Archive for the 'Family' Category

Recent short trips – South Lake Tahoe, Half Moon Bay

Dec 24, 2008 in Family, Kamil, Travel

View from Heavenly gondolaTwo weeks ago before the first major snowstorm hit the Sierra Mountains we spent 3 nights in South Lake Tahoe with Ania. We had booked this trip a few months ago hoping that we’d be locking good rates in the middle of a prime skiing season, you know Sierras and DECEMBER. We were staying in the Heaveanly Village hotel about 20 yards from the gondola entrance and we left San Jose with our ski gear in the roof carrier (I even managed to stuff sleigh in there despite Ania’s protests :)) aware of the poor skiing conditions yet hoping for a freak snowfall. Unfortunately nothing like that happened and there were only 4 lifts open at Heavenly… so instead of skiing we spent our time exploring the area that we thought we knew pretty well already and enjoying good local food and coffee in towns around LT. The first evening we hit a local bar that has survived the “yuppification” of the South Lake Tahoe where a local band was celebrating the birthday of one of its members. They had a guest saxophone player and despite there being only about 20 people at the bar a good time was had by all. We saw the same band 2 days later playing at the Hard Rock Cafe in one of the casinos and I think the singer did recognize us but we were on our way out having just finished dinner so we didn’t get a chance to stay and listen, plus I find the Reno/Tahoe casinos somewhat depressing and not worth permeating your clothes and hair with the cigarette smoke.

We did not get to ski this trip but we did end up with two lift tickets to Heavenly so we will use them during a next trip with the kids. This time he kids stayed at home with my parents Maria and Joe occupying their time with some plays at the local kids theatre and baking cookies for Christmas :)

Sunset at Half Moon BayThe second trip was a complete surprise to me (Ania secretly packed an overnight bag for us and the kids using the kids’ ice skating with the grandparents as an excuse for taking the bag with us… clever) . I thought we were going out for dinner in Half Moon Bay with my parents and instead we spent a family weekend together. When we got there Ania directed me to a small hotel on the coast where it turned out we had a couple rooms booked to spend some quality family time to celebrate my birthday :) The room had a nice view of the ocean and I took a few shots of a sunset that I will post in the gallery soon (one of them is on the left here). After sunset we had a wine and cheese party at the hotel lobby and then headed out to a local restaurant in Pescadero. The restaurant was special because many months ago I had seen it on one of the programs on Food Network and it being local (more or less) I had noted its name and given it to my parents as a possible place for them to take visiting friends or family members when they are showing them the coast. Well, we all ended up at this place on Friday enjoying their famous artichoke soup and seafood :)

1st pictures from Australia

May 10, 2008 in Family, Kamil, Photos, Travel

Great Ocean RoadI added the first set of photos from our Australian trip in the Photo Gallery. I also changed the photo layout a little bit since we are going to have dozens of galleries. I took off the links to individual galleries from the first page menu (on the right) and created one album page instead where they all will be visible.

There are about 470 photos in this first set and they include some photos from the airport and the rest are already in Australia. A couple photos on the way from Melbourne to Ballarat where we stopped at an Wildlife Park that had all of the unique and native Aussie animals in one place and guaranteed that the kids will see everything from koala to wombat and kangoroo. Then there are some photos from the Great Ocean Road where we spent the night at a B&B in the town of Lorne.  At the very end a few photos from our return to Melbourne that night.  There are very few pictures of Melbourne as we left for the Great Ocean Road straight from the airport and then the next day we went to friends’ house for dinner straight from the road. So basically the only time we were able to spend in Melbourne was driving and the only pictures I took were from the car :) You can see some of the experiments with street lighting in the last photos of this set. I will add a decrtiption to the galleries to explain a bit about each of the stages of the trip and the places in the pictures.

For some techincal info. One I figure out how to extract the EXIF data from the images and include them as part of the description you will be able to see the exact camera settings that were used to take each picture. As to the presentation, this is not yet the final look and I will be changin the CSS as well as the presentation method soon. I am also in the process of creating a favorites as well as “other media” galleries that will include movies and quicktime panoramas and will be presented using Adobe Flash. For now, enjoy the photos :)

Back from Australia

Apr 21, 2008 in Family, Kamil, Travel

Uluru SunsetWe came back from our Australian vacation on Monday… and I was finally able to get enough sleep today (slept 14 hours?). We had a great time and there is a lot I am going to be writing about in the next few weeks as well as posting some photos and quicktime panoramas. But first things first. I am going to try and upgrade to WordPress 2.5 which has been out for about a month. Then upgrade the NextGen gallery plugin to version 0.94 which introduces some very helpful features for the image gallery. THEN provided nothing goes wrong in the upgrade process I will start posting our day to day diary from the trip. We spent time in Melbourne, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Darwin and Sydney so there is plenty to write about and some 6000 ( 5777 jpgs + some 200 RAW) photos that I have to go through. I promise to be quicker than with the pictures from the European trip we went on in June 2007 (they are still not up) as there are others looking for these pictures to appear on the site (guys and girls from the 3 day Kakadu trip). I took the first step and resized all the jpg photos to 1024×768 (size that I post them in on here) yesterday and I started to go through them throwing out the really bad photos and the under/over exposed ones I took for HDR purposes.

We were flying on April 1st from LAX to Melbourne and here are a couple of pictures from the gate that was next to the Quantas gate we were boarding at. The good: It’s funny. The bad: That’s when I realized that I BOOKED THE WRONG FLIGHT … Funny thing is out of the 300+ passangers waiting for the Quantas flight that had to go by this sign I was the first one to notice that something was off, nice way to set the mood for the rest of the trip :-) since people on the flight were having a good laugh about this rather than getting offended:

Nice Flight

LAX Gate 115 April 1st 2008 around 4PM :-)

Nice Flight 3

the last line was blinking that’s why it’s only in the second photo

Just one quick observation before I forget, so we land at SFO at around 10AM, get to our car parked at the long term parking and start heading home on 101 South. All is great, we are tired from the flight but mentally rested and happy mostly due to great Aussie attitude and overall friendliness and free spirit. Then we turn on the radio (KGO which has the label of a liberal station) … They are taking angry calls about Osama bin Laden and why have they not caught him and whom the US should kill next etc etc, then the news is all about the election and some comments Obama made over the weekend about bitter people in small towns in Pennsylvania clinging to guns and religion because they are doing bad economically …  I really regreted coming back at this moment. I was so glad not to have to listen to this bs for two weeks. Even going to Australia I felt like an idiot at the airport in Auckland, New Zeland where we had a stop and had to leave the plane. Going through security I start taking off my shoes and getting the laptop out of the backpack and trust me with two kids travelling with you it’s not easy nor quick so you tend to stress out a bit. Then one of the security people smiles at me and says “You can keep your shoes on here mate, don’t need to take them off”. Same treatment at all airports in Australia, relaxed but watchful, my camera backpack spent a long time in each of the x-ray machines because of the number of batteries and cables I carry in it and got the chemical sniffer treatment once, yet you are not humiliated and reminded of a “threat” by taking off your shoes, you can carry water (or beer or other fluids) through the security and people waiting for passangers are allowed in the gate area on the national flights.  Of course being conditioned in the US I kept thinking that it’s not secured and that they are making it easy for the terrorists but when you think about it all it really does is keeps security out of the traveller’s mind rather than smear it in your face. Like when you’re walking barefoot on nasty floor trying to down that open bottle of water you might have brought with you or bought at the airport as you pass a security person frantically handing out the proper quart size zip top bags (not an ounce larger and DEFINATELY NOT THE FOLD OVER KIND (from FAA site) – those are not allowed) to everyone like water to marathon runners. At the Alice Springs airport I saw a British kid with a sixpack of Fosters (yea he was not Aussie) in his carry-on backpack. At the Darwin airport I sent a coffee in a cup through the x-ray machine and it was fine. Scared populace is obidient populace I guess so America please WAKE UP … Here’s why I don’t think taking shoes off does not have a real security objective but rather intimidation and only serves to remind peple of “THE THREAT”: If you can fit a bomb that is not detectable by the metal detector in a heel of a shoe you will be able to fit it in a bra or a jock strap or just your pocket or sew it into your pant leg so I really see no point in sending just the shoes through the x-ray while the rest of your person is not searched/scanned with anything more than a simple metal detector. Untill the Backscatter X-ray machines are available everywhere (or other similiar technology) you are not doing any real prevention x-raying shoes only … (Can you tell this really got to me? :-). It actually got to me many years ago but I decided to voice it now)

 Some other quick items: due to jet lag I spent long hours at night surfing but at least I tried to make use of it, I found the family coat of arms that my great grandparents and grandparents were using (not in this sense) and here’s what it looked like (This should be peacock’s tail not ostrich feathers in the crest in the first image but otherwise it’s accurate):

Herb Niezgoda

Herb Niezgoda 3

I will write a separate post on the coat of arms and the intersting story behind it as it needs a lot more explanation than just a quick mention.
In other news … Wouldn’t you hate to be the owner of this car… get up in the morning to find it’s turned into a submarine:

Malucha Pochlonela Ziemia

Merry Christmas

Dec 27, 2007 in Family, Kamil

Merry Christmas by dimantIt’s my favorite time of the year again. We spent the Christmas Eve at my parent’s place stuffing ourselves with great food. Last year we organized the party at our place for friends and family. Everyone made one dish which with 20+ people at the table provided for quite a culinary treat with all the special regional dishes or variations on the classics that I myself have never tasted before.

This year we had a traditional Polish Christmas Eve supper with 12 (or 13?) dishes. The supper stared with homemade barszcz z uszkami (beetsoup with mushroom dumplings), which was followed with halibut cooked in onions, herring in oil, herring in sour cream with apples and onions, a vegetable-potato salad, broiled halibut with potatoes, a dish which name I’ve seen translated as “Hunter’s Stew” and which is basically fresh cabbage and sauerkraut mix cooked with mushrooms ans spices (meat or sausage is added later as the meal on Christmas Eve traditionally could not contain meat other than fish – now it can but some things are still just done out of tradition), special pancakes, a poppy seed and raisin pasta dish, couple different cakes and few other dishes that are considered traditional dishes to eat around Christmas time.

Christmas Party

Dec 08, 2007 in Family, Kamil

One Market Street RestaurantAnia’s law firm organized a Christmas party at the One Market Street Restaurant in San Francisco. Great people, tasty food, open bar and a band playing all the 80s favorites, what more could you ask for? The band started their gig with a church organ music which was a clever way of commenting on the acoustics which were a bit like in a gothic cathedral due to the fact that the beautiful banquet hall is about six stories tall with a metal structure inside and a glass ceiling. It was a great time for everyone and an idea to be applauded especially during times when a lot of companies have given up on Christmas parties. We did not have a camera but I’ve heard there are pictures already online somewhere. I will post an update when I find them.

Saturday: Sea World San Diego, Believe Show and more

Nov 08, 2007 in Family, Kamil

Sea Wrold Believe On Saturday we went to the Sea World. Originally we we planning to go to the Legoland this day but we decided to switch the schedule due to the fact that Sea World has probably more things to see and we were not sure how much time/energy we would have on Sunday and if we would be able to spend a whole day at another park. Also in case we had to leave early to make it to the Airport on time.

We had a great fun at the Sea World with the most noteworthy show being the Believe killer whale show in which Wiktoria participated. You can see the photos in the Believe Show Gallery. The kids also got the pet the dolphins and interact with all kinds of other animals.

 Later that day we had a nice late dinner at the Arterra Restaurant / Lounge in one of their outdoor cabanas. This restaurant is very hip and serves good food (we had the sushi, the Trio of Kobe Sliders and the Prime Rib sandwich) and the atmosphere equal to one of Miami lounges often portrayed on the show CSI:Miami. The Mojitos were also excellent despite being served in thick plastic glasses rather than glass sue to the proximity to the swimming pool. When we walked into the pool – hot tub area the DJ was playing Timbaland’s Promiscous Girl, a group of people was having drinks in the jacuzzi and another group was dancing in the cabana next to ours so me and Ania just looked at each other then up at the hotel above as we both made the same connection with CSI:Miami and we were expecting a body to drop into the pool or some other CSI opening moment. – we really do not watch TV that much but if we do it’s the TIVO-ed episodes of CSI :)

Friday: San Diego Zoo

Nov 02, 2007 in Family, Kamil

San Diego Zoo LogoOn Friday Alex and Wiktoria went to the San Diego Zoo with their grandparents. Alex says his favorite animals were the snakes because “Joe, and grandma and cici like snakes” and both kids enjoyed the meerkat exhibit as they are their school mascots. Wiktoria however liked the sea otters the most and grandparents liked the panda bears, so the opinions are varied as to the favorite animal. Joe or Maria can add more details about the visit to the zoo…

 When looking at the San Diego Zoo’s web page I noticed that they also use WordPress for their blog (side note for the techies).

The weekend: San Diego Zoo, Sea World and the LEGOLAND

Nov 01, 2007 in Family, Kamil

Family weekend in San Diego. My parents took the kids with them on Friday morning and spent the day at the San Diego Zoo. We flew in on Friday night at around 10pm. The trip was planned for my Mom’s birthday so that she would be able to spend time with the whole family. It was a fun weekend especially for the kids who went to bed exhausted with each day’s activities and with heads full of new memories. We spent Saturday at the Sea World then Sunday we went to the Legoland had dinner in the San Diego’s Old Town and flew back to San Jose. Since we had so much fun at each place I thought I’d split up the posts to highlight some of the attractions at each location.

This was about a week after the  2007 Southern California fires have been put out and there was still a lot of FEMA and other government agencies in town making it pretty hard to find hotel rooms.