Friday, January 24, 2014

PHOTO ESSAY: More from Yosemite

It's hard to take a bad shot in Yosemite and it's also hard to cull pictures for our article. There's just so much to choose from. Here are some leftover shots from our recent trip to one of the most beautiful spots on Earth.

Yosemite is about more than just high cliffs and waterfalls. There are also thousands of trees. In fact, there are some great groves of Giant Sequoias here too. Here is one of the trees on the valley floor.

Tim and I take in the view on a bridge over the Merced River.

Even though the weather was warm, it was still winter. You can see some snow in the upper reaches of the mountains surrounding the valley, like these next to Taft Point.

While Yosemite Falls is featured heavily in our report and video, Yosemite has many other spectacular falls too. Here is Bridalveil Falls on the western end of the valley.

This relief map shows the layout of Yosemite Valley.

I'm taking a break from filming for a picture and then to take in the incredible view.

Entering the park from the west, coming in from Mariposa, you need to drive through this tight, little hole in the rocks.

Letty takes some time to take in the scenery at Tunnel View.

And we'll end with another reminder that it was still winter when we were there, a giant frozen waterfall.

Copyright 2012 - Darryl Musick and Letty Musick
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Ethnic Foods of the San Gabriel Valley: 626 Night Market

Cuisines covered in previous posts: Mexican, Cajun, Nepalese, Lebanese, Thai, Basque, Argentinian, Cuban, Vietnamese, English, Belgian, Spanish, Jewish, Greek, Greek Diner, Hawaiian, Salvadoran, Iranian, Armenian, Afghani, Indonesian, Korean, Cambodian, American, California Cuisine, Soul Food, Japanese, Filipino, Barbecue, French, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Pizza, Mongolian Barcbecue, Pakistani, Indian, Peruvian, Malaysian, Burmese

We're almost there...this is the penultimate post in this series. Next week, we'll tackle the 800 pound gorilla of the San Gabriel Valley ethnic food scene but this week, we'll take one little detour before wrapping it up.

In Asia, night markets draw lot of people late at night to gatherings of food booths mingling among other merchants, kind of like a late night flea market.

Taiwanese immigrant Jonny Hwang missed the markets and thought the SGV, with it's large Asian population, would be ripe for such a venue. The 626 Night Market was born (the name is taken from the area code of the San Gabriel Valley).

While the first version got off to a shaky start in Pasadena back in 2012, the night market has had much more success after moving to Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia.

It's a mostly Asian flavor, although there are some food trucks bringing in other cuisines.  Stands ranging from cheap to expensive sell all kinds of different Asian goodies.

There's Indonesian roasted chicken, stinky tofu, intestine stew, Sriracha lobster balls, and even a Chinese stand selling incredibly delicious Belgian Liege waffles.

Starting at it's afternoon opening time, the market steadily crowds up. After dark, it can get quite crowded and is very busy. If you like that kind of Asian nightlife, you'll love it. If you're more of a quiet, reading-a-book-by-the-fireplace kind of person, come early and you'll love it too.

Since it takes place at the racetrack, you are free to slip over to the grandstand, partake in a little off-track betting, get a drink at the bar, and even eat at the racetrack restaurant but most come here to eat the myriad varieties of Asian cuisines and try their hand at new, exotic, and sometimes scary new stuff.

It's highly recommended. Parking is free and the general admission price of the racetrack, which is less than $5, is all it takes to get in.

Come try a nice slice of Asia plopped right into the middle of the San Gabriel Valley.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Ethnic Foods of The San Gabriel Valley: ...and All The Rest.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Matthew Levine under CC BY 2.0 license

Cuisines covered in previous posts: Mexican, Cajun, NepaleseLebanese, Thai, BasqueArgentinian, Cuban, VietnameseEnglish, Belgian, Spanish, JewishGreek, Greek Diner, Hawaiian, SalvadoranIranian, Armenian, AfghaniIndonesian, Korean, Cambodian, American, California Cuisine, Soul FoodJapanese, Filipino, BarbecueFrench, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Pizza

Before we get to the 800 pound gorilla of San Gabriel Valley's ethnic cuisine, I just want to go over what's left on our list.

These are cuisines that you can find here in the Valley except we haven't had a chance to try them yet, save for one. Let's start with that one...

I don't think what we know as Mongolian Cuisine is anything like you'd actually find in Mongolia. From what I can gather, it's something that actually developed in Taiwan. Nevertheless, it is an ethnic food and it is served here.

There are several Mongolian barbecue places scattered around the valley. It's been a long time since we've tried any of them but the setup is basically the same. You walk down a buffet of ingredients and take whatever looks tasty to you. At the end of the line, you give your ingredients to a chef who stir fries it up for you.

Not bad but nothing we'd keep going back to.  Golden Palace at Colorado and Rosemead in Pasadena and Mongolian Hashen in Duarte are the two we've tried.

Now, on to the cuisines we have yet to try...

Pakistani Food is usually served alongside Indian food at many restaurants. In fact, in searching, I cannot find one standalone Pakistani restaurant in the valley but there are several Indian restaurants that serve it.

Which brings us to Indian Food. My wife is a big fan but I'm not so much. Noor's Indian Bistro in Monrovia is her favorite and people rave about Nirvana in Arcadia.

Borneo and Yazmin restaurants in Alhambra serve Malaysian Food.

There are a handful of places serving Burmese Food such as Daw Yee in Monterey Park and the Golden Owl in La Puente.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Hugomon under CC BY 3.0 license

I have loved what little Peruvian Food that I've tried at Inka Trails, outside of the SGV in Claremont, such as the classic lomo saltado. In the SGV, you can find it at Choza Mama in Pasadena.

We're almost there, we have two more entries in this series before we get to the end...

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013 Year in Review

Seemed like a slow travel year for us but we still managed to get in quite a few trips and even stepped out of the country a tiny bit. We've now hit 40 (43 for me) out of the 50 states and made it back to the Caribbean, too, without stepping out of the country. Look below to see our activity for the year and click on the links to visit our reports for each item...

We started with a trip south of the border into Ensenada, Mexico, which has been the recipient of a lot of bad press and cruise cancellations lately due to drug cartel activity, to see if it was really that bad or dangerous. Conclusion?  Not even remotely...can't wait to go back.

Cocktail Hour suggestion: Margarita Madness.

Barely averting a traveler's nightmare...getting the wrong date down in your hotel booking...we managed to squeak out a parent's getaway to the Danish-themed town of Solvang, California where we spent a few days with hundreds of greyhounds.

Cocktail Hour suggestion: Chilled Chardonnay.

Unfortunately, this year we didn't get to add any new stadiums to our list of accessible ballparks in our Fields of Dreams reports.

We found a new contender for our best hotel chain of the year, Hyatt, with great hotels, easy accessible reservations, and an awesome loyalty program. Then, Marriott, not wanting to give up the title so easy stepped up with the best rooms we had in Tennessee and a really outstanding suite in Arizona..although they did dilute their loyalty program last year.  We'll just say that both chains top our list at the end of 2013.

Spring found us back on the beach in the Caribbean, this time on the lovely U.S. territory of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands at one of the world's great independent hotels, the Buccaneer.

Cocktail Hour suggestion: A St. Croix Drinking Tour.

Just like John Fogerty, we really did get a little stuck in Lodi, California, which instead turned into a nice trip to Sacramento, the Gold Country, and great wine tasting in the Sierra foothills.

Cocktail Hour suggestion: Sierra Foothills Wine Taste Off.

A lot of my travel friends say American Airlines is no fun anymore, and they have dropped quite a bit in their service, we still had good flights for St. Croix on them but we still have to say Southwest is the best as they flew us with great spirits and comfort to Nashville, Tennessee.  Still our favorite airline as we enter the New Year.

Summer found us in a dispute with a festival operator in Monrovia, California, which turned into an opportunity to document the steps to take in an ADA dispute. Complaint resolved, we still visit the festival regularly.

We added some new video to a couple of old trips, a night time helicopter flight over Las Vegas and some newly found footage of our time in Puerto Vallarta back in the 90's.

On a more somber note, Tim and I took a trip to Palm Springs to say goodbye to my aunt, who had her funeral there in the fall.

While we started working on a new foodie video this year, we have yet to finish it (gives you something to look forward to this year) but we did start a new mid-week series when we figured out our home of the San Gabriel Valley has around 40 different types of ethnic foods being served here. We're still going strong with our series, The Ethnic Foods of the San Gabriel Valley, but will be wrapping that up soon.

Finally, this fall had us checking off items on our bucket list as we headed out on the grand Tennessee Tour and the Elvis Trail.

Cocktail Hour suggestion: Beale Street Pub Crawl.

Thanks for making us your stop for accessible travel in 2013, I hope you'll stick around to see what's in store for 2014.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Ethnic Foods of The San Gabriel Valley: Pizza

Cuisines covered in previous posts: Mexican, Cajun, NepaleseLebanese, Thai, BasqueArgentinian, Cuban, VietnameseEnglish, Belgian, Spanish, JewishGreek, Greek Diner, Hawaiian, SalvadoranIranian, Armenian, AfghaniIndonesian, Korean, Cambodian, American, California Cuisine, Soul FoodJapanese, Filipino, Barbecue, French, Italian, Polish, Hungarian

Last week, we finished off the European cuisines that can be found in the San Gabriel Valley but we must add an

Of course, when we talk about pizza here, what can be found is American pizza. Although mostly made by Italian Americans, it really bears little resemblance to the pizza you'd find in Italy. Our pies have evolved into several regional varieties like New York pizza, Chicago deep dish, and so on.

Actually, the best pizzas around here are found outside of the SGV, such as the pie at Red Devil (at the top of the page) in La Verne, Casa Bianca (just above) in Eagle Rock, and Tony's Little Italy down in Placentia for deep-dish.

It's not to say we don't have pizza here in the valley, there's lot's of it, just not a lot that rises above bad or mediocre.

We do have two we can recommend, each with two outlets in the San Gabriel Valley.

Carmine's in South Pasadena and Arcadia has some great pizzas. Each location is a comfortable, classic Italian dining room with friendly staff and great food. Beyond the pizza, the rest of the menu is good too.

Petrillo's...either at the very old school original location on Valley Boulevard in San Gabriel or at the newer outlet on Route 66 in the pizza all of us old-time San Gabriel Valleyites grew up with.

Cheesy, generous with the toppings, and...if you eat in the dining room...served with that great, freshly baked Petrillo's bread.

While I'd drive a little farther for the best pizza in Southern California, you can't go wrong with Carmine's or Petrillo's either.

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved