Traveling via FAT 2011

  • Finding a Clover in a Haystack Prologue: I knew this would happen if I waited too long (which I did), but I forgot the details of finding my first Starbucks Clover location in California. You heard that phrase about finding a needle in a haystack, right? Well, I essentially found a Clover in a haystack! Read on… It was during a summer trip to Central Valley, California, and we were driving for awhile. Were we driving to San Francisco? Monterey? Santa Rosa? Sadly my memory fails me. But all I remember was I was tired after driving for hours. I needed a caffeinated pick-me-up before continuing to drive for a few more hours. So I asked my wife to use the Starbucks mobile app to locate a nearby store. The app showed a few locations, and I headed to the closest one which so happened to be located in an outdoor shopping outlet area. Seeing the familiar ...
  • The Best Tacos in Fresno If you’re looking for the best tacos in Fresno, where would you go? To Chris Meat Market. You know it means something when patrons comment on not being panhandled for money as a positive when visiting the Meat Market. So what can you expect? Cheap ($1.50) but very tasty tacos! Cash only please. We had three tacos – carnitas, chicken, and chorizo. These were all in small corn tortillas with the protein chopped and prepped when ordered. Each taco had some zing to it but surprisingly, the chicken taco was the spiciest. Washed all this down with some grapefruit soda. Outside seating is available for eating but just a warning that you probably will be approached by panhandlers so takeout is highly recommended.
  • First Stop: Grocery Shopping One of the first stops is to stock up on food supplies and to see what new items may find its way to Hawaii. I saw quite a few different Doritos flavors which seem targeted at the local demographic, so I doubt they’ll hit the islands. Canned coffee and espresso drinks are back to Trader Joe’s. I remember Trader Joes’s used to have these canned drinks, but in recent years, I hadn’t seen them. They’re back now. I was told La Creme natural creamer was already available in Hawaii (and has an unusual taste) after I purchased a bottle. Yes, for a natural diary creamer, my expectation of La Creme didn’t match up. Maybe I’m just used to fake, artificial non-diary creamers.
  • Design Tips from Hilton Los Angeles An unplanned overnight layover in Los Angeles was not welcomed but a stay in the Hilton Los Angeles provided these design tips.
  • You Know You From Hawaii… You know you from Hawaii when you bring spam musubi for lunch at Shaver Lake.
  • Travel Tip: No Sausages Just a tip for the travelers. Don’t hand carry sausages on airplanes. If you do, expect delays at the security screening station. Must be those oblong, cylindrical solids look suspicious on the scanners. Doesn’t matter if it’s Portugese sausage or a salami, the TSA staff will want to look at your sausage.
  • Software Updates Aplenty After being on vacation for a bit, I come back and have lots of software updates to do. Mac App Store Twitter Sparrow Lite Microsoft Office Adium Software Update iTunes AirPort Utility Adobe Flash Player WordPress Plugins
  • Crowded Cream Market Been to the grocery store lately? There’s a new coffee creamer trying to break into the crowded market dominated by Coffee-mate and International Delight. Look for Baileys Coffee Creamers (yes, that Baileys) and see if this new creamer can make it. I tried the Original Irish Cream and thought it was okay. Baileys has a creamier consistency compared to Coffee-mate and International Delight, but nothing really set it apart. Interestingly, the Baileys Creamers web site features an iPhone app called Coffee! The app costs $2.99 and displays various pictures of coffee (not associated with Baileys). Hmmm, I’ll pass on the app and will pass on any more Baileys creamer.
  • Victoria’s Secret, Shaved Ice, and Kettle Corn Why yes, you can have Victoria’s Secrets, Hawaiian Shaved Ice, and Kettle Corn all in one spot.
  • Where Have the Ladybugs Gone? The population of Ladybugs in North America is changing dramatically according to the Lost Ladybug Project. But I think I’ve discovered a new breeding ground. Look at all these Ladybugs!  Yes, all those reddish specks are Ladybugs. I submitted these pics to the Lost Ladybug Project to help with their data collection and analysis.
  • Who Doesn’t Like Boba Fett? Everyone needs some Boba Fett, the bounty hunter from Star Wars, in their lives.
  • Unsuccessful Lightning Photo See the lightning captured in the picture? Neither do I. And that’s my failed attempt at capturing lightning during a recent lightning show.
  • Growing Strawberries Growing strawberries in the home garden.
  • A Pinky Sunset A pinky, cloudy sunset.
  • Not Quite a Mini Mjolnir I really don’t feel like the God of Thunder with this mini Mjolnir hammer. Maybe that’s a difference between Asians and a Norse god.
  • Faucet Notes Some notes about kitchen faucets for home kitchen renovation. Like the look of this faucet. Matte, brushed nickel finish is clean and doesn’t show waterspots. Nice height to easily move dishes underneath. Curvy and smooth, but… The height has a bigger disadvantage of splashing water. Since the water falls from higher up, the stream of water hitting dishes is forceful and splatters all over. The handle on the side isn’t so easy to adjust the force of the water.  I don’t have the feel for getting the water pressure just right. It’s either too much or too little. It is easy to change the temperature of the water though. Must look up Hansgrohe brand.  Product feels solidly made.
  • An Almost Rainbow Circle Forget the double rainbow, forget the mystical unicorn, and definitely forget planking. A rainbow circle is the next thing. I thought I experienced a rainbow circle and managed a partial picture. Alas, a rainbow is technically seen opposite the sun. So this picture can’t be a rainbow, just a refraction of light. Oh the sadness.
  • Canned Coffee Search: SBC I’m always on the lookout for new varieties of canned coffee and espresso drinks. I might have seen this in Hawaii, but in case I’m mistaken, there’s Seattle’s Best Coffee Premium Coffee Drinks. I got the Vanilla Latte, and for my tastes, it’s just okay. Nothing memorable, but a very drinkable drink. Not too sweet, not too bitter. Just the right amount of vanilla flavor to go with the coffee. Found this at Vons, so in Hawaii, go look at Safeway.
  • Gotta Try the Dam Diner With a name like the Dam Diner, you have to give this eatery a try. Down the street from the San Joaquin Hatchery with a view of Friant Dam, the nondescript diner sits there on the side of the road. On the menu, you can find typical American comfort food along with the Dam Specials and some other oddities. For the best of the menu, check out the Dam Diner’s reviews on Yelp. I had to try their namesakes, the Dam Burger with curly fries and a chocolate shake. The burger tasted fresh, the curly fries were like any other curly fries, and the shake was good and even better since they gave all the extra shake. If you happen to be in the Friant area, you must eat at the Dam Diner. Just overlook the misspelling of “Fraint.” More Dam pictures.
  • A Volt in the Wild Parked next to us was this different looking car. I couldn’t recognize it off-hand, and no wonder. It’s a new electric Chevy Volt that I’d never seen in person. But there it was, spotted in the wild.
  • “Home of the Trophy Trout” Just a short ways away is the San Joaquin Hatchery, the “Home of the Trophy Trout.” And yes, there is a lot of trout in this fish hatchery. The facility is free to visit and you can buy fish food to feed the ravenous trout of different sizes. Just don’t molest the fish. If you stay there long enough, you can watch feeding time where a golf cart spews out food pellets driving the fish into a feeding frenzy.
  • The Grouchy Passenger Has Good Dental Hygiene Remember that Grouchy Passenger? Well, I give him this. He has good dental hygiene. After eating on the flight, he brought out dental floss and proceeded to clean his teeth. Then he threw the used floss on the floor. Yep, see. Sorry, the picture is blurry, but I had to rely on my iPhone’s digital zoom to double check what I thought I amazingly witnessed.
  • What’s for Lunch? Can you guess what’s for lunch? Here’s the straightforward menu (now with caloric intake). And also featuring Kona coffee! Oh, and watch out if you decide to take pictures inside of In-N-Out. They have a strict no pictures policy of their staff or kitchen area. I got a warning about taking pictures of the menu.
  • You Don’t See This Everyday Now, here’s something you don’t see everyday. Check out this sign. And yes, this is indeed a special sequoia forest – there’s even a Starbucks at the end of it!
  • Catching Up with Thor Just learning about the mythology of Thor.
  • Shots from the Hop Some pics from “the hop.”
  • This Made Me a Little Sad I will admit that this sight made me a little sad – a Starbucks closed for the day.
  • The Grouchy Passenger This guy in front of us is surely a grouch. He needs a drink or pills. Seriously. Even before take off, he’s fanning himself like crazy to cool off. The AC’s been off for a minute. During the flight, he’s reacting to every bump and is clearly displeased at every tray opening behind him. He starts to look at his watch hoping this 5+ hour flight will go by faster even though we’re only 45 minutes in the air. And there are other of his family members in other seats and aisles. But instead of trading seats, El Groucho stays put and acts all grumpy. This one’s for you Sir Grump-a-lot.
  • Complimentary Coffee Of course I’ll have some complimentary coffee. No free music but free Starbucks coffee.
  • Entertainment Old School This is how I rock my entertainment old school, my fat Nano and Klondike solitaire.
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