Wednesday, December 17, 2008

CHRISTMAS

The Christmas season is here if you haven't noticed. This time it came with snow as well. On Monday we got at least about an inch and a half of the white stuff, which is a lot by our standards here in Vegas (0.in avg per year) Today it was supposed to start snowing at about 4:00in the morning but it only started to fall in the last hour. By tonight it should be everywhere. They are even predicting lots of snow along the strip.


Kipper seemed to enjoy the snow more than LuLu did. Every time we opened the back door, he jumped right outside and did not want to come in. Of course once he came in, what a mess!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in a church program where gifts were delivered to needy families here in Vegas. These are people who either do not have a job or have the means to provide gifts for their children. Some of these places did not have a single decoration or a small tree that tells them it's Christmas. There were about 60 families who received food boxes and gift certificates in addition to the actual gifts. It is something worth doing for people that deserve it. I got to do it as well through our workplace last week. In our department we adopted a family who scored really well with cash donated, gifts, gift certificates and more.





It hit close to home because as a child growing in Mexico, I saw "familiar faces" in the 3 homes we went to. I say familiar because frankly I do not remember having a Christmas as what my kids now do. We were also of limited resources so our Christmases as I remember them, were slim. They got better as I got older.

On to a different subject.

Last week our bike trip was through Red Rock National Park. A scenic loop that goes for about 12 miles through a beautiful area of Southern NV.




The first 4.5 miles was rough because of the climb - nothing but uphill. Once you reach the top, it goes down where you can go really fast and with a couple of long uphills. The previous week we went to Blue Diamond where I thought I had lost my friends. It turned out that they got too far ahead of me and by the time I found them, they were on top of a hill. By that time it was time to get back so I did not make it all the way to the top.

Here's wishing you all a Happy Merry Christmas and everything else good that you wish and desire. Hope you get it all.

Monday, December 01, 2008

THE SMELL OF CHRISTMAS


So it comes again.
December, Christmas and everything in between. Football Games (NFL). End of the College football season, College basketball defining who will be going to the "Big Dance" in March. Obviously I'm a sucker for college sports.
Oh yeah, Christmas.
What are you wishing for?.
It used to be very simple. you bought a few little things for your brothers, sisters or parents. A set of socks, perfume, a box of chocolates, a pretty sweater and you would also get something similar in return. You would also visit a friend's house and partake of whatever food or beverages they had to offer.
Indeed, very simple. You were able to "smell" Christmas in the air. The smell came from the boiling of fruit for "ponche" (hot fruit punch). It also came from the burning powder of fireworks - small tiny ones that you would light from the side of a box of matches and throw into the sky. There are lots where you could buy Christmas Trees, this must be universal around the world. The trees of course had their own smell, so all these assorted smells mixed in and that to me, that was the smell of "Christmas".
Of course that was also a long time ago in Mexico, prior to my move to the States.
My wish is to get a whiff of the Christmas smell.
What's your wish?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

SIGHTS OF THANKSGIVING

Stuffing, made from scratch

Yummy Apple Pie

Seasoned Turkey, Can't wait to taste it

Cheescake, probably the best part of the meal


All these goodies brought to you by the talented Chef de Cuisine - Melissa. She's been working hard since yesterday and of course more cooking today to entertain her dad and friend. Me?... I gotta work.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mountain Biking

So, for the last couple of weeks, I've taken up Mountain Biking seriously. I could not have done it on my own. I needed motivation, I needed someone to drag me out of the house and sit my ass on a bike and say, "Pedal".
That someone was a co-worker, one of our great bartenders at work. He seems to be a natural at it. while I struggle up a hill he seems like he's riding on a paved road. It started with just the 2 of us gong to a trail out by Blue Diamond and the group has grown to 5. I have also gotten back to running and biking around the neighborhood. Basically I am getting back into shape and Mountain biking is the perfect sport; outdoors, communing with nature and hanging out with friends who enjoy the same.



These were from our first outing with Red Rock National Park behind us.



These are from yesterday. On the left, Cesar the other bartender/tequila connoisseur, Pepe and Cisco.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

PRESIDENT ELECT


It's very rare for someone to say, "I was there" when something historical occurs. Last night was one of those nights.
Though I was not in Chicago awaiting the news (which we already predicted), I feel I was also part of history.
Now the hard uphill climb begins for Obama. Though he received a majority of votes in the country, there are plenty of unhappy, dissatisfied people who call themselves "Americans" who will make that climb hard and dangerous. What they believe in is not what America is all about. They will seek to destabilize the country, they will put up road blocks to minimize and undermine the actions that Obama needs to do to get the country back into prominence.
There will also be plenty of people expecting that now that a "minority" candidate got elected, that Mana will fall from the sky and all we have to do is open our palms.
Bad news for this fringe for nothing will come easy.
We can only hope that the new President will take steps necessary to get our country out of the pit it's in.
4 years should be enough to see what he's made of, though not enough to turn everything around. For that, he will need 4 more years.
And the campaign for that begins today as well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

WHY OBAMA WILL WIN


If you want to understand the process of electoral college votes vs. popular votes or just get a good grasp on the projections, go to: Yahoo. It has great description and breakdown of what states may go to whom and the likelihood of a candidate winning a given state that is up for grabs like my home state, Nevada.
More than just the numbers, Obama is going to win the presidency because of the the complete dissatisfaction that people feel about George W. Bush and the last 4 years. People may point to the last 8 years and feel that it has been a wasted 4 years. If that is the case how come he was not voted out on the last election? You may argue that indeed he was voted out because Kerry received the majority of the popular vote. Nonetheless, Bush still got sworn in and look where we are now.
I have spoken to a few Republican "friends" and the agreement is that even they want to see change.
Obama represents change.
There are people that are not voting for him just because of his skin color but it is a minority that will not have any effect on the election. I originally wanted Hillary to get the nomination, not so much because she was a woman but rather because of the experience that she would have brought to the presidency. Obama may not have that much experience but the belief is that he will surround himself with the right cabinet and he showed that by selecting Biden as his V.P. Contrary to what McCain did, which was just to pander to a certain segment of the electorate and look at the shape that they are in now.
The race may still be close to the end despite; voter fraud, malfunctioning machines, voter suppression, rules that make it hard for certain people to vote and many more scenarios, Obama should and will win.
Have you seen so many people vote ahead of the election? Have you seen how long the lines are and that they go for the entire day? I did yesterday when I voted. Luckily the process was quick and painless. I can only imagine how long the lines are going to be next Tuesday.

The last 2 elections were not won by Bush, they were lost by the Democrats, they fumbled the ball and threw too many interceptions to a team that was less qualified than them. This time it will be different. The election will be won with a clear mandate for change. And the score will be 60 to 40.

Vote and vote with your conscience.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Elections, the economy, personal issues, work. What does it all mean? What does it all mean in my life?
Sometimes I feel as though I am living someone else's life. I should not be here, why am I here?.
I was born in a small village in Mexico that still stands with plenty of people in it. People that wake up, go about their daily chores,and feed themselves somehow. They die, they laugh, they cry the same as everyone else. Since I left that village, plenty of US presidential elections have come and gone, the market has dipped or gone down plenty as well; and that village still stands with the same people going through the same motions as they were 20, 30 years ago and perhaps even longer.
They did not have a housing bubble or worry about the price of gas. Maybe they worried about rain and or the lack of it which is more damaging for their crops. I do not think that they expect a bail out from their state government or federal government. Maybe a hand out from their relative living in "El Norte", but never from the government. If there is not food, they just do not eat, or maybe a neighbor or family member will help.
That could have been my life.
I could have also stayed in Mexico City where it would not have been as simple as in the village. It wasn't. I lived there plenty and was happy as well, not without some minor heartache. As Stitch (From Lilo and Stitch) said,"We were a broken family." I did not have a happy childhood according to most therapists or psychologists. According to them, I should have died at about my mid twenties; and did have friends that fit the profile and did not make it past 20 or 25. I considered myself happy regardless and made the best of it.
That is perhaps why I find myself where I am right now. I always sought a better way. A better something.
Somehow I landed in L.A. Another metropolis just like Mexico City, perhaps not as corrupt but still sinfull.
So much has happened that determined where I am today. many things that I did not have control over. Some of them I did. I have made some bad choices and decisions. I have also been lucky with the people I have met.
So I guess when you add app all the steps in my life, they have all led to where I am now.
I have very few regrets, but I am very happy where I am.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

7 DEGREES OF SEPARATION - CHARLES KEATING



I had a chance to meet Charles Keating while his trial was going on in L.A. it seems like a long time ago. Now he is back in the news because of the current election. At the time I was working at Checkers a restaurant in a hotel by the same name, now owned by Hilton.
Charles Keating was a quiet and personable man. He never seemed mean and liked to eat well and drink wine along with his lawyers. Our restaurant was small and private so they always sat in the back of the room and go over the day's business; This also kept them away from the media. Their bill was always high by the time they were done, though Keating never paid; It was always his lawyer or family member who handled the bill. In previous posts I have written about this restaurant because it was here where Marcia Clark would sometimes come in and unwind after a rough day during the O.J. Simpson trial and also where Thomas Keller - Chef of the century - moved to after leaving N.Y.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

FRIDAY THE 13TH


Yesterday may not have been Friday the 13th but for OJ Simpson it must have felt like it. 13 years after being acquitted in L.A. he is found guilty here in Las Vegas, of all places.
His lawyer summed it up by saying that it was "Stupid" to go into a room and attempt to recover personal belongings on your own without getting either cops or lawyers involved.
Perhaps he is right and O.J is simply stupid and somehow because of his money and bad police shenanigans in L.A, he got away with murder 13 years ago. Maybe he thought because of who he was, he could get away with it.
But does anyone really get away with anything?..
To me, clearly he was guilty of the murders in L.A. How he got away with it is still beyond me. Watching the proceedings here in Las vegas, the similarities were everywhere. the testimony from both sides clearly pointed to a crime being committed with his lawyers arguing that perhaps OJ did not see the gun in the room, thus not knowing that, he was not guilty, even though the law here in Nevada says the opposite.
In L.A. the knife still has not been found, had it been found then, perhaps the outcome would have been different.
Now, I do not think there is any satisfaction at all for anyone, maybe not even the Goldmans and Nicole's family including the kids, who are now of college age.
There is still an appeal to come and a lot could change at that point but I think finally, Karma has caught up with OJ for whatever bad things (very bad things) he did in the past.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

WHO IS GETTING BAILED OUT

I understand that if the government does not do anything about the current financial situation, that things could really look bad; high unemployment, closure of businesses, basically a situation close to what was seen early in the century. Now that 700 billion (and I could not imagine 80 billion in my previous post)is being proposed to rescue and bail out financial firms on Wall Street, I wonder: Are some of these benefits going to "trickle down" to me, to you or your neighbors, and or relatives? Is their mortgage going to be lower in interest? or at least revised to allow for more realistic payments?
I also understand that a lot of regular working people got greedy and thought that by taking on two loans or buying a home that was out of their "budget" was a bit of a stretch and this combination of greed between the little people and those holding the purse strings is what has us in this mess.
So who are we really bailing out here?
I am not sure that anyone has the answer.
Our "fine" Senators are looking really like they are for the people as they give a tongue lashing to Paulson and Bernanke during this morning's Senate banking committee hearing. These same Senators however, are the ones that have the power to regulate, control, pass legislation and in essence police Wall Street. These same Senators have probably rubbed elbows at some point with all the Wall Street big wigs and intervened on their behalf to help or obstruct legislation that will benefit both.
So again, who is at fault in all this mess? It seems that we all have a certain degree of fault and maybe that is why we should all be "bailed out". Instead, and according to Senator Enzi, who is part of the committee, each tax paying American will be "contributing" $2300.00 to bail out Wall Street.
I can tell you this is not end of this fiasco. There is more to come and more to bail out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

GOVERNMENT BAILOUTS


Last time I checked it was in socialist countries where the government took over private or public owned companies. No matter the reason, whether to rescue them or for nationalistic pride or whatever you want to call it. Wasn't it just recently that Bolivia made a move to nationalize its oil and gas reserves?

The U.S. Government is now poised to "own" 80% of AIG at the low bargain price of 80 billion. I can't even picture how much money that would be if it was all piled up in $100.00 bills. I know it is only a 2 year loan however, if you have to bail me out and pay my mortgage off, how can you expect me to pay you back in two years?. AIG will not pay back and the U.S. will own a bunch of nicely appointed offices around the world until a "buyer" comes along to buy it from the government at a discount. That is precisely what happened in Mexico a few years ago when the government "nationalized" and took over failing companies because of the recession in the late 80's then it sold all those companies to well connected friends within the presidency.
The argument is the same as with the rescue of Fannie and Freddie
. If the government sits and just watches without doing anything about the mess, the entire world financial system will collapse because of how inter-related everything is.
I am sure that there is a lot of true to that and maybe I am just thinking small potatoes and fail to see the "bigger picture".
Who are we helping and rescuing here? Is it the institutions themselves or a bunch of highly placed investors with lots to lose.
Why not bail out our health care system instead and put that 80 billion dollars to better use?..
maybe we might just lead a new revival of true socialism.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

iPhone


I caved in and ended up getting an iPhone over a blackberry. I could have gotten a blackberry for free but, the selling point was the combo of an i-pod and a phone. You can also add more memory to a blackberry and still get he same effect. If I hadn't busted my i-pod, then I probably would have gotten the blackberry - despite the fact that its email property is useless since I cannot hook it up to our company's email server, thus not able to receive work email instantly on my phone. I know it is possible to set up a forwarding mode through outlook, but the company "politely" asked everyone to turn the feature off.

I am already having issues though. I just bought it and it already has an update to its software - to repair bugs and other connecting issue that iPhone's been having. Then again, I had some issues with the TMobile server as well. Will I stay a convert and recommend it to everyone?. Maybe I have 2 years to decide.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

GREATEST TEQUILA TASTING EVER



I am quite sure you've heard of wine tastings, beer tastings, perhaps even sake or scotch tastings. Granted maybe even gone to a liquor spirit tasting, but have you ever seen 60 labels of tequilas in one single tasting?.. I am not talking about cuervo gold or any tequila that will make you throw up at the mere sound of the name "tequila".
I am talking about names like; Chinaco, Casa Noble, Corzo, even Patron and Don Julio were represented.
We did the tasting at our restaurant as part of a charity event for Three Square and their Restaurant Week program where lots of restaurants from Las Vegas offer special menus at pre-determined prices with proceeds going to Three Square. Our event took place on a Thursday night.
We put together 60 labels from our tequila list in addition to others offered by local distributors. It wasn't just the tequilas that we offered. We also had old black and white movies from Mexico's golden era playing on our plasma screens and projectors. The ambiance music was enhanced with a live DJ sound of old Mexican songs as well as some modern beats.

Of course we also had food passed out on trays for the crowd as well as some "goodies" to take home on your way out.
The tequilas were of course the main attraction. Each brand was represented by their best line up; including silver or blanco, reposados, and aniejos. Some of the local vendors came in representing their brands while they educated the participants into their product.


Why it was the greatest? Because for $15.00 you got to taste some of the best tequilas anywhere. It is hard to find a restaurant who has a good selection of tequilas, much less a great list without traveling to meccas like: New York, L.A. or even Mexico.
Now for you to tray lets say a flight (A flight is a selection of 3 or more selections for one price) of tequila, you'll spend anywhere from 15 up to 100 dollars depending on the types.




For this tasting we had some of the best for the price. Granted, it would have been greater if you'd had the chance to try a 30th anniversary Chinaco, Sauza Triada, or even Patron Burdeos, but we did have offer some JC Reserva de la familia and most of the aniejos at hand were just as good as some of the higher priced tequilas. What is making these aniejos better is the new techniques and high tech now being used at the distilleries in Tequila Jalisco, though not all tequilas is produced in Jalisco, other states have the right to produce it and still call it tequila. Even Mezcal from Oaxaca is beginning to be aged in barrels that have stored whiskey or red wine. This of course will add more depth and character to the spirit.

Tequila has come a long way and it still has a lot more to go. Tastings like the one we just had help to promote not just the product but the culture as well. Our music was not all about mariachis and ranchers, we had boleros sang by Lila Downs and old trios like, Los Dandys and Los Panchos.

If you ever go or are invited to a tasting, please let me know or invite me as well. My favorite:
Corzo Aniejo
Chinaco 30 yr
If you ever have the luxury to try Patron Burdeos, it is worth the price (anywhere from 50.00 to 100.00) sip it. Do not shoot or even drink with a lime or salt.

Monday, August 25, 2008

BOOK REVIEWS



In the past 2 weeks I have read 3 books which I thought I would share with you.
During our outing to Pasadena last week, Melissa and I looked for Waiter Rant the book by "The Waiter". We stopped through a couple of stores and none had it. Eventually I find the one and only copy of it at a Barnes and Noble on Fairfax. Excellent description of what happens in the restaurant industry from the view of a waiter. I used to be a waiter once and can relate to most everything in the book. Entertaining.
The second book I picked up just because I was bored and ready for more reading. John Grisham's The Broker.
It is a quick and fast paced story, much similar to all his stories about lawyers and courtrooms. It keeps you interested in the on goings of an attorney who's being "hidden" by the CIA only with the purpose of getting him assassinated by other spies, etc. The setting is in Bologna, so you get a detailed description of this Italian City through the writer's own experience. Quick read in two days.
While we were in L.A. Melissa also picked up, The Art of Racing in the Rain by, Garth Stein. This novel tugs at your heart with each page as it tells a story through a dog's eyes who thinks of himself almost human. The dog, Enzo, is witness to the trials and tribulations of a young race car driver as he struggles with his career, then marriage 'till his whole life is in complete turmoil and hits bottom.
It is a story that personally hits too close to home and definitely recommend the book to anyone.

Let me know if you read them.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It's the economy stupid!


It's the economy stupid

That was the slogan in 1991 when Clinton was running against George Bush senior. That should be the slogan that Obama should be running against McCain. If you have not felt the rumblings of a spiraling economy, consider yourself lucky. I know it's been around for the last couple of years. However, it finally hit home.

Things began to go south a few months ago when there was a series of layoffs in town. The layoffs have continued from casino to casino and now, "big" construction projects that you never thought they would stop, have come to a halt because of lack of financing. I am talking about billion dollar projects I have never been afraid to lose my job until now. restaurants are closing, some are reducing hours of operation and some are doing everything to attract and keep customers who are looking to save every Penney they can.
There are people who are still making a good living, but they are just as nervous. As nervous as I am.
I can only hope that our place continues to do somewhat better than our competition. Actually, my job is to make sure that we continue to do better than the competition but it is so hard when you do not feel appreciated by your upper management.
I like what I do and I would like to do it somewhere else but in the current economic situation, it would be stupid to try and change right now.
I'll just have to ride it out and as I am fond of saying, "Go with the flow." Whatever happens is going to happen, no matter what you do.
You just have to do everything better than the next person.
I wish Clinton was here to tell me, "I feel your pain"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SUMMER FUN

Olivia jumping into the pool on a hot day

Pablo and Hilda at their "altar" with Vida (Pablo's dog) admiring them.

This is what summer is all about: friends, family, hot weather, pools, good food, wine, beer, tequila and even a BONG! Actually a hookah! (If that is how it is spelled.

This weekend was full of fun. despite coming home really late from work (about 4 in the morning). I was up early on Sunday and did not do much but relax after a long week at work. On Monday, I finished cleaning up the mess I made when I ripped out the grass in my front yard. At about 11:AM I got a call from "Pablo" reminding me that we had a barbecue at his house that afternoon with a couple of other people from work.
I had completely forgotten that a few nights ago, Pablo, Hector and I stopped by a local's bar close to where we work and had some beer while playing pool. This was supposed to be "a beer" before we headed home. well it wasn't until 4:00 in the morning when we finally left and we did discuss getting together for a barbecue, though I did not realize it was that soon.
We had a lot of fun. ate a lot, drank some and we got home around midnight. Here are some pictures of the weekend.

Kipper showing off. He is big dog now and still growing
Melissa, Pablo and Hilda
This is how flames are fanned in Argentina (According to Pablo)
Hector and Melissa
Smoking the hookah!
Puppies visiting the house. 4 dogs in the House!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

NO TITLE


For a review of the last leg of our trip, please read: Melissa of course you may have to scroll down.
This is the busiest I have been at work and not just working a lot but an average of 12 hours a day. On the weekends it is about 14 hours a day. If I was working an hourly job, that would be the equivalent of having 2 jobs and of course getting paid for 2. My reality is different, no matter how many hours I put, I earn the same amount. I am a salaried manager.
I am not complaining. I know the kind of job that I chose. I like what I do and perhaps I could find something else to do further in my career but in the meantime I am where I need to be. I hear and read stories about people who have a job like: card dealing or waiting tables and during these troubling economic times, their income has fallen and continue to decrease. Again, a matter of choice. When things are good, these jobs provide a good amount of money in tips.
The one thing I do not worry about is that. My paycheck is always the same no matter what, so as long as I stay employed and as busy as I am at work, I should not worry about the "economic situation"
It's been rough here in town, probably not as bad as some other areas of the country. Here, we've had layoffs, reduction of hours, closing of businesses, etc. At work, I knew about 4 people who got laid off a couple of months ago. It has not just been hourly staff, these have been managers who have been with the company a few years. Just yesterday I heard off another director who got the ax. Probably because of the large amount of money she was making and now someone else with perhaps a bit of less experience will take over her job at half the salary.
Economics, that is what is all about.
Things will get better, perhaps not soon enough, but eventually they will.

Monday, June 30, 2008

PROFILING


A funny thing happened on the way to Napa.
After we left Half Moon Bay
We drove into San Francisco to get to the Golden Gate and on to Napa. Melissa however was hungry for breakfast. Rather than eat at the hotel, we opted for something quick like IHOP or something similar. Once we got on the freeway (101 North) it was difficult to see any signs of Denny's or IHOP, so slowly and through traffic, we entered into San Francisco. We slowly made our way towards the Gold Gate and eventually we pulled over in an area where there were plenty of restaurants. Melissa went into the restaurant while I placed some quarters in the meter. I went inside the restaurant while Melissa went to wash her hands.
This is when it got interesting.
As I'm walking to the table assigned to us, an older lady turns around and says:

"Excuse me, can I please have an extra napkin?"
I turned around to see who she was talking to but there was no one around. As I turned back around, I see that she was still glancing at me as if waiting for me to meet her request.
I just grabbed a napkin from another table, just placing the silverware aside and handed it to her.
At least she said thank you and proceeded with her conversation with her family.
I just kind of giggled and sat down. I looked at the staff in the restaurant who were wearing a Hawaiian kind of shirt and jeans. Me, I was wearing a pair of beige shorts and a baby blue polo shirt. Hardly the kind of "uniform" you would find in cold San Francisco, more like something you would find in Palm Springs or Florida.
If you know me, you will clearly know that I am Latino or Mexican or someone from a Latin American country, I have even been asked if I am Filipino.
Maybe this lady didn't care about that. All she saw was a brown skinned man in a restaurant where most staff were of the same color.
Are you one of those people? I hope not.
It is not the first time that this happens to me. it happened recently about a month ago when a manager where I work asked me if I could "send someone to mop the floor on station 8". Her assumption was because I was brown skinned even though I was wearing a shirt and tie and there was another manager, who happens to be white, also wearing the same outfit, that I was somehow in charge of the dishwashers, who happen to be mostly brown skinned. I kind of looked perplexed because I was not clear as to what she was asking of me. The other manager saw this and explained to the one making the request that I was just there to help briefly and that I would not know where station 8 was.
At this, the requesting manager apologized and turned beet red. Again I just giggled and brushed it off.
It also reminded me of a time years ago when I was coming out of a restaurant with a group of friends in L.A. As we were waiting for our car, a guy pulls up and hands me his keys and I instinctively just took them.
I just tossed them back to him and said. "I don't work here". All he said was, "sorry" and waited for the valet guy.
I cannot get mad at people's ignorance and prejudices. It isn't me. I am sure if it happened to someone else, they might not react as I do.

After I told Melissa what had happened, she said she wished she had been there 'cause she would have given them not just a napkin but a piece of her mind. Those people were completely oblivious to the situation. They all just went back to eating and talking.
At least it gave us a good story to chuckle at while we continued on our way to Napa and Sonoma. We forgot all about over 2 days of wine tasting and being buzzed.

Till next time.

Monday, June 23, 2008

LAST WEEK

The problem with traveling with a lap top is finding wi-fi signal that is free or accessible. Also, the time to blog is superseded by the time to have fun.
When we were in Pasadena last week, the hotel offered free wireless connection, however, Melissa was the only one that got to blog about our first day of vacation. After that, it was just impossible because either we were busy driving or when we checked into our third hotel, the fee to connect was about $20.00 for 24 hours.

Well, after close to 1750 miles and paying gas from $4.29 in Las Vegas to $5.25 a gallon, we finally made it back.
Here is a re-cap... though not the entire trip....

The first three days of the trip were the most relaxing. I did surprise Melissa with a stay at the old Ritz in Pasadena and also at the Ritz in Half Moon Bay. All along I had her thinking that we did not have any reservations except for the hotel in Sonoma. The next leg of the trip was through Wine country and then the drive to Mammoth mountains for camping and a meet with family (Olivia and Anthony were already there). The last leg of the trip was back to Las Vegas. We were not sure which way we were going to return yet.
Day 1
Read Read Melissa's

Day 2
Pasadena to Half Moon Bay

We got up early enough to have breakfast in Old Town Pasadena. There are still quite a few of the old places where you can have a decent breakfast without waiting forever, it was still early enough. After breakfast we got on the 134 freeway towards the valley where we eventually got on the 101 to Ventura. The final destination (which Melissa did not know) was Half moon Bay. For someone who enjoys driving, this has always been a great drive for me. Once you leave the traffic of the city and climb up towards Ventura it is a joy to drive. We stopped quickly in Santa Barbara for gas and a bathroom break, from there it was up the 101 to San Luis Obispo where we would get on the PCH (1).
Once you get on the 1, as it is known in CA. the road winds alongside the coast where you can stop and walk on the beach or look at sea lions. There are plenty of spots worth sopping at just for pictures. The road quickly climbs up and the road is high with steep turns, where if you are prone to motion sickness, good luck! Luckily Melissa managed to take a nap after damning me for taking her on this road. Because of the meandering and risk of falling rocks, one must be careful when driving on the 1.
PCH (California 1)

On the way up, we saw this guy sprawled on the road. He was being assisted by some other drivers while he was on the ground, apparently he was either going too fast or he crashed into a car. He looked like he was conscious since he was moving his arms and such. Further up the road, we saw about three ambulances headed in that direction. Of course by the time an ambulance or any kind of help arrives on a road like the PCH, you better hope it isn't too serious.

We arrived into Monterrey and from then on to Half Moon Bay. One way of getting there is to drive to San Jose and drive up the 101, then turn left towards the coast when you get to San Mateo. This would have been to obvious, so I stayed on the PCH north where we eventually arrived to Half Moon Bay.
Again, she was surprised when we pulled into the driveway of the Ritz at Half Moon Bay. I had told her I wanted to check it out since we had plans of going there on another trip. The hotel also has a public parking for those who wanted to go to the beach area so she suggested to use that as an excuse to check out the grounds. There is a security booth that you have to stop at and announce yourself. At this point I told the guard we were checking in. Melissa still thought I was just saying that t o get in. Once we got into the parking area, instead of pulling in, I went into the driveway where I stopped and got our luggage out. She was surprised....Again.

Looking out our window

The marble bathroom

By the fire outside on a cold afternoon
Air Surfing

Cuddling

The hotel at night