Under The Presidents’ Nose

That’s where I was last week.



We have been to the Blackhills, South Dakota twice before, but this was the first time we hiked the Presidential trail, and thus got a closer view of the Presidents’ faces. We were really right under their noses.


(*photos taken during our recent trip to Mount Rushmore with our visitors from the Philippines)

Don’t Take Your Valuables

Last summer, we took a long road trip that took us from the cornfields of Iowa, to the mountainous wilderness of Montana, and to the concrete jungle of Los Angeles California. As we were pulling up into a parking lot in Los Angeles, we saw this sign that said, “Please take your valuables with you.”

I think that is a fair warning, as they don’t want you to lose something that is important. Or perhaps they just don’t want to take responsibility of any theft that will happen. Or perhaps they don’t want you to tempt others of bad thoughts by displaying something valuable, or something that they would think is valuable, inside your vehicle.

I don’t think this warning applies in Los Angeles only, as it is true in many parts of America and the rest of the world.

I remember when we were still living in New York City, somebody tried to break in into our parked car, and in the process broke the door lock of our car. And there’s really nothing of value inside, except maybe the car itself. They took my tire hub caps and antenna instead. Then we had some friends whose car windows were shattered just to get some change of coins and some barely valuable things inside their car. Maybe the thief needed coins so badly for a cup of coffee or for a ride on the subway.

Same in the Philippines. When I was still living in Manila, there’s an instance that me and my dad witnessed a car theft while we were parked near Binondo. It happened in a blitz, and they acted so smoothly that we think these guys were “professionals.” Bad use of their skills and talents, I guess. With dexterity and quickness like that, they could be show-time magicians. On second thought, they were already magicians, making things disappear!

Back to the parking lot in Los Angeles, we kind of chuckled when we read the sign. Not because it was funny nor it was an unreasonable or unusual sign. To us it was just interesting that few days before that, when we were in a national park in Montana, we read several signs that contain a completely different warning.

The warning sign when we were in the wilderness of Montana states, “Please take your trash with you.”


It was just sensible that they don’t want you to litter in such a pristine place. Plus the wild creatures, like bears, can get attracted to your trash and rummage through them. This may endanger their well-being. More so, your well-being and your life may get endangered as well, if the bear cannot find what it’s looking for (a jar of honey?) and is not happy with your trash and attacks you.

It was a totally different perspective. In one, “take your valuables with you.” In the other, “take your trash with you.”

Yes, there are places in this world that they don’t care about your valuables. It does not matter whether you’re lugging a Louis Vuitton bag or a DSLR camera with an ultra zoom lens. Just don’t leave your trash too!

This made me think, in this life, there are things that we consider our valuables. Like our fancy jewelries, our expensive toys like our cars and gizmos, our pricey wardrobes, our houses and estates, our bank accounts, and other worldly treasures. And it’s not only that there are places that they will not matter, but there will come a time as well, that all of these will be deemed worthless. Rubbish. Garbage. Trash. For you cannot take them forever with you.

I do hope that we discern what really are the important things in this life. The “valuables” that no thief nor anybody can take from you.

(*photo taken last summer in Montana)


A Visit to Glacier National Park

A couple of weeks ago, my family and I had the chance to visit Glacier National Park. It is located in the state of Montana on the side of the US, and it borders Alberta and British Columbia provinces, on the side of Canada.

This national park is a wilderness with pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes.


During our visit, we stayed in a beautiful historic lodge, the Glacier Park Lodge, which was built more than a century ago. Stepping inside this establishment is like stepping back in time.


Rustic and yet classy, this retreat is located in such a beautiful place. Here it is in the early morning light (picture below).


One of the high points of the trip is driving through the Going-to-the-Sun road. This a scenic mountain road, that is quite narrow and winding, with hairpin turns, and precipitous drop. Driving through this road can be both exhilarating as well as frightening.

Here we are going around the mountain….


Through the mountain (via tunnel)……


Driving besides the river…..


And even driving under falls.


Besides driving around, we also took boat rides (both motorized and a row-boat) in its lakes. Here’s the boat we rode in this clear lake.


This park is named Glacier National Park due to its glaciers. A glacier is an extended mass of ice formed from snow falling and accumulating over the years and moving very slowly, either descending from high mountains, as in valley glaciers, or moving outward from centers of accumulation, as in continental glaciers.

Glacier National Park has 150 named glaciers in 1850, but was diminished to 26 in 2006 due to continued climate warming. Today, it only has 7 or 8 remaining, according to the experts. They may have to change the name of the park, when all the glaciers are gone.

Below is a view from the boat ride, with one of the remaining glaciers seen from a far.


Here I am standing at the bough of the boat, and channelling my Leonardio DiCaprio moment like in the film Titanic. “I’m the king of the world!”


We also did some no-sweat hikes. Here’s the view when we hiked down off the road into this mountain side.


We also hiked up and down this ski slope in our t-shirts, shorts and rubber shoes. Even though the hike up the snow is probably a quarter to a third of a mile, it was comfortable. Not hot nor cold. I don’t think we even broke a sweat climbing up this snow-covered hill (photo below).


When the snow melts, the water find its way to the rivers, falls, and lakes. Even though the lakes and the rivers seem inviting for a swim, they are icy cold.

Below is a photo after a climbed up a ledge near a raging river.


We also hiked to a nearby falls. Again, not a serious hike as it was less than a quarter-mile from the dock where the boat dropped us off.


Another highlight of the visit is seeing the sunset and sunrise with the play of light changing the colors of the mountains and the sky.

Here I am at the lake during sunrise. Of course I have to wear a colorful jacket too.


When not busy roaming around outside, we just cooled our heels in our beautiful retreat. And what did I do in my downtime when we were there? Blog, of course!


With a view like this, who would not be inspired to write? This is where I wrote my earlier post “Serendipity.”

I hope you can visit this place, before all the glaciers are gone.  I know the subject of global warming is such a hot and debated topic, and I would leave the politics and the science of that to the experts. But I do hope that we as a human race, will be responsible enough to keep this world of ours as beautiful as it can be.

from Glacier National Park,



(*All photos in this post were taken with an iPhone. I am grateful to my “unofficial”photographers.)

Conquering the Arches


The above photo was not taken by Mars Rover. It was taken by me here on Earth. In Utah to be exact.

The Arches National Park near Moab, Utah is an interesting place. It has landscapes that has this out-of-this-world feel, like an alien terrain.

In fact many Sci-fi movies – like Galaxy Quest, Star Trek, John Carter of Mars, and After Earth, to name a few – were filmed around this place. Of course it is also a popular location for Western movies.


We have visited Moab and the Arches National Park not once but twice, not because we are from Mars. The first time was eight years ago, when we joined a group tour after I attended a doctor’s convention in Salt Lake City. The second time was two weeks ago when we passed by this place on our way to Grand Canyon, Arizona.

There are many baffling stone formations that can be seen in this place. Below is the “Balanced Rock.”


How long would that rock stay balanced is a fair question. It looks like it would only take a small nudge from Wile E. Coyote, and down the rock would fall.

Then there are these building-like structures. Believe it or not the formation below is called “Park Avenue.” It may be similar to Park Avenue in New York City, without the crowd and traffic.


Even the clouds in this place can be out-of-this-world! The photo below is not photoshopped.


But the most unusual structures in this National Park, are the “arches” of course. Below is a photo of one of them.


Most of these structures can be viewed by just driving around the park.

Yet the most recognizable structure and maybe the best known in the park is the Delicate Arch. However to see this beauty, requires a 3-mile hike round trip from the paved road. The hike is not so easy as well, as it is mostly uphill, and there’s even parts that the path is narrow and close to a cliff.


Delicate Arch

During our first visit to this park, my son was only 3 years old at that time, but he was able to climbed up and see this arch. My fear then was not so much that he would get tired and I would have to carry him the rest of the way, but more so that he would wander off the path and fell off the cliff. But he made it through, and I was so proud of him.

As for my daughter, she was 8 years old during our first visit. Unfortunately she got sick, with gastroenteritis, and was vomiting that day, and so she was unable to do the hike and was not able to see the Delicate Arch, for which she was deeply disappointed.

To appease her, we just bought her a jigsaw puzzle of a picture of the Delicate Arch from the Park’s gift shop.


However, on our second visit, my daughter was determined to make the hike and see the Delicate Arch. It did not matter if it was not really part of our plan to do the hike, as our plan was just to drive through the park, for our final destination of that day was the Grand Canyon, which was still about 6 hours drive from Moab, Utah.

It did not matter as well if the weather was hot as it was almost 100 degrees F and it was in the middle of the day. My daughter was so determined to see what she failed to see eight years ago.

This time she would not be denied. So we did the hike.


Above is my daughter on her way to the arduous and long hike to the Delicate Arch.


Stopping to enjoy the “breathtaking” view. Or the hike was “breathtaking” so we have to stop to catch our breath.


Continuing the uphill trek.


My daughter and my wife in the relatively narrow path, trying to stay away off the edge, which were hundreds of feet drop.

After some period of time of hiking, and several stops of rest; and after a lot of panting and buckets of sweat, here is my daughter taking a photo of the arch. She made it!


Joan of Arch?

With that kind of determination, I think she’s ready to explore and conquer the world. Or Mars, if that’s what she wants to do.


Going Wild at Yellowstone

Few weeks ago, we visited Yellowstone. We were captivated, and went wild over it’s beauty and grandeur.

Yellowstone is one of the most popular national parks in the US and it is widely held as first national park, established by the US Congress in 1872. Though the park is mainly located in Wyoming, parts of it extend to Montana and Idaho. It’s so big it covers an area larger than the state of Rhode Island or Delaware.


Above is a photo of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. If you notice the color of the mountain rocks flanking the falls, then you can surmise why it was given the name Yellowstone.


Yellowstone river

This national park is known for its geothermal properties. In fact, it is noted to be the largest volcanic system in North America. Many even believed that it is one large caldera, and termed as “supervolcano,” waiting to explode. Makes you wonder if the “big one” will occur anytime.

Below is Old Faithful Geyser, which is one of the main attractions of the park. It erupts approximately every 90 minutes.


Here are some other hot springs that abound in the park.




Aside from the hot springs and geysers, Yellowstone is well-known also for its wild creatures.






another elk

Some of these wild animals can be dangerous, so visitors are warned to keep their distance from them.

Growing up in the Philippines, I remember also being warned of dangerous wild beasts in my country that can seriously harm people. (No, I’m not talking about the politicians.) Besides the crocodiles and cobra, there’s also the aswang and tikbalang. Sorry, I digress.

Here’s a resting buffalo (also known as bison), close and personal.


Below is my favorite photo of a buffalo. And I can claim I captured it. What’s so special about it?


Look closer. A pooping buffalo! That’s technically bullish*t.


We were also fortunate to spot a bear. On two separate occasions!


Even though bears are often pictured as warm and cuddly, with their jar of honey, that’s not really accurate. The fact of the matter is, they can attack and kill you, especially if they feel threatened. And even if you are Usain Bolt, you cannot outrun a bear (even a huge bear can run 30 mph). So we kept our distance.


And then we also encounter this unidentified strange creature. A headless roadrunner! Beep! Beep!


Oh wait…..that beast is Pinoytransplantae runnerus.

From the wilderness of Yellowstone,