Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Harbin Hot Springs gone?

Sunday, September 13th, 2015





Harbin Hot Springs was part of our first honeymoon, a honeymoon trip we took by motorcycle from Los Angeles to Northern California. We spent two days at Harbin Hot Springs, a favorite hangout of mine from the 1980’s. We just heard that it has likely burned to the ground in the wake of fires spreading through the area. While we know people have lost much more (homes, pets, etc.), we will certainly miss this idyllic place in the mountains of NorCal.

Davis Bike Ride on Labor Day Weekend

Monday, September 5th, 2011


Here is a short video of us starting on our biking adventure in Davis over the Labor Day weekend.

Adventuring Niece

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

I have two traveling, adventurous nieces. Please visit them!



Disneyland, June 2011

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

I’m doing an exhaustive post on our trip to Disneyland. This is less to entertain or inform any of our readers on the web, and more to chronicle the trip for our own purposes. When we go back, we’ll have a complete record of what we did before and how much everyone liked it.

Wednesday morning, up at 5:30am. Kids start waking up at 6am. Breakfast, clothes, showers for adults, straighten the house, pack the minivan and off to Disneyland. Wheels up at 7:15am.

Arrival at the parking lot in Anaheim at 8:40am. I’m as cynical about Disneyland as I am about much of the world. “It’s a business. They want to make money. Simple as that.” Indeed, the entry fee for our family of six seems immense. And I don’t get out of the mode until I’m actually at the gate.

Disneyland is a marvel; the attention to every detail is awesome. There is no place quite like it. I love it.

Running through Main Street, which always reminds me of a highly fictional New Castle, Indiana from my childhood.

Autopia (10am) – Our first ride. Why is it in Tomorrowland? Given the gas burning engines (without catalytic converters and very smelly), it has more the feel of a time gone by when cars burned leaded gas. Looking online later, it appears that the ride was first imagined right when the Interstate system was first being built, and Autopia was meant to feel like driving on the Interstate of the “future”. Dan-dan and Camilla are with me, as the small ones and Mom walk around.

Daniel takes the wheel of the car, while I run the gas pedal. He’s constantly struggling with the steering wheel, smashing into the center rail that controls the car. “What are you doing, Daniel?! Keep the car straight.” I lean over to run the wheel myself and find that the little car is difficult to manage.

A memory comes unbidden of my own father. It must have been forty years ago. There was a very similar ride at King’s Island in Ohio which we would make an annual pilgrimage to. After I was 9 years old, when sister Helen was old enough for her own driver’s license, she would be the chaperone for any trips to the park. I don’t have any active memories of Dad taking me to the park, but just now an untouched memory comes of Dad yelling at me while I drove a car exactly like this one at what must have been King’s Island. “What’re you doing there, Eddie-boy?! Keep the car on the road!” And forty years earlier, he had taken the wheel from me with success that equals mine here and now – these little cars are hard to drive.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (11am) – This ride was a 45 minute wait. The ride itself is long and interesting, with lots to look at. Further, this is a ride that all of us can go on at once. As I’ll mention several times, the attention to detail is astounding. Everywhere one looks out the portholes, there is something new, interesting and perfectly natural to be in that place at that time.

Storybook Land Canal Boats (Noon) – This was a favorite of mine last time. Again, it’s a slow ride through canals overlooking miniature storybook villages. One can see Gepato’s Workshop, where Pinocchio was created; Cinderella’s castle, Aladdin’s palace, Alice in Wonderland’s village and a host of other well-imagined 1:50 replicas.

I also particularly like this photo of Gabi.

Gadget’s Go Coaster (1pm) – Toon Town is utterly cool. The cartoonish landscapes and buildings where absolutely nothing is straight or completely functional is a wonder just to talk through.

Gadget’s Go Coaster is a ride there that I had never been on. A particularly long wait for a short, 51 second ride. It’s certainly well imagined, and not particularly fast or exhilarating. However, Dan-dan was terrified of it and decided not to go on any further roller coasters.

Disneyland Railroad (2pm) – A bit tired during the midday, we decide to take a ride around Disneyland on the old-time railroad. We leave the stroller at the Toon Town lot and climb aboard. Along the way, we’re entertained with scenes of dinosaurs and other animals. We circle the park looking at each of the main divisions.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant (2:45pm) – Back to Fantasyland. All three kids wanted to ride on the Flying Dumbos. Why? Isn’t this ride a staple of all carnivals everywhere in the world?

Maybe, but none are quite as nice. We’d been in a similar ride at Seaworld which was creaky, unkempt and otherwise poorly cared for. The ride in Disneyland was nothing of the sort. Daniel, Camilla, Aaron and Gabi all flew together while I tended a sleeping Veronica.

Later, Daniel reported that this was his favorite ride of the entire day. And what more can you ask for in a successful ride? Long live Dumbo! (Historical note: on an early visit by Harry Truman, he was offered a ride in Dumbo. Truman refused, saying that he could not go on a ride of elephants given their association with the Republican party. His loss.)


Casey Jr. Circus Train (3:20pm) – Taking in the same scenery as the Canal Boat ride, but this time on a train. Again, it’s a short, fun ride. Dad, Aaron, Camilla and Daniel are all onboard.

Space Mountain (4pm) – After his experience with the Toon Town roller coaster, Daniel decided to forego any further roller coaster rides. Camilla and Dad used a Fastpass to quickly board Space Mountain, my favorite roller coaster of all time. Whoever thought of running a roller coaster in pitch black was either a genius or extremely foolhardy.

The photo on the side is the one that Disney sells at the end of the ride. Not good enough to purchase, but good enough to display here.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (4:15pm) – Coming out of Space Mountain, we see a ride we’ve never seen before – inspired by the Toy Story series of movies. No line. Why not?

We’re treated to a slow-motion trip through a shooting gallery, with handheld laser pistols to aim at lighting targets. Aaron and I take one car, Daniel and Camilla take another. Bang, bang, zap!

Aaron later declares that this was the best ride of the day, and Camilla and Daniel both agree it was great fun. Since Aaron is too short to be allowed on most of the “serious” rides, this one really stands out for him.

Mickey’s Soundsational Parade (4:25pm) – Immediately after the Buzz Lightyear adventure, we exit to find that the afternoon parade had already started. Neither Gabi nor I had ever seen a Disney parade before. It was sumptuous!

The very first float that we see carries all of the Disney princesses. Camilla is entranced! Peter Pan, Snow White and all of the Disney characters (save Mickey and Donald Duck, who we missed) are there. The parade goes on for fifteen minutes.

Mark Twain Riverboat (4:45pm) – Given the limited space that Disneyland has to work with, I’ve always been amazed that they support two full-sized ships on a circular lake. The total area taken by these rides must be a third of the entire park. Tom Sawyer Island, which we’ve never been to, is completely surrounded by the lake.

Two years ago, we took the sailing ship. This time, we took the Mark Twain Riverboat cruise. A very satisfying half hour trip which all six of us can participate in.

Haunted Mansion (6pm) – Daniel loved this ride from our previous visit. Camilla decided to come with us, so it was Dad and the two eldest while Mom and the two youngest went to see Winnie the Pooh.

The Haunted Mansion is the place where I began to appreciate how much attention to detail had gone into making each of the rides in the park. About two-thirds of the way through the trip, the Tomb Buggy (a mobile chair we ride on) stopped. An announcer told us over a speaker that the ride had been upset by ghosts and would restart in a minute. We were stuck looking a single part of the Haunted Mansion ride for about three or four total minutes – a section that would normally slide by in ten seconds or less.

And we were thoroughly entertained. It was a series of five animated ghost heads singing a very good Halloween-ish song. I was awestruck – talk about over-engineering a ride! I’ve included a Youtube video of the song below.

Grim Grinning Ghosts



The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (6pm – no photos) – Gabi, Veronica and Aaron went to this area of the park while we were in the Haunted House. They reported it to be fun.

Pirates of the Caribbean (6:30) – No line again – everyone in the park seemed to have headed out to dinner. Daniel, Camilla and I all got on quickly, within five minutes. The extensive ride goes for more than fifteen minutes through the dark around animatronic pirates.

By this time, I was busy looking into all of the cracks and corners to see what small touches had been done. They were everywhere – animated mice and cats, maps, piles of gold – every square inch of the exhibit told a story. I have no doubt that had our voyage been stopped for two or three minutes, we could have visually explored our surroundings and not finished by the time we restarted.

Jungle Cruise (7pm) – Going for a ride in the African Queen! I can’t believe I never heard of this ride before. Looking later online, I found that it was one of the original rides when the park opened. It has since been eclipsed by the Indiana Jones ride next door (which was temporarily closed when we got there).

The waiting line in the boathouse was a trip in itself. The desks, chairs, maps, books and papers leant an air of authenticity. I could have stayed in the boathouse alone for hours.

Star Tours (7:30pm) – In order to get into this final ride, I had to secure Fastpasses at the very beginning of the day. I had not been on the original version of the ride (now it had been updated to be 3D), but it was certainly fun. Daniel and Camilla came with me, though neither of them liked the ride very much.

We left a little after 8pm and returned to Temecula by 9:30pm. We still haven’t seen the fireworks.

Moving to Davis

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

As alluded earlier in the blog, the Steussy Ranch is moving to Davis, California. UC Davis has offered me a seat in their 2014 class, along with a generous scholarship. UC Davis is far and away the first choice for my law school based on a series of factors: 1) US News ranking #23, 2) California location, 3) very family friendly small town. While there were a few large cities on my selection list, I was very pleased when UC Davis accepted me and gave me the option of a small town in California to spend the next three years.

And what a town!

Have you wondered why the sudden interest in bicycles at the Steussy Ranch? Was it a sudden need for outdoor exercise? Enthusiasm for the kids’ biking? No, it’s directly related to our move to Davis.

Davis is completely surrounded and embedded with independent biking streets located in Green Zones. In the map above, every yellow line is a bike lane inside a green zone, completely protected from any car traffic. (Full PDF map available here.) You can circle the entire city without ever seeing a car. Except for the very center of town, the whole city is accessible from these lanes. Speaking as a father of four young children, I can imagine nothing better.

Note the path behind Daniel here with two kids rollerblading. It’s an example of one of the bike lanes. Wherever the bike lane crosses a standard vehicular street, there is a bridge or tunnel allowing bikes to travel without danger. And these paths all lead to the most wonderful parks, as below.

The parks are green and expansive. And they contain …

…swings, rock climbing walls, swimming pools and the local elementary school. Simply, vastly wonderful.

Abutting the law school and accessible by bike lane is the UC Davis Arboretum. Home to plants from around the world, ducks, college students and little boys and girls.

We’re all anxious to start exploring on our own once we move there. In early July …

…we move. Until then, time to get our biking gear ready!

29680 Nightcrest Circle

Friday, April 1st, 2011

The primary home for the Steussy Ranch is on the market! 4BR, 2.5 bath, 1900 sq. feet, built in 1988, three car garage, 1/4 acre lot in a cul-de-sac. $235,000. Complete with 1920’s piano, Verizon FIOS internet, gazebo and big back yard.

Click here for details. And if you have kids, check out the neighborhood from my flying helicopter/drone here.

The Ranch will be announcing our new location soon.

Busy, busy

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Just spent a week in San Francisco at the Game Developers’ Conference (GDC). I stayed with Dan, Hongli, Angelina and Carina. And I got to see Jack. It was a great trip!

Los Angeles Visits

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Ed, Tunde, Jack, Gabi at Travel Town in Griffith Park Saturday

We went for a whirlwind visit of friends in Los Angeles Saturday. Here are a few photos.

Cousin Alex and friend

Cousins Alex and Camilla explore a turn-of-the-century locomotive.

Nika, Camilla, Aaron and Daniel ride a more modern, but smaller train.

Visiting George, Gisela and the boys for pleasant outside dinner in Glendale.

10 Years on February 7

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Yes, it really has been ten years. The photo above is from our honeymoon trip to Sonoma and Napa Valleys in March 2001. Wow, it sure does not seem like that long. More postings on this later.

Gone to Hungary

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Gabi and Veronica off to Hungary

And they leave behind four sick Steussy’s in Temecula. Well, at least they’re healthy! Here’s hoping they stay that way.