Saturday, May 13, 2006

Back in the Pilli-Peens

Well, a nice flight back through CKS airport again and here we are, jet lagging like crazy. I recommend China Airlines, BTW, much better than EVA. We arrived at 10 AM, went home and at noon took a short 10 hour nap. Then up at 10pm until 6 pm the following day, where I took another 10 hour nap. I think I'll have it licked today.

We got great news about our grades, our anatomy & physiology classes came in with higher than expected scores. I finished with a somewhat respectable 92% overall average.

We need to postpone our Baguio trip to next week as we are still waiting for one of Karen's teachers to submit her grades...

We have a couple of apartments to look at when we get there... I think one of them is a cottage, 2 bed 1 bath 1CG type. The other is a Townhome. Both are a bit out of town, but appear to be just off well traveled jeepney routes, which is what I am really looking for, because I would love for us to not have to get scooters/cars.... I don't like the extra expense/hassle/exposure of a vehicle. Hopefully we won't need one....(though a small scooter for hiking excursions doesn't seem all that unreasonable)

My Grandmother is doing very well after her ordeal. I think she is doing an amazing job of keeping herself in good spirits and is eating up therapy like I have been eating Pancit Canton. I believe we grew even closer during the month that I spent there and though a rotten way to "get together", I am so thankful for the time we spent together, mostly talking about everything under the sun.

My Florida trip was good too, though short and sweet as they say. Karen and I stayed in her parents condo, called the Symphony. It is located right on the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) of the desirable Los Olas Region of Fort Lauderdale, next door to the Performing arts theatre and many other wonderful walking distance areas. There are yachts and water taxis out front of the private dock s in front of the towers. A great gym and spa facility proved to be the coup de grace, and the entire facility is truly a luxury accommodation. Valet parking, concierge, business centre, aforementioned gym and spa 5th floor pool deck and whirlpool, and the crown jewel: the @ 2nd floor club room over looking the ICW. Karen's parents, Paul and Maria threw a great party there and after Lola's pancit, and various other dishes from a great Chinese Restaurant like fried crab, baked chicken, my own Caviar recipe and caprese salad and maMy Florida trip was good too, though short and sweet as they say. Karen and I stayed in her parents condo, called the Symphony. It is located right on the Inter Coastal Waterway (ICW) of the desirable Los Olas Region of Fort Lauderdale, next door to the Performing arts theatre and many other wonderful walking distance areas. There are yachts and water taxis out front of the private dock s in front of theny others, the guests also had a wine tasting with prizes awarded for accurate guessing, an open bar (Crown Royal being the fave as I tended the bar for an hour) and the topper, was the chocolate fondue fountain with fruits for dipping. (the fresh pineapple being the winner here).

Karen and I also did two things that I have always wanted to do, go to the Everglades, and go Bass fishing.. We did them both at the same time! Our guide Tony, was referred to us by Paul. Tony has been a long time patient of Paul's and we had quite a treat, going out in the Glades, and pulling in pound for pound, the hardest fighting fish in the world. Karen, as always dominated the day, catching and releasing 10-12 fish, I managed a respectable 6. I say, it was her lure, a plastic worm from the onset that had her number so high, as I had several kinds of lures prior to getting the same plastic worm and then I was off to the races, too. Though Karen attributes her catch rate to skill and mine to lack thereof.

We managed to see my brother Jesse and Yvonne and they are doing well in their apartment, things were cozy when we arrived as my father and his girlfriend were there too, visiting for a week. Jesse is currently interviewing for a new job and appears to have "landed a bigger Bass" than the one on his line before, so we are all happy and proud of course. We hit gastronomic paydirt several times, once with my brother's reliable motza ball soup, once at "Le Bonne Crepe" and once at a great Indian place down the street, (lucky so and so) from his house.

My Dad and Terri seemed to have a good time in Florida, enjoying the beach and trying to stay cool as best as possible. They went to the Keys and had a great time there. They also stayed at the Symphony for the last couple of days with Karen and I, and my Dad and I had some great "sauna talks", hashing out our plans and the latest ideas.

We left Florida with Karen's sister and went to Albuquerque to visit my Mom for a few days. She had booked a room in Santa Fe to stage our outings from, and the first day, we went to the Petroglyph park to check out the several thousand year old- 500 year old drawings on a few conspicuous volcanic rock formations just on the edge of Albuquerque.

After provisioning at Walmart, we embarked north and went to Bandolier National monument, an interesting canyon area that has been the home of Native Americans for 1000 years plus, though has been deserted for 500 years or so. The site is amazing, and must be seen to be properly understood. The canyon walls were formed through the combination of rocks and more significantly, volcanic ash. The ash, over time is the solid structure in general, while the rocks and other items were somewhat more transient, creating an interesting Swiss cheese like look to the side. The first people in the area recognized the value of the protection an elevated dwelling made of rock could provide and settled there in that beautiful area. Later, people began to move into the valley and they erected the "Pueblo-esque" type structures at the base of the canyon wall. They had the community built in a circle, again for defensive purposes, and lived there for hundreds of years until they too left, presumably after depleting the food supply or perhaps to seek more comfortable climate. The natives of this area used "Kiva" to conduct their spiritual/governmental pursuits. We were able to see them and go into one of them. I have a great idea for my next back yard, but I guess that may have to be cleared through Karen.

After, we went to Santa Fe, where we were exhausted enough to barely make dinner in this town, as the place starts to shut down at 9pm (this was Saturday night, after all!!)

The next morning, we found a great Breakfast place called Bagelmania, and after a sound gorging, we went to Taos to tour an active Pueblo. The native people who run and live at/near this location had a short walking tour of the area, and some interesting historical references. My Mom has been several times and was eager to expand her already profound knowledge of the area and to expand her collection of native flute playing, of which we were already priming ourselves with. The nifty shopping available there is not to be missed, the actual inhabitants of the Pueblo (100 or so, almost all elderly) rely on this as their means of preserving their Pueblo. We bought several CDs (from my Mom's favorite flutist, John Ranier Jr) and I must admit, this stuff is good. These guys play the wood flute in a way that is as expressive as Louis Armstrong plays the Trumpet, BB King plays the guitar, etc.... Amazing. After gorging ourselves on some baked goods from their own special ovens (think giant fresh fig neutons made with apples and dates) and I bought Karen a silver necklace with turquoise and a carved deer shin bone made into a feather. Also, I bought some burning herbs, sage and lavender and sage and cedar. After we had wrapped up the Pueblo, we ventured into Taos proper and grabbed coffee and had some shopping experiences, where Karen got me a nifty folder black with 24K accents. She was longing for something to get me for my Birthday and that fit the bill in style. I found a wooden box with Geronimo, my Mom's favorite person in the world, on the road back to Santa Fe, we stopped at a small bend in the road (mimmicking the river that plays alongside the entire trip back, and got some great pictures by the river. We wrapped it up in Santa Fe for another night.

The next day, after the what was now known as "the obligatory breakfast at Bagelmania", we set out early to wrap up Bandolier. This was a focused trip, to "summit" the ceremonial cave area. Well worth our effort, when we got to the top though the 6 inch wide path and series of 30 foot ladders, we were treated to an almost eire amphitheatrical experience overlooking the valley of a home for a small group of people for thousands of years. The Kiva at the top was reconstructed and visitation to it was permitted. We sat inside for a while, and I was reluctant to leave for some reason.

We got in the car and headed towards the Jamez Volcanic monument and area. The Earth Shattering volcanic event that took place millions of years ago and basically was 700 times more powerful that Mount Saint Helens. Some of the ejected boulders and rocks made it to Lubbock, Texas. The ash from that explosion most likely triggered a complete change in global climate and served to create the distinctive landscape of the states east of the Rockies like Utah, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, etc... Jemez Springs was essentially closed for the day by the time we got there, so we simply sat back and enjoyed the lovely colors and scenery of that region, going from desert, to mesas and canyons, to Alpine, back to Mesas, back to desert, until we arrived back in Albuquerque. I went and grabbed a handful of precious beers from an amazing collection at a liquor store up the street and we just vegged out watching the horrible and forgettable "Ring 2".

The very next morning, we were off to LA, spent a few hours with Grandma, my Dad and Terri, and my Uncle Rick and Denise before the shuttle came to take us back "home" here.

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