Camp Life

We got back from a 3 night excursion at Loggerhead Campground in Truckee, CA. The campground was beautiful and vast. However, the weather wasn’t cooperative with us. I composed a little poem of my stay:

As we arrived in the dark, we pitched our tents in a hurry.

For the rain was pouring down…and it was quite scary.

We enjoyed the sun for a bit, but not the port-a-potty.

I didn’t see any bears or lions, but a rat in a scurry.

No shower was ok, but please don’t take my coffee away.

We drove to the city, to keep ourselves busy.

We stayed for three nights, and NO bug bites.

But on the fourth day, I left highly dismayed.

Travel Apps Part 2: Traversing Around Town

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Alas, here is part two of the travel apps series. Today, I will be sharing with you what apps I’ve used in the past to get around a certain city. Granted, most of these apps require data, so I will be sharing how to access data while traveling abroad, on another blog post. So, let’s get started!

Google Maps (requires data). I loved using this app in our recent travel to Tokyo. We commuted mostly by train and it tells you what line to get on and if there are any transfers. Most of the time, it also gives you the platform number, to help you while you are transferring between two different train lines. Another nice feature is knowing how much to pay. It tells you exactly the cost of getting to your destination.

I have CityMapper (requires data) too, which is a lot like Google Maps, but I didn’t use it as much during this past trip. But, you can definitely download and see which you like better. You might actually like both.

All Subway (no data required). This app helps you look at the Subway Route Maps in the city you are visiting. It has ALOT of cities… but I’m pretty sure not all. It has Manila, Melbourne, Milan, Miami, Copenhagen, Bangkok, etc. So, if your city is on there, it’s a good download before you leave.

Yelp (requires data). Yelp has been around for a long time in the United States, and is recently going Global. I used it a bit in Italy back in 2012, but didn’t find a lot of reviews in certain places. This year, I used it in Tokyo and found a few gems that were recommended by Yelp reviewers! I love to use Yelp to find highly recommended cafe, restaurants, and breweries. It saves me from having to go through a horrible experience!

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Please note though, that these apps are not foolproof. You still may get lost, get off a wrong stop, or have a bad experience at a restaurant. Sometimes, you just can’t help it. However, these apps may help lessen the painful ordeal of a highly stressful situation. A few other tips I can suggest, if you are staying at a hotel, gather suggestions from the front desk staff or concierge (no data required). Ask them:

  • Is this the right route to take to get from point A to point B?
  • What is a good sushi place (pasta place, cafe, etc.) nearby?
  • What are some activities to do around town?

Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions or for help. Asking for help is half the battle. 😉

Happy Travel Friends!

Travel Apps Part 1: Preparing for the Travel

For any minor or major traveling, there is always researching and planning to be done. I do research on my laptop and on my iPhone. This blog will have a two-part series of apps that I use for traveling. The first part will be preparing for the travel and the second part will be regarding the apps that I use while I’m at my destination.

I use several apps to prepare for my travel. A large part of it are airline apps. I downloaded apps of airlines that I either A) am a frequent flyer of or B) an airline I flew on and really loved. So for airline apps I have: United, JetBlue, and Southwest. The United app also allows me to watch movies directly from my iPad or to check email while in flight.

However, aside from the airline apps, I also fancy using Kayak. I actually prefer the app rather than going online and visiting their website. I find their app to be user-friendly and free of clutter. It also helps me find the cheapest airfare, regardless of what airline I choose to use. Another nice feature of Kayak is the price alerts. It alerts you when an air ticket at a chosen destination is within the price range you selected. For example, if you are looking for a $300 ticket to Hawaii from San Francisco. You can put those choices on price alert and you will receive a notification if there are any airlines offering that fare, or lower, to your chosen destination. Nice, right?!

After booking a flight,  a hotel, and perhaps a car rental, it would be nice to have all confirmation details in one central location. For that, I use World Mate. You can see all your upcoming trips, but also your past trips. It helps you book a hotel from the app directly, or to make a limo reservation. The free version of the app is supposedly going to expire soon, so I downloaded the paid version. I don’t find myself using this app often, but I like how I can keep tabs on my past trips. It always brings a smile to my face when I think back of those past trips.

I also check on the exchange rate of the foreign currency in the country I’ll be visiting versus the almighty U.S. dollar. I travel with a tiny bit of cash for small shops and for tip money, but I prefer to pay with a Visa that has no foreign transaction fees tied into it. And, it’s always nice to know what you’re going against. So for that, I have a Currency app.

I also do research on hotels, activities, and restaurants. For that kind of inquiry, I use Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor is like the Yelp for travelers. Reviews and ratings from other fellow travelers to help narrow done the best hotels, activities, and restaurants within your budget at your future destination.

Last but not least, traveling wouldn’t be as fun without the local interaction you’ll be making. So, I find it useful to learn a few words or phrases in their language. A Translator app is crucial when traveling to a foreign country to say a greeting or to ask for something in their local tongue. I highly recommend a Translator app in addition to your pocket-book of phrases or your cd/podcast of the language you are trying desperately to learn.

So, this is what’s in my arsenal of travel apps. I hope you found this helpful, and if there are any other apps I’m missing out on…do share about them.

Guam to California. Lesson #1: Freeways

I decided to have a special feature on the blog every first Thursday of the month. This feature will be called Guam to California. I will be sharing personal experiences and lessons I’ve learned since leaving the rock (Guam.)

This month’s lesson is about freeways.

Prior to moving to California, I drove on two major roads from age 16-24. Those two roads were Marine Drive and Route 16. I always thought that the speed limit was 55mph but discovered recently that it was only 45mph. Oops! That is the fastest speed on island, legally. Majority of the roads on island have speed limits of 35mph or 15mph in residential areas.

So, when I moved to California I was excited to drive at the normal rate I was already going…(65mph +) and to be able to do that without feeling guilty.

The confusing part was finding out if I was going North, South, East, or West.

For two years, I was dependent on my GPS because of that. I only stopped using my GPS because it got stolen…but looking back, i’m kinda glad that happened because I was then forced to learn the roads and remember them.

I have a few funny stories about driving here in California. One day, I was heading to a meeting, and called my uncle because it was my very first time driving without him or anyone else, I wasn’t sure if I had to take 5 north or 5 south. He wasn’t answering and the exits were coming up quickly and so I just decided, on a whim, to take 5 south. So as I was exiting, he called back and he told me 5 north. So fortunately for me, I was still on the on-ramp, and I just continued on to the off-ramp and took the northbound freeway.  I made a complete circle. I felt like an idiot after that. Lol.

Another evening, I was driving back home and one of my girlfriends called me, to make sure I made it home safely. But, because I was still on the road, my GPS was giving me directions to exit and she heard the GPS speaking…she started laughing because I have been living in that studio for almost a year but still needed a GPS to give me directions to get home. Yup, that was me!

Another thing about freeways, are CARPOOL or HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes! They are amazing! Some carpool lanes require only two passengers, others a minimum of three. Carpool lanes are meant to encourage people to carpool so that there are less cars on the freeway and/or to buy/lease a low or zero emission vehicle. According to ca.gov:  “As of April 8, 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has issued the 63,255 Green Clean Air Vehicle decals. The maximum number of decals available is 70,000.” 

I say carpool lanes are amazing because you get by through traffic much quicker than the other lanes on most days. However, most carpool lanes are in effect only during certain hours, so before or after those hours, anyone can use those lanes.

So, as you can see…I’ve garnered more roads, highways, and mileage (and some tickets..ahem!) under my belt compared to when I was 24. And because of that, I feel that driving on Guam is WAY too EASY.

Hope you got a kick out of reading about my experiences on freeways. Happy and Safe Driving!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers are a great way to get rid of leftovers or things that have been hanging out in your fridge. Like that day old rice, unfinished jar of spaghetti sauce, or sausage that everyone forgot about.

What you will need for this recipe:

  • 4 large Peppers (Red, Green, Yellow, and/or Orange)
  • 1 lb Ground Meat (Beef, Chicken, or Turkey)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped sausage (any kind that you may have lying around in your fridge) for extra flavor and texture
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 3/4 cups of diced Onions
  • 1 to 2 cups of mixed veggies
  • 2 cups of cooked, day old rice
  • 1/2 a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce

This is what you do next:

  • Saute garlic and onions in a large skillet.
  • Brown meat in same skillet with a few tablespoons of oil.
  • Add chopped sausage and cook thoroughly.
  • Add mixed veggies and cook until tender.
  • Add Rice and break up clumps.
  • Pour your favorite spaghetti sauce in skillet.
  • Add Salt and Pepper to taste along with a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile,

  • Rinse and chop the top off the bell peppers.
  • Clean and remove seeds from the inside.
  • Stuff peppers with the rice mixture.
  • Pop in oven that has been preheated at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until bell peppers are tender.

Enjoy!

Optional: Sprinkle some parmesan or mozzarella cheese on top of peppers.