Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bay Area Adventure: The Last Two and a Half Weeks

Saturday, June 16
My first day in Concord. I woke up to a nice view of the mountain.

Morning View

After breakfast, my (second) cousin and I went walking at Newhall Community Park. The park and its views were amazing. As usual to the parks there, we saw a lot of ducks and geese. We also saw something you won't see everyday in a community park - a snakeskin.



According to the weather forecast, it was going to reach 103° F or 39° C in Concord that day. We headed out to SF in order to enjoy a colder climate and so that the tourist (me) and the kids on summer break could tour the city.

After that SF tour, we bought dinner at In-n-Out. I found out that In-n-Out has a secret menu. My "niece" ordered Neopolitan Shake and Animal Fries (french fries with some sauce, probably mayo and cheese, on top). I didn't get to try the shake, but the fries were pretty good.

Sunday, June 17
We attended my cousin's husband's friend's dad's birthday. The food and the people were mostly Filipinos. It felt like I was back home. Haha! There, I met Architect Noralita Dumlao and her husband. She asked about my professors in UP and talked about her architect son, who was also a professor at DBTC-Mandaluyong.

Monday, June 18
We went grocery shopping at Seafood City. Right outside are Goldilocks, Red Ribbon, Jollibee, a Filipino bakery, LBC, etc. Inside, you would see different Filipino products and Filipinos everywhere - from shoppers to employees and even Sharon Cuneta advertisements. Another made-me-feel-like-home moment. Hahaha!

Tuesday, June 19
Today, I went back to Walnut Creek for just a while. We stopped over at Northgate High School to drop off some books. It made me think, "so this is what a high school campus in the US looks like."
seniors TP-ed the trees

After that, we headed to Heather Farm to inquire about a tennis trainer. Then, we went to my (first) cousin's apartment to pick up some of my things.

In the afternoon, my (second) cousin and her kids played tennis at this park. I tagged along with them and went walking and jogging around the area as they played tennis. While walking around, I came across Pixieland and this park with a pond full of ducks and geese.

Wednesday, June 20
I met up with an old friend (schoolmate, busmate, and neighbor back in high school) in San Francisco. I think it was the first time we've seen each other since high school; around 5 years ago. We went around Westfield mall and around the area, going inside different stores on sale. Later, we decided to walk to Union Square just to check it out. There, I saw Larry Hunt aka the Bucketman performing. It was amusing to watch him perform live, especially since I've watched a friend's documentary on him

Before the Muni closed, we headed to my friend's place in Daly City for a semi-impromptu sleepover. Revelation Night, San Francisco edition! We used to call our after-school gimmicks in the village "Revelation Night".

Thursday, June 21
SF Adventure! Since my friend had work that day, I toured the city by myself. Thanks to the iBart,, and wi-fi hot spots around the city, I was able to get around without getting lost.*

Friday, June 22
My batchmates back in the Philippines were having a despedida party for two of our batchmates who were leaving for Singapore on the 25th for work. I was touched that they invited me and another batchmate in Australia to this event, even if it was impossible for us to be there physically. So, I decided to wake up early to catch them online and attend the party via Skype.

despedida boy, thanks for the invite!

I toured them around the house, introduced them to my cousin, and showed them the view outside by going outside. It was funny carrying a laptop and talking to it while walking around and outside the house; but, it's alright. It was great seeing my friends back home and hearing their stories of work and others.
while giving them a tour of the house
kwentuhan session

Aside from the batch party, today was Six Flags: Discovery Kingdom day! A separate post will be dedicated for this outing.

(First) cousin came back from the East Coast that day and he met up with us in Six Flags. After Six Flags, we went to another second cousin's house nearby for dinner and a mini-reunion. We were reminiscing/talking about the past reunions and other relatives who have come and gone. After dinner, we went back to Concord, dropped off my (second) cousin and her kids, picked up my things, and headed to Walnut Creek, where I originally stayed when I arrived from the Philippines at the start of the month.

Saturday, June 23
I woke up to my cousin cleaning the apartment; then, he announced that another cousin and his boyfriend, whose birthday was that day, are coming over from LA for Pride Weekend. An hour or so later, they arrive! That evening, we bought a cake for the boyfriend and we met up with cousin's best friend and her boyfriend for dinner at Jack's Restaurant. The food was good and the service was excellent; totally a commendable restaurant.That night, I realized I don't like noisy crowded bars. I prefer intimate gatherings in someone's house. I miss batch parties in batchmates' houses.

Sunday, June 24
We went to the Terrace Room at the Lake Merrit Hotel in Oakland for lunch.

The hotel, which is now used as a senior home, is located in front of Lake Merrit, hence the amazing panoramic view of the lake from the restaurant. Aside from the view, another commendable item would be their bottomless mimosas, simply because they're bottomless.

Cousin's boyfriend and I were analyzing how the Terrace Room seemed like a later addition to the older hotel. We noticed how some balustrades could've been the railings of an originally-open balcony and how the archways could've been windows or french doors that lead to the balcony. We noticed other clues to this claim; but in spite those, I'd say they did a decent job in trying to make the Terrace Room mesh with the original structure.

After lunch, we went to SF just to check it out on Pride Day. We missed the parade, but the party downtown was still ongoing; heck, people were already "partying" on the crowded BART carts.

Because we don't like crowded places, we didn't stay there very long. At least I get to say that I've experienced San Francisco Pride, the largest pride celebration in the country (I think), even if we were just walking around, avoiding... obstacles.

Back in Walnut Creek, we had a peaceful family-like dinner at the apartment.

Monday, June 25
Cousin and his boyfriend left for LA. I think the rest of the day was a bum day for me, because I can't remember what else happened this day...

Tuesday, June 26
Today was shopping for pasalubong for my sisters and mother. I love walking around downtown Walnut Creek. It's like a huge open mall and it's safe to walk around.

Also today, I saw a bluejay, two hummingbirds, and two other fat birds (I'm sorry, I don't know their species) right outside the window.

2 fat birds encircled in yellow, a hummingbird encircled in purple, and an obvious bluejay...
can you spot the other hummingbird in the picture? it's flying around somewhere.

Wednesday, June 27
When I woke up, I got scared as I saw two moving figurines on the window sill. I was laughing so hard when I realized that they were solar-powered figurines of a waving Queen Elizabeth and her corgi that nods its head.

Outside, I saw and heard a noisy squirrel, squeaking for over an hour.

Thursday, June 28
An unmemorable day, since I can't remember again what happened on this day.

Friday, June 29
Another SF Adventure! This time, with my cousin. We went to visit some notable places in the city that I haven't visited yet, such as the Cliff House, the Alamo Square, and the Castro District.*

Saturday, June 30
It was my cousin's friend's birthday, so we went to Tomi for sushi buffet. They had a huge selection of sushi and other food (soup, dumplings, rice, ice cream, cake, etc.) for a relatively cheap price.

That evening, my cousin and I went to watch Keane live at the Fox Theater in Oakland. This calls for another separate post.

Sunday, July 1
As promised, my cousin brought me to the California Academy of Sciences.*

And, today marks one month of my stay here.

Monday, July 2
Bum day. We gave our legs a much needed rest from standing 4-hours two days before and from walking around Cal. Academy for 4-hours the day before.

Tuesday, July 3
I met up with my ninong (godfather) whom I haven't seen in 11 years. He lives in San Jose, but he was near Walnut Creek today because of work. And so, we met up for lunch and did some catching up.

After lunch, I went around downtown again to do some final shopping before I leave Walnut Creek tonight.

That afternoon, we went to SF again because it was free day for most of the museums there.* Admissions in certain SF museums are free every first Tuesdays of the month.

For dinner, we went to my cousin's friend's house in Hayward for some barbecue. And after dinner, we headed off to Concord, at my (second) cousin's house to spend the night with them, as I'm joining them as they travel down south the next day.

I've been here at the Bay Area for over a month now, and I've fallen in love with this place. I honestly want to stay and live here, but I only have a tourist visa, so I can't do that unless... blah blah blah. It actually saddens me that I'm leaving this place in a few hours, but I'm still excited that I'll be going to SoCal and see other relatives and friends down there.

So... yeh, I'm leaving for SoCal in a few hours. We'll be driving from Concord to LA. I know I should get some sleep, but I'm thinking that I could do that in the car, since it's going to be a 7-hour drive.

Oh, it's the 4th of July today. It'll be the first time I'm "celebrating" this American holiday. I'm also excited about that. Hopefully, we get to see lots of fireworks at another second cousin's place in LA.

Forgive my late update. I know my posts were supposed to be a weekly basis, but my Fridays and Saturdays have been busy. I promise I'll post the "separate posts" soon.

* - more details will be in a separate "SF Adventures" post

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