Polar Express – December 22, 2012

December 26th, 2012 | Posted by james - the dad in Family - (2 Comments)

The weekend before Christmas we took Gavin for a ride on The Polar Express, and to visit Santa at the North Pole!  Gavin had a blast playing in the snow and riding on a train (his first time).  We’re definitely going to head back to the Polar Express in the years to come!

The Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, AZ.


A really neat old train.


Gavin having fun playing in the snow.


Sipping on some hot chocolate (Gavin calls it hot coffee).

A special present from Santa!


Mommy and Gavin snuggling.


Our silly little guy.


A view of the train depot.


We recently celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary with a short trip to San Diego for some fun in the sun (like we don’t get enough sun in AZ).  We lined up as much as possible in our few days to make the best use of a couple of days off of work.  That included a trip to Sea World, a Go Car Tour (a surprise for Chanin), a fancy dinner, and brunch with Nana and Papa (Chanin’s parents) to celebrate Nana’s birthday.

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We spent Thursday driving out to California along Interstate 8.  Normally, we take the 10 to OC but the 8 offered a nice scenic drive and was less crowded.  After getting settled at the hotel we cruised over to Seaport Village to take in the views and some food.  We found ourselves an anniversary present  (some cool glass fish) and ate some Greek food.

Friday, we took Gavin to Sea World to see the fishies.  He’s still a little guy but he enjoyed seeing all of the exhibits.  His favorites were Shamu, the bat rays, the manatees, and the freshwater aquariums.  At least we think those were his favorites since he wasn’t napping at those times.  Our brave little guy even touched a bat ray!!

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After Sea World we went to the restaurant, and self proclaimed inventor of the taquito, El Indio for dinner.  I had taquitos and Chanin had a taco/enchilada combo.  We found the food to be excellent, despite some of the negative reviews found online.  (Sorry, no pictures of the food)

On Saturday I surprised Chanin with a Go Car Tour which is basically a scooter with 3 wheels.  The controls on the little car are similar to a motorcycle but there is no shifting involved, and the top speed is only 30 MPH.  The Go Car has a built in GPS that guides you around a preset course all while telling you interesting stories and facts about the sites.  It was a blast and we would highly recommend it!  The tour we took followed this path:
View Downtown San Diego Loop in a larger map
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After the tour we took the ferry to Coronado and ate at Il Fornaio.  Between the two of us we had bruschetta, cesar salad, ravioli with spinach and prosciutto, capellini al pomodoro, and two yummy drinks (one with limoncello and one with pomegranate liqueur).  A big Thanks to Chanin’s parents for watching the little guy while we were out for the day!!!

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Sunday came pretty quickly so we packed up and started heading out.  But first, we planned to take Chanin’s mom out for brunch and a little stroll in Old Town.  We found a place called Rancho La Lena, which everyone agreed sounded good.  We were early enough so we found close parking and headed on in.  Most of the seating is outdoors, which was perfect since the weather was really nice.  We went for the buffett which included homemade tortillas, made to order omelets (with fresh chorizo!), nopalito salad, chile verde, chicken mole, rice, beans, salsas, etc.  The food was really tasty and we’ll definitely return!

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We had a great time in San Diego celebrating our Anniversay, hangin’ with Chanin’s parents, and celebrating Chanin’s 13th lung transplant anniversary.  Her transplant was done in S.D. and she’s spent a lot of time there in the past so I know she enjoyed hanging out there again.


Thanks for reading!!  If you’re interested, all of the pictures are below.


Sea World Pictures

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San Diego Pictures

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Gavin’s 1st Camping Trip

September 13th, 2009 | Posted by james - the dad in Family | holiday - (4 Comments)

I recently had a week off of work so we decided that it would be a great time to take our little guy camping for the first time.  Many of Chanin’s family members have memberships to the Silent Valley campground so we made the necessary arrangements and headed up into the mountains.  Luckily, Chanin’s parents have a travel trailer that we were able to use.  It made things much easier to deal with and little Gavin was comfortable.  There’s nothing like having beds, a table, stove/oven, microwave, private bathroom, etc to make things nice!

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Once we were up in the mountains I turned off my cell phone (well, actually sent a couple emails but after that I left it off) and never booted a computer for 6 full days!  Taking a ride in the wagon was Gavin’s favorite activity, and the only place we could get him to take a nap.  Chanin and I enjoyed eating (of course!), playing mini golf, hanging out in the pool, and taking our little dude for walks.  Gavin also loved the pool so we spent a couple days there. For a change of scenery we took a little trip up to Idyllwild where we bought some yummy beef jerky.

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Later in the week Gavin’s Nana and Papa, and Aunt Lori/Uncle Eric came to visit.  The Aunt Martha’s were also camping with their brand spankin’ new trailer.  We all celebrated Labor Day with a BBQ and margaritas.  MMMmmmm…

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Check out the following video for many more photos!  For best results click >>>RIGHT HERE<<<.  A new window will open with the video.  Then be sure to click HD to make sure it is the High Definition version is turned on.  It looks great full screen which you can turn on by clicking the little arrows in the bottom right corner of the video.

Gavin’s First Camping Trip from j c on Vimeo.

Thanks for reading!!

Henderson, NV – August 2008

April 19th, 2009 | Posted by james - the dad in Family - (2 Comments)

While looking through some pictures I ran across these shots from a trip we took out to Henderson, NV last year.  We met up with some of the family and went bowling and swimming and just hung out.  And we ate at the casino buffet.  MMMMmmm…..

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Short Idaho Video

October 27th, 2008 | Posted by james - the dad in Family - (2 Comments)

We purchased a video camera (HV20) a while ago and I finally got around to doing some simple editing.  This is a short video around 2 minutes.  It’s my first try so go easy on me!

Exploring Idaho from j c on Vimeo.

Idaho Visit – July 2008

July 15th, 2008 | Posted by james - the dad in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

This is a long one! Thanks for reading.

We took a trip to Idaho earlier this month to spend some time with family and to go to our baby’s ultrasound. Luckily, all of this fell around the 4th of July so we were able to celebrate up there and got the chance to light some fireworks.

4th of July

Fireworks are really expensive these days but I love to set them off. When our little guy gets older I’d like to visit a state that allows fireworks because I enjoyed them so much as a youngster.

On the 4th we enjoyed some BBQ (put on by my Bro) and then watched my brother and his friends try to blow each other up. Once it got dark outside Chanin and I set off some fountains, ground bloom flowers, etc. We also helped the kiddos with their sparklers. Later in the night my bro and his buddies lit a bunch of mortar shells off, which looked pretty cool.

I don’t really have any good pics but I did take some video with our new videocamera. BUT, that won’t be up for a while.

Mark’s Birthday

While we were up in Idaho it was also Mark’s birthday (July 6th) so my Mom threw a little BBQ party. It was nice to get to hang out with the family and have some good eatin’. Mom made an angel food cake and Chanin decorated it all fancy. Mmmmm…

Lucky Peak and Idaho City

Since this was Chanin’s first chance to spend some time in Idaho I really wanted to show her some of the scenery. My Mom and Mark recommended the drive to Lucky Peak Park and Idaho City. We headed up there and made our first stop at Lucky Peak State Park. Just as we were driving in we saw a deer running around looking really scared. Then, as we pulled in we saw another and we were able to snap a picture. That was really cool, especially for us city folk.

The park had a nice little lake for swimming and a park area to hang out in. We strolled around a bit and Chanin shot some pictures (below) and I shot some video (again, won’t be up for a while). We’d love to head back to this area again the next time we’re up in Idaho.

We continued our drive to Idaho City along a road that followed the river. The scenery was beautiful and changed from dry rolling hills to very green mountains with lots of trees.

In Idaho City we stopped at a restaurant for a little bit to eat. On the outside it looked pretty normal but when we walked in we discovered that it was really small and very much a locals hangout. Initially, we felt a little uncomfortable because we didn’t know the routine. But, once we sat down and ordered our food we settled in just fine. Luckily, we never heard any banjos playing!

Here’s the route we took. I had the GPS record our path.

Grandma’s House

No trip to Idaho would be complete without a visit to Grandma’s house for some good ol’ home cooked Mexican food.

Grandma made:

  • – Chile Verde
  • – Chile Colorado
  • – Beans
  • – Grandma’s Special Macaroni
  • – Homemade Tortillas
  • – Salsa and Pico de Gallo

We hung out at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a while and picked some fresh fruit from the trees. We’d love to have a bunch of fruit trees like they do but we just don’t have any room!

Weekend in Albuquerque

February 9th, 2008 | Posted by james - the dad in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

About a month ago my job took me to Albuquerque for a quick trip. When it came time to schedule the next trip Chanin and I decided we’d both go so we could spend some time exploring the city.

Instead of flying out like I normally would when traveling by myself we decided to drive. The drive was really nice and very scenic and gave us the chance to see a lot more of Arizona. Our route took us North to Flagstaff and then directly East all the way to Albuquerque. The total driving time was about 6.5 hours with just a couple of quick stops.

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I had to work during the week (Darn!) but we had plenty of time during the weekend to explore the area. First, we visited Old Town Albuquerque which is a historic village with a lot of character and history. We spent our time doing a little shopping and walking around the shops in the area. For lunch we ended up at the Church Street Cafe, which came highly recommended by several people, and is located in a house (Casa de Ruiz) that was built sometime after 1706. The food was excellent and the environment was really cool since Casa de Ruiz is possibly the oldest residence in Albuquerque.

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The biggest attraction to Old Town is probably the San Felipe de Neri church which is Albuquerque’s oldest Catholic Parish. It was constructed in 1793 and has been kept up really well. If you’re interested in more of the history of the church you can read about it here. We took a few pictures of the church and also took a peek inside.

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After visiting Old Town we planned on taking a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway but we ran out of time. We attempted to go another day but it was windy and the tram wasn’t operating. Oh well, maybe next time!

The next day we spent some time driving around town and ended up at the Sandia Casino. The casino was pretty nice and is located close to the base of the Sandia Mountain range. We’re not big gamblers so we hit the slots for a little while then ended up taking off before we lost all of our pennies.

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There were a few other places we would’ve liked to visit but the weather wasn’t great and we even got a little snow. So, to pass the time we ate! We both love Mexican food so we really enjoyed the New Mexican food. There are a lot of similarities between the two but New Mexican food contains a lot of green chilies and of course they have their own specialty dishes. My favorite dish was probably the Carne Adovada which is pork cooked in red chilie. Here are our impressions from some of the places we ate:

  • Papa Felipes
    • Decent food but nothing too special. Reminded us of typical Mexican food. However, the chips and salsa and the appetizer (Botana Crispeante) were really good.
  • Little Anita’s
    • New Mexican food with locations in New Mexico and Colorado. We really enjoyed Little Anita’s and wish we could’ve gone back to try more of the dishes. The food was fresh, well seasoned, and pretty cheap.
  • Sadie’s
    • The Carne Adovada at Sadie’s reigns supreme! This is probably my favorite dish from the trip. The pork was nice and tender and the sauce was spicy. At Sadie’s the “carne” is served with papitas (little fried potatoes) and pinto beans and I chose to have green chilie on top. Chanin had the combo place consisting of a tamale, taco, and enchilada with green chili (yes, there were leftovers) which she really enjoyed as well. The chips and salsa were tasty but a tad too spicy for our taste.
  • Church Street Cafe
    • This is a neat restaurant located in a house that was built in the early 18th century. We had eaten a big breakfast so we just shared the Nachos de Rio Grande. We love nachos and these were up there with the best of them. Oh yeah, they also had great chips and salsa here.
  • Rudy’s BBQ
    • A BBQ chain with locations in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. You buy the meat by weight and it includes white bread to eat with the meal. We went a couple times and tried the pulled pork, lean brisket, green chili stew, cole slaw, and homemade banana pudding. The sauce at Rudy’s is really good and now I wish we had bought a bottle to bring back home!
  • Golden Crown Bakery
    • We saw a flier for this bakery in the hotel and figured we should give it a try (it was on a special on Food Network also). They make homemade Biscochitos, which they call “New Mexico’s Favorite Cookie,” and they also make a green chili bread. We really wanted to try the bread but they were all sold out and we weren’t able to arrange a time to order one and pick it up at a later time. However, we did buy some Biscochitos and they were really tasty.
  • Subway Sandwiches
    • OK, it’s just Subway but they have green chilie as a condiment to put on your sandwich so I thought that was cool.

We had a nice time in Albuquerque but next time we’ll need to visit during a nicer time of the year so we can do some more outdoor activities. The food was probably the best part about the trip and we’re going to start trying some of the recipes here at home!

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