Halfway to 50 at Thunder Valley

This weekend, I celebrated my Halfway to 50 birthday at Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, CA with my buddies Sam, Justin, and Anthony. Even though it was a farther trip from the Bay Area, it was well worth it! We originally planned to go last week, but we had to reschedule it do to other things going on and poor weather conditions.

The room we got was a Provence suite with a sofa bed on one side of the room, and a king size bed on the other, which was courtesy of my Uncle Donnie Pestrana. Other highlights of the trip included touring Denio’s Flea Market, the Roseville Galleria Mall, swimming at the pool, eating at the buffet, and most importantly gambling at the casino.

Casinos are one of my favorite places to hang out mainly because of all the bright colors of the slot machines, card and roulette tables, and the overall ambience. No matter if it’s Thunder Valley, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, or Reno, it’s always an exciting place to visit whether you win or lose.

Special thanks to Uncle Donnie for providing us the room, my friends for joining me, and everyone else who made my birthday special! Wonder what next year will have in store and where my next destination will take place!

East Coast Trip Departure/Recap

After a long 10 day trip to the East Coast, this is definitely without question one of the best trips of 2018 so far!

Last night, I took a 6 hour flight from Washington Dulles (IAD) to San Francisco (SFO). Although I did wanted to stay an extra day or two, it was nice to be back in California. 

And now, I’ll recap all the places I’ve visited during my trip.


Washington DC

-The White House

-US Capitol Building

-Thomas Jefferson Memorial

-Washington Monument

-Lincoln Memorial

-Vietnam Veterans Memorial

-World War II Memorial

-Arlington Cemetery

-Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

-The Pentagon

-Pentagon Mall

-Ronald Regan Washington National Airport

-Tyson’s Corner

-Smithsonian Museums (American History, Natural History, American Indian, Air and Space, Visitor’s Center, Zoo)

-Library of Congress

-Reflecting Pool

-Union Station

-Old Post Office Building

-Madame Tussaud’s 

-Dupont Circle


-Washington Nationals Park


New York City

-Times Square

-Empire State Building

-Brooklyn Bridge

-Grand Central Terminal

-Chrysler Building

-NFL Experience

-NBA Store

-Radio City Music Hall

-Rockefeller Center



-Liberty Bell

-Independence Hall

-Betsy Ross House


-Reading Terminal Market

-City Hall

-Love Park

-Logan Square

-Philadelphia Museum of Art/Rocky Steps

-Philadelphia Zoo

-Eastern State Penitentiary 

-Penn’s Landing

-Drexel University


On my next trip to the East Coast, here’s a list of some of the places I’d like to visit:

-Williamsburg, VA

-Alexandria, VA

-Hershey, PA

-Boston, MA

-Central Park

-Yankee Stadium

-Statue of Liberty

-Ellis Island

-New York Public Library

-Wall Street

-New York Stock Exchange

-Ground Zero/911 Memorial

-Madison Square Garden

-Carnegie Hall

-Chinatown/Little Italy


-King of Prussia Mall

-Valley Forge

No matter where I travel to, there’s always something waiting for me to be discovered. Maybe my future projects will include all the landmarks I’ve visited. Who knows where my next destination will take place!

Special thanks to Tito Noel, Tita Malyn, and Brianna for letting me sleep at their house in Ashburn, VA. Hope to see you guys again soon!

East Coast Trip (Georgetown/Smithsonian Zoo)

The final stop of my East Coast Trip led me to Georgetown. With it’s brick sidewalks, historic style houses, fancy restaurants, and lots of great shopping, this is one of the must-sees while visiting Washington DC.

I especially loved walking by the houses because I can imagine myself living in one of them and potentially creating one of the rooms into an office in the style of a library like the one I saw at the Library of Congress for Kevin’s Cards.

Another must see is the Waterfront with a view of Rosslyn, VA, the Key Bridge, and the water, even though it was frozen for the winter. 

With nothing else to do in Georgetown, where else did I want to go on my last day? I decided to return to the Smithsonian Zoo to see if it was open. Along the way, I made a stop to see Dupont Circle.

Upon arrival to the zoo, it turned out it was open and this was my only opportunity to see what it was like. Just like the Smithsonian Museums, there was free admission to get inside. However, there were no metal detectors to go through.

Unlike the Natural History Museum where they display models of zoo animals, you can actually see the animals live in action. Unfortunately, most of them were not seen due to the cold weather and some were used to warmer climates.

I did get to see a lot of them in a variety of categories. Some of the typical zoo animals included tigers, elephants, cheetahs, zebras, apes, and monkeys.

In the reptile category, different species of snakes, lizards, alligators, and turtles.

The mammals I saw included beavers, American bison, foxes, skunks, bears, and prairie dogs. The only bird I saw was a bald eagle.

I even saw a rain forest exhibit where it’s almost like walking through the real thing with humid weather, and replications of the plants, trees, and the overall environment.

Overall, the Smithsonian Zoo was a great way to end my East Coast trip and I hope to see more animals when the weather gets warmer!

As this trip comes to a close, I have to say that this was one of the best trips of 2018 so far and I can’t wait for my next visit to the East Coast and wherever I plan to take my next destination!

East Coast Trip (Smithsonian Museums)

The East Coast Trip continued with another day in Washington DC. I originally planned to visit the Smithsonian Zoo. However, it was closed because of the snow that came in.

So I decided to return to the Smithsonian Museums to cover the places I haven’t seen during my last visit on Friday.

The ones that I visited today included the following:

-American History Museum

-Natural History Museum

-Air and Space Museum

-Smithsonian Castle/Visitor’s Center

The best part is that all of the Smithsonian Museums are free to get into, but you do need to go through the metal detectors first upon entering.

Once inside, there’s a lot to see and learn about in all of them, and it’s like walking into an interactive classroom. These subjects include US History, US Presidents, Animal Science, Geology, the history of airplanes, Astronomy, and other interesting facts. The Smithsonian Visitor’s Center also gives you facts about the museums and all the landmarks and history of Washington DC. 

I also made a trip to the White House Visitor’s Center to learn about the presidents and First Ladies that lived in the White House and other surprising facts that I never knew about.

With one more day in DC left, more surprises are awaiting for me to be found!

East Coast Trip (Madame Tussaud’s and Other Stops)

The East Coast Trip returned back to Washington DC to cover the remaining places I haven’t seen yet. One of them was the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. This was definitely one of my recommended places that I wanted to see and it was totally worth it.

The first part of the museum were all the presidents and historic icons. These people included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Regan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and of course, our current president, Donald Trump.

The second half were all the different celebrities that ranged from music, sports, and television. These names included Tiger Woods, Babe Ruth, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Colbert, Larry King, Al Roker, and Jimmy Fallon.

My favorite part of the museum was the White House section because you get to experience what it’s like being the president of the United States from being sworn into office to sitting in the Oval Office.

Other stops on my tour included the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl Restaurant and the Washington National’s Ballpark. To top it all off, I took a tour of the Library of Congress. My favorite parts about the library were the Main Reading Room because of all the books they had and a great place to read and study, and an office in the style of a colonial library because I can imagine myself creating designs for Kevin’s Cards in an environment like that. 

As I continue exploring Washington DC, who knows what I’ll find next!

East Coast Trip (Philadelphia)

The East Coast trip continued to Philadelphia, PA. This was my first time back since 2015 and I wanted to revisit some of the places I saw in only one day.

From Secaucus, NJ, Tito Noel, Tita Malyn, Brianna, and I drove about two hours, stopping at Legends Diner to have breakfast with my Uncle Carlito and his family.

Upon arrival to Philadelphia, Tito Noel had some work to do, so the three of us went sightseeing because this was their first time there while enduring the freezing cold weather.

Destinations included the following landmarks:

-Liberty Bell

-Independence Hall

-Betsy Ross House


-Reading Terminal Market

-City Hall

-Love Park

-Logan Circle

-Eastern State Penitentiary

-Philadelphia Zoo

-Philadelphia Museum of Art/Rocky Steps

-Penn’s Landing

On the way back to Virginia, we had to stop by my brother’s alma mater Drexel University. Of course, no trip to Philadelphia would be complete without a Philly cheesesteak!

Although I got to see everything I planned on visiting, the only things I didn’t get a chance to do was to ride the subway, take a tour of the Philadelphia Zoo, and visit Valley Forge and the King of Prussia Mall, but that’ll have to wait until the next trip! 

East Coast Trip (New York City)

The East Coast Trip continued with a trip to New York City. This was my first time back since 2013 and it was one of my top places to visit during my trip.

With Tito Noel, Tita Malyn, and Brianna, we took about a four hour drive from Ashburn, VA. The scenic route that we took was absolutely spectacular with gorgeous landscapes and houses, and passing through cities in Pennsylvania such as Gettysburg and the capital of Harrisburg.

At the Meadowlands River Inn in Secaucus, NJ where we were staying, an advertisement of the NFL Experience in Times Square struck an idea in my head to visit.

Once I arrived in New York City, I had one day to visit the places I planned on seeing while enduring the freezing cold weather! The tour began with a subway ride to the Brooklyn Bridge to walk across with all the other tourists. Then, another subway ride took me to Grand Central Terminal, followed by a walk down 42nd Street to Times Square.

Upon arrival, I had to check out the NFL Experience I’ve been hearing about and it turned out to be a great experience! From a simulator ride of an actual football game, to trying out different activities, and part taking in the Super Bowl victory celebration, it was a football fan’s dream come true!

Besides football, the NBA Store was another highlight to this trip because there were lots of NBA gear for everyone’s favorite teams, including my Sacramento Kings.

The other landmarks I covered were Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall. Out of all the places I saw, the highlight was definitely Times Square at night because all the nightlife taking place and no trip would be complete without doing it!

Of course, I had to eat like a New Yorker, so New York Style Pizza from a pizzeria on 8th Avenue and New York Style Cheesecake from Junior’s did the trick! 

Although I had a great time in New York City, I didn’t get a chance to cover all the places I wanted to see, so here’s my list for the places I need to visit on my next trip to New York:

-Empire State Building

-Statue of Liberty

-Ellis Island

-Central Park

-New York Public Library

-Wall Street

-New York Stock Exchange

-Ground Zero/911 Memorial

-Madison Square Garden

-Carnegie Hall


-Little Italy


-Yankee Stadium

In addition to all that, I need to eat New York Deli and have a New York Bagel, take more rides on the subway, and ride in a taxi cab to become a true New Yorker! Can’t wait till my next trip to New York!

East Coast Trip (Washington DC)

The East Coast Trip continued with another tour of Washington DC. With an earlier start today, there was more time to cover the must-see spots.

The US Capitol Building, Washington Monument, and White House were seen again, and other important areas were visited as well such as a tour of Arlington Cemetery, and visiting the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, and the Smithsonian Museums such as the American History, Natural History, Air and Space, and American Indian.

There was also a side trip to the Ronald Regan Washington National Airport since it is one of the most important airports in DC, along with Washington Dulles.

No trip would be complete without a bird’s eye view from the Old Post Office Building. 

As my trip continues, who knows what surprises I’ll unfold next!

East Coast Trip (Arrival/Washington DC)

One of the biggest trips in 2018 took place in the East Coast with a destination of Washington DC.

Yesterday was my 5 hour flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Washington Dulles (IAD). Upon arrival, my Uncle Noel picked me up and took me to his home in Ashburn, VA, which is about 45 minutes from Washington DC.

The real kicker was surprising my Aunt Malyn and cousin Brianna because they had no idea I was flying in for a surprise visit. This was a secret kept for about a month and half. 

Today was the beginning of my tour of Washington DC. The only downside of it was a late start because of the confusion of the bus schedule. Once I figured it out, it was literally a no brainer.

During my tour, I was able to see a majority of the historic landmarks such as the White House, US Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, The Pentagon, and Union Station.  

Although I didn’t do everything I originally planned to do, there will be plenty of time to see the rest of the sites as the days go on! 


The first trip of 2018 took place in Seattle, Washington. This was my first time back in 15 years and I wanted to revisit some of the places I saw in 2003 with only one day that I had.

Some of the major landmarks included the famous Space Needle, Pike Pier Market, and the first Starbucks that opened in 1971.

Some of the highlights included spending time with my cousin Jordan and his girlfriend Marge while riding the Seattle Giant Wheel to get the best view of the city and visiting the Starbucks Reserve Roasting Company where they roast their own coffee beans, package them for shipping, and provide coffee tasting. Plus, it’s one of the largest Starbucks in the world.

However, the greatest moment was catching a fish from the men who threw them for customers behind the counter! Although it may have rained on and off during my visit, it was well worth the trip!

Since I’ve been interested in traveling, maybe I can make custom made posters of the places I’ve been over the years. Who knows where my next destination will take place!