Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Changing seasons, changing colors.

View from our window...
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Monday, November 01, 2010

My favorite red tree :)

Even though leaves around here are just beginning to color and the trip to north east for fall color viewing was just a month ago, it seems like it happened ages ago... and I am missing fall.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stowe to Jeffersonville

So we are back from the trip and going through the normal round of infections one is prone to from travelling in a long flight. (Yeah, it happens to me without fail - fall sick immediately after a wonderful vacation).

There is lots to post and write. The trip covered New Hampshire, some portions of Maine and most of Vermont. And we were lucky - there was color in plenty. Hill after hill was covered with autumn colors, the air was crisp and not too cold and Master S was very patient and in good spirits throughout.

Snapshot of the trip since a friend asked for it -
Land into Boston
Drive to North Conway (3 hours) and stay there for 3 nights
Drive to Burlington (2.5 hours) and stay there for 2 nights
Drive to Woodstock and stay for a night
Back to Boston and fly back

Around North Conway, the must-do drives were the Kanc Highway, drive up north through Jackson to Artists' Bridge and through the Oxford Lake area of Maine and a visit to the Fryeburg fair.

Then through the White Mountain National Forest to Burlington. The drive on Highway 2 from Barre to Burlington was out of the world as was the drive from Stowe to Jeffersonville along Highway 108. The time in Burlington also included a visit to Lake Champlain and the Ben and Jerry's Icecream Factory tour.

Then down south to Woodstock on Highway 100 along the Green Mountain National Forest.

A number of short posts with mainly pictures from the drives will follow soon... the one above was along the drive from Stowe to Jeffersonville - trees in autumn color forming a canopy over the road. We saw fall here, literally - the leaves were falling slowly in front of us.

I want more of this Earth to be covered in such trees.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Artist's Bridge

In Maine.
Have been yearning to see a covered bridge since I read - the Bridges of Madison County. Finally saw one, though not in Iowa.
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Falling for fall...

Still on the trip... but I have a smartphone :)
It's gorgeous and so colorful here that it leaves me misty-eyed sometimes.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A trip is going to happen soon

Generally this blog sits orphaned - wondering why its owner even created it, for now and then she completely forgets about it. But then some friend or family member call up or chat and tell her how they love reading her blog. They remind the owner that she has this other baby to take care of too. And so she comes back....

A trip is in the works. Its time for fall colors and we are heading to New England for a taste of it. Back during our Masters, both Mr. S and I loved the fall in upstate New York. We have never really gone back to enjoy fall since we moved to CA. Come every fall season, we have been trying to catch glimpses of it in CA itself.

But this year we are finally making the trip. Its going to be a "coming-back" of sorts, almost. Our trip will not touch NY but we visit some neighboring ones. And we hope to see some color....

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Watery Wednesday - Maligne Lake

This post is from my phone.

For this Wednesday I am sharing a picture of Maligne Lake in Jasper. Surrounded by snow capped peaks, it makes for a perfect alpine Lake.

For more watery wednesday posts, click here

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Friday, July 09, 2010

A sow and her cubs

That summer (the summer we visited Banff and Jasper) was definitely the summer of bear sightings for us.

It started with seeing a sow and 2 cubs cross the road right in front of our car on our drive over to Yosemite, followed by numerous sightings at Denali, peaked with being almost next to notorious grizzlies in Katmai and then ended with seeing another sow guide her 2 cubs near a river in Jasper.

We were taking a break to take in the scenery while driving over to Maligne Lake in Jasper. Mr. S has this magnificent tunnel vision when it comes to spotting wildlife. He suddenly exclaimed - "Bear!". Right there, below the cliff where we were standing, emerged a sow with her cubs from under some bushes. We followed them for quite some time as they made their way along the river but maintained a respectable distance.

A few more people driving by stopped when they saw us looking down so keenly beside the cliff. After sometime though, the bears just walked into another set of bushes and decided to stay there.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Jasper National Park

Lake Pyramid

From Banff, we made our way further up north to Jasper National Park. Jasper turned out to be bigger and less crowded. Less crowds meant there were times when there was hardly anyone in sight and we would have the whole place to ourself.

Again lots of lake visiting and hiking around lakes happened in Jasper. Our first visit was to Lake Pyramid. Very quiet and hardly anyone there except for a few kayakers at one end of the lake.

From Lake Pyramid we went on to Lake Anne. Not too many people - now that might be just because my husband and I are early risers but there were a few people here sitting beside the lake and enjoying their books. I remember making a mental note to self - "Bring a book next time".

Lake Anne

People keep raving about Banff, but I definitely preferred Jasper to Banff. It was a larger park with much fewer crowds and much more wildlife sightings than in Banff. Walking and sitting around these lakes I felt one with nature and with myself... and fairly content with life in general.

For more watery wednesday posts, click here

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Peyto Lake

For this wednesday I chose this picture of Peyto Lake in Banff National Park along the Icefield Parkway. Pretty much all lakes in Banff had this turquoise blue color which also had a milky touch to it. But what stuck out about this lake was its weird shape - it looked like a bear.

For more watery wednesday posts, click here

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Banff to Lake Louise - Highway 1A

There are 2 parallel routes one can take between Banff and Lake Louise while driving. The faster one is Highway 1 or the Icefield Parkway. The slower is called Highway 1A. Before heading out on our trip, I had written in to a couple of friends to ask for recommendations on things to do in the area and one of the strong recommendations I got back from both was to definitely take Highway 1A atleast once - its slower but more scenic.

We had just started on 1A when we came across this bull elk grazing by the road. And further up there were a few distinguishable mountains one of which I remember was called Castle Mountain.  (Note to self - should blog sooner so I remember more details. :( )

Castle Mountain

There were quite a few more spots for picture taking along this stretch of the drive, but it is this last picture that I really like. I have always wanted to photograph aspen tree trunks, expecially after I saw a B&W picture of the same by Ansel Adams. Along the drive we stopped at a rest point and I took this one of some trees growing in the forest section nearby - it is no way even an iota as good as what AA had taken, but it gave me immense satisfaction that I was finally able to capture something similar.

P.S. I have recently discovered this system of scheduled posts and I love it - I now create multiple posts mostly over the weekend and schedule them for posting throughout the week - should make this blog seem a lot more regular than it really is.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The tea house trail to Lake Agnes

There are a few trails around Lake Louise and we decided to do the tea house trail. I would call it a moderate trail, not too easy, not too difficult, about 4.5 miles long and 1200 odd feet of elevation gain. Really it took us about 2 hours or so to reach the top. There is a tea house up there to refuel if you need to and then head back down.

Views along the trail

I remember there was some sort of bear warning in effect because Mr. S and I wore our bear bells - just tied small bells on our backpack and shoes. It was a shame though, because the trail was fairly busy and so no bear in sight. Mr. S soon removed his bells but I marched ahead - chhum chhum chhum. No wonder Mr. S  kept trailing behind or leading ahead to take pictures - he was most likely embarassed. :)
Lake Agnes

There were a couple of lakes on the way whose name I forget before we reached Lake Agnes with the teahouse next to it. Serene, quite and small - are the words that come to mind now that I think about it. After a brief stop to munch on some cereal bars we had carried on us, we decided to go a little further up from the teahouse before heading back down. There were some splendid open views of Lake Louise from a window in the trees. Good half day of hiking, and we were back in time for a hearty lunch.

Lake Louise from the top of the trail

Watery Wednesday - Lake Louise

My current blog posts go well with the watery wednesday theme since the Canadian Rockies are literally studded with gem colored lakes. This one is of Lake Louise, taken from I believe the 10th floor of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise .

For more watery wednesday posts, click here

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

Though our first visit was to Lake Moraine, it was Lake Louise that formed the base for our travels in the area. The larger area is conserved as a national park called the Banff National Park. And we spent about 4 days driving and hiking around in this area.

I had never seen such turquoise blue waters as those of Lake Louise - it was huge, serene and there were ice capped peaks in the distance. And unlike Lake Moraine, by the time we reached here, the sun was shining. It brought warmth to our spirits too.

Walk along the lake

We were eager to explore and on the first evening itself we strolled over to the other side of the lake. From that side, you could see the lake with the Fairmont hotel at the end. Its a luxurious hotel and our stay here was good. I had managed to convince Mr. S that it was ok to indulge once in a while. Though I must add that for the price we paid (even after we got a hefty discount because of some deal that was going on) the size of the room was rather disappointing. But since we were going to be mostly outdoors, it was ok.

View of the Lake with the hotel from the other side

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lake Moraine

Lake Moraine

A colleague mentioned yesterday that she was going to visit the canadian rockies. And I thought of passing on some tips to the place since we visted it a couple of years back. Generally its easy - I just point people to my blog. But here I noticed that our trip to the Canadian Rockies had completely missed mention on my blog. The reason for not blogging about this trip, I will disclose in due course but for now the next few posts will be on our very wonderful trip to this region.

I will start with some pictures on one of the most scenic lakes in the area - Moraine Lake. Its close to Lake Louise, its bigger and more famous sister lake. A detour of about 15-20 minute drive takes you to this gem colored lake nestled in a valley surrounded by 10 peaks. It was a cloudy, drizzly day when we visited that lake. We could manage only a couple of hikes around the lake - one was to the top of some rock boulders that afforded a high view of the lake and the other was along the lake to the other side. Both were relatively easy hikes and we got plenty of time to amble about lazily and enjoy the views.

Most of the 10 peaks are hidden behind the clouds.

View from the top of the boulders.
There are no touch-ups on this picture - the water looked this blue.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Watery Wednesday: Missing Summit Lake, Alaska

I was flipping through my pictures yesterday and came across this one of Summit Lake in Alaska. It was a bright, warm and pleasant day and we were driving along Richardson Highway. We had driven for a few hours by then, when this sight greeted us. Ah!

For more watery wednesday posts, click here

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Our eagle's nest in Santa Fe

Part of what made the Santa Fe part of our trip so relaxing and enjoyable was the place we stayed. It was a VRBO (vacation rental by owner) rental recommended to us by our friends B and R.

High up in the mountains with sun soaked decks, vast 180 degree views and abundant windows in the main house where one could sit and enjoy the night sky late into the night, it made for a perfect eagle's nest for us. Nikki was the most gracious owner and we felt right at home.

While Master S and I spent a lot of time on the deck lazing in the sun and rocking in the chairs, not surprisingly Mr. S used his downtime to catch up on work. Phew!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Pointers for Santa Fe

I thought I will jot down some quick pointers for Santa Fe... or rather the high points of our trip to the city.

The Plaza in Santa Fe is where all the action is. Its a lively section of old town - there is a local street side bazaar of the native americans selling their jewelry, a couple of churches, lots of art galleries and handicraft shops, restaurants, jewelry shops, museums etc. Everthing centres around the plaza.

The other notable thing about the town was hanging chilies - they were everywhere. They were being sold in shops and people had them hanging outside their shops and houses.

Then there was this restaurant/shack kind of a place that was definitely serving the best chili sauce in town - it was spicy hot, made our noses water but it was yumm to the last drop. The Shed is definitely a must try for any visitor to Santa Fe.

And right next to it was this other colorful shop with lots of hanging chilies and strands of vegetables but this time they were made of glass. Made a pretty sight for the eyes. It was called the Rainbow Man.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Santa Fe

After Monument Valley we headed over to Santa Fe. I had first heard great reviews about Santa Fe from some friends who took a road trip across US before leaving the country to return to their home country. I had also seen the pictures and it had definitely piqued my interest.

The whole city (old Santa Fe) has this Adobe architecture which are mud-caked walls as you would probably see in really remote indian villages. Everything from the restaurants to malls to barber shops to the bank had this kind of a look.

The Plaza in old part of the city was where we spent most of our time during our stay in Santa Fe. Here are some examples of Adobe architecture from the Plaza.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Desert blooms

Monument Valley, as is evident from the previous pictures, is basically a desert area. The temperatures were high too (ok, not so high as they typically are). But the valley floor at a lot of places had these beautiful white flowers growing.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Drive into Monument Valley

After refreshing ourselves from the long drive, we were ready for the drive into the valley. A dirt road took us into the valley. We did not have a jeep/SUV or a four wheel drive, so the first few switchbacks, which were bumpy to say the least, had us crossing our fingers. But thereafter it was a fairly ok dirt road.

It was a 17 mile loop but it took us more than 3 hours to do the whole thing because we wanted to stop at each and every corner. In addition to the mittens, we saw more weirdly shaped buttes. There was the Raingod Mesa, the Thunderbird Mesa, the Totem Poles, the Three Sisters etc. But the ones I liked the best were the Elephant butte and the Camel butte.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nature has symmetry

We are back - from a short but nice, relaxing vacation to one of the places that has been on my list of "places to visit before I die" for a long time now. We flew into Alburqurque, NM and then after a midway stop in Farmington, we reached the Monument Valley. Erosion over decades has resulted in these huge buttes that stand desolate in a valley and make for some of the most frequently photographed places in US. It is an Indian reservation area (Navajo Tribal Park to be precise) and so does not fall under the US National Park System.

While we first saw the huge buttes from the parking lot, when we checked into our room, the balcony afforded one of the best views into the valley.

View from our balcony (midday)

These particular formations are called the west and east mitten (for obvious reasons) and the Merrick butte (for no apparent reason). We ended up going click-click with our camera at these for a large part of our trip. I was particularly intrigued by the symmetry of the west and east mittens - how come natural erosion could have carved out such symmetrical structures right next to each other. But I guess thats nature for you - always intriguing.



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A sunny day at Crissy Field

Winter this time has been uncommonly long, its still raining atleast once a week even now. A couple of weeks back though (seems like ages ago now), it was an exceptionally pleasant day. We decided to go to Crissy Field near Golden Gate bridge for a picnic with some friends. The beach and park area is right next to the bay and there are wonderful views of the bridge on a clear day.
And since it was a warm balmy day, people were out and about - they were flying kites, sun-bathing, jogging, biking and just lazing about. Good fun - sun, nice views and company of friends - what more can one ask for!

P.S. This is post no. 100. Almost 6 years, some on and off time on the blog but still counting... or should i say blogging. Not bad!

Monday, May 17, 2010

More blooms

As promised in the last post, here is a glimpse into one corner of our garden. Its looking beautiful with all these small little flowers cropping us in abundant profusion.
The surprising thing is that at the onset of winter, our gardener insisted that we need to cut down everything to the ground for it to regrow in spring. I will admit I was a nervous believer then. But this whole area was subsequently cut down, and it sprang back up over the last couple of months with tiny-tiny flowers and this tall shrub.