Merry Xmas, Happy New Year, Happy Chinese New Year, etc etc… It’s been a busy several months, but I’m finally getting some time to off load the pictures piling up on my camera’s memory card, get them processed and uploaded to some gallery pages. Since the last post, I’ve been down to Santiago, Chile twice; some nighttime pictures at Disneyland, the annual ski trip, trips to Colorado Springs, Miami, Laredo Texas, Pasadena’s Modeler’s Society’s Valleycon 2013, and a few hiking trips around Southern California. The model building isn’t completely ignored. Late December saw the release of the RX-93ν Gundam version Katoki for which I’m using as a center piece for this year’s GWBC entry. The complete progress will be posted when that project is finished. In the meantime, I’m also working on a Efreet Custom resin conversion kit as a quick build and challenge with Angel who is building a regular Efreet.

Part 1’s pictures and links to galleries after the jump.

Chronologically, lets start off with a quick trip to Disneyland. It had rained earlier that day and there were still some clouds, so the cold ever so slightly wet air was perfect to bring the tripod and snap some pictures. We met up with Angel and Nicky as well as Angel’s parents and hung out for a couple of hours.

Link for the rest of the picture.

1st Chile Trip

Next was an early December trip to Santiago Chile for work. The little free time I did have, I took a quick trip out to the Chilean coast. The trip itself wasn’t the most pleasant work wise, so I didn’t really snap too many pictures. The pictures I did take are the bookends to the trip, a few at the beginning, then a few at the end. The first book end is a small Coastal town south of Valparaiso – I found a little geocache in the town. The drive just reminds me of heading up the California Coast.

One night while leaving work, I missed my exit and ended up having to take a fairly large loop around to return to the correct path. Along this large loop, we drove by a couple of Chinese restaurants, so naturally, my morbid curiosity got the better of me and we stopped in for dinner. The ladies speak Cantonese, but also Spanish with a Chinese accent. The menu is Spanish only. Food was about what I expected – so it may not have been worth the experience points for the “Chinese Food in Chile” achievement.

For the end of this Chilean trip, I headed up the mountains closest to Santiago, a final attempt to find some geocaches. But all I managed to find was a hornets next and lots of loose gravel and rocks. A little too dangerous being out here alone, so giving up, I snapped a few pictures then headed towards the airport to catch my flight home.

Link for the rest of the December Chile pictures.


Christmas this year was fairly low key, we had the build gathering that went fairly well, and in an instant, another year has passed. The new attempt this year was to start up at least a hike once a month. Plans were made, times and places are suggested, and the first hike falls apart as a few people who were interested started to whine a little too loudly; so to avoid the inevitable the wife and I headed to Chantry while the Nicky and company headed to Laguna. We brought the corgis with us and was an interesting time crossing the little creek here and there as we wound our way up towards Sturtevant Falls. A nice relaxing hike, but the uphill return was a little rough on the older dogs. The old hiking boots I used didn’t treat my feet well either.

Fiddling with the ISO on the camera, I snapped a few shots of the falls.

Link to the Chantry Hike Gallery.

Ski Trip 2013

A number of people dropped out of this year’s ski trip, scheduling conflicts, house remodeling, and Chinese New Year’s caused most of the problems. The house this year had tons of beds, but was a bit cramped here and there. The refrigerator door could not be opened all the way as it bumped up against the long kitchen island. No hot tub either, so we’ll definitely avoid this house in the future. The drive up wasn’t bad, we had installed a barrier for Yuki’s trunk area and the dogs were loaded and kept at the back of the CRV. Which meant we didn’t have to spend the entire trip fighting Beanie’s nonstop attempts at getting into the front two seats. I was running on about 3 hours of sleep, so a little tired, and Yuki knew, so she kept talking to me to help keep me awake, offering to drive here and there. But I felt good. We met up with Angel and crew along the 5 around the Burbank area and continued until we reached Kettleman City for our first pit stop. Breakfast and hi-jinks making fun of Su-eun and Nickel starts. Pit stop completed, we headed up to Sacramento.

We get into Sacramento around 11 and we head straight to Tower Cafe for lunch. Exiting the 15th street off ramp, I’m suddenly stopped, and Angel’s CRV comes flying in between the right side of the car and the off ramp railing. I’m completely bewildered and Yuki’s in utter shock. Angel stares questioningly at me as he passes us by and I can do nothing but shrug. Senses return and I realize that my left foot is on the break, and my right hand is on the shift knob and we’re in neutral. Yuki makes the connection first, apparently, I was trying to downshift as I would naturally do while slowing down and getting off the freeway…. IF I WAS IN MY SCOOBY. *sigh* I’m apparently too tired and my brain functions have shut down to only automatic muscle memorized functions. In less than 30 seconds, I gear in and drive off the ramp, there was also an unmarked cop car that kinda looked at me strangely, but seeing nothing wrong, just left me alone. We get into the parking lot for Tower Cafe, and apologies for nearly killing all of us and explanations of what we believe happened capped off our first leg of the ski trip. Lunch is fantastic as usual, and we hit up the local Chinese market for a few supplies. The final supplies are taken care of at the costco in Folsom.

The drive up the hill to Tahoe was quite uneventful. Getting into town, I get a message from Brian that him and Justice have arrived and we pick them up. Getting the keys to the house, we unload and relax a bit. We decide to wait for Keith to get in before we have dinner. Nicky brought up her hotpot and I brought up ours so we had one hotpot going with a grill component. Keith arrives and I head over to find him. Wandering around the casino looking for him, I start to become impatient and snap out some frustrated texts to find him. Finally getting a specific location, we meet and head to the house. Note to self, get a good amount of rest before the damn trip…. yeah, I tell myself this every year, but fail. 12 years and I don’t think anything is gonna change. Getting back to the house, we start up the hot pot and have dinner.

The following morning, breakfast of waffles, bacon, and bagels with lox. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with a rough start to the trip. Su, was having trouble adjusting to the barrage most folks get from Brian and I. We often forget that new folks don’t necessarily have the thickness of skin to deal with the combined might of Brian and I. Our way of showing love and welcome to the group can be easily misconstrued I guess. Su finally comes down to eat breakfast and starts making some very delicious pecan tarts. Angel is playing Assassin’s Creed 3, trying to catch up to the point where he had last left off while playing on a friend’s system back during Thanksgiving weekend. We’re actually dressed to go skiing, but general laziness completely take us, as well as the lack of fresh recent snow. Brian, Justice, Keith and I headed out, first dropping off Keith at the casinos then the three of us went for some geocaching fun. Justice is forced to join via peer pressure. And we spend the afternoon finding caches. Yuki has a phone interview in the afternoon, so she’s stuck at home. We find caches, travel bugs, travel coins, exchange bugs and coins and all said and done, get caches in before it got too dark to successfully find anything. Some things were just buried under several feet of snow. Done with our caching expedition, we head to Mont Blu to find Keith.

We find Keith at a penny slot and he wants to finish his drink. I feel the need to make a $20 donation to the slot machine relief fund, so I go off and find a quarter machine. Slipping in my fresh twenty dollar bill, take a look at my options, max bet is 5 lines at a quarter each, so I hit the max bet button. The wheels spin, and land on a some diamond icons, and I get a win. The credits are increasing, and continue for a while which made me take a look at what I had actually hit. Apparently, I hit a 2000X for one of the lines. I cashed out immediately, and for my $2.25 investment, I got a voucher worth $517.75. Not too bad for a single pull. I calmly walked over to Brian, Justice, and Keith and show them the coupon from the single pull. Shock and amusement follow, with a bit of sarcastic jealousy which is natural – Keith has been at the casino all day and is up about 40-60 bucks, and I come in, play for literally 30 seconds, and up 500. We head back to the house and finish off the rest of the hotpot.

Nicky, Yuki, Su, and I spend the evening playing Majhong, and after convincing Nickel to play for actual money, she ends up winning after 4 rounds of play. Originally, we had set the win amount to 5 bucks, but at that rate, Nicky won $.35, so we changed so she won $3.50. Winning, she still complained about not wanting to play for money. *sigh* The rest of the group sat and watch Megamind then swapped over to some Assassin’s Creed and my Battle Operation game. It was a fairly quiet evening.

We got up the next morning, and got fully dressed, then made breakfast. Su’s adventure in baking was stroopwafels. Having a few stroopwafels with our morning beverages, laziness started again to creep in; but we compromised and Justice, Brian, and I hit up a local ski shop for some rentals and go to Heavenly in time for the half day tickets. We found a few runs that we could get some relatively good speeds in, and spent most of the day zipping down. Not too bad for not having skied all season. The groomed areas were nice, but the snow wasn’t fresh enough for me to even attempt some of the tree areas. Most of the tree areas were marked off limits as there was a decent amount of exposed surfaces. We found one geocache that was missing the bottom part of the cache container. Another geocache was buried under the snow. So we were able to log just the one we found that was missing parts of it. At the end of the day, we split up as I took a fairly flat route down the mountain. The first time I ate it was along that trail when my ski hit an exposed rock and just knocked me on my ass. The sky was clear so I got a good number of pictures in while on the slopes.

Getting back to the house, it was time to prepare dinner. I had aged some stakes and set them to be broiled. I also had a wedge of bree that I covered with pecans and drizzled with honey then wrapped in a sheet of puff pastry. That little package of goodness was then thrown into the oven for twenty or so minutes. Salad was put together, and Angel slicked up thin pieces of apples and Asian pears. He also grilled up the yellow, orange, and red peppers. Steaks done and rested, they were cut up into feasible chunks and dinner was served along with a decent bottle of wine.

The next day was spend with everyone except Keith(at the casino attempting the match my winnings so far) and Nicky(home alone day), and we drove around the lake stopping at various spots for pictures as well as geocaches. We learned that Kenken isn’t too fond of walking on snow/ice, and they all the dogs apparently love rock climbing. Here are some pictures from around the lake.

For the following group shots, we need to photoshop Nicky and Keith into them.

Our return trip from around the lake stopped off and picked up Keith at the casinos and we headed back to the house to grab Nicky. We made a quick call to the local Scottish pub that Brian and I hit up last year to see if we can get a table for 8 of us, and we were told to just show up. We got there and the place was packed. Brian walked over and gave his name to the owner who had a pen and pad. We gathered at the bar and ordered a few beers. I grabbed a nice pear cider that got Nicky’s eyes all lit up when she tasted it. So she ordered one too. The name Brian was shouted several times but each time, not for our group. We were starting to get antsy and things got a little tense as it had been well past an hour and we still hadn’t gotten a table and we were noticing that people that arrived after us were getting seated. We again send Brian to check, and apparently his name for our group never made it onto the list – but we were immediately seated and the owner apologizing profusely. We were happy to have a table and ordered another round of beers and cider. Nicky was already getting a little tispy. We ordered food. And the owner comes by with a brand new bottle of Chartreuse and those little paper cups one uses at McDonalds for ketchup. He pours and passes the cups around to all of us and take a cap full himself and toasts us. *Ding* Nicky is now drunk – with all attributes of drunk Nicky. Su is getting pretty red. Food arrives and we eat. Damn good food. Bob the dog comes by and hangs out with us for a little bit. Tables around us are looking at us, we are loud, we have drunk Nicky, had some parents the ability, they would have plugged up the ears of their young. The staff is highly entertained by our table. The owner drops by again and we snicker about the bottle of Chartreuse, so he takes that as a hint to bring another round. I had finished half of Yuki’s last time, so I gave mine to Brian as I still needed to drive the short distance back to the house. A damn good time was had by all that evening even with the rocky start.

That evening, we stat down and watch a few movies and chatted. Angel and Yuki passed out early; but a good number of us stayed up until a little past midnight. I ended up chatting with Keith for a bit before crashing out. We tried to get out early, Justice needed to be at Mont Blu by about 7 so Angel dropped him off while we finished up packing and leaving the house. The group of us went to Mont Blu for breakfast using Keith’s comps and coupons. After breakfast, we headed home. No stop in Sac as Angel and Nicky decided to drop by Nicky’s parents to say Happy Birthday to Nicky’s mom on their way back home, so we split up, when they took the 99. I swapped out with Yuki after getting us a little past Kettleman City, and crashed out while she finished the drive home. We got back to the house around 6 and called up my mom to meet up for dinner that night at the new Shanghai Restaurant in Hacienda Heights that had once upon a time been a Coco’s, followed by Little Fat Sheep Hotpot. All and all, a decent trip. I think for next year, if we do this again, I’ll grab one of the houses we’ve used in the past, with a hot tub, and just limit the number of folks.

Link to the rest of Ski Trip Photo Gallery.

Colorado Springs

A week after the ski trip, the end of February rolls in and the first of 4 business trips looms. I’m off to Colorado Springs. My trip is set for 3 days total, so I check the weather, pack appropriately yet lightly, and fly into Denver. The Springs is about 90 miles south of Denver, so it’s an easy drive. The last time I was there, I had a connecting flight from Denver to the Springs – however, the high rate of flight cancellations which happened on my last trip lead me to option the rental car. So while planning the trip the previous weeks, I set up for a rental. Now, getting into Denver, a snow storm hits about the same time as my flight lands. As I’m making my way through the terminal towards the rental agency, flights left and right of me are being cancelled. I pick up my pace to board the bus for the rental location. The rental place is packed. But I get to the counter and I’m offered a full size car as it is a larger and heavier vehicle because of the snow. I found this odd, and just kept my original reservation for a compact – driving the camry up and down towards Tahoe has me well trained in winter weather driving. The snow was starting to really come down, so I quickly finished the rental process and get on the road. I headed directly to the job site and get as much work in as possible.

The following day, I finished what I had left over from the previous day and was done by 2 PM. With nothing else on the schedule, I headed out to break my one day number of geocaches found record. The first stop was Red Rocks Open Space, a fairly large hiking area with numerous trails. I found several caches here before continuing my way westward towards Pike’s Peak – which was as luck would have it, closed by the time I arrived. But I get some decent hiking in snow and wet mud/sand. And find a good number of caches and trade out travel bugs here and there. I snapped one picture in Colorado Springs. I was too focused on finding geocaches. I cached well into the late evening before stopping in to the local pizza joint for a fresh brick oven fired pie, home made root beer and a Cesar salad. Heading back to the hotel, I grabbed the car keys and finished my caching that evening by car as it getting a bit too cold to be walking from point to point. All said, I got a total of 15 caches within a span of about ten hours; not too shabby. The next morning, I woke up and headed up to Denver and did some quick sightseeing before heading to the airport for my flight home.

Link to the Colorado Springs Gallery.

Part two will include the other trip to Chile as well as some actual blogging about models. Stay tuned!

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