The beauty of Grand Canyon

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Grand Canyon has always been in my bucket list. So when the opportunity to go to Las Vegas came up, I just had to put Grand Canyon in our itinerary.

We took a bus tour from Las Vegas (the bus picked us up from the Stratosphere Hotel) which took us to Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. For $80 each, it surely was a bargain! So here’s one of the best pictures I’ve taken using my camera, and definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen so far.

New Orleans for my birthday

IMG_7944In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Muse.”

For my birthday this year, I decided to pack my bags and go to New Orleans for the weekend. I enjoyed the culture, sightseeing, the food (especially the food! did anyone mention happy hour?), and the company of friends.

Here’s a picture of Jackson Square – taken while we were on our way to get the famous beignets. Yummy!

Motion and Action in Frozen Lake George

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FROZEN LAKE GEORGE. Imagine stepping on this huge lake in upstate New York. Chris surprised me with a little weekend in Lake George for our anniversary. Mind you, winter this year was very brutal and it was very chilly in upstate NY.

I remember stepping on the lake, and I was filled with excitement because I’ve never set foot on a frozen lake before. There were activities for families, as there was a festival there in February. I’ve heard that Lake George is very beautiful during the summer and I hope to be back soon!

Here are other pictures from our trip:

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Imagine diving in such brutal temperatures!

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Motion.”

Small fish in a Big Pond

Alas, after almost three years, I find myself in the same black hole that I was trying to escape from. There it is again – the feeling of of the familiar, the feeling of being a small fish in a big pond.

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Frozen Lake George in February 2015

Malcom Gladwell posed a very interesting question in his book “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants” – would you be better off being a small fish in a big pond or big fish in a small pond? We base our judgments based on those in proximity to us. There are times that I catch myself comparing myself and what I’ve accomplished to the people around me, to my colleagues, and my batchmates from college. And this leads to a very poor self-concept and can be very dangerous.

New York City is a very competitive pond that I’ve chosen to swim at and to grow up with. There are questions like, how are they able to get that job, and not me? I have the same abilities (and maybe better skilled), but why didn’t I get that job? Sometimes, I feel very much overwhelmed and pressured (but mostly pressured) to succeed and to get ahead in terms of my career. At this point in my life, I am an underdog, I am an outsider – the only way to get ahead would be to do what the Goliaths of this world refuse to do.

A very wise man once told me that people are different, and so there cannot be agreements in the absolute sense. We’re bombarded with ideas of uniqueness, of setting ourselves apart from the crowd, and of being successful at a very young age. But to what end?

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Lanterns in Lake George

Success, then, depends on how you define it. It can be in monetary terms, or in terms of being able to help others or bringing smiles to the faces of underprivileged. This definition is something that I grapple with – what do I want out of life? What do I want to do in the future? These are questions that I still seek an answer to. These are the questions that I also had three years ago.

I am but a small fish in a big pond called New York City. I am an even smaller fish in the sea of finance, where everyone is aggressive and very much eager to beat the next person. In this journey of transition, I hope that I won’t lose touch with what I hold dear and to not lose sight of what’s more important.

I am a small fish with nothing but my dreams – all I need is an opportunity to translate my potential into something concrete and real. I find hope in the knowledge that better things are yet to come, and that some things are withheld from us since we are better placed in situations where we can grow the most.

DC iPhoneography

This particular trip down to DC is one of the most exciting things I’ve done this March. After a series of unfortunate events like missing our bus (because apparently we were waiting at the wrong stop indicated on our tickets), we had a welcome change of plans by going to Baltimore Inner Harbor where we had lunch.

Although my friends and I went to DC to go see the cherry blossoms (and apparently the time just wasn’t ripe for them to come out), I had a great time strolling around the National Mall, basking in the sun and enjoying the company of my friends.

I’m quite new to phoneography, so I hope you like these shots I took and edited with Instagram!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

584Thanksgiving morning in Virginia.

It’s my third Thanksgiving this year but my first time to really celebrate it with family. I was telling my boss that it feels weird to celebrate something that I didn’t grow up with. But I’m really glad I decided to go spend my Thanksgiving break in Virginia.

I woke up to the tune of Christmas songs that beautiful Thanksgiving morning. Then my cousin and I went out to hear Mass, shopped a little bit, and then had Thanksgiving dinner with my aunt and uncle – it did feel like Christmas the way we celebrate it back home in the Philippines.

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Christmas is really in the air. Oh, how I miss Manila.

Castles in Thousand Islands

Alster Tower on Heart Island

After exploring Niagara Falls (click here for my previous post about the beauty that is Niagara Falls), we headed for the Thousand Islands Region in Alexandria Bay, NY where we ventured on a boat cruise along the St. Lawrence River.

The place was packed when we went there – a lot of tour groups were scheduled to board the boat with us. It’s hard to take photos with tourists snapping at the same landmark, at the same time. Apparently, the Thousand Islands Region and the cruise itself were a top tourist attraction in upstate NY.

Alster Tower and Boldt Castle on Heart Island

The Thousand Islands region is home to the (filthy) rich and famous. I wonder how it feels like to live in your own castle, in your own island. The Alster Tower was intended for the entertainment of guests visiting the island. The Boldt Castle is a 120-room Rhineland-style castle – George Boldt, general manager of the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NYC, and his family spent many summers in this private home.

The Power House, built to hold a generator to provide the island with electricity
This small island is called “Just Room Enough” – small enough to fit one room.

Perpetual ROY G. BIV

Horseshoe Falls

About 6-8 hours of travel from NYC, Niagara Falls refers to the three waterfalls found in the border of Ontario, CA and upstate New York, USA: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls. It’s interesting that the combined power of the Niagara Falls is unbeatable in the world!

Cascading waters and raging torrents from the American and Bridal Veil falls (viewed from the Prospect Point Park Observation Tower)

Before we headed out to board the Maid of the Mist, we first went into the Prospect Point Park Observation Tower and were given a preview of what is to come!

Rainbow Bridge in the pristine Niagara River gorge, which connects Ontario (left) and New York (right).

We boarded the Maid of the Mist boat from the NY side of the Niagara River and were provided with blue raincoats. We sailed through the mist right up to the base of the three waterfalls. What a thrilling (and wet) ride!

American Falls and the thin Bridal Veil Falls on the right
Horseshoe Falls again.

Hmm, I wonder if Niagara falls is more beautiful from the Canadian side. Nevertheless, Niagara Falls is one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in this lifetime. If you happen to be in New York or in the East Coast, I think the drive up to Niagara Falls is all worth it.