get to where you need in the town. We had to go through two roundabouts to get to the first gas station lol We didn’t gas up yet, but we did use the bathroom and get some snacks. We then headed out and promptly got back on I-70 West. Just a few miles out of Eagle, CO we noticed a lot of cars parked on the side of the road. There must have been a good mile of cars parked on the side going up the exit with no cars on the interstate headed to Grand Junction, CO. Apparently they closed off I-70 for some reason. We got up the exit and asked one of the workers were we had to go to get to Grand Junction. The worker said to turn around and exit off Wolcott up to Steamboat Springs, CO. And so we did. But, before we went around we got some gas at the gas station in the town were they closed off the interstate. This town is Gypsum, CO, which is similar to Eagle in a way. At the gas station there were a lot of people, a motley crew for sure. There were bikers, families, students, and people of all kinds it was interesting. While I was gassing up, I overheard the bikers talking about why the interstate was closed. Apparently there was a rockslide nearby and they had to close the interstate indefinitely. After getting gas we headed back East to find that exit up to Steamboat Springs, CO. On the way back we stopped at that gas station we stopped earlier in Eagle, CO. We stopped here to ask the workers how to use the alternate route back to Grand Junction. She pointed out on an atlas on how to get to Grand Junction. We had to drive back East to a town called Wolcott and head North to Steamboat Springs. At Steamboat Springs we were then to head West to Craig then South to Rifle and then we could get back on I-70 West from Rifle to Grand Junction. In other words, we had to make a real big detour that was estimated to be about four or five hours long! There goes getting to Las Vegas by 10:00 P.M! Oh well, it was the best option at the time. The girl at the Eagle gas station said they were planning on closing the Interstate overnight! Well, we thanked the girl and we went on our way.

A shot of the atlas the girl showed us. You could see the detour we took as compared to just taking I-70 if it was not closed
A shot of the atlas the girl showed us. You could see the detour we took as compared to just taking I-70 if it was not closed

The detour wasn’t too bad. At least it took us through a lot of scenic areas and a lot of Colorado I have never seen before. When we hit North at Wolcott, the views were just spectacular, basically the stuff you see in Colorado postcards or if you Google Colorado and search the images. The only bane of this area is that the roads were narrow, winding, and the speed limit was a bit slow. Worst of all it was only two lanes. One lane going up and the other lane going down. This means, if there’s a slow car in front of you, you either have to go slow too or risk it and over take the slow car. Thankfully, we only encountered a few slow cars and over take situations only a few times. One of the towns on the way to Steamboat Springs that stuck out was Taponas, CO. It was a small farm town in a relatively flat area. Basically the highway split the town in half, or at least that’s what it seemed. There was also this real tall rock nearby called “The Finger” or something like that. I also liked how it looked in the area with the overcast clouds, rolling hills, and rain, it just looked awesome in the area.

Near Toponas, CO
Near Toponas, CO

We eventually got to Steamboat Springs. It was the biggest town we came across during this detour. It kind of surprised me on how big it was, it made me wonder why people lived there and how they made a living. Steamboat Springs was a nice quiet town, it looked a bit like Boulder, CO but more mountain village style. It also was not as busy as Boulder too. Our stop in Steamboat Springs was at a Safeway. The locals seemed real nice here also. We eventually got on our way out of Steamboat Springs down to Craig. I also remember seeing on the road to Steamboat Springs were these little yellow signs that were advertising some Western outfitters place that sold cowboy hats for $6.99 lol While, leaving Steamboat Springs you still see these advertisements. When we got about fifty or so miles out of Steamboat Springs is when I started driving. We made a stop at a little rest area. When I started driving, the road was not too busy. Nor were there much slow cars in front of me. I think I only needed to over take two or three cars on our way to Rifle, CO. From Steamboat Springs to Rifle there isn’t too much to see in terms of towns. You are basically driving through hilly areas and valleys through mountains. It was also very green in the area. When we got to Rifle, CO after such a long time it was a sigh of relief. The speed limit went back to 70-75 mph, which felt so much better than driving the 60-65 mph during the detour. After Rifle, CO we headed out towards Grand Junction, CO. We made a stop at the gas station to fill up. We then also got our dinner at the Wendy’s across the street. We didn’t stay too long here in Grand Junction since it was getting dark already. We then headed out of Grand Junction and into Utah!
On Utah to Las Vegas, NV.

When we got out of Grand Junction it was just a hop and a skip to Utah. Crossing the state line was fairly night and day. Prior to the state line you could see the mountainous area of Colorado and all the greenery and trees and such. But, crossing into Utah, its fairly desolate. There are still mountainous areas but there was not as much greenery here. Just the Interstate and the desert around us. Thankfully we got our gas in Grand Junction because on the road we took there really aren’t a lot of gas stations. I remember seeing a sign that said “next gas station in 230 miles”, which is a long distance and if you go in half tank you might not make it to the other end. So if your driving from Colorado and through Utah you got to keep that in mind. Even the rest areas in between were very desolate looking, some don’t even have lamps and it gets pitch black out here. The first and only town we stopped here in Utah was in Selina, UT to get gas. It’s a small town in the middle of freaken nowhere. I don’t make that statement lightly, in Texas there are towns that could be fifty or so miles away from another town or an hour away from a big city. But dang, Selina was just isolated in the middle of a desert with nothing much for miles.

Welcome sign of Utah
Welcome sign of Utah

Inside of the gas station I got some postcards. The guy working was interesting to say the least. When I got to the cash register he was fixing something near the soda machine and said in a monotonous somewhat robotic voice “I will be there to help you in a second”. Everything he said was in that voice. It was both humorous and odd at the same time. He said stuff every time he did something like “You’re total is $3.65.” Then “I am getting your change of $0.35” and “Would you like a bag” and the eventual “Thanks for coming”. Outside of the gas station I then saw the same worker taking out the trash in a roller trash can and he was taking it out like a freaken robot. Keep in mind Utah is the center of Mormonism and I thought “What did they do to you?” Afterwards, we then got out of Selina and back on the road to Vegas. I remember I drove this stretch of road all the way to the first city in Nevada. The drive towards Nevada was quiet. It was already pitch dark and there were not much cars on the road. I remember we then got into Arizona, which surprised me since I didn’t think we would go through Arizona. The drive through Arizona was short. Perhaps the drive was an hour or so. But, it did take me through narrow construction areas. I mean real narrow. I swear at one point the side of the road is lined up on both sides with Jersey blocks and with just enough room for a car to get by. If I was to swerve even an inch I felt that my side mirror was going to break off from the Jersey blocks. This narrow road was even winding too! Thankfully it only lasted perhaps two or three miles. Out of Arizona we quickly got to Nevada. We made a stop at the first city called Mesquite, NV and right away just a few miles out of the AZ border there was a huge casino in this nowhere town of Mesquite. We got our gas here in Mesquite. Although it was a small town it seemed to be pretty big, perhaps because of that huge casino. We didn’t stay too long; we then got on the road to Las Vegas. From Mesquite, NV to Las Vegas there wasn’t much to see. I remember when we got to the Las Vegas area, the Las Vegas skyline literally lit up the desert. It was very bright even thirty or so miles away from the city. When we got into the city, you could already see the many different hotels and casinos. It was a sight to behold for sure. We then got to our hotel at Treasure Island, which I thought would be really pirate themed but it was a fairly normal hotel. We got there around 2:00-3:00 A.M and there were still a lot of people up and around the Vegas strip. When we got here I was fairly beat and tired. I subsequently went to sleep.

A shot of Vegas from the Interstate
A shot of Vegas from the Interstate