31 May 2007

My Big RV Trip!

I'm back from an activity-packed, yet relaxed holiday in California. We hired an RV and stayed in it for the entire trip, except for a two-day stay in a beach resort in Pismo. The entire trip was an amazing experience, which will stay with me for a long time to come.

The RV we had was a comfortable vehicle with a bedroom, a shower stall, a toilet and a nice little kitchenette complete with a tiny refrigerator! Yes, we cooked some basic meals in the RV.

It had plenty of storage area that was just right for all the baggage including heavy suitcases of our family visiting from India. We were six people (4 adults and 2 children) and it was perfect for us. The seats, which converted to beds at night, were very comfortable and gave us a good night’s sleep and prepared us for the next day packed with swimming, hiking, walking, jogging and any other outdoor activity we fancied doing.

This was our campsite during our stay in Yosemite; behind the RV is the gently flowing Merced River. We spent our evenings building a bonfire, toasting marshmallows and recalling our day's adventures.

We went to many beautiful places with our faithful RV and had a blast on our vacation, the details of which will follow, post by post!

29 May 2007

Yosemite (California Master Trip)


Reached Oakland from SFO and met up with the C'kars at the RV office.
We loaded our stuff on the RV, stocked up on food from the local Wal-Mart and set off. It was around one in the afternoon. The rest of the day was spent in driving to our campground in Wawona. It was dark by the time we reached our campground and we just had time to finish dinner and call it a day!


Campsite to Bridal Veil falls
Horse Tail falls
5 mile hike around Mirror Lake
Pizza lunch
Enjoyed a nice dinner by the riverside


Set off after breakfast
Bus to Mariposa grove
Long walk to the end look out point and walked back to wawona village where our RV was parked. 13 miles! Lunch was canned tuna salad, boiled egg, bread and cheese.
Bonfire in our campsite, played a round of bluff to please the kids and enjoyed nice Indian dinner!


Set off after breakfast and drove to the start point of Cathedral Lake near the Tuolomne meadows.
Found lot of snow on the walking trail and in places knee deep. Lost our way for a brief period.
Had to abandon the hike after completing 3/4th of the distance because of cold feet and general tiredness of the young hikers in the group.
5.5 miles in the snow and great views made it our favorite hike in Yosemite!
Drove back and parked in a place next to beautiful pool and enjoyed maggie for lunch.
Once back in the campground for the night we enjoyed another bonfire and a nice Indian dinner.

It was our last day at the unbelievably beautiful Yosemite and we were looking forward to the next leg of our journey, a beach holiday!

San Francisco ( California Master Trip)

Two days (12-13 May 2007)
Day 1

Twin Peaks
Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate park
Ocean beach/ North sea
Land's end and Holocaust memorial
Lombard street
Pacific heights
Union street
Vedanta temple

Day 2

Golden Gate Bridge
Presidio National Park
Pier 39
Ferry Market
Lunch with Deepti at Osha Thai restaurant

Details to follow!

11 May 2007

Flower Fest - R for Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana)

Round-lobed Hepatica, from the Buttercup family, is a small plant with small white, pink or lavender flowers. The leaves are three lobed and are shaped like the liver, hence the common names Liverwort and Liverleaf. The flowers bloom in early spring and are supported by hairy stems.

Hepatica was once used to treat liver diseases based on the doctrine of signatures.
No points for guessing how I came across these beauties!

This is my entry for R at Flower Fest - The A - Z of Flowers

Tags: Flower Fest

I'm going to live in an RV (Motorhome, Camper, Caravan) for a few days. See you when I come back!

10 May 2007


I found these two American Goldfinches in the tree outside the house. They were there for a long time preening and taking a break.

my photo

my photo

8 May 2007

Nature Walk

It rained most of the weekend and took away any chance of us enjoying our usual Saturday morning hike. Instead of being cooped up in the house, we decided to throw on our raincoats and head out for an easy urban walk. We decided to walk in a nearby trail, which runs alongside a creek, not very far from our house. By the time we reached the place, the rain had reduced to a slight drizzle, the sun had decided to peek out and check on things.

The rain had given the trees and plants a fresh washed look and everything was such a vibrant green. We soon realized that the area around the trail was teeming with life. Birds chirped in the trees, squirrels were bustling around looking for food, turtles were out on the logs, colorful bugs were everywhere and there were plenty of wildflowers.

Needless to say, my husband and I went crazy with the camera! The pictures here are all taken by me with my camera.

A bug on a buttercup

Mallard in the swamp looking for fish? worms?

Another bug on grass

A Honeysuckle bloom and bud

Carolina Cranesbill


Dandelion with insects

Wild Strawberry

Wild Roses

Not sure about the name of this bird
Update: after checking my field guide, I've come to the conclusion that this is a Wren. Correct me if I'm wrong.

6 May 2007

Methi Saplings

Enjoying the light drizzle.

5 May 2007

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains

I love the mountains and like going for long walks. I like to look at the trees, flowers, grass, worms, birds and various other things when I'm hiking. In other words, I like to hike with an eye on nature! I find it rejuvenating and extremely satisfying.

I spent last weekend in the Smoky Mountains and enjoyed an eight mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. Though we had checked the forecast for weather conditions, the cold air of the mountains took me by surprise. Luckily, we were carrying jackets for protection against the rain and it came in handy.

It was a cloudy day and the promise of rain hung heavily in the air. Just as the name suggests, the trails and the mountain ridges looked like they were covered in smoke.

Although the weather was not ideal, we saw many other hikers on the trails. We also met many thru-hikers who were doing the entire Appalachian Trail, which extends from Georgia in the south to Maine in the north, covering a total distance of over 2000 miles! One group had started in Georgia a month back and was hoping to complete the AT sometime in October. I now wish I had thought of taking a picture of their backpacks. Just looking at their monstrous size scared me, let alone the thought of carrying such a thing.

We were rewarded with gorgeous views (even when covered in fog) of the mountain ridges at every turn. Here is a picture taken when the sun came up just for a short spell

The area is home to many wildflowers, and this being early spring I got to see some of the famous Smoky Mountain wildflowers.

There were colonies of Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) blooming everywhere and they made such a pretty sight. The graceful flowers droop toward the ground, and the petals at the corners turn up slightly revealing the center.

The Carolina Spring Beauty (Claytonia caroliniana) was in bloom, carpeting the mountainside. The delicate flowers come in shades of white or pink with pink stripes and flowers from March to May.

I also found these Fringed Phacelia (Phacelia fimbriata). A close look at the flowers and you know why they get the name. They were blooming profusely and looked liked snow on the ground.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I found plenty of Bluets (Houstonia caerulea) Here is another picture,

Finally, just as we were completing the hike, I came across this rain-washed Star Chickweed (stellaria pubera)

I'm barely back and I'm already planning to go there again and explore a different trail, maybe see some picturesque waterfalls of the Smokies and of course see more wildflowers!

3 May 2007

Flower Fest - Q for Quaker Ladies

Quaker Ladies are wildflowers better known by their other common name, Bluets. Houstonia caerulea is the scientific name. The tiny plant appears in clusters and usually grows in woodlands, fields and on roadsides. The flowers are tiny, less than half an inch wide, four-petaled with a yellow center, and are pale blue. They are easily noticeable because they bloom profusely close to each other, making an attractive carpet on the ground. I found these blooming everywhere in the Smoky Mountains last weekend.

This is my entry for the letter Q currently on at Flower Fest - The A - Z of Flowers

Tags: Flower Fest

2 May 2007

Charlie's Bunion in the Smokies

We made a trip to the GSMNP last weekend, almost a year after our first ever trip there. This time too we stayed in a pretty little cabin, in rural TN, run by the same family from whom we rented last year. The cabin was set in the middle of tall trees with a tiny brook running on the side of the house and some pretty wildflowers growing in the yard.

We reached there late on Friday and spent the night in the cabin. We set off for the trek on Saturday with S who had driven down from Atlanta. The hike was of moderate intensity and was part of the Appalachian trail. We saw many through hikers carrying heavy packs and I was kicked to see they looked just like how Bill Bryson describes them in his book! We also got to see a shelter for the hikers and it was not very different from the one we spent the night in Rudranath!

We were not fully prepared for the cold of the mountains and it hit us as a surprise especially after the really hot days we had been experiencing in C'lotte. We had carried rain jackets in preparation for the rainy forecast, which thankfully gave us some protection from the cold. It did rain but then again we got lucky as it was very light rain and was not something that bothered us much. On the other hand, because of the cloudy and rainy weather conditions, we missed out on the great views of the mountains for which Charlie's Bunion is famous for. A thick fog had descended everywhere, visibility was poor, and true to their name the mountains looked like they were covered in smoke!

As it was early spring, we got to see some of the famous Smokey Mountain Wildflowers on the sides of the trail and the tiny raindrops which had settled on the flowers gave us some good photo opportunities.

We covered the distance of 8 miles in four hours and twenty minutes. After that we returned to the cabin and spent a relaxed evening slowly digesting our heavy southern dinner!