Solvang

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Okay so we have Denmark in California by way of a town called Solvang. So how did we end up here? Well, I had the bright idea of taking the scenic 14-HOUR (!) drive via Highway 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It was on my bucket list as one of the things I always wanted to do with the kids. I didn’t regret it as having a nice breakfast in Santa Barbara  and seeing Big Sur and the beautiful Pacific coastline is truly an amazing experience and I can just play it over and over again in my mind as one of those things I’ll never forget. My only regret is having to squeeze in the experience in one trip as against spending a couple of days and immersing oneself in the different towns along the way. Seeing and appreciating so much beauty gets to be a challenge when one is just plain bombed out from driving for 8 hours straight but it is what it is and I wouldn’t mind doing it over again. So we took a side trip to this town called Solvang as it was recommended by some of the travel sites and what can I say? It’s definitely unique and offers some decent food stops on the way but I would grade it as one inch short of being labeled as a tourist trap. Would I recommend it? Well why not? I was probably too tired to really appreciate it and maybe my perspective would have changed if I spent more time there.

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Zoltar The Great!

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I couldn’t believe my luck! Seeing Zoltar! Until I learned that it’s a relatively common sight in most American amusement parks. Sheesh… but it still brought back flashbacks of that classic film of Tom Hanks, “Big“. On another note, I really liked the way this image came out. The lady in blue looks really mesmerized, or almost hypnotized by the eyes of Zoltar.

SanFo

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My wife and and I always have this little argument about which town or city is better…Los Angeles or San Francisco. I mean it’s not like we’ve lived in either one but she has relatives and friends in L.A and spent more time there for work and some play so I guess it’s that feeling of familiarity or belonging. I on the other hand made SF my first destination when I went to the U.S.A. for the first time back in 1976 and fell in love with the mood, vibe and overall charm of the place.

This of course, was the original San Francisco. Land of the hippie, home of marijuana and unspoiled with the trappings and evils of the Silicon Valley tech sector. My aunt’s place was on Taraval Street on the Eastern side of SF and I loved it. Early mornings were chilly and the first coffee and cigarette of the day was heaven. Oh the simple things. My aunt was also a smoker and it was a joy for me to enjoy the vice (I was only 15!) unimpeded by parents and persons of authority. Discovering the USA through the fog and mist of the city was really memorable and I loved every moment. SF was also my father’s college town and as a kid, I would go through his photo albums which were meticulously organized and labeled and spend hours just looking at black and white pictures of him doing some fishing, going out on the town with his college buddies or just having a good time in his SF State University jacket. I guess this somehow imprinted on me the goal of finding out more of SF and what made it so special.

And special it is…I will always love San Francisco and it will always have a place in my heart.

Oh about this pic. I took this while on top of one of those double-decker tour buses. My wife and I, along with the kids, took this on a whim just to get a quick tour of the city.

Colour My World

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One of the more colorful things I saw at Pier 39 that day. Being Filipino, we don’t really get into taking long baths just showering sometimes even twice a day so the concept of using bath salts doesn’t quite appeal to me. Nonetheless, maybe it’s something I should try at least once.

Dem Legs

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A cliche’d shot for sure but how can you not capture these? You just gotta love the sense of humor.

The Blue Windows On Haight Street

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I saw these windows on Haight Street and was immediately attracted to the geometric patterns and lovely blue color. Really makes you wonder what these guys were on when they painted these. I mean, you just gotta have some of that to get the creative juices flowing.

The Rider

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San Francisco wouldn’t be complete without a trip downtown to check out the sights. And what better way to see the city than aboard one of the iconic San Francisco streetcars. They may be old but they seem to work fine and lots of people still use them for practical or even sentimental reasons.

Crown Of Thorns

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One of the things that I noticed about the West Coast was the lack of rainfall. Everything was so dry and this was evident in the terrain that I saw on the drive from L.A. to San Francisco which consisted mostly of dried grass. This in turn led to the adaptation of cactus and other succulent plants as a way to dress up the garden without having to resort to watering or extensive maintenance. Being a plant-lover, naturally I agreed 100% with the move and besides, there’s something fascinating about cactus and their cousins like the tillandsia.

Mesmerized

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There’s something to be said about staring at fish in a tank. Their constant motion tends to hypnotize and lull you into a catatonic state of mind. Sort of reminds me of a cat staring at a fish bowl.

Here Fishy Fishy

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The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the more impressive aquariums I’ve seen simply because of the layout and the way exhibits are organized according to the local habitat. The kids enjoyed getting up close with some of the inhabitants of the seas and I’m pretty sure some of them ended their visit with dreams of becoming a marine biologist one day or at the very least, learning how to scuba dive.