Archive for category Travel
Pick up line… would you use it?
And I did.
The weekend before last we rented a cabin in the mountains and took off Saturday morning. The drive was a bit stretched out (breaks, traffic, etc.), but it was fun nonetheless. We had two cars, six of us shuffling between the cars. And once we got near the mountain area, the fall colors were so breathtaking that the drive wasn’t a bother to anyone.
We reached the cabin around four in the evening. Temperature had gone down considerably by then. Heater was turned on. Fireplace was put to good use. All of us gathered around the orange-yellow flames of the fire for a while before venturing out to the balcony to enjoy the mountain views from all angles. Cameras were brought out and click, click, click – photos were taken of the colorful mountains, dark grey clouds, shy sun, fallen leaves.
Once it started getting dark, Ran stepped into the kitchen to start preparing for dinner. He started with cleaning and marinating the fish and the chicken we’d bought earlier that day, followed by cutting the veggies and prepping them for baking. Each one of stepped in and out of the kitchen, offering a helping hand every now and then. And the partner, as always, began playing music to up the cheery mood that all of us were in. And a song or two later, he also began moving to the rhythm.
There I was standing on the sidelines, watching the big smile on his face as he danced around, sinking in all the joy that the evening brought with it, and moments later he pulled me in. And what happened next surprised me to no end. I joined him! Without any hesitation, without second thoughts, without feeling conscious about everyone else around, I was hopping along on my happy feet.
These were some of my closest friends I was with. And then of course there was the partner. Yet, it startled me to spot that behavior of mine. It’s so unlike me to have given in so quickly. And there I was, doing just that. Of course, I am glad I did. Because had it been any other way, it might not have been as much fun and I may have regretted it later. That evening brought with it a lot of excitement. Enough to last the days to come.
We danced. For hours together. Some more than the others. We danced as the dinner cooked. We danced as Ree took a nice relaxing bath and then had her dinner. We danced as the food called out to us. We danced until our feet hurt. We danced like there was no tomorrow. We danced until we could label it one of the most memorable evenings ever, because almost all of us hadn’t danced like that in years. And yes, we danced like no one was watching.
And after about five or six hours, it came to a stop. The partner and Ran still had the momentum to go on. But hunger and weariness took over the rest of us. So we dropped, one after another. And that was the end of it… well almost – the partner and Ran danced for one last song before calling it quits. The others sat and watched, astounded by their energy levels.
We had plans to play a game of Monopoly after dinner. But none of us had it in us to sit a few more hours and see a game through. After the time that we had just had, sleep was extremely eager to embrace us. So we called it a night right after dinner.
Great friends. Tons of fun. Delicious food. What’s not to love?
Flights to vacation destination – I do not seem to mind as much. Flights back home from the said destination – I feel are overly long and tiring. Does that happen to you too?
Last Thursday evening, we left for yet another short getaway.
Upon landing around 11pm that night, I called the owner of the B&B we were going to stay in to let him know that we would be arriving around midnight. He asked me if I had directions to his place and I mentioned that I had a GPS, so there shouldn’t be a problem. He promptly asked me to ditch my GPS because it would be of no use there. Ok, I said, I have directions off Google Maps, so I guess we will follow that, I mentioned proudly. He took no time to let me know that no that too is useless.
Alright, what should I do then, I asked him.
Go to my website and follow the step by step directions on there.
Well, I do not access to Internet at this time so I can’t do that, I said coyly.
Use your smartphone, he urged.
Hmmm yeah well, I don’t own one.
WHAT???!??!? NO SMARTPHONE??!??! How did you get directions from Google Maps?
I have it copied down.
Giving up on the hopeless case that I am, he asked us to proceed to a particular town and call him once we got there.
While this was happening in one end, the partner was dealing with the car renting process at the other end. We were indecisive about whether or not we wanted to buy insurance from the rental company, but one mention on how bad the roads were and how they will scrutinize every little scratch on the car upon return, we decided we would go ahead and get it for the peace of our minds. And even after all that, we were told that the insurance won’t cover for stolen tires or rims. Ah! Fun little fact, eh? Should we be worried about the tires/rims getting stolen, we asked. Well, it happens once in a while, came the reply. Anyway, with the payment made, car inspected by us – top to bottom, left to right – to make sure they make a note of all existing scratches we finally left that premise and headed towards the B&B.
An hour later, we reached the town that the B&B owner mentioned. We stopped by a nearby parking lot and called him to get directions. The nice man that he was, he stayed on the phone with me giving me step by step directions while I repeated it all to the partner, who was driving. He stayed on call with us almost 90% of the way from there. Only when we hit roads where would have to travel for about 10 or more minutes, he asked me to hang up and call back once we reached the next landmark that he had given. The last stretch of the drive was a both a little scary and extremely beautiful at the same time. It was through a dense forest, up a hill, on path that was fully muddy due to the previous day’s rain. We got stuck at a couple of points, tires turning round and round in the mud. The partner, however, skillfully maneuvered the car and managed to get us through it all. Once we reached the top of the hill, we were welcomed by the owner.
After the initial exchanges about how the ride was (the forest, its mystic sounds were lovely, but the road was a little harsh we mentioned, I think) and showing us around his farmhouse, the owner lead us to our room and bid us goodnight. I cannot put in words how tranquil that place was to sleep in that night. The forest came alive. The sweet sound of the tiny frogs that are native to the rainforest sang us lullaby all night long. We had all the large windows in the room open to let in the breeze and the tunes of the night. The view of the half moon and star filled sky from the window across the bed was priceless. Everything was beyond beautiful.
(Day 1) The next morning we woke up around, got ready and went down for breakfast, after which, we headed to the Rainforest. We finalized on a couple of hikes we wanted to do for the day and headed off for the first one. The weather was perfect as long as we stayed in the coolness of the lush forest. As soon as we walked into a patch where there was no canopy of trees over our head, we could feel the scorching sun do his magic. To get relief from the heat, our second hike was to a waterfall; we were told that there was a tiny naturally formed pool underneath the falls where we could soak. We changed into our swimsuits and went to the falls. The water was cold, but it was a welcome change after sweltering so much under the sun. I was exhausted after this, so we went for dinner right away and then back to the B&B. We sat in the living area for half hour or so, took in the ocean views before calling it a night. Another serene night.
(Day 2) One of the things we were particular about doing during this trip was to just be and not do anything at least for a day. The last vacation we took, we were pretty much doing this or that every single day. We didn’t take the time out to do nothing. So that’s what we did on this day – absolutely nothing. We lazed around in the B&B. We ate, we read, we napped, we talked. And that’s how that day (and the night) went… blissful way to unwind.
(Day 3) We woke up a little early this morning since we had to go catch a ferry to get to a nearby island. We checked out and left around 8 in the morning. We were afraid of whether we would get be able to make it or not (since people kept warning us constantly that the ferry tickets sold out three hours prior to departure), but fortunately we got the tickets. After a little bit of hustle bustle, we boarded a ferry, and it took off, within minutes – a good half hour before the scheduled time. And in another hour and half, we were at the other island.
We took a cab to the B&B we were going to spend the night in, checked in, took a shower and headed into the town for lunch. After which we rented a scooter, changed into our swim suits and went beach hopping. Yes, beach hopping. All afternoon we spent riding from one beach to another and swimming in each one of the blue/green waters of the endless white sandy beaches. The water was so warm owing to the hot temperature. And it was also extremely crystal clear. We could easily see the fishes swimming beside our feet. Numerous times we went into the water just to swim around with the fishes, follow them as they followed us. What fun all that was!
After a few hours of swimming on a sunny afternoon in different beaches, we headed back to our room, showered, nibbled on some snacks, rested for a while and then went on a scooter ride around the town. Wild horses got scared of us, stray dogs scared us. Setting sun warmed us, evening breeze cooled us. That experience of riding on isolated roads, as if everything around was waiting for you to come, as if everything on the way was there to please your senses, was marvelous.
The plan for that night was to go on a Bioluminescent Bay tour. As we reached the place where the kayak tours would start from, I looked up and saw a brightly star lit sky. I nudged the partner to look up and he was equally amazed. Do you think we will see a shooting star tonight, I asked, as we were requested to get on the kayaks. Once all of us were set, we rowed to the middle of the bay. And oh my, how so very magical that was. Every time the paddle touched the water, the water glowed. Every time I put my hand in the water, the water glowed. Every time a fish swam by, the water glowed. Every time a wave was created, the water glowed. The tour guide gathered us all together at one place and lectured about the science behind the glow (microorganisms in the water whose defense mechanism is to emit a bright light whenever the pressure around them changed). I didn’t care much for what he was talking about – I was more into gazing up at the starlit sky and then down at the glowing water. I loved how it felt when I cupped my hands, took a little bit of water and let it flow through my arms – in that setting, with all the clear sky above, seeing the glowing water trickle down my arm gave me the impression that the stars from up above were dancing on my hands. Magical, that’s what this experience was. To make it even more perfect, one of the times that I looked up to gaze at the sky, I saw a shooting star. Did you see that, there was a shooting star, I called out to the partner. Oh yes, I did, came the reply from someone else. No, I did not, said the partner, who was totally immersed in what the enchanted water had to offer.
(Day 4) Our initial plan for this morning was to go snorkeling, but the weather had other things in mind for us. There was a storm heading towards the island and, after talking to a couple of people, we decided against going into the ocean in such weather. So we ended up spending time walking around the island a little and then having lunch, before taking the ferry back to the main island. Once back, we started driving towards the main city. On the way, we stopped at a little restaurant to have coconut water. We devoured on not one, not two, but three of those. We would have had more, but it was just too filling. Then, we reached the hotel, showered, went out to dinner and then called it a night.
(Day 5) On the last day, our plan was to walk around the old part of the city. Since we went there for dinner the night before, we knew what to expect – beautiful cobblestone roads, colorful homes/buildings built during the Spanish Colonial period, European architectural charm, etc. We liked what we had seen and we were excited to explore more as we woke up this morning. The sun, again, was not too kind, but we braved through and walked along the historic parts. One of the “National Heritage” site was closed because of the Federal shutdown. So, we were forced to skip seeing the Castle; a few reporters stopped us while we were strolling the nearby area to ask how we felt about what was going on, etc (thankfully, we had heard about the Federal shutdown the night before when we switched on the TV for a few minutes at the hotel; so, were not perplexed when they asked questions about the same).
One of my most favorite experiences about this trip is this – the partner chanced upon a coffee shop as we were exploring the town and we walked right in. It was called the Poet’s Passage. They had a coffee shop, which closed right when we walked in. But they also had a little gift shop, which we browsed around. It had a lot of poems and paintings. The owners of the place, husband and wife, are artists and sell their work in that store. The wife is a poet and the husband, a painter. And their little shop was dreamlike. We, who never really care for souvenirs and such, bought a mug and a poem from the store. The mug was to remind us of the frogs of the Rainforest (Coqui) and the poem, for each other. When I read that particular poem first, I thought of the partner and he said he thought of me as was reading through it. So, of course, we had to get a copy of it for ourselves and we did. A little more walking in the town and we came upon another store by the same name. We went in to realize that this was the painter’s workshop. And it was amazing being there, among his paintings, browsing through, while he sat at the counter creating a new piece of art.
After that little adventure, it was time for us to get back – return the car and head to the airport. And the rest of it from there on was uneventful, you can imagine, right?
- The first thing we noticed as soon as we got off the plane in San Juan was that it felt like we were in India. The weather, for the most. And the way of life too, at times – the harmony in that chaos reminded us so much of India.
- White sandy beaches with green/blue crystal clear water, lush green forest, songs of the Coqui – I miss it all.
- During this trip too, there were these people who we ran into so many times. It’s fun bumping into the same people here and there throughout a trip.
- One of the days that we were in the farmhouse near the Rainforest, a couple came and left within minutes of seeing what the place had to offer. Mountain views, ocean views, breezy open space, forest all around. Yet, they walked out because they thought it wasn’t much. Because there was no AC. Because there was no TV. And there I was wondering who would need any of that when you are surrounded by splendor such as this. Oh well, to each his own, I guess.
“We’ll figure it out,” as the partner pointed out, has been the motto of our trips. We don’t plan anything in advance. We don’t know what our next move is going to be. We seldom know how we are going to get to wherever we are headed to next. Yet, we get through it all, we figure it out and we have a blast doing it. And that spontaneity is what I love about traveling alongside the partner.
So, we just got back from a vacation. This is our, the partner and my, first vacation together. We’ve done weekend outings all these years, we’ve taken a couple of days here and there to do Fall trips the past few years, but we’d never actually gone on a long vacation before. Every year until now it’s been either him planning a trip to India or me saving my vacation time for this and that. This time though, with everything else taken care of, both of us had plenty of time we could use towards planning a vacation or two together. Thus, an afternoon was spent looking at our schedules and buying tickets (which were canceled and rebooked eventually).
Time went by. A rough plan was made merely a week before our set departure. Calls were made and campsites were booked a day before our departure. Bags were packed the day of departure. And off we went.
While most of the initial travel was tiring and unexciting, with us dreaming about the upcoming days and all the fun that was in store, here’s something that jolted us right back into reality – we rented a car as soon as we got off the plane and started our drive to our first destination. Within half an hour into that drive, we were pulled over for speeding. And the cop ended up giving us a big fat ticket. What a way to start a vacation, right? Blah. The rest of the 2+ hour drive was spent reassuring each other that it was ok, that we should forget about it and not let this incident ruin the fun that’s to follow. So forget and let go we did.
Day 1 – The first of our destinations was the city of Vancouver. We took a train from our hotel into the city and spent the entire day walking around. We saw pretty much all there was to see, and realized, towards the end of the day, that we are not the vacation-in-a-city kind of people. As the partner aptly put it, it takes a long time to build a bond with a city and fall in love with it. Being there and sightseeing around for a day or two does nothing for us; it just leaves us with a ‘this is just another city, what’s the big deal?’ feeling, which may or may not be fair. It tired us to no end to see building after building, to walk the streets that didn’t seem to have any power to pull us any closer. So, by the end of that evening, we decided that going forward we won’t plan to stay in any city for more than a day because it would surely be a waste of time for us. We’re happier if we are able to spend even a handful of extra hours in the mountains or beaches instead.
Day 2 – With that, we dropped the plan to come back to the city on the next day and headed right out to experience a suspension bridge nearby. This was my first time walking on a suspension bridge and what fun that was! I was afraid the first couple of times I crossed the bridge. I held on to the railings every second of the walk. But after having done that a few times, I got a little brave, let go of the railing and strutted along the dancing bridge. There was so much excitement that we crossed the bridge probably six or seven times, by the end of which the partner was still in a temporary still-walking-on-the-suspension-bridge mode as we strode towards our car.
Next, we were headed towards Whistler. We made numerous stops on the way – to soak in the ocean view along the highway, to see a gorgeous waterfall, to bask along green lakes, to absorb the sight of beautiful mountains, to take in the scene of a glacier upon a mountain top. The usual 1.5 hour drive took us about 4 hours that afternoon. By the time we were done with all our breaks and reached our destination, I was famished. We quickly stopped by at our campground to put up our tent and left to the town immediately after. Oh wait, we only left after we had taken a lot of time to enjoy the sight of where our campsite sat. From our site we could see and hear the gushing turquoise river below. Every cell in my body that was crying for food relaxed a bit at this sight. Of course I couldn’t take advantage of this temporary state of mine for long, so we headed out for dinner only with the single super excited thought that after the meal we are to head back to the campsite and spend the night sleeping under the stars while listening to the whitewater melody.
In town that evening, we had a chance to witness a few people complete the triathlon that had started earlier during the day. Inspiring, that’s what it was – people training so much to take part in such events and successfully completing them. The pride in their and their family’s/friends’ faces as they crossed the finish line was priceless. So, after dinner and a short walk around the town watching the last batch of runners finishing their triathlon, we headed right back to the campground and called it a night.
Day 3 – Camping rejuvenates me so much more than the nights spent on my own bed, really. Even though the weather was a bit chilly, it didn’t affect my sleep as much – I woke the next morning extremely refreshed. We chugged a few cereal bars for breakfast and started the day off with a hike to see a waterfall and followed that up with another hike to and around a nearby lake. And let me not forget to note that during those hikes we saw a few people who had participated in the previous day’s triathlon. I couldn’t help but wonder how they had the energy to complete go hiking merely hours after they had completed such an event.
After hiking, we sat down at the campsite to snack a little and then left to go eat and sightsee around the town. We had food, walked around for a bit, went to the visitor center to get ideas about how to plan the day ahead, and then finally spent a little time at a café discussing our options. This was followed by another chilly night in the tent. This night though, things got a little more adventurous. It rained a bit during the day, I suppose, and our tent started leaking. So we found ourselves with slightly wet tent floor and damp sleeping bags. We made some rearrangements inside to make sure we stayed away from where the leak was happening and dozed off to another blissful night (Well, the partner might disagree. Apparently, I pushed him off his sleeping mat and occupied the whole space while he had to spend the night in shivers owing to the cold floor.)
Day 4 – The next morning, we had our breakfast, packed up, checked out of the campground and headed towards the town. Our plan for the day was to get a Gondola ride up to Whistler Mountain, do a hike or two there, and then go to the Blackcomb Mountain to do a couple of hikes there before heading off to our next destination. While we also hoped to go to the peak of Whistler and do a hike there, but the day was so cloudy that visibility was extremely poor to make way for a safe hike. The other ones we did were wonderful that we wished we had more time to spend there to explore more. Next time, perhaps.
After our adventure on the top of the mountains, we headed down, had our dinner, shopped around for propane tank and cooking pot (we had packed bunch of noodle packets with us, but forgot to take utensils to cook it in), and started the drive. Again, within half an hour of the drive we were pulled over. This time though, more than carelessness, there were factors that contributed to the speeding. As the partner was driving, he was also trying to show me the lake that we walked around a day ago. While he was busy diverting my attention to that beautiful lake, he failed to keep a tab on the speedometer as the car went downhill. And unfortunately for us, the cop was right there, riding up towards us. As soon as he saw our car descending that fast, he turned around and stopped us. The partner tried explaining to the officer exactly what happened and asked if he could be let go with a warning. The cop got all the information, told the partner that he would give it a thought and came back to tell us know that he would indeed give us the benefit of the doubt this time around, that he was not after our hard earned money, and let us go with a warning. What a nice man he was! Relieved would be an understatement to use for what we felt then.
While the rest of the drive was picturesque, it got a late and dark by the time we reached the hotel that we were going to be staying for the night. All we did that night was take a hot shower, lay out the tent and sleeping bags in the room to let them dry so they could be ready to go for the next night, and slept.
Day 5 – And the next day, for the most part, was spent driving to the Canadian Rockies.
By the time we reached the campground, the partner started feeling a little feverish. We stopped by at the nearby town to grad some meds. Once we reached the campground, we found that someone else had taken the site we had reserved. The girl explained that they had taken it because there was no one in the campground when they arrived. We were told that their site was the adjacent one and asked if we would mind setting up our tent there instead. Since there was no real difference as far as views (again, by the riverside with mountains in the background) were concerned, we agreed and set our site (only to figure out then that this site was so uneven with root and rocky surface making it a unsuitable place to set up tent in. Oh well). We then had a sumptuous dinner of maggi, sat under the starlit sky for a while (until I started to whine that it’s getting really cold), and went to bed.
Day 6 – The next morning we had our breakfast (soup for breakfast on a wintery morning is as good as it gets!) and went on a nearby hike. After completing that beautiful trek around five different lakes, our plan was to drive to a natural hot springs close by and do one of the trails there before soaking in the hot springs. But by the time we got there, the partner was feeling a little restless due to his fever (and I, too, probably was a bit tired), that we decided to just soak in the hot springs without any further ado.
This experience, again, was one of my firsts – I had never been to a natural hot springs before, and to be in one on a chilly afternoon felt just right. The temperature they said was about 40C. There were other pools around where the water was cold, so people could cool off if they got too warm soaking in the hot springs. After a while, I cooled off by having some ice cream. The partner, in spite of his fever, came out to share the ice cream with me. And while we were enjoying our cold treat, the partner got into a conversation with another patron. He mentioned that he was a regular here and that this was one of the best hot springs around. And he also happened to tell the partner that getting into the really cold pool to cool off was an experience in itself. So now, the partner, not caring about the fever, alternated between the cold pool and the hot spring pool who knows how many times. I tried the cold pool once, got off and swore never to go in there again. Yupe, that’s all how daring I am.
After we got enough of the hot water, we left and were extremely hungry. We decided to make maggi at the picnic area near the parking lot, had our lunch/dinner and off we went to the town for an evening stroll and then to campground for another good night’s sleep.
Day 7 – Another day, another adventure. The morning started off with breakfast of soup and toast. With that taken care of, we packed and were on our way to drive through the Icefields Parkway. Before embarking on the drive though, we stopped to see another waterfall. The drive through the Parkway was so scenic in every which direction one turned. We stopped at the Columbia Icefield to take a bus that goes to a glacier. Although we had plans to complete a hike before taking that tour, due to time constraints the hike was dropped and we hopped on to the bus at the first chance. And what a wonderful experience that turned out to be – we got to walk on a glacier for about twenty minutes. I was beyond myself, out of the world during that time. How exhilarating it was, I can’t put in words.
The rest of the afternoon comprised of eating lunch, completing the leftover stretch of drive, setting up our campsite at the new location and then cooking/having dinner. After which, I think, we headed out to the town and spent a little time wandering around there. This night also we spent a little time gazing at the stars from our campsite for a while – this time around, the weather permitted me sit out for a little longer than the previous attempt and the sky was also much clearer than the nights before.
Day 8 – Morning sunshine brought a lot of delight with it. After the usual waking up, having breakfast routine later, we planned to head to for another hike in the mountains. We decided to keep things on the easier side for the day because we hoped to do a harder trail the day after. We chose one of the low key hikes and went through it in our own relaxed pace. The sun was burning hot that afternoon, I remember. Since everywhere we had been the past week the weather was anything but warm, I had worn layers on this day. And so there I was, sweating profusely and feeling grateful that this campground had shower facilities.
After finishing the walk, we headed into the town to have lunch, get ice cream / milkshake (which was so so yummy!) and then stopped by at the visitor center to get some info on other hikes around the area. We then spent a little time in the town and around six in the evening, headed off to climb to yet another waterfall. We were glad we started this trail so late in the afternoon since it was so crowded even then; had we started it early during the day, I am not sure we would have had the chance to stop and enjoy it as much as we would have liked. We spent quite some time sitting at the base of the fall and taking in the rushing sound of the water. That evening we headed back into the town, strolled for a bit and then settled down at a coffee shop for some time sipping on hot chocolate. The night was warm and nice, letting us jump into a deep slumber.
Day 9 – This day was pretty stimulating yet again. The original plan was to wake up early and get a head start on one of the hikes we had chosen. But knowing me, the “wake up early” plan didn’t really happen. Hence, we had to settle for a different hike for the day. Which turned out to be a hard one, after all. We climbed a mountain, with me huffing and puffing all along the way. Had it not been for the partner’s constant push, I would’ve given up half way for sure. I whined and whined more as we ascended. The number of breaks I took and the amount of time I took to catch my breath put me to shame, considering all those people running up the mountain as if it was nothing. We even walked past a couple of really old people (definitely 65+) along the way. I guess that, their determination and energy, motivated me a bit along the way. And finally when we arrived on the top, I was extremely shocked to find myself standing there because I really didn’t I was going to make it. A big thanks to the partner, again, for putting up with my constant complaining and for being so positive that even I could do it only if I tried.
Once up, we relaxed there for a bit. I remember eating and then even napping for a few minutes. The partner meanwhile went around and soaked in all the good views – the valleys around, the distant glaciers, the other Rocky Mountains around, the little town beneath. One of the old women, whom we passed as we came up, arrived. Partner gave her two thumbs up and she spent some time talking to us, sharing with us anecdotes from her past. It was so enlightening for me to see how enthusiastic she was about these energy consuming activities even at her age. As the saying goes, age is but a number, I guess… it’s all in one’s heart and mind.
We spent more time up there, walking on the boardwalk to get to an old Cosmic Ray station. As we were making our way up, we saw a guy in suit with two others trying to hide his presence on that bench. The partner guessed that he was waiting to propose to someone and he was right. We waited to see the scene unfold and it sure was sweet. The girl was on a weekend out with her friends (which was planned by him, as we learned later), and he showed up there on the top of the mountain to ask her to marry him. He proposed, she accepted, they celebrated. And that’s how that went.
After the strenuous climb to the top, the descend was easy. The partner twisted his ankle going down, though. Once we were down, we stopped to get some lunch and then spent some time people watching near a lake (watching people pose for photos is amusing every now and then). What we had in mind for the rest of the evening was to go to the nearby hot springs and soak for a few hours, while watching the starlit sky. And so we went.
Here we chanced upon one of the couples we had met days earlier during few of our hikes. It was very surprising because we were hundreds of miles away from where we had seen them first. And once we got to talking, it seemed like they were also visiting almost the same places as we were. Even though our roads met along the way, we were actually following different paths. It was nice to chat with them and learn a little bit about them.
After three or four hours at the hot springs, we left to get late dinner. Only a couple of places were open that late and it was good that we had gotten information about those places from the visitor center earlier during the day. Finishing dinner, we headed to our campground and spent another blissful night under the stars.
The unofficial end of vacation was upon us. We packed up, prepared quick breakfast, headed to town to get milkshake and then started our drive back. The next couple of days had a lot of driving in and around the mountains, as we headed to catch our flight. We stopped when and where we liked. We spent a lot of time reminiscing how amazing the last nine days were. We ate more ice cream. We started feeling post vacation blues. By the time we reached the airport to catch our flight we were already discussing upcoming holidays and do/don’ts while planning any vacation going ahead.
- The color of the water in every one of the lakes/ponds/rivers we visited during the whole trip deserves a special mention – we saw an array of the shades of green. Due to my lack of knowledge about the names of any of these shades, I started making up my own as we went.
- Hot springs is healing water (fever, the first time and the twisted ankle, the second time) says the partner.
- Of all the wildlife that we were told would possibly be around, we only spotted bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elks and very many deer. I was really hoping to see a bear and the partner was expecting to catch a glimpse of cougars or wolves. But none of that happened. Maybe next time?
- Canada is expensive.
- An extremely stressful and crappy August had dampened my spirits (and the partner’s too because of me). So I am super glad this trip happened and the month ended with a very positive note.
- We really think that the car we rented was cursed. Something or the other happened the first 4 days we used it. The first day we got a ticket. The second time we used it we got a parking violation warning. The third time, we were given yet another speeding warning. And the fourth was when the front of the car got a little dented. Only after a bighorn sheep kissed the side of the car the next day did the jinx fade.
- Milk and ice cream there tasted amazing, compared to what we get here.
- The partner noted that even though the vacation was relaxing, there was not even one day where we didn’t do anything. So next time we go somewhere, we surely will plan to have a laid back day with absolutely nothing to do.
- The entire trip we did without any proper plans. No extensive research on where to go or what to do. All we had when we started from here was the list of places of that we were going to stay. Everything else, we learned as we went and we did as we pleased. And that spontaneity is something I treasure.
I miss the endless views of glaciers, green lakes/rivers, the gushing waterfalls, the magnificent mountains in every direction… all of it. Why do vacations end?
I didn’t take many pictures. That the partner does exceptionally well, so I simply carry my camera and soon forget where it is. The problem though is that the partner hardly ever sorts / uploads the photos that he clicks. I’ll update the photoblog with snaps by the partner if he ever gets around to handing them to me.
There have been a few amazing weekends so far this year that I’ve missed writing about here. At this point I am sure I’ve forgotten the little details that I would have liked to note down, but better late than never. So here’s what I remember of the adventures so far –
A weekend in February was spent roaming around DC Metro and MD. We visited a museum or two; other than that, though, most of our sightseeing escapades involved spending time outdoors. The weather was biting cold those three days, but that didn’t deter us from visiting one waterfront after another. When there’s good company and great conversations to be had, nothing else matters, right? Amazing weekend, yes it was.
For the Easter weekend, plans were initially made and canceled due to my fever, etc. But as Friday morning approached, we decided to go ahead and head out for the weekend. I was getting better, that was good news; also, staying home all week only strengthened my urge to get going. So, we woke up, got ready, packed, and hit the road.
We drove to Wilmington, NC on Friday and spent the afternoon there. Given that it was still early in the season, the places were relatively less crowded. We got a chance to roam around the town and its neighboring beaches without the usual hustle-bustle.
After roaming around for a while, we stepped in to one of the local cafes (how is any trip complete without a stop at at least one local coffee shop?) to have some hot chocolate in order to fight the chill outside. The owner there enlightened us with some interesting points about the neighborhood, recommended some local restaurants for dinner, and also let us in on an insider secret about how to escape the never-ending queue at the famous local shop that sold country’s best donuts. Yes, we tried her trick; yes, it worked – within minutes of putting her words into action, I walked in and out with half a dozen donuts in my hand to the envy of people who’d been standing in the line for much longer. Ha!
As time approached for dinner, the partner pointed out to the cozy Parisian looking, waterfront facing balconies in a restaurant that looked very inviting. We stepped in, asked to be seated in one of the balconies, forgetting the cold wind. We sat there, with our winter jackets still on and enjoyed the view for a while. When it came time to place orders, though, we ran out of luck. I am a vegetarian and a picky eater. The restaurant only had one vegetarian appetizer, which we ordered, and two vegetarian main courses. Of the two main courses, one had eggplant in it, which I do not eat, and the other had so much cheese in it that I decided not to have that either. Hence, once we finished appetizer we walked out in search of another restaurant for the rest of the dinner. By the time we decided on another place and went there, our appetite had died down and we ended up, again, ordering an appetizer, sharing that and calling it a meal. Good times.
We spent that night in Wilmington and drove to Savannah, GA on Saturday. What can I say about this place? Where do I start? The partner has been here before and I’ve seen the pictures he’d taken during that trip. To top that, the partner had only fond things to say about the town. So here I was, all excited to experience the beauty and form warm memories of my own. And to say that I was not let down would be an understatement. That tranquil feeling this tiny European town look-alike evoked in me was enough to make me fall in love with the place once and for all. Ireland – that’s what came to mind after the first few hours we spent in Savannah. So much that we even wove dreams of maybe someday moving to an Irish city and exploring that side of the world. Anyway, I couldn’t get enough of it during the two days I was there. And I can’t wait to go back there someday.
When we moved here last year, I remember seeing our current home for the first time and falling in love with all the space it had to offer. Coming from a city like Boston where we lived in tiny apartments, the porches and the backyards here seemed heavenly. As we were in the process of finalizing the place, there was one thing that the partner pointed out that we put aside as something to plan when the right time came. “Look at the backyard; it’s a perfect place to play Holi, don’t you think? We should definitely do it” he had said.
Fast forward so many months and the time eventually came. We chose a day, keeping in mind the weather, to celebrate Holi and welcome Spring. Colors and water balloons were bought. Invitations were sent out. Plans were made and finalized. And the day arrived in all its glory.
As people starting coming in right around the planned time, I was inside filling the water balloons. I could hear the guests cheer, and the kids laughing and running around. The partner called out and asked me to come join the fun. “Only a few more balloons and I’ll be there”, I announced, trying hard to get the job done quicker. And by the time I stepped out, I could hardly put a name to the colorful faces around me. Within seconds, I was one of them – an unrecognizable blob of color running behind the next person of interest with balloon in one hand and powder of some bright color in another.
Age was no barrier for all the excitement that was in the air. Grownups enjoyed it as much as the kids did. Everyone had fun… even our neighbor’s father who must be 80+ years of age – he didn’t play with us, but he sat there watching everyone go crazy and that, he said, was enjoyable in its own way. It sure was a success and the kids are already asking us when we can do it again.
This past weekend, one of our friends had us over for a sumptuous lunch; we watched a movie after, walked around Duke Gardens in the evening, played pool for a while before returning home to have another go at the grand meal that night. I still can’t get over how so delicious everything was. Yum!
There have been other fun weekends too – the afternoon when we went on a 10+ mile bike ride, all those evenings spent at cafes listening to live music, the time we went mini golfing and bowling, the night (which turned into day by the time we were finished) we spent playing Monopoly.
Ahh, the fun… may it continue forever.
This post is going to be here and there, sort of incoherent. That’s what ends up happening when I don’t record anything for almost a year and suddenly realize that there are all incidents that need to be noted down before my memory fails me, for that happens more often than not. For instance, last week the partner and I were discussing something and the question of what I did for my last birthday came up. I drew a blank. I knew there was something about the day that made it special, but the mind refused to go back in time to try and recall even snippets. And it was the partner who finally aided my brain recollect it all. So now, I want to go on record and say that my last birthday was wonderful.
The partner and I were driving from Boston to DC that night to attend a conference where my sister was to give a speech the day after. Right around midnight (I noticed the time only later), the partner pulled over at a service area. The dozy version of me asked him a million questions about why we were stopping, reminded him that we were already running late and I was getting grouchier by the second, and finally, gave up and closed my eyes letting him do whatever it was that he wanted to do by taking a break there. Within a few minutes, I heard the door to my side of the car open and there he was with a cake in his hand, wishing me a happy birthday. (Was there a candle? I am guessing there was, but I don’t remember. See, that’s why I should’ve noted it all down within few days.)Oh, that’s what the stop is about, that inner tube light turned on.
With the merriest of heart, I cut the cake. A cake that the partner had baked by himself. There were signs the day before, you know. He had called to ask me for a tiny detail about the recipe. He had mentioned that his roommates were baking something and they wanted to know. And I’d believed that. The thought didn’t even cross my mind that he was planning something so perfect for my birthday. A sweet surprise, it sure was. And there was more of it in store!
Once we resumed our drive, I got a call from a friend who sent big birthday wishes my way. How so very touched I was that she remembered, worked out the time difference and rang me right around midnight! And the fact that this was the first time I was talking to her made it all the more noteworthy (I had conveniently forgotten about it until now, how so unmindful of me.) I was ecstatic for the rest of the journey, needless to say. We reached DC really late and obviously, I fell asleep the first chance I got. Having gone to bed few hours before dawn only gave me an excuse (like I need one) to sleep a little more than usual next morning. The partner, though, I realized woke up way before I was even ready to open my eyes. He was getting ready to step out; I asked him where he was going. He mentioned that he’d forgotten something in the car and had to go get it so he can get ready for the day. Ok, I said and went back to my blissful slumber.
When I woke up a little later, there was a big gift next to me on the bed. Unable to contain my excitement, I sat up and unwrapped it carefully. Inside I found something I’ve wanted for months. A pair of boots! I remember going on and on to the partner and my then roommate S about how I definitely want a pair of boots for the upcoming winter. But I never bought myself one because any pair I liked I turned down because of the price tag. This pair was gorgeous. He shared the tale of when he went shopping, how/why he chose this particular one, and how he was sure I would fall in love with them. A huge grin appeared on my face and a few tears trickled down my cheeks.
There was a sign of this too, you know, only I’d yet again chosen to ignore it. The partner had called me to inquire about my shoe size the evening before. He mentioned that his sister wanted him to buy her shoes (he was to visit India in a few weeks) and he wasn’t sure what size to go for. So he wanted to know my shoe size given that his sister and I share similar stature. And yes, I believed that.
After trying on the boots and falling head over heels in love with them, I got ready to face the day ahead. We went to a café nearby to have some breakfast. And there, the partner pulled out a greeting card from his bag. The Office is one of my favorite shows and in that card, the partner had written out wishes from each of the main characters of the show in their unique style. What a laughter riot it was reading through those thoughtful messages for the birthday girl!
The day was spent visiting museums, planetarium and just walking around the city. The phone was on silent for most of the day, which meant I missed a few calls from friends. Listening to their voicemails later made the day all the more amazing. The sister joined us in the evening and the three of us went out for a fancy dinner, which was my birthday treat from the sister. She had also sent a bunch of books as gift a week earlier. What more could I ask for! After dinner, I think we went sightseeing, a few monuments here and there. All the walking took a toll, especially since it was windy and cold, so we called it a day and headed back to the hotel.
So there, it’s all on record now and I can come back to it lest I forget it again.
Oh wait, did I say I was going to write about more than one thing? (I am too lazy to go back and edit the beginning of the post or the title. So I’ll just let it be.) I should’ve known better… no matter how hard I try I can’t ever seem put down only a few lines and let things be. It’s almost always going to be a full blown post dedicated to specific happenings. Weirdly, it’s just the opposite when I talk – 0ne can ask me the most open-ended question there is and I can still manage to answer with very limited words. Hmmm. Anyway, I guess this only means there are more posts coming up. Wait and watch…
Life is an adventure with the partner is by my side. Take for example the long weekend that was. To kick it off in delight both of us took the Friday off and made it an even longer weekend. Our initial plan was to escape to the mountains Thursday evening and spend four days in quiet and peace. But as it’s usually with our plans, it didn’t quite pan out the way it was intended. Work and other miscellaneous tasks interfered; hence we ended up spending Thursday evening and Friday at home. I won’t complain though…this gave me enough time to muster some confidence to host a dinner at our place Friday night. I cooked for six—yes, six—and it turned out pretty well. It had to happen someday and I’m glad it happened sooner rather than later; I can’t keep running away from inviting people when everyone is generous enough to have us over time and again, right? Anyway, back to the point. The dinner that I cooked was well received and much appreciated. Oh wait, that’s not really the point,
but can we make it the point? here we go back to the real point…
So, off went Friday and on came Saturday. Only three more days before we had to dive into the routine again, and we had already spent half of the first day in bed. Way to go. But what’s more important than sleep? Nothing, if you were to ask me. No harm, no foul, then. We spent a good part of Saturday morning discussing where we wanted to go—the mountains or the beach? After long deliberation we decided we would head east to the shore. And I could already feel the oceans calling out to me.
We set out around noon with everything for the sojourn in place. Few hours into the drive the car made a beep and signaled to us that it was time to fill the gas tank soon. To give you some background, this is one thing that the partner and I argue about every time it happens. Our definitions of soon varies. While I am the kind who gets tense and pulls over at the next gas station on the way, the partner is someone who keeps giving assurances about how many gallons of gas there is in reserve and how far the car can go on that. Now, we had just crossed a small town and we were in no mood to turn back to the last gas station we’d passed. So, the partner, as usual, reassured that there was enough gas to take us into the next town for fill up and I, as always, became a little anxious and kept hoping to spot a gas station quickly to calm my nerves. And as luck would have it we traveled the next 30 miles with no gas station in sight.
And after those 30 miles, just like that, with no more gas to fuel it, the car started showing signs of giving up. No amount of pushing hard on the accelerator was any help. The lovely car that it is, it coughed up to the last drop in the effort to take us just a little bit further. We looked at each other in disbelief. You told me it would go at least 50 miles, I questioned. It does; it did when I drove from work to home back in Boston. I think it’s your driving that burned extra gas this time around, he retorted. All this while, the car kept moving, slowly but steadily. It even climbed up a bridge with much effort. And then went downhill seemingly easily, thanks to the slope. And the two of us, surprisingly, kept our cool and were actually laughing about the situation we found ourselves in. Right after the descent there was a parking lot and the partner asked me to pull in there. And so I did. I steered and the car took it upon itself to move with the little energy that it had left; that energy was just enough to pull into the parking spot at the far end and after that, the car wouldn’t move any further, not even an inch, and its whole system shut down…about 1.5 miles after the initial warning.
So, yes, we found ourselves gas-less in the middle of who-knows-where. The parking lot we pulled into turned out to be of the town’s visitor center. HA! We got out, ran in (as it was closing time) and inquired about the nearest gas station. We learned that it was just half a mile down the road. What a relief it was that we didn’t have to walk under the scorching sun for long. After freshening up, we set out to get fuel for our vehicle. And during that mile’s walk there were more smiles and more talks about how funny we found the whole thing and how it all had played out well enough to keep us amused but not make us agitated.
Like I said, life is an adventure when the partner is around. Had I found myself in the same situation alone, I am sure I would have lost it. I don’t think I would’ve been as calm to be able to think on my feet about what needed to be done next once the car started showing signs of shut down. But, all credit to the partner, I thoroughly enjoyed this whole experience instead of letting it get to me. The partner has a way of putting a positive spin to things that happens around him. He has a way of brimming with optimism even at the worst of conditions. He has a way of making me smile and teaching me how to take it all, the circumstances that I would otherwise find stressful, lightly. So, as I stood there filling gas in the car and saw him clicking photos of our savior gas station, I couldn’t help but feel grateful that he was around to share this memory with me.
The rest of the vacation? Well, that was fun too, with some exceptions.
We spent a little time Saturday evening and the whole of Sunday at the beach. I enjoyed soaking under the sun and then finding solace in the droplets of rain that trickled down from the marshmallow clouds, reading, writing and napping by the ocean, playing in the water, trying to but not really helping with the sand castle that the partner built, and so much more.
And Monday, we visited a lighthouse nearby—spotted from the top of the lighthouse the colliding of two ocean currents; noticed a bunch of dolphins playing in the sea, pretty close to the shore; and, stopped by at the museum there to learn about the lighthouse’s history, before heading back.
Now the exceptions: it was so extremely humid on Saturday that it became impossible for us to sleep in the tent. We tried for hours before we called it quits, drove the car up to the parking lot and slept in the car. While the humidity went down Sunday night, we had something else that kept us awake on and off—Chigger bites, as we learned later—kept us busy scratching all night long. There were so many bite marks on my body as I woke Monday, and the itching didn’t stop for days after. I still have the marks to show (hoping hard that they’ll fade with time), but thankfully, the need to itch has worn-out. I wouldn’t have been so glad to return home had it not been for the burning bites.
Because really, what’s not to love about ocean side breeze? Or about the sound of the waves singing you lullaby as you slept? Or the endless views of the horizon?