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Death Valley National Park in Monochrome

On my first post of Death Valley National Park, the pictures were taken from a cellphone and I edited them using a cellphone app Snapseed. This time, the images are from my DLSR. This is Death Valley National Park, one of the top locations I’ve ever visited. I want to present it the right way with what I got.

It was a constant battle whether I should present the pictures in a color or monochrome palette. I didn’t want to present it in B&W in the first place. Many have been successful with turning their DVNP pictures into B&W. I’m intimidated. I don’t know how they do it!?. Mine pales in comparison. With the images I got, the transition isn’t quite right in my humble opinion. When I posted The City of San Francisco in Monochrome I can proudly say that it’s the kind of setting that’s just the right fit for B&W, but it still honestly eats me that the original (with colors) were not presented. It is hard to present pictures initially in monochrome leaving behind the originals in mystery. Bottom line is that another post of a location I already previously presented… I really wanted it to be different. I decided to compromise…. So …

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The Sophomore Slump Recommends …

Movie: Crash – The ultimate success movie with ensemble cast and interwoven stories.

Recommendation Flashback: Blue Valentine –
Here is Ryan Gosling (back when he was un-Hollywood :) ) playing ukulele…

Music:  The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Retro R&B and neo-soul perfection. Oh Lauryn Hill… come back into the limelight.

Recommendaton Flashback: Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams
The song, however, is not from Heartbreaker, just a personal choice to introduce to you Ryan Adams… Here is Desire …

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This post is part of my monthly California post.

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The problem with showing original images together with the ones that are turned into B&W, revealing the true colors spoils the effect B&W pictures had…

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And then it dawned on me, whatever the dilemma is, however mediocre I present it …. This is Death Valley National Park. I can’t go wrong with Death Valley National Park. The images will speak for itself.

Unique California 2.0

Here are some of the most unusual, unique, weird, odd, out-of-this-world, one-of-a-kind, outlandish, and fun places in California.

From an out-of-place Hindu templeVenice Beach

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an outrageously decorated apartment of mystical creatures, to Frank Gehry’s unconventional methods of constructions and onto some of the most exotic places you’ll find in California.

Let’s start again with world renowned starchitect Frank Gehry.

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The Gehry Residence features fences that are out-of-place, unpainted wood, aluminum stack that doesn’t work, roofing materials that used as walls, oddly placed glass cubes, and other unusual designs. Gehry still lives in this house today.

If you think you can stomach this next one, you might wanna chew on it …

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In Downtown of San Luis Obispo, you can find an alley filled with bubble gums.

Bubble gum Alley

General Sherman

Where do you find the largest tree on Earth?

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General Sherman, the largest tree on Earth, can be found in Sequoia National Park.

In South Pasadena, you can find a pharmacy with adjoining vintage memorabilia store, bath and accessories store, soda, ice cream and coffee bar counter. It’s called …

Fair Oaks Pharmacy

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Laid scattered in Anza Borrego Desert State Park are these metal sculptures …

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… with dramatic desert settings all created by Ricardo Breceda.

Where do find the lowest point in North America?

THE Lowest point in North America: Badwater Basin in Death Valley NP

THE Lowest point in North America: Badwater Basin in Death Valley NP

Badwater Basin can be found in Death Valley National Park. You can find tons of interesting nature’s arts there in DVNP including Artist’s Pallet, Devil’s Cornfield, Twenty Mule Team Canyon, to name a few.

There’s a skull-looking jumbo rock…

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… in Joshua Tree National Park. You can find tons of interesting rock formations there.

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Can you see the guy?

We are getting too strange so I’m going to stop from here. If you’re intrigued by one of these odd places, either click to the ones I linked or try the Search tab.

Last Call …

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THE SOPHOMORE SLUMP RECOMMENDS

A flashback recommendations … I’ve already suggested this before but didn’t provided videos then …

Movie: DOUBT

My favorite is when late-Phillip-Seymour Hoffman yelled, “You have no right to act on your own … ” :D

All lead and supporting performances were nominated at the Oscars.

Music: Vampire Weekend

The album I recommended was the self-titled album Vampire Weekend.This video, however, is from the second album called Contra.

It’s a fun, fun, fun, fun video. Stick to the end, I love the bell poundings.

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Part 1 includes a binocular-shaped building, a house filled with graffiti, the last place in America, a yard full of junk arts, a painted mountain, a bunny-filled house, towers made of junks, and an apartment filled with mystical creatures decorations.

UNIQUE CALIFORNIA PART 1

My Amazing Race in California

Is everybody ready? Alright, let’s get this race started. The world is waiting for you….


Hold it! A little detour. :D

The Sophomore Slump Recommends

Music: Embrya by Maxwell – Nobody makes real Neo Soul music anymore. Thank goodness we have at least Maxwell’s music to go back to.

Remember this iconic MTV Unplugged performance? Here is Maxwell’s rendition of “This Woman’s Work” (not part of the album Embrya).

Movie: Blue Jasmine – Probably, arguably, the best female acting performance of the decade by far. Cate Blanchett is incredibly mesmerizing.


This is part of my once a month California post.

This is a redo of an older post, My Amazing Race (click here).

I used to watch The Amazing Race religiously before. The  I stopped for a very very long time. I probably just returned watching it again about a year and a half ago. I started downloading seasons that I missed. I wasn’t actually aware that I’ve already been to some of The Amazing Race’s starting lines in California were.

Out of the 25 seasons of The Amazing Race, 15 of it started in California. And out of those 15, I’ve been to 9 of them. Not bad eh. :) Two I included are general areas which are Santa Barbara and Pasadena. All others are exact locations. The only one that I actually became aware of because of the show was Hsi Lai Temple.

On my mark, travel safe, Go!

Season 5: Santa Monica Pier

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Season 12: The Playboy Mansion

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Season 13: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

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Season 18: San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, Palm Springs

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Season 19: Hsi Lai Temple

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Season 20: Santa Barbara

Season 21: Pasadena

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Season 22: Griffith Observatory

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Season 23: Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio

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The Amazing Race premieres February 25 this year.

Next month’s California post: Street Art in California

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park / #323

This is like a 3D post. ;) My apology if it makes you dizzy. :D


The Sophomore Slump Recommends

Movie: Persepolis – This animated movie for adults is full of quirks amidst serious historical events. It follows the autobiography of Marjane from childhood during Islamic Revolution all the way to adulthood where she needed to find herself where to fit. It’s a film that is hard to forget.

Music: Sea Change – We all know Beck who gave us psychedelic music like 90’s hits “Loser” and “E-Pro”. But in the beginning of 2000’s, he surprised everyone when he did a complete 360 and gave us one of the most heartbreaking albums of the decade with “Sea Change”.

Here is one of my most favorite album-openers, “Golden Age”. Hear also, on your own, “Guess I’m Doing Fine”.


My schedule was early. I still had one day before I had to meet friends in Yosemite so I decided to drive ahead. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are on the way anyway.

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What’s gotten to me when I drove all over California for 3 weeks was that traveling became a sign of success for me. This is what I love to do. So when I do it I feel more accomplished.

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In life, school, work, etc, when all the glory things are in front of me I tend to ask myself, “How did I get here?”. I tend to look back the way I was.

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You might not see it, but there are ancient writtings on this rock. It’s okay if you don’t see it. It’s misspelled anyways. :) I kid, i kid.

I was a scrawny little kid in the Philippines whose source of happiness came from simple things like just plain playing outside. I had no fancy toys, maybe except Lego. My shoes were my older borther’s old shoes. I had to walk more than a mile to get to my school. Things like that make me look the way I am now, and feel proud of myself.

General Sherman: THE largest tree of the world

It’s so cool to be in Sequoia National Park. You get to be among the giants of trees. :)

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Tunnel Rock

Nobody, the people who knows and knew me, would not imagine me lasting on this job that I do now. I’m not the most serious, not the most responsible, and not even the most outspoken. I am at the tenth year of my work, and happily assigned currently in Greece.

image Whatever you do, never give up. By being prudent, practical or wise, you can give up on one thing but never surrender completely. Exhaust all your options, continue however silly you look and fight to the bitter end. When someone said you can’t, screw that person. :) Erase that. Go see and prove it yourself whether you can or cannot do something. But, I’m begging you, do not have a “never give up” mentality solely because of pride.

THE Largest Tree on Earth - Sequoia National Monument

General Sherman: THE Largest Tree on Earth

I know it’s not a diploma. It’s not a promotion. It’s not an ideal woman I get to be with. :D Traveling is a big part of my accomplishments. I feel the high. I feel lucky. I feel successful when I travel.

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And when you’re really really in dire situation and heavy things are weighing on you, forget about pride. Please, when you have a problem, seek other people. Don’t bury yourself by solving your problem just by your own because of your pride. I just want to throw it out there. Because a lot of people do dig themselves deeper all because of pride. We all have problems. We all make mistakes. People need people.

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Kings Canyon is in conjunction to Sequoia National Park. I spent exploring most of the day in the latter. Most areas in Kings Canyon are inaccessible during winter.

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High Sierra Mountains as seen from Kings Canyon Overlook

I have a strong desire for traveling. This one and the one 2-weeks travel around that I did 2 years ago, I Nike just do it. I made zero reservation. No concrete plans. I was budget traveling. You gotta take risks sometimes. Sometimes. And inconvenience is nothing on me. Been there, done that.

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park

One last thing. If you think you have a problem, think that things can be worse. Tomorrow is a brighter day. If that next day tops yesterday, the next day is even brighter. Why? Because you are still there! You have hope. You got time to refocus, adjust, or change. Some times, laugh at your problems. Maybe that’s a solution. You can always look back at the things you’ve done and accomplished. Look around you and see what you have. Then think what others don’t have.

Never completely give up.

This post is part of Special Reports. For more of Special Reports, click (here).

Death Valley National Park

Let me tell you now. Death Valley National Park is easily an Absolute Must Visit for me.

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The Sophomore Slump Recommends

Movie: Finding Nemo – Still remains to be my most favorite animated movie of all time.

Music: Yankee Foxtrot Hotel by Wilco – This is one of my top three albums of 2000’s.

And since I’m now here in Greece, this video I found uses one of the album’s songs as a soundtrack to a short created by an Athens-based director. Here is “What is that?”. The song, Pot Kettle Black, is one of my ultimate best album tracks of all time. I never get tired of this song.

You GOTTA watch this one….


Death Valley National Park is absolutely spectacular! There are many attractions where you can just drive by or walk and hike, and explore!

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Driving around the desert is so cool too. You can see miles and miles and miles and miles of nothing. See this next picture … you can see this endless road to the dot…

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Death Valley is a nature art museum. Mother Nature did an incredibly great job being an artist in this part of the Earth.

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Artist Palette

Many of you know how big of a fan I am when it comes to awesome rock formations. So Death Valley NP really delighted me right off the bat.

Twenty Mule Team Canyon

Twenty Mule Team Canyon

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Twenty  Mule Team Canyon

Mind you, I was only here for one full day and I saw so much of its breathtaking and, not to mention, interesting landscapes.

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Devil’s Cornfield

Natural Bridge Canyon

Natural Bridge Canyon

I got to walk on the lowest point of North America.

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin

I hiked some of the trails. And even though I came here during winter to avoid extreme heat of the desert, weather here is still a kicker esp. when you hike. I have learnt to bring enough water and gear up for this occasion. :D ;)

Trail to Golden Canyon

Trail to Golden Canyon

Trail to Golden Canyon

Trail to Golden Canyon

I recommend ending the day in Mesquite Sand Dunes to catch its dramatic color.

Mesquite Sand Dunes

Mesquite Sand Dunes

I took more pictures with my DSLR but the charger and a cord I need to upload got to my shipped boxes so I have to wait long for the shipment to arrive here in Greece. But for now, I think these cellphone pics will suffice. Til then, see you for more of one of the best California travel destinations I’ve been to.

Last Call…

i started pointing the cellphone camera direction to the sky. And when I turned around, next thing I saw, everyone was doing it too :D

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Phoenix-looking cloud

 

#320

Before I leave California, here’s to show the places I’ve been to and seen along the way during my 3 weeks leave of absence.

I gave up the apartment and hit the road. I was practically living in my car.

I did stay in hotels three times – in 1) Amargosa, Nevada, 2) Lemoore, and when I came back to 3) Ventura. I also met with friends in Yosemite National Park in Christmas where we stayed in a cabin for 2 nights. Then I visited my parents in Fremont (30 mins South of San Francisco) came New Year’s and stayed there for about a week. Then I stayed with a friend for 2 nights coming back from my NorCal.

Other than that, some nights I stayed in parking lots sleeping in my car. :D For showers, Pilot/Flying J Travel Center (cheap gas here) have it for $12 (expensive shower though). Some days, I just skip it. :D :P I brushed my teeth every day and night.

I was budget traveling too. Any meal I got never reached $5. The best deal was Subway’s Meatball Sub for $2 during that time. ;) Plus, Subway always have at least one plug where I can charge my cellphone. ;)

Ow, and I didn’t GPS. I only rely heavily on my driving awesomeness, not-so-reliable sense of direction, and a map. I only use the google map on the cellphone when I get completely out of direction, which I did a lot of times. :D

That’s life on the road for yah. :)

It’s a great trade-off for me … just look at my rewards …

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Shri Swaminarayan

Metal Sculptures in Anza Borrego

Metal Sculptures in Anza Borrego

Red Rock Canyon State Park (Kern County)

Red Rock Canyon State Park (Kern County)

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park

THE Lowest point in North America: Badwater Basin in Death Valley NP

THE lowest point in North America: Badwater Basin in Death Valley NP

Phoenix-looking cloud in Death Valley NP

Phoenix-looking cloud in Death Valley NP

Clouds over a Mountain in Amargosa, Nevada

Clouds over a Mountain in Amargosa, Nevada

The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada

The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada

Pismo Beach Pier

Pismo Beach Pier

I saw some orple look-alikes! And there’s one particular blogger who might be surprised to see this – Marcy, an orplekeeper.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here is her blog – orple.net . The Sophomore Slump actually became a part of it – http://orples.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/the-orples-go-to-california/

Mission San Gabriel Arcangel

Mission San Gabriel Arcangel

THE Largest Tree on Earth - Sequoia National Monument

General Sherman, THE Largest Tree on Earth – Sequoia National Park

High Sierra Mountains in Kings Canyon National Park

High Sierra Mountains in Kings Canyon National Park

High Sierra Mountains in Kings Canyon National Park

Before Sunset before entering Kings Canyon National Park

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

450 Sutter Street. A tower building in San Francisco with Neo-Mayan designs

450 Sutter Street. A tower building in San Francisco with Neo-Mayan designs

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San Francisco

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Madonna Inn

Seen from Pablo Robles - You can see these closer when you take 41 on the way to Fresno.

Seen from Pablo Robles – You can see these mountains closer when you take 41 on the way to Fresno.

Shell Beach

Shell Beach

All images are taken with Samsung Note 3.

My car actually broke down at the last stretch, which was in Pismo driving back to Ventura. After a night of googling research of what to do to the car, I made it all the way back, safe and sound. :)

I will turn Death Valley National Park and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks into posts. By the time I publish my next post, I will be (knock on wood) in Greece.

California has been a blast! I wasn’t supposed to be here. But after 3 years, I am so glad, so so glad, that I get to come back here and explore this most diverse place I’ve ever been.

Starting February, I will have a once-a-month California recap post. Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone who has followed me in my California travels through this blog.

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The Sophomore Slump Recommends:

Movie: Garden State – Charming, delighful, and just sweet-natured film.

For those who have seen the movie, I’m sure you remember this famous line, “This song will change your life … ”

… which brings me to ….

Music: Chutes Too Narrow by The Shins– Their lyrics are whoa-deep, eloquent, and witty. And their music is an overall feel-good sound. My bet for the best track is the album opener “Kissing the Lipless”.

P.S. The song on the video is “Caring is Creepy”, off of the album Oh, Inverted World. The Shins gave us three outstanding albums last decade.

I also recommend the entire Garden State Soundtrack album. It actually won both Grammy and Oscar awards.

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FEATURED BLOG

My hats off to this blogger for visiting all of the 21 Missions scattered all over California. Here is tieshka of Living and Dreaming in the Southbay. <- Cilck here.

The City of San Francisco (in Monochromes)

I don’t know what to make of San Francisco’s Union Square. I guess there is just so much to see. Lots of varieties and diversity. And that makes San Francisco one of its characters.


The Sophomore Slump Recommends

Music: This is Happening by LCD Soundsystem They only made three albums, and they decided to call it quits. Many thinks it’s wise. They have clean records. All three albums are critically acclaimed, always appearing on top of year-end lists. But I am not one who accepted their quick exit to making music, and still hoping for more.

I think you are going to enjoy this Spike Jonze directed fun, very fun, music video…

Movie: Clerks – Black and White awesomeness, eloquent writing… very funny movie.


Warning: There is an overload of pictures on this post. All images are taken with a cellphone, Samsung Note 3.

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I only went to watch an independent film without even realizing that I was already at the Union Square in San Francisco. I even walked around not knowing it until only when I got to Macy’s that it became clear to me that this really was a familiar place about 10 years ago. :)

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There’s so much of everything. I guess that’s what you really get when you’re in a big city. Especially a city like San Francisco.

Kids laying on a grass, a house of worship, and a tall modern building

Kids laying on grass, a house of worship, and tall modern buildings

I saw a lot of arts. Even the stores. They seem to have competing art exhibits.

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Nike Store

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450 Sutter Street Building is a medical building. But wait, it’s a historical skyscraper with Neo-Mayan Art Deco…including a majestic ceiling inside it.

If you happen to get here, try walking around Yerba Buena Center for Arts. There’s lot of cool architecture and art displays.

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Right by the picture above, there’s a place for cards and chess players.

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Across Yerba Buena (and around) are more interesting architectures…

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The Museum Store

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I actually find it much like a modern-day Rome. The buildings are incredible. San Francisco is so rich in arts and architecture. I love that about it.

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And in the midst of it all are the people, the peculiar and the mundane…

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Ice skate rink in front of Macy's

Ice skate rink in front of Macy’s

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There’s so many people. Driving there is, well, awful. Then big buildings. Big cities can get so dizzingly overwhelming. But you can always find serenity.

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Then there’s me, a tourist who took so many pictures and wonders why nobody “seems” to bother about the great arts and architecture of San Francisco. Everyone is minding their own business, I guess.

I actually went here twice. One by myself. The second with my parents and an aunt. Seen are Yerba Buena Center for Arts, 450 Sutter Street, Chinatown, Pyramid Building (the tallest in SF), and The Museum Store.

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