Author Topic: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days  (Read 4539 times)

Offline Gray Wolf

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Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« on: December 25, 2013, 12:16:41 PM »
Just a quick note to everyone.  We leave early (3am) tomorrow morning for Buguey and will be out of touch for 3-4 days.  No internet, limited cell service, no air con.   Yikes!  How will I survive?   :o

When I return I'll give all a full report of my trip, which should be very interesting. 

If any spammers show up, ignore them, don't click on their links, but do use the "report to moderator" button so that Rufus can delete their posts.  I'll deal with them fully when I return.

Wish me luck!  I'm gonna need all I can get!   :D :)

Wandering Gary Wolf
« Last Edit: December 25, 2013, 12:19:02 PM by Gray Wolf »
Louisville, KY USA - Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, PH

Offline brett4gam

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2013, 02:29:13 PM »
GW, hope you all have a safe and enjoyable trip.  :D

Cheers
Brett
I have never seen the world brighter and less prosperous.

Offline medic3500

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2013, 02:52:47 PM »
Have fun and stay safe my brother from a different mother and father. Looking forward to the update.

Offline Lee2

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2013, 08:14:02 PM »
Have a safe and very enjoyable trip, take lots of photos and be sure to tell us all about it when you get back.
:) Happily married since 1994 & live part of the year in Cebu and the rest in S. Florida.

Offline Art, just a re(tired) Fil-Am

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« Last Edit: December 29, 2013, 03:52:55 PM by Gray Wolf »
"Life is what we all make it to be"!
"It's always a matter of money"!
"Do on to others as they would do on to You, but do it first"!
"Different strokes for different folks"!
"Que Sera Sera"!

Offline medic3500

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2013, 09:51:10 AM »
Now that the cat is away the mice can play, what kind of trouble can we get into, lol.

Offline BudM

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2013, 06:56:15 PM »
Have fun and stay safe my brother from a different mother and father. Looking forward to the update.
You don't have to cover for Jack.  I have a brother who has a horse face too.
Whatever floats your boat.

Offline medic3500

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2013, 08:33:03 PM »
It's all about the smile.

Offline Gray Wolf

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2013, 01:34:29 PM »
Hi everyone!  I'm back!  I see the forum didn't collapse and no fist fights started while I was gone. 

Well, I survived, but just barely.  I'll try to make this as short as possible.  After this post, feel free to ask anything you like.  I tried to create a photo album using my Photobucket account, but our connection is just too slow to achieve any uploads.  I even attempted to attach about 10 small photos but overloaded the server.  Photos will have to wait until I get back to a good connection in the US.

First things first.  Tatang decided not to go because he feared he wouldn't survive the long drive.  His decision was a wise one.  He definitely would have suffered the whole way and might not have survived at all.
We hired a friend of my brother in law Sergio to drive us to Buguey.  We agreed on P10,000 for the 3 day trip, plus I would pay for the fuel.  The driver, Felix, wanted to bring along an extra driver because it's a long drive, plus he wasn't sure how to get there.   First red flag   The proposed second driver didn't know how to get here either.  Second red flag    So we suggested that our nephew Gerald could be the second driver, plus he's driven there before in his own car and knew the exact way.  So it was agreed we would use Gerald and not Felix's friend.

We left at 3:30am on Thursday the 26th with Felix behind the wheel.  It was raining.  Within 10 minutes I knew we were in trouble.  This guy couldn't drive a friggin' nail!    He was on the NLEX, driving in 4th gear (with a 5-speed transmission) and kept gunning the engine and then slowing down, even hitting the brakes occasionally, for no reason.  There were no other cars on the road!  My mother in law was getting carsick and vomiting into a plastic bag, Gloria was sick, her sister Ester was crying, my nephew Ryan was sick, Gerald was turning green and I was about to roll down the window and spew! 

We finally reached our exit of the NLEX at Sta Rita, Bulacan and began driving on the two lane road towards Cabanatuan and then up into the mountains.  Felix wanted to tailgate every vehicle, trying to pass everything in front of him, even if it meant passing on the right shoulder of the road.  I was doing my best to keep my composure and not go off on the guy, especially at the beginning of the trip. 

We reached a stopping point, Cafe Mijares in Santa Fe at the top of the mountains.  Nice place. Most everyone ate something to refill their depleted stomachs but I chose to only drink something at this point.  We asked Felix to let Gerald drive for a while (since Felix couldn't find his way out of a paper bag).  It was agreed and off we went with my nephew driving.  Gerald is a world class driver.  He took the family's safety as first consideration and drove like a pro!  Finally we could all relax a bit and enjoy the scenery. 

Coming through and down from the mountains we saw some breathtaking scenery.  The mountains themselves are incredible, although it was hard to appreciate them while staring down sheer cliffs that dropped 2000-5000 feet off the side of the road.  And it was impossible to get any good photos as we rolled along.  With no place to stop, and road side houses blocking all openings, most of the photos I got gave no indication of the real beauty of the mountains. 

After the mountains we drove down through the Cagayan Valley.  With mountains on both sides, it was something to behold.  The landscape was beautiful and green with rolling hills leading up into the mountains.  It was during this part of the trip that the skies cleared.  We stopped just after Cauayan to get fuel and ate at a little place called Kap's Eatery.  A basic roadside place but with some of the best roasted chicken I ever had!  Everyone else ate mounds of rice and pig guts of some sort.  I think it was papaitan, but was afraid to sample it.

We continued on to Tuguegarao where it clouded up again and began to rain more.  Then it was about 2 hours more to Buguey.  The total time on the road was 13.5 hours.

I was devastated when I saw the damage left by Typhoon Vinta, a signal 4 storm that went through the area October 31 tearing up everything in it's path.  I was told "some" trees had been uprooted but no damage to the house or farm.  Seems I was mislead a great deal.  The town was hid hard by Vinta with almost every mango tree laying on it's side and many coconut palms strewn around.  The streets had barely been cleared of the sand and mud from the flooding, with piles left where they could scrape them aside to make way for vehicles and people.  When we turned down the street to Gloria's old house, Glo, her sister and mother began crying when they saw the damage.  We pulled into the drive of the house and could see that the roof had been replaced.  The yard, where once stood three large mango trees, was a mud pit and the trees were completely uprooted.  Still, the family in typical Filipino style, came running to us smiling and hugging everyone.  It was all I could do to not cry when I saw how badly torn up the place was.  My nephew Walter had started a fire in the middle of the yard on which to cook their rice while his beautiful wife Roda cooked shrimp and crab they had purchased just for us earlier that morning. 

I made my way to the shelter of Nanay and Tatay's little bahay in back of the main house.  It was a 2-room concrete and nipa house with a tarp in front and makeshift wooden benches.  I sat where they aimed me and began greeting Walter and Roda's two small children, Princess and Angel who called me "Lolo".  Two little dolls!  We helped them open the balikbayan boxes brought from Manila with gifts for everyone.  It made my heart ache to see the little kids eyes when they opened their Christmas gifts of chocolate candies, clothes and some simple, cheap toys.  But the children were nothing but overjoyed to see the gifts and devoured the chocolates in no time.  We ate a meal of rice, shrimp and crab and drank water from the 5 gallon plastic container we brought with us from Manila.

After eating we were all tired after our long trip and made our way to the Crab Resort on the beach, or what's left of the beach.  Seems the Mayor has decided to allow illegal magnetite sand mining, even though it is destroying the beautiful beaches they had.  Where once were wide beaches is now a narrow strip of sand just before the seawall.  The storm offshore was pounding the wall with big waves and the wind was blowing hard, throwing spray into our faces. 

We had reserved two rooms at the hotel, one for Nanay, Ester and the two boys, and the other for Glo and myself.  Felix was content to stay at the little house and drink Emperidor with the workers.  He said he was happy there because there was lots of food and drink.  I managed to find two bottles of San Mig Light, took my medicine and fell asleep while Glo and the rest went back to visit with family some more. 

The next morning I didn't feel good at all, probably due mainly to the crab and shrimp.  Glo let me sleep while she went to visit with the family again, but came back later to check on me and to bring me some breakfast.  We decided it would be best if I stayed at the hotel and rested, especially since it was raining very hard and there was no place for me to sit except inside the small, crowded house or under the tarp in back.  So she left to visit family again with a promise to bring me some food later.  I slept another 3-4 hours and then got up to take a walk by the beach, shower and watch some TV. 

Glo returned with some food that afternoon.  She brought me a plate of igido (sp), diniguan and kaldereta, all made from the freshly slaughtered pig.  I ate a little of the food, which was rustic to say the least.  But I was feeling better after my rest and some food, so I decided it would be proper for me to make an appearance at the house so that the family didn't think I was being rude or unappreciative.  I had already showered and was dressed when Glo returned with the food, and after eating, Glo, Nanay, Gerald, Ryan and I went for a “tour” of Buguey and to visit my brother Ben's gravesite.  The tour took all of 5 minutes and we covered several barangays in that time.  Buguey is a very small town. 
At my brother's gravesite I spent a few minutes alone and broke down crying.  It was the first time I had been to “see” Ben, as he had died one year before I met Glo.  I'm a fairly tough guy but being at his grave and talking with him, promising him I would take care of our family was very emotional for me.  The family gave me my space and allowed me private time with Ben.  Glo came to my side and we prayed together, then wiped our eyes, said a final farewell to our brother and left to see the rest of the family.
When we arrived at the house they were busy preparing Tinobong, which is Ilocano for a sweet powdered rice mixed with coconut milk, brown sugar and peanuts, and poured into long sections of green bamboo. They first steamed the bamboo in a very large wok over an open fire and then dug a pit, added coals from the fire, placed the bamboo sections on top of the coals and then covered it all with banana leaves.  When finished they split open the bamboo and scooped out the most delicious rice delicacy I've tasted yet.  If you haven't tired it yet, do yourself a favor and try Tinobong, or whatever they call it in your family's tongue.
After a couple of hours it began to rain very hard.  Since there was no place for all of us to get out of the weather they returned me to the hotel.  Glo and the others went back and sat around under the tarp and talked for a while, but returned to the hotel early as we planned to get an early start back to Manila the next morning.  Everyone slept so well, we all overslept, causing us to leave later than originally planned.
We loaded up the van with fresh crabs, shrimp, half a pig and other “goodies”, including the extra Tinobong.  Felix and I tied all of this on the top rack of the van and covered it all with a tarp to protect it from the rain, which was pounding us as we secured the load.  Then 8 of us crammed into the van, including an extra nephew, Charles, who was returning with us to Manila.
By the time we reached Tuguegarao it had stopped raining and we decided to visit with our niece who is a professor at St Louis University in Tuguegarao.  We shared a simple merienda of sweet rolls and juice, took some photos, then hit the road again.  Gerald was our driver and everyone was relaxed as we rolled along, safely, without passing any cars using the shoulder of the road. 
We made a stop about 20 km's south of Tuguegarao at Josie's Panciteria in Anao, Cabagan for lunch.  Their food was delicious!  They specialized in several forms of pancit and also served a full range of foods including roasted chicken, kaldereta, papaitan, mixed veggies, sinigang, meatballs and embutido.  I ate some embutido, a couple of delicious pork meatballs and a bowl of sinigang broth.  The rest of the gang ordered virtually everything on the menu and we packed our leftovers for “take out”. 
The weather was good and the trip was uneventful going back up into the mountains.  There were several vendors along one stretch of the highway selling fresh roasted corn on the cob (mais) so we stopped at a wide point in the road and picked up several kilos of fresh corn for the family back home, as well as for our merienda on the road.  The big one I ate was sweet, delicious and roasted perfectly.
We stopped again at Cafe Mijares in Santa Fe to allow everyone to visit the CR, stretch their legs and get some coffee and other drinks.  It was at this point our trip took another bad turn.  Felix wanted to drive the rest of the way home.  It was about 5:30pm and just beginning to turn dark as we pulled out of Cafe Mijares.  The first thing I had to do was to tell Felix to turn on his headlights.  Once again he was driving like a typical Filipino, passing cars at every opportunity, but mostly on curves, using the shoulder of the road and sometimes in the oncoming lane.  I finally had my fill of his crap and told him loudly, and in no uncertain terms, that it was not necessary for him to pass every damn vehicle on the road, that we wanted to get back home alive!  He said “yes” and ignored everything I said. 
We ran into every imagineable form of traffic between Sana Fe and the SCLEX. Felix was trying to make up time by driving like a maniac and passing everythign in front of him even when there was no room.  We nearly had several crashes.  Everyone was once again sick and nervous due to Felix's driving habits.  Yet when we finally hit the highway, Felix drove like a grandpa, refusing to get in the passing lane because it was marked “overtaking vehicles only”.   ????     I lost it, again, and told him “You passed everything on the road when we were on the narrow roads, and now that you have a big highway three lanes wide you've driving like a Lolo! Let's go!” 
He started asking how to get to Manila and even though was told exactly which exit to hit, he missed it.  We had to drive an extra 5 km's to find an exit to turn around and go back to our proper exit for the NLEX.  I determined that either Felix can't read or he needs glasses, since he balked at every possible exit, slowed down, got into the emergency lane/shoulder of the road and seemed lost.
We finally made it home at around 1am after 18 hours of hell.  I paid Felix his remaining P5000, apologized for being upset and explained it was because I was stressed after such a long drive.  He bowed his head, said “thank you very much” and we parted ways.  I hope I never see him again.

When we walked into the house and unloaded all our gear the first thing I did was drink a cold San Miguel to calm my nerves.  We all then took a shower and ate some fried chicken prepared by my sister in law Nely.  I washed mine down with a cold Red Horse.  We all sat and talked for a while before we went crashing into oblivion in our beds, thankful to have survived the trip.
In the long run, I'm glad I went because I wanted to see the family and Glo's home town.  I may never get to visit again.  I only wish the weather and our driver had been better.
Louisville, KY USA - Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, PH

Offline Lee2

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2013, 10:33:46 PM »
Thanks for the report. Glad you all made it back safe.

Most of the drivers I have had over the years for the many long drives we have had to take, drove just as you described and I just had to grin and accept it but in all those years fortunately we have not had any accidents except one Vhire driver who I believe intentionally ran over an rabid dog which was in the road foaming at the mouth and charging at the vehicle we were in while we were moving around 50 mph towards it.  :o

It will be great to see the photos once you get back and post them. I really should take more pictures when we travel but my wife is the one who takes the pictures and I guess it is all just normal to her since she has grown up there and also we return to Mindanao every two years. Fortunately our longer drive in Mindanao is only about 4 to 5 hours each way with no stops and the shorter one in Cebu to family in Toledo is only about 2 hours. So after reading your experiences I am counting my lucky stars.  ;)


:) Happily married since 1994 & live part of the year in Cebu and the rest in S. Florida.

Offline mikbal

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2013, 01:45:24 AM »

     Glad you made it back in one piece. I've had similar experiences with drivers there but have had much better luck in recent years going through a professional service. The only problem with that is they tend to be very pricey.  However, San Mig and Red Horse are definitely the best medicine after a trip like that.  Just one question, how were the roads after you got off the expressway?

Mike

Offline medic3500

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2013, 09:18:11 AM »
Sounds fun, I was thinking about you while at a birthday party for coworker of the GF. San Mig Light was cold but not doing the trick, next two cases were San Mig Pils which also was ice cold. That started to do the job, but it was the last two cases of Red Horse that put the icing on the cake. There were about 8 of us guys outside drinking with the gals inside, in the past I have said that I can hold my own against most men here when it comes to partying. I was proven to be very wrong in this situation, most of the guy were returning OFWs home for the Christmas season, that should have been my first clue, they were party animals. Long story short the next morning we were offered a ride by the host from where we were somewhere south of Imus City to a point near our place as they were going North for the day. We piled into the van and their nephew drove. It was the same song and dance in his driving skills, also consider I had a hangover from hell or was still drunk probably a combination of both. It took everything I could muster from not climbing over the seat and smacking this kid in the fricking head and tell him to relax and stop driving like an ass. I was on the verge of puking from the time we started until I got out. Our youngest did puke and she wasn't even drinking the night before.

Hope to catch up with you soon Jack, we are actually having a small get together at our place with some family tonight with food etc. and will eat around midnight or shortly after. I'm cooking the Chicken and Ham. If you and Glo have a few extra minutes and would like to come by please do so. 

Offline Gray Wolf

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2013, 09:36:07 AM »

     Glad you made it back in one piece. I've had similar experiences with drivers there but have had much better luck in recent years going through a professional service. The only problem with that is they tend to be very pricey.  However, San Mig and Red Horse are definitely the best medicine after a trip like that.  Just one question, how were the roads after you got off the expressway?

Mike

The roads were two lane with many parts missing or under repair and with deep excavations.  The sections under repair were fairly well marked, but what they left us to drive on was rough as a cob and many times simply the dirt and gravel shoulder full of potholes. 

Some sections were pretty nice, much like county roads back home.  The only thing that made it bad was that everyone used these areas to drive like they were in the Grand Prix.  Seems that 100-120kmh (60-75mph) is common in these stretches, way beyond what these roads are designed for and beyond most driver's skill levels.

When we passed through a town of any size, there was an immediate traffic jam with everyone exhibiting the dreaded crab mentality, sometimes to an extreme level.  But as soon as we passed the last section of tricycle routes, it cleared up and once again we were flying down the road at break neck speed.   
Louisville, KY USA - Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, PH

Offline Steve & Myrlita

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2013, 08:38:41 PM »
Jack, glad you made it back safely. You handled it better than I would have. I would have told him to stop the van, got out, went to the driver's door, opened it, told him to get in the back and I would have taken over. I firmly feel that if I'm going to die in an accident, it will be my own doing and not someone Else's stupidity. Sorry, my 2 centavos. God Bless.....
Thank you...God Bless...
Bro Steve & Sis Myrlita
Bacolod City, PH
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Offline paulgee

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Re: Gray Wolf Off Grid For Next 3-4 Days
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2014, 12:56:07 AM »
Glad you all survived intact Jack. Whilst the general bad standard of driving in the Philippines is probably known to all, it is not always appreciated just how long it takes to drive to places there, especially when one is accustomed to European/American/ Australian etc roads and the ease with which miles are covered.

Nice touch, making peace with  the inept driver you had. There is no gain in taking your anger out on him (well you did survive!) it's just a case of keeping well away from any driving experiences with him in future.

Paul
Based in the UK, and part time in our San Fernando, Pampanga house