Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Possible Southwest USA Trip | Fall Break 2015

There's a lot of cool outdoor places to explore right here in our backyard here in Utah, and surrounding states. I've been most of the National Parks in Utah, Moab, Canyonlands, Escalante-Grand Staircase, Dead Horse Point State Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Zions, etc... and I absolutely love all of them. When the temperature starts to get nippy in the Salt Lake Valley, just drive South to experience warmer weather.

We're looking for somewhere to go for FALL Break.  Either for a few days, or an entire week. While its a bad idea to hit too many attractions in a short time, here I list some of the places that we're considering visiting in Southern Utah/Arizona/Colorado. I order them in order of importance.

1. Grand Canyon

I've always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon! It's one of the most famous sites in the world, and though I've been very close, I've never been! 

2. Antelope Canyon

This beautiful slot canyon is rated one of the best in the world. This is on protected Navajo lands, so a tour guide is necessary. But, look at these photos below! It's absolutely stunning. At certain times of the day, light is shining down like the first vision.
The light is shining down.

3. Lake Powell

Most people I know that go here, go boating. There's plenty of places to camp, and it's very close to Antelope Canyon.

4. Monument Valley

This picturesque old western staple scenery looks like a fun visit. 

5. Four Corners

We learned about this monument when I was in 4th grade. One who stands in the middle straddles 4 states.

6. Mesa Verde National Park

This is further than most of the other attractions. This is an ancient Anasazi Indian village carved into the facade of the mountain. This really captured my imagination as a kid. An entire city preserved in the mountains.


We'll see where we go and what we see! Our biggest constraint is $$$. We're hoping that we can make this as cheap as possible, with our main cost being gas. We'd be sleeping in a tent, and packing all of our food and gear in our SUV.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Lagoon 2015

This is Utah's oldest and best theme park! It's been continuously improving yearly, and this year didn't disappoint! While the prices have jumped up quite a bit since I was a kid, my dad has an annual work party at Lagoon, and its awesome! Lagoon caters tasty chicken and hamburgers, and his company provides fun games and prizes. There's a couple of alternative ways to get tickets cheaper than the full $49.95 price.  University of Utah students get in for $39. Costco members can also find entrance for about $40. Lagoon's official page has more deals. I was hoping to get a Bounce-Back pass, which means that you only pay $10, and are able to enter the park the following week. Next week, Frightmares begins! Unfortunately, Bounce Back only applies to non-Frightmare season.

 The highlight of this year was definitely the Cannibal. Its a 200+ foot roller. Summer went like 5 times!
Neil was delighted to be playing the company carnival games

Everybody was getting some ink at the tattoo station!

Summer and Linsey taking a selfie on a roller coaster

A guy kept insisting on kicking me on this ride. It was irritating.

One of my childhood favorites! Had I quarter, I would have soaked these unsuspecting victims... haha

Colossus, the Fire Dragon!

The Spider!

Neil unfortunately got his leg stuck in the railing of the carousel while waiting in line! We thought that we'd need to get the fire department. Luckily a nurse was able to have him stand up as straight as possible, and pop his knee out! He needed a little bit of ice to stop the swelling. It was much better than an amputation!

Ice cream at Pioneer Village!

The end of a magical fun filled day!

Utah State Fair 2015

The Utah State Fair is an annual event that has been going since 1856. Just like most state and county fairs, they have circus acts, rides, rodeos, performances, lots of good food, lots of cool local shops selling T-Shirts, jewelry, sunglasses, medieval swords and more. More info available here.

 This year, it goes from Sept 10 - Sept 20. My band Eighth Day, had the opportunity of playing opening day. That was truly a fun experience. We got to play in front of people that we've never seen before. I'm really proud of all the talent that my band has. We turned many heads, especially when we played popular favorites, such as "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey and "Sweet Child O Mine".  While many advocate to "play for exposure" very sparingly, this was an okay time to do so. We were a little bummed that we had to pay for parking, and that we had to pay admittance costs for our loved ones. Lucky we saved 40% on the $10 fee, since it was opening day.

While my wife and I didn't get to participate in many of the glittering attractions that surrounded us, we still had a great experience, and we may go back!
Waiting for my band to go on.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Top 8 Haunted Houses of Utah to Visit in 2015!

Haunted Crazy Corn Maze 2014
It's crazy to think that it's Halloween already!!! I freakin' love fall, and I LOVE Halloween. I have fond memories of awesome costumes, great candy, and going to haunted houses. I'm going to list some of the haunted houses I'm thinking about going to this season! My current state of student impoverishment may keep me from doing all of them, but I'll be crazy enough to do some of them! I'm always looking for new thrills and more exciting things! If I'm missing any, let me know!

1. Castle of Chaos
   Address: 7980 S State Street, Salt Lake City,UT, 84047
   Cost: $20
   Opens: Oct. 1

I've been to this haunted house in the past, but its been a while. It's like a real-life video game! You solve puzzles, collect items, and interact with the cast! It has great recent reviews, and I'm excited. There's 4 levels of fear, each level equating to the same haunted house, but regulating the level of intensity that the cast interacts with you. The "monsters" will completely avoid you, or grab you "appropiately" and take you away, depending on which ticket you purchase. (Monsters-B-Gone, General admission, Hands On Horror, X-Scream Hands On)

2. Nightmare on 13th

Address300 W 1300 S, SLC, UT
Cost: $25
Opens: Sept. 11 - Oct. 31

This is one of my favorite haunted houses in Utah. They always change up the decor, and they never fail to fright! This is conveniently located next to a Trax station. I'm excited to take my wife!

3. Fear Factory

Address666 W 800 S, SLC, UT
Cost: $22
Opens: Sept. 11 - Nov. ?

I love Fear Factory! Once a real factory, it has been transformed into a multi-level factory of frights! There's something spooky to walk up multiple flights of stairs and looking down. There's an authentic industrial spooky feel to it. They claim that it is haunted. My band has performed here in 2015, it was a great experience! We were given 2 free passes for each of the band members. This is one that I definitely plan on visiting with my wife. They have deals for September. They to use the promo code: SEPTEMBER

4. Crazy Corn Maze

Address8800 S 4000 W, West Jordan, UT
Cost: $7.50 - $15.50
Opens: Sept. 24 - Nov. 1

This was a classic for me growing up. It was very close to my house, and it was very affordable. We went here for a lot of church activities. There are two parts, the corn maze, which is very self-explanatory. You walk through a maze through the corn. It's fairly fun, not very scary, and great for kids. In the past few years, they've started the Haunted Corn Maze. It started as a couple of teenagers with masks banging trash cans. Now it's very impressive with 3-D mazes and chainsaw guys! 

5. Haunted Forest

Address: 6000 W 6400 N, American Fork, UT
Cost: $22 + tax
Opens: ?

I've been to this one, and I love it. Running through an open eerie forest haunted with creepy creatures is a good time! The brisk air adds to the overall feel. It's a bit of a drive if you're coming from Salt Lake area. 

6. Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus

Address98 E 13800 S Draper, UT
Cost: $25 + 2.75 fee
Opens: Sept. weekends, Oct

This one looks great, and I've heard that its a lot of fun. 

7. Asylum 49

Address140 E 200 S Tooele, UT
Cost: $20, cash
Opens: Sept. 25, 26, 29, Oct 1 - 31, Nov. 6, 7

This used to be an abandoned hospital, where a doctor went mad and hung a nurse from the flag pole. This place is supposed to be legit scary and very intense. They can touch you, take you, and store you until closing time. I want to go, but it may not be date/wife appropriate. Idk if I'll be able to convince my wife to go...

    8. Frightmares

    Address375 Lagoon Dr, Farmington, UT 84025
    Cost: $49.95
    Opens: Sept. 18- Oct 30

    Boasting 7 haunted attractions on top of their normal rides, this is sure to be a memorable visit! I've been in past years, and I love it! My dad's work party is always one week shy of making it to Frightmares... I may just buy a Bounceback pass.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2015

    Tahiti 2014 (1. Preface)

    Even though our Paris vacation was just this past summer, it was daunting to write about it, due to its length, volume of experiences from different people, and the desire to do such an amazing trip justice! I feel like leaving out details, or  over-summarizing are bad. Italy was easier to write about also, because I planned everything. I did the research. Paris was nice because my parents did all that heavy lifting, and my only concern was trying to be hungry for the next time we eat, and enjoying the ride. It truly was a blessing and the trip of a lifetime.

     For those who don't know, I'm half-Tahitian. My mom is from Tahiti. The majority of our relatives still live there. I felt truly  grateful for the many relatives and my parents who made the trip possible.  Tahiti is even more daunting to write about because it was over a year ago. My main contribution is that I showed up. So I'll write about our experiences from my point of view, and do my best to do the trip justice. The main highlights of this trip was spending time with my family, proposing to my wife, eating the food, and of course the exotic, Pacific Polynesian, natural beauty. 

    Tuesday, September 1, 2015

    Europe Trip 2015 (pt. 10, Disneyland Paris!)

    I almost forgot to include one of the most exciting parts of our trip, Disneyland Paris! I love Disneyland California, and I treasure my many experiences there. I feel slightly bad saying this, but the rides and experiences get slightly repetitive. Disneyland Paris was familiar yet new and refreshing. Summer hasn't ever been to any of the Disney parks! This was her first time, and she loved it.

    Although this may seem obvious to most, remember that Disneyland Paris isn't right next to the Eiffel Tower, downtown Paris. I recommend taking the long distance RER train. It's about 45 minutes, here's a great guide.

    Our train ride was pretty crowded. There was a French Grandpa taking his grandson and several of his friends to Disneyland. The grandpa was teaching them about manners and how to be polite. He taught them to offer their seat to my wife. So the little boy said in his best English, "Lady, would you like to sit here?"

    Differences vs. Similarities?

    There are many, and I'll attempt to address some of them as I go along, opposed to a venn diagram. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

    California is the first Disney Park to be built out of the 4. (Cali, Florida, Japan, Paris) Paris isn't as big as California. The layout was grouped by theme better. I really liked it! Just like California has California Adventure to the south, Disneyland Paris has Walt Disney Studios. It was like a mix of Universal Studios and California Adventure. 
    We started our adventure in Walt Disney Studios, and we worked our way up to Disneyland. We didn't have enough to time to go on everything! I'll narrate using pictures:

    Walt Disney Studios

    Here's Linsey anticipating entering the park.

    One of our California favorites! Summer absolutely loved the sheer drop and the feeling of weightlessness! This was very similar to California.
    Apollo 13, this was a multi-lingual immersive movie experience! We were on a space station as it was hit by a meteor shower! We felt the ground shake, and the heat of explosions as our station was pummeled! Universal Studios California has something similar to this.

    These parks have many more roller coasters than California does! This roller coaster was in the dark like Space Mountain, except there was smoke machines, colorful stage lights, strobe lights, and Aerosmith music blasting. While waiting in line, you got to see an interactive video of the band in the studio. What I found funny was that there wasn't any Aerosmith music playing while in line.

    Also similar to Universal Studios, they had a backlot tour. It was much different, and I really enjoyed it! 

    This truck exploded and water came gushing at us! Yet somehow we didn't get singed or wet!
    Monsters Inc! There were many Pixar related things in Walt Disney Studios.

    We said hi to the cast of Cars.
    Crush's Coaster was awesome. Lagoon, a Utah theme park has a spinning roller coaster named, The Spider. Not one ride is the same, the cart spins in different directions on different hills. There's something about going down a steep hill backwards. This was The Spider mixed with Space Mountain. This was all in the dark!

    We survived Crush's Coaster!

    We were amazed by the awesomeness of the Ratatouille ride! It was a 3D cart ride that took you through the story of Ratatouille, at the size of a rat!

    Needless to say, we had a great time in Walt Disney Studios!

    Disneyland Paris

    Some shots of the family at the front entrance of the park.

    More pictures of the family at the front entrance and by the castle!

     Pirates of the Carribean

    Pirates of the Caribbean is one of my childhood favorites! I've been on it so much, I can pretty much recite every line of every character on the ride. This ride was amazing because it was the same beloved ride, with a splash of freshness. The entrance and the surrounding territory is themed and grouped much better here. It really felt as if we were entering a Spanish Fortress! They take your picture at the waterfall! 

    I didn't take this video, but I thought that it would be fun to include to give you an idea of what it looks like! My parents showed this to me when they went to Paris their first time, and I've longed to go ever since! This was a dream come true.

    Indiana Jones

    This is an outdoor roller coaster. While much different than the beloved indoor California version, it is a fresh twist.

    Buzz Light Year

    I'm a sharp shooter when it comes to this ride. I always score a level 4. This is my favorite ride!

    Haunted Mansion

    The story is much different here. It has something to do with the father owned the Thunder Mountain railroad and he died. His daughter was in love with a guy that the father didn't like. The father made her suitor disappear. So she spends eternity searching for her lost lover!

    It's a small world

    This song is sung in every language in USA and France. The main difference is that there weren't as many people on it. Instead of being annoyed by the incredibly catchy song, I enjoyed it because it was my wife's first time. We got excited as we passed cultures we visited. Above are landmarks from Rome, Pisa, and Venice!

    Food is expensive, but you gotta eat! We ate Doner kebabs at the Lion King themed Hakuna Matata.

    We had an unforgettable and amazing time at Disneyland Paris! We'd recommend it to everyone! It was very different, yet very similar.