Happy Thanksgiving!

Frost

It is freezing where I am right now. It was -2’c (28’f) when I woke up. The picture above was taken around 6 in the morning today. I went out and braved the cold to check if there’s frost on the ground. ha ha. That’s the Filipina in me talking. You see, we never have frost nor snow in my country. So this is really a treat on my part. 🙂

So for this chance to spend a frosty thanksgiving, I am grateful to God and the universe.

I have so many things to be thankful for. But number one is the fact that I woke up today. I thank God for the gift of family and friends. For all the blessings, past , present and future, I thank you Lord.

May your thanksgiving be happy and peaceful!

Happy thanksgiving everyone. 🙂

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Little River Canyon National Preserve

The Entrance to the Park.

Coming from Georgia, the hubby and I took a detour and visited Little River Canyon National Preserve in Fort Payne , Alabama.

I love road tripping in America because there are several road options. “Back roading” almost always turn out to be a beautiful drive. Specially during fall when colorful leaves on the trees,  decorate the highways.

It was a cold day. To a Filipina, a high of 45’f  (7’C) is pretty cold. Specially when it is windy. 🙂 But well, who am I to complain. I love fall. And I love this weather. It is so much better than the 90’f  plus temperature back home. So we just made sure that we were layered well before heading out to the park.

Off Highway 35, we found the entrance to the park.  A few yards ahead, the huge Visitor Center welcomed us.

After talking to the Park Ranger in-charge, we watched a short film at their theater. We always make it a point to watch their movie presentation because it tells us more about the park. That way, we won’t miss anything we may want to see.

What struck me the most though is the fact that they welcome students visiting them. Teachings and shows are given to kids.  To educate them about the environment , the flora , fauna and wildlife in the park. I find that so amazing. This , again, makes me wish that we have parks like these in our country where my nephews and other children could go to learn about nature.

By the way, are you afraid of snakes? I am! 🙂 But in this park, they tell you to leave them alone. Because you know, this is their home. So we should all respect them. I wish I never get to see snakes though. ha ha

MORE OF THE VISITOR CENTER:

Below is the Library. How awesome right?

There is a Souvenir Store inside. And I had a very nice talk with their Cashier. I just want to thank her for being so nice. Thank you. I hope that she gets to read this blog. 🙂 I should have taken a picture of us together but I forgot. This is where I bought a ref magnet for my mama who collects them. Little River Canyon represents her Alabama magnet. he he

At the back of the Canyon Center, there is a wide porch overlooking the forest. So beautiful and peaceful. And cold. 🙂 Like I said.

Moving on, we drove towards the Little River Falls. The parking space is just near the entrance gate, along Highway 35. There is a short board walk that leads to the falls.

LITTLE RIVER FALLS:

Despite the cold, we walked the trail and listened to the birds. The hubby took some photos here of the birds who are obviously enjoying the park like we did. 🙂

From the water falls, we drove for about 10 minutes inside the park to look for the Mushroom Rock. 

History says that one of the road workers really did his best to prevent this rock being ruined during the road’s construction. I am so glad that he was successful at that! Or we would all have missed this. Right?

In the same area where the Mushroom Rock is located, we saw other huge rocks that I found interesting.

This one looks like the bottom of a giant’s feet. ha ha.. What do you think? 🙂

The park rangers really do their best to take care of the place. But sometimes, there are not so nice people who , instead of taking care of our environment, would choose to vandalize it instead. It’s so sad… 😦

Anyway, it made me smile when I realized that I looked like a dwarf in the picture below. ha ha

To give you some perspective of where it is located at, click the google map to enlarge it.

Little River Canyon is a great place to visit any time of the year.  When Spring comes, different types of flora , including Pitcher Plants abound. During Summer, visitors can swim and play in the water. Walking trails are also available for those who want to hike. Fall / Autumn of course, bring coolness and beautiful colors. And on Winter time, who would not want to see a frozen water falls? As in seriously… I would love to go back here someday during winter time and see that. 🙂

For more details of this National Preserve, please check their website here –

https://www.nps.gov/liri/index.htm

I hope you enjoy  Little River Canyon National Preserve as much as we did.

Thank you for traveling with us through this blog. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Heart You…. :)

This heart shaped sandstone can be found in Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA.

With light passing through its crack, the canyon changed its colors again to a combination of red, orange and gold.

Nature is amazing….

 

Antelope Canyon, AZ

 

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Road Trip 2017 – Antelope Canyon, AZ

Arizona , U.S.A. is famous for its canyons. Grand Canyon National Park gets visited by millions of tourists every year because of its beauty. But do you know what is the most expensive photo today? No, it’s not a picture of the Grand Canyon.

It’s a black and white photo of GC’s sister, the Antelope Canyon, named Phantom by Peter Lik which sold at a whooping $6,500,000.00 . Oh yes, that’s how expensive it is. One can only dream of reaching such level in photography huh?

I am so “mababaw” though. That’s shallow to my english speaking friends who read my blog.

My take on Antelope Canyon got acknowledged by fellow photographers in viewbug.com . I did not win the major prize. I wish! 🙂 But I am so happy with 10 Peer Awards and 10 Photo Trifecta Trophies. Thank you.

https://www.viewbug.com/photo/72419679

If you scroll down on my picture, you will see that I’m telling the truth. ha ha. The awards are all there. 🙂

You see, I did not study Photography formally. So to be noticed by professionals worldwide, it is already an honor to me. I appreciate their generosity. Again, thank you Viewbug community. You make me strive to do better. And thank God for the gift and the chance to travel. 🙂

The hubby and I visited Antelope Canyon last Spring. It was already crowded at that time. I heard that it is worse during summer and fall. So I’m glad that we went there just at the right time.

Why is that important? Well, Antelope Canyon is a lot smaller than the Grand Canyon. And if there’s a thick crowd, it would be very difficult to take pictures. You need to respect the other tourists and make sure you do not disturb them when they are taking photos too. You’re only given a few minutes to enjoy the place because the next batch is about to come in already. One way going in. And one way going out in some parts of it.

I think that’s what I did not like about my experience. I felt like we had to rush because we had to give way to the next scheduled tours. Unlike Grand Canyon, the place is huge so if you want to sit somewhere and enjoy the beauty of nature around you , you can.  Here, there’s no such thing. Oh GCNP is managed and protected by the National Park Service. While Antelope Canyon is managed by the Indian Reservation. Both are tourist traps but I saw how the park rangers work to protect Grand Canyon. With Antelope Canyon, I can only hope that they will take care of the place as much.

So here are some of the photos I took during our trip:

We rode in one of those trucks. The ride to the Canyon is about 10 mins. It was beautiful and not so rough. At the entrance, where we paid , there’s a parking space where you can leave your vehicle. I suggest that you come early because it gets full, fast. Bring water and food because there’s no restaurant there. And no nice bathroom. This is not a National or a State Park, so don’t expect too much. You’re here for an adventure. Period.

This is the entrance to the canyon. It’s like going to a small cave.

The canyon was formed by sandstone erosion, during flash floods. With passing time, the erosion made the corridors deeper and the hard edges smoother. Hence, the “flowing shapes” on the rocks.

It looks orange outside. But wait till you get in. The colors change depending on where the sun ray hit the canyon.

See the shapes?  That’s what flashflood and monsoon rains did to the canyon. I would not want to be there when that happens. But we all can agree how beautiful that looks like. Right?

The rich orange color in this picture makes it look like it is on fire. I was so amazed. And yes, it was difficult to get this picture, considering the crowd. But I’m glad I got some nice ones.

The Canyon Shapes.

The colors.

Here it looks bright yellow.

Here it looks like it is on fire.

Light came in through the cracks.

I think they called this the “Fire Fall”.  It’s like a waterfall of fire.

Art. The tour guide put the branch there to give drama to the picture. I don’t get it. But there it is. 🙂

That’s the sand’s reflection floating on air as it was hit by the sun ray. You have to be there at a certain time of day to get this effect.

And of course, what’s a vacation without souvenir photos? 🙂

Antelope Canyon is located in Page, Arizona. There is no need to book a tour there. You just have to be there early so you can get a schedule.

Thank you everyone for traveling with us. See you again next time. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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US Road Trip 2017 – Page, Arizona

Coming from Zion National Park in Utah, we continued with our road trip to Page , Arizona via Highway 9 and US 89 Route.  This is the portion of US 89 that we have not visited yet. Hence, this trip.

If you want to see how beautiful this route is, please click this link –https://leawalkerblog.com/2014/01/19/roadtrip-us-89-route/ 

Moving on with today’s roadtrip, I will divide this into 2 parts. The Highway 9 side of this trip and that of  US 89 Route.

Highway 9:

I took this picture after we exited the North entrance of Zion National Park. I thought that this was kinda remote already….

So I was so surprised when we saw this subdivision, a  few miles from the park.  It looked like a nice community, in the middle of nowhere. 🙂

I think I get it why people chose to stay here. The view is pretty awesome. Plus it is literally very quiet and peaceful.

Look at the almost deserted road below.  Does it not look beautiful?

And then we reached Mt. Carmel Junction, where US 89 Route starts

The sign below says, we are 17 miles away from Kanab, Utah. That’s the main town in this area.

Lake Powell , our destination on the other hand,  is 88 miles away.

Grand Canyon National Park is 100 miles away. But we won’t be going that way anymore as we were there just a year ago. Check my blog about that trip here.

 https://leawalkerblog.com/my-travels/america/arizona/grand-canyon-national-park-day-1/ 

This just reminded me that I am not done with our 2016  road trip yet.  And I’m about to leave again soon for another  trip. I wish I can write everyday so I can catch up with our previous travels. But it’s just not possible with work and all.

You know, I said this before. And I am going to say this again. If you have a chance, take a trip to US 89 route, starting from Ashfork , Arizona. This is one of America’s prettiest byways. Just book your hotels ahead of time because they can get full easily. Study the google map and make a stop to rest , do the trail and enjoy what nature can offer you.

It amazed me then. It still amazes me now.

Look at the rocks below. Their round flat surface looked like flying saucers, attached to the ground. ha ha

Okay, we just reached Kanab, Utah.  The sign says Left for Page or Lake Powell. And straight for Grand Canyon. We turned left of course. 🙂

Further along, this sign took my interest.  We just found the highest elevation in this area at 5690 feet above sea level.

More of the colorful hills below.

Sorry, our windshield started to get dirty here. Insects start to crash in it.

And beautiful rock formations.

Finally, we have just reached Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This means that we are already in our destination. But since this is a very huge park, we still have to continue driving a little bit more as most hotels are in Page, Arizona.

To learn more about Glen Canyon , read this link –– 

https://www.nps.gov/glca/learn/upload/GLCA-RABR_OV_SP.pdf

Welcome to Arizona. 🙂

A few more minutes, the sign told us that we have just arrived in Page.  Now we just need to find our hotel and check in. 🙂

The Colorado River in Page, Arizona.

Okay, despite the dirty windshield, the view still looks beautiful. Right?

Check in at the Best Western View of Lake Powell Hotel was fast and easy.  In no time , we were in our room already.  We preferred a King Room but Spring is also a busy time in this area, so that got full early. That’s how we ended up with a 2 queen bed. Which was fine because that meant I have more space to put my crap on. he he…

Did I mention it was a huge room? Okay I think I did.  🙂

Look at the paintings in the wall, those were taken from Antelope Canyon. The main reason why we are in Page. 🙂 Was it National Geographic that paid supposedly $1,000,000.00 dollars for the best picture of such Canyon? Imagine that.

So I just have to go. And see it for myself. Right? Thank God for granting this wish.

For more details of Best Western View of Lake Powell Hotel, please check this link –

https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotels-in-page/best-western-view-of-lake-powell-hotel/propertyCode.03125.html

Okay time to leave the room and have an early dinner.  🙂 You know you’re old when you eat around 5pm. And go to sleep at 6pm or so. Seriously. ha ha Well, in our defense we have been traveling the whole day. So there’s that. lol

We found El Tapatio along Lake Powell Blvd. I found that really convenient because it’s very near our hotel. It’s a Mexican restaurant that serves great food. You know, I love the Mexican restaurants in the U.S. They offer you fresh and crunchy Nachos while waiting. It normally comes with chili sauce I think. But that’s not my favorite. So I just order the cheese dip with it.

So here’s the hubby’s order – Burrito and salad with guacamole.

 

And mine?  Oh yeah. I had one platter of chicken and beef steak with grilled shrimps. It came with Mexican rice and beans.

This is how I gained more weight this trip. I’m trying to burn it now by doing zumba. But well, let’s see if I can continue my progress.

I’m going back to the US soon. So hopefully, I will be more disciplined this time.

But seriously?! Who thinks of diet when you’re on vacation with good food everywhere? Who? 🙂

Thank you again everyone for traveling with us. See you in the next entry of this blog. 🙂

Bye for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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US Road Trip 2017 – Zion National Park, Utah

Sometime in April this year , I wrote the first installment of our Las Vegas trip.  If you want to read that, you may click this link – https://leawalkerblog.com/2017/04/11/us-roadtrip-2017-celine-dion-and-caesars-palace/

This continuation happened on the third day when we left Caesars Palace and headed towards Utah, U.S.A.  Our main destination – Zion National Park. 

From Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, travel time is just a mere 3 hour drive via Interstate-15. It passes through the State of Arizona for an hour or so, before the Utah signage can be seen.

The photos below are from the Arizona side of this trip.

And then Utah’s Welcome sign that says – Life Elevated. 🙂

From I-15, we followed Highway 9 to Springdale , Utah. This is the base for those visiting Zion National Park.

Beautiful scenery upon entering Springdale. Named by Forbes Traveler as one of America’s prettiest towns in 2008, this small but elegant location has Zion’s red mountains as its backdrop. Imagine, waking up each morning to that view…

Before proceeding to the park, we stopped at the Visitor Center to get more details and maps.

This vehicle was parked behind the Visitor Center. No, we did not rent this. ha ha… But it would have been cool right? 🙂

We left our vehicle at the parking space of the Visitor Center. Then took the free shuttle bus to the park.

We had to fall in line before entering because the park was full that day. Upon  showing our “America the Beautiful Annual Pass” , we went in without paying anymore.

We walked towards the waiting area and fell in line for about an hour. Oh yes, it was that crowded during spring. So make sure that you plan ahead. If you are following some trails, book your hotels ahead of time. But if you are just passing through , that should not be a problem then.

Finally, it was our time to board the tour bus.

From Wikipedia: 

Zion National Park is located in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (590 km2) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest elevation is 3,666 ft (1,117 m) at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 ft (2,660 m) at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado PlateauGreat Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park’s unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park’s four life zones: desertriparianwoodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountainscanyonsbuttesmesasmonolithsriversslot canyons, and natural arches.

Zion Monoliths and the Virgin River below.

Even the buses looked tiny ….

Zion Lodge, located inside the park , was full as well. So I repeat, if you prefer to stay near the trails, make sure that you have prior bookings to ensure that you have a place to stay in while on holiday here.

After the tour bus, we got our vehicle from the visitor center and proceeded with our road trip to Page , Arizona.

We went back to the park . And followed the park road going to US Highway 89.

The following photos below were taken on board our car. Beautiful right?

We crossed a mountain tunnel here.

On top of the mountain here. The moon looks small. 🙂

Found some mountain goats on top. These goats prefer living in a high elevation, near the water.

Two more a few meters away from the creek. 🙂

Look at the hills. Pretty colors and formations. 🙂

On top of Zion Mountain, this tree looked taller than the moon. How awesome! 🙂

Faint sillouhette of the moon, on the background. 

Now at the North Entrance of the park. This is our exit as we continue with our road trip to Page , Arizona.

Have you ever heard of the world famous horseshoe bend and antelope canyon? If so, then come back sometime and look at them through my eyes. Amazing is an understatement.

Thank you again for traveling with us. See you in the next installment of this blog.

 

 

 

 

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Road Trip 2017 – Yosemite National Park Day 3

It was still dark when I woke up that day. So I just answered emails while waiting for the sun to come out. Early bird catches the worm , they say. In my case, the earlier I can finish my work, the faster I can prepare for our 3rd day in YNP.  Yes, I work even when I am on vacation. That’s the beauty of technology these days. I can work anywhere as long as there’s internet. 🙂 In fairness, the wifi worked pretty well at the lodge despite the fact that we were surrounded with mountains.

We left for the park after breakfast. The short drive was certainly refreshing. I loved its winding roads , verdant valleys, waterfalls rushing brought about by spring… The whole experience was as amazing as it can get.

Since we arrived early, there was no crowd yet. In fact, the place looked deserted. We parked near the El Capitan overlook.  From this area, “The Captain” loomed above us.  I stood in awe. The silence and the beauty of the place gave me goosebumps. I am grateful to God for the chance to commune with nature. And for showing me his beautiful creation.

El Capitan and Upper Yosemite Falls , from a distance.

It was cold. And yet we didn’t seem to mind it. The hubby and I loved every bit of it.

As I turned around, I saw the Bridal Veil Falls behind us.

Instead of walking towards it, we decided to visit it before going back to the hotel later.

Our next stop, the Sentinel Bridge and Cook’s Meadow.

This is a short but gorgeous trail. Look at the pictures and tell me otherwise.

With El Capitan behind me. Cook’s Meadow, the Merced River and Yosemite Waterfalls infront of me. How awesome is that? 🙂

I looked like a dwarf here. But who cares. ha ha

After the Sentinel area, we drove towards Tunnel View.  But then we saw something really interesting..

People were climbing El Capitan. They looked so small compared to this 2,308 meter monolith rock!

Look how tall El Capitan is, behind me. You can’t even see the climbers without a long lens camera.

Behind me on the picture below is the Cathedral Rock. It can be found right across El Capitan. The meadow here is perfect for picnicking. 🙂

Moving on, we saw this beautiful pond. So we stopped again for some photo ops. I guess it goes without saying that you should travel with someone who loves you. Because if he/she doesn’t, this wouldn’t be as fun. ha ha… Imagine the patience of my husband. Thank God!

So thankful to him for this memory. 🙂

And thanks to the kind people who took this picture of us. 🙂

Further ahead, we saw Fern Springs.  This spring travels mostly under the Valley Rim. The Indians who lived here in the past called this spring, the Source of Life.

From Fern Spring, we started our ascent towards Tunnel View.

I do not like high mountain roads but this one wasn’t scary. It didn’t freak me out like Going to the Sun Road of Glacier National Park in Montana. I will always congratulate myself for having gone through that road. Sounds crazy right? But when you have a fear of height, you will understand. 🙂

Okay, so back to the present.

This panoramic vista is found at The Tunnel View.

It is called as such because this is the view that you will find after crossing this tunnel…

Look!

Ahh… of course, here we are again. 🙂

The hubby took this picture of the road going down.  Yes, we were that high.

From Tunnel View, we went back down and proceeded to Bridal Veil Falls Trail.

This is also a short trail. But you need to be careful since it’s wet. Water drippings from the hikers and the mist coming from the falls are enough to get you soaked.

This beautiful river is just beside the trail going up to the falls.

Like I said, the mist will get you soaked.  Look at the dots on the camera lens.

Reminder: Please do not climb on the rocks. It is very slippery. 

 

By the time we were ready to leave, the parking spaces were already full. The park was full packed!

Near this parking space, I ran toward the bridge and took a picture of Half Dome and the Merced River.

If you go back to my Day 2 entry of YNP, you will see  Half Dome better near the Mirror Lake.

 

On our way out of the park, we stopped several times  to enjoy the view.

I loved the combination of the mountains , (I think it’s El Capitan and the 3 brothers with Ribbon Falls) , and the Merced River.

The Bridal Veil Falls view across the Merced River.

This one shows how dangerous nature can be as well. The sign below showed how deep the river was on January 2, 1997.  Scary huh?!

I stopped counting the parks waterfalls. It seemed like wherever you look, they are there. If you ask me, I think there are at least 100 waterfalls in Yosemite National Park. Some are smaller but some are as big as this one.

Going back to the lodge. Isn’t that beautiful?

Finally, we have arrived.

Our home for another night. It looks beautiful whichever angle you look at it. 🙂

It has been a busy day at the park. We got tired but we had fun. 🙂 I hope that you did, as well. If you have plans of traveling to California, make Yosemite National Park , a part of your itinerary.  I am sure you will be as amazed as I am when you see it.

For more information about Yosemite, please check their official website. https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm

Once again, thank you for traveling with us!

 

 

 

Lea C. Walker

http://www.davaoproperties.com

 

 

 

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Road Trip 2017 – Yosemite National Park Day 2

Our second day in Yosemite started slow. We took our time enjoying the buffet breakfast. Watched the Merced river ran its gentle course. Talked to some of the locals and visitors alike.

Finally, we have relaxed… We will be here in the next few days after all. So there’s no reason to rush. Those were my thoughts at that time.

So let’s go down memory lane together through this photo essay. 🙂

Please click on the pictures below to enlarge. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

The view from our balcony.

A portion of the restaurant. Beside the river.

The buffet breakfast was composed of sausage and bacon, bread, biscuits, french toast, pancakes, fruits, eggs, yogurt, etc. It was filling and very good.

After breakfast, we proceeded to the park. This entrance is about 5 minutes away from our hotel. We bought the park pass called “America The Beautiful” for $80.00 as we can use it in any National Parks all over the U.S. for one year.

This rock was near the park gate.  And this is where you pass, going inside Yosemite. 🙂

About 15 minutes of beautiful sceneries and tall pine trees…

The Yosemite Falls in all its majestic beauty, will welcome you…

We parked at the designated parking space and started to walk… Oh before I forget, watch for the parking signs. Or you might get caught and ticketed.

We visited during spring. And it was still cold. So do not forget to layer.

Following the pathway, we started walking to the waterfalls…

Stopped for some photo ops, of course. What kind of vacation would it be without pictures right? ha ha

Passed through Yosemite Village.

And the Visitor’s Center.

Proceeded to the Yosemite Museum and watched the short movie inside.

Moving on, we followed the trail to the waterfalls again.

I sat down,  watched and  listened to the thundering sound of the falls and the noisy birds around me. Believe me, that was an awesome feeling. I wish I am back there now. Just thinking about it brought a smile to my face.

A few more minutes of walking, we finally reached our destination.

 

The view of the Lower Falls, while standing at the bridge.

Despite the bright sunlight, the snow was still thick near the falls.

More photo ops. Bear with me… 🙂 The place is so beautiful and we have no snow in the Philippines!

From Yosemite Falls, we took the shuttle service going to Mirror Lake.

The hop on- hop off  shuttle is free. And it is the easiest way to enjoy the park. Just keep your maps with you and look for the shuttle stops.

Okay from the shuttle drop off to the lake and back is 3.2 kilometers. So be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Bring water and food too, if you like.

It may be a long walk, but you will not feel it, because the view along the way is very pretty.  The Tenaya Creek is right beside you. You can hear its gentle sound and be able to enjoy it on the way to the lake.

Boulder such as this one is pretty normal on this trail.

Mirror Lake , at last…

This lake is at its fullest on spring time and early summer.  The water , during our visit , was very calm. Hence, the beautiful reflection of its surroundings.

More details of this lake can be found here –

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/mirrorlaketrail.htm

My most favorite capture of this lake.

With the view of The Half Dome and its reflection on this crystal clear water.

I found this little girl playing in the water , so cute… 🙂

Thanks to the hubby for this lovely memory.

Going back to the shuttle stop, I noticed this part of the lake. Isn’t that beautiful?

This has been a tiring day. We spent most of it walking to both the Lower Falls Trail and the Mirror Lake Trail. But it was so worth it. I would do it all over again, given the chance. I wonder how it is there on winter or fall? I am sure Yosemite National Park is amazing whichever season you visit there.

My only regret is that I wasn’t able to see its famous Frazil ice. Maybe next time. 🙂

At the hotel , after such a long day, we treated ourselves with an early but  sumptuous dinner.  I ordered baby back ribs for me. While the hubby ordered steak. Both were really delicious.

Thanks for traveling with us everyone. Hopefully,  I will be able to write the next installment soon.

Ciao for now! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Road Trip 2017 – Yosemite National Park (Day 1)

Yosemite National Park is located in Northern California.  Pronounced as “yoh-sem-i-tee” , this park has a coverage of 747,956 acres or 302,687 hectares. It includes Toulumne, Madera and Mariposa Counties.

Designated as a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streamsgiant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, glaciers, and biological diversity. – ( Wikipedia)

From Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco , it is only 165 miles to the park. As per google map, the trip only takes 3.5 hours. But well it took us more than that because we had to stop several times. This is why I love our road trips because a) we can stop anywhere we want to  b) we can travel at our own pace without worrying about other people waiting on us and c) since I have hotel bookings in advance, we can just check in late at night if we have to.  I find that more relaxing that going on a tour.

So anyway, after checking out that day, the hubby and I picked up the prepaid vehicle we rented through Dollar Rent A Car, located at The Sheraton Hotel.

We took 880 / 580 / 132 / South 99 and 140 from the  Fisherman’s Wharf to our final destination of the day, The Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal, California.

Let me show you the photos I took on this route.

On our way to Bay Bridge here.

At the Bay Bridge, going out of San Francisco.

The Route to Yosemite. At Interstate 580 here.

First stop. San Francisco Premium Outlets. 🙂 

Moving on. Towards I-880.

Several lanes. Busy Interstate. And yet, no congestion. Why? Because people stick to their lanes. No crazy driving. 

We stopped at a mall here. To buy our AT & T sim cards. And hiking shoes.

The farther we traveled, the view got better and better. Lesser traffic, green environment, no crowd. Just open fields, as far as the eyes can see.

This is along Highway 132, I believe.

Littering Fine = $1,000.00 dollars. I can’t blame them. The place looked so beautiful. It would be a pity if it gets trashed.

As we got nearer to Yosemite, the mountains became more visible. 

And we traveled with the Merced River beside the road. 

I found the pink bushes really beautiful. But I forgot to ask the locals there, what was its name. 

Finally, we have arrived. In front of us was The Yosemite View Lodge.

It would have been more convenient to stay inside the park. But booking at the lodges there should be at least 6 months ahead of time. And since, we were still in the US  6 months ago, I didn’t think of it. Hence, our stay at The Yosemite View Lodge.

This is located just outside the park. I loved it because we could hear the rushing river. Plus the rooms came with a kitchen. Meaning, I could cook rice if I wanted to. 🙂 It was very spacious. And the balcony overlooked the mountain and the river. So beautiful and relaxing….

TIP :  

Yosemite National Park gets visited by at least 4 million people per year. With that said, it gets crowded during peak season. Hence, it is a must that you book ahead of time.

If you decide to stay at Yosemite View Lodge, I suggest that you bring food if you want to cook. There is a grocery store within the vicinity but oftentimes, meats and other stuff, get sold immediately. So it is easier to just bring your own stock. There is a refrigerator inside the room anyway.

If you do not want to cook, they have a pizza place and a restaurant there. The breakfast buffet was good. And their ala-carte menu,   for either lunch or dinner , as well.

For more details of Yosemite View Lodge, please check their website here –

http://www.stayyosemiteviewlodge.com/

I will try to write soon about the rest of our visit at Yosemite National Park. So please come back again soon. 🙂 Thank you for traveling with me.

 

 

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On Martial Law and Wars

I seldom talk about this. Because this was in the past. And you know, for a young mind, it was scary to having go through such experiences. As much as possible, I do not want to remember them. But I think I need to share them so that those who do not understand will hopefully get an inkling of how it is to live in fear.

When I was in Grade 2, the whole family moved to Davao Oriental for greener pastures. (Please note that this was almost 40 years ago.) My father continued being a butcher there, which is what he knows best. His meager income was not enough, so being the eldest daughter, I had to help earn more to live. But well, this story isn’t about that. (Ask me about working hard at a young age when we meet and I will tell you all about that.) I only mentioned it because I remember, despite our poorness and all the hardships, my sisters and I had good memories of growing up.

Except when the insurgents would attack nearby and we hear the shots go off. The description we use for that is – “encounter”. It was a normal thing when we were growing up. The NPA had an encounter with the military. Or a Muslim Extremist group had an encounter with the military. Hence, the exchange of bullets.

I kept all these at the farthest back of my mind because no one should ever go through something like that. You wake up in the middle of the night, thinking there was thunder. Only to realize later on that the insurgents used M-79 to attack a nearby detachment (walking distance from our house). That’s what we were told. Supposedly that’s a gun with bullets as big as a small can. Never saw them. Never wanted to. For fear that they might come back and we get included in the fight.

The back of our house had a hole where we can hide in times like those. We called that “paksol.” The hole, that is. That was a normal thing too.

There was one time – we were so scared to move so we just hid under our bamboo bed. I remember my sisters crying. And Pearlie, the one next to me said, should we jump in the window? Mama shouted are you crazy? The fall will kill you, not the bullets. This was at the 2nd house we rented, located on the 2nd floor. The people renting at the ground floor became friends and were hitting the ceiling/floor with a long wood to coordinate with us. They wanted us to go down. Being on top when bullets were flying everywhere, isn’t that safe after all.

But well, when you do not have much choice, life continues as usual after the said encounters. You adjust to the situation. And you pray that someday you rise above that.

Fast forward to when we moved back to Davao City when I was in 2nd year High School. We rented a small shanty in Agdao. Back then it was called “Nicaragdao”. Nicarag means tremble. Agdao was nicknamed as such because it was a killing field then.

I remember the “zonings” , the act where all men in the neighborhood were checked and counted. Do you know how it feels when you have to pray so hard that your papa will be spared from being harmed everytime a zoning is done? You just don’t know what will happen next. You can be reported as one of the sparrows (the snipers or something like that) and then you get to be put in jail. Or worst, killed.

Papa remained to be a butcher. Until, his cousin hired him to be a part of a crew, where travel to Cotabato , General Santos and nearby areas was a necessity. This is when they look for livestock.

Several times, they got shot at by Muslim bandits, because they refused to stop in their check points. Yes, terrorists checkpoints aren’t new. That’s a normal thing in the past in some parts of Mindanao. When you stop, you get robbed. So you avoid them at all cost. At least that’s what my father and the rest of the crew did. They had money with them you see. And when you lose that, the business stops and you lose your job too.

So their driver would “fly” according to papa to avoid the bullets hurled at them. I do not know how they lived through those times. But they did. Thank God.

During this time, I became a fan of the now President Rodrigo Duterte. I heard him give a speech when I was in high school. He was running for Mayor of Davao City then. He promised to clean up Agdao and the rest of Davao City. It took him years but he did it.

Over the years, the peace and order situation all over Mindanao became better. When you go to Davao Oriental, we have a Welcome Center now. A museum too. Which showcases our province’s beautiful spots , culture and heritage.

Compostela Valley , Bukidnon , General Santos City and Cagayan De Oro became tourist spots. And business hubs as well.

Except for the areas where Muslim extremists thrive. People are scared to venture there. If they do, they make sure that traveling is done during day time. Have you ever seen children (12years old and above) carrying rifles? I have. We were selling land to the Banana Plantation workers in the ARMM area one day. And stupid me, I did not realize that we were already in a dangerous zone. So it came as a shock when I saw those kids. Scary , yes. But we made a huge sale that day. Obviously people were looking for options, a safer place where they can move to.

Then 2017 came. The Mayor I admired, who is now the President of the Philippines, had to declare Martial Law for 60 days in Mindanao. Because a new breed of extremists who pledged to become a part of ISIS and are waving ISIS flags, need to be stopped at all cost.

The Marawi incident isn’t new to us. The fight, the senseless killings, the fear… These are not new to us. I know how the victims feel because I lived through it. Maybe not as bad , but the emotional trauma is the same.

Over the years, our City got bombed several times. People died. We cried. But we always stand up. That’s what a real Mindanaoan does. You strive to be stronger.

The present Martial Law does not bother us. At all. In fact, we love the presence of our military and police. Davao Gulf is guarded by Coast Guards. The armies are fighting, really fighting the insurgents and terrorists. With the intention of finally ending these decades of war. Maybe it will end. Maybe not. But at least our present government is doing something about it.

Davaoenos are a different breed. We had a father who properly trained us for something like this. He has instilled discipline in us. We have developed resiliency over the years. We rise up when needed.

I hope and pray that the Philippines will have peace. The enemies are financing any war they can think of to stop our President from doing what he does best, protect and serve the Filipinos. But knowing him, he will fight head on.

So do we.

To those who have never lived in Mindanao. Just shut up.

Your opinion maybe important to you. But unless you have gone through what we have went through, your crappy words do not matter to us.

Try hiding in a paksol. Try pulling your children, any family member to safety (under the bed/anywhere) so you won’t get hit by stray bullets, or better yet – try living in Marawi or any place in Mindanao where there’s a war and then get back to us after you experience that.

Just try.

To those who are trying to understand what is going on. Thank you for trying. Rest assured, we are fine. It is business as usual for our city. It is safe and peaceful too. Our government is  doing its best to protect the people. It is about time for these atrocities to end. We have suffered long enough. Forty years or so is more than enough. We need a break.

To the Human Rights group, I am all for helping. But if you really care, don’t the victims matter more than the rights of those who burn houses, chop off people’s heads, drug dealers, etc?

In a few years, I will be 50. That’s half a century. 🙂 I hope that I will wake up one day and see a richer and better Philippines.

We can only have that though, if we have good peace and order situation. Davao City grew from a slump to a billion dollar haven because our Mayor ensured that there is peace and order.

Mindanao , one day, will become one. One step at a time.

And if the rest of the Philippines will get their act together, then maybe one day, the Filipinos will have a passport that is at par with any western countries.

We have that chance now. So to all the Filipinos out there, help our country, however way you can. Do not stand in the way of progress. Even if you hate the President. We only have one country. Let us love the Philippines , more than loving the politicians.

Let us all be Filipinos.

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