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Fleet Week - USS Cole

Fleet week is a time honored tradition where New York City and its surrounding areas would have the opportunity to meet the men and women of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guards. You would see them walk around Times Square in uniform. It is a sight that never fails to put a smile on my face. It is also an indication that Memorial Day is coming soon and it is the unofficial start of summer (or at least you know it is coming soon).

This year we decided to go to Staten Island and line up to see the participating ships this year. We head up to downtown New York to catch the ferry to Staten Island. The ferry trip often gets skipped by the tourists to New York City. It is free and one of the best way to see the Downtown New York from the water and the Statue of Liberty, even from afar.

Diamond Head - Oahu, Hawaii

e on a roll in terms of hiking. The guidebook states that it is a challenging hike due to the stairs but the reward would be spectacular 360 degree views. Sounds good. We decided to go first thing in the morning, we heard that it can get crowded and parking is limited.


Halfway through the hike, we can now feel the sun bearing on us. We were rewarded with this view.

KCC Farmer's Market - Oahu, Hawaii

Another wish crossed off on our list. Farmer's Market is usually set up on a weekend morning. And since we are on limited time in Oahu, we ended skipping this adventure. I am glad we were finally able to visit one.

The KCC (Kapiolani Community College) Farmer's Market is organized by the Hawaii Farm Bureau which was originally started by a group of local farmers to promote and advocate the locally grown commodities.

We started our day early and was able to get a close parking spot. Then it started to rain.


Manoa Falls Trail - Oahu, Hawaii

We have been to Oahu multiple times. Every visit we make sure to do something that we haven't done before. There were also times that we go back to our favorites like eating breakfast at Eggs N' Things, getting shaved ice at Matsumoto and swim at our favorite beach in Lanikai.


Good Morning Honolulu!


Our flight took us to Honolulu early in the morning. Coming from the East Coast, we had a good 6 hours ahead so instead of nursing a jet lag we decided to go for an early hike to Manoa Falls.

North Shore - Oahu, Hawaii

We have been in Oahu before. The first time was our honeymoon. We went back when my daughter was 9 months old then we set up another trip bringing the rest of my family. One sister loved it so much that she decided to give up her job in New Jersey and moved to Hawaii for good.

We decided to spend our day in the North Shore part of town. Since we were staying in the Waikiki area, it would take us about an hour drive depending on traffic. Oahu got really crowded from the last time we visited. Traffic is such a hassle that it is not even possible (on certain days or time) to drive from one end of the island to the other.

We started our day on a hiking trip to the Waimea Valley. From our guide book, the hike should be an easy 1.5 mile walk ending with a swim to the waterfalls.


Late Fall Day in NYC

My sisters and I love to spend the day in NYC.

Since we live in the Jersey suburbia, the bus takes us about 1-2 hours commute depending on traffic. And when we are in the city, we usually go to our favorite places which makes it difficult to try something new. This time we tried to venture out beyond the confines of Chinatown and started our day walking aimlessly and enjoy the nice fall weather.


We finally found our way up the High Line Bridge.

Enjoying Beantown

It has been a while since I wandered off by myself. I usually travel with hubby and baby and it felt a little different packing my backpack and catch the train to Boston.

It has been a year since I saw 2 of my closest friends. Sometimes I wish they only live close by but we try see each other as much as we can. Last year, we all met at Minneapolis but this time we chose a place that we won't need to drive to get around and somewhere that has a lot of food options. Boston seem to fit the profile we were looking for.

Below sums up how we spent our time at Beantown:

Brunch

Boston has a sizable Chinatown. There were a lot of dimsum options.

Boston - Race Cars

From my last Beantown trip, I happened to notice some sort of an event going on in front of Faneuil Hall. There were a couple of colorful racing cars parked along some huge lighting fixtures on the side. I thought there were some movie shoot going on but it was a marketing campaign for Roush Fenway Racing.



Happy Weaving

I had passed a booth that is promoting classes for those who are interested on learning how to weave. For years, I have expressed an interest to learn how to crochet and probably add weaving on that list.   
 
 

One Free Day

There was a free museum day nationwide with most of the major museum has participated on this event. You only had to sign up online and it will give you and another adult an e-pass ticket and present it on the ticket center.

This year we chose to go to Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. I have been to most major museums in NYC but this one seem to allude me. Every year during the Museum Mile event, this place had the longest line and if I decide to visit on a regular day, it had a steep $15 entrance free. For that fee it would also be on the same par with the Met Museum with the option to get a same day access to The Cloisters.

Another intriguing aspect about the Cooper-Hewitt that it used to be a Carnegie mansion. So I am more interested to see the mansion interiors than the collection. Unfortunately, inside photography are not allowed  but at least let me show you some of the exterior shots.



Happy Halloween!

Since Halloween was set on a weekend, celebration seem to be longer than expected. The weather seem to cooperate too that it was a mild day enough to walk around the neighborhood.

This year Madison donned an Alice in Wonderland costume. My sister chose this outfit complete with headband and bag. The little one only wore this outfit about an hour till she started scratching and starting to take it off. The dress material is so frail that one of the lace got ripped off.

Note to self, next year find a costume that is cotton and something wearable on a chilly day.

Off to Myrtle Beach

Our Colonial Williamsburg tickets are still valid the following day so we decided to make another day out of it before heading to another 8 hour drive to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We visited the museum area and had a quick lunch before heading on the road.

We stopped by a popular local BBQ joint. It had a fast food feel where you order the food on the counter and they call your number for your tray. The selection was a predictable meats and sides. While deciding on the sides there was one with an item called hushpuppies. What's that? It turned out that it is a southern specialty of deep fried breaded cornmeal that when you bite unto, it had that outside crunch but soft inside. It is not my favorite but it was a surprise that I haven't heard of it, till now.

Hushpuppies!*

A Day at the Zoo - West Orange, New Jersey




It's amazing that I have been living at this area and I just heard that there is a zoo nearby. I was looking forward to bring Madison at the zoo since she is showing interest at animals she sees on books and television. I want to see her reaction if she sees a live animal that she recognize at an arms length (with the cage in between, of course!).

A Day in the Farm

After going through a series of monsoon-like weather for the past weeks, the sun has finally peeked through. It is time to shed those winter clothes and enjoy the outdoors.

Since the mall is closed for the Easter holiday, we decided to spend time at a nearby farm in the Princeton area. They had weekly activities for kids but this particular weekened, they have the Bunny Chase event. At the entrace, they give you a map to find the bunny trail. At the end, they give away cookies and have some toddler activites.

Here is a typical day in the farm:

Feeding the sheep.

Key West, FL 2009

Our original plans for the Florida road trip was to drive all the way south of Florida keys up to Key West. At the last minute, I scrapped the plans to the Keys since it will take a 4 hour drive from Miami. It would be a bad idea to make this a day trip even with the assumption of driving not counting on traffic and pit stops. It is not enough time to enjoy Key West. But we did it anyway, we are here so might as well take the trip.

Our first stop was the Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo. We want to take the Glassbottom boat tour to check out the coral reefs. The trip usually take 2.5 hours on a state of the art catamaran with a glass bottom. During the tour, they would explain about Florida wildlife and how it relates to its corals.

The view from the glass bottom boat.

The House on the Mountain


The only way Joe was able to convince me on going for a long drive to Orlando was to stop by Charlottesville, Virginia to visit the Monticello. It is known as Thomas Jefferson's masterpiece. He was one of the most influential people in American history having the one to draft the Declaration of Independence and the Louisiana Purchase and the founder of University of Virginia.

After serving as the 3rd President of the United States, he chose to retire in Virginia in a great mountaintop mansion that he designed and built. Monticello was originally designed following the English Georgian style till he came back from Europe. He completely changed the whole structure and followed the Neo-classical style which is popular during 16th century France and Italy.

After Jefferson's death, the estate was inherited by his daughter Martha whom sold it to a U.S. Navy officer till it was purchased back by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation.

The Monticello is open to the public, it now serves as a museum.


The plantation garden.

Casa Loma - Toronto, ON

Casa Loma means "castle by the hill", built by the Canadian financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt in the early 1900's. He is one of the richest businessman in his time and built the biggest house in Toronto.

After he lost his fortune from bad investments, he sold the Casa Loma to the Canadian government and auctioned off the rest of the furniture.

Exterior & Garden area


This reminds me of Scottish castle. You are allowed to climb up the servants area up to the tower.


Freemont Street - Las Vegas, NV

If you happen to be in Las Vegas, try to check out the Fremont Street Experience on Main Street. It is off the Main Strip but it is one of the free attractions in the area.

Once on Main Street, head over to the huge area with a canopy, it is best viewed at night since they have a huge music and light show on its ceiling. This place will be hard to miss, it is full of vendors and pedestrians.

Some random photos of the light shows shown at night.


2009 New Years Eve - Las Vegas, NV

estination: Las Vegas, Nevada

It is my fourth time here in Sin City, I consider this town close to my heart, this is the same town where we chose to get married. The city has the reputation for drive-thru weddings where you can conveniently get a marriage license at 3 am on a Saturday morning and be married before noon time. Unfortunately, we took the traditional route of having a garden wedding on one of the major casino in the area.

It was a good idea at the time to spend New Year's eve in Las Vegas. The idea of getting away from the harsh winter in the East Coast to a warmer climate is always a given. A week before we leave New Jersey, the news was showing a clip of snowy Las Vegas. To the locals, its almost equivalent to hell freezes over.

New Year's Eve celebration in Las Vegas had been a tradition similar of going over to New York City to participate on the countdown celebration. This is the time where the casinos are charging astronomical rates for a hotel room, if it is cheap, you are required to book 3 days minimum. As for us, we stayed at my in-laws house in suburbia about 30 minutes aways from the LV strip.

We were able to found parking in Harrah's casino. As we started to find a spot before the countdown, we stumbled upon an event in front of the Mirage casino. It is the daredevil, Knievel (the son) would be jumping on top of the miniature volcano. The fire seem to be legit, we can feel the heat whenever that volcano starts erupting. The jump was uneventful, I barely saw him cross that ledge, its short to nothing spectacular.


They close off the street for the stupid jump.

Isla Mujeres - Mexico

The view from the ferry. Playa Norte.
Destination: Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Most guide books always give a warning for the strong currents over the Carribean side of the island. They also mentioned that Isla Mujeres has a perfect beach for kids and toddlers due to its mild tides and waist deep water. It is also ideal for snorkelers.