Friday, May 16, 2014

Travel Time - Page 5

The following couple of days we chilled at home. All of us trying to get over whatever we were suffering. We saw a few movies at home, ate out quite a bit and the kids played and fought enough too. We had the gifts wrapped and on the 25th morning the kids woke up to see that Santa had indeed delivered. There were all sorts of goodies and the entire day passed on playing with them. That night, I did laundry and packed for yet another road adventure. We were still coughing, sniffling and feverish but the trip had to go on.

The following morning we ate a heavy breakfast and set out on the road once again. This time going south and east towards Vegas! The drive was uneventful, thankfully. The last time we did the same drive we were stuck in traffic for four hours en route. We stopped at a gas station to get Babs lunch and it took me 20 minutes to get out with McD's kids meal for her. I was exhausted. There are far a few exits on this route and each one was filled to the brim with hungry and weary travelers.

We drove through the dust bowl and then through the Nevadan dessert onto Death Valley. Everything looked beautiful to me. The barren mountains to the windmills dotting them along the way, the cacti and the thorny bushes, the brown soil that changed over to red and the hills that were now dotted with dark green shrubs everywhere. There were miles of nothingness that we drove through, at certain times, we were the lone travelers on the road. We kept an eye on the gas tank and our water resources.

G and I had our first fight on the trip, he would not let me drive. He wanted to control the driving. Every time he would let me drive, it was closer to dusk and I was not comfortable to do so. It was also about the time Babs started asking me to sit back with her so she could lie down to fall asleep. This time I would have none of it and threw a hissy fit. We yelled at each other and then calmed down, laughed at ourselves and exchanged seats. This was also the only time that we almost died, thanks to my skills.

Finally, the lights of the never sleeping city came up in the horizon. We were happy. We were going to get a break and also meet our BFF's there who had already checked in and also seen a David Copperfield show and were now waiting for us to have dinner with us.

We got there, excited, happy, screaming in joy. We had booked in out favorite hotel yet again, Trump. It has a kitchenette and we love the idea of cooking breakfast and heating up milk for Babs at our own will. The one time we stayed at Venetian, I had to go to the Starbucks on the casino floor to get the milk warmed, and I hated that.

Once we checked in, we realized that we were all too tired to step out. So we ordered in some slight refreshments and hit the bed early. Looked like either we had infected SC or he was already on the verge of falling sick.

We shut the blinds to turn away the brightness of the city from coming into our room on the 22nd floor. The view was spectacular but we had to get some rest.

Vegas Baby! Not that we are big gamblers but we like going there!

A Not-S0-Gambling ART

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Travel Time - Page 4

We woke up for a good breakfast in San Francisco and then took a nap. All of us. Apparently everyone in CA were also going through a bout of flu. It was a flu-filled family. Once awake and fresh we headed to a local coffee shop to have some scones and tea and listen to some good live music. The day came to a quick end as everyone wanted to rest before the trip.

We packed up, loaded tons of food again and warm clothes and headed towards the beach. We reached the place where we did the Seal Walk. It was a 3 mile walk on a sandy beach seeing the seals come in and do their thing. The timing was perfect, we saw elephant seals up close about 3 feet away from us. They were tired after their long journey and were resting. Some were violent but most were just tired. Some photos and we headed back to the car. It was a beautiful day. Perfect to do the outdoorsy stuff.

From the seals we headed to the Piece De Resistance. A youth hostel besides a light house. It was beautiful, picturesque. Often time we have wondered why we never bothered, but this time we were the lucky ones. We shared a three bedroom house with 10 other guests. Our room had three bunk beds for the six of us. We settled in, more photo ops by the setting sun, the light house, the ocean, more seals. It was perfect. After dinner at a local fare, which was uber gourmet, we headed back to the lighthouse to see the stars. There were billions of them in the sky that night. We could keep staring at them for hours on end. The cold got to us, so we got back in and relaxed in the bunk bed. Babs, me and G, shared one bed so the sleep was tight but we slept nevertheless.

We had to leave the wonderful hostel and go back to the city the following day. We were definitely not excited. We re-packed and took more photos by the succulent cliffs and stopped at a beach as the kids begged us. The water was cold but not cold enough to stop the kids from getting in. The waves played tricks and even a few adults got wet by accident. I stood above and took photos with my zoom lens. I was not about to get my shoes or clothes sandy and nasty.

It was sad saying bye to the water but the kids all shivering got cozy in the back of the car again and started playing games as we headed into San Fran. We had to do the view point at the Bath house and the Golden Gate Bridge that we never missed. So far, the past four times we had had perfect sighting and we did not want to jinx that. The Sutro bath house was glistening in the sun as we took more pictures, sorted some fights between the kids and headed towards the Golden Gate.

We walked the bridge, and then drove up the mountains. Perfect. We were all beat and tired. The kids wanted food and we wanted rest. The windows were down because two of us wanted to throw up, one of us was pregnant (not me). So back at home, we rested while the men went and picked up dinner. I remember vaguely seeing some movie before sleeping on the couch itself.

All of us were beat!

A Tired ART

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Travel Time - Page 3

Early in the morning, I was up. I got ready, packed up and sat down to write down all the happenings thus far while Babs and G were still snoring. As soon as they were up, we ate the last bits of the food we had packed for the trip and left to see the Arches. We were the first ones to arrive at the Park, the guard informed us. In Utah, we have been pleasantly surprised at how nice the Guards at the National Park were. They were very friendly and super nice to us and explained all the million questions we had.

Going up the mountains, there was snow everywhere. It was like being atop Mount Kailasa, I thought. So beautiful. We stopped by a lot of the arches and took photos but could not hike. We were lazy and we did not have much time in our hands. We did the roundabout drive, marveled at the beauty and the dangers we had to drive through to see some of these natural wonders. There was ice on the road, snow on the steep cliff like sides but we made it back to the road in one piece. As we were heading out hoards of tourists were climbing up the path we had seen. I was happy that we had finished seeing the beauty in privacy.

From there on, we knew we had to be in San Francisco by the following morning. We started our drive coming down the Rockies. The beauty of these roads cannot be explained in words, they need to be experienced. We drove besides brooks, tracks, cliffs and nothingness. There was thick dense fog and all of a sudden bright sun light. We were up in the mountains and then in flat ground. There was snow everywhere and not a drop of precipitation anywhere. We could not get enough of it.

At lunch time Babs suggested Desi food. G obliged and we hunted down one in Salt Lake City. It was good to eat fresh, hot Desi food. After hogging down the buffet, Babs and I relaxed in the back seat while G drove. The road was a straight black line with miles and miles of white pure snow on either side. It was difficult to stay awake. I got up and sat next to G talking to him and keeping him company. As we got closer to Nevada the snow seemed to disappear giving way to the open barrenness of the Nevadas. Every time we climbed up the hills, there would be snow and on the descent we would drive through normalcy. Prius was rocking it.

After all, the Prius was on a pilgrimage. That is what G and I called it at least. Prius was going to see other awesome Prius'es at San Fran - the home or Prius and tree huggers. Eventually about two hours to midnight we were in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was big, scary and shone white in the moonlight glistening with snow everywhere. I had been warned of her and I prayed to let us pass through peacefully. And so we did. Not a single stop or scare, we were into the Valley. An hour past mid night we were drinking wine and sitting with family who mentioned to us more than once, "You guys did it! But you are nuts!"

I agree, "we are nuts" to have driven so far with the most happy little girl ever. We fought for the camera usage and that is all. She ate snacks from the snack pack on her own, and napped on her own. She was allowed one hour of TV time every day after dark and before sleep and she used it wisely. She drew sketches and wrote her diary sitting in the back. She did not throw any tantrums and reinforced to us that she was the awesomest little traveler ever!


Friday, May 02, 2014

Travel Time - Page 2

We were on the road sniffling, sneezing, coughing and doing the "ayoo," "amma." all the way out of Texas seeing the tumbleweeds cross our path often times. Babs took a nice long nap and was ready to see the Texas country side disappearing into the early winter darkness. We stopped for dinner and Babs got her hour long movie time which had the car illuminated as we drove through pitch darkness otherwise into New Mexico (State #2).

On our way family from CA called and suggested that the weather going north seemed fine and that we should take a break at Farmington, NM for the night. It was another 500 miles away and we drove through the night to Albuquerque to Santa Fe and then through some real wilderness into Farmington. En route we saw snow and ice accumulation but nothing else. We were not sure if we were on plains or on mountains.

We took a break at Farmington around 3.30am local time which was 4.30am Dallas time. We had been driving for some 15 plus hours. Sanjana was in deep sleep when we checked into a hotel and hit the sack hard.

The next morning we were up early, by 7.00am and we were out after breakfast and cleaning up at 9.00am. On the road the family suggested we do Monument Valley which was not a long drive and then settle for the night at Moab. We thought it was a fine decision, from having no plans, we actually had one now. So we drove through some of the most beautiful landscape ever seen. It was red, brown, little trees, actually no tress just shrubs and bare and yet beautiful. I told myself that this is probably how moon or mars would look. the rock formations were amazing, Babs and I played the "what does this rock look like to you" game. It was fun and thrilling.

We realized that on the small state route we were driving, if you saw a Cop car drive up on your side of the road, it meant pull over out of the road as a vehicle carrying a big pipe wider than one lane was coming up and it will not stop for you. We learnt it after the first cop gave us the glaring for a life time.

We stopped to have lunch at a small town. We still had the home packed lunch, so G and I ate that while Babs enjoyed some fast food and then we headed into Utah (State #3).

We got to the entrance of Monument Valley and took the wrong turn and drove through some more wilderness. We realized that we were not on track when the road abruptly came to an end. So we lugged ourselves back to the right place and words cannot describe the beauty that only nature can create. We decided to brave the drive on the untamed terrain in our cute little Prius who was awesome. She can do everything a normal car can do. After some photo shoot we headed back out and started our journey towards Moab.

Family in CA booked our stay for the night there and we settled into the hotel room before heading out for dinner. We wanted to eat some fresh dinner, and what more to remind us of home than a Mexican restaurant. Of course Mexican in Utah tasted different and we missed the Tex-Mex. Babs and G shared a bed because Amma dead was too tired and slept by 8.30pm while daddy-daughter saw some TV before calling it a night.

We were scheduled to see The Arches National Park the next morning.

A Weary Amma!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Travel Time - Page 1

This post is written in the hopes of retaining some memories from all the fun things we did in December. I will post in several chapters or episodes depending on time and life.

We had a plan. A Plan to take a vacation but we were not sure what to do. We had 15 days in hand and all the tickets to fly out of the country were out of our budget. We still wanted to hang out as a family and do something fun that was not at home. We decided that we will put our Prius V to test and take her on a long drive. Where to? We had no idea. We wondered if we should go to Yellowstone, "nah, too cold and parts of it might be shut." Then where? We wondered for about 15 more minutes. "California, of course," G and I suggested at the same time.

So we sat and stared at the map of United States for a few days, spoke with a few colleagues and friends. Many of them warned us against it, "the weather, the cold, the longness of the drive," they all said. G and I said, "We have drive from NJ to Wisconsin, from NJ to Dallas many times, and most of them in horrible weather. We are ready for it." Actually, we just hoped we were. I read through trip advisor, posted questions, got responses that also warned us against it. One of them suggested, take blankets and food for at least 3 days. We did all that, at least I did, G just smirked, "we will be fine," he reassured me. I questioned him, "how do we know? We have never been that-a-ways. Plus we have a little girl with us. If not for us, at least for her," I suggested as I dragged him to one Wal-Mart trip after another.

We thought we were all ready as we got closer to our trip, I was trying to wrap up work before the trip and so was G. Babs was counting the number of days she would be off while her classmates attended school before the December Holidays. We still had not decided the route to take and hence had no hotel bookings sorted out. We were going to wing it. The plan was to get to California, "how?" We had no idea. But that was the great idea and we were going to go through with it.

While doing the planning, a couple friend of ours decided to join us on our way back. So we sorted out the tentative dates, which eventually became final dates as we had others involved in the trip. Now the upward journey to California involved only the three of us but on our way back we were picking our friends up at Vegas. Now we had concrete dates, hotel bookings, and other fun things planned for that leg of the journey. In CA, G's cousin also made some bookings at a youth hostel next to a light house. The whole thing sounded romantic and we were getting excited by the minute.

The days neared and it was the Sunday before the Wednesday we were to leave on our vacation. Girish is coughing and complaining of mild body ache. On Monday he is bedridden with a high fever and I am starting signs of sore throat. On Tuesday he is on Tami Flu and I also get one prescribed because I can also feel the onset of a fever. That night the three of us went to bed at 7pm and woke up on Wednesday at 9.30am. The Tami-flu, the need and want of a vacation, and the Advil, cough syrups and other concoctions got us out of the bed. We were still thinking if it was a wise decision to drive with full blown flu for the two of us. And if you knew us you would know we are nuts, and so we decided to pack and leave. Since we were sick the last three days, not a thing had been thrown into the suitcase.

The next few hours, we answered work emails, tied up the few things that needed to be taken care, and started to pack. Once packed we ate some leftovers and just as we loaded the car fully G suggested that we pack some home made food for dinner. In swift South Indian movements I quickly made Curd rice and Puliyogare while G made potatoes. We were ready for the

To the Journey that took us through 8 American states where many a memories were made.

Traveling ART