Category: Travel Thursday

Tataie watching

One of the first words Buzz said besides the customary Maa, Paa was Tataie. Since the first time she saw a picture of a butterfly in one of her books she has been fascinating. From all the pictures on a page, tataie is the first thing that she points to. And tataie is what she points to every other minute.

We got to know about a ‘Tropical Butterfly House’ exhibit from some friends. Promptly plans were made to visit. We could not wait to see how Buzz reacted to seeing real, vibrant, flying tataies.

Fighting traffic, struggling with parking, we got there. We stepped in to a small, dark room with doors on both sides and smell of tropical flowers strong. All of it made Buzz really uncomfortable and had her scrambling to be picked up. With D holding her we stepped through the next set of doors in to the Butterfly house. He walked to a red and black butterfly, talking to Buzz all the time. The minute it registered what she was looking at, she wanted down. There was no stopping her. She clapped, she ran, she laughed, she pointed, she chanted

‘Hi Tataie’..’Bye Tataie’.

I was on camera duty while D followed Buzz around. There was this beautiful Blue/Grey butterfly that I was trying to capture, when I saw a wing flutter from the corner of my eye. My right arm became the landing spot for one beautiful butterfly. All excited, I headed to where D and Buzz where. While D took the camera from my hand to take pictures, I bend down to let Buzz have a better view of the butterfly.

No tataie. Aaaa Daaaa

Demand to be held, crying for the tataie to go away followed. That was it. She wanted out of there with her Maa all to herself, much to her parent’s amusement.

The visit to Tataie house has been a while, but she still points to my arm every now and then, when talks of tataie come up. A fun day with beautiful, delicate, patterned, colored butterflies. 

Travel Thrusday – Golden Gate Bridge

A nice, clear, warm, blue sky, not a cloud in sight day. We make our way to the Golden Gate bridge. Drive over it and park at the viewing area on the other side.

Then starts the wait and tactic of finding a parking spot and actually muscling the car in the parking space before anyone else can. By the time we accomplish the feat and step out of the car we see clouds literally pouring in from the small hill above.

A mad dash to take a good look at the Golden Gate before the clouds obstruct the view completely, only to figure out this is the famous SFO fog we are looking at. Which seems to be coming in waves. One wave each for the two towers of the bridge.

A windy, huddle inside your jacket, walk on the bridge. The tower looks amazing covered up by the fog.

As you step up to the tower, magic..no fog in sight. The tower stands tall, impressing the hell out of everyone.

Turn around time. Fog is still on the little hill but nowhere else.

Back to the car. No fog to be seen. Only the impressive Golden Gate bridge in all its bright red glory.

Travel Thursday – Flying over the Himalayas

As you plan a trip, you read up about the place. Make a list of the places to visit, things to do, what to carry along and what to leave behind. The big day arrives. Bags are packed, checked in. You step in to the aircraft, take your seat, close your eyes to rest for a bit, mentally gearing for the fun ahead. You open your eyes as the food cart comes around. Something outside the window catches your eye and you are caught, unable to take your eyes off the view unfolding below you.

Delhi to Leh – 1 hour 15 mins of flying time. A look at the mighty Himalayas like no other.

Snow covered tall tall mountains.

River or road

Glaciers that look like highways of snow.

Glaciers meet up

Glaciers so many, they are difficult to count.

The Mountain Range

Silver line of the river that flows through.

River flowing through

Lake frozen a sight to behold.

Frozen lake

Stok Kangri the crown of Leh.

Leh

The decent in the bowl-shaped valley of Leh.

Spot the Runway

A stark contrast from the white snow to the brown which is Ladakh.

Landing

Sometimes the destination is what holds our interest..sometimes it is the journey that is a harbinger of the delights ahead. This is a flight time like no other. The best 1 hour 15 mins of air time I have ever had.

Travel Thursday – Angles Landing

1500 feet elevation gain in 2.5 miles. That should be easy. D and I smiled and left the hike for the last day at Zion National Park. Allocating about two and a half hours for it, before making our way out of Zion the same afternoon. Got up early. Packed up. Checkout of the hotel. Placed everything in the car. Took the bus to the base of Angles Landing. Started the hike around 9:00 A.M.
Zion valley looked amazing with every step we took, with meandering Virgin River and the curving national park road surrounded by beautiful Zion rock faces. The paved hike with steep switchbacks in places was not too difficult.  
View about 15 mins in to the hike
We made easy work of the first two miles. Smug smiles on our faces we stepped out of the last switch-back. Angles Landing laughed at us. The first look at the last half a mile had me shaking in my boots.
Last 1/2 Mile
Which did not even come close to what I was feeling as I walked the said last half a mile. Holding on to the chains for dear life. Less than a feet of rock with chains and 1000 feet of fall on both sides. All smugness left me. I kept walking. The aim, to get to the top without slipping.
Hold on
Having measured every step we took and watching out for where every foot went we finally made it to the top. Zion valley never looked more beautiful.
View from the top
With height adding new dimension to everything. And opening up new hidden rock formations.
The other direction
Having basked in the glorious view we turned around to head back. And it hit us all over again. Oh the first half a mile. The trail from where the easy paved part of the hike started shining like a beacon.
Spot the trail
It was ‘take a deep breath and hold on for dear life’ time again.
Here we go again

A hike like no other. A view like no other. Would we do it again. Hell yeah.

Travel Thursday – Oregon Sand Dunes

Oregon cost is beautiful but what makes them interesting are the Sand Dunes. To gaze at a point where you don’t know where the dunes end and the beach begins. Amazing.

Ocean say hello to the dunes
Ocean say hello to the dunes

And then on the other side of the dunes are lakes and streams. So the Sand Dunes are in fact sandwiched between two water bodies for most part.

Dunes over the lake
Dunes over the lake

Sand Dunes also means ATV and Biker haven. There are outfitters where you can get ATVs and bikes for rent or you can bring your own and ride up and down the dunes.

Top of the dune
Top of the dune

One word of advice if you are renting them from one of the outfitters though, take one ATV or bike per individual. Don’t say you would to ride tandem since these for hire vehicles are very low in power and will see you stuck in a sand pit no sooner than you start off, leaving you to walk back to the outfitter and get someone to help you get unstuck while still on the hourly clock.

Coming down
Coming down

 The dunes look scary when you are on top but they are not so bad as you start making your way down, till you see someone perform a trick or two which then makes your head spin and your hands shake. But worth it for sure 🙂

Travel Thursday – Antelope Canyon

We were in Hawaii. An art gallery attracted me. I stepped in. As I walked around a set of photographs caught my attention. I gazed upon them for endless minutes. There was no indication where the pictures were taken. I walked out. But the images stayed with me.

The next time we were planning a vacation. I tried endlessly to find this place. Saw images of Zion National Park and thought I had hit the mark. Trip was planned and executed upon. I loved Zion, a lot. But did not find the one thing I had planned the entire trip around. On our way back, as is our custom, we stopped at a souvenir store to buy a coffee mug for our places visited coffee cup collection. I saw the image I had dreamed dreams around on one cup. Picked it up and walked up to the cashier. While paying up, got talking to the lady at the checkout counter. 

Only interiors of Zion are similar to what I was looking for, I was told. Which would mean multiple day backpacking trip. But the image on the mug was taken at the Antelope Canyon. A few hours’ drive off of Zion.

Antelope Slot Canyon was written down in bold with the next place to visit. I read up extensively on it. Gazed on un-countable pictures online, each more stunning that the previous.

Somewhere around the end of last year, the guys..D, Bhaiya, Papa..started planning a boys road trip. D having caught up on my obsession for this place mapped the route of the road trip to pass through Antelope, leaving a very long faced me behind.

Every time I see these pictures, I want to hit D for going there without me. Every time I see these pictures, I want to pick up and go visit. Every time I see these picture, I go green with envy.

Travel Thursday – Lake Louise to Banff

Highway 1 and 1-A both lead from Lake Louise to Banff. Highway 1 being the fastest way to get there, where are 1-A being the scenic byway. We made our way between the two places so much that we took both almost equally.

1-A is a travelers paradise. Long stretches of empty roads. Bikers in hordes making their way back and forth. Cars parked on the side of the road with people off on hikes or taking in the various waterfalls. Campsites. People having a picnic next to the river. Deer, Moose and sometimes Bear spotting.

Standing alone

Unsurpassed beautiful grasslands and meadows, towered by gorgeous mountains. The greens of the trees..the brown of the mountains with hints of white snow..the blue sky dotted by white-gray clouds. The sheer beauty of the place is a must see.   

Grassland

The most prominent being the castle mountain. Seen from miles away. The shape of it making it stand out from all else.    

Castle mountain

 But not to be left behind Highway 1 has the amazing Rundle mountain. The jagged peaks, reaching out to the sky, makes an amazing picture when the clouds are lower because the two seem to merge and it looks like the clouds are cutting the mountain.   

Rundle Mountain

And then there is the drive along Bow River with its blue-green water. How can one not be caught up in the beauty of it all.   

Bow River

 The drive that no one can remain aloof in. You can’t help but get caught in the beauty that is Banff. And it stays with you years after you visited the place. A must do for everyone. You will not be left unmoved.

Travel Thursday – Snorkeling

For a person who took one swimming lesson before going on a vacation the whole concept behind snorkeling was scary. To look down the boat and be able to see the ground beyond 100 feet of ocean depth..shudder. To trust the foam swimming noodles, no way. So while I hung on to the boat without moving and looking down from where I was, D went exploring. He came back in a bit convinced me to go with him. Promised me not to let go of my hand no matter what..which he broke but he is forgiven for that, else who would click these pictures.. NOT ME 😯
 
Nothing much to write. I had a blast, watching the fishes, floating in water thanks to lifesaving noodles and fins and the snorkel breathing tube. The warm waters, sun above, beautiful fishes around, D’s hand in one hand while we both pushed water with one hand each in sync.. Bliss. Go on have a look 🙂
Fishy..here fishy fishy
Only Lonely
Spot them
Perfect camouflage
Close encounter
Color me amazing
Feeding Frenzy

And now for the contest. You guys all of you are amazing and I laughed so hard reading through all the comments. And wanted to give the badge to so many of you. But I said ‘One person wins’. So I enlisted a Jury of one. Dumped everything on her shoulders and went to bed. Got up, hounded her for results. And we came up with two. Narrowing the caption winner was just not doable. So now without further ado: Presenting the winners – Pixie and Ms. SmartAss    Congratulations the two of you.. clap clap clap.. and here is the promised badge 😀  

Travel Thursday – Cholla Cactus Garden

I was at a loose end at Joshua Tree. Not sure what to do. My brother’s battered old sports car. Empty national park roads. No cops. Well did not have much of a choice now did I? So off I went speeding down the curved roads. Stopping every now and then, for whatever caught my fancy before driving on. Came to a crossroad. Directions to one side pointed to a town which meant this was the way out of the national park, the other side said ‘Cholla Cactus Garden’ which sounded kind of interesting. One right turn and drove on till the board proclaiming the Garden caught my eyes.
 
I parked the car in the designated parking lot, got out and was treated with a natural garden. I am not sure what I expected but this was not it. Here were endless Cactus called Cholla, not grown and groomed by humans but planted by nature and nurtured by nature. The only human touch was the path created by the park officials for which I am really thankful for.
Beware of this garden

Why you ask. Well take a closer look. And these sharp thorns break down in clumps and roll on the ground with the wind. And I had one such clump hit me right at the back of my foot, with 5-6 of these thorns going deep in. One such experience was enough and am glad to not repeat it again. 

Beauty all their own

No matter how harsh the climate and how dangerous the thorns there is a beauty in it all. And the new life which turns the tips of the branches green add to the charm of it all. Sort of like hope in the intense heat and the arid, inhospitable land.

New life

As is the nature of thing where on one side the new life buds on the other one ends. Scattered in the middle of the new budding cacti, there are cacti which are dying and dead. Brown, black, almost like lit up by fire and now charred.

Dried out cactus tree

But even in the end they show another wonder of nature. As the thorns dry off and fall, out emerges the bark of the Cholla..almost artistic, kind of symmetric..network of holes. What a sight that is, what a wonderful hidden secret, the immense hidden treasures of nature. 

Closer look

As for the contest yesterday: the correct answer is as you might all know by now the dried up branch of the Cholla Cactus. I was kind of expecting most to get to the dried branch part but you guys have some imagination 😆 I did not expect anyone to know the correct answer so was not planing on giving out anything at all 😛 😛 but your innovative answers made up my mind for me. There were three people who actually said ‘Dried Branch’ and hence the badge below goes to:  

Doli, Nu and Ambuli’s Amma 

  

Congratulations ladies. A big applaud for all three of you for seeing things the way they are 😀

Travel Thursday – The Travel Contest

To come up with my favorite five of all the travel pictures I have is next to impossible. I have gone back and forth so many times..picking one and then the other.. And still am not sure about these as the final five. Can I not put more than 5? Rules to break and all that. I almost asked for all of your help to vote and let me know which ones you liked. Make my selection process a little easier, but was not sure if that would be against the rules, so here goes.

I have visited a lot of mountains, stood on a lot of snow cover, seen my good share of glaciers but nothing comes close to the Glacier Cruise we did in Alaska. And the high point was definitely when the boat stopped in front of this majestic glacier meeting the sea. The shear untouched beauty of it..the more blue than white iced up snow..the jagged column like formations. As we took in the beauty, silence descended on the boat. Awe inspiring does not even cover the feeling during those moments. The big rumble that was heard which had everyone’s attention. And the big chunk of ice that broke off from one of the columns to fall into the sea. A reminder that this was in fact a living, moving glacier.

To be able to see a predator in the wild is more than what one can ask for, but to see one charge after a pray..albeit a small rodent, is not something I would have ever hoped for. And to live to capture the sight and talk about it. This has to be one of my all time favorite travel tale to tell. I still get goose-bumps every time I think back at the speed with which this male Bear charged after the pray. And can’t help being glad that I was not the one he was running after. More images from the same set can be viewed here.

I love nature untouched. Nature that you can look at without having to hurry up because someone else wants to take your spot and capture the same picture, or while on a hike to walk on without gazing at nature around. So this hike taken while the snow was sometimes knee-high was an amazing, stratifying experience for me. There was no one, but us. Our tracks the only tracks in the snow. This picture I like particularly because of the shadows that the trees cast against the pristine white snow. The entire hike was around playing peek-a-boo with frozen lake and the trees. And this pictures captures the essence of the hike.

An empty beach is difficult to find, so we really lucked out on this one. But what gives character to the beach is this sea stack. Standing tall against the crashing waves. The contrast of colors with the water and its waves, the clear blue skies, the brown sand, and the yellow sea stack made this place postcard worthy.

Through all my flying in and out of airports, I always prefer the window seat. Because I love to look out, see the terrain as we fly over head. The glittering city with all its lights at night, the rambling hills, the snaking around rivers, the snow-capped mountains. But taking off or landing at sunset is a sight so different from any other. I love the sunset but this one is so different from any that one usually gets to see. The striking colors, the almost curve of the earth, looking into the horizon which seems to go on and on. A realization of how small we are..and how amazing nature is..and how blessed we are to be able to see it, if we take the time to look around.

PS: This is my entry for BlogAdda Travel Photo challenge


PPS: Thanks to CB for letting me know about this challenge