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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US Roadtrip 2017 – San Francisco

I was asked once in this blog, why I have not included San Francisco yet in our itinerary. I replied that at that time, we already had other plans.

You know,  like in business, we plan ahead. And schedule things. It took us about two years. But this time, San Francisco it is! Nope, not Agusan.  But the one in America. 🙂

Okay, I booked our flight through EVA Airways because it was possible for us to leave Davao in the morning and move on to our US flight in the evening. But as the time drew near, I realized that I needed to change our local flight.

We had to leave a day early from Davao because I had to close a real estate transaction in Manila. Lost money over the local ticket plus the one night cost of Remington Hotel but well, that’s nothing compared to the deal I made. So it was fine. And we got to eat again at the Marriott Buffet. ha! You just don’t know how much I look forward to that every time we are in Manila. I love their unlimited supply of prawns and curacha! 🙂

Marriott Buffet’s grilled prawns and curacha. Love…. 🙂

Moving on.  Eva Airways boarded on time. But we left late because of NAIA’s runway traffic. The pilot was apologetic about it. But you know, that’s beyond his control. When we finally took off, everybody was ready to leave. Really ready to leave. ha ha. Yep, that long a wait for us that night. The flight from the Philippines to Taiwan was just about 2 hours. And since we got an upgraded seat, it didn’t bother us that much. Oh why we had an upgrade? Our flight got affected when they made a cancellation to one of their trips . So they made sure that in all our bookings , we got the seats we wanted. Of course, not business class. 🙂 But I made sure that the hubby got an aisle seat all the way and back. And we were seated near the front. I do not like sitting in the middle or at the back of the plane. So it was a win-win situation for us.

Taiwan Taoyuan International  Airport  is very nice. But the restaurants in our Terminal were limited. And they close early. So make sure that you buy your coffee or any drink/food  as soon as you get settled.

The trip from Taipei to San Francisco was relaxing. There were bumps along the way but it wasn’t bad. Thank God! The food was just so-so and the movies were limited. So I mostly slept during the flight. And listened to old songs in between.

I have not heard the song “telefone” for a very long time. ha ha.

More songs I listened to on the plane. 🙂 Does this tell you my age?! LOL

We arrived at San Francisco International Airport on time. But the immigration line was so long it took us almost 2 hours to get out of the airport. And to my surprise, I wasn’t interviewed anymore. You know with questions like, are you going to work in America Mrs. Walker? 🙂 None of those lines of questioning anymore. The officer just stamped my passport after looking at me. I think the US finally understood that I really, really do not want to live here. ha ha I just want my road trip and my outlet mall fill until we reach mommy’s… That’s my mom-inlaw’s haven , surrounded by colorful trees on autumn and buttercups / wild flowers during spring. My second home.

Normally, we pick up our rental car at the airport upon arrival. But this time, we didn’t. Why? Because parking in San Francisco is expensive. The Holiday Inn San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf, where we will be staying for  4 days,  charges $50 a night. Yes that much!

So I booked us with Super Shuttle through http://www.airportshuttle.com  . I paid $34 for both the hubby and I . That comes with 4 luggage and a door to door delivery to our destination. No hassle and stress free. 🙂 I loved it. If you don’t mind sharing a ride with other travelers, then this is the way to go. You don’t want to deal with traffic in San Francisco anyway right? Specially at night!

We finally checked in at the Holiday Inn past 9pm. Tired from the very long trip, it was such a nice surprise to talk to Filipinos at the counter who were very accommodating. Thank you very much for the assistance. 🙂

After a late dinner at Denny’s (just at the corner of the hotel), we retired to our room.

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On our second day, we started late. We figured that we will just be on the tour bus , anyway.  So there’s no need to rush. When we got ready, we walked to the corner of the hotel where the bus stop is. And waited for Big Bus Tour to pick us up. I made an advance 2 day booking for us. So I just showed the voucher and the driver gave us 2 small earphones. By the way, this is why I booked us at Holiday Inn because the hop on – hop  off bus stop is just around the corner. That’s a lot of time and money saved in moving from one place to the other. Plus of course, we can just walk towards the Fisherman’s Wharf which is my main reason for this SFO trip.

Big Bus Tour ( (https://www.bigbustours.com/en/san-francisco/san-francisco-bus-tours/) arrived on time. 🙂 And off we went to the touristy stuff called City Tour.

Okay so ’nuff talk. Time to look at pictures. 🙂

CITY HALL: 

Trivia – the tip of the dome is made of gold. Yes, pure gold. 🙂

Called PAINTED LADIES , these Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings are part of the bus tour. Built between 1849 to 1915, the colors were considered loud back then. But they’ve remained so beautiful until the present.

The Haight – Ashbury is the part of the tour that refers to both streets (Haight and Ashbury) and their hippie culture.

This wall mural has Jimi Hendrix’ authograph.

Sexy legs on the window can certainly catch more attention. ha ha

Imagine the stories behind this wall…

The Tenderloin. No one really knows why this portion of the City is called as such. But the nicest story among them all is that – a cop supposedly bought tenderloin for the people living here. The buildings in this neighborhood are rented to the poor. From what I understand, it costs $1000 per month. Geee.. that’s P50,000.00 in our country. A lot of money, just for rent. And according to the tour guide, each floor has 1 toilet/bathroom shared by all the tenants.

Yes guys, not all Americans are rich! Look at the homeless people below… Some of them sleep on the street. 😦

We passed by the Golden Gate Park. But I will go back to that later on.

There were other stops too but well, we weren’t really interested in them. So we just continued to ride in the bus until we reached the Golden Gate Bridge. Okay, we were wearing a wind breaker because it does not breathe. It keeps us warm when it’s cold. Plus I was wearing 3 layers of clothing. But I’d say, we weren’t prepared as to how cold the Golden Gate Bridge is when you’re on top of the bus! Cold is fine. Without wind. But when both are present, I froze. Took me a little while to recover. It’s a good thing the sun was out that day. It helped when we finally left the bus and took a walk beside the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. I never thought that I’d see this place. If someone told me this when I was younger, I probably would have just laughed and moved on. Thank you Lord for this chance.

 

Foggy view of the bay and the marina below.

Did our best to get a “twofie”. ha ha

From here, we hopped on to another bus and moved on. This time, our destination is the Fisherman’s Wharf. If you look at the map, FW is the No. 1 stop. The second stop is our hotel, so we’re basically just neighbors. We just had to walk about 10mins or so and we’re back where we started this morning.  If you want to be nearer,  book at the Sheraton Hotel. The wharf is just right across Sheraton. 🙂

Finally we arrived at the main reason of our San Francisco trip. Pier 39 and the Sea Lions. 🙂

A few steps away from Pier 39’s main entrance, past the restaurants and souvenir stores, are these noisy sea lions.  They took residence here after the 1989 earthquake. And never left. They sound very loud and cute. ha ha. I just never expected that they are THAT NOISY. 🙂

I love them. And the fact that they are protected by the government. It is against the law to feed , harass or handle them.

Marina View.

The Alcatraz. Reminds me of The Rock and Sean Connery.

Beautiful day to go sailing huh?!

He looks cute when he smiles. He doesn’t believe me. ha ha.. What do you think?

Our second day ended here. We just had dinner nearby and walked back towards our hotel.

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We started early on our third day. Had breakfast at the hotel before walking to the corner again to wait for the bus. The driver did not ask for the voucher anymore. But asked us if we have earphones already. When we said yes, he told us to find a seat. This time, we decided to just sit inside the bus. Both of us didn’t want to freeze again. 🙂

The earphones by the way are for listening to the Tour Guide. He is on top of the bus and the wind is noisy. Hence, he talks to the tourists via the earphones.

More Pictures:

Lombard St. – is an east–west street in San Francisco, California that is famous for a steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns. (Wikipedia)

I just took this picture from the bottom. Sorry, did not want to walk up there. Then walk back down. Maybe next time. 🙂

We reached the Golden Gate Park after fighting SFO’s traffic. The bus stop is infront of the California Academy of Sciences. You can visit this place but the entrance fee is $38 per person. That day, it was filled with students. So we didn’t go inside anymore.

Across the street, the huge building infront of C.A.S. is De Young Museum.

I got sidetracked though with the Cherry Blossoms in bloom. ha ha.

Past De Young Museum is the Japanese Tea Garden.

After the Japanese Tea Garden, we continued strolling at the park.

And found some more cherry blossoms. 🙂 You know, I have always wanted to see them for years now. But other than going to Japan or Washington, D.C. on April I thought that there was no other chance to see them. Boy, was I wrong!

The Rose Garden hasn’t bloomed yet.  But that’s okay. We have roses in the Philippines. 🙂

There are huge trees beside the rose garden. We saw some joggers use a trail there.

Found these beautiful flowers nearby.

As we continued, our walk brought us to STOW LAKE. This is a man made lake in the middle of the Golden Gate Park. Imagine a sand dune area from a long time ago. The people behind this were told that it cannot be done. But you know, Americans. They study and they implement. Hence, this very beautiful park in the middle of the city. Amazing right? If you were there, you would feel the same way I’m sure.

They have boat rentals here with the following rates:

Row Boats – $21.50/hour
Pedal Boats – $27.00/hour
Electric Boats – $37.00/hour
4-6 Passenger Pedal Boats – $37.00/hour

Strolling along the park will reward a nature lover with different emotions. The geese, ducks and birds are beautiful.

Sometimes you get lucky and will be able to get pictures of them together. Plus a nosy turtle. ha ha

So I just sat down there and watch them all.  Honestly, I envy the Americans and feel sad for some of them at the same time. The whole country is very beautiful. I am not referring to just one state, but all 50 of them.  With their busy schedule, not many get to enjoy the beauty that are there for the taking. I’ve met people who work 2 or 3 jobs because living in the city is expensive. So there’s no time anymore to enjoy nature and the parks. But I envy them because if and when they want to, they have these places to go to.

I dream that someday, the Filipinos will also have free parks that has lakes, wildlife and trees to enjoy and be awed with.

As we continued…  found these ducks near the bridge.

The lake opened up further along.

And this raccoon.

Look at the birds.. They come when there’s water.

How would you like to just sit there and take it all in?

I know I was amazed.

Past Stow Lake is the San Francisco Botanical Garden. There are supposedly 2 million plants here. So if you like to garden, you just might like this too. Honestly though, I loved Stow Lake more than this place.

The entrance fee here is $7 per person.

African plants. 🙂

Squirrel enjoying the place. 🙂

More squirrels…

Small pond with blooming cherry blossom again.

So beautiful… I love the green and the pink background. I called his attention and surprised him with a shot. ha ha Another memory that we will look back to when we get older. 🙂

Strong wind blew. And the water fountain almost got me here. ha ha

Thanks to the hubby for this picture.

And this… 🙂 And the rest of my photos in this entry.

By the way, is this a different breed of Cherry Blossoms?

So this is how we spent our 3rd day. Kinda boring I guess. But I so loved it… 🙂

Our 4th day is when we will leave for Yosemite National Park. Please come back and travel with us. 🙂

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

 

 

 

 

Lea C. Walker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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US Roadtrip 2017 – Celine Dion and Caesars Palace

FIRST DAY:

I have been wanting to watch Ms. Celine Dion’s concert for years. But our schedules don’t meet. Last year, I watched Rod Stewart’s concert at the Colosseum. That’s another story for next time though. I just remembered that I haven’t wrote about that yet.

So this year, since our Road Trip will start in San Francisco, the hubby said you should check what show to watch when we pass by Vegas. And oh my God, was I so happy when I saw that finally, Celine Dion has a scheduled show at the same time we are there.

I bought my ticket to the show immediately. And booked us at the Caesars Palace through http://www.agoda.com for two nights. The concert venue is at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace. So I found it convenient to just stay there as well. That way, we do not need to travel from one hotel to the other. Lesser stress that way. Plus of course, when we are in Vegas, we look forward to their Bacchanal Buffet. The crab legs are a must, right? 🙂

We arrived at the hotel late in the afternoon. I booked for a King Room but upon check in I was told that the Forum Tower was overbooked and the available is just 2 Queen Bed room. The hubby didn’t like that. So they upgraded us to their Nobu Hotel, which I found weird but beautiful. I was expecting a classic Romanian interior but saw a Japanese finish instead. haha. The resort staff said, Nobu is newer than Forum, more modern and luxurious . Plus they have dedicated staff who will take care of your needs while you are there.

Okay so we got our King Room. Perfect. 🙂 And thank you to all the staff who made the experience easy.

We have been traveling for at least 6 hours from Yosemite National Park in California. So we were beat. The sight of the bed was a welcome respite. But we had to eat first before going to bed. Hence, we went back down and looked for dinner. The good thing about Nobu Hotel, it’s in the middle of everything.  The restaurants are there, the colosseum where the concert will be is just a few steps away, the food court (yes Caesars Palace has a food court! It is “sosyal” of course, but still a food court… ) 🙂 If you like to gamble, the casino is just right there. There are bars too if you like to socialize and drink. If you love Food Network,  you would want to visit Gordon Ramsay’s world famous restaurant. Ahhh Caesars Palace is so huge you would hurt your feet walking it. It’s a good thing that we walked through this hotel before. So we spared ourselves the tiring “touristy stuff”. 🙂

Okay so after dinner, we headed back to our room and slept like a log.

SECOND DAY:

Didn’t do much. Other than visiting Las Vegas Outlet Mall, that is.  I stopped shopping for clothes in our country because I find them cheaper here. Have you ever tried rummaging through their clearance area? haha… I know I am cheap. But well, it works for me. And I find some really good stuff at a bargain here. So yes, I will continue to be a fan of the outlet malls  in America.

From there we went back to our room to rest. And went down again after several hours to have an early dinner at the Bacchanal Buffet. Early I say,  because tonight is the night. When I finally get to see Celine Dion in her world famous Vegas performance.

My favorite – crab legs. 🙂 Delicious!

The dessert buffet looked so inviting. But I had to control myself. haha

At 6:30pm, I proceeded to the Colosseum. The guard assisted me to my seat. When I got there, I saw an advertisement on the screen asking the viewers to write Ms. Celine Dion. Whoever wins will get a special prize. And so I did.

Which they replied with a question,  a few seconds later –

I promptly replied and told them where I was. And my mind was racing with questions like – did I win? Will I get to see Ms. Celine. hahaha… Oh my God, crazy me huh?

Before the show started, one of Ms. Celine’s team, stood infront of me and asked – is there a Lea Walker here?  Which I immediately said – Yes, I’m here. haha

The people around me looked as shock as I was when I was told that I won. And I was given an authographed magazine of Ms. Celine Dion! Awesome right? 🙂  Ms. Oprah ( I hope I heard her right,  when she told me her name) , took my picture and said that they will be posting my photo in Ms. Celine’s twitter page.

Imagine the look of amazement on my face when all these were happening. How is that even possible? Of the thousands of people in the colosseum, I got picked. If that isn’t God’s miracle, I don’t know what is. You know, people say it’s a cliche when someone says, things happen in God’s time. But I say it’s not. A lot of things have happened  to me in God’s time. I waited for years and I was granted a prayer beyond my comprehension. Thank you Lord.

CONCERT TIME:

We already know how powerful and moving her voice is. The show was fantastic! Different descriptions such as outstanding, excellent and superb can be applied to it as well. It was worth the trip and more.

But what struck me the most was how wrong I was. I have always thought of Ms. Celine as a serious individual.  I don’t know why, when I don’t even know her. But she is actually very funny. And she likes to talk to her fans. There was one time when the backstage staff told her through her earplug to stop talking. haha.. And start singing. She said I will, but continued to talk to the people anyway. She talked about her childhood and her family. The death of her husband, her children. And jokingly said, she doesn’t have a phone because she has a life! Which made everyone laugh. 🙂

Here are some photos of the concert:

While singing Beauty and the Beast.

Medley with her back up singers.

Singing the “forever favorite” My Heart Will Go On.  This is one heart wrenching moment. Started with the lights off. Then we heard a very sad and powerful hum of the song. Lights on. Then came out Celine. I think all of us held our breath. And burst into a loud applause by the time it was over.

With fast beat songs here.

She sang  her famous songs like – Because You Loved Me. All By Myself. That’s The Way It Is. It’s All Coming Back To Me and a lot more… From start to finish, I was in awe.

As if I wasn’t amazed enough, I saw a few days later that I made it to Ms. Celine Dion’s twitter page. 🙂

So before I end this post, I would like to thank God for this wonderful experience.  And thank you to Celine Dion and Team Celine for making my vacation very memorable. Of course, this would not have been possible if not for my amazing husband who understands and supports my “craziness” … I love you. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

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Roadtrip 2016 – Roswell, New Mexico

Source: Roadtrip 2016 – Roswell, New Mexico

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Carlsbad Caverns National Parks

Source: Carlsbad Caverns National Parks

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