Tuesday, August 27, 2013


You could see that the image of the above license plate was taken back in April 2012.  I thought it is fitting for the news about the wildfire near Yosemite National Park (we were there this year in July) and the current extreme hot weather in STL.  Heat advisory was issued and everyone was encouraged to stay indoor or go to cooling centers if they don't have adequate cooling system in their homes.
Let's pray for the safety of the firefighters and all those involved in the efforts.  Hope everyone keeping cool and being well.   

Friday, August 23, 2013


I have been feeling very "crabby"!  You probably thought, "TOTA is a grumpy geezer, so what else is new?"  It seems that people around me just not being thoughtful, courteous and downright rude.  Starting with people who forgot the most simply words, "Thank You" and "Please".  What does it take to say, "Please hand me the pen", or the store clerk saying "Thank you" to the customers?
How about individuals that constantly telling you about their problems, then when you share your story, they just brush you off or telling you to try harder or simply put up with the situation?
There are many other incidents that happened this week that set me off into this orbit of crabbiness - I am sure it won't last very long - NFL regular season will start soon and then NHL, I will be happy again! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I thought this lisence plate is appropriate as kids started to go back to school.  The bus picks up the kids in the neighborhood right in front of our house.  I was a bit "scared" when I saw a group of 6 kids when I came home from 8am Mass.  I need to keep an eye on them as the boys would toss a football around while they are waiting for the bus.  I would not be forgiving if the football hit my car!

Please slow down and watch out for the kids - let's keep them safe so they could grow up, get decent paying jobs, pay taxes, keep social security solvent so we geezers would be able to collect when we need to.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Friday, July 5, 2013 – The hotel did not provide complimentary breakfast and no restaurant on the premise.  We walked to the corner of Van Ness and Franklin and headed toward the waterfront to Fisherman’s Wharf.

It was a sunny but cool morning.  We were warned that SF has marine climate with mild to low temperature during the summer months.  We were glad that we got our jackets as it was windy, almost chilly, only in the mid 60s (QQ, below 20 Celsius for you) while we were waiting to go on the boat ride.  (We ate a light breakfast since I did not know how my motion sickness would decide to throw a tantrum during the ride).  The water was a bit choppy but I did not have any problems.

The 1-hour bay cruise took us under the Golden Gate Bridge, around Alcatraz and provided a nice view of the city.  The audio narration was a nice feature but after ten minutes it became rather distracting as we were trying to take photos and maintaining our balance.  The wind was merciless.  My face and hands were ice-cold.  Helpful suggestions – bring your scarf and winter gloves when taking the boat ride! 

After the cruise, we walked around Pier 39.  Ralphie got a bag of farm fresh grapes (he said eating the grapes is a quintessential California experience).  I got a sugar and cinnamon churro (Spanish doughnut or fried dough pastry).  We strolled along the pier in the late morning sun, watching the ships (ready for the America’s Cup) roll in and whatever else happening …..

Friday, August 16, 2013


 You did not think we would leave our Benjamin at home, did you?
 Actually, Benjamin reminded us about wearing flowers in our hair but after a few tries, the flowers kept falling off Benjamin's "hair".  Besides, we thought with the flowers on his hair, Benjamin might give the "wrong impression" to those around that he was actually a "Jasmine".
 Benjamin all smiling after a wonderful Dim Sum in Chinatown.
 In keeping up with the timeless classic. "I left my heart in San Francisco", there are heart sculptures on display throughout the city.  These photos were taken at Union Square.  I saw a few others but I was either holding on to the pole for dear life while standing on the running board of the cable car or I did not care much for what was painted.
 San Francisco was a nice place to visit.  We sure enjoyed our time there but we did not leave our hearts in SF.  After almost 18+ years of living in St. Louis, our hearts belong in the Show-Me State.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Thursday, July 4, 2013 – We left Sequoia N.P. at around 1:30 p.m., stopped for lunch in Three Rivers, CA.  We also filled up the gas tank before getting into San Francisco since it would most likely be expensive in SF.

From Three Rivers, we continued to follow CA-198 west, I-5 north, I-580 west (Bay Ridge/San Francisco), I-80 west, and finally US-101 north all the way into San Francisco.  We were stuck in traffic for about 20 minutes, waiting for our turn at the toll booths.  Unlike in Los Angeles where vehicles only need to have 2 people (we were there in 2010), in SF, cars must have 3 or more to use the carpool lane.  We thought we should take a chance, got into the carpool lane, and if we were to get caught by the nice highway patrol, we could say that we have three – Ralphie, TOTA and Benjamin!

We had no problem getting to our hotel, right on Lombard Street.  The hotel cost a little more compared to others but we were glad to pay more for the free parking.  If you are in SF, definitely consider staying at a hotel with free parking, even if you have to pay for a safe parking spot for your vehicle, it is worth it.  Just like NYC, SF has good public transportation and the routes are accommodating – no need to drive because good luck with parking.

We selected the room in the back of the building instead of the one with balcony overlooking the street.  It would have been nice to “people watching” from the balcony but we would be out and about doing tourist things.  There was a small safe for valuable stuff, just enough to keep the iPad, the Bose, iPods and a few extra dollars we did not want to carry around town.

We walked across the street to a restaurant that was recommended by the hotel clerk.  After we were promptly seated at the table, the server disappeared and did not come back.  The people from the table next to us said that they were there for almost 25 minutes and no one came back to take their order.  They left and we followed them out the door!

It was already 7:30 p.m. so we went to a corner deli, got two sandwiches, took the food and drink backs to the hotel room.  Later, we walked down to the waterfront and watched the fireworks.  The crowd was very orderly, and even a few questionable looking characters were well-behaved.  (I admit that I was nervous being outside at night among large crowd on our first day in an unfamiliar big city like SF, but the City law enforcement did a great job at directing traffic and kept the flow of people moving.)
We had a wonderful 4th of July – seeing General Sherman and his family, watching the fireworks, celebrating Independence Day and grateful for the Blessings to be living in this great Nation.  God Bless America and the men and women who serve and protect our Freedom and Liberty. 


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