San Diego and San Francisco, California – 2016

San Diego

Elek and I arrived at the airport and went to baggage claim where we met Jim, Elaine, and Allison. This is the first time I have met Allison, my biological half-sister. She seems very put together and is very sweet. Elek and I went by Jim’s mom’s house and I met Jim’s brother, Craig. We spent a little time with Craig and Jim’s mom, Ruth and I took a tour of Jim’s childhood home, which reminded me of my Grandmother’s home. Elek and I were exhausted so we went to bed pretty soon.

The next morning we started packing for Campland. Check in was at 1 PM. We got one jet ski working, however, the other one was pretty much dead. Once we got to Campland Elek and I almost immediately took the jet ski out which was one of Elek’s favorite parts! Later we set up camp and the sleeping arrangements were a little tight but definitely doable. Elek and I shared a tent with Allison’s boyfriend, Chris. One really cool thing we saw each night was the fireworks from Sea World across the bay.

By the third night we were ready to go, though we got to do a lot of cool things there like rent a boat for half a day, ride our bikes around the place, eat some good food, etc. We played a lot of frisbee, football, and badminton.

After we left we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and my other sister Emily spent some quality time with us. What was really cool is that my sisters had a DVD of Dr. Horrible’s Sing A-Long Blog and we watched it the last night we were there. I’m a big fan of that.

It made me feel good that my sisters referred to me as their brother even though I’m their biological half brother.

Jim dropped Elek and me off at the airport where we took Virgin Airlines to San Francisco.

San Francisco

Monday Elek and I arrived in San Francisco and Nick picked us, Ben, and Luz up from the airport. We went back to Nick’s place and ordered Indian food which was delicious as usual. Elek is a fan.

Tuesday we walked through China Town and the Cable Car museum, which was awesome as it showed exactly how the cable cars work. We managed to go up to the 31st floor of the Westin in Union Square. A new Apple store was near by so we stopped in to take a look. We walked through Embarcadero, stopped in the Ferry building, and walked by the AT&T park. We took an Uber home and rested. That night we went to an awesome Thai restaurant called Hawker Fare which was very flavorful and spicy. We ate some ice cream afterward to counteract the spice.

Wednesday we ate breakfast and headed to an Afghan restaurant called Kamdesh to meet a highschool friend Mahendra. The food was spicy and very tasty. It’s the first time I’ve eaten that type of food. Next, we went to the Pacific Pinball Museum which was amazing! We spent an hour in there but could have easily spent 3 or more. We were planning on going to tour Berkeley but we were so tired we went back to Nick’s place and took a nap. Wed. night we went over to Jeremy Brown’s place in Castro, ate pizza, Elek played Portal 2, and we had some drinks.

Thursday morning we took the car to Twin Peaks which had a phenomenal view of the city! Afterward we found a parking place in Haight-Ashbury and wandered the streets where we got some good Cuban food at Cha Cha Cha. Next, we took a short walk through Golden Gate Park where normal park activities were occurring. We then drove down the twisty Lombard Street, which was cool to see again, another great view of the city!

Thursday night was a 21+ night. Luz was kind enough to watch Elek that night. We started out at Trick Dog who had a menu of presidential related drinks. Their drinks were pretty good. We met Chantelle there and then headed to dinner at El Techo. There was a wait so we went to a cash only bar, Doc’s Clock, across the street which reminded me of the P&H in Memphis. It also had a Ghostbuster’s pinball game. I think it was rigged and ate balls so fast. At El Techo we got a little bit of everything, but the carnitas were amazing! The restaurant is actually on the roof of a 4 story building so the view was really cool, especially at sunset. Once we finished dinner, we headed to another cash only bar called Make Out Room which had a pretty good DJ there. People were dancing and it seemed like it had a neat atmosphere. Chantelle had to get up for work in the morning so she left in an Uber and we made one last stop on the way home at Mission Bar. There are so many unique spots in San Francisco all within walking distance of each other! This was just one small part of the city.

Friday Nick took us to the airport where Elek and I barely made it on our plane because it was overbooked by 40 people. We finally made it home at about 11:30 PM Fri night and crashed. Overall it was a great trip!

New Music Worth Remembering

I find it difficult to keep track of songs I really enjoy so that’s why I post them on my blog. Here are a few I hope others than just me will enjoy.

Paul Thomas Zito – Cosmonaut (feat. Phil Jacoby)

Social Norms – Next to You

Milo Greene – 1957

Else – Mirage (Chill)


Disney World and Universal Studios

I finally got to take Elek to Disney World and Universal Studios. It turns out we picked a great time to go, after holiday crowds and after the cheer leading competition in the winter. We went to Disney World from Jan. 1 – Jan. 4. The crowds were there, but not enormous and the weather was pretty cooperative. On average it was in the mid 60’s each day. It sprinkled a couple of days, but we had rain jackets. I think I was over-prepared. I had a small first aid kit, disposable ponchos, two pairs of tennis shoes each, blister bandages, some stuff to reduce friction, among other things. I barely used these things at all.

We stayed in the All-Star Movies resort in the Mighty Ducks building. It was nice enough since we weren’t there that often. Buses went back and forth to each of the Disney kingdoms about every 20 minutes which made it convenient. We typically would go in the morning, come back after lunch to rest up and then head back out around 5 for dinner and the evening. I highly recommend staying “on campus”, though I would probably opt for the Art of Animation resort next time.

We purchased both a meal plan and the photo package. If your child doesn’t care about the characters (mine doesn’t) then don’t get the photo package. Also while the meal plan saves you some money, it reduces the number of options you can get in each place. If I did it again I probably wouldn’t have gotten the meal plan. We didn’t have either of these at Universal Studios.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom

We got to the Magic Kingdom around 3:30 PM Jan. 1 since Delta changed our flight to get in at 2 something instead of 10:00 AM. Spend most of your time in the Magic Kingdom. The highlights there were Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Thunder Mountain, and the people mover in Tomorrowland. We also went on the Jungle Cruise which was full of puns, the Liberty Square Riverboat, Stitch’s Great Escape, the Haunted Mansion (which I remember), Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, Swiss Family Treehouse, Tomorrowland Speedway, and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. Elek’s favorite there was the Barnstormer, which is a smaller roller coaster. Every night there is a massive fireworks display and we witnessed several parades with all kinds of characters. Once you learn how to use the fast passes they’re a really good idea and a huge time saver. We ate at Tony’s (Lady and the Tramp), which was pretty good.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We came here Jan. 3rd and saw the Indiana Jones stunt show, Muppet*Vision 3D, went on the Great Movie Ride, and went on Star Tours a couple of times which was my favorite there. That night we ate at the Sci-Fi Diner which was really cool and I highly recommend it!

Disney’s Epcot

Elek and I went on Mission Space first. We did the low intensity which was nothing so we thought we would try the high intensity. Well Elek almost lost his breakfast as it was really intense! The other rides we rode were Journey Into Imagination With Figment, Spaceship Earth, and Test Track. Unfortunately Soarin’ was closed for refurbishment. Elek absolutely loved the Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure where it was like a mystery/scavenger hunt around the different countries in Epcot. The firework show here was amazing! We ate at Teppan Edo in Japan and it was really good. I got the sake flight which only reaffirmed the fact that I like dry sake.

We then took an Uber to our other resort which was called Cabana Bay. It was retro and very cool! They had a large (heated) pool, water slide, and hot tub.

Universal Islands of Adventure
Elek really enjoyed the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade, the Flight of the Hippogriff, and the Jurassic Park Discovery Center. We of course had to buy a “magic” wand and perform the spells at shop windows throughout Hogsmeade. I think this was Elek’s favorite part. Keep in mind in order to ride the train you will have to get park-to-park with your tickets. Elek played one of those basketball fair games and made two out of three shots so he won a Jurrasic Park basketball! We ate outside of the park at Yard House for dinner which has a massive selection of beers on tap and food. I got the short rib tacos and they were amazing.

Universal Studios
This was our last day and the Harry Potter world was incredible! There were many more spells to perform. The dragon above Gringotts breathes fire every so often. We rode on the E.T. Adventure and Elek rode the Woody Woodpecker roller coaster about 20 times. We both tried some butterbeer ice cream which was really good. I think by this time we were both pretty tired and ready to come home. I was disappointed that the back to the future ride wasn’t still there, but I did manage to get a picture of the car.

New Music Discovery for July

Miami 2015

Miami 2015

So Allegiant is a relatively new airline which offers cheap flights to a few destinations from Memphis including Miami. My friend Ruth is living down there so I thought I would try out Allegiant air and visit June 26-29. Turns out the airline is totally a la carte. Everything cost more. It also seems that they’re consistently running late as well. My flight on the way back was delayed 6 hours.

Anyway while in Miami we went to one of the many beaches. I actually managed to get some sun and we saw a 3 foot long iguana in the wild which was unexpected. We also saw some needle fish and I managed to step on some creature (we both freaked out). We visited the Wynwood district that is currently being gentrified. The graffiti on the walls was excellent! We went to a few places including one called “Shots”. This place had various things including hookah rental, two women dressed as unicorns selling jello shots, and about 3 separate bars with a live DJ who felt the need to ruin the music by constantly speaking into the microphone.

Ruth has a relatively new, very cute dog named Phoebe whom I got along well with. I met a bunch of Ruth’s friends who were all cool. Speaking of that, I need to check with Liz to find out the best dates to try to go to Disney.

Miramar Beach 2015

Miramar Beach

So several of us Cooper Young neighbors decided to go to the beach June 6-13. We chose a large house in Miramar Beach which is right next to Destin, FL. It turns out there were some other Cooper Youngers down there so we all got together and had a party. Many rounds of Cards Against Humanity were played. Each couple took turns cooking for everyone, which worked out pretty well. The last full day we went to Big Kahuna’s water park which was a lot of fun. Elek and I rode everything except the black slides. Good times with good people!