Sunday, May 10, 2015

C H A N G E . O F . P A C E

Earlier this week while farting around on Google Maps, I came across a really great looking hiking trail not too far from my new home out here in Carefree/Cave Creek, Arizona.  It would be called the 'Jewel of the Creek' trail.  It's pretty awesome, and links up with several other great trails in the area, but it's hiking only (no bikes) so I decided to take Kenji out for some exercise and brought my Canon along.

The trail starts off pretty mild and flat - Then you begin working your way down a pretty shallow hill and towards the creek.

Stay in the direction that leads you towards 'Dragonfly Trail' and before you know it, come across a really cool pool in the creek that opens up pretty wide.  You can see water lines on the rocks around you that show just how much water flows through this area when the rain is heavy.

 You snake back (towards the direction you just came down), and then walk through some sandy (and possibly  muddy) areas.

You'll be brought to this super simple bridge that allows you to cross over the creek, and continue onward!

A quick snap from the center of the bridge, facing north.

Once you're on the other side, things look drastically different somehow! - Like you're on Mars or something.

The trail leads you alongside the cut-away, rocky hill.

And after a brief trip through a dried creek-bed, you'll come out up top on the mountain opposite to where you started! - with a great view of the surrounding other mountains, to boot!

Kenji insisted on taking a quick break.

 On the way back, you come across this AWESOME little hole in the rock-side!  Not sure if it's an old mining shaft, if it's just a cave, if it's some animals' home - but it sure was curious.  This whole area is an old gold-mining region from the early 1900's, so it wouldn't surprise me if that's what this is!

 A little too sketchy for me to venture in on my own - and without a flashlight.  Haha but Kenji sure was interested in going further!

Now he leads the way - he want's to get back home at this point. . .

Stay on the Dragonfly Trail to loop you back around to the Jewel of the Creek.

I took a quick detour to check out the creek where I heard audible moving water.

Back on the trail again, you'll go through such different terrain.  At one point, there's a few knocked over trees and bent ones like these that make it feel like you're walking through a forest tunnel.

The trail opens back up a bit again!

And apparently spring time is the best time to hit this trail, as all the blooming flora and wildlife come alive!  Here's a bloomed prickly pear cactus flower!

Then the return bridge!

These awesome rock-stairs will take you back up to the fork to either repeat the hike you just did, or stay on the Jewel of the Creek trail, and take you back to the parking area.

One last quick HDR edit from Dragonfly Trail, just about where I had to make the call to turn around and head back.  I will definitely be returning to this trail often, as it's super adventurous and rather quiet in regards to other people on the trails.  I only ran into a couple groups of people, and everyone was super friendly.
武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Friday, January 23, 2015

チョロQ - T A K A R A C H O R O - Q

For about the past year or two, I've gathered a small collection of Japanese toy cars known as Choro-Q.  Long story short, Choro-Q are little pull-back cars about 3-4cm in length, which is how they got their name - Choro is an abbreviation of a Japanese word "dash", and in Japan, anything abbreviated with a "Q" indicates that it's cute.  Therefore, Cute Dash?  Something like that.

But these little cars are too hilarious to look at, and seeing as how some of them get pretty serious, I thought it would a fun little collection to start.  The cars range from company-to-company, but just like many other toys in Japan, most are made by Takara Tomy.  Above is my Calsonic/Impul R32 GT-R.  Good ol' #12!

They can range from extremely simplistic and cartoonish, to incredibly detailed and high-end.  Even D1GP has their own series of Choro-Q, with several well-known cars, drivers, and aftermarket companies backing the series.  This Altia Falken R32 actually comes in it's own display case within the box, and has a few extra details and features.

Then, I happened to come across these Wonda Coffee Choro-Q. . . Tiger Woods says you should drink Wonda Coffee and drive drag cars, so why are you just sitting there. . .?

In Japan, Wonda Coffee (an Asahi Group company - yes they make more than just beer) comes in little cans, similar to RedBull here.  They'll do runs of product that when you purchase the coffee, a Choro-Q is included atop the can, in a sealed tiny display case.

And so came-about a whole new series of even more mini Choro-Q, at about 2.5cm long.  To my knowledge, Wonda has actually done several different runs and series of Choro that were included with their product, all officially licensed.  One of the series I was most interested in is their GT-R line-up, where they had released almost all of the different chassis generations of Nissan GT-R.

It ranges from Hakosuka KPGC-10, to R32/33/34/35.  Really, all that's about missing from this series is the Kenmeri KPGC-110 and an R31.  Maybe an R30 Paul Newman version too. . .Each chassis came in two different colors.

But there's also other series dedicated to manufacturer-aftermarket releases - Nismo, Mazdaspeed, TRD, STi, etc. .  So I snagged the two Nismo R35's, the two Subaru Legacy STi's, and one of the Mazdaspeed RX-7's.  Still missing from this series is the other RX-7, two RalliArt Lancers, and two Mugen S2000's.  Why can't iced coffee come with cool prizes like this here in the states???

Then, there are some of the more, I suppose you'd call them, 'collector-grade' series, like this Super GT series (still made by Takara Co.)  This set has some pretty awesome JGTC/Super GT themed cars, like this GT500 Calsonic/Impul Z.  Another one I have not pictured, is the GT500 Yellow Hat Z.  
Super Realistic Circuit Choro Q Series, with Collectible Box.  Super Awesomes #1 Fun Time!

Can't leave out Tomica cars. . .The REAL HotWheels!  My dad brought me back two from a business-trip to Kamakura a few years ago: #40 - Nissan Skyline Racing(R34) and #50 - Nissan Fairlady Z Racing Type(Z33).  These are pretty cool because they come with a sticker sheet and you actually get to apply all the decals yourself.  I've left mine alone in the boxes, where they'll probably sit dormant for the remainder of their lives.  As I continue to come across other Choro's and Tomy toy cars in general that catch my attention, I'm sure the collection will continue to grow.  I just think it's cool to hold onto little trinkety shit like this, that people tend to overlook, when in reality they're really cool, and will be even cooler in 50 years to show your grandchildren the type of stuff you were into (or are maybe still into).  What types of things do you guys collect, and why?!
武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Monday, January 19, 2015

浮世 - O H , B A L T I M O R E

Took a quick little adventure up to The Sound Garden ( yesterday with my buddy Mike to check out their vinyl stock, and see what else was new there.  It was oddly quiet down in the Fell's Point area of Baltimore, where this independent record store is located, but it was a really nice change.  That entire room in the front there is all new vinyl, and then located further back in the shop is a whole other section of used vinyl as well.

Sound Garden always has the best stock and variety of music around.  Last time I visited there, I was even telling the cashier who rung me up for my Bonobo and The Bug vs. Earth purchase that even after shopping a few record shops up in NYC on a recent trip, that their selection is still far superior.  I ended up picking up just two CD's this time around though - Michna's 'Thousand Thursday' and Willits + Sakamoto's 'Ocean Fire.'

Take a walk right across the street, and step onto the Bond Street Wharf.  Across Baltimore's harbor you can see the Domino Sugar Factory, some of Baltimore's seafood restaurants, and a little glimpse of Federal Hill.  Just to the left (and out of shot) is the Under Armour factory as well.

 Thames St x Bond St
It's pretty cool how they've been able to preserve some of the old roadways and rail systems around this area, but it makes it extremely low-car unfriendly.  That cobblestone road is no joke.

So I always try to park out one block, on the main roadway, and walk into Fell's.  Just in the background you can see the Legg Mason building, and over to the left and out of shot is a pretty new Morgan Stanley building.

This photo sucks, but I thought I'd go ahead and throw it up here anyway.  I think I've been hanging around Nick too much lately, because I still want the Z to go lower. . .
武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

O V E R D O S E スライドラックステアリングセット - ドリパケ U P D A T E

Thanks to either the JPY getting somewhat weak lately, or the USD getting a little bit stronger (doubt it), the currency conversion for Yen to Dollar has been awesome recently and figured I'd take advantage of that earlier this week!  I picked up a couple new OVERDOSE goodies for the Doripake, including their newer slide rack steering set (OD1602), newer aluminum bumper support set (OD1702), and some of their HD Ball Cap Sets (OD1585).  Also, I snagged a Kazama Auto 31mm Master Spring Set (01031129) off of a seller on eBay for a good deal.  I'm actually planing to pick up a second set so I have more options to play around with.  The white (Soft) springs are pictured below.

The new slide rack is supposed to generate a lot more angle than the previously released OVERDOSE steering rack set that was just based off of the Yokomo High-Angle set.  I pieced it together, which was a bit confusing to me at first how it worked - But it's actually really awesome, and operates so smoothly.  The dark gray/silver piece of the slide rack is some ridiculously lightweight metal material - I would imagine as to not strain the steering servo too much, and make for quick response.

Also, the new bumper support set is pretty nice.  The actual blue anodized bumper support is in a different design than the original one that OVERDOSE released.  So the new one will get installed on this chassis, and the old one I have will be used on my (mostly) stock Yokomo tub chassis.  The plan is that once I have this chassis complete, I should have enough remaining parts to rebuild by stock chassis again and have a spare missile car to let friends use, and that I won't care too much about.  Stay tuned for more updates, as I should have the final pieces needed coming in soon!  
武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Friday, January 16, 2015

W O L P A C K ド リ フ ト ク ラ ブ - H D W A L L P A P E R

Thinking about doing more small projects like these.  The image is 1920x1080 HD Resolution for wallpaper use.  Click the image, and download the Original from Flickr. . .!
武士道 - B U S H I D O!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

W O L F P A C K 誕生日パーティー - B I R T H D A Y B A S H

I have to start this post by saying that the Wolfpack has the biggest and most supportive backbone of a family.  Nick and his dad, Big Bill, of the Wolfpack Drift Club share birthdays that are just one day apart - and when Mama 'Pack and Big Bill came up with the awesome idea to rent out Shenandoah Speedway for a Birthday Bash, my jaw dropped.  Nick surprised everyone by inviting them to the 'zero-entry-fee' event on Facebook, to come out and have one last awesome day filled with drifting (and some other surprises) before the season's end.

Well a whole grip of people showed, and it was a seriously awesome time.  As if this place couldn't get much better anyway, given its charm and vibe - This was the perfect opportunity for anyone to get out on the track and have a little fun without worrying about messing up or judgement.

And then for others, like Adam, it was a great chance to test out newly swapped parts and set-ups.

Although I didn't get any snaps of him in action, the Woobaru was out testing the new V8 swap.  This thing sounds seriously mean and looks cool as hell.

Here comes Kyle, manji'ing through the in-field!

F O C U S E D !

And swangin' that purple hatch around like it's his job.  There was a couple times he scared me throughout the day with his proximity to the bank walls, and I thought for sure he was going to get sucked into the barrier.

The Swedish Meatball doing its thing!

At some points I had to laugh, cuz he had the wagon filled with 4 passengers and it just looked so hilarious and awesome.  I know he (and his passengers) definitely had a great time at the Bash!

And then there's one of the Birthday Boys. . .

Nick laid down solid runs all day long, and man it's cool to hear that SR scream from behind the Tomei ARMS turbo.

And the TE37V / VSKF combo sure do make for some cool blurred wheels shots!

2 EVL with that 3 2 6 Power goodness.

The TerrorDome dudes were out of course, and G was killing that poor KA!

But his driving sure did look good, and he was linking the whole course flawlessly.

I don't know why, but for some reason his glove is the first thing I see in this photo. HA!

Billy's FC, fully equipped with V8 powerhouse.

He had some killer passes out on the track, and it's definitely a change to hear a growling V8 in place of a buzzy rotary coming from this RX-7.

Another TerrorDome'r, Ivan, had his hatch out.  I'm just now starting to realize that this event was filled with mostly S13 hatches and coupes. . .

An SR20 backed with some Tomei Powered goodies, Ivan is always pretty solid with his passes!

He sure did his fair share of killing tires during the Bash!

Juan has been nailing it since I first saw him drive at Drift Valley back in October.  It's a really promising and reassuring feeling for me to see his skills increase drastically in just a few events.

AND he has some sort of ability to. . .

. . .make his passengers do strange things with their hands!

Even Felix showed up, with his recently completed coupe!  There were some small issues to work through mid-day, but they sure did make for cool flame-shots in the meantime!

And I'm starting to find it funny how cool some of these cars can look, even unfinished and with raw body panels.  Just imagine when the car is one color and smooth! . . .

Ha-Ha!  No words needed.

At the last Drift Valley event, Adam might have had a bit too close of an encounter with the wall. . .

. . .And well, he showed up to the Bash with a whole new shell, with his old motor and parts all transplanted in!

I don't know if in the process of moving everything over to the new hatch, some bugs were found and worked out or what, but his car sounded better than ever and he was looking on-point!

I ended up getting some really awesome video of Adam, and I'll have to post that up later!

Save the best for last, right?

Radar: Search. . .  Target Acquried: Cone. . .  Lock On

The expression on his face really says it all.

Nick's runs were looking INCREDIBLE that day, and I think he ended his driving for the day at the perfect time.  It almost seemed planned. . . everyone was up at the entrance to the track watching his run, and when he came around the final corner, just pinned the throttle and laid on the tire smoke. . .slid to a stop in front of the crowd and everyone just went NUTS!

Onto some of the surprises. . . (and I don't mean Richard peaking out from behind)

I had the awesome opportunity and pleasure of getting to help with the party favors. . .  Once arriving to the track, everyone was greeted with a Wolfpack Drift Club foam hand!!  Nick's mom, dad, and I had to secretly plan this, and I was so stoked to help with the design.  The original plan was to not spill-the-beans until we got to the track on the day of the event.  But once the order arrived and we saw the hands, we just couldn't keep it to ourselves.

The Wolfpack Fam!
We had planned this shot since the moment Nick saw the foam hands, and it couldn't have come out better.  It's pretty clear that everyone was stoked to be part of this and come out to the Bash.  I can't wait to see what this year's Bash is gonna be like!  That's Big Bill's birthday present on the left there, by the way.  Yup. . . an S14 Kouki, Ganadors, WORK Euroline SL's and all. . .

Another piece to the puzzle!  A Wolfpack Birthday Cake!
There were also some Wolfpack Birthday Cupcakes at the event that I didn't get a chance to take any photos of, but they were awesome and the little 'pack logo chips on top were edible.  NOM! 

G, headed out, with the indication that he had a rad day!

Of course, I had to squeeze my car up there for a quick shot!  Another cool part of the Birthday Bash is that a bunch of us all have birthdays around the same time (November/December), so it was kind of like one giant birthday present for all of us too!

And a quick roller of Big Bill's Kouki that Mike was able to snap from the passenger seat of my car during the drive home.  495 never looked so much like a Wangan Midnight.

I can only imagine how awesome of a Birthday, let alone an entire event, this must have been for Nick and Bill.  They've got a great group of friends and family now in the game with 'em, for the long run!  Really proud and honored to be part of something so awesome.
武士道 - B U S H I D O!