Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31 - End Of Line

I had such a fun photo day at Death Valley, I'm OK with not having anything spectacular for the last day of Project 306. To be honest, it's like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. As much as I enjoy photography, to be constantly thinking about the next photo idea has been mentally draining. Now that Project 306 has officially ended, I am in need of a break.

On the other hand, I've been bringing my camera almost everywhere I go for the past ten months. It's a tough habit to break, so I will probably continue to have the camera with me. I'll keep going with the occasional blog post, but I am no longer tied down by the "daily" rule.

I hope everyone enjoyed checking the photos, whether it was just a single post or if you followed the blog regularly. Either way, I appreciate all the support.

Happy 2011 =)

December 30 - Scotty's Death Racetrack

I'm not sure what's crazier - getting up at 5am to do a day trip out to Death Valley or driving 26 miles on a bumpy dirt/gravel road in a Toyota Camry Hybrid just to see Racetrack Playa. I never thought to check what kinds of roads I was getting myself into. I just knew that I've always wanted to see these mythical moving rocks. Once I reached Ubehebe Crater and realized it was going to be dirt road from there on out, I just decided to go for it. High clearance 4x4 recommended? Pssh.

Fortunately, my car survived and it was totally worth it. On the way back, I stopped at Scotty's Castle (bottom two photos) and then took US95 through Beatty and back to Vegas. All told, I was only gone for 11 hours. Maybe that's the crazy part. I wanted to get back by 6pm because I didn't want to miss Sloppi Jo's launch. I didn't think I'd be back by 4.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 29 - Rainbow Not-So-Brite

I went for a scenic drive out to Red Rock and caught the tail end of this rainbow. It was brighter just a couple of minutes earlier, but oh well. I actually wanted to go hiking, but it was incredibly windy when I got out there. I would have been OK with rain, but the wind was crazy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 28 - Roving Eatery

Ever since I met Jolene and heard about her Hatch Green Chile inspired menu, I've been waiting to try the goods. Well, I'm happy to report that they are indeed the goods. I sampled some of her Green Chile Chicken Stew and I was blown away. The heat hits you right away, but it mellows out as you eat more. I also tried her Pork Tacos and while they were pretty good, they were completely overshadowed by the stew. (I also tried her Sopapillas and they are a nice little sweet dessert to go with the heat).

Sloppi Jo's officially launches at 6pm on December 30, 2010. Be there or be not there.

December 27 - Fear And Loathing At Calico

I recently borrowed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream. I never did watch the film, but I guess I'll do so after I read the book. I only started reading it at Sambalatte the previous day. I got so far into it, I was inspired to hike out to Calico Tanks and sit there to read some more.

December 26 - Sambalatte Torrefazione

Those who pay any sort of attention to my recent twitter or facebook feeds will know I am currently obsessed with this locally owned coffee shop. If there's one thing Yelp has done, it has turned me into more of a local Mom & Pop type of person. I don't avoid chains, but I try to find local places whenever I can.

December 25 - A Very Vegas UnChristmas

My family did all of our Christmas celebrating on Christmas Eve. We opened presents after midnight and some of us ended up singing karaoke until 5am. So for Christmas Day, we pretty much did nothing Christmas-y. For most of the night, I even forgot it was still Christmas.

We did classy things like drink some wine at the Mandarin Bar (above) and The Chandelier (below). The latter is a multi-level bar/lounge in The Cosmopolitan that is dressed up to look like, you guessed it, a chandelier. We also did less classy things like randomly find a free open bar at The Rockhouse and eat $2 foot-long hot dogs at Casino Royale. Good times.

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 24 - Christmas Eve

My last day of work for the year. I got out early, so I did my last-second shopping at Max Brenner. I have a legitimate reason for the procrastination - the chocolate is made fresh every day, so I wanted it to be as fresh as possible. I then stopped by the Bellagio Conservatory to check out their Christmas display. It never disappoints.

December 23 - Maligayang Pre-Pasko

It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday. It's also hard to get a good group singing photo.

The former is, of course, a reference to Boyz II Men. My cousin got me a couple of tickets to see their show at the Flamingo. I didn't expect to be so into it. Afterward, I caught up with said cousin and her sisters to watch them sing Christmas songs at a local Thai restaurant. The thing about photographing them - it's difficult to catch a shot where they all look great. Invariably, there's usually at least one of them with a weird facial expression.

Incidentally, the Thai restaurant (Krung Thai on Flamingo and Decatur) has this Crab Fried Rice that is absolutely incredible.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22 - Be Water My Friend

It's been raining almost non-stop lately, which is a good thing for us since we live in a desert. It only sucked on Monday night because we couldn't see the eclipse. You know you've become a Las Vegas local when you start loving and getting excited about rain.

Incidentally, the title is a Bruce Lee reference.

December 21 - Yelpaholics Anonymous

You know how to determine your favorite web site? Use Google Chrome for a while and see which page bubbles up to the top of the "Most Visited" list. For me, that crown belonged to facebook for a long time. But for the last few months, it has without a doubt been Yelp.

Yes folks, I'm a Yelpaholic. And this is my addiction written with light. (Photography literally means "light writing").

December 20 - Hot Shoe Shuffle

Some time during Thanksgiving dinner, I dropped my camera with my 580EX flash attached. It wasn't a big drop, but it was enough to break the hot shoe on the bottom of the flash. Luckily, I found an online store that sells the replacement part. You can see the broken part center and to the right in the photo. The replacement part is on the left. It was a fairly easy operation.

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 19 - Make Like A Tree

Who says we don't have autumn leaves in Vegas? OK OK. So it's the second last day of fall. This is at the Gardens Park in Summerlin. As you can see, it was raining, but my trusty and cheap plastic camera cover came in handy. I don't mind getting a little wet in the name of photography! Haha

December 18 - Neon Boneyard

The Neon Museum had an open house from 11am-2pm. Normally, you have to book a tour for $15 per person. During the open house, it was only $5. Granted, it was only a subset of the full collection, but it was worth the visit. This is probably the most interesting dirt junkyard in existence.

December 17 - Red Rock Flames

This is a so-so effort on my part. I was at the Red Rock the previous night for Sake Sessions. Since I already got my photo inside, I put this idea in my back pocket for a later date. Well that later date ended up being the next day. I'm sure the flames make a great photo; I just don't think I quite captured it on this night (it was raining and I didn't put too much time into it).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 16 - Sake Sessions

I heard about this Sake Sessions thing through one of my meetup groups. I'm glad I went. I've never been a sake fan, but I actually didn't find a single sake I didn't like at this event. Then again, my absolute favorite drink on this night was this Asahi beer cocktail made with some lychee syrup. I pretty much love lychee anything.

Also, I've discovered that I need to visit Chicago again.

December 15 - Yuletide Republic

The Yelp Elite event for December took place at Republic Kitchen & Bar. It was a pretty low-key event, but no less fun. This was one of those days where I challenged myself by only bringing my 50mm lens. That proved to be quite the challenge. The above photo is the only decent shot I could get.

December 14 - Magical Forest

Opportunity Village gave us free tickets to the Magical Forest when we did the Santa Run, so Jia and I decided to finally check it out this evening. As usual, I checked in on the Yelp app and found that a friend had also checked in. It was nice running into Reggie M and Teri C. The displays are mostly the same as last year, but it was still fun. The place was packed too.

December 13 - Palazzo Snowflakes

I've now seen Blue Man Group five times. However, my brother had never seen it, so I made use of what's left of my houseseats membership to get tickets for Monday night. We had to get there a little early to pick up the tickets, so I made use of the free time to get today's photo.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12 - Lazy Sunday

I've been filling my days with so many activities lately, it's nice to just do absolutely nothing for a change. I haven't left the house all day. I contemplated going somewhere to take a photo, but then I saw how the sunlight was filtering through my blinds and hitting my curtains. The result is above.

December 11 - Street Food Throwdown

The street food scene in Vegas is pretty nascent, but growing healthily. It was nice to see a couple of street vendors duke it out in a friendly throwdown. Ric and his Slider Truck may have defeated Ron and his Hanshiktaco (by a slim three points), but when it comes to Vegas food trucks as a whole, the event was a win-win.

It was great to meet Chef Jet Tila from Wazuzu (Encore). How awesome for him to be so supportive of the food truck culture. The other judges were Chef Geno Bernardo from Nove (Palms), Chef Jean Paul Labadie from Marche Bacchus, and Kari and Brian Haskell from Retro Bakery. It was also great to meet Jolene from Vegas's newest food truck - the upcoming Sloppi Jo's. Can't wait to try her food.

December 10 - Cosmic Balls

I was supposed to meet up with my cousin and her coworkers for cosmic bowling at Red Rock Lanes. Actually, I'm not into bowling, but I had a lazy night staying at home, so I needed to get out and get a photo. I never did see my cousin. I pretty much stayed for a few minutes, got my photo, and left for the gym.

December 9 - Confetti Cannons

I kind of preempted this post by taking a camera-phone picture of the exact same scene and posting it to picplz. Oh well. It's still worthy of a POTD (and this version is obviously of a higher quality). This was taken at the Rock N Roll Wine event at Rok Vegas inside New York New York. When I saw that they had confetti cannons on stage, I knew what I needed to capture. Luckily, they sprayed the crowd with confetti right at the beginning of their set list. Although I wouldn't have minded staying for the whole concert, I ended up leaving early to sober up with my fellow Yelpers, Misti Y and Thao T.

December 8 - Spiral Escalators

I always thought the spiral escalators at the Forum Shops were unique and interesting. I was killing time before watching Lion King at Mandalay Bay, so I stopped by Caesar's to get my POTD. This is actually an HDR. I knew I would need several exposures in order to get everything from the darker areas to the brightness of the sky light. The evenness of the photo's exposure from top to bottom tells me it was a success. Sometimes I like HDR for being obvious and surreal. Sometimes I like it because you can't even tell.

December 7 - Fivefingers No Discount

I used to think these things were ridiculous. I slowly evolved into wanting to try them, to actually trying them, to finally buying my own pair. I tried them on in an outdoors store up in Arcada, CA during METoC and was surprised at how comfortable they are. I finally splurged and got them on Black Friday. They weren't on sale or anything. That was just when REI happened to have them in stock in my size. I snapped this photo right before I wore them to the gym for the first time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

December 6 - National Finals Rodeo

Jia had a couple of free tickets to the rodeo, so I figured it was worth checking out, even if only for the purposes of this photoblog. I've previously been to a PBR event (Professional Bull Riders), but I think this was my first NFR.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5 - Perfectly Good Airplane

Today's blog entry comes courtesy of my brother. I recruited him to come with me to my first ever skydive. I've been wanting to jump out of a perfectly good airplane for as long as I can remember. I don't have much of a bucket list, but this would have been on it.

The verdict? Completely awesome! So awesome that I decided to buy the DVD. Let me tell you. I look horrible on the video! I was having the time of my life, but the video makes me look like I was in distress LOL. I'll post it (or some subset of it) eventually on my Vimeo account.

For good measure, I also included a couple of photos I took myself below.

December 4 - Santa Snow Run Day

The Great Las Vegas Santa Run took place today. Not sure if we broke the world record, but there seemed to be a lot more people than last year. Afterward, Christine and I checked out the 1st Annual Mountain's Edge Snow Day for a few minutes. I think the kid below forgot the snow part.

December 3 - Killer Bees

At the last minute, I found out about a Wu-Tang Clan concert at the House of Blues. Since they are only my favorite group of all time, I decided I couldn't pass it up. Ideally, I would have loved to take my camera into the concert, but I knew that would be shot down. Instead, I took a photo of the hallway inside THEhotel and gave it some Wu flavor.

December 2 - Prohibition Manhattans

I received an invite to drink some whiskey with some friends at the Green Valley Ranch. I was in the company of some serious aficionados. One of the bottles we had was a rye whiskey with a "Prohibition Era Recipe."

In addition to drinking it on the rocks, we had some Manhattans (both regular and perfect). To finish off the cocktail, Greg flamed some orange peels onto the drink. It left a layer of caramelized orange oils on top of the beverage.

December 1 - Christmas Weed

After being without my media player remote control for a week, I went to the JMACTS house to pick it up and noticed this weed near the street. I knew just the thing it needed to spruce it up.