Tree

Trees are my favorite. My husband knows about my favorite tree. I had the chance to show him my first ever favorite tree. We were young then (in our 20’s) and not even in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship when we went on vacation in my grandparent’s house in the province. The view from my grand’s big kitchen window was lovely to look at. There was this lone tree in the middle of the vast field that I find so beautiful. The sight makes my chores easier to do. It’s just sad that I had no actual photo of it but saved a virtual copy of it in my mind instead. Only my husband knows how it looks like and why i love it. So whenever we see a similar tree, he would point it to me and say “that’s your tree.” Yes, I have several trees around the world. Trees “I own” that they didn’t even know I own them. Haha!

Now, for my second favorite (in the picture), this tree was my favorite view from our bedroom in Utah. We had so much memories with this tree. We have designated this tree in front of our apartment as the waiting spot in case of emergencies. If something happens inside the house like fire or anything that need us to go out of the house, we will meet at the tree. Just like what the family in “Puppy Place” have talked about meeting at an apple tree outside their house when their kitchen was burning.

This tree was a witness to many of our family activities such as homeschooling, playtime, picnic, playing music, painting and many more. Mich used to practice violin under this tree. It had become a subject of her painting too. Fallen leaves were a source of happy times as my kids play with them.

It’s so refreshing to see trees after the rain. They radiate vivid colors once the rain finished watering them. They look so fresh and happy. It’s so fascinating to see trees when in springtime they show different shades of greens and sprouts. It’s so lovely to look at trees during autumn with leaves of different colors. Though during winter, it might be depressing to look at seemingly lifeless trees, but when they’re covered with snow, they’re still lovely.

Trees are givers of life to those who are in gloom. Just by looking at them in any season, you’ll see life and hope. Trees are not only beautiful. One can learn so many things from them. Even from a tree that do not have fruits but can give a shade to a weary person is a fruit in itself. Even a tree in its loneliness can provide a picturesque scenery that can inspire and motivate the viewer. A stump can give a seat to a person who can’t make another step due to his long journey. And even a dead tree floating on a body of water can be a lifesaver. In parallel, we can be a giver to those around us. No matter how we think insignificant our small deed is to another person, we can be like the tree that can inspire. Just being kind to another person could save a life who is in the verge of death. One might be undergoing some difficulties in life but overcoming adversaries and becoming victorious could paint a beautiful scenery that others can appreciate as they look at life…

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom
Blessed is the one who gains understanding,
She is a tree of life to those who hold her close
Those who hold on to her will be blessed – Prov. 3:13 and v 18 NIrV
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This is Michelle’s painting of the tree above during spring time.

Lake Tahoe Camping

As expected, we were hurrying to reach the campground before sunset. We passed by KFC to get some chicken for dinner. Thankfully, we got a bucket meal so it was less work for me to cook dinner when it’s already dark. Fast food is good food for campers. Haha! No bad chicken for dinner when everyone is hungry. :)

We reached William Kent campground with still some sun and was able to check out the area, meet some neighbor campers and set up our tent nicely. The campground was small and surrounded by residential areas. Though lacking in most essential amenities that we are looking for in a campsite, but we find it relaxing and more enjoyable than the other campsites we’ve been to. There’s no shower (it’s okay because we are checking in a hotel the following day), no light in the toilet (it’s okay, we have flashlights), not even flush (oh-em-gee) but it’s not smelly unlike other vault toilets (but it’s well maintained) probably the reason why there’s no light so you won’t see everything. It was quite a walk down to get to the toilet area. The good thing here is the proximity to the lake. It’s so close, just across the road.

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Here, the kids were playing while bringing stuff for our set up. I made sure that the food that we have are secured in that cabinet. We’ve heard that bears are common here, so better be wise not to invite them to our camp site.

tahoe8 After breakfast, which is as usual, “the trio” (spam, eggs and rice), we went to the lake. Lake Tahoe is very beautiful! So calm, and inviting! I’ve never seen such clear lake water as this one. But it’s so cold! I don’t know if this lake gets warm.
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Why so blue? So clear? I don’t know. I was too preoccupied by the beauty of the lake that I don’t want to read any more information. tahoe2 tahoe3

The area surrounding the lake is a very nice place to run or walk. I should have brought my running shoes then. :) I remember, we’ve seen a brace of ducks here that are so cute to look at!tahoe4

Family picture is a must! We had too many shots for a family picture by the lake but only a few were good enough because we were shooting against the light and just using a self timer plus the never-ending laughter. Anyway, that’s the best part, laughing all the time.
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We took a little time to check out the home of 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley.

tahoe10_edited-1 It’s been half a century since the 60’s Winter Olympics but Squaw Valley is still gorgeous up to this day. I love to hang out there!tahoe9

Playtime is part of the game at The Village, Squaw Valley. Trampoline anyone? Kuya feels he is too old for this.
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I am Poochie

Hi! My name is Poochie. I am a Bichon Frise, which is part of the Poodle family, so I don’t shed. I REPEAT: I DO NOT SHED! I am a male dog. Just saying. I am 5 years old, but I got adopted when I was 4 years old. This is the blog about my life (that my mom knows about). Before I was adopted, I stayed at the Chula Vista Adoption Center. Then one day, me and all the other dogs there got put into another place, which is my mom’s church. Her church holds dog adoptions a few times a year. The time I got adopted was really special, because it was the month of Mom’s birthday, and I got to celebrate it! 😀 Anyways, when I was at the church, someone put a blue and black sweater on me, plus a vest thing that says: ADPT ME. I didn’t know exactly what was going on though, but when I saw her, I wanted her to be my friend! Like how I always want to be everyone’s friend! She kept petting me, and stroking me, and was talking to this older man, which appeared to be her dad. I don’t remember the exact thing, but here is what I remember, Mom: “Blah blah blah something I really like the dog…” Mom’s Dad: “Something words words blah words?” Mom: “YES!!” Anyways, Mom seemed really happy, but at the time, she wasn’t my Mom. Now she is. After I heard her excitement, she had to go, for now. I was sad to see her go, but she came back and took me home! The other pictures will show times of fun that we had together.

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This picture reminds me of how boring it was to wait for Mom to come back from this place called “school.”

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This was the time Mom was getting ready for her birthday, and I was entertainment for her friends! Sort of.

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I love to play with my mom, but she sometimes takes it a little overboard. Okay, a LOT overboard. Mom, I am a boy! I don’t need sparkly, pink, toy hats!

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Sometimes, when Mom is at “school” I work out with my Grandma. :)

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I have only gone camping once before, but I want to do it again! Even if it’s annoying to have to wake up Mom. Come on! Wake up!

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Mom, Uncle, and I make a pretty good orchestra. Don’t you think?

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I’m getting tired of blogging. How does my grandma do it? Can’t I just nap?

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Fine. I will continue. Anyways, Uncle likes to take pictures of all sorts of things. Like this one:

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Finally! Mom gave me some “boy style” clothes! So, how do I look?

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Hey, Mom? Am I done with this blog? Am I? Please say yes! Please say yes!

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Sorry, everybody, but I’m done blogging for now. See you next time! Now, I need to find a place… to… nap… *snore*

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St. Regis Monarch Beach

St. Regis is love ! This premier resort in Laguna Beach, Dana Point has so many to offer for the entire family. Named after the Monarch butterfly, St. Regis Monarch has championship golf course, private beach, kids activities, spa, butler service, and more. st regis orange

Refined. Luxurious. Private. This resort is also popular for weddings and honeymoon. st regis orange9

This massive fountain is magical at night, romantic for a night walk.st regis orange2

Chocolates with butterfly wrapping, teas and cookies with gold dust were some of the welcome treats that we enjoyed!st regis orange3

It was summer when we stayed there. St. Regis boasts of more fun activities for kids than any luxury hotels. They held this “Butterfly Release” every Saturday that summer. It was to commemorate the breeding ground of monarch butterflies which is within the resort’s property. It started with a little procession from lobby to the ocean terrace. Then the butler read the story about the legend of monarch butterflies. Then butterflies were released. Some kids are afraid like this little boy. Some kids want to catch all. st regis orange4Another butler walked around giving butterflies in envelope to kids. He told Michelle to make a wish and then release the butterfly. Welcoming the adults to the venue, there were unlimited champagne offered by the servers. Cheers! st regis orange5

At night, kids and parents alike are treated to some storytelling and unlimited s’mores. Awesome night for guests!st regis orange6

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Pools are big, warm and has music underneath the water. Really cool! Mich didn’t want to go home.st regis orange8

To go to the private beach area, you have to schedule a golf cart service. It’s quite a drive going to the beach and one can’t just go there by foot. It’s so nice that even toys and sand buckets are provided for each child guest. St. Regis, one of the best! Till next time. :)st regis orange10

Sequoia National Park: Land of the Giants

Sequoia National Park is home to giant trees including the world’s largest, General Sherman tree. This park lies side by side with Kings Canyon National Park in Southern Sierra Nevada in California. This place is magical. It’s not ordinary to see humongous living things like what you can see here. You’ll be in awe. You’ll try to comprehend. And you won’t forget. seq2

We were already amazed at how big the Sentinel is, but it is just an average-sized tree here. Oh, well, biggie size in America is a usual thing. :)seq1

The visitor center shows how big the trees are in comparison with famous monuments and things. The giant trees here are compared to the size of the Statue of Liberty, Titanic, the great blue whale, and regular trees. People are mere dots.

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Some of the causes of death of giant trees are due to severe winter and falling down. It would be scary to witness a falling sequoia. I imagine it would be like how a cartoon show would portray that scene, flat like a card board. Seriously, don’t even imagine it.  seq6seq4

We received more than we sought. It’s not enough to read only what’s in this place or in any national parks. It’s better to experience it and enjoy being with nature. There’s more to it than just watching documentaries or reading blogs like this. We can better appreciate nature and it’s wonders by taking a break from our busy life.

Our world is big. We may be mere tiny objects compared to these natural marvels but we can help protect and preserve them.    seq7

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This is Adrian’s Lego Mindstorm robot, panoramabot which he programmed to take panorama pictures using my cellphone. That’s why we were a bit late from our schedule. Picture below shows us passing through “the tunnel log”. This tree fell down due to natural causes and was carved to let smaller cars pass through.   seq9

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We were practically running to make up for the time lost since wandering the giant forest. We had to beat the time for us to see the biggest tree before it gets dark. We highly recommend anyone going here to bring a bug spray or mosquito repellant. And expect mosquitoes and bugs to be bigger than the usual. Remember, you’re in the land of the giants.  seq13

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What can you see in Congress Trail? Not politicians but trees of course. This is a 2 mile paved trail that goes through the heart of the sequoia forest. You can see the famous House and Senate Groups, and the President, Chief Sequoyah, General Lee and McKinley Trees. Unfortunately, we don’t have much time to visit them because it’s getting dark. It was past 6PM when we were in the General Sherman area. One upside here, we get to take several photos with the General Sherman because there’s not much people left. Adrian’s panoramabot was very helpful.seq14

According to NPS (National Park Service), the General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest (by volume) tree in the world. Massive. Gigantic. Enormous. Colossal. Monster. Humongous. Approximately, this tree together with other giants in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon live between 1,800 to 2,700 years. They’ve witnessed the unfolding of civilizations and they overcame drought & other calamities. What else? They’ve seen how the earth changes.

We salute you, General Sherman tree! You’re awesome! We hope that many more generations will see you. But even more, we salute your Maker, our Maker. :)seq11

London Bridge in the US

London bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down. London bridge is falling down, my fair lady. The rhyme dates back from the 1100s when the foundation of Old London bridge was being constructed, replacing the timber foundation. London bridge is a very important structure spanning the Thames River. It became a choice business and residential site in London. From the medieval times, there had been many calamities and repairs that undertook.

A bit of history here…

“In 1962, London Bridge was falling down. Built in 1831, the bridge couldn’t handle the ever-increasing flow of traffic across the Thames River. The British government decided to put the bridge up for sale, and Robert McCulloch, Founder of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and Chairman of McCulloch Oil Corporation, submitted the winning bid of $2,460,000.

The bridge was dismantled, and each stone was numbered. Everything was shipped 10,000 miles to Long Beach, California, and then trucked to Lake Havasu City.” – See more at: http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/havasu.htm#sthash.7s6Dwnzv.dpuf

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Part of one of our camping hopping trips was supposed to be an overnight camping at Lake Havasu City. We didn’t like the Lake Havasu  State Park because of the ants that made the campground their home. The lake is stinky and the weather was so hot. There are times when in camping you hit the jackpot (when you have an awesome campsite). But this one was a bummer. Though it was not nice to be here on a 100+ degrees temperature, it’s nice to have a quick tour of this part of the city and learn history. Here are some of the pictures before we drive back to California.

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UK flag waving there!
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This area of the Lake Havasu City is a haven for people who loves to hang out in bars and water sports. There’s a lot of resorts in the area.
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US flag waving here!

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There’s a European feel around London Bridge in Arizona. They maintained European style of structures. Maybe it’s nice to explore some more next time but definitely in the fall or winter.
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Camping @ Flaming Gorge

I was hoping that this year will be a year of camping since we started early. In January, we went camping with the crossroads ministry. We are looking forward to this summer to go to the wilderness but circumstances won’t allow us so I’ll just write something about our extraordinary camping experience few years ago.

It all started upon learning that we will be going to Manila, Philippines. We decided to visit the other Manila, which is in Utah. Manila is a small town in the Northern Utah and Southern Wyoming boundary. It is named after the Philippines’ capital, Manila, in honor of the US victory at the Battle of Manila Bay.

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Contrary to Manila, Philippines, this Manila which is the home of the Flaming Gorge, is a less populated area. At 5pm we can only see a few people. I can’t believe that there were only 300+ people residing in Manila, Utah according to 2000 census. Let’s say it doubled in the next 10 years, it’s only 600 compared to Manila’s million population. Anyway, we love both Manilas.

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We camped at State Line Cove Campground on the sandy shore of Flaming Gorge on the boundary of Utah and Wyoming. But before we enter the campground, we literally went in and out of Utah and Wyoming border as we drove along curve roads.

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The scenic views and geological sites are plentiful. As the sky changes color from blue to gray then to bright sunny yellow, the views change as well as we drive along winding roads, from lush green to red/brown rock formations. flame4

I love trees! Any place that has beautiful trees such as this is a paradise for me. There is no entrance guard or staff here to check in so you’re on your own to find your reserved spot.
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I’m glad that my men know what to do. My husband is such detail-minded and good in logistics, so we just let them do their job while Mich and I explore and take photos everywhere.

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My husband checked the weather and it will be raining at night. We have to prepare for the challenge. Unfortunately, our camp spot was very open so this is the best location to pitch our tent. As usual the boys pitched the tent and the girls took charge of the kitchen to prepare our very fancy dinner, Spam. Haha! 😛flame6

These two young trees have proven themselves to be strong, resilient and dependable. I admit, I laughed and questioned their ability to withstand strong winds but I was reminded of the verse in the bible that says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Tim. 4:12. I should have not looked down on these skinny trees because God used them to protect us from calamity. flame2

This tent was not only a room for us but also a refuge. It shielded us enough and didn’t make us wet even under very strong winds and rain. It didn’t even get damaged or suffered any broken part. This tent has served us many camping trips until this day.  flame12

I don’t know if we should be glad that these friendly antelopes here were not intimidated by humans or should we be sorry that we were “intruding” their somewhat commercialized habitat. We didn’t know that there’s a lot of pronghorns and other types of deer and antelopes roaming around here.

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There’s plenty of them around the campground. And Mich tried to follow them. flame9

This was the last picture taken before we sleep. Dark clouds gave us warning about the coming rain. We were joking and laughing. We even played bingo and watched a movie inside the tent. Would you believe that? We were just so secured that God will not let any harm to go near us. Psalm 4:8 says “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Thankfully, God allowed us to have a good night sleep and let the storm pass in the morning. That night we kept our belongings inside the car and left only what’s needed inside the tent. A tray of Red Ribbon ensaimada (so every time I see this bread, I am reminded of manna from heaven) given by a friend and some bottled water saved us from hunger during the raging storm. As far as I can remember, we were the only tent in that area of the campground. The nearest to us was a small RV camper that left earlier than us. Around 8 AM, the storm was gone. The sky was clear and the sun shone brightly as if nothing happened. We prayed and thanked God for His covering, protection and provision.

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Finish Chelsea’s Run

This is my very first home-grown sunflower. The seeds came from Finish Chelsea’s Run last March. Adrian and I were part of his school team consisting of almost a hundred people. Finish Chelsea’s Run is an annual run in honor of Chelsea King who disappeared and later murdered while running in Lake Hodges in Rancho Bernardo in 2010.

Why sunflower? “The sunflower ~ It is resilient, It is bright and always follows the sun. It stands out in a crowd. It is surprising, towers over others in uniqueness and splendor, and the closer you look, the more amazing its depth and beauty. Chelsea’s favorite flower, the sunflower has come to symbolize the light and hope that continue to shine brightly.” – chelseaslight.org

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Springtime. That week was raining terribly especially on the morning of the run. The sky was so dark with heavy clouds then going to the venue, the rain poured hard. This was the visibility when we were driving. We stopped by the nearest 7 eleven but they ran out of ponchos. I know we have some ponchos but don’t know where we put them so, rain or shine, we were ready to run. But we asked God to calm the stormy weather.

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This was the result of our prayer. Voila! Sunshine. I’m pretty sure that there’s a lot of people who prayed for the rain to stop and let the runners run safely.
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As expected, parking was difficult with almost 10,000 people around. Adrian and I went ahead because in a few moments, 5k run will start. We wore yellow leis to identify our team. In the picture was Adrian’s history teacher, wearing blue beanie.

Before the start of the run, a mom whose child was also a victim gave words of encouragement to all the supporters of Chelsea’s Run and it’s foundation. You can’t help but cry when you hear stories like that of Chelsea and other kids who lost their lives to some bad guys. chelsea3

With this number of people, you can’t run even if you want to. The first quarter of a mile was only for walking. I realized that I can be more effective running without my jacket and cellphone. chelsea4

I was trying to run and go ahead of the pack. I finally saw where my husband and Mich were. A little of hellos and then off to my official business. It’s my first 5k this year so I better be serious.

chelsea5That hair! Of course, Adrian finished ahead of me. Good job Adrian on your first official 5k run.

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After the run, it was drizzling. We just had some pictures and some sunflowers. Then heading to the parking lot, it rained heavily again. Chelsea’s Run this year surpassed last year’s registrants. Year after year, more people are becoming supporters of Chelsea’s Light. Chelsea’s life doesn’t end when she died in the hands of a murderer. Her family and supporters continued her legacy by establishing a foundation that focuses on uniting people and protecting the innocents.  chelsea7

 

4th of July: Hiking to Fireworks

It’s so much fun when you hike with a bigger company. Twas my second time hiking up Cowles Mountain and first time for our kids and visiting friends from Utah. Cowles Mountain has San Diego City’s highest peak with 1,593-foot (486 m) summit. It is also one of San Diego’s most famous hiking area because of it’s easy trail and easy access though parking is a bit challenging. The 360 degrees view of San Diego is awesome. Going up is 1.5 miles with an elevation of 950 ft. It took us more than 2 hours for the whole hike. cowles2 Our kids are not raised to be hikers so we know they would complain if only the four of us so I took the opportunity to include hiking in our summer itinerary. Since it’s 4th of July, we brought some American flags to join America as they celebrate their independence day. Flags sold out at Dollar Tree a day before the 4th. I was fortunate to get some (on sale!) from Albertsons before going up. Patriotic huh? Mich was getting ahead of us. She is revved up…for something.

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A man offered to take a photo of us with our dramatic pose. Haha! :) We are building memories here. Someday when we look back we will remember this fourth of July hike. Who knows? We might have a “then and now” picture years from now.
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Here are the machines of 4th! Our hearts, muscles and bones were happy that they got to work a little better today. We don’t want the machines to get rusty! We had them work extra on a sunny Sun Diego day!

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Looking forward to more hikes with you. Potato Chip, next? I so love it when we hike together. Cheesiness? Anyway, after the hike, we had a very nice excuse for pigging out. Chopsticks! Then we rested for a while and got ready for the fireworks at downtown San Diego.

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Seaport village is one of my favorite places in San Diego. I love spending lazy days here walking around, watching sunset, people flying kites, sailboats, yachts and many more. This place has a lot of cute stores and restaurants. I so love the gourmet Top of the Market.
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I’ve never seen this place crowded as today. Later on I found out why. It was a good idea to park near a train station and just use the train going here. Though our train ride reminded us of jam-packed LRT in Manila, it was still a better choice. Business was good that day for a peddler like this one (photo below). Mich was hinting me to buy because they accidentally left the glow sticks at home.

fireworks2photo credit: Adrian (He took all these night shots)

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We had the best view of the four simultaneous fourth of July fireworks in San Diego that’s why it was overcrowded. Our eyes feasted on the beautiful blasts and sparkles in the night sky. We’ve even seen something new but was not able to capture. It was a long day for us, a beautiful long day. :)fireworks5

Four Corners USA

Interestingly, there’s a place in the US where you could be in four different states at one point. It’s called Four Corners. Since we love to explore and we love geography, we took the time to visit this place. There’s not much to see but to feed your curiosity and experience how it’s like to be there is enough.
4corners6 Most of the Four Corner regions belong to native Americans like this one, Navajo Nation. So when we entered this area, we are in a semi-autonomous native American governed territory. According to wikipedia, The Navajo Nation has one of the largest and most involved North American tribal governments, with organic institutions that include a judicial system, and large law enforcement and social service agencies.

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To support the native American businesses, we bought some souvenirs and the necklace Mich is wearing in the picture above. It took us a lot of time for her to pick what she likes best. That has always been the hard part every time we ask her to choose. She has a lot of things that she wants to buy including an archery set. No Hunger Games that time yet but she wants a bow and arrows. 4corners1

So when you visit a native American territory be sure to follow the rules. As long as you don’t violate their rules and you are kind and sensitive to their beliefs and culture you’re welcome to enjoy their land. Visitors are always welcome. navajonation 4corners2 This is the most important photo op. Adrian’s left leg is in New Mexico, right leg in Arizona, right hand/arm in Utah and left hand/arm in Colorado. How cool is that? :) We got here earlier than most visitors so we had the chance to have photos one by one.

4corners4But when it’s about time for family picture, there’s a lot of photo bombers.

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This rock formation is one of my favorite sight in our road trip that day. I remember after taking this photo, we saw a McDonalds in the middle of nowhere and we were surprised. It was time to recharge our bodies with fast-food and use our cellphones because mostly there were weak signals or none at all.

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