Archive for the ‘Traveling’ category

Becoming a Dad – Labor Day Getaway

September 7, 2009

I’m not good at surprises.

Hence, it was a challenge for me to keep plans for Labor Day Weekend secret from Mom-to-Be. Nothing too fancy but I decided to take her to San Antonio for the weekend. One of the main reasons was to enjoy the River Walk, visit the Alamo, etc. but the main thing I wanted to do was just take her away for the weekend.

Just the two of us. Enjoying each other’s company.

And you know what? Despite the fact that we stopped a bunch of times along the way… Despite the fact that all the walking was highly uncomfortable for the both of us… And despite the fact that a sweet old lady rear-ended my brand-new car while I followed Megan and her Aunt to lunch… It was all worth it.

Well… except for the car part. That continues to sting. I hadn’t even put my new plates on the car yet. *sniffle* But thank God it’s minor. I think I can fix the damage.

The best part of the trip wasn’t the Alamo, nor the Riverwalk, or any of the other tourist-like activities…. What I enjoyed most was the process. Like driving down I-10 with a keen eye for cool small towns, interesting markets, and of course Buc-ee’s for beef jerky. That was the most fun of the whole trip. Doing all the simple things, just Megan and I.

I guess this trip was like a microcosm for how I’m experiencing this whole pregnancy.

We have a baby coming in about 12 weeks now. While I continue to plan and look ahead, I’m also enjoying every moment while it lasts. Just me and Megan. Handling every challenge that comes our way. Enjoying every minute we have together before the infamous “and then there were three.”

It’s funny… She thinks I neglect her sometimes…. I have NO CLUE why. because little does she know that she and our son are already the most important parts of my life. The journey that we’re on… Even though we’ll always say the best part is yet to come… She has no clue that I secretly cherish every single moment already.

Except the hormones.

Please click the banner to vote for this blog! – Mike & Megan (and baby boy)

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Those of you who know Megan can ask her about how she kidnapped me after we got back to Houston. I won’t throw her under the bus this time. ♥

New Orleans Celebration Man-cation in Pictures

July 27, 2009

DSC00058The DNC New Orleans Celebration Trip went perfectly this past weekend.

Walking around the Big Easy was blast. A few of us went all around the French Quarter from the art district to the French market and back.The city is a clash of so many different cultures. Definitely unlike any other metropolitan center I’ve ever visited. New Orleans truly has a character of its own.

While there, the man-cationers got to sample some delicious authentic Cajun food at Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster and Johnny’s Po’Boy while staying downtown. Sunday, on the way out, we ate at three different places uptown, simultaneously. My group decided on El Salvadorean breakfast at La Macarena Pupuseria. The others had Camellia Grill‎ and Hana Sushi. All delicious I’m sure.

And the drinks… OMG the drinks. Did you knew bars in New Orleans close, well…. never!? We went all over the quarter from college clubs to the balcony bars. We even got to see some new matrix moves at the cabaret and somehow also ended up at some S&M-themed maze of a bar called the Dungeon. No more pictures were allowed in there and for good reason, as their signatures included Everclear-filled cherries.

Unfortunately, that’s as much of the story as I’m a part of. I snuck back to the Hilton Riverside early while the ninjas, sans myself, managed to party it up until after the sun came up on Sunday morning.

Pictures from the 2009 NOLA Trip on Picasa.

Random Austin Trip and Tailgate at Bobcat Stadium

August 31, 2008

Written drunk on blackberry on way home…

Its funny how whimsical decisions seems to work… I never know what to expect. Like the spontaneous feeling that compelled me to head out of town with Kris on Friday night. A fun-filled 24 hours later and the yearning to feel the comfort of our own beds got us back as quickly as we left.

A Shotgun Vacation

Kris and I didn’t leave Houston until about 8:30 Friday night. Well… We left at 7:30 but I forgot shoes so we came back and took another hour to go in earnest. We practically left twice after not having planned to leave at all. Good one eh?

Determined like a baby sea turtle heading into the ocean, we drove from Houston straight into downtown Austin to meet up on the roof of Union Park on West 6th. I particularly love this part of Austin, which has more of a post-grad midtown feel to it.

Union Park was alright. Corey and Brandon had a reserved section with bottles service and the weather wasn’t too bad. After a full night of people watching and snickering at the whole ‘crazy girl flips out’ thing that Corey had to go through (always happens) , we ended up hastily driving off to party in San Marcos instead of staying in Austin like planned. Well worth it. Laughed  our asses off over at Luis’ place until we couldn’t take it anymore and passed out around 5am.

This all seemed so continuous really… waking up and realizing that there is no rest for the weary. We snatched Adrian from the jaws of sleep immediately after we got up at noon so we could go straight to tailgate.

First game of the season and rush week made it a lively time at Bobcat Stadium… Reckless Kelly and a few other bands played the stage. You could smell the BBQ from a mile away. And for us, beer pong and flip cup ruled the afternoon. Five hours of jovial drinking in the sun will take it out of you. We barely managed to make it to Zach’s in one piece before we stubbornly got even more retarded in the late afternoon.

And so we sit here a few hours later, cat nap complete and blasting loud music on a dark country road trailblazing our way back to Houston as fast as we left it. Maybe we can rouse the roommates for some late-night drinking when we get back. Or do we ass out early from the equivalent of beer bonging an entire weekend instead of enjoying it slowly.

Ah well. Big day tomorrow. Bigger day Monday. And no work in sight.

This sabbatical could get interesting.

Dispatches from New Orleans

August 19, 2008
Jino Manalo

New Orleans Trip - By: Jino Manalo

So, for the past several days I have been busy stripping months, possibly years of my life celebrating my friend’s nuptials in the Big Eazy. After four consecutive days of marathon drinking sessions that lasted till five in the morning, i am definitely worse for wear. Though I’m loving every minute of it. It is really true what they say, you can leave New Orleans but it can never really leave you.

Wednesday night started innocuously enough. After waking up at approximately O’Dark hundred to get to work — with the express purpose of leaving early to start my adventure — my workday proceeded to be a hellish nightmare that could only come before a debauched break from reality. Nothing like having to do massive amounts of work before vacation, and having the whole server go down for the majority of the day. Thanks IT and a hearty FUCK YOU from me!! Finally leaving an hour after my scheduled departure time, i was ready to start the journey. However half-way to the Eazy apparently my wheel well cover decided to extricate itself from its cozy place in the front bumper. Thank god it was just the cover, a more serious problem would have left me in nowhere Louisiana. Definitely not the weekend I had anticipated. I basically had pulled into an exit, with nothing in both directions for miles. With visions of dueling banjos and albinos dancing through my head i set about diagnosing and solving my predicament. Three spools of galvanized wire, a pair of gas station bought wire cutters, and a six dollar knife later, i was able to MacGuyver my escape and continue on my way.

Now, any sane minded person facing these type of consecutive situations would have been applauded for arriving at his destination and promptly passing out on a friends ever so gracious couch. However, my special relationship with this city does not allow me to give up that easily. An hour after pulling into my friend’s driveway i was at Pat O’Brien’s enjoying a couple of beers and reminiscing about old times with some aussie chums from England and some friends from Tulane. Now, at this point, midnight or possibly one o’ clock has come and gone a crucial decision needs to be made retreat for the night and save up for tomorrow or continue on. Well the car bombs made that decision for me and i was off. Several Guinness’s, a hand grenade, a cigar and possibly a stripper or two from rick’s caberet, i finally gave up the white flag at 430 am. Exactly 24 hours…

Snapping awake exactly six hours after i had passed out (working does that to you) i proceeded to take my haggard self on a path around /new Orleans for chores. Nothing like driving in the humidity and heat and having to go to a formal wear shop dressed in gi pants. Finally getting my shit done, i proceeded to meet the happy couple at St. Joseph’s church for the rehearsal. Dinner at HerbSaint courtesy of the groom’s parents (which was nothing less than extraordinary) was the prelude to a drunk bus that revisited our old stomping grounds around the city. Meanwhile, working from a marathon session before, the training had served to increase my tolerance somewhat. Trying your damnedest to get drunk and your body is shrugging every aimed shot of alcohol is somewhat disconcerting, because you know it eventually hit you. Needless to say, stepping off the bus in the quarter, my required walking skills finally left as did my good judgment. Warning to all, do not get those tourist shooters at bourbon bars. Very bad idea. The last stop of the night was to a small bar called Snake and Jake’s. Lets put it this way, if a bar will give you free drinks for the night if you go in naked and free drinks for life if you survive a shooting on its grounds. You know its worth the late 0400 trip. Again surrendering after my body decided to give the outside wall of the bar a fresh coat of chili cheese fries paint, i stumbled back home at the o-so early time of 430.

Batting 0400, i decided to continue my average the next two nights. Hell why the fuck not. However at this point my body is taking doses of alcohol equivalent to a .500 magnum rounds and laughing hysterically like a coked up Tony Montana. The day was fairly low key, a fried seafood dinner and trips to Lucy’s (which apparently has the monopoly in those southern belles we dream about) we proceeded to go to a Kangaroo bar. I was told that there was an explanation for the Kangaroo bar but the combination of alcohol and fatigue finally took its toll. I threw in the towel at 0300, off my previous average.

The wedding night was awesome. Good thing the day before was spent catching up on some much needed rest as the night was to be spent in drunken debauchery by all of us. Its kind of weird when you’re at a wedding and you know every single young person on both sides of the guest roles. Friends from England came in as well my two groups of friends in New Orleans. Its also somewhat awesome when current Tulane students come up to you, shake your hand and say they’ve heard all good things about you and buy you a drink, four years after you graduate. Food and open bar proceed to destroy me as we all danced atop the sky in for several hours. Finally it was time to get back to earth as the party ended and i was slowly losing my buzz. Fast metabolism plus increased tolerance equals sobriety pretty damn quick. Luckily all of us decided to go to the same club so we can continue the festivities.

While the Goldmine was fun because of the drinks and people, i could not say it for the bar itself. Dressed in a Tuxedo and in a club with less than adequate ventilation leads to being pretty much owned. The rounds of bull blasters and flaming dr peppers were still going around, my sanity was basically going slowly out the window. Now i know what the hotbox torture method feels like. The last straw was the fact that the bar took at least 10 mins to take my drink and at least 30 to close my tab. Sweating out all the alcohol that i previously drank and stone cold sober. i drove home at four with my two comrades in arms.

Unfortunately, my dehydrated ass left my phone in the cab. Great… phoneless. Not wanting to end my marathon session there. I decided to hit up another bar. While i did not pick up another drink at my final bar. I was able to run into some good friends from the wedding and have some good conversation to end the night on a somewhat positive note. Going home at approximately 530 i thought about how great this city is, but convinced that if i had ever decided to live here it would surely kill me. I probably stripped 36 months off my life and my body is best described as charred not burned, but in all honesty i would not have it any other way.

China – The World’s 2008 Olympic Host

August 9, 2008

Did you guys catch the opening ceremonies last night? Very awesome to see thousands of people performing tai chi in perfect synchronicity. The rest of the ceremony was very awesome also. All in all, nice for us in the US to catch a glimpse of Chinese culture.

Here are some HDR Pics of China – Usually very mysterious place to most in the western hemisphere but nonetheless one of the most visually stimulating places on Earth.