Destination: Austin, Texas

This has got to be one of the most random, most unplanned road trips I’ve ever taken in my entire life. But sometimes its those random adventures that make the journey worth while especially when its with your family, now if you don’t enjoy being around your family then what I just said doesn’t count. Oh, and tell me why my brother Paulo finally gets to take off from work only to find out that our plans were up in the air, talk about bad timing. For years now we’ve been nagging him to come with us coz he never makes it to our family outings and the one time he decides to come, we didn’t have anything planned, well we did but the weather kinda messed that up.

So here was our original plan (the one we picked out of a million) —Barton Springs and Hamilton Pool in Austin and then camping in one of the State Parks. And just like the weather forecast stated, it rained like crazy washing away our one and only feasible plan and so we had to google what to do on the spot as we were already in Austin.

First stop, Kerlin BBQ.

So originally we weren’t supposed to eat in Kerlin but that other Bbq place we were planning to go to ran out of meat. I’m glad we ended up eating here though, yes it may be a food truck and it wasn’t really an ideal set up to be eating outdoors especially with the rain and the mud puddles but their BBQ was so tasty and their prices were decent, not to mention they had good service. That lady who helped us (possibly the owner) made sure we got our bang for the buck and we did.

fullsizerender2092_zpswkil7b58

fullsizerender20105_zpsba2zlbmz

M.E.A.T

fullsizerender_zpsuzsv3cew

Loved loved loved the cream corn

fullsizerender2095_zpsan5c5ty8

Did someone say local beer?

fullsizerender20106_zpsuklamrbc1

The outdoor set up

Next stop, Cathedral of Junk.

Address to Google: 4422 Lareina Drive, Austin, TX

After years of working on this piece, Vince, the artist and the owner was finally given a permit for Cathedral of Junk to stay for good as an Austin landmark. This place is free of admission but like any struggling artist donations are greatly appreciated to fund the maintenance of this Art Museum and other art pieces in the works. For groups a suggested amount of $10 is good enough but if you want to donate more then all the better. Make sure to call 512-299-7413 before heading there since the place is by appointment only.

fullsizerender2088_zpspp6tgmo7

Cathedral of Junk

17202932_10210844515603503_6622303972153491906_n_zps8r9acy4r

Ramas- Mendezonas outside the Cathedral of Junk.

fullsizerender2096_zps6ig42rgv

fullsizerender2093_zpsnk3wvxhm

Bits and bobs everywhere, its hard not to stare at the walls

fullsizerender2097_zpsx2zv0mze

Okayyyy, random Barbie parts are kinda creepy

fullsizerender2089_zpsrz5phi3b

How creepy…trolls randomly strapped in the ceiling

fullsizerender2020_zpslkommvsw

fullsizerender2091_zpsuvewg5c8

fullsizerender20102_zpsyjalofgb

fullsizerender2018_zpsvikbe5ng

img_0124_zpsfrqctoad

fullsizerender2060_zpscul9cjar

fullsizerender2094_zps1zaq7txr

fullsizerender209_zps62af7rsb

fullsizerender2047_zpscs1i4ii9

fullsizerender203_zps0lvmj3sz

The view of the cathedral from the back

fullsizerender2036_zpsy13lxszh

fullsizerender2063_zpsd6ox2rhg

Vince, the artist.

Third stop, Hope Outdoor Gallery.

Address to Google: 1101 Baylor Street, Austin, TX

Austin’s community or gallery for graffiti art. If you want artsy photos with cool backgrounds like those you see on IG (rolls eyeballs, haha) then you’re definitely in the right place, only problem during the time we visited Hope Outdoor Gallery was it was raining and the place was clearly muddy and slippery. I didn’t risk taking Cassie further up for the fear of slipping, the rest of my siblings climbed all the way up though. Marco and I will definitely be back to explore this place some more when Mr. Sun is out.

fullsizerender2071_zpsjbn5d7d8

fullsizerender2032_zpswiobo2me

fullsizerender2049_zpsbmhutqmh

fullsizerender2010_zpsb7dxo6dg

fullsizerender2052_zps8ksemvn3

Last stop, Texas State Capitol.

Address to Google: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX

Located in Downtown Austin, this was the only place we could think of to cap our random Austin trip on a rainy day. At that point we weren’t too keen nor were we interested in reading or learning about anything that involved Texas’ political history. We did enjoy touring the capitol and spotting Sam Houston’s portrait (since both my sisters go to Sam Houston State University). Btw, admission is free although parking wasn’t, I think we paid $10 for parking.

fullsizerender2067_zps5kamtnue

fullsizerender2058_zps6bhcxl00

fullsizerender2040_zpsukdy8t1m

fullsizerender2034_zpsolcnhpr0

fullsizerender2041_zpsxo0aiohw

fullsizerender2015_zps94krozjk

fullsizerender2057_zpsh3mllyka

fullsizerender2084_zpsewpjgxae

fullsizerender2078_zpshlejxivp

And there you have it, a recap of our random day trip to Austin.

~Rhea

Destination: Harlingen, Texas

Marco was scheduled for another interview here in Texas but this time it was in Harlingen so we took a road trip close to the border of Mexico more for business than pleasure. It’ s days like these when I get to take advantage of the perks working PRN (as needed) at the hospital. I love how I can just pick my schedule and take off from work without any hassles or complications when need be. It took us roughly 4 hours and 30 minutes to get there and the first thing we did was google a good place to eat. We ended up having lunch at Brass Wheel Restaurant.

img_9209_zpsh8edt3lj

img_9191_zpsnm2jjnp4

img_9190_zps3pzsivp7

img_9204_zpsvi4subvf

img_9205_zps5141xjyl

img_9203_zpsermfxih1

Marine Memorial

Visited this mini museum mainly for the Iwo Jima Memorial statue. The wind was acting up so we didn’t even stay long and I didn’t even bother visiting the gift shop like I normally would.

img_9589_zps5ctnjpx6

img_9596_zps9uubokbg

img_9591_zpsv5f30xgx

img_9616_zpsjsb8fzbc

img_9587_zpsgbstcuml

img_9210_zpskmuiesvc

img_9602_zpsxgzgcixk

Iwo Jima Memorial up closeimg_9599_zpsimpsxovc

Because he feels the need to do the “Lion King” pose at every historical landmark we go to.img_9611_zpslbwedbei

 Checked in at Courtyard by Marriott

It had a modern minimalistic feel to it.

img_9639_zpsmfqoqo0m

img_9638_zpslawlszfa

img_9637_zpsym66f0tj

img_9636_zpsb8c2k35b

fullsizerender203_zpsppqfaokn

img_9644_zpsxiklcwca

img_9246_zpsd03fo3nl

The hotel’s poolside was pretty decent and since we had nothing else better to do, we decided to take Cassie for a swim.

fullsizerender204_zpsfcc6tscc

She acts like she runs the place, waiting for daddy to get ready.

fullsizerender206_zpsstem2xri

img_9225_zpsgpbks20b

img_9233_zpsmskqunff

img_9241_zpsdqozq6sx

img_9238_zpscp6exrug

So apparently people who viewed my snaps thought we were crazy for swimming that day since it was rather breezy, the water was warm and we didn’t really stay long so I promise you Cassie was fine.

img_9250_zpsvlzecpoj

img_9247_zpsvtnjpuhk

Famished after her swim so she grabbed her snack, sat on the sofa and started munching on her puffs like a boss

That night Cassie and I stayed in and ate left overs while Marco had an informal dinner with the rest of the interviewees for the residency program.

The next day, Marco rode a shuttle and left early for the hospital, Cassie and I packed our stuff, loaded up and went window shopping after we had that cockroach incident. I am not even going to expound on what happened since I am positive that it wasn’t even the hotel’s fault but lets just say I had to get over my fear of roaches so I could kill one. I felt like if I didn’t, it would have called the rest of its friends and Cassie and I would have a cockroach frenzy.

img_9296_zpsnqugujxv

Just roamed around town while Marco was doing his interview, its a good thing I found the mall right when he finished. He gave me a call just when I walked in a Forever 21 and it looked like 6x this photo. It felt like a Forever 21 warehouse and I was just glad he called before I could do any credit card damage that  I would regret in the future. Everything was on sale!!!!

Met up with one of Marco’s friends from med school that was currently doing residency over there, they had a quick catch up before we drove back to Houston. On our way home we got stopped at an immigration checkpoint. Because the city was located in the border  line of Mexico, immigration was taking precautionary measures that Marco was unaware of and I totally forgot about. He forgot to bring his green card and it took them a while to verify his identity with his drivers license. I’m just glad nothing crazy resulted from our inefficiencies. We got home safe, extremely exhausted but safe.

~Rhea

Destination: Big Bear Lake, California

January 2-4, 2017

Seeing snow while spending the holidays in California was like the cherry on top, the Mendezonas planned a skiing/snowboarding trip to Big Bear but I was more excited that Cassie was going to have her first snow experience. I was already assuming that she would fall in love with snow so quickly given the fact that she has a current obsession with things cold (ice, A/C, freezer, ref…and the list goes on) also explaining one of her all-time favorite expressions “told told” (cold cold).

There were 14 Mendezonas and half of us haven’t encountered snow long enough or don’t live in snow. Period. It’s a good thing the L.A-Mendezonas had enough snow gear for the rest of the Mendezona boys while Mami made sure the ones who didn’t have snow gear had one especially the babies. We even visited the snow gear outlet store a few days before the road trip. Wow, I didn’t think staying warm and comfortable at the same time would be a lot of serious work . I guess its different when you take solo skiing trips, I remembered my first trip to Colorado a few years back and packing wasn’t this crazy but when you prepare for a family of 14—it is a PRODUCTION. Imagine all the snow boots, all the thick jackets, all the thermals, all the mittens, all the gloves, all the snow goggles not even counting the snowboards and the ski equipment, yes, it was definitely a production.

Day 1

Our drive there has got to be one of the least boring drives I’ve taken in my life, not because Cassie was screaming until almost half way through the drive but because the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. For some reason snow makes things look so magical.

img_8834_zpszqg4baeq

3 cars and 2 hours later the Mendezonas made it to their Air bnb cabin in Big Bear and the boys were in charge of most of the hard labor of carrying the luggages up the stairs. (photo below for reference, hahaha).

img_9481_zpsomdutmac

img_1816_zpspg4wn5ia

The kitchen and dining area. Excuse our luggage.

img_1815_zpstjhaibew

img_1817_zps8xsvxti3

img_9477_zpslgbqrpue

The living room by the fireplace

img_1814_zpswsv8h39p

Bedroom on the 1st floor

img_8820_zpsdixrhfp2

Upstairs bathroom had one of Cassie’s favorite animals—Owl.

img_8818_zpsef3a0oge

The loft upstairs aka the boys area

fullsizerender20220copy_zpsjkytyp8w

The second floor’s very own cozy nook

Once we kinda got settled in and we semi-explored the house, we headed out for late lunch at this local place that was called Mountain Munchies. It might have presented itself like a hole-in-the wall but service was excellent in the form of our server being really patient with us.

img_8814_zpsiaed3fqy

What I got, chicken Fried Steak. It was meh.

fullsizerender202_zps9rhvszg3

Our view from outside the diner.

After late lunch, we headed out to a play area where the kids could play with snow but Cassie was fast asleep so I decided not to wake her up so we decided to stay inside the car to keep warm. The remainder of the day was spent on cooking, running errands, settling down and family bonding time over random movies by the fire place. Oh,  and marshmallows by the fire place.

img_8816_zpsyycbpv0n

This one is out cold and missed playing with snow.

img_7f4d834f6d85-1_zpsewcci6ma

What dinner preparations looked like

img_1827_zpsix0hh6sd

fullsizerender_zpsopxt1vf8

These two cousins bonding over giant marshmallows

Day 2

Of course we tried to follow our planned schedule to leave by 9am for our snow activities and of course we failed miserably. Did I mention there were 14 of us and 2 bathrooms? One thing I’ve learned from situations like these is the “Early bird gets to bathe in hot water”, I’m telling you icy baths are no fun especially when they’re least expected.

fullsizerender2010_zpslmhnyyov

Good Morning!

Our view outside the cabin.

img_9492_zpszymnbuu0

The girls and one little pikachu photo bomber, my godson Teo. Haha

img_9496_zpseo8x3wh6

She just wanted me to put her down so she could play with snow

img_9495_zpsshhlygyi

“let go of my hand mommy”

4_zpsa4otzdlf

Chilling (literally) by the side snow with these cuties while waiting for everyone to head down

3_zpsxdn4o53s

Photo op before heading out to the slopes

fullsizerender207_zps1swrrbg9

img_9508_zpsyggcpcsc

Two hours and thirty minutes after our planned time we made it there.

img_9519_zpsd77ltptp

We parked our snowboards. What a stash, haha.

img_9516_zpslnhevfzs

And even then we still took long in buying our lift tickets and renting out snowboard boots and what not

img_9512_zps0l2tb8iz

This one wasted no time and started exploring

img_9526_zpshaymcx90

Ordering lunch to this view

img_9523_zps9yszctk9

Cassie wanted to see the view for herself

img_1639_zps92dviunq

The scenery from up the slopes

img_9534_zpsbl3gfkid

Cassie: It’s about time daddy

Marco, finally came down after a few rounds of snowboarding and he decided to play with the kids in the snow

img_9537_zpsbfgzdzab

img_9542_zpsi56lzotq

img_9544_zpswnqtpuuo

img_9547_zpsqkq9fpk4

img_9556_zpsjp9gqrrw

Me and Pilica with the babies

img_8237_zps96rinipy

Mami and Mikel had to make a miniature snowman to stop Teo from crying, he loved it but wouldn’t take a picture with it. (Yes, that’s beans and mac and cheese. )

img_8239_zpss9zefhmi

Although someone gladly posed next to the itty bitty snowman. Haha, Hi Dieg.

A short recap of today’s events, most went snowboarding, some went skiing, one got sprained and mami and I stayed with the kids. The highlight of my day was seeing Cassie go crazy over snow, she loved it so much that she’d get mad at me for taking her back to our waiting area. In fact she loved it so much she was willing to go with anyone who could take her back to the play area even if it wasn’t mommy.

Day 3

Everyone else had the rest of the morning to do more snow activities but Marco, Javi, Mami, Pilica, Anya, Cassie and I had to go down first since Marco had to fly to Houston earlier a day before me and Cassie for an interview.

~Rhea

Anvaya Cove

July 27 – 28, 2015

When in Manila and you want to plan a last minute out-of-town getaway people usually settle for the usual Tagaytay, Subic and Bataan to name a few, depends on what activities you’re interested in doing. Tito Tommy, Rachel, Sophia and Eva being here on vacation from Florida was a perfect excuse to go out of town with the (Ruiz de Luzuriaga) family and mami being the super mom that she is secured us a few rooms at Anvaya Cove in Morong, Bataan (see, what did I tell you…Bataan, haha). For a last minute trip with top of the line accommodations, of course we were beyond ecstatic. The Luzuriagas only had a few more days before flying back to the US and as much as I wanted Marco to come with us so we could spend time with his family, he also just had a few more days before his USMLE Step 1 exam so he stayed behind.

Usually the travel time from Manila, or specifically Alabang (since that’s where we were coming from) to Bataan takes around 3-4 hours but we totally forgot about the Iglesia ni Cristo Centennial celebration that was happening that day so traffic caught us by surprise and it was not in anyway funny. Buses, cars, jeepneys, trucks…all sorts of vehicles were parked along NLEX leaving the 4-lane express way into a one-lane traffic jam. NLEX in an instant just became their own private parking space, How is that legal?!? Anyway that totally messed up the plans for the day and we had to improvise, our 3-hour drive became a crazy 6-hour one.

Anyway here are a few photos of our short trip:

To make up for that crappy traffic jam was an enjoyable lunch at Meat Plus, when in Subic it is a must to stop by and enjoy their reasonably priced Baby back ribs, steak and whatever else they’re known for.

We finally made it to Anvaya and this baby was the happiest, haha. Awww, Eva you’re too cute!!!

Here are photos of our room accommodation including the bath area

The pools were inviting but we wasted no time and headed straight for the beach.

Rach and Eva. I love this mommy and baby photo.

Eva

Sophia

Negotiating with Abu if she could get a chocolate milk shake.

And Sophia’s wish came true.. Haha. 😀

Day 2

Sophia feeding the fishies after our breakfast 😀

It’s a beautiful day for a sun tan.

With my partner in crime, Pilica. Thanks for assisting the “pregnant lady”, lic!

Pretty much a summary of what we had for lunch- comfort food, need I say more?

Bye, Anvaya. It was good while it lasted.

Btw, I’m ending this blog post with a fun fact…I did one of the first TVCs for Anvaya Cove ages ago when Ayala was still trying to market the resort. I played a teenage daughter for one of the families, try to spot me..haha. Enjoy!

~Rhea