Place where the Mormons first came to Utah and in time established Utah as their own.
I am in SLC. Finally. After years of listening to the magic that is Utah from K, I am here. I gotta tell you. I don’t know if anyone has ever experienced or felt the way I did when I landed here. The landing at Utah is almost like a stage setup. I felt like I was in some ridiculously expensive movie set with dramatic hills in the background capped with snow and tall skyscrapers in the middle trying to match up. The entire landing runs all the way from one end to the other. Absolutely breathtaking and I could land on Salt Lake City over and over again. We are staying in Sugar House that is possibly the .. wait a minute .. THE MOST BEAUTIFUL NEIGHBOURHOOD in Salt Lake City. Lined with Sycamore trees and dark black rustic lamps in small streets, Sugar House is possibly one of the best neighbourhoods I have ever been to in the United States. And I feel like kicking myself in the butt for not bringing my DSLR which is the only camera that could have done justice to the beauty that is Utah. I just hope K does not read this post because there is no way in hell that I am comparing New Zealand and Utah. They are both entirely different. But I have to tell you if there is anyone (like me) who used to wonder if rugged places like these can actually look beautiful, visit Utah for the millionth time. One thing I can tell you Salt Lake is not – Mitt Romney Style NOT!
Don’t know if this is clear enough but this is how the landing in Salt Lake City in Utah looks at night!
This newfound attraction to exploring more of the Bay Area took me and hubby dearest to Uvas Canyon. Uvas is a lush wooded park that is every nature lover’s treat! It’s great for picnics, camping, hiking and photography enthusiasts. Plenty of sources on the internet suggested a quick day’s trip or camping for a few days in this area before the end of Spring as this is the best time to see all the waterfalls the park has to offer.
As opposed to the vast, open views the north bay hikes have to offer, the peninsula and south bay hikes are more secluded and serene that seems more like untouched beauty of nature at its best.
The park has an automated pay system that allows campers and day users to electronically pay the fees for the park with parking included. It has plenty of picnic spots that visitors can use with grills, fireplaces and flush toilets conveniently located. The drive to the park is itself like driving through a beautiful painting of an English countryside with green green meadows and a lot of cows and horses grazing on farms.
Uvas is thoughtfully planned. It has many over the water bridges that lets us get amidst nature reveling as you go on several trails that offers various views of the creeks and falls.
Majority of the roads to Uvas Canyon is well-maintained. Once inside the arch that leads to the park, the road gets extremely narrow sometimes making way for only one compact sized car. Thankfully, the amount of traffic does not call for a wider road. You will find park rangers going in and out of the park every now and then. Catch hold of one or head directly to the big informations board in the parking lot. That has a huge map of the area and plenty of booklets that present information on camping, hiking and specific trail maps.
Overall, this has been a weekend well-spent. Be sure to check out Uvas if you live or are in the area. It is 100% nature.
Who knew there was such beauty a stone’s throw away from Sunnyvale in California? The Big Basin Redwoods Park is obviously no comparison to the Redwoods near Crescent City. They are on a totally different scale. The Big Basin, however, is a perfect weekend getaway with loads of redwood trees, cute little streams, creeks, waterfalls… You want nature, you got it here @ Big Basin.
From where I live, it is a nice one hour drive to the forest with plenty of vineyards along the way in a typical Redwoods setting – tall trees, curvy roads narrowing at the end of your journey and wineries overlooking the entire bay. For some, it may be a torturous drive owing to the million curves on the road to Big Basin. Best tip is to roll down the windows in your car to avoid being woozy. I know I did and felt immensely better. The pure natural air helps a lonnnng way! Trust me.
Once into the park, you have a basic visitor center and a parking entry with plenty of portable toilets.
KEY ADVICE (for those allergic or extremely repulsed by portable toilets): Try using the restroom at your hotel/home/motel before going to the forest or head into one of the wineries. That’s awesome coz you can taste and pick up some of their best wine.
The visitor center has a single forest ranger who will help you with key information on hiking trails, camping, facilities inside the forest, DO’s and DON’Ts for campers and most important of all, MAPS.
We took a 4 mile hike this weekend from skyline to the sea trail crossing over to the creeping forest trail and finally joining the dool trail leading back to the park headquarters.
It’s pretty basic from the skyline to the sea trail upto the creeping forest trail. The trail consists of cute little creeks and streams, a nice flowing river and tall redwoods. This leads you to a junction that starts the creeping forest trail.
The creeping forest trail certainly sticks to its name. It’s creepy but beautiful inside. While you feel entirely cut off from the world, this trail can be quite an up climb and a good workout. The vegetation is so thick, it is hard to miss breathing the insanely fresh forest air. The scent is outrageously musky, earthy and relaxing.
This trail then leads you to a sort of tree path which you will see in the photos that follow. The tree is carved into steps and footpaths. So very different and pleasing to the eye amidst the sudden rush of nature.
The dool trail starts with a road that looks quite lost and dreamy. Crossing this road will start the dool trail back to the headquarters which can be quite a slippery walk especially after a rain. And my sources say it does all the time during spring. So watch out!
On the whole, I absolutely enjoyed my time hiking at Big Basin and am definitely thinking of going back. Maybe for some camping the next time around.
I don’t know if it’s just me or if there are tons of people like me on earth who get frequent bouts of confusion on planning the weekend. We were always able to come up with something during major chunks of last year and it was all worthwhile. Every camping trip, hike, gambling @ the casinos, going to shows, clubbing and pubbing… every freakin’ thing was (in a supremely high pitched voice) Awwwsome! Of course, things would be awwwsome in that insanely amazing voice if only there were ideas that flowed around like free air.
There it was before we knew it had happened, we were stuck. Out of ideas. Had no clue what to do. Spent a LOT of weekends ( Sooo many that I can’t even count!) doing NOTHING. Not that that’s any inferior. The art of sleeping loooong hours on a Saturday morning or a Sunday is bliss better than the so-called heaven. So anyway, we were out of ideas on how to spend our weekends. We had visited relatives, friends, gone clubbing and pubbing, visited an awesome place and with camping that will start only around May or June, we had nothing else to think of.
Suddenly… Eureka! I realized that a lot of our sightseeing was majjjorly done around the bay area but never in here. Google I did and voila! there it was. A website that had a page long description of the hikes in Mount Tamalpais in Tamalpais Valley just a few miles north of SF.
Tamalpais is so serenely beautiful and less crowded compared to the nearby attractions – Muir Woods and Stinson Beach. We took the easy 1 mile walk and the diamond-in-the-rough 20 min hike right to the top of Mount Tamalpais. The drive up to Tamalpais Valley is needless to say, breathtaking with beautiful views of mountains, lakes, the golden gate bridge and plenty of tiny waterfalls. Once we reached the parking lot of the Mount Tamalpais East Peak, there was a gust of fresh mountain air, so unpolluted and clear.
The Mount Tamalpais East Peak is divided into 2 parts. One with a paved path that makes up for almost a mile’s walk loop leading back to the parking lot and second, a rough climb up that takes about 20 mins to reach the east peak of Mount Tamalpais. The 1 mile walk was super easy to complete as opposed to its sister and offered brilliant views of the golden gate bridge, bay bridge, the waters in between and the gazillion skyscrapers of SF Downtown. The 2nd path does not offer too many views as you go but gives you everything the 1 mile path gives you once you are at the top – a 360 deg view of Mount Tamalpais.
Anyone interested in hiking in the bay area, visit www.weekendsherpa.com.
A week of fun in the sun does good to everyone. For someone who loves pictures of mountains, cozy hill trails, adventurous hikes and that refreshing dip in cold rivers, Hawaii broke all that mindset and proved me wrong. Even after growing up in a city by the ocean, I have never been a humungous fan of beaches and sun tan. Beaches were mostly hangouts that meant long walks, getting chatty with friends and lots n lots of beach side food namely salted-masala roasted peanuts, grilled masala corn, hot potato-onion-chilli fritters and loads of freshly squeezed cane juice. All of this coupled with the occasional dipping of feet in the receding ocean water. Even though going to the beach meant good times, I hated the humidity, the sweat and the undesirable tan for my already brown skin.
Growing up in a conservative part of the world meant enjoying life in the most dignified manner possible to avoid degrading and perverted stares from other conservative citizens. Most of us (girls) would head to the ocean in Madras for that crunching your jeans up to the knees or wearing bermudas/short skirts to dip your feet in water up to the knee level. I have never worn a swimsuit to the beach in all my life at Madras. My mind was instantly trained to act conservative the day I was born.
This straight jump from conservative in Madras to carefree in the US got me doing things I have never dared to do back home. I was starting to live life the way I would like it. To celebrate our first anniversary, my husband wanted to take me somewhere honeymooney and romantic in a laid back way. We zeroed in on the island of Kauai – the most laid back of all Hawaiian islands. We wanted our experience to get completely cut off from the hustle and bustle of city life to get closer to nature.
Kauai – the most beautiful island I have ever seen. Not that I have travelled to many places… It is still the most beautiful place I have been to yet. And what was amazing about the trip was that Kauai was closer to India than I could have imagined. Not in terms of distance but in terms of culture and way of life. Especially the southern part of India. For example, their staple food being rice and served coconut water and pulp the Chennai style. I was drinking coconut water like it was my last chance to see coconuts ever and tried a lot of food created by the Hawaiians.
Kauai meant a lot of things to me. It was fun, dangerous, adventurous, subtle and romantic, of course. The seas along Kauai are known to be pretty choppy and rough especially before a swell. And the island is also known to be the rainiest part of Hawaii itself – all islands put together. And the city we were staying in – Hanalei – the rainiest part of the island. I’m pretty sure we got super lucky as during our 7 day trip, the only time it ever rained was on the second day of our arrival and after that it was 5 whole days of fun in the sun.
Hanalei – the prettiest part of the island is a quaint little town or city as the Hawaiians claim it to be. There is not too much night life in Kauai except for island bar and grill restaurants you will find all over the eastern part of the island. These mostly have karaoke nights and loud music during evenings which is by far the closest you will get to good nightlife in Kauai.
Hanalei is more like a retired person’s haven that gives you an atmosphere as good as resting in a bench on a pleasant evening by the sea. Even though we hardly people of our age, it was perfect in its own way for us. Our vacation turned out to be relaxed during the evenings and adventurous during the day time. We spent most of our playing rough in the Hanalei Bay Beach which is by far one of the best beaches I have been to. I liked how the sand level is pretty flat and you can go deeper into the ocean before it gradually gains depth.
The best part was boogie boarding on boards that weren’t exactly our size but was twice the amount of fun. Draped in swim wear I could never have dared to wear in my own country except for maybe Goa, we spent a lot of fun, not getting tanned, but slow roasted in the sun with water temperatures perfect and nothing I can ever dream of here in the Bay Area.
I also loved how I could wear clothes of every colour which is such a huge minus here in the Bay Area where people would stare if you wore something chirpy on a summers day.
On the whole, my vacation in Kauai was memorable and with all the elements I could ever want in a place. Mountains, cozy hill trails, sandy beaches, chilled and blended cocktails lazing in a bar… Just perfect. I am definitely high on island fever.
So recently we had been to a few small towns north of San Francisco. It was super cute and gorgeous up there. We stayed at this cute little town called Ukiah.. Oops! Not town. Cute little city called Ukiah which has a total of maybe 30 streets altogether. Staying at Ukiah was a lot of fun. There are many small shops each specializing in something – prom dresses, shoes, beads, coffee, dutch bakery… so many shops and selling products of high quality and unfortunately for the size of the town straying their focus on the quantity they sell.
There are three shops in particular I want to talk to you about. One was this beads store. One a pasta-ish very American-Italian place. One a coffee shop (obvious for my love of coffee).
The Beads store – Beads Fever – absolute brilliance. Locally owned and sells beads imported from different parts of the country. The people there are very friendly and helped us a lot even though most customers are jewelry makers. We bought a few strands of different beads and left the place to visit the famous Fort Bragg Glass Beach and to pass by the famous Redwoods forest.
Next stop – North State Cafe – this American-Italian restaurant. The owner reminded me a lot of Aaron Eckhart… Very cute and super friendly. On our way back from Fort Bragg, it was already getting late and this was one of the few places open in the city. It looked very decent and so we stepped even though we saw they worked only till 9pm. They still had the open sign on and we wanted to check if they would still serve us. The waitress seated us at a table, asked us in an almost loud-rude tone if we needed some drinks. And when we said yes, she stomped herself all the way to the front counter of the restaurant and back indicating some sort of irritation at us. A few minutes later, the owner himself came and started asking us for our orders. He was very pleasant. Patiently answered all our questions and told us we were in no hurry. The girl in the meantime was stomping hard on the floor while she walked back and forth throwing cold looks at us. We found it very uncomfortable. And me being me, I was on the verge of asking her if there was a problem when she came out of the restaurant’s kitchen bidding goodbye to the owner throwing us another cold look and went out the door. The food tasted great. Although I had ordered for a pasta which I’m sure others with a strong flavor for sun-dried tomatoes and garlic would have loved. Kar’s cajun pasta was very very yummy and probably one of the best pastas I’ve tasted. And the merlot was hands down the best I’ve had (considering I’m not a great fan of the merlot… and the menu otherwise had the cab which I absolutely detest)
Third stop – The coffee critic – Me and Kar love our coffee. Infact our love for coffee is sooo crazy that anyone coming to our place will always find 3-4 different kinds of ground coffee powder. Currently we have a dark italian french roast, viennese, italian espresso and our very own Indian Leo coffee and coffee day. Please feel free to drop in for some of the best coffees in Sunnyvale So anyway we found this huge building almost in the heart of Ukiah with a large board titled the coffee critic. The two of us raised our eyebrows. As usual our love for coffee and the need to have only good coffee urged us to go in. Alas the place had already closed for the day. So we left and came back the next day. Early in the morning for that hot cup of coffee after the unusually good bed & breakfast’s black coffee. The coffee critic is a huge place. Boasts the ambience of a place that truly knows their business well. Has extensive menus. Friendly staff… but wait except for the one who served us. This girl was probably racist. I don’t know why but she kept throwing smiles at all customers except us. We were super friendly like always. We even got the attention of one of the other waitresses in the shop who was super friendly with us. There was no reason for anyone to get so cold. This black-haired girl literally threw the receipt on the counter asking Kar to sign it. The coffee was good but the experience was not. Our expectations of the place crushed after being treated like that. The Coffee Critic serves some of the best coffees in the US. Although I pity the owner who is probably losing a lot of business coz of some silly young girl.
Overall, our dining experience during this small trip was good. I even got Kar to get lunch at Denny’s one day. We saw the best and the worst parts of Ukiah. Ukiah is a sweet little town despite our dull moments in the place.
My sis took me to this beautiful place right in the heart of Auckland City, New Zealand.
It was breathtakingly beautiful. Here are a few pictures. Have a look!
I PROMISED MYSELF I WOULD WRITE SOMETHING ON MY MOST MEMORABLE TRIP AND HERE IT GOES.
Around June last year, I was on vacation in New Zealand, the most beautiful country on Earth or that’s what I believe it is. And on my way to the City of Sails, I wrote a poem despite the heavy onslaught of viral fever, cold, cough that resulted in phlegm, phlegm and phlegm.
Here is what I wrote:THE JOURNEY TO TAKE To a land I’ve never been To a land I’ve never seen A journey far too long In an airplane so strong Many people I may see Except maybe one, two and three… This journey I need to take A memory by Auckland’s lake Click many a photo some by the car and some by a toto Kuala Lumpur’s on the way But I won’t get to see its bay In the airport I shall stay Until I reach the City of Sails!!
I’m sure that almost everyone who has visited the most luscious green country in the world – New Zealand has some story to tell. Well mine’s not all that different. It’s a simple one.
However, the first day I reached Auckland is something to talk about, at least for now before I put down the rest of the wonderful moments and memories I collected during my stay there in my blog for all of you.
New Zealand is indeed the most beautiful country, not just for its scenic beauty but for the magical quality it possesses to make you curious to know NZ right till its roots. The origin, the story of its evolution is particularly the most interesting and will take a lot more than one WordPress post to talk about.
The country on landing seemed very much like the land right out of a J.R.R. Tolkien book and you are almost expecting to see “Hobbits” moving around. And why? Everything in New Zealand looks short and stout. The roads are broad. The trees are fat and rich. The country on the whole has a beautiful palette with all of nature’s colours in appropriate proportions. This is what they call Winter in NZ.Wonder how Spring must be then?!
Anyway once I was at the airport I found that the airport was like a one-way street. Nothing much to it. More like FIFO [ First in First out]. With ornaments and decorations typical of the Maori culture, the Auckland airport is petite and just about enough to cater to the air traffic of the entire country.
Unfortunately, my journey to New Zealand was not so smooth. It was difficult and indeed, the most memorable trip of all.
I was suffering from severe cold and fever on the way to NZ. I knew it was definitely not the Swine Flu. As I got it a mere 2 hours before leaving home to the airport. Could have been the excitement, the tension, the anticipation. Call it whatever. I knew it could not have been the Swine Flu coz I had never left my home until the day I had to travel. And yes, a lot of trust on my gut instincts told me very strongly it could not be swine flu and there was no way I wanted to get quarantined in any of the airports (Chennai, Kuala Lumpur – where I had 14 hours transit and Auckland) for two whole weeks to ruin the most awaited beautiful holiday of my life!
On arriving in Auckland, I just wanted to get the hell out of the airport. Didn’t want those creepy guys with the walkie-talkies stalling me for their lack of confidence. But alas! my sister and brother-in-law were running late to the airport. I walked back and forth from the domestic to the international terminal (so-called… remember I told it’s just a one-way street?!) and after 15-20 mins I decided to give them a call to find out if they were going to arrive soon. The fever was getting on my nerves. I was feeling weak. I wanted to just go home and clear my nose and throat off phlegm. But no sign of Rat or Ram.
I go to the telephone booth and realised “Silly! U need Coins”. So go to the nearest pie shop to get some change.
My call was getting rejected the first few times. And then only did I realize that there is probably an extra number you would have to add or something like that. In India, you would not have to add the extra 0 you dial when you are calling home from another country. I followed the same tradition and realized maybe that is not how things worked here and thanks to the lack of instructions on the telephone or the telephone booth, I decided to go to the nearest Vodafone store feeling like a complete jackass, feeling humiliated than ever, ask them “How do I dial a mobile phone number from the booth?” Luckily the guy in the Vodafone store seemed to be friendly and gave me instructions on how to go about it.
I thank him and give a call to Rathi thinking “If this is some kind of joke Rathi’s playing, it must be sick!” No answer. The phone keeps ringing. I hang up. About to scream but decide to give it another try. I tell myself “One more call… If she doesn’t pick up, I leave this airport.. take a taxi or worse book a flight back home”. So I try again and this time my B-I-L picks up and tells me, “We’re so sorry. There was heavy traffic on the way. We should be there in a few mins”.
I waited on a nearby platform and soon enough, as promised, Rathi and Ram showed up in a few minutes. I breathed a heavy sigh and was thankful to them and God for getting me to the City of Sails with minor hassles that anyone can deal with. We went to their place and I was relieved and then excited to kick start my trip in the most beautiful country in the world.