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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Happiness, A Key to Long and Healthy Life

Aloha Everyone,

We all want to be happy.  We all aspire to live a happy, long and healthy life.

Dalai Lama said, "The purpose of our lives is to be happy." He also stated, "Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own action."

William E. Gladstone said, "Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won't have to hunt for happiness."

For over 37 years, my Mother has given her time, energy and often donate personal resources to teach minyo and shamisen to her students and at various senior retirement homes, nursing care and respite care facilities.

Today, I accompanied her to Keiro Nursing Home where she teaches twice a month. There were 9 resident participants and three of her volunteer students. You can see joy, happiness and gratitude written all over the participants' faces. My Mother in turn looked happy, pleased, beaming, compassionate and truly youthful.

Today was a hot day with the day-time temperature reaching 90 in the City of Angels (Los Angeles).  Part of the heat is due to the wild fire burning in the San Bernadino Mountains.

And finally, my breakfast this morning included fried tofu, boiled egg, avocado and cucumber.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Farmers Market at Wilson Park

Aloha Everyone,

My mother made me a very special breakfast this morning.  I had her signature French Toast along with fresh loquats from my sister's garden. What are loquats? Loquats are a type of fruit, sometimes known as the Japanese or Chinese plum. In Japan, they are called biwa. In China, they are called, lo guat in Cantonese and pipa in Mandarin. Loquats are sweet, with a flavor being a mix of peach, citrus and mild mango.

After a relaxing breakfast and spending some time talking with my mother, J.J. and I decided to go to the nearby farmer's market to buy some additional fruits and vegetables. Every Tuesday and Saturday mornings, one is held at Wilson Park. Here is a picture of J.J. carrying a 10 pound bag of naval oranges and green vegetables.

We ran into Rebecca from Murray Family Farms at Wilson Park. Murray Family Farms is located in Bakersfield, California. Last September, J.J. and visited the farm and picked blueberries there.

After shopping at the Farmers Market, I did some other more pedestrian shopping.  I needed to pick up a new yoga mat for the RV.  I am extremely happy with my new GAIAM yoga mat.  On the surface, the inscription says:

"A healthy mind has an easy breath
Good deeds, kind words happy thoughts
Everyone smiles in the same language peace of mind "

Finally, I wanted to conclude with showing you some of the beautiful flowers that my mom grows in her garden. She definitely has green thumb.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, April 28, 2014

Visiting My Mother in California

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I drove up to visit my mother, who lives in the outskirts of Los Angeles. We will be spending a few days with her.

My mother is an amazing woman and has a well-tended garden with many fruit trees in her backyard.
Heriloom Tomatoes
Kumquat Tree
Lemon Tree
Here is an interesting tea cup my mother just brought home from her recent trip to Japan. It changes color as you pour hot tea into the cup.

The Japanese inscription translates as follow:

Life begins at 60

Tea Cup Cold
1. When the messenger from the next life comes to you at 70, tell him that you are not in

2. At 80, when the messenger comes to you. Tell him that it's still too early

Tea Cup Warm

3. At 90, when the messenger comes to you, tell him it's unnecessary to rush
4. At 100, when the messenger comes to you, tell him that you will decide when it's time and that you'll move along slowly
Tea Cup Hot
Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Aloha Everyone,

After having a big, healthy breakfast to spend a fun-filled day, we left for Legoland. Located in Carlsbad, California, Legoland is a theme park based on the Lego toy brand. This was my third visit to the park but I found new and improved exhibits even from six months ago. For J.J., this was his first visit and he was amused and impressed with displays and kept on comparing with the Legoland Billund in Copenhagen, Denmark which we took our children when we traveled in Europe for 7 month in a similar size RV.  

Compared to Disneyland, it is slightly more affordable for annual pass at approximately $570 for a family of 3 (2 adults and 1 child includes 1 free guest pass per annual pass holder per person).  Disneyland in comparison is closer to $1,000 for a family of 3 (2 adults, 1 child).

All displays and rides utilize different sizes of Legos. There are theme parks within the Legoland such as Dino Island, Pirate Shores, Castle Hill, Land of Adventure, Fun Town, etc. But my favorite place was Miniland, USA.

Unfortunately, Legoland does not have our exact RV

2 million Legos were used for New York City 

We were told that today's park attendance was unusually low. This was excellent news for us as it meant short waiting time in line our rides and restaurant stops.

Aloha -- Cathi

Saturday, April 26, 2014

La Jolla, California

Aloha Everyone,

La Jolla in Spanish means the jewel. It is a lovely, affluent seaside community with approximately 7 miles of coast line along the Pacific Ocean. The downtown La Jolla is a fun place to visit. Even if you are not particularly interested in art, you will enjoy visiting numerous art galleries, boutiques and trendy restaurants. And yes, there is a Kundalini Yoga studio in La Jolla.

La Jolla Shore is one of the popular beaches.

<Click here more info about La Jolla> 

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, April 25, 2014

Onward to La Jolla!

Aloha Everyone,

Began our morning with my usual healthy breakfast at La Quinta Inn in Bishop where we spent the night.

Highlight of our day was a stopping at the Alabama Hills reachable from the Lone Pine off the route 395. Historically, before the arrival of Euro-Americans, this area was used as a focal point for Native American ceremony and subsistence activities. J.J. and I had a chance to take a portrait of our RV. I also did a yoga asana and felt in balance with the nature. <Click here to read about the Alabama Hills>

This land is under the Bureau of Land Management, one of the Federal agencies where J.J. and I will be volunteering. When I mentioned our pending assignment to the U.S. ranger who provided us map and information, he got very excited. He especially was interested in being able to access areas that are closed to public and asked if he could tag along. His offered to come along did not last too long when he found out that when we say "volunteer:, it means non-compensated work. :-)
Drove on the highway where warning signs were flashing indicating that the wind was 50 mph. I could tell that J.J. had to be in full concentration and focus on his driving as our RV was being buffeted by the strong wind. Continuous wide-open country, spotting, cattle, horses, lamb, California Hawk, hare but no cats or dogs. One of the interesting sights was the solar farm generating energies for California consumers.

Our lunch break happened when the traffic came to a halt for a freighter train to cross the highway. We counted over 100 cars and it took a good 7 minutes to clear the track. We spotted a 1950's style drive-in diner on the side of the road so J.J. quickly turned into the parking lot. It looked like a mom and pop operation but the service was friendly and the hamburger was unexpectedly excellent. I could only eat less than 1/2 as most restaurants' portions tend to be too large for me. A nice touch was the truck polishing service located in the adjacent lot called "Reyes Truck Polishing"

Just completed our 2nd full day of travel in our RV. We are loving every moments.

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reno, Nevada to Bishop, California

Aloha Everyone,

According to Map Quest, the distance between Reno, Nevada and San Diego, California is 557 miles.  This means that it will take approximately 9 hours 43 minutes of constant driving.  Because we are not under any time pressure, we began our full day of driving in our RV leisurely at 10:15 AM. We decided to take back roads and state highways and avoid the major thoroughfares of Nevada and California's impressive highway systems.  

Today's drive was relaxing and nostalgic as many of these places are familiar to me as in my childhood, my family used to go on vacations in these mountain and lake resorts.  

We stopped at the Bridge Port Inn in Bridge Port for lunch. Like many small towns we will be visiting across the United States, Bridge Port offered quaint charm with local flavors and interesting history.  <To read about this historical Victorian Inn built in 1877 click here>  

Owens Lake is a mostly dry lake in the Owens Valley.  With dry lake bed exposed to the sun, it is hauntingly beautiful.  

The big excitement of the day was that when we first went into our RV, it was beeping. The sound was not very loud but consistent and annoying. First J.J. decided to ignore it hoping that it might just disappear by itself.  We then called our contact at Roadtrek and had him listen to the beeping sound. His response, "I don't know what it is but if it is not the alarm sound, don't worry." Finally at the first Rest Stop, J.J. was able to find out where the sound was coming from and able to turn off the computer switch.  

Our RV is not yet ready for us to sleep in.  We still have to get sheets, sleeping bags, dishes, silver wares and put away the two suitcases we have in the back of our RV.  We estimate that it would take a couple of days to get the vehicle ready.  The remainder of April and the first week of May will be spent visiting our family in the Southern California.  

Tonight we are staying in Bishop, California.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our RV Adventure Starts in Reno, Nevada

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I can't believe that we really have our RV home.  We started to plan our one-year sabbatical nearly a year ago. Our plan was crystallized during our one-month sojourn in the Philippines in January and February 2014.

I have to take my hat off to J.J. for doing research, comparing qualities, features, ideal size for us and prices and finally decided on the Roadtreck.  To say that we are thrilled seems like an under statement.  We are EXHILARATED!!!

Our morning began with a breakfast at Motel 6 where we spent a night. This was the closest motel to the RV dealer where we are to get our paper work, so we did not have much choice of our accommodation. J.J. reminded me that on our very first trip to Europe about 18 months after we got married, he and I took a 7-month long holiday.  At that time, our budget was limited and we traveled by Eurail. Our lodging likewise had to be under a tight budget and we followed Frommer's Guide to Europe for $35 per day per person. The first night we spent in Luxemburg was a "dump". I recall crying why did we saved so hard and came so far only to stay in such a horrible place. Well, that was the worst hotel we ever stayed during that trip and things got better as the days went by.

After spending about 3 hours at the dealer, we were on our way.  J.J. drove one of their dealer's car while one of their personnel drove our new home to Reno, 

Donner Pass is over 5,000 ft elevation.  On the summit, there were a lots of snow and we found it too cold to use the restroom at the Rest Stop.

It took us approximately 5 1/2 hours to drive from Gilroy, CA to Reno Nevada including 60 minutes for short lunch and a quick snack stop.

We took actual possession of our RV home in the parking lot of the shopping center after we signed all necessary documents and had them notarized for California Department of Motor Vehicle and for South Dakota Department of Motor Vehicle at the UPS Store.

After we got a full tank of diesel fuel (about $100 for a full tank) we were on our way.

We were given three books to read about our RV home. Even though J.J. had driven a similar vehicle in Europe, nearly 30 years ago, now with so many of its functions are computerized that we need some time to become comfortable.

Found our accommodation in Siena, Hotel Spa and Casino in Reno, Nevada and celebrated our first day of RV life (well not really yet) with wonderful dinner.

Tomorrow, we will be driving more than just a few miles.

Aloha -- Cathi