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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chilly, Windy Chicago

The sky was clear when I woke up. It was about 8:00, just okay as we came home quite late from Hooters and another local bar the night before.

I smiled when I saw the sun brightly shining. "Good day to tour the city", I thought.

And it could be a nice time for a decent jog too. So I tried checking the temperature outside. Nice try, he he. I wasn't even able to put my foot out. A chilly wind immediately pushed me back to the warm insides of the house.
"Hooh! That was cooooold!"

So this is Chicago, the windy city. Now I know how it got such tag. The wind does make the air cooler.

But since I’m here on tour, I can’t just stay home and watch tv. So off we went, with my hosts Don and Loi Bascon to downtown Chicago.

We first went to the Museum Campus where the Adler Observatory was. Pretty spectacular! And the view of the city was simply great. Check these:

We drove around the city center and went up John Hancock’s Signature Room. It’s at the 96th Floor. The view of the city and the lake was awesome.

We then visited my good friend, Michael Jordan at the United Center. He indulged us with a nice pose.

Helio Wins Dancing With The Stars!

IndyCar Series Champ Helio Castroneves has just been declared winner of this season’s Dancing with the Stars. He beat Spice girl Mel B, who has been a consistent top vote-getter. Crowd favorite Marie Osmond, widely predicted to end up being the winner, was eliminated (thankfully!) early in the finale.

No controversies here. We rooted for Helio. He danced his heart out and he visibly had great fun!

Now you ask. Why am I watching TV on this very short Chicago leg of my trip?

It’s freezing cold outside. Below zero but no snow. It’s a struggle being out there. In this kind of weather, my damn arthritis could kill me! :-)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Holy Cows!

I've never seen so many cows in my entire life! The ranch ran for miles and cattle simply littered the field!
This was as we got out of Lemoore going to San Francisco. I only got hold of my camera as the car was about to pass by the entire length of cowlandia, thus the haphazard pic.
But the stench followed us for long. Boy! They stink like hell!
Anyway, I'm back in San Francisco as this is where I'd fly to Chicago tommorow.
My overnight hosts brought me to Twin Peaks where San Francisco can be viewed from above.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Resting in Lemoore

I am now in Lemoore, California visiting a cousin and her family. It's a little more laid-back here, just enough for me to get rest from the hectic sked I had in Reno.

This is what official website says about the place I'm in now:

"Lemoore is a rapidly growing community, with a current population of 22,000+ and is located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, equidistant between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is home to the Lemoore Naval Air Station, a modern Master Jet Base. Major employers in Lemoore include SK Foods and Leprino Foods processing plants. Lemoore is also home to a new community college campus-West Hills College at Lemoore. Lemoore offers six parks, numerous youth activities including a teen center and skatepark, an 18-hole golf courses, and many other recreational opportunities. Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks, as well as the scenic Central Coast are all within a two-hour drive."
What inescapably attracts attention here are the large plantations they got. One simply senses that farming here is one big business and the owners are everything but poor.

My late Father, whose passion is agriculture, would have loved seeing this place. What I see here now, I've seen in the books he used to read and would discuss with us in class - vast tracts of irrigated flat land, mechanized farming, hundreds of livestock. This is what he says farming ought to be. I agree.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Enthralled by San Francisco

Tasting The Best of Pinoy Hospitality

Foreigners normally get amazed with the hospitality of Filipinos. Exposed in environments where each one fends for himself and survives by himself, they wonder why Filipinos could be so generous and accommodating in their efforts to make other people’s lives easier.

They would be told hospitality is engrained in Filipino culture. True. That’s why it is not lost on many of those of who have left the country and have been exposed to contrary influences. Many still embrace the trait and are truly proud of it.

Now, I am experiencing the best of that in this travel I’m having. Truth to tell, to a certain degree, I do feel embarassed being the center of such gracious attention. But that can’t be helped. I know they really want the best for me.

My kababayans and relatives have so far been exerting all possible efforts to make my stay worthwhile.

They would fetch me from the airport, open their homes for days to accommodate me, be absent from work to keep me company, drive long hours to famous destinations, pay for some of my travels and tickets and just about everything else they could think of to make me see and experience how life in America goes.

I feel so blessed having known these people. I hope one day I’ll have the opportunity to pay them or any other guest forward, with the same zeal and warmth as I have received.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sleepless in Vegas

We're at the Fairfield Marriot in Las Vegas right now. I planned to blog about it later, thinking I could first grab some sleep before I go to Reno tommorow.

But as REM was about to set in, I was jolted from sleep by the unceasing shrieks of the fire alarm.

Actually, I thought it was because of the batteries I was charging. It just came to me that it could have exploded or something, thus the alarm. I was therefore more shattered than the others.

Good thing it wasn't. The Japanese guy at the counter can only say it was false alarm.

Now, the guests have grudgingly gone back to their rooms. I wanted to too. Problem is, I can't seem to regain headway back to dreamland.

That's why I'm now facing the computer. Oh well. I'll just have to finish this post and then try counting sheeps. Or casino chips. Anything.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Universal Experience of Film

A young Korean seated behind me in the plane to LAX was asked why he was going to the US. He automatically answered, albeit in halting English, that he’ll be there only to visit Universal Studios. He’ll leave as soon as he completes the two-day tour.

Unlike him, I wasn’t as excited in getting there. I have kept my expectations low in this visit, knowing fully-well that this was rushed and most of the people I’m visiting will be working. But my hosts exerted all efforts to make my stay worthwhile, so they did get job passes and brought me to the mother of all film studios.

Then I knew why Universal Studios should always be included in any tourist’s itinerary in the US. It just doesn’t make one part of the movies he once loved, it also instructs him on how the world of movies operate.

Personally, the experience pushed me back in time, when I too dreamed of being in the film industry. The part of the tour where people are shown dubbing and film effects techniques reminded me of the time when the famous Ishmael Bernal brought us to a studio and dubbed his films.

I got too engrossed in the experience that I failed to take as many photos as I could. Here are some just the same. I guess you know to what movies these sets belong.

For other pics, please visit Coldman's post. We may have been there on the same day but we both forgot to bring our name tags. :-)

NBA .... Live!

I think I lost whatever little interest I had with the NBA after Michael Jordan’s first retirement. Not that I was a big fan – it was just the time when I got busy and got diverted towards other concerns.

But when my host-friend, Ryan, asked me if I would like to watch a live NBA game, I surely didn’t have any second thoughts. I knew it would be something I could talk about, spiritedly, when I get home.
So we went to the US Airways Center where the Phoenix Suns played against New York Knicks. Neat, huh.

The game turned out to be a rout. The Knicks looked tired. The Suns didn’t even need to exert much effort to demolish the stunned opposition (we didn't know that Stephon Marbury left the Knicks earlier). Even Steve Nash became goal-shy. He simply orchestrated plays and left the limelight to Grant Hill, Shawn Marion and Amare’ Stoudemire.

But we did have fun. I almost lost my voice begging for the souvenir shirts being thrown out. I had a picture taken with one of the cheerleaders. And most of all, I had beer and tacos while watching the game. Beat that!

From now on I’ll be watching the NBA games again. Need I say I’ll be rooting for the Phoenix Suns?