Tuesday, February 3, 2015

my father

My dad passed away last Tuesday. It has been a week exactly and it feels surreal. A big part of me is missing. 

Dad was diagnosed with cancer late 2011.  He tried several treatments, including chemo and radiation. It was hard on him and he eventually stopped treatment. The cancer was still there, silently spreading, but his quality of life improved significantly. During and after the treatment, he spent a lot of time reconnecting with his family in Illinois where he was able to spend time with his mother before she passed away in 2013. I am lucky to have been able to visit my Grandma before she passed. I spent a lot of time with both Grandma and Dad, and for that I am grateful. 

In early 2014, Dad traveled across the country visiting national parks and monuments. He sent me postcards updating me on his travels before heading back to Arizona where we spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas together. During Christmas, he went golfing with my husband, my father-in-law, and my uncle-in-law. He seemed so full of life and energy. After Christmas, he flew back to IL to be with his family. A few weeks later, I received the call that he had been rushed to the hospital. I spent the next five days in the hospital by his side until he passed. 

I never felt fully prepared for this. In some ways, no one is. However, knowing my father had cancer and seeing him on a regular basis pushed this thought from my mind. I realize I was in denial the past four years, unable to face the truth that one day he would be gone. When the time came, I was unprepared. I was filled with regret. We should have spent more time together. We should have spoken more often. We should have done a lot of things.  It is hard to focus on the positive when I can punish myself with the negative. 

Not a lot of people knew of my father’s illness and that was because I was unable to talk about it with anyone. Not because they wouldn’t listen, but because it was hard on me. Whenever I talked about it, I would break down. Now that he has passed, I find the same to be true. I’m not ready to talk about it in person but I didn’t want his passing to go by without mention. I love my father and want him to be remembered. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Day 04: Road Trip Home (The long and winding road.)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014:

We wanted to get on the road early and leave San Francisco before the traffic picked up. We were packed and checked out of the hotel by 6:30am. We tried to follow some written down directions, but unexpected detours and traffic caused us to drive in circles before I pulled out my trusty iPhone Map App.

Since Scenic Route 5 was terrible, we decided to try a different route home. This route was going to be an extra hour, but we decided it was worth it if we had to avoid most of Route 5. I'm glad we drove this way as it was much prettier and way more scenic than Route 5. We even drove by Microsoft, Google, and NASA Ames on our way out. We drove through parts of wine country, and by 10:30am we decided to stop for brunch.

We stopped at Hunter's Ranch Grill, a golf club in Paso Robles, CA. It was beautiful and rustic. On Sundays, they only serve a brunch buffett, so we indulged and had prime rib, eggs benedict, cheese blintzes, and much more.

Back on the road, we drove through more parts of wine country and everything was lush and green. It rained lightly on and off during the trip, so it was enjoyable - much more so than the trip up.

The only setback during our trip was about 70 miles outside of Blythe, traffic slowed down to a stop. We sat stuck in traffic for over an hour. What was causing the traffic? Well, due to the storm, part of the road washed away. The right lane of the road fell into the ditch and was unsafe to travel.

After our unexpected stop, we finally made it to the Arizona border, where we stopped for much needed fuel.

We didn't arrive home until about 10pm, much later than expected. The cats were extremely happy for us to be home and so were we.

Day 03: San Francisco Bay (Of Crepes and Cruises.)

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014:

After a late night partying at Yelp Headquarters, we were tired and decided to sleep in. Once we were finally up, we took another stroll through downtown San Francisco and walked through Chinatown. We passed under the Dragon Gate and saw Chinese lanterns strung up everywhere. As we walked, the streets seemed even more cramped and hectic than the day before. We were hungry and decided to get dim sum for breakfast. We stopped at Lai Hong Lounge, where we enjoyed some amazing steamed pork buns and steamed custard buns.

 Dragon Gate, foggy morning, and Chinese lanterns.

After breakfast, we walked to Pier 39 so we could watch the sea lions again. They seemed much more active today, but there were also a lot more people at the Pier.

Hotel California... just like the song.

We didn't stay long at the Pier and decided to visit Japantown next. They were having a street festival this weekend and we wanted to check it out. We entered the mall and stopped by Japan Video & Media. For a snack, we stopped at Belly Good Cafe & Crepes. Oh man, these things were adorable! We ordered the special Green Tea crepe - which was filled with peaches, whipped cream, green tea cheesecake, and topped with Double Rainbow green tea ice cream. It was amazing!

We didn't have much time to spend in Japantown, and we wished we could have stayed longer. We hoofed it back to the hotel, so we could change and get ready for the cruise. John's feet were killing him, but somehow we made it down to Pier 3. From here, we set sail on the Hornblower Sunset Cruise.

The cruise was three hours of entertainment, food, drinks, and plenty of sights to see. We sailed around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge, which was amazing to see.

We arrived back at Pier 3 a little after 9pm. We hailed a taxi, and he drove us back to our hotel. Driving in the cab was insane. The cabbie drove us through the red light district - which seemed a lot like Las Vegas with it's flashing lights. He also raced up some steep hills, only to slam on the brakes as we went down hill. It was honestly like riding a roller coaster. Luckily, we made it back to our hotel in one piece and settled in for the night.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day 02: Downtown San Francisco (Uphill both ways.)

Friday, August 1st, 2014:

We woke up early with the intention of visiting Muir Woods. However, after driving 12+ hours we really didn't want to drive anymore. As a compromise, we decided to walk around downtown San Francisco. First off, the streets are insane. We walked up a steep incline, then we practically ran down a hill. While we battled the terrain, cars were zipping by and pedestrians were speed walking into traffic. Almost no one (except tourists) paid any attention to the "Don't Walk" signs. Some streets, since they were one-way, didn't even have pedestrian signs. In these areas, we had to wing it and guess if it was okay to walk or not. It was a madhouse. Somehow, we made it Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39.

Being a tourist.
We passed an awesome building with owl mosaics. 
Fisherman's Wharf & Pier 39

Pier 39 was a lot of fun. It was like being on a boardwalk with two levels of food and shopping. It was definately a tourist trap, but had a lot of unique things to experience. Our first stop was at Cup & Cake Café. Coffee and cupcakes, what a great way to start the day!

We eventually stumbled upon Pier 39's main attraction - the sea lions. This was the best part of the trip! There were so many sea lions laying on docks (video). Some were lazy and content to snuggle other sea lions, while others were noisy and territorial. Many of the individual docks had one alpha sea lion that sat up and surveyed his minions. If an unwanted sea lion tried to hop up, he would bark and push them back into the water. Many sea lions would hop up and only a few would be able to scramble over their companions and find a place to cozy up. Some sea lions would lazily bark if another waddled too close, or they would bark if they got stepped on (video). It was a lot of fun to watch them and see what they would do next. A few times, something spooked them and they would all stand up, suddenly alert, or they would hop off the dock in terror. We spent a long time watching them and could have watched for hours. But alas, we eventually moved on.

After the sea lions, we wanted to see more sea life and decided to check out the Aquarium of the Bay. On our way to the Aquarium, we decided to stop at Trish's Mini Donuts for a light snack and peer into Chocolate Heaven.

Trish's Mini Donuts
Chocolate Heaven

The Aquarium of the Bay was awesome! We saw tanks filled with eels, fishies, baby sharks, sand dabs, jelly fish and hermit crabs. We also went under the "tunnel" - a large clear tunnel that held sea creatures native to the Bay Area. Here we saw sharks, rays, starfish, and enormous bass. It was amazing! I felt like I could have burst out some Little Mermaid songs about being under the sea. While staring fascinated at the sea creatures, two scuba divers swam by and we were able to see some of the fishes eat. The next exhibit area allowed us to pet baby rays, starfish, sea cucumbers and other gentle creatures. At the end, we saw river otters swimming and sleeping (video). It was a lot of fun, and I'd love to do it again!

After the Aquarium, we were hungry for lunch and decided to try Fog Harbor Fish House. It had a nice view of the bay and was delicious.

Drinking the Alcatraz Escape.
John with his whole Dungeness Crab.

After lunch, we walked to Ghirardelli Square. During our walk, we passed by part of the bay, so we stopped at the beach for a bit. Once inside the Square, there were tons of stores and Ghirardelli chocolate/ice cream shops. We stopped for an ice cream sundae before heading back to the hotel.

On our way back to the hotel, the phone died. I knew if we kept walking, we'd eventually hit the cross street O'Farrell. However, what I didn't know was that the street we were on, Hyde, is known for being the steepest - both uphill and downhill. We were so exhausted from climbing up then running down. Eventually, we stopped at a bus stop to get our bearings and changed streets. We made it back to the hotel just in time to get changed for the Gold Soiree.

After getting our intense workout, we decided we could huff it to the event in less than 15 minutes. I am proud to say I did this in high heels. (I am also ashamed as my feet were killing me by the end of the night.) When we arrived, the line to get inside was starting to wrap around the building. We met some friendly Yelpers and chatted about the city. Eventually, we were whisked inside and went up the elevators to the party.

Yelp Lobby.

Dessert bar.

Yelp coffee bar and kitchen.

Let's just say, the party was awesome. We were able to try some fantastic food, learn about Yelp, and we met the CEO, Jeremy. He was a pretty cool dude and posed for some fun photos.

Preparing for our cruise the next day.

Three way fist bump. Epic!

At the end of the night, we walked back to the hotel where we soaked our tired feet and fell asleep.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Day 01: Road Trip to San Francisco (Scenic Route 5 changed us.)

Yelp was celebrating their 10-Year Anniversary in San Francisco, CA this past weekend. There were numerous events to attend, and I was lucky enough to get into two of the events. Thus, John and I decided to drive up to San Fran to experience the city since neither of us have been there before. We chose to drive over flying for cost reasons and to experience the scenery. Looking back, I would much rather fly...

Thursday, July 31st, 2014:
We woke up at 4:35am. John hit the snooze button to wake us up at 5am so that we could get 6 hours of sleep total. We didn't get much sleep because we were so excited and restless. Once packed, we stopped to put air in the tires and were officially on our way at 6:30am. Traffic was light and we stopped outside of Indio, CA around 10:30am. We switched drivers, and I drove us to Claremont, CA. This was our first stop so we could eat lunch.

Claremont was cute and quaint. There was plenty of grass with well manicured lawns. We drove through the downtown area and arrived at 50-Fifty Asian Fusion Cuisine around 11:30am. This place was a mix of different Asian cuisines and looked delicious. We were both hungry and dug in.

After lunch, we walked over to I Like Pie Bakeshop. I loved the sign out front, and the inside was just as cute. It had two large display cases filled with both sweet and savory pies. John ordered a Banana Cream Pie (large), and I ordered the Blackberry Pie (small). We took our pies to go and were on our way.

From Claremont, we took the I-210W to the I-5N. The I-5 is called "Scenic Route 5." It was not scenic but rather the most dreary part of the ride. There were plenty of rolling hills, but all of them were covered in dead grass. The landscape was dotted with political signs blaming congress for the drought in California. These signs were a constant reminder of how badly CA needs water. As we drove, I told John numerous times how this reminded me of the book "Grapes of Wrath," and I felt like we were driving through the dust bowl. We joked how this route was changing us, but the more we joked the more real it became. We grew antsy, agitated, and depressed. We started making up stories about the land and the animals. (We miss you Disenchanted Bull.) The new slogan for I-5 should be "Scenic Route 5 changed us" to let travelers beware.

This is outside Indio. I was too upset to take a picture of Route 5.

Over 230 agonizing miles later, we headed into Oakland. It was like we entered another world. Traffic was terrifying. Cars were merging left and right, speeding up, slamming on brakes, etc. Somehow, we drove over the Oakland Bay Bridge and finally made it to San Francisco, CA. The fog covered everything and was breathtaking. While I was awed by the scenery, John was still grimacing at the traffic.

Seeing the Oakland Bay Bridge for the first time.

The tunnel onto the bridge.

We arrived at our hotel at 7:30pm. The total drive was roughly 12 hours and we were exhausted. After settling in, we headed downstairs to Jasper's, the hotel restaurant. We sat in the back, where it was relatively quiet from the bar up front. Our waiter was knowledgeable and recommended the two items we were thinking about getting. For an appetizer, we got the crispy pork - which was melt in your mouth delicious. For an entree, I got the steak and frites which was a flat iron steak smothered in gravy on a bed of french fries. This was the best meal of my life. The steak was extremely tender and the gravy, oh, this gravy made everything better. I wanted to lick the plate clean.

Top Left: Crispy Pork appetizer
Bottom Right: Steak Frites AKA best meal ever.

Ending on a delicious meal, we made our way upstairs to rest for the next big day.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Everyone has New Year Resolutions. I hope that by writing these down, I will commit to them.

  • Start a blog. Well, looky here. I can check that off my list. Now I need to post on a semi-regular basis.
  • Get healthier. So far, I've ate more potato chips in this past week than normal. Not sure if that's a win or not.
  •  Publish a video game. Software developer by day; video game developer by night. This might be a lofty goal. 
  •  Home remodeling project. New tile, new cabinets, paint, and all new furniture. The general idea is there, just need to execute it. 

Looking at these resolutions, most of them are on-going or need to be completed by the end of the year. I'm going to throw "be more positive" in the mix and try to stick to my resolutions with quarterly updates.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

a pre-introduction

Finding the perfect blog name has held me back from starting a blog for many years. After much brainstorming, searching Google to see if my idea was already taken, and a lot of frustration, I finally settled. 

a collection of things

I think the title explains what this blog will be about. A little ambiguity is much better than a more restrictive and defined title. 

There are no limits in this blog. Let's see where it goes.