San Diego Life – Safari Park

November 2018

We could have gone to the zoo, but A picks the Safari Park instead. We know we want to feed the lorikeets, go one the carousal and take the Safari train. By the time we get into the park, the LO has settled in for a snooze in her stroller. We have to wait for her to wake to do any of the above. The first thing we see is an armadillo. I never imagined them to be that small. The sister and Big Bro make a detour to the Ranger Station to return a $5 bill we found. The LO is comfortably asleep as we push her through the tiger trail. We hike up to see the condors. The California condor is the largest flying bird in North America. Their wings may stretch nearly ten feet from tip to tip. This enables them to glide on thermal currents 15,000 feet up in the air, but makes it very cumbersome to hop over a couple of feet. The LO wakes up sometime in the Australian Outback. Strollers are not allowed in the kangaroo (+wallaby) exhibit, so the LO stayed out with her aunt. After lunch we go to feed the Lorikeets. Before that Big Bro and the husband go to the bat house, while Big Sis gets her carousal ride. She picks an Okapi and insists it’s her pony, petting and nuzzling it. Everybody loves the Lorikeet feeding experience. What is not to love! The follow up is petting the goats. The line to get on the Safari Tram is now an hour long. We collectively decide we don’t want to stand in line that long.  Instead we have another go at the carousal, see the flamingoes again, but a blue ceramic gecko at the gift shop, watch a cockatoo go berserk and go home.

 

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San Diego Love

November 2018

I have everything to give thanks for, but above all I am thankful for the love that I have been blessed with. From family and friends, from people I don’t meet anymore and those whom I’ve barely met. The universe has been kind and I am grateful.

We are in San Diego for Thanksgiving. It’s still November and we’ve already had our first snow storm, and California is coming out of one of their biggest forest fires in recent times so in addition to everything else, I am thankful for the sun on my face, on my back, legs and all over, and for the clear blue skies above. The flights to India and back had lulled us into a false zone of comfort. The flight to San Diego was a nightmare in comparison. The LO was sick and restless. The flight was full. We were bumped up to Economy Plus and it was so bad that I didn’t even know it. Additional security meant we barely made it inside our flight and then the flight was delayed due to technical issues. We had not packed any food for us because we thought we would eat at the airport. That didn’t happen. We took food only for the LO and she wouldn’t eat. We had to wait at the gate till everyone got out because the LO had only one sock on. She had thrown one somewhere in the plane. In short – DISASTER.

Once out we were met with food and love. The LO was still cranky. Big Sis L offered her a bunch of things to calm down, including her own inseparable ‘blanky’. The LO settled in for a nap. She woke up recovered and in time for the party. The sister had put together a mini mostly vegan feast. How much more can you love someone! Have you ever had a cocktail from a can? I met the cocktail answer to beer. It was so good. I am going to find it and stock up.

It’s been four days for love and laughter, tantrums and tears. The LO has been spoilt for attention. We need to teach her how to handle it. It’s odd, since she did so well in India. The newest addition to our family – Flash, slept through it all. I was really looking forward to meeting him, but he’s a tortoise and has gone into hibernation.

The Olympic Adventure

We visited the Olympic Peninsula in our trip to Pacific Northwest this past fall (Fall 2018). The Peninsula is huge, and has lovely lakes, waterfalls, mountains and beaches that can take up to a whole week to explore. We only had four days here, but we made the most of it. We visited the Quinault Area, the coastline (Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach), Hoh Rainforest region, Sol Duc Valley and Lake Crescent Area. The Olympic National Park is definitely one of the prettiest national parks I”ve been to (the other ones being Smokey Mountain National Park and Denali National Park) and would highly recommend making trip to this Peninsula if visiting the Northwest! Here I’m describing the first two stops on our visit there.

We entered the Olympic Peninsula at night from its southern end- from the Quinault Reservation, closer to the Washington-Oregon Border. Lake Quinault is the very first lake we saw the next morning and it was simply mesmerizing. Peaceful and pristine. Since we were in the Peninsula (and the Olympic Park) in the weekday, there were no crowds and we had the lake to ourselves. There are no motorized boating activities allowed in the lake, only kayaks and canoes were allowed in some areas of the lake. Bordering the lake is the Quinault Rainforest trail, a mile-long trail that takes you through the temperate rainforest and gives you a glimpse of how lush green the scenery can be. And of course, since it’s a temperate rainforest, there are waterfalls pretty much everywhere. It was fairly enjoyable hike. Behlul carried Abir in his hiker backpack, and of course Abir enjoyed the trees too, wanting to touch all of them! Near the Quinault Area, there are maybe 3-4 restaurants and cafes to choose from for breakfast/lunch/dinner, so not much of a choice here. We were aware of this and had carried plenty of snacks/quick foods/munchables when we left Portland and started driving northward. Of course, my almost 1- year old son Abir had his food bag at his disposal- his fruit and vegetable purees, cheese sticks, cottage cheese, baby cookies, teething wafers, water, etc. We weren’t sure where all we would find grocery stores, and a hungry baby is the last thing you want on a trip!

Our next destination in the Peninsula was on the Washington Coast-Ruby Beach. Ruby beach is one of the most visited beaches in the Peninsula, due to its rock structures, tidal pools and a lovely hike to get to the beach. Here we saw the mystical Northwest fog that everyone talks about- the entire beach was pretty much covered in fog! We could hardly see more than 5 feet ahead. We had to pull out our jackets, beanies, scarves, and mittens to get down to the beach. Being ex-Californians and now Texans, any temperature below 60F is cold for us and it was about 50F at the beach at the peak of summer! There were quite a few tidal pools that we saw, and due to it being low tide, the rock structures were accessible by foot. We spent about 2 hours on this beach. The first one hour was fun, it mainly consisted of taking pictures, exploring, being amazed at nature’s abundant beauty. The second hour- not so much. We ended up wetting our shoes in one of the streams/pools, Abir also lost his pair of shoes on this beach (he loved wiggling his legs and toes, and letting go of his shoes back then!) so we spent a good chunk of time walking around looking for his lost shoes. Luckily, we found them (soaking wet though), and then hiked back up to the car. By the time we got back, all of us were cold and hungry, so we headed to the town of Forks for a warm meal and our stop for the night.

 

– Amruta Garud

A walk in The High Line Park

The High Line Park is a  historic  elevated freight rail line that has been re-purposed as a public park.

The High Line 1

This  mile long  aerial  park runs above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.

The Highline NYC

Take a walk/jog/run, shop, eat, nap.Smell the flowers. Steal a kiss. Take in the city.

The Roadtrip from Phoenix to San Diego- Night 2

Day 2 – Horseshoe Bend

The drive to the Horseshoe bend is around 15 minutes from the Canyons and the Marina. Most attractions in Page do not have GPS addresses, and AT&T has terrible service around here so you better brush up on your skills at following an old fashioned map.

To get to the viewpoint from the parking lot at the Horseshoe bend, you have to walk around 3 quarters of a mile on sandy soil. It is not a hard walk, although it may seem slightly harder on the way back, and the  striated rocks form small natural stairs.

A panograph of the horseshoe bend

A panograph of the horseshoe bend

The horseshoe bend on the Colorado river  was as breathtaking as the pictures we had seen. We managed to time this perfectly. Getting there too early would have meant having to brave the late afternoon heat and you also need to beat the crowd to get good seats. We made the mistake of carrying our fixed lenses (50mm and 35mm). The scene is so wide, that it would be best to carry a wide angle lens or a lens that zooms out. Since the place is so dusty it is not advisable to change lenses there. The sun sets right behind the rock in the bend, creating a stunning visual. The picturesque sunset was followed by glamorous  flashes of lightening.

Pictures courtesy Ganesh Sankaran aka the husband

Pictures courtesy Ganesh Sankaran aka the husband

Word of caution, you need to put yourself out on the edge to get a view of the whole bend and there are no safety railings.

Night 2 – The night I fell off the bed

I fell off the bed that night and hurt my head very badly. I bumped my head so hard on the carpeted floor that I could feel it at the base of my neck. The skin of my forehead was so badly scraped that it needed a band-aid. The next day the Husband was subjected to some pretty amazed  and very curious looks when I told people who asked about it that I fell off the bed.

The Roadtrip from Phoenix to San Diego – Night 1

Night 1 – A Lightening Storm

When we reached the gate to board our flight from LA to Phoenix, the agent at the gate scanned our passes and then scanned them again to verify something. The husband and I looked at each other and braced ourselves for the worst. She smiled brightly and said, “I don’t know why, but  they have changed (our hearts sink, not another flight please!!) your seats. You now have seats __ and __, but the flight is not full, so you could try and switch once everyone is seated.” Almost as soon as she finished the sentence the husband responded, “We’ll take it!” At this point we really didn’t care what our seat assignment was, all we wanted were 2 seats on a flight to Phoenix.When we finally reached Phoenix, I was ready to fall on my knees and kiss the ground.

A lightening storm is an awe inspiring spectacle, but when you see it at night, from the window of an airplane it feels more like dark demon grinning manically at you. As we approached Phoenix,  we could see flashes of lightning  jarring the dark night sky. Luckily it didn’t affect landing. Even more luckily, my bag was waiting for me at baggage claim.

After spending a good 10 minutes deciding on a rental car, we picked a bright red Kia and drove out into the lightening storm. Nature had put on quite a show for arrival. Four hours later, we reached our digs for the night at 2 the next morning. Almost twelve hours later than we had planned!

Gulliver and the Lilliput

..because she thought no one was appreciating him enough.

The big man is Jackie Robinson, the first African-American professional baseball player for the Jersey City Giants, a former minor-league baseball franchise. In 1986  he debuted on the Brooklyn Dodgers team and became the first African-American major-league baseball player since the 1880s.  The statue stands tall right outside the JSq Path station.