Our 2 Day Stay in New York City

Below are just a few photos from our short trip to NYC back in 2011.  We stayed with my aunt in the Bronx so we saved a little money on accommodations.  Obviously, we had to prioritize our time so we made it a point to visit the Guggenheim, Central Park, and Top of the Rock.  We did just that plus a trip to Serendipity for their cold ‘hot chocolate’ and an unexpected musical to see Priscilla Queen of the Dessert courtesy of my aunt.  It was a fun filled 2 days in New York City for us newly weds.  Just a few months prior, we got married and this was our first trip together as husband and wife.

I could definitely do New York City all over again, but for an extended period of time.  I’d like to at least stay for 4 days just to soak everything in, and I’d want to go shopping, see a better musical on Broadway, and eat at Peter Luger’s because our friends told us so much about the place.  If we ever go back, I’d kind of want to go for New Year’s eve just for the experience.  I definitely wouldn’t want to be out in the frigid cold, but instead, I’d want to be in one of the hosted parties waiting for the ball to drop.

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Roof of the Guggenheim
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Had to get this because of the movie, Serendipity. #fomo

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From Top of the Rock overlooking Central Park
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From Top of the Rock
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Times Square
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Day Trip to Washington D.C.

Below are photos from our day trip to Washington D.C. in 2011.  At the time we were staying in Atlantic City and the drive down took 3 hours.  We didn’t mind the drive since it was our first time visiting the northeast.  In fact, it was rather an adventure for us although somewhat of a rude awakening because of the amount of toll roads crossed.  Over here in California we take our freeways for granted, and that was when I figured out where the name ‘freeway’ is from.

I’d definitely like to visit Washington D.C. again and spend a little more time in their museums since they’re free.  I’d also like to tour the White House because who wouldn’t right?  Historical buildings are just amazing to see!

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Lincoln Memorial
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The scale of the Lincoln Memorial is amazing.  I think seeing this in person blew me away.

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Vietnam Memorial
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Vietnam Memorial
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U.S. State capitol building
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U.S. State capital buildings

When We Went to Chicago

Chicago is a beautiful city.  We had the opportunity to visit in 2012 when our friends got married in Omaha, Nebraska.  And since we were in the mid-west, we made it a point to see downtown Chicago.  We purchased the CityPass because it gained us entry into the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck, Willis Tower, and the Art Institute of Chicago.  It was definitely a packed itinerary with a visit to Millennium Park, Lincoln Park Zoo, and gorging ourselves on deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s.  It was a fun trip and we could definitely visit Chicago again.

Below are some of my favorite pictures from our trip.  Hope you enjoy!

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View from the Shedd Aquarium balcony overlooking the city
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Sue inside the Field Museum
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Looking down from the Willis Tower
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Cloud Gate in Millennium Park
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Buckingham Fountain

Universal Studios in Hollywood

Our trip to Universal Studios was actually fun.  It was my first time ever going, and the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter park was the thing that got me to visit.  I can’t say I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, but I can say I did read all 7 books and watched all 7 movies.  So in a way, I am a fan but not unlike others who go above and beyond that.

The Harry Potter park is probably my favorite part of Universal Studios.  As a fan and also one who appreciates architecture, I loved walking through Hogsmeade and the castle.  The spaces are well thought out and creatively designed that it’s worth a trip despite the crowds.

Below are just a few photos I took at the park.  Hope you enjoy and find inspiration to go!

Trip duration: 2 day park pass (Aug 2016)

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Waterworld show
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Universal’s animal actors show
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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

A Trip to Big Island, Hawaii – A Family Trip

If I were to describe Big Island, I would say it’s like the country of Hawaii.  Although it has Kona, the more commercialized part of the island, Big Island is fairly natural.  If you’re on the Hilo side, there’s the Puna rain forest and then there’s the Volcano National Park that’s actively flowing with lava.

Would I recommend a trip to Big Island? Absolutely and especially for those living on the west coast, it’s a bargain when flying with Alaska Airlines, Southwest, or even Hawaiian Airlines.  For domestic travels, I use Alaska Airlines to take advantage of their frequent flyer points and yearly companion fare offerings.  But that’s just my preference.  It’s okay to use a different airline.

Below are a few pictures taken from our trip back in 2017.  We didn’t explore too much since we were with family, but we still managed to do a few things on our own.

Trip duration: 5 nights, 6 days (April 2017)

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View from the Luau at Voyagers of the Pacific
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Voyagers of the Pacific Luau
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Hawaii Volcano National Park
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Hawaii Volcano National Park
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Kahauale’a
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Kalapana – Where the lava enters the sea
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Kalapana – Where the lava goes to the sea
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Kona at the Sheraton
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Kona at the Sheraton
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Kona at the Sheraton

Yosemite National Park Hiking Trip

Yosemite National Park is another ‘must visit’ place on anyone’s bucket list.  Pictures below are from a trip we took a few years ago when I had ambitious goals to hike up Half Dome.

Short story: By the time we got to the sub-dome, it was around 4pm.  With no headlamps on us and weary legs, we decided to turn back around.  Good thing we did because by the time we got to the valley floor, it was pitch black.

I had ambitious goals of tackling the 16 mile hike instead of doing the shorter versions, but if getting to the summit is a priority, I recommend a shorter route.

Obviously Yosemite National Park is not just about Half Dome.  There are other things to do and hikes to take.  This is just my experience of park.

Helpful tips:

  • Getting inside the park can be very scary.  If you aren’t used to driving along the edge of a mountain, then prepare yourself for the drive.
  • Check out the scenic ‘Tunnel View” and snap a picture.  It’s a gorgeous view.
  • Be weary of the wildlife – we encountered a coyote on our hike, but there are black bears and rattle snakes to watch out for.
  • Invest in a head lamp if you plan to hike Yosemite.  We brought flashlights from the Dollar Tree and it barely lit our path on our decent.
  • Hydrate if you go on a long hike – we had 4 bottles of 32oz Gatorade each person.  The crazy thing was we only peed once for the entire hike, which was from 5:30am to 8:30pm.
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View from the sub-dome circa 2013
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Heading back down
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Looking back at Half Dome on our way down to the valley floor.

Sydney, Australia – A Travel Must

It took 17 hours getting here from the San Francisco Bay Area.  Our first stop was Auckland, New Zealand and then a short flight over to Sydney.  Although it was a long travel day, it was worth the trip to be in the land down under.  Below are just a few pictures of our time there, and if there is a time to go, I’d say when they host Vivid Sydney.  The light shows are amazing!

Trip duration: 7 nights, 8 days (end of May 2017)

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The Opera House in the early morning
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Harbor tour overlooking the Sydney Harbor Bridge
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Bird Cages on Angel Place
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Along Darling Harbor
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Taronga Zoo along Sydney harbor
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Vivid Sydney