Saturday, August 20, 2005

Wild Animal Park

Sunit and I are big fans of the Wild Animal Park at San Diego - we've been there numerous times and everytime we come back filled with wonder at something new. Spread over 1800 acres, the park provides a lot of space for animals to move and they are not enclosed in small cages as in a Zoo. It also allows the animals to mingle and follow the same natural habits as they would in the wild. The train safari provides a quick tour of the place, but if you have the energy to walk around and view some of the interaction areas, the Park can be a lot of fun.

On my second trip to the Park, with Vijay ( a friend who is crazy about wild cats), we caught the Cheetahs during their feeding time. A huge moat separates the viewers from the feeding area, some meat is left on the logs and then far-from-sight the Cheetahs are let loose. One can actually see their long strides as they run to the meat and then feed on it. Vijay gets the credit for this picture.

We also went upto the tiger observatory during its lunch time. Saw him drag his lunch to a shady tree, finish it up and then drink at the nearby pool. It then went for a small stroll around the enclosure when Vijay took this picture from the viewing deck.

On a more recent trip with a couple of our friends (Martin and Sabine), we went into the Lorikeet landing. Beautiful birds, sharp colors and if you buy the food outside to feed them, they will actually very easily come and sit on your arms. While we were there, however, a couple of people had the fortune of being blessed (bird droppings) from the sky. I guess they are fed so much by the visitors, they need to let it out too. Notice the bright and sharp colors of the bird while it was on Martin's wrist.

And then there are the Giraffes you can feed. These animals really fancy the biscuits that are fed to them by visitors - they walk slowly from far away if they see some visitor offering one. We were told not to bend though while feeding it because the animal might accidentally hurt the onlooker while lifting back its neck. Here's one of Sabine feeding the animal.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Lake Tahoe

We travelled to Lake Tahoe on July 29th. It was a weekend camping trip with Sunit's uncle (Ravi Mama) and his family. The trip proved to be some nice relaxing time with family just before Sunit resigned from Cisco. The slow paced hikes, Mamiji's cool sandwiches in mid-afternoon, the campfire stories and jokes, the game of 20 questions by the campfire (at which Ashwin proved to be genius) - All made the trip a memorable one.

We stayed at the DL Bliss State Park. Spread across about 1800 acres along with the Emarald Bay Park, the DL Bliss park offers a comfortable camping ground, a couple of beaches and some very interesting hikes with beautiful vistas.

We decided to do some light weight hiking - we went on the lighthouse trail. About 2.0 miles long, the trail ends in some very awesome views of the Lake. While the lighthouse trail is a bit rugged, curvy and steep, we took the easy(and very short) way back along the Rubicon trail. Ravi Mama managed to take this picture of the lake after climbing on a precarious rock and log. We did feel a little dehydrated and thirsty by the time we got back as we had run out of water midway. But this breathtaking view was well worth the effort.

After some refreshing sandwiches and a dip at the beach, we next checked out the Balancing Rock. A .5 mile walk took us to this site. Its actually a 130 ton rock precariously balanced on another granite rock. Steady erosion at the joint has caused this natural formation. It almost looked like the "face of a whale" to me. While Ashwin and Aditya decided to check it out at close quarters (You can spot them at the waist) we decided to keep our distance. Talking about both of them, they both must have climbed n number of rocks that day - we had to just spot one and they would rush over to climb it. Kids never fail to amaze me.