Remember that time we drove to Monterey…

Two words always get me excited.  Road Trip.  Something about driving to a new place.  Seeing new landscapes.  Funny conversations.  Being in the middle of nowhere.  These are all things that I absolutely adore.

For Vinita’s birthday, we decided to take a road trip to Monterey, CA, which is a 350 mile trip from Pasadena.  We wanted to check out Big Sur, but due to the insane rainy season this past winter, the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge had collapsed, so we had to create a new route.

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We started in Pasadena and headed to Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, and then up to Monterey.

But first, Gus’s BBQ in South Pasadena!

IMG_2336– Vinita always talked about this place, and I was really excited to finally get to eat there.

IMG_2341-That wing sauce!

IMG_2342– The fries look naked, but are so good!

IMG_2343– Jalapeño cheese grits

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And our chariot for this trip – a 2016 Dodge Challenger SXT.  Not the V8, just the V6, but what a wonderful GT car.  Great fuel economy, spacious, good infotainment system, ventilated seats, good output lights, and solid for the miles that we were about to put on the car.

Santa Barbara is a cool little town.  I really enjoyed the beach there.  A bit windy, but gorgeous.

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IMG_2435 –The background looked so good, but Vinita looked even better, so we had to stop and take a photo.

IMG_2443– Here we are at Pismo Beach

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IMG_2475– Just hatched.

IMG_2480-Morro Bay

IMG_2509-Morro Rock

IMG_2505-Spoiled

IMG_2507-The view from our room at The Monterey Bay Inn

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IMG_2514-Love her.

IMG_2517– the beast did her duty getting us to Monterey

We stayed on a street called Cannery Row, which used to be a row of sardine canning facilities.  Now it is a nice little downtown area that has an amazing aquarium at the center of it.  Here are some photos of that!

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I have mentioned my love of racing and fast cars in the past.  Since we were in Monterey, I wanted to go to Laguna Seca Raceway.  This has been a race track that I have spent countless hours driving (on a video game) so it was amazing to actually see this track in person.

The one part of the track that I was really excited to see was the Corkscrew, which is a 7 story, yes 7 story, elevation drop.

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IMG_2884-long day required some time in the hot tub.

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On our day of departure, we decided to check out the sea lions that were just chilling in Monterey Bay.  It was amazing to get this close to wild life.

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IMG_2835-The seduction begins.

IMG_2840– Hello.

IMG_2856-separated at birth.

IMG_2866-I am not sure why or how she tolerates me.

 

The drive back down south was just gorgeous.  It was a slice of Americana that I had never seen.  California is such a gorgeous state that offers you mountains, agriculture, the beach, and even desert.  IMG_2867

What also made this a fun trip was the vehicle we chose.  I always liked the Challenger for its retro look.  I also liked how aggressive the car could look when properly modified.  Dodge is doing a great job with this car.  What was very surprising was how composed the car was compared to the Mustang.  I felt like the Dodge knew that it was a heavy car, so the inputs were slow, but stead, where as the Mustang wants to be a sports car, but it isn’t.

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IMG_2873– One of the coolest places ever – Lost Hills.

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-Happy Birthday Baby!

 

 

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Remember that time we went to Atlanta for training and I got sick and you went exploring…

I work for Porsche.  Their North American HQ is located in Atlanta, GA, so when they need to train us for new products or protocol, they usually invite us down there and we get to stay at a nice hotel and enjoy Atlanta.  This time around, I asked Vinita to join me.  She gladly accepted, as she had some family and friends in Atlanta that she wanted to visit.

My love of Atlanta started in 2006, when my friends and I drove down there on a whim for the Final Four.  They were graduates from Georgetown University, and the Hoyas were in the Final Four that year, so I offered them a ride down there, if they would get me a free ticket.  Something about that southern hospitality!

We stayed at the Intercontinental in Buckhead.  What a gorgeous hotel.  It was conveniently located right next to Lennox Square Mall, so food and shopping was right around the corner.

IMG_2002-descending into Atlanta

IMG_2001-reunited and it feels so good!

IMG_1999-Obligatory face masque on night #1

IMG_2054– A room with a view

While I was stuffing my nose with the smell of baked goods (I got off sugar right before this trip), Vinita was exploring Atlanta!

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IMG_2005– A large Coca Cola Bottle at the Coca Cola Factory

IMG_2011-Vinita knows how much I love CNN since it’s all I watch!

IMG_1994-Vinita at Ponce Marketplace

IMG_1995– Vinita loves the CDC.  I love The Walking Dead – the place they need to get to Season 1!

IMG_1997– Penguins!

IMG_1998– Vinita at the Atlanta Aquarium

The next day, while I was under the weather, we met up with Vinita’s cousin and his son for lunch at Bistro Niko!

IMG_2010– Be cool.

IMG_2006– Delicious burger

IMG_2114– Turkey Club

IMG_2094– What can I say, she loves fries!

IMG_2067– Dream woman.

IMG_2003-Saying goodbye from Atlanta

What a nice little trip to Atlanta!  Always hospitable and always good weather.  Nothing bad to say about this place, but wish we had more time to explore together.

Remember that time we went to the Bronx Zoo…

After our nice trip in Philadelphia, Vinita and I wanted to head to the Bronx Zoo.  As lovers of animals, we do dislike the idea of animals in captivity, but it was a nice afternoon and the Bronx Zoo has been very good in creating an environment for these animals to prosper in.

We got lucky and were given a student discount because of my hoodie! Here are some pics from our adventure…

IMG_1355– the butterfly exhibit!

-Vinita chasing after a Peacock!

IMG_1361-channeling her inner Cheshire Cat!

IMG_1372-How Patriotic

IMG_1382-some gorgeous flamingos

IMG_1384– true love!

IMG_1400-Finches

IMG_1404-All babe wanted to see were penguins

IMG_1407-little guys!

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IMG_1413– we asked a police officer to take a picture of us.

After the zoo, we headed up to Van Cortlandt Park.  I went to high school in this area, so I wanted to take Vinita to a restaurant that we frequented almost everyday for lunch.  It is called Broadway Joe’s Pizza.  We ordered a plain slice and a stuffed chicken slice with marinara on the side.  Delicious!

IMG_1411-No wonder I was such a fatty!

 

Remember that time it was kind of sunny in Philadelphia…

Spring is the best time of the year in the NorthEast.  Still breezy from the winter months, but hope is around the corner in the form of Summer.  After making Vinita come to NYC a few times during the winter, I thought it would be best for her to come to me when the trees were becoming green again, flowers were blooming, and birds were chirping.  It’s not always sunny in Philadelphia I said, so off we went.

We took a 2 day trip to Philadelphia to visit my cousin and his wife and their new baby girl!

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IMG_1185– Baby likes Vinita!

IMG_1184– She isn’t amused by me!

After a lovely BBQ dinner, we retired for the evening and woke up bright and early to explore Philadelphia!  Vinita loves parks and I love movie history, so we tried to combine the two.  First, we set out to Fairmount Park, which is the largest municipal park in Philadelphia, stretching over 2,000 acres!

We found a nice place to park and just wanted to walk around and get some pictures of the trees becoming green again.  As we got out of our car, we saw a group of people around a tree and were amazed at what we saw – rather what we were about to experience!

That’s right!  A squirrel, so friendly, so domesticated, that it would just hang out with you and sit on your hand.  What an amazing experience.

I love Chewie’s face in the background.

You literally could walk up to the tree and pet this little guy!  I love when you can interact with nature and not disturb it.

After our fun with the squirrel, we decided to go for a nice walk and took some photos in the park.IMG_1278

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We then headed to a place I have always wanted to go.  Growing up in the 80s, I loved action movies.  Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were always in my roster of movies I would watch regularly growing up.  Having been to Philadelphia a few times, I had never been to the infamous stairs Rocky ran up.

It wouldn’t be cute if either one of us ran up the stairs, so we did something else…

– He is really such a cutie…

IMG_1301-so is she..

IMG_1315– that water looks so good!

After a long day of driving around Philadelphia and walking around, we decided to head to The Belgian Cafe on N 21st in the Spring Garden area.

IMG_1318-Pet Friendly!

IMG_1321– Please give me food.

IMG_1324-Fine I will have some.
Overall, a fun tour of Philadelphia.  We saw family, drove around, explored a beautiful park, and saw some movie history!

Remember that time we jumped out of a perfectly functional airplane?

One of my favorite visions of all time is getting out of the terminal at LAX and seeing blue skies and palm trees.  There is nothing like leaving a cold NYC and coming to paradise.  Oh how Californians’ don’t know how lucky they have it!

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For my 33rd birthday, my lovely fiancé had the idea of having us go down to paradise – La Jolla, California.  A little backstory – my colleague at work constantly spoke to me about the time he got stuck in La Jolla during 9/11 and how beautiful the place was.  I placated him by just saying “yes, I can imagine”.  In my wildest dreams, I never thought it would actually happen.  So for my birthday, we decided to head down to La Jolla and just chill out.

We rented a Ford Mustang Ecoboost, which I was very excited to drive, and headed down.  The traffic is peanuts compared to NYC.  What made this an even more fun drive, was the fact that the car was a manual transmission.  Being a car geek, you should know, us geeks do anything in our power to drive a manual transmission.  There is no greater joy than being able to row one’s own gears.  The drive down was very smooth and we stayed at Hotel La Jolla.  It is a boutique hotel that is right down the street from the beach.

IMG_9751– Babe enjoying the view –

IMG_9864– the view; yes, that is a rainbow –

IMG_9841– obligatory masques’ –

unnamed-2– Babe loving Piatti in La Jolla, CA; the most delicious bread and dipping oil in America –

After the first night of fun, we decided to do something wild.  Why not jump out of an airplane?  Well, the plane works, is a reason I would say.  Well, my beautiful fiancé had already planned a skydiving session.  I wish I had video, but let me try to put it into words after I show you some pictures.

unnamed– strapping in –

IMG_9763– someone is excited! –

unnamed-1– gosh, I love her! –

The build up of going there, checking in, putting on the gear, and awaiting an airplane is fine.  Climbing into a rackety old plane is fine.  Sitting on the plane is fine.  Hanging off the edge of the plane when the door opens is fine.  Once you are pushed out, and looking at the plane above you – that is when things get real.  It was the most amazing experience in my life.  I am getting goosebumps describing it to you.  Human instinct is to do everything you can to save yourself.  This is the complete opposite.  It was a leap of faith, knowing that you would be fine.  The coldness of the air above the earth is so pure.  Just feeling as if you weren’t part of this world, was a very unique experience.  I was just amazed the 90 seconds it took for me to arrive back on earth.

I remember the moment we got out of that plane.  I am a pretty conservative and neurotic person, but to just give up my life for fun, was an amazing experience.  I thank my fiancé for showing me that aspect of life.  It was just breathtaking to be falling to the earth.  It is something I would like to do every year with her.

IMG_9769– jumping out of a plane makes one hungry! –

IMG_9759– Babe modeling in front of a 2016 Ford Mustang EcoBoost –

As mentioned before, I was pretty excited to drive the Mustang.  I love the design of the new Mustang and was eager to try out the EcoBoost motor.  After all, it had been almost 30 years since a turbocharged 4 cylinder had been placed in a Mustang.  Let me say this, the car has a great low end torque and it feels great driving on the highway.  There are a few pro’s (cool factor, low end torque, one of the nicest shifters I have ever experienced), but the cons outweigh the pros.  The interior felt like a 3 year old picked the materials.  The highway transitions felt horrendous; tons of body roll.  The initial turn in is great, but the mid corner feel is absent (you don’t know how the car is going to react).  The power delivery is nice though.  All these things can be fixed with aftermarket solutions, but it is definitely something to mention.

Once we got back to LA from La Jolla, we had a very nice family birthday dinner at Paru’s Indian Restaurant in Hollywood!

IMG_9882-thanks Babe and Babe Family –

IMG_9891– All thanks to babe –

Well, it was my 33rd Birthday.  We went to paradise.  Then jumped out of a plane.

 

 

p.s.  I lived.

Remember that time we were sweating in the morning and freezing at night?

Los Angeles is an amazing place to be.  The sheer size of the city is what amazes me everytime I visit.  What truly impresses me is that you can be 20 minutes from the ocean and gorgeous beaches towards the west, or you can be 20 minutes from an amazing mountain range to the north.  You also can be 20 minutes to an arid desert to the East and South.  With this diversity of amazing locations, come different weather patterns.  We experienced that one day.

As a newbie to Los Angeles, I had to see the Hollywood sign.  As cliché as it may seem, the sign represented California to me growing up.  The land where movies were made.  All represented by 9 letters on the side of a mountain.  I owed it to myself to see this national landmark with my own eyes.

Vinita, being a local, showed me the ropes. But first, breakfast…

unnamed-one of our favorites, Corner Bakery in Pasadena; oatmeal –

unnamed-1– doing assisted squats in front of the Hollywood sign –

unnamed-4-an amazing panoramic shot on top of the Hollywood Sign trail –

unnamed-5– we made it! –

unnamed-6– she looks proud –

One of the many similarities Vinita and I share is our love for food – we are closet fat kids!  When we visit one another, we try to show one another the best of our local cuisine.  Vinita told me about this place called Spitz, a Mediterranean hole in the wall on Hillhurst Ave in Los Feliz – the area right below the Hollywood sign.  The restaurant is clean and very modern; very LA if I may say so myself.  She did the ordering and got us a Street Cart Doner and an order of fries with aioli.  She said, “Try it.  I promise you.”  I am a trusting man and dug in.  Between you, the reader, and me, the author, I was so hungry I would have eaten anything.  After taking the first bite of the doner, my eyes lit up.  Am I in heaven?  No!  I was in an amazing eatery in Los Angeles.  Absolutely delicious!  The aioli that came with the fries was to die for and the wrap was perfectly crispy and the contents inside were warm and soothing after a long hike.  A perfect meal!

unnamed-7– heaven! –

Now getting back to the shifts in weather.  So it was 80 some odd degrees during our hike and later that night we decided to go to La Canãda where they had a light exhibition in the forest.  The official name was Descanso Gardens – Enchanted: Forest of Light.  A super trippy time.  The forest was nestled along a mountain, and everything was pitch black, yet all the trees and shrubs around were beautifully adorned with a fluorescent light show that would never be forgotten.

The decorations were not too abrasive to the eyes.  It honestly felt like we were in Willy Wonka’s Factory mixed with a nightmare scene from some Freddy Krueger movie.  Some plants were lit so well, they looked like candy and some trees were so ominous I held onto Vinita’s hand tighter and tighter as we walked the exhibit.

unnamed-8– a spooky tree –

unnamed-10– these lanterns looked ominous, but were beautiful in person –

unnamed-9– they look like tasty frisbees! –

unnamed-11– my angel from heaven who saved me –

Truly an awesome exhibition.

As you can tell from the pictures, there are a lot of things to do, but beware – weather here changes!  You better be ready for it.  Luckily we were and made the most of it!

Remember that time we went to Brooklyn for a photoshoot during a blizzard?

So Vinita came to visit me in NYC in January.  It had been a very mild winter, but she kept asking for snow, and boy did her wish come true!IMG_8578– Vinita enjoying snowfall in NYC! –

We started our NYC tour with my favorite museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I love this place for its sprawling size.  To go from ancient cultures all over the world in the span of one day is amazing for me.  My favorite section happens to be the Asian Art section, although the contemporary US side is also very nice.  This place brings back memories of my youth, when we would go on school field trips here and I would get lost in the wonder of history.

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IMG_8551– Vinita in front of a massive painting of Washington crossing the Delaware –

We got hungry from the few miles of walking inside the museum and had to get some slices of NY pizza.IMG_8534– 2 slices to go! –

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The following day was met with more snow.  Being in the automotive industry, I got to borrow a Porsche Macan for the day.  Introduced in April of 2014, the Macan came as an S and a Turbo.  2017 introduced a Base trim with a 4 cylinder turbo charged motor and a GTS model.  We got the 4 cylinder, which was PERFECT for city duty, and a bonus was that the car is AWD with the 18 inch standard wheels that are perfect for terrible NYC roads.

IMG_8597-Our 2017 Rhodium Silver Macan tackling the inclement weather at Columbus Circle –

IMG_8649– Vinita reprogramming the height adjustable rear tailgate on the Macan –

IMG_8656– Does this come with Keyless Entry? –

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– A very nice backroad near the Brooklyn Bridge –

IMG_8685– What a view! –

The following day was comprised of us relaxing and heading to the Top of the Rock!  By that we mean, Rockefeller Center, home of 30 Rock and SNL as well as other NYC based NBC shows.  It was really awesome to get a view of the city from this height.

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IMG_8796– Vinita loving the traffic –

IMG_8936– Vinita with our little son Chewbacca.  Follow him @ChewieTheYorkieee on Instagram –

We ended up finishing the last day with a nice feast of food.  We started in Brooklyn and getting the famous rainbow bagel with cream cheese.

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unnamed-3– Fluffy bagels like clouds –

We followed that up with a Shake Shack burger.  My favorite burger in the world.  Just delicious.  Vinita and I argue about which is better – Shake Shack vs. In N’ Out.  This time, NYC won!

unnamed-4– Heaven on earth! –

And finally, to put the proverbial icing on the cake, we got some Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes.  Absolutely gorgeous…and delicious!

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Oh New York, how we love you.  When it isn’t snowing.