Koko Ramen in Waco, Texas

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-T10, 35mm, f/4.5, 1/160 sec, ISO400
“Tonkotsu Ramen” Waco, 2019

こんにちは!How’s it going?

Today after I picked up Koa from his band camp in Waco, we decided to get some lunch before heading back home. He was tired of burgers, pizza, and Mexican food (I guess those were on the menu during camp all week) so we checked the local listings on Yelp for ramen. I didn’t think there would be much, but the first result was a food truck named “Koko Ramen” so we decided to give it a try. I wasn’t sure if it would be open on a Saturday afternoon but we were in luck and Koko Ramen was serving food.

The food truck is situated in a small parking lot and shares a nice outdoor eating/drinking area with a bar. We didn’t go check it out, but it seems like a nice arrangement. I can imagine grabbing a few beers and then slurping down noodles… sound like a fun evening!

Koa ordered the Tonkotsu Ramen and I ordered the Miso Ramen and we were both pleased with the flavor and amount of food. I guess we weren’t expecting too much from the food truck, but it really delivered! They don’t skimp on the toppings, with a whole ajitama egg, menma, pickled veggies, etc. The noodles were also satisfying in their texture and amount.

The ramen was served in a disposable cardboard bowl, which was interesting, and the soup spoon was also a strange cardboard/paper disposable type. I’ve never seen disposable noodle spoons before, but I guess it makes sense since food trucks don’t have the means to wash dishes.

We also ordered the pulled-pork egg rolls, which were pretty much what you’d expect. So if you’re in the mood for a taste of barbecue, why not try some? Speaking of barbecue, the pork in the ramen was a special barbecue style. According to the website, their proteins are smoked at a local bbq house. Sounds like a win-win arrangement. You can read more in the Texas Monthly article about Koko Ramen.

By the way, one of Koa’s nicknames is “Koko” so that made the experience extra special. 😊🍜

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-T10, 35mm, f/5.6, 1/280 sec, ISO400
“Koko Ramen” Waco, 2019

While I prefer the ramen at other traditional restaurants, as a food truck, Koko Ramen rates pretty highly in my book. Give it a try if you’re in Waco!

I hope you had a nice day!

またね~

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-T10, 35mm, f/4.5, 1/140 sec, ISO400
“Double Egg” Waco, 2019

Best Place to Renew Passports in Austin

"Waiting at the Passport Office" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/320 sec, ISO200
“Waiting at the Passport Office” Austin, 2019

こんばんは。Today I took my two sons to get their passports renewed at the University of Texas International Office. In the past, we’ve gone to the post office to take care of it, but a friend recommended the UT International Office, and the reviews are fantastic, so we decided to give it a try.

I have to agree that this is the best way to get your passport renewed (or apply for a new one) in person in Austin! The staff was so friendly, the wait time was minimal, and they even offer photo services for cheaper than Walgreens.

I was nervous about going here during spring break because I heard it can get crowded. But really, it’s a great time to do it because you don’t have to take your kids out of school which is important if they are high school age. Plus, during spring break, there’s hardly any traffic. We arrived when the office opened (8 am) and parked at the San Antonio Garage, which is just across the street. The cost was US $6.

There was a short line at the UT International Office, as you can see in the photo above, but it was shorter I was expecting. I think we waited for about 15 minutes before reaching the reception desk, where the friendly staff member made sure we had all of our documents (including check to the US Dept of State) in order, placed everything into a plastic folder for us, and told us to wait for a txt which would let us know it was time for us to head upstairs for the actual processing. The waiting area is small but comfortable. It was such a nice environment compared to the post office!

After 10 more minutes, we received the message and took the elevator up to the 2nd floor where we turned in our document packet to another worker (also super-friendly), who double-checked everything, and then we sat down while they processed the application (or whatever they needed to do). If you need a photo, they will take it upstairs. I think the fee is US $13. Next time, I’d save the trip to Walgreens and just get the photo done (for cheaper) there at the UT International Office.

"International Office" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/50 sec, ISO800
“International Office” Austin, 2019

10 minutes later we were called back to the counter and took oaths stating that everything on the applications was true, then paid the US $35 service fee, listened to a detailed explanation of what would happen next, how long it would take to receive the passports, and received a paper that had instructions on how to check the status of the application. I have to say again that the staff members were so helpful, friendly, and clear about everything. The University of Texas International Office is SO MUCH BETTER than the post office for handling passport applications. I recommend anyone in the Austin area use them.

"Passport Takeaway" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/60 sec, ISO640
“Passport Takeaway” Cedar Park, 2019

I hope you had a nice day!

またね~

A Visit to the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin

"Holding Hands" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO2500
“Holding Hands” Austin, 2019

Today Bay and I were at UT for a recruiting event, and after that was over we decided to check out the Blanton Museum of Art. Actually, Bay has been there twice before but this was my first time.

The Blanton Museum of Art is located on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, so if you are in town for an event, vacation, or touring UT, it’s super-convenient to visit. There’s a parking garage right next door, and it’s only $4 (with validation). Admission to the museum for me was $12 (adult), and just $5 for Bay (youth). If you are a UT student, the admission is free, and $5 if you are a student at another college. Oh, and admission is FREE on Thursdays!

I enjoyed the modern art of the permanent collection, but if you are used to the offerings in New York City or other large metropolises, you might be disappointed. Still, the space is top-notch and the temporary exhibition Words/Matter: Latin American Art and Language at the Blanton was really good. I really liked the wood print posters and their graphic style.

I took a few photos in the museum, and at the Ellsworth Kelly Austin installation. Enjoy!

"Make Tacos Not War" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/100 sec, ISO6400
“Make Tacos Not War” Austin, 2019
"Color Light" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO640
“Color Light” Austin, 2019
"B" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO800
“B” Austin, 2019
"Delicate Sculptures" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO2500
“Delicate Sculptures” Austin, 2019
"Skylight" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/420 sec, ISO200
“Skylight” Austin, 2019

Thinking About Where to Travel Next

"Heading West" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: SONY NEX-6, 50mm, f/7.1, 1/125 sec, ISO100
“Heading West” Cedar Park, 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

This morning I saw this amazing contrail from a plane zooming across the sky, and since it is heading west, I am imagining that the passengers are traveling to the west coast of the US, and perhaps connecting to a flight to Asia.

Speaking of traveling, my next trip that is planned is a cruise with my immediate and extended family in July. I’m really looking forward to it, but I am also thinking about a solo trip somewhere. Mariko went on a solo trip to Europe last year, and she is going to Japan next month as well. She said I should go traveling solo sometime, but I’m not sure where I would like to go. I love exploring new places solo, and I would like to take my sketchbook and iPad with me to do some on-location sketching. It seems so fun! So a bit more thinking and research will be needed to figure out a nice destination for that activity.

I’d love to travel to Vietnam, Thailand, or Singapore, so those destinations are high on my list. Honestly, I’m not too interested in other regions at this point in my life, but I know that can change, so we’ll see. But just thinking about the possibilities for solo travel gets me excited!

"Morning Light" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: SONY NEX-6, 16mm, f/9, 1/200 sec, ISO100
“Morning Light” Cedar Park, 2019

I hope you had a nice day!

またね~

Vacation’s Over – Carry On

"Palos Verdes" 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/9, 1/450 sec, ISO200
“Palos Verdes” 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

We’re back home in Texas after a wonderful holiday vacation in California. While I enjoyed myself quite a bit, I let my daily habits fall by the wayside, but that’s okay. I was on vacation after all. Nothing to beat myself up over.

While I did post on my blog, play some ukulele (my dad has a cool Kamaka ukulele), exercise/stretch, and take a daily photo, I didn’t study my Japanese vocabulary nor do a daily drawing. And of course, I didn’t do a daily decluttering. But now that I’m back home, I’ll pick those back up. It’s a new year which is kind of cool. No new year’s resolutions for me. I’m just going to continue what I’m doing. Little by little, every day, ought to be enough. 😊

またね~