Today we headed back out to the east side of the state, this time to get some wedding plans cemented. First stop was the chapel in Davison, which is about 30 minutes south of Frankenmuth. So I can check that box as being done.

We had lunch with Chris's dad in Waterford then did some driving around in Troy looking for reception locations. We saw a couple of different places but an nice Italian restaurant near Somerset really stood out, so we're working to finalize that.

So we killed nearly two birds with one stone today, which is good progress. Being a small wedding we can cut out a lot of different things like a DJ and reception music selections. That relieves a lot of stress and hassle (and lets me get out of having to do any dancing, yay!).
On our way back we did a mini-toy hunt, hitting various stores just off the freeway looking for Green Lantern movie merchandise. Technically I guess stuff isn't supposed to hit shelves until May 1st, but we did run into several different action figures and party gear (which we found in the wedding supplies aisle). Now we're all set to hang out properly when Adam and Comfort (The Uniques) visit next weekend on Free Comic Book Day!

Nope! It's a blue sky, and on a Friday no less! Hooray!

I've had my DS since shortly after the platform launched. I loved my Game Boy Advance. I loved it so much that I had a friend help me install the afterburner kit so I could play it in the dark even. Then of course, the SP launched. I was less in love with it or the clamshell form factor. So I'm not really sure what prompted me to get a DS.

I've barely used it over the years. Instead I would just opt to play Game Boy games on my Advance. The DS was just too clunky and bulky. So as the DS handheld slimmed down in subsequent generations I've been eyeballing them waiting to get one decently (sub $100) priced.

With the 3DS I thought it might be a little easier to snag a DSi. I wouldn't say that there's been a larger flood of used DSi on the market, but I was able to get a used one relatively cheap. With all the upgrades (dsi shop, browser, cameras, etc) it's amusing, but to me it's really still just a gaming device. I have a phone (and an ipod) that can do all of those things and more.

Still, I'll dabble with homebrew once a workaround presents itself (since sudokuhax is now dead).

Now off to play some Pokemon Soulsilver.

Almost. There's a tail sticking out.

I'm amazed how much he enjoys balancing on things only slightly larger than himself.

The forecast over the next several days if that of rain. River flood warnings and tornadoes; all the hallmarks of spring in West Michigan.

Since it wasn't raining when I left for lunch, I headed over to the sheltered area at the Grand Rapids Art Museum to read a little and enjoy being outside.

I suspect the next several days will be darker and full of rain, so taking advantage while I can!

Enjoyed a brief lunch outdoors near Rosa Park Circle before the rain comes for the next few days. Lunch started out warm but toward the end it was chilly and starting to sprinkle. It was good to be outside a bit, even if it might be a few weeks before I can have most lunches outside again.

After making a pit stop in Davison to look at a wedding chapel, we arrived at my parents house around noon where an epic easter basket was waiting to be picked apart.
There was lots of candy to choose from so I took a few shots messing with a zoom filter I bought off of deal extreme a few months ago. It's designed to mostly distort the images around the edges and it does an interesting enough job. I really should more seriously mess with it and the extension tubes, especially now that flowers and greenery is starting to come up. But I digress...
It was a good visit with the family. Jeff showed off some cool video editing projects he'd been working on and Chris and I showed off Settlers of Catan to my parents. We'll have to carve out a Saturday to come back down and play with my dad - he seemed intrigued.
Tons of tasty food to be devoured, including lots of strawberries and bananas (both of which I ate copious amounts of). But the day wore on and we had to leave to start the long drive back to Grand Rapids. Most of the drive was visually interesting. Lots of clouds against the setting sun made for a nice view. So I was able to snap a few photos and just enjoy the ride.

A long day of re-organizing the hallway closet, gaming, and shopping warrants a tasty home cooked meal by Chris. Yum!

On our way home today we saw a group of 12 year olds setting up an elaborate crucifixion scene by the side of the road. Some of the kids were dressed normal enough and few were in red capes. The heaviest kid of the bunch was dressed in traditional beige Jesus-robes, covered in fake blood with a thorny crown, and strapped to a giant wooden cross.

I'm not entirely sure if it was a reenactment of the crucifixion or a gang of religious bullies tormenting a poor classmate. Either way my attempts to photograph it were foiled by a moving car and the inability, apparently, to use a point-and-shoot properly. So all you get is the barest glimmer of the cross and a blurry Roman look-a-like.

Today's the first decent, sunny day we've had since being back from California. Snow on Monday, Rain and hail on Tuesday, and an overcast Wednesday. This week has been lacking sunshine.

So to celebrate, we had lunch in the park. Sure, it was chilly, sure it was a little windy, but I'll be damned if I miss an opportunity to enjoy the sun a little before another bout of rainy or cloudy days.
There were lots of ducks out, mostly waddling their way ever closer in the hopes that we would give them some food (as seen in the distance on the grass of the first photo). Adorable, and no doubt disappointed that we didn't share our food with them.

I'm not a huge board game player. Or so I always said. I've played Risk on a board only once and it was fun but most of the other games I've played are your usual LIFE, Monopoly, Scrabble, etc. All of these are fine but playing them so much as a kid meant I was tired of them once I got older. I do have a copy of Anti-Monopoly I got from my dad which is amusing, but more of a novelty at this point than something I'd like to play with any frequency.

Settlers of Catan I've seen played before from a distance, and it's intrigued me but never enough to drop $40+ on it, especially given my disinterest in most other board games. So when Chris mentioned an interest in checking it out and after finding it a little cheaper than the normal price, I snagged it.
A good idea.

While it's designed for 3-4 players in the basic set Chris and I found modified 2 player rules which served quite well for a initial play.The game is fun; it's amusing. We played for several hours and with the exception of starting to get sleepy, I barely noticed it.
I really look forward to playing it again, and with 3-4 people instead of just 2 I can imagine how crazy it can become. And I know there expansions that add even more people.

At least for this squirrel it was. And I don't think he's told any of his buddies; he's keeping it all to himself for as long as he can.

Our balcony, 7:30 ET.

Our balcony, 17:30 ET.

Inspired by a tasty breakfast I had in San Francisco (at an iHOP, no less), I decided to make crepes this morning. It's been awhile since I've made them so I figured why not. With fruit and granola they were tasty! I should really make breakfast on the weekend more often.

The weather has been crappy since we've been back, and today was no exception. Lots of wind blowing all sorts of things around. Venturing outdoors meant a strong likelihood of being blown away. But I didn't want to be cooped up in the apartment. So I suggested heading over to the mall. Meh. I'm not sure why I thought that was a good idea. I dont like shopping...
We did see a carnival being set up next to the Toys R Us across from the mall. Normally the set it up in the mall parking lot, but maybe since the department store over there has moved they're taking advantage of the empty parking lot.

If you like spinning in a circle on various musical rides, you'll soon be able to!

A laundry day doesn't typically net anything other than the steady hum of washers and dryers doing their thing. Today was a little different, and now I'm more enlightened as to why each time we go there seem to be more and more broken machines.

Mid-way through washing some clothing, one of the machines started smoking (third from the left, the one with the open lid). It kept on spinning until someone finally flipped the lid on it and stopped it.

I'm almost certain that will be decorated with a "out of service" sign, not unlike the one that was sitting next to it, for the next several months.

Such is the consequence of the nearby apartments slowly being upgraded with their own washers and dryers, I suppose.

This is probably the only time the cat hasn't been lying on either myself or Chris in the last few days. Leaving him and going to California has made him incredibly affectionate - more so than he already is (which is intense a lot of the times).

He came back over shortly after this photo was taken and promptly situated his butt in my face, with lots of purring to let me know he cares.

Apparently my first day back to work downtown this week coincided with the Get Motivated seminar. Not sure how I didn't realize that, since the freeway has been plastered with billboards for what seems ages.

I didn't notice any increase in traffic until I was walking back from lunch. Then I noticed droves and droves of people on foot, armed with motivational pamphlets and hyped up on whatever they'd just been released from, hungry for a late lunch.

Our flight took off from San Francisco around 10:45pm PT (1:45am ET) and we landed at DTW at 5:30am ET. Our lay-over was just over three hours. That's not enough time to really nap for me and I'd barely slept on the plane. The in-flight monitors spammed Meet the Fockers, Glee, and some other random shows all night. Unlike the previous flight, this flight did not have monitors on the back of each seat, so there was not turning off the monitor if you didn't want to watch airline commercials and crappy TV. Luckily there's hardly and sound so you need headphones to hear anything.

We flew back to Grand Rapids on a relatively small plane, at least from what I've been on before. But it's a short flight. We were in Grand Rapids by 9:30am and greeting the pets by 10am.

It was a looong trip back. You don't realize how much an overnight flight messes with your schedule until it's the middle of the next day and you realize you still haven't changed or taken a shower since your flight left the day before.

I'd honestly have taken more photos (especially of a hyper Peppy and a needy Leki) if I hadn't spent most of the day in a sleep-filled haze (that is - when I wasn't actually sleeping).

Chris has a conference all day today which means lots of randomness for me to do. Or the potential anyway.

After we split up I headed back to the hotel to lay down a bit since my sinuses were bothering me and I was feeling lazy (waking up every day at 4am because you're on Eastern time still probably doesn't help).

I finally got up and checked out of the hotel, found a banana and headed out. It was a toss up between Muir Woods and the California Academy of Sciences. Since I'd managed to burn my face the last two days in a row I opted for the indoor option. I also forewent bringing the SLR since I was tired of lugging around the weight.
I took the public transportation over to Golden Gate Park. At the point where I needed to transfer MUNI lines I got lost for a bit and missed a few trains. Eventually I found my way through the magic of google maps and asking questions.
The California Academy of Sciences was pretty neat. If I hadn't recently been to the Shedd Aquarium I probably would have spent a lot more time in the aquarium area of this place. Lots of parts of this place reminded me of others - like the hallway in the photo at the top of this post reminded me of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. The aquarium portion reminded me of several aquariums I've been to, and the interactive displays and educational pieces reminded me of parts of the Detroit Science Center.

I really do like places like these, so I enjoy seeing the different layouts, going to planetariums or educational shows, and just walking around a bit. The living rainforest was neat and I liked the interjection of live creatures into some of the exhibits. I'm sure that makes the trip all the more interesting to kids. For $25 or so dollars it was totally worth it.
My trip back to where the rental car was parked took me through Union Square where Chris's conference was. Since I was passing by about the time he was getting out, I hopped off to meet up with him downtown. Confident in my recent use of public transit, I steered us to the nearest MUNI line to head back to the rental car.

And I picked one going in the wrong direction. Oops. So we rode it all the way to the end of the line (putting us an 1 1/2 hours walk away from the car versus a simple 30 minute walk). Luckily we were able to get on the next train leaving the area a few minutes later that was headed in the correct direction. So we backtracked on an empty train (that filled up quickly) with a very friendly and lively driver. He made the return trip funny and well worth the mistake. 

Once we got back to the car we headed out to the airport. We had four hours to kill, but not knowing how bad the wait to get through security would be and the need to find gas before dropping off the car, we decided to head out to the airport.

The GPS steered us clear to AT&T park, where the SF Giants were having a game. So we spent about an hour in traffic going a few miles. If we were desperately trying to get somewhere it would have been really frustrating, but since we had a lot of time to kill it worked out.

After a mini-side trip to find gas (there aren't as many gas stations right off the freeway as you would think...) we arrived at the airport with a little under three hours to spare. And we sailed right through security. As in - there was no wait. Tuesday night at the airport must be a very quiet night.
But SFO has free wifi (unlike DTW) so I was able to grab a bite to eat, surf the internet, and do some reading on the kindle. Plus we were able to get our seats switched so we were next to each other (in the emergency exit aisle). I'd have taken some night shots with the SLR since I had so much extra room, but we were over the wing and there were lots of blinking lights on it. In retrospect I think I should have tried anyway. Both the flight arriving and leaving San Francisco. Next time...

Anyway, here's the complete slideshow of all the shots from San Francisco rolled into one!

Chris is in town for a conference and today is the first day for it. It's a half day, so we headed out together to Union Square so he could pick up his registration information and check out all the financial and shopping districts in this part of San Francisco.
One thing this area is-different than the touristy area of Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. Tall buildings, business suits, Starbucks, and lots of lots of white earbuds. I actually liked it quite a bit. It feels more open than areas of Chicago I've been in. Part of that I'm sure is having public transit at street level or below ground versus the train that is above the streets in parts of Chicago.
We had lunch with Chris's boss and his wife. It was nice to meet both of them and I had a good time. Then after we wandered around a bit looking at more of the area before the conference began.
After we split up I took the long route on foot back to the hotel. When it was all said and done I walked about 3 miles from the Mascone center through Chinatown, Washington Square, Coit Tower and back to Lombard Street (to see the infamous twisty road). I didn't hike all the way to the crazy portion of the road - I just didn't have enough energy (or water) left to make it up another hill.

I saw a lot of interesting things, including several murals and colorful streets and districts. I'm a little bummed I didn't swing over to the small French Quarter though.

Here's a few slideshows for your enjoyment!

Trek to Coit Tower

Union Square


I tried really hard not to plot out this trip like I seem to do with everything. So while we didn't have a firm itinerary of activities for the next 3 days (ok, I dont, Chris does) I did want to see Golden Gate Park. So that was our first major destination after breakfast.

The park isnt far from where we're staying but getting there was hell. We have a rental car, so we drove. Mistake. There are a lot of hills in some areas of this town and while I've driven in Washington PA, the hills here are leagues more intimidating to drive up and down than anything I ever drove through in Pennsylvania. By the end of it was was freaked out and I wasn't even driving.
Golden Gate Park is massive. Larger than Central Park. Looking at a map and imagining the scale of it is different than walking through it. It's just amazing. So many different areas and things to see. We got there at a little after 10am and didn't leave till after 4pm. It was a long day.

There are a lot of dogs in San Francisco, and there were a lot of dogs in the park. I'd say a good 50-60% of the dogs I've seen out here so far are without leashes and very well behaved. It's awesome.
The Golden Gate Park has several lakes, gardens, picnic areas, street vendors, museums, and more. There are a bunch of places we could have gone to and walked through, but we mostly just meandered through the park. We did walk through the Japanese Tea Garden and I am eying the California Academy of Sciences as a thing to do one of the days Chris is at his work conference.
There are a lot of nice areas of mini-hikes as well. Though we didn't go across to Strawberry Hill that looked like it might have been an interesting trek.
By the time we left the park it was in full swing. Drum circles and music blaring out in different areas, ice cream trucks parked along the road, steady traffic coming in and out, and lots of families enjoying a Sunday picnic.
In the evening we walked further down through Fisherman's Wharf. I was hoping to get a bite of seafood to eat but I'm always wary and uncomfortable with food stands selling food I've not tried before and all of the restaurants with seating would have cost us $60 easy. So instead we opted to try an In-N-Out Burger. That little joint was amazingly fast, friendly, and efficient given how packed that restaurant was (guess everyone else had the same idea as us). The food wasn't bad either. Not super greasy and their french fries (which we watched them cut in the restaurant) taste pretty good (similar to Wendy's new fries).
We both ended the day with sunburns on our faces and arms. Not terrible, but tender. Tomorrow should be an interesting trip to Union Square and beyond. Still have to figure out what to do for 1/2 the day while Chris is at his conference.

Anyway, here's a slideshow of the shots from Golden Gate Park.

The day started relatively early (4:30) since our flight from GRR to DTW left at 7am. I'd never been to GRR (only DTW, TPA, ORD) so it was a new experience. None of that getting to the airport super early - only an hour ahead of time. There was a decent line for security, but not terrible as it is not a large airport. All in all a pleasant experience.
Our flight to SFO was long to me (5ish hours). In the scheme of things, it's shorter than driving and it's a much shorter flight than anything to Europe or Asia, but it still felt like a long trip.
SFO is a nice airport, complete with a tram that runs outside to various parking structures, terminals, public transit and rental cars. It reminded me a lot of the one in Tampa.
Our hotel mere blocks from Pier 39 and the Fisherman's Wharf area, so there's a lot of traffic, a lot of bright signs beckoning you this way and that. Traffic was not as dense as I had thought it would have been, but was probably just because of the time we were driving. Everything looked much busier as noon came around...
We ate at Pier 39, saw the seals and sea lions, walked around a bit, and paid way too much for parking.
As the afternoon progressed we walked around a bit more, ending up in Chinatown after dinner and working our way back up toward the hotel.
We settled into the hotel on the earlier side - around 7 or so. Both of us were really tired and despite trying to stay up a few extra hours to adjust to the time difference, I kept drifting off while reading. The hotel was kind enough to have two false fire alarms, roughly an hour apart, to wake us both up and scare the shit out of us. That alarm and PA system are incredibly loud. I have confidence that if there is a fire I could not possibly sleep through it.

Anyway, here's a few shots of our travel out there as well as Pier 39.

Flying over mountains in CAAnother flying over mntns in CAMap on this safety vid looks like it's out of Super MetroidLast minute bite to eat while boarding.Onward to San Francisco!Detroit bound...Responsibility!
Pier 1seals, sea lionsElevator TimeflagsAlcatrazPier