travel

year30, writing, travel

The Grand Move: Updates on the road, Days 9 to 12

Day 9: San Antonio to Austin, TX

The only real reason we decided to put San Antonio on our itinerary was because I insisted on seeing a live San Antonio Spurs game. Since we've successfully checked that off our list, we decided to leave town and head to Austin, where there's a lot more happening (read: FOOD). Before we left, though, we made sure we paid San Antonio proper homage and went to its downtown area.

Downtown San Antonio

We did part of the River Walk, which was expertly laid out and connected. We didn't really take a lot of photos while we were there (at least I didn't, maybe J did), but here's a quick look at the map, courtesy of San Antonio River Walk's official website:

 We only did the loop part of the River walk, shown on  this map .

We only did the loop part of the River walk, shown on this map.

We passed by the Alamo and took around 20 minutes to breeze through the exhibit. We weren't allowed to take photos, so if you want to find out what's there, you'd have to look it (J's favorite line to get out of photography duty: "You can Google better images of ______ than I can take, babe!") up or go there yourself. Or you know, YouTube.

Food and drink (San Antonio)

For lunch, we ate at El Milagrito Restaurant for our first Tex-Mex in Texas. J got the chipotle enchilada (it was fine), and I got the lengua with ranchero sauce, which I would have enjoyed, had I not bit into the random green pepper that came with the dish. My tongue burned for the next couple of hours and I couldn't eat anything for a few hours. Lesson: DO NOT bite into an unidentified garnish from the pepper family.

Road trip discussions

Before zoning out on a few albums for our short drive to Austin, I told Jason about an article I read compiling some of television's worst moments this year and the fact that it included the Family Guy / The Simpsons crossover episode. While I liked both shows separately for different reasons, J admitted to liking Family Guy better. "Family Guy is just smart funny, like, continuous streams of laughter funny. The Simpsons just makes me chuckle for a short time like, oh haha that was funny." I haven't seen an actual episode of the new generation The Simpsons, so I can't really refute him; I mainly remember loving The Simpsons when I was 7 or 8. I also find the jokes on Family Guy a tiny bit more relevant. I just hate it when they waste ten or so minutes on a fight between Peter and the damn chicken.

 UGH I hate it so much. J, on the other hand, finds this utterly hilarious.

UGH I hate it so much. J, on the other hand, finds this utterly hilarious.

Playlist

We decided to do whole albums and chose one each. We have impeccable taste, if I say so myself. My pick [1] and his pick, consecutively:

Austin Accommodations

Centrally Located Private Cottage in Austin

Cabin in Austin, United States. This cute little backyard cottage promises to make your Austin visit comfortable, convenient, and because it's away from the street and in my backyard, really private. Step inside the little green cabin to a large comfortable bed, kitchenette, ful... View all listings in Austin

Our Airbnb host, Marcos, was very thorough. He made sure he sat us down before even showing us the small cabin he had in his backyard so he can discuss the map of the neighborhood.

This rental was within walking distance to the South Congress (SoCo) and South First St. (So-Fi) areas, so we had lots to do! We walked along So-Fi, which Marcos called the "funky street" (SoCo was the "trendy street") to try and get our bearings and find some place to get merienda or drinks, and we were both overjoyed to discover that this street was Food Truck City. Definitely coming back for lunch one of these days.

For the moment, though, our mission was to find me some margaritas, so we went to a place called Polvos, which the Web hails as the place to get margaritas in our vicinity. Verdict: So good and OMG SO STRONG. I don't even know how I managed to drink two. J only had one and had to switch to beer because the margaritas were starting to give him acid reflux.

By the time we finished our drinks, we felt so woozy and tired. We walked all the way back home, where we instantly zonked out.

Day 10 to 12 in Austin: Holy briskets, Batman! (and the art of pigging out while on tour)

Seriously, I don't think there's any point trying to break down what our days were like in this fair city in full detail, the ways I usually do with this series of blog posts, because if we were being completely honest, when we weren't busy working over our computers (UPDATE: My Surface Pro 3 is holding up, yay![2]), all we thought about was food and all we did was eat. So pardon me if I skip all my usual mumbo jumbo and just hone in on all the food we've tried during our visit, and share our verdicts.

Shawarma Point

We took a quick drive to the food truck area we chanced on yesterday to see what's up, and this was the only one of two that were open for lunch. Jason got the falafel shawarma and I got the beef/lamb plate.  OF COURSE I had to get it in #BrownPeopleSpicy. Verdict: Despite having a hashtag that appealed to me, we were both disappointed. J says his falafel wasn't that great, and my beef/lamb combo meat was just dry and almost tasteless. Nothing has beaten Shawarma Snack Center in the Philippines for me when it comes to shawarma, I think. Damn, I miss living across SSC. We both do. The only good thing about that meal was the refreshing Crush soda. 4 /  10 for both shawarmas.

The Blue Ox [3]

This place actually looked amazing - the ambiance felt right for a night-time food truck and the atmosphere was definitely conducive to stuffing our faces with brisket and beer. We shared a half pound of brisket with a side of slaw.

The set came with white bread - which we assume was for making sandwiches - but we decided to get rid of the distraction and just focus on the meat. Verdict: The meat was pretty good - we chose the fatty part of the brisket, which made it all the more flavorful. The slaw wasn't really slaw and more like a pile of shredded cabbage - maybe we really were meant to assemble the plate into sandwiches. 7 / 10 for the brisket, 3 / 10 for the slaw. In J's opinion, San Jose's Bray Butcher Block & Bistro in San Pedro Square still had the best slaw he has ever tasted, and that says a lot. He's a coleslaw connoisseur.

Mellizoz Tacos

We originally wanted to get some of their fancier tacos on the menu, but at the time we were there, they only had three options available. J ordered the Old School (ground beef, spinach, tomato, cheddar cheese) and I got the Padre (braised carnita pork, avocado, pineapple and salsa fresca).

Verdict: While J thought his taco was just OK, I was flipping out over mine - the avocado, pineapple, salsa, and pork on a soft taco just meshed well together. It's something I would definitely try to make at home. 5 / 10 for the Old School, 9 / 10 for the Padre.

Gourdough's

I have wanted to get a big-ass donut from this food truck ever since we saw its sign our first day in town, but J thought it was too giant for me to eat alone (I obviously have the more active sweet tooth). But since Mellizoz was right next to Gordough's and I really, really wanted to try one, we decided to get something small at Mellizoz to make room for dessert. We decided on Funky Monkey (grilled bananas, cream cheese icing, brown sugar). Verdict: It was so goddamn good, I may have had a tiny orgasm. Together, I think we decimated the huge donut (bigger than J's fist) in less than 5 minutes. 10 / 10 seriously.

Brown's Bar-B-Que

We of course ordered brisket. Note: Austin is known for beef barbecue, so if you can, always order brisket. We had cabbage and mac and cheese for sides, but they were both standard so I'll skip rating them (although I enjoyed the cabbage more). Verdict: This is a smidgin better and tastier than the brisket from The Blue Ox - the meat was just more moist and had the sauce better integrated. 8 / 10 for the brisket (always get at least half a pound to share with someone, more if you're hungry).

Franklin Barbecue
Anyone I asked about food recommendations told me to make sure I try the brisket at Franklin's, but to note that it's so damn popular, that if you do decide to go, you need to go go fifteen minutes earlier than your original plan. Let me put it another way: Restaurant opens at 11 AM, but people start lining up at 9 AM that by the time you get served, they may have already run out (they remain open only until they still have meat to sell). We get there at 9:20-ish and already there was a huge wait. I sat on the floor on top of my extra fleece jacket and read Amy Poehler's Yes Please on my Kindle; J went back to the car to get some work done. By 10:48 the people started getting out of their seats (there were some available for customer use) because the restaurant was about to open. I was so excited.

Get this, though. We lined up at 9:20 AM. We got to the actual counter to place our order inside by 1 PM. Sounds over-the-top crazy, sure, but let me tell you, it was worth it. The pit master up front cut up some brisket for us to taste prior to ordering, and just from that one bite, I had an out of body experienvce. IT WAS SO GOOD. The smoking was perfect. The flavor was amazing. And it was so, so juicy. We ordered a pound of brisket to share and told them not to give us bread anymore. For sides, we got a pint of coleslaw (we love our slaw) and loaded up on raw onions and pickles available at the condiments section.

This is my third paragraph talking about Franklin, which means one thing: It was definitely the highlight of our visit to Austin, at least for me. I'm happy we were able to make this excursion happen, on our last day in town. Verdict: The slaw was just basic, but better than most. The meat? A perfect 10 / 10, 11 / 10 even. The barbecue-crazy foodie in me was incredibly thrilled to be treating her palate to something so heavenly. Along with Franklin's three sauces, it was just the perfect sendoff meal for us vagabond travelers and brisket tasters.

[1] Some of the tracks on this album are not available on Spotify. Bummer.
[2] Thanks to J, I have developed an addiction to playing Pyramid Solitaire on my computer. I. CAN'T. STOP.
[3] Monday seemed to be a barbecue holiday of sorts. Most of the places we wanted to try were closed that day.

year30, writing, travel

The Grand Move: The official route

To those of you wondering if this trip we're taking across the country is spontaneous and unplanned, the answer is, sort of. While we don't have reservations for places to stay or itineraries to follow prior to getting to our next stop, we are following a general route, which you can check out through the map below (click the image to enlarge).

I am happy to report that we are on schedule. As of this writing, we are currently in Austin, TX, our first of 4 days in the city. Our next stop is New Orleans, LA, but we'll probably take two days driving there (working in the AM, driving in the PM, sleeping at a motel).

Not accounted for on this map is our trip to Miami, FL after the holidays, where we'll be waiting out the winter for a couple of months. :)

year30, writing, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 8

Lubbock to San Antonio, TX

Road specifics

  • Weather: 47 F, 10 AM
  • Song most appropriate for current aroma: Smells Like Cow Spirit (Seriously, miles and miles of stinky fertilizer infiltrated our nostrils)

Route

Food and drink

  • Breakfast: Dunkin Donuts iced coffee (YES!), Jason - Boston Kreme Donut, Jam - Cronut

Verdict: Definitely not worth $2.50, J's donut was better at $1

  • Lunch/Dinner: McDonald's, because we needed something quick on both occasions, Jason - Big Mac both times, Jam - McDouble and Chicken nuggets (honey mustard sauce) consecutively
  • Snacks: Our off-brand treats, just as good as Pik-Nik and Cheetos
  • After game dinner: Went to a dive bar called Joey's and got beers and lemon pepper wings. By far the best lemon pepper wings we've had in a while. I totally recommend in whenever you're in San Antonio.

Random stuff

  • We usually get a magnet from every place we visit, but we neglected to get one from Santa Fe, which unfortunately started a trend of not bothering with it. J suggested we get them off eBay, because that's where all the souvenir shops get them, anyway.
  • J regaled me with his concise knowledge on why interstate highways exist. Short version: Back when war was rampant and only US highways were available, the government decided to erect sturdier and wider highways that went from east to west to allow the Army to transport their tanks back and forth a lot quicker. J explained that it's quite possible that the U.S. became the powerhouse country that it is now because of the interstate highways - it pretty much allowed for better and easier commerce and made everybody rich. Pretty cool.

First times

  • Both our first time seeing actual cotton plants. There were vast fields of cotton on our way out of Lubbock. "That's how they make your shirts!" - Jason
  • Both our first time seeing an NBA game live. #GoSpursGo!

Spurs vs. Timberwolves

This, in particular, was a dream come true for me. I've been a Spurs fan since 2003 and the prospect of seeing one of their games live was something I always knew I'd have to make happen. Thank goodness for this road trip - it enabled us to have enough excuse to go to San Antonio (to be honest, the only reason we would ever go to San Antonio would be to see a Spurs game) for a day. Totally worth it (never mind that the Spurs totally decimated the Timberwolves and that Ginobli and Parker weren't playing that day...I WAS THERE IN PERSON)!!!

year30, updates, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Days 6 & 7

Santa Fe to Lubbock, TX

Last moments in Santa Fe

Day 6, Thursday
Still had a pretty sucky time connecting to the Internet, but I wasn't going to give up on you just yet, Surface Pro 3. I believe in you! Since our Airbnb rental's "high speed Internet connection" wasn't living up to its promise, I decided to walk downtown to work from Starbucks - J decided to come with so we could have Subways for lunch [1]. And whaddayaknow, I've got working Wi-Fi! YES!!!

Starbucks had a crazy promo that I desperately wanted to win. I had two chances today and I won neither. Better luck next time!

IMG_0380.JPG

Had to work from the shared bench. I pulled out a power strip from my bag - an idea I got from a blog entitled, "How To Prepare For Comic-Con" that suggested to bring one with you since there aren't a lot of outlets at the convention center...quickest way to make friends, too! - that immediately amused the people I had to share my space with. One of them was a 20-something girl who probably spent no less than two hours talking to multiple people on the phone, disputing some sort of medical claim (Note: I need to work on my eavesdropping skills if I want to get in the live-tweeting-or-blogging business). It sounded super stressful - she left the coffee house without resolution.

Nothing else of note happened during my stay there - got a lot of work done, thank goodness. J picked me up for dinner and we went to a quaint little restaurant called Tune-Up Cafe.

Decided to sit at the bar and start off with some local beers. While waiting for our orders, a man approached the bartender, claiming to be a movie location scout asking permission to shoot some photos. J and I exchanged glances, and the bartender had the "it happens" expression on his face. Apparently Santa Fe is a popular destination for shooting films.

Food and drink

  • Lunch: [1] J really wanted fajitas again, but it had been cold and rainy, so the fajita man wasn't at his usual station. So we shared a foot-long honey oat, black forest ham, lettuce, onion, tomato with vinegar and oil. I'm starting to love Subway!
  • Dinner: Jason - chicken enchiladas, Jam - shrimp and halibut pasta

Watched some Property Brothers before bed. Man, I will really miss having HGTV.

Day 7, Friday
Last day in Santa Fe! Didn't get to go to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum, but we caught up with the fajita man so that was awesome! Got to try green chile stew, which was perfect for a chilly mid-day. Ate at the park.

We both worked for a few hours at Starbucks; still didn't win the damn contest. Random thought: There are so many homeless folks in Santa Fe...how are they managing the cold? J thinks they are only stopping over on their way to somewhere warmer. And besides, there are homeless people almost everywhere.

Food and drink

  • Lunch: Jason - beef fajitas, Jam - green chile stew

Green chile stew, at the park. #vsco #VSCOcam #lunch #santafe

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

  • Dinner: Went to a restaurant called Whole Hog Cafe (which I thought was an AWESOME name!) and got the 1/2 slab with high expectations.  

Verdict: Underwhelmed. Coleslaw was only so-so (Best is still from Bray Butcher Block & Bistro at San Pedro Square Market in San Jose) and the sauces weren't that great, except for the #3. I'm really looking forward to the barbecue in Texas and St. Louis.

En route to San Antonio, TX

We hit the road at 6 PM Mountain Time, decided to stop in Lubbock at midnight Central Time (San Antonio is 10 hours away). This was our view for 5 hours or so:

It was so boring that we had to up our podcast/playlist game just to stay awake. We listened to episode 10 of Serial and had a heated discussion about Adnan's lawyer's incompetence. It's funny how the recordings shared through this podcast made these lawyers sound so bad at their jobs, they're not at all like the polished actors who play lawyers on television. Anyway, despite the fact that this episode had cast a bad light on the defense, there was no doubt about it now, what this show is trying to say: there definitely wasn't enough evidence to put Adnan in jail. </end-of-rant>

After Serial, we listened to J's old iPod whose tracks I won't list, apart from this one Chemical Brothers track that awakened both of us in the middle of bumfuck Texas, where NOTHING was going on (I didn't even realize that we already crossed over to Texas):

Accommodations for the night

Motel 6. No comment, just here to sleep.

year30, updates, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 5

More on Santa Fe

Morning

Waking up toasty next to the gas heater definitely has its perks, but it only takes about 5 minutes for me to feel the overall chill of Santa Fe's morning air...it probably was a bad idea to sleep in shorts with no socks. Must get a few more pairs of cute knee-high socks at Walmart/Target [1].

As I shower using scalding hot water, I am reminded of my days in Manila, taking baths by tabo using cool water. The idea of doing that here makes my insides quiver. I turn the heat up even more. Winter, here we come!

Oh, and for some reason, my morning migraine is a lot more intense here. Like, I didn't wake up because the sun hit my face or because J's alarm woke me up. I woke up because my skull felt like it was being sat on by three sumo wrestlers. J says I need to drink more water while we're here as high altitude makes you feel dehydrated quicker.

By the way, this is what our Airbnb rental looks like in the morning.

My complicated relationship with Windows laptops

I recently got a new laptop during Black Friday. It's sleek, shiny, sexy, and it bends in all sorts of ways. Take a look:

yoga 2 pro.jpg

Coming from a netbook, this is pretty much a dream. For a few hours, I enjoyed doing my work on it until we had to leave for The Grand Move. Then everything just went to the shitter.

It turns out, this fancy piece of machine is notorious for having horrible Wi-Fi problems, as in it won't ever connect to the Internet. It will give you access for a few minutes, but just when you start becoming happy that things are going your way, it drops off again. I run every troubleshooting app. I follow every tutorial I could find. Even J's computer wizardry falls short. Frustration city!

Finally, we decide to return my merchandise to Best Buy and switch brands all together. This is what we ended up getting just this evening:

I am pretty disappointed that I won't get a second try with the Yoga 2 Pro, but J explains that its Wi-Fi hardware is crappy - even the demo they have at Best Buy has a hard time connecting to the Internet.

Anyway, this is my second attempt at acquiring a better work machine. I am hopeful that this works out. I've always been a Windows gal, so I am especially rooting for the Surface Pro 3 to suit my needs without conking out [2]. Since most of our trip will actually be us working, I will probably have more updates to share in the days to come.

Pueblos everywhere!

This architectural style is something I am very fond of, which is why I was very excited about the prospect of visiting Santa Fe. The rounded and smooth corners, the earth tones, all of it just convey relaxation to me. For lunch, J and I decide to walk downtown to find a place to eat quickly, and on the way we see some cool pueblo style buildings and take photos of our favorites (click 'em - they blow up in size).

Food and drink

  • Lunch: Fajitas on the street. I had beef, J had chicken. Both were awesome. J asks, "What's the difference between a taco and a fajita?" I don't know, but I would eat both.
  • Dinner: Santa Fe Bite Restaurant, Jason - Street tacos, Jam - Green chile [3] cheese burger

[1] I don't online shop as much as I used to, but when I do, it's usually for stupid things like socks or $5 shirts.
[2] Don't get me wrong, I won't mind owning a Mac, but I don't want or need it right now.
[3] Green chile is a must for every visit to Santa Fe, apparently.

year30, updates, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 4

Flagstaff to Santa Fe, NM

Duration of trip: 5-6 hours

Playlist

J claims that he doesn't read my updates because of my uber-detailed listing of the songs we listen to. "Nobody cares about each and every track you play!" Music buff and wannabe DJ in me died, you guys. So instead of listing it manually here, I'm just going to embed the playlists I saved off of Spotify for our trip. Yep, I actually signed up for Spotify Premium so we could listen to songs offline/without Internet connectivity.

For this particular leg, we turned to this comedy compilation we begun listening to a few days ago, beginning with Robin Williams (may he rest in peace). People of note on this list that we ended up liking a lot are Wyatt Cenac and Maria Bamford. Skipped the non-spoken word tracks and Tig Notaro ("Too much cancer talk!" - Jason).

Food and drink

  • Snacks: Lay's Oven Baked barbecue potato chips, fresh persimmons courtesy of Tita Virgie (so good!)
    Dinner: Taco Bell, Jason - 5 tacos (1 of them originally mine), Jam - Crunch wrap supreme

Welcome to New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment

 Not my photo, filched from  here . We were going way too fast for me to be able to take my own, and it was already dark out.

Not my photo, filched from here. We were going way too fast for me to be able to take my own, and it was already dark out.

Not exactly sure why this is New Mexico's slogan. For the remainder of our time on the road to get to our Airbnb in Santa Fe, we saw nothing but flat lands and desert. Where are the unicorns and fairies? Must investigate further.

(Not too shabby) accommodations

Downtown Magical, Cozy Cottage in Santa Fe

House in Santa Fe, United States. This comfortable, stand alone cottage is equipped with everything you need to make your Santa Fe vacation fabulous! The property is conveniently located within a private compound and has parking for one vehicle directly in front of the unit. Once... View all listings in Santa Fe

More tomorrow!

year30, updates, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 3

Flagstaff to Grand Canyon

This update will be a short one since we've decided to spend one more night in Flagstaff so we can catch up on our remote jobs for the day. Yes, our life on the road accounts for employment! What, did you think we were slummin' it for the entire month? :-P

Playlist (here or YouTube, for those you can't find)

  • Carrie Underwood - Two Black Cadillacs
  • U2 - Beautiful Day
  • Jason Mraz - Long Drive [1]
  • Christina Perri - Burning Gold
  • Dishwalla - Counting Blue Cars
  • The Cranberries - Dreams
  • Deep Purple - Smoke On The Water
  • Chumbawamba - Tubthumping
  • The Wallflowers - One Headlight
  • Incubus - Drive
  • Donna Lewis - I Love You Always Forever
  • Jackson Browne - Running On Empty
  • Counting Crows - Mr. Jones
  • Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
  • The Postal Service - Such Great Heights [2]
  • Fun. - We Are Young
  • Florence + The Machine - Dog Days Are Over
  • The Who - Baba O'Riley

Temp outside the car en route to Grand Canyon: 14-18 F (shiiiiiit)

Miscellanoues information and thoughts
[1] Whaddayaknow, the first Mraz song I've played during this trip, three days in. THE RESTRAINT! 
[2] If you have to pick one, TPS version or Iron and Wine version?

In the spirit of keeping it short, here are some pictures! Grand Canyon, officially crossed off my bucket list. :)

Food and drink

  • Lunch: Jason - hotdog from Dog Haus, Jam - black forest ham 6-inch from Subway
  • Dinner: THIS 

Kicking off our barbecue tour the right way! #VSCOcam #vsco #bbq #barbecue #foodporn #dinner

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

Just in case it wasn't obvious, ribs are my kryptonite.

I am the walrus.

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

travel, updates, year30

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 2

Carson to Flagstaff, AZ

Taken on the State Line Arizona - California On I-40

Playlist (if it's not on here, check YouTube)

  • Seal - Crazy
  • Talking Heads - Road To Nowhere
  • Rusted Root - Send Me On My Way
  • U2 - Sweetest Thing
  • Dave Matthews Band - Ants Marching [1]
  • Ace Of Base - The Sign [2]
  • Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity [3]
  • Fleetwood Mac - Go Your Own Way
  • Coldplay - Don't Panic
  • Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life [4]
  • Eminem - Lose Yourself [5]
  • Mazzy Star - Fade Into You
  • MGMT - Electric Feel
  • PM Dawn - Set Adrift On Memory Bliss
  • Some Temple Pilots - Interstate Love Song
  • Gnarls Barkley - Crazy [6]
  • Blind Melon - No Rain
  • Sheryl Crow - Everyday Is A Winding Road
  • Violent Femmes - Blister In The Sun
  • War - Low Rider
  • The B-52's - Roam
  • Live - Selling The Drama
  • Semisonic - Closing Time
  • The Rembrandts - I'll Be There For You
  • Smash Mouth - Walkin' On The Sun
  • Whitesnake - Here I Go Again
  • Sufjan Steven - For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti
  • Cee Lo Green - Fuck You
  • Johnny Cash - Jackson
  • The Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
  • New Radicals - You Get What You Give
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
  • Modest Mouse - Float On
  • Amii Stewart - Friends
  • Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way
  • Stevie Nicks - Edge Of Seventeen
  • Tracy Chapman - Fast Car
  • Soul Asylum - Runaway Train
  • Steve Winwood - Higher Love

Food and drink

  • Lunch: Denny's, Jason - Southwest turkey sandwich, Jam - eggs in a basket with bacon and hashbrowns
  • Dinner: gyros and beer

Comedians we listened to

  • Aziz Ansari [7]
  • Dane Cook
  • John Mulaney
  • Jerry Seinfeld
  • Bill Burr [8]
  • Louis C.K.
  • Daniel Tosh [9]
  • Mitch Hedberg
  • Demetri Martin
  • Anthony Jesselnik
  • Jim Gaffigan

Miscellaneous information and thoughts
[1] Obviously my favorite DMB track, probably of all time.
[2] I consider this one of our "theme songs" (do we still call 'em that? sorry for the cringe-fest) because when I first told him I loved this song, he said he had the CD and actually played it in his car during one of his long road trips. + cool points, obvs.
[3] Belting this out while speeding down the highway that will lead us out of California has its benefits.
[4] One of my ultimate fave bands in the 90s! Made me remember a hilarious podcast J and I listened to a few weeks ago, about some guy who thought he was friends with 3EB lead singer Stephan Jenkins. Give it a listen:

[5] I need to re-memorize my Eminem raps..you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo!
[6] Do we still abhor Cee Lo Green for the rape thing?
[7][8][9] LOVE THEM. I really need to watch more stand-up, preferably live.

Other things

Experienced a 4.7 earthquake! It was CRAZY. We thought it was just a train coming through because it's pretty common to hear 'em coming in Flagstaff, but the whole room rumbled like hell. This is probably the first time I've ever felt an earthquake of this magnitude.

Flagstaff is pretty cool. Still has an out-of-nowhere feel to it, but it's not so bad.

updates, year30, travel

The Grand Move, Updates on the road, Day 1

Pleasanton to Carson, CA

Playlist (I encourage you to listen to any of these tracks on YouTube or our Spotify playlist)

  • Beck - Loser
  • Cake - The Distance [1]
  • AC/DC - It's A Long Way To The Top [2]
  • Gorillaz - Clint Eastwood [3]
  • David Gray - Sail Away
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Road Trippin'
  • Lionel Richie - Easy
  • Alice Cooper - School's Out
  • AC/DC - Back In Black
  • Of Monsters And Men - Mountain Sound
  • Wilson Pickett - Mustang Sally
  • John Mellencamp - Jack & Diane
  • Bruce Hornsby - That's Just The Way It Is
  • Dolly Parton - Jolene
  • Tom Petty - Free Falling [4]
  • Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World
  • Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros - Home
  • Kansas - Carry On Wayward Son
  • Billy Joel - Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
  • Elton John - Tiny Dancer
  • Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Dave Matthews Band - Ants Marching
  • Eagles - Take It Easy
  • Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer
  • Van Morrison - Into The Mystic
  • The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony

Food and drink

  • Lunch: McDonald's Jam - jalepeño double, Jason - Bic Mac
  • Dinner: Jam - Turkey kare-kare with shrimp paste (yaaay!), Jason - beef
  • Champagne bottle count: 4 before passing out in the afternoon, at least 6 more during dinner till 2 AM (family had more after we left) [5] [6] [7]

Miscellaneous information and thoughts:
[1] When J and I first started dating online, I asked him what song he sung in the shower (as in, what song do you know so well you know every lick and ad lib), and this was his answer.
[2] AC/DC is one of my most favorite bands ever. Sucks that their songs aren't on Spotify.
[3] J had one of this band's concerts on DVD, which I always thought was pretty neat.
[4] J has not seen Jerry Maguire, so even though I wanted to re-enact the iconic scene of Tom Cruise singing this in the car, he wouldn't have gotten it.
[5] We are DEFINITELY not as young as we thought we were.
[6] Naps are essential in a thirty-something's life.
[7] Yes, we are thirty.

To my family in Carson, thanks for seeing us off!

updates, year30, travel

The Grand Move: Consolidated updates of our last days in San Jose

The following are status updates posted on Facebook and Instagram regarding our big move to the east coast, after being in the Bay Area for three years. I figured I really should be a better website owner and actually fill mine with content.

November 20, 2014 at 6:00 PM (Thursday)

November 22, 2014 at 11:40 PM (Saturday)

  • Dinner, courtesy of random pantry contents: ground beef, white and black beans, kernel corn, coconut milk and curry, all mixed together. (Edible)
  • Boxes of clothes: Jason - 1, Jam - 5
  • Semi-argument over my excessive amount of shoes = 1
  • Number of steps: Jam - 5834 (indoor, boxing of shit), Jason - 16,400 (outdoor, carrying boxed shit to pod)

November 23, 2014 at 6:00 PM (Sunday)

Three years in a box. #vsco #VSCOcam

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

November 25, 2014 at 4:28 PM (Tuesday)

Attention, America! You have one more Asian driver to make fun of. ✊

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

November 26, 2014 at 10:07 AM (Wednesday)

The Grand Move, An Update: Today, we said goodbye to our junker, Jenny (to be said in your best Forrest Gump voice).

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

November 27, 2014 at 8:28 PM (Thursday)

Instant Thanksgiving for two, Safeway style. #thanksgiving #holiday

A photo posted by Jam Kotenko (@superduperjam) on

November 28, 2014 at 5:48 PM (Friday)

  • Time to completely empty the apartment, donate to Goodwill, and load the Jeep: 8.5 hours
  • Status: Sardine Can on Wheels (see pic)
  • Grumpiness level: fluctuating between 50-95%, but both on the fast decline since we're fuckin' done!
  • Hunger level: 100% for both
  • Time it took to wave goodbye to apartment: 5 seconds
lastdayinsanjose.jpg

Sayonara, San Jose! It's been real.

writing, travel

First time, first class

Back in 2009, on our way home to Manila from Los Angeles, mom and I got offered $800 each if we allowed ourselves to be bumped off from our current flight for one scheduled to leave the next day. At that point, I had been out of school for a week, and if  I delayed any further, I could potentially max out my absences for this one class (that only allowed one absence for the whole term) and fail. So half-heartedly told my mom I couldn't, and that was that.

Except that wasn't that. My mom - who believes in fate and seizing opportunities -  felt really bad for missing out on the chance. "If we took the deal, our trip to the U.S. would've been for free!" Multiply that guilt trip by about a hundred...it was that terrible for me emotionally. This was something I couldn't handle (add to the fact that the professor for the class I was so afraid to miss and fail didn't even show up, BAH!).

Anyway, when J and I got a similar deal from Delta on our way back to San Jose from Utah, I remembered my mom and her disappointed face. J left it up to me (the same way my mom did back then, although she probably didn't mean it) to decide which one of us would stay behind (Delta only needed one volunteer) to claim the $400 reward. Inasmuch as I hate being apart from J, I volunteered.

It wasn't so bad. I had my laptop, I had my Kindle, I had my meal voucher, and hey, I had my $400 redeemable air miles. Added bonus: the lady at the counter bumped me up to first class!

Okay, for those of you who frequently fly first class, you might say, meh, first class on Delta isn't that great...WHATEVER. First class is first class. And it was free. I wasn't going to complain.

I got assigned to seat 1A...the very first passenger in first class! The seats were extra cushy. The flight attendant wanted to take my jacket, but I refused. She also offered me a drink before take off, but I settled for water because I wanted to be sure I wasn't overstepping my privileges.

first drink in delta first class.jpg

After perusing the magazine and texting J in a panic to ask if I indeed, could order booze for free, I finally got the courage to order my very first alcoholic beverage on a plane flight (I usually choose cranberry-apple or ginger ale because it's free). It was great! The guy next to me made eye contact, and since it was my first time in first class, I decided to be friendly to this stranger and told him it was my first time in first class. He made me feel more at ease and said that he only flies first class sometimes and that it was always a good experience. "They might even serve us a free meal!"

The flight wasn't long enough to warrant a free dinner (plus I already had dinner paid for by Delta before boarding), but first class did get more amazing snacks. AND THEY KEPT THEM COMING. They also kept the booze coming. I had three vodka tonics that night, hell yeah!

All in all, it was a great experience. I probably won't buy a first class plane ticket on my own any time soon (can't afford it), but if I ever get offered a chance to stay behind for one, I won't hesitate. :-)

writing, travel

The vagabond traveler is back: The trip, plus some realizations

I've been gone for a while, so here's a quick recap of what I've been up to.  I'm also going to let y'all know what I am up to, now that I am back. 

Where I've Been

Orlando

What really set this 19-day vacation into motion for The Traveling Kotenkos was the marriage between Daniel and Kari.

This is Kari and Daniel.  They both went to the same college as J.

This is their adorable little baby Ana.  She is one of the cutest babies ever!

J & J.  Wow, we clean up good!

So anyway, we spent a couple of days in Orlando after the wedding and went to Universal Studios.  I probably would have had a more awesome time at Disneyland, but Disneyland didn't have The Wizarding World of Harry Potter...that made our choice way easier.  IT WAS AWESOME.  I would have asked J to go through the roller coaster again in TWWOHP, but he wasn't feeling that great (we had a lot to drink at the wedding) and I didn't want to do it by myself.  Ahhh, so THAT'S why Kari had a shitload of Tums in her wedding giveaways for us!  Should've had the common sense to bring it with us to the theme park.

Hogwarts.  It was pretty damn spectacular.

Washington DC

We flew to DC and stayed with Jason's brother for 2 nights.  J ensured that a day would be enough to see the sights in DC.  It would have been true, if it didn't suddenly rain later on in the day.  We did get to see the monuments and I did get to see a few of the museums at the national mall, but we weren't able to go into the Capitol (it was a Sunday) and there was no time to check out the White House.

J&J in front of the DC Capitol

We did get to meet up with my cousin Johnny, though, whom I have not seen in 3-4 years!  He's one of my most favorite relatives and it was really heartwarming to see him.  He almost didn't come, but I expertly guilted him into showing up by saying that it's been years and that all I wanted from him was a hug. :)  He brought his girlfriend with him.

Pennsylvania

My mother-in-law picked us up from Jason's brother's place so we can spend some time with her and my father-in-law in the house J grew up in.  It was my second time in their house and in their town.  I always enjoy visiting because it reminds me of the village I grew up in.  It was small enough for people to know people (if not personally, at least by face), it was peaceful, it wasn't congested or polluted.  In short, the ideal place to raise a family.  I know people from small towns have big dreams of moving to the city, and maybe when J was younger, he too wanted to see the world, but there's definitely a charm to the small town life that appeals to me greatly.  Maybe after J and I have exhausted our vagabond traveling ways and are looking to rest for a while, we'd reconsider our options.

We also took a trip up to Edinboro, J's college town.  On the way there I had a slight mishap with the convenience store door, rendering two of my toes on the right foot torn apart and bloody, which sort of limited our activities from then on, but it was okay because 1) We got to spend 2 nights in a quaint little cottage, and 2) I fished for the first time and caught one!  J's dad threw mine back into the lake though since it was too small, but now I sort of get the appeal of fishing: it's a quiet activity, you get to relax, and you get a sense of pride when you catch a lot of fish.  It also doesn't hurt that you have a yummy meal ahead of you.  It was good...the only thing missing was a saucer of soy sauce and calamansi. :P

J's college house.  Adorable, ain't it?

Chicago

We drove all day from Edinboro to downtown Chicago without a plan or a hotel reservation, which was a mistake, we later on learned.  We actually got in early thanks to J's steady driving, but we ended up having to look for a place to stay for 3 hours until we settled on an expensive Country Inn & Suites hotel suite (we actually had hotel points that would've enabled us to stay for free, but J decided to save those for a more worthy cause in the future).  Traveler tip: Finding a hotel in Chicago is tough shit...better visit with a reservation prior to arrival.

Anyway, like I said, we absolutely had no plans for our stay in the city, so we did the touristy thing first and visited The Bean, which was pretty cool for about a minute--there were just too many people taking photos and whatnot!

That's me and J in the middle, with someone random behind us.

We also walked around...a lot.  I would've wanted to go to the art museum because they were featuring works of Roy Lichtenstein (one of my favorites!), but being the frugal folks that we are, we decided on going to a free concert instead.  Apparently they do this a lot, hold free concerts in Millennium Park, in an area where people can bring their own food and drink and chairs and relax.  We weren't as prepared as some of the people there (a couple had wine in glasses, a table, and fancy takeout from some Italian restaurant), but it was okay....we laid on the grass and drank our beer in cans.  It was great.  The concert?  It was Haydn's The Seasons, and the entire time we had no idea what season was being performed.  We were so confused we decided to leave during intermission.

We also visited the Lincoln Park/Zoo (is this what Linkin Park is named after?), which was awesome, despite not being able to see any bears.  We also had a bunch of good food (ribs = my fave = always good)...didn't get a chance to try deep dish pizza though.  I know, tourist fail.

Our stint in Chicago ended with a night out with some of Jason's college friends.  We drank and barely had time to sleep off our hangover before we had to head to the airport for our next leg.  Traveler tip:if you plan to get shitfaced before a flight...DON'T DO IT.  It does not feel good.

Utah/Idaho

This was the last stop in our very long trip, and I was very excited to see it (Idaho especially) since J refers to it as one of his most favorite places he has lived in.  It was just bad luck that I had a hangover and that we had to go through a lot of bull to rent a car from the Salt Lake City airport (read: modus operandi where they say they don't have your reservation, but they have a more expensive rental for you...nevah mind!), but that didn't stop us from having a good time.  Not even the fact that we had to stay in a Motel 6 for a night..tired people are not choosy people, I've learned.  And it was okay after that anyway...  We saw a little bit more of Utah and checked out the Mormon towns, which are impeccable.  Never mind the fact that they have weird beliefs in magic underwear, they sure know how to keep a neat and orderly lifestyle!  I also found out that Mormons are required to keep a year's supply of food and other amenities in their household for, ya know, in case life as we now know it collapses (this idea I actually support, seems like a good idea to be prepared for an apocalypse).  And yes, I met up with my MrazWomen friend Whitney. :)

We also ended up staying at J's former workmate's parents' mansion house, where there were 4 dogs and 9 horses free to roam about.  It was scary at first, but it didn't take me long to love it and wish I had a horse of my own (or wish that I knew how to ride one on my own, without assistance).

Our last few days were spent with Jason's old boss/mentor and his wife, and we also had drinks with some of his other former workmates from back when he was an intern at the national laboratory.  One of his workmates, Randy, had a garden full of tomatoes, peppers, and other herbs, and visiting them made me want to have my own garden of eatables so badly.  It further solidified my resolve that one day, small town life will be ours, J's and mine.  If not here, then maybe the Philippines.

And have this view, if not right outside my window (wishful thinking), then maybe an hour's drive away...

What I've Realized: A Consolidation

To make this part easier, I'll do a list:

Although doing things spontaneously and "winging it" are two of my favorite past times, I shouldn't do those things when my own wedding is concerned (which will be in January 2013, in Miami...more on this real soon).  I definitely want a small wedding like Daniel and Kari's.  Instead of my old plan of planning things out 1-2 months before The Day, I'm going to try and get started as soon as possible.

I know jackshit about the US, about its history, and its geography.  As an aspiring US citizen, I really need to get crackin' and find out more.  I've asked J to find me the best and most comprehensive American History book he can find that's not so hard to read.  I'm also making it a point to look at the US map that's on our apartment wall right now so I can get a better sense of what state is in what area.

* Like I've said previously...I think I am in love with the small town life.  I am unexpectedly enjoying being a housewife as opposed to my old dream of being a full fledged career woman, and the more I think about it, the more I think it's okay.  Maybe the modern woman is regressing to the old days when women ruled the household since female empowerment has already been established and we've gotten a taste of gender equality.  Maybe I've just been unemployed (in the corporate setting) for far too long that I've grown accustomed to my laid back routine.  Whatever the reason, I think that down the line, I'd rather enjoy my life in simple ways rather than work myself to the ground and enjoy the fruits of my labor a little too late.  The small town life is so awesome...waking up with the sunlight streaming into your room because there's no smog blocking it, hearing animal sounds instead of traffic noise, eating vegetables right out of your garden, having a barn full of animals.  IT ALL SOUNDS AWESOME.  And really, as long as I have Internet, I can pretty much occupy myself with other things if I really need the distraction.  I can even get a job and work from home if it's necessary.  Which leads me to the next one...

Working only when necessary...THAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL.

We're too old to get too shitfaced....AND THAT'S OKAY.

So far, that's all I have.  I've uploaded photos of our trip on my Facebook account, so if you're interested, just check there.