Thursday, March 11, 2010

And Then, There Were 8 Feet

Fox, our little boy, passed on after midnight last Monday.

He was diagnosed with cancer January last year, and although the vet said he only had a couple of weeks to a few months left, Fox who sometimes had a stubborn streak, held on for another year.

It wasn't easy for us to carry on knowing this. We felt that he knew and he wanted so badly for all of us to get to Vancouver, so he tried his very best to wait. Most of you know we are immigrating to Canada, and when we made this decision three years ago was when we also started traveling. The plan was to sell our properties, leave our jobs and travel while we waited for our immigration to come through. But things didn't go as planned, and it affected our lives more than we could ever imagine. We still traveled (not as extensively as we hoped), and it got challenging for us to keep you updated through this blog. The good thing was we were all together, all 12 feet of us traveling as a unit, our own little family.

As we close this chapter on a somber note, we also want to tell everyone positive, more hopeful news. Our immigration finally went through. We didn't even need an interview with the Canadian embassy and we attribute this favorable outcome to all the people who have attested and supported our cause. Thank you to our dear families and friends who were behind us from the beginning, and to everyone who reads this blog. We are planning to move to Vancouver next week.

Sadly, what would have been a milestone for us as a family, and especially for a little dog who went through his own challenges from a simple and sometimes strenuous life in the Philippines all the way to living and traveling 16 states across the US, was hampered by his ailment. Through grieving hearts we remind ourselves that it's not about him getting to Canada, but rather living life to the fullest without pain or suffering. We made sure he had all the love and affection he could get, all the toys he could carry on trips, and all the Pupperonis he could snack on until he couldn't anymore.

When Fox and I left the Philippines, people said of him, "what a lucky dog". While that's unarguably true, it is I who is the real lucky one. I got to travel with my best friend to places beyond my expectations, without fear of being alone. He was always there for me. Even when he moved in with Chris one year before I did, he was there for me, for Chris, and Spencer.

With this we say goodbye to our Fox. Though your passing brings us a lot of sadness, we'll remember your life with us, full of travels, explorations, wonder, excitement and joy. We love you and we'll always carry your big smile in our hearts.


__________________________

..."To you I'm nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you'll be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…"

"
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
 what is essential is invisible to the eye."

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Good morning! We're getting ready to launch the RV on the water!

Ok not really. But there's a lot of small RV parks along the Oregon
coast and even though it's beautiful, it's really hard to appreciate -
you have to see it first! We drove about a hundred miles up along the
coast before we actually saw a *glimpse* of it. We couldn't help but
compare it (as we oftentimes do with almost anything wherever we are)
to California's ruggedly beautiful -not to mention mosty accessible-
coast.

So last night we stayed at one of the parks at Rockaway Beach along
HW101. We paid 25 bucks just for an over-nighter and we didn't even
bother to hook up.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

This is how we camp. (Aka "Who's trailer trash now?")

High on top of the hills of Wyoming, we parked the RV on a secluded
spot with a dead-on view of the Grand Teton.

"I don't know anyone who camps like us", Chris says. I agree. We
visited the RV parks and designated camping spots inside the Grand
Teton National Park yesterday and sure enough we were greeted with RVs
by the hundreds parked one after the other. This isn't camping, this
is an outdoor mall.

So, like we often do, we steered as far away as possible from the
chaos in search of forest roads where we can settle and be one with
nature, without the hoards of tourist-campers.

This morning I woke up with a majestic sunrise view of the Tetons from
our king sized bed. I didn't even need to lift my head to see it.

"Roughing it" has never been this fun.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Racing with a storm cloud in Bismarck

Thunder, lightning and hail greeted us in Bismarck, North Dakota. It
was strong, loud, and scary. Good thing we are driving away from the
storm.

North Dakota! Theodore Roosevelt National Park

At the Badlands Overlook

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The 10PM sunset in Montana/North Dakota border.

In a big country dreams stay with you. Beautiful Big Sky Country, Montana.

Rolling hills, pasture lands with clouds parading across the wide open
sky. Interstate 90 across Montana.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Golden Hour - Sunset at Birch Bay, WA

Nov. 24, 2008 - about 470 photos taken every 5 seconds for a total of 48 minutes on the beach at Birch Bay Drive and Alderson Road in Birch Bay, Washington.

I didn't have enough time to set up, the horizon was a little off and the aperture should have been constant to eliminate those flashes, but it's still not bad. I've taken dramatic sunsets here lately, and since my video cam is broken, I thought I'd do a time lapse (a series of photographs placed on a time line to create a video) to capture the beautiful sunsets I see almost everyday here in our new home. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Back In Bridgetown: Portland, Oregon

Sure, this time of the year is a little gray, a little wet, maybe even a little too cold in Portland. Yet, I still love this city. In fact, a little more than before.

Cathedral Park

Portland has many names, and one of them is "Bridgetown."

Portland

With two rivers, one on the north separating it from Washington State (the Columbia River) and its tributary dividing the city lengthwise (the Willamette River), it's no surprise that the city has all together, 14 bridges(!)

Willamette River

During this season, one can hardly see the sun in the sky. It's a shame especially with these bright fall colors all around. On the other hand, to a photographer it becomes blessing (cloudy days are best for taking portraits) or a challenge.

Portland Convention Center

As you can see, I've taken these photos around sunset (there was sun?!??) until dusk, and early evening. I love bridges, not only for their symbolical meaning, but also for the opportunity of travel they present.



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* All photos and content, unless otherwise stated, copyright 2008 J. Reque and C. Foley.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Accidental Whale Watching in Pacifica

I just couldn't pass this one up. Our blog silence may have been an indication of our busy, erratic lifestyle, but all work and no play makes Julius a dull boy.

We're in Pacifica, CA, just 10-15 minutes south of San Francisco. I'll give more background next time, for those of you who are not from the Bay Area or the US. One of the nicest things here - other than having a fantastic view of the great Pacific Ocean - is regular sightings of the ocean's giant inhabitants: Whales!

Whale Watching in Pacifica

Whale Watching in Pacifica

I saw them through my window. The second I realized what they were, a surge of excitement rushed through me. My first reaction of course, was to grab the camera. :)

It was great seeing something so out-of-the-ordinary. I've forgotten how such occurrences can inspire me and bring zest to my "ordinary" day. The big lesson is, they're always there... I just don't notice them.

Some things in life do not have to be phenomenal in order to be special.



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* All photos and content, unless otherwise stated, copyright 2008 J. Reque and C. Foley.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

STOP the PRESS, WATCH the VIDEO!

Check out our latest video for Lonely Planet...

You've seen the "rough" version earlier from our Las Vegas trip (I know, you're sick of Vegas already!) but I just wanted to share the whole premise of this video.

Inspired by "Experimental Travel" (Rachael Antony and Joel Henry), a book that dishes out alternative and playful ways of making the travel experience unique, immersive, and to say the least, quirky. Examples are exploring your own town by becoming a weekend backpacker - stay in a hostel, gallivant with other backpackers and see your town through their eyes, ...risk becoming either a local stranger or a strange local...?), or finding a dog and letting the dog take you for a walk! (Good luck trying that with Fox, whose favorite walk is to the car). Whether it's the Tenderloin or Tunisia, there are creative ways to explore and experience a place other than the classic travel routes.

So, back to Vegas, one of the world's high-priced travel destination, and what did I do?

Spend as little -most cases none- as possible. Now, on with the show... Enjoy!

video

http://lonelyplanet.tv/Clip.aspx?key=1591A0A2EB2A1DF4


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* All photos and content unless otherwise stated copyright 2008 J. Reque and C. Foley.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We've Been Quiet Lately...

Quiet, but definitely not stationary.

busy

We are still traveling, still exploring new worlds and revisiting familiar ones, and enjoying every single bit of it. We promise to update you, our dear family and friends, of our adventures soon.

We'd like to take this opportunity to post some previous travel stories that we weren't able to share in the past, so watch out for them.

In the meantime, happy summer everyone!

Your Traveling 12 Feet,
Chris, Rikki, Fox and the ever curious Spencer

.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Penny-Pincher's Guide to Flying The Strip

I am so proud of myself. Let me tell you why.


Before leaving for Las Vegas, I came across what seemed like a fun but high-priced idea. Soon as I got the chance, I came to Chris itching to reveal my exorbitant thought:

"Wouldn't it be grand...


to see Las Vegas...


at night...


on a HELICOPTER ! ? ! !"



[crickets]


Chris flashed a Quixotic smile. "You can do whateeever you want", he said with a slow up and down motion of his head and a sparkle in his eye.

Okay, maybe it sounds nonsensical, considering how much it cost and how short it all takes. But I was excited. For 10(ish) minutes you get to sit inside the best VIP helicopter equipped with comfy leather seats, wrap-around glass for outstanding visibility, and drink champagne -- all for a hundred dollars.


Needless to say Chris wasn't too thrilled. Besides, he will be in Mexico, he exclaimed. But this is Vegas. Thousands of people out here pop $100 in less than 10 minutes.

Then after some thought, a hundred bucks just so you can float above neon lights while you postpone your upchuck from that bubbly elixir you had before vertically taking off the ground can be way-out and... stratospheric. No pun intended.


Me wrestling with an 8-foot python on the strip 'cause a helicopter ride with free champagne was waaay too radical.


However, the Universe has a way of making sure things work out - especially if they were meant to be. Now in Vegas, after foraging the strip for the best bargains in almost anything from bottled water to breakfast buffets, to Broadway musicals, I bumped into John, who said for ONLY 20 DOLLARS I can be hovering above Sin City that same night. This deal was even sweeter than the strawberry daiquiri I had for breakfast that morning!

A guy named John has the best deals under his sleeves. Look for him below the giant M&Ms. He certainly looks like one, too.

The catch was (hell yeah, there's a catch) I have to sit through a time-share presentation that includes:

1) free lunch

2) pick up and return

3) an hour and a half of one on one with a guy who looks like Gennady Zyuganov but with bigger eyes and long, graying eyebrows, who will scowl and try to convince you that you can save money by giving them your money ("and for two weeks a year, you can have the grand vacation of your life in any of our pre-selected destinations...").

John got me at "free lunch". Already practicing my "stare, smile, and nod a lot" routine, I say, "Let's go, I'm ready for some 'time-sharing'".


Two grueling hours later...

I got sidetracked inside the Bellagio's Conservatory and Botanical Garden watching two butterflies get their groove on. I'm sure that wasn't the proboscis I saw sticking out.

Another two hours later, it was dusk. I was hyper, chatty, and already admiring the leather handbag of the lady across from me as we waited for our pilot.

I made friends: Next to me are the dapper couple Brian and Laura. Her handbag sports a hardcore tattoo design!

Finally, the moment I've been waiting for...


video


They say the best things in life are free. But most of the time, the things you work hard for - the fruits of simple honest-to-goodness hard labor - can be the sweetest rewards in life.



I'll drink to that.




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* All photos and content unless otherwise stated. Copyright 2007 J. Reque and C. Foley.
Traveling12Feet.com

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Two Weeks in Sin City Can Be Darn Wicked

Aside from the herky-jerky internet connection (we were having problems with the satellite dish - I later found out this was the reason why), 12 days in the same place proved to be... challenging, at least for nomads like us who will do anything to be somewhere different all the time even if we had to drive a hundred miles, only to drive back home that night.

The Oasis RV Resort in Las Vegas is fabulous. Clean, well-maintained environment, modern facilities, not to mention HUGE! I was constantly getting lost - even in broad day light! PLAY the photos below or click "View Album" if you don't see it.



The sites have good spacing and offer full hook-ups for power, water, and drainage. So I'm all set while Chris is in Mexico, right? Wrong. Everything was available except the transportation - and I have this tenacious desire to explore the Entertainment Capital of the world. For those of you who don't know, I tend to gravitate towards sparkling objects. My favorite color in fact, is "shiny" :-)

Glitzy: The Oasis RV Park at night. At the end of the road and yonder, you can see the light beaming up from the Luxor, beckoning me to come and bring gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh - but plain quarters for the slots will do.
The shuttle that takes guests to the strip (which is only 5.5 miles away) for some reason stopped running last February. Which meant I had to walk from the resort to the clandestinely marked bus stop across the highway, wait for the bus that will take me to the terminal where I can again wait for the bus that will take me to the strip. Sweet.

Before I turn this into a whine fest, let me digress and continue with how the trip went. After Chris ventured to San Felipe, Mexico, my events started on a bad foot. Or should I say bad fridge. One morning the fridge door broke and as I swung it open to get milk for my cereal, the entire door unlatched and fell, bringing everything it can from inside with it.

Fox had mayo (light) fall in his dish, mixed with some apples, baby carrots and sugar peas, while cans of soda (thank god, sugarless) burst from the fall and started going off like manic garden sprinklers, covering everything with a nice splash of dark reddish-brown hue. Sure enough, Coke adds life to everything nice.

Fox was not amused. "I sure hope you'll put tuna in the mayo", he says.

While the fridge computer was smart enough to figure there was something wrong with its door (see 'd' sign above), it was not however intuitive enough to keep the food on its shelves, if the said door was to be tampered with. Hmm, maybe 'd' stood for Don't (open) or Danger, or...

Wait, what's that on the leather sofa? Mmmmmmm.... shiiiinyyyyy....



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* All photos and content unless otherwise stated copyright 2007 J. Reque and C. Foley.
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

12 Feet Hit The Road

Vegas Bound

Monday, March 31st, Chris, Rikki, Fox & Spencer head to Las Vegas. Although easy flights abound to Las Vegas from just about everywhere, Las Vegas is not such an easy drive from the Bay Area.










That Sierra Nevada mountain range can really get in your way! We should be able to make the 564 mile journey in 10 to 12 hours.












We will be staying at the Oasis RV Resort right on the Las Vegas Strip.

Check out their web site. We usually don't go for resort-style camping, but a little luxury while away should be a nice treat. I'll be busy with a four-day conference and Rikki with a travel video for Lonely Planet - this time on Las Vegas.



I'll be taking a (major) side trip to San Felipe, Mexico from the 2nd to the 5th to visit my folks who moved there in January. I'm very excited about seeing my mom and step-dad. I have to say how proud I am of them. In their early 70's by the calendar, but very young in spirit, they are an inspiration to me that life continues to be an adventure.

Rikki's folks are going to take a couple of days out of their schedule to join us in Las Vegas. We're both excited about seeing them. I'm glad Rikki will have some company while I'm busy with my conference. More to come from the road . . . stay tuned!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saline Valley: A Remote and Allusive Passage to Death Valley


Saline Valley Road Map



Saline Valley welcomed us to the colorful and extremely fascinating desert Shangri-La that is Death Valley in the Mojave Desert.

Officially within the Death Valley National Park boundary, Saline Valley is mostly overlooked by those heading to its more arid and popular big brother Death Valley farther to the south and east. Saline Valley makes a great introduction to the park, for those with the time, and for those looking for an escape from civilization.


A huge dry lake with a salt marsh occupies the center of the valley, but most people come to see the sand dunes and of course, to soak and relax in the natural hot springs. That is, if you're not bashful about exposing skin (and I mean ALL of it) and don't mind the drive through dozens of miles of washboard roads to get there.

The lonesome road is perfect for four-wheelers, and on most occasions you can drive its entire length without seeing another vehicle (well, at least on land). But with scenery so delightful, the total experience is well worth the trek!

Hippies in the Hot Springs


In the 60s, Saline Valley Hot Springs became popular with nudists, and today, although nudity is against general Park regulations, it is now "clothing optional" and highly regulated. But for the sake of tradition (and the right to bare your assets) authorities and the eclectic - often eccentric - visitors maintain a civil relationship. However, the springs here do not appear on ANY National Park Service maps.

To be so free, stripped of your worries and disclosed to nature, soaking in medicinal water under the golden sun and the unclouded blue sky against rugged mountains - your mind can't help but wander until...


A Jet Flies By

A common sight in the valley, low flying jets (along with who-knows-what-else is "out there") maneuver in neck-breaking speeds. Just over the mountains lie a restricted U.S. military complex. The jets generally don't bother, nor scare people, in fact, Chris and I enjoyed the private show.



Antique Alien Space Modules?

Our love affair with the mountains, hot tubs, and supersonic fliers dissipated as we reached the center of the valley. Here lies a different kind of spectacle. Back in the early 1900s, salt was harvested from Saline Valley and transported across Inyo Mountains and Owens Valley to be milled and shipped to Nevada. They constructed tall tram towers connected with cables for gondolas carrying 800 pound loads of salt to traverse from one tram to another. Now, these ruins stand in eerie uniform distance to each other like giant characters from a Star Wars movie.



It seems ironic to call this a "dry" lake with its voluminous salt marsh, but its glassy and contemplative nature make this spot popular with photographers from sun up to sun down.

Charlie Was Here

Saline Valley also had a brush with evil back in the days. Cult leader Charles Manson (along with his helter-skelter followers) was obsessed with the springs and believed them to be "The Hole," a bottomless pit that leads to a secret city beneath Death Valley. Saline Valley was the fave hangout of this gruesome murderer before his 1969 arrest in nearby Panamint Valley.

Saline Valley is truly enjoyable, whether or not one knows its history. The Native American people who lived here during prehistoric times, the affluence of salt and minerals, the gold-seekers who became miners and drudged to make a living, the 60s mainstream expatriates and the cult members who chose to make this their sanctuary - these are stories obscured by wide open spaces, panoramas of leathery layers of mountains, sand dunes gracefully sculpted by wind and the elements, and a secret oasis for naturists.

There is no doubt Saline Valley is captivating, relaxing and beautiful, but if you think that jets are not the only flying objects here, or that the hot springs are actually portals to a Utopian underworld, I will just have to take that with a grain of salt.


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Saturday, January 26, 2008

48 California State Parks at Risk of Closing




Rikki and Chris at Manchester State Park, May 2007, Our first trip in our own RV


Please join us in protesting the potential closure of 48 California State Parks to help balance the state budget. Several of our favorite parks are set to close, including Manchester State Park in Mendocino County. It is our favorite rustic camping spot along the California coast.

We ordinarily keep our politics to ourselves; however, we hope you will join us in protecting the 48 state parks in California on the chopping block. Closing these parks would save nine million dollars, yet save only 0.1% of the state budget. The impact would be a loss of 20% of the state's parks.

Click the link below to learn more from Environment California about the proposed closures. At this link you can also sign a letter of protest to the governor.

http://environmentcalifornia.org/action/preservation/state-parks?id4=ES

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