30 Jun 2007

South Carolina Peaches

fresh from the orchards of "tastier peach state."

29 Jun 2007

Second Longest Escalator in the World

This is the longest escalator in the Western Hemisphere located at Wheaton Station, Washington DC. It took us two minutes and 45 seconds to reach the top from the bottom! We saw some people sit on the steps and ride up, while others walked to reach the top faster.

28 Jun 2007

Stellar's Jay

See, here's the thing about birds. They simply love me. I have to just look at them and they join me for lunch!

21 Jun 2007

Pismo Beach / Napa Valley (California Master Trip)

May 18th
Reached Pismo from Yosemite Campsite
Swam in the pool like I had temporarily taken leave of my senses
Enjoyed a relaxing two mile walk to Thai Thalay
After a thai dinner, walked back to hotel

May 19th
Next day started with a 3 mile jog on the Pismo roads
Then we hit the outlet mall hard!
Jogged again in the hotel gym for 40 minutes
Walked to pier and enjoyed dinner in Italian Pastabella

May 20th
Long but beautiful 9 hour drive from Pismo to Napa on Highway No-1
Stunning views of the pacific ocean from vista point
Lunch at spirit garden
Ended journey at KOA campsite in Petaluma
Small walk around the campground enjoying the flowers and mulberry trees
Built a campfire and had dinner

May 21th
Started the day with a swim in the big KOA pool.
Visited two farms of Napa/Sonoma - bought peaches in the first, strawberries in the second.
Ate too many strawberries (one month's supply of vitamin c in one sitting!)
Vineyard visit
Lunch at Market Cafe
Visited Old Faithful Geyser
Petrified Forest
Drove back to Oakland
Spent time picking pennys from the parking lot
Cleaned the RV so that it was ready to return the next day on the way to the airport
All American food at Denny's Diner for dinner
Packed up and called it a day and a great holiday!

20 Jun 2007

Sulphur Spring

My previous post reminded me of a different hot spring. This is an old picture of a sulphur spring near Joshimath in India. The soft bubbling mud, the blue steam and the gushing hot water was an astonishing sight. It also smelt horrible like rotten eggs!

According to the locals, one can boil an egg here in under a minute. The water cools down a bit as it comes down the hillside and is channeled into two pools, one for men and the other for women, to bathe in. The water is said to have medicinal properties. The place was deserted and we had the pools to ourselves. The warm water felt good in the cold weather and did not smell so strongly. I'm glad I got over my initial reservation, as it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

19 Jun 2007

Old Faithful Geyser

Old Faithful Geyser of California, located in the scenic Napa Valley, is said to be one of the only three old faithfuls in the world. The geysers get such a name because they erupt at regular intervals and have a predictable pattern. Scalding water (around 350 degrees F) shoots high in the sky, in this natural occurrence. This one put out a spectacular show every 15-20 minutes while we were there.
The mountain in the background is Mt. St. Helena.

15 Jun 2007

A Squirrel...

...who thinks he is a Lion!
Photographed somewhere on the Pacific Coast Highway.

14 Jun 2007

Flower Fest - T for Trifolium repens and Trifolium pratense

My entry for this round of FF is from the clover family. I have white and purple/pink clovers.
Clovers are native to Europe and introduced in the US as a pasture crop. They can be found throughout the US in warm weather. Clovers have three oval leaflets with V shaped markings on them. The ball-shaped flower head is made up with many small flowers, and is very attractive to bees. Some flowers are edible and used in salads and to make tea.

I found both these on the pavement outside my house.

The white clovers are called Trifolium repens. The flowers look like a little white ball and once a bee or other pollinating insect has visited it, the petals droop and reveal the red center indicating that it does not have to be visited again.

The pink or the purple clover is Trifolium pratense and is considered nutritious food for livestock. The flowers and leaves are slightly bigger than the white clover.

This is my entry for the letter T at Flower Fest
Flower Fest - the A-Z of Flowers

9 Jun 2007

Yosemite Wildflower Photo Journal

Although Yosemite does not really get carpeted with flowers, I got to see plenty scattered around, which accentuated the beauty of the meadows and riverbanks. I came back with a collection of flowers that I had never seen before. I took these pictures for my records and learning, so I'm parking them here even if some are not post worthy!

California Indian Pink (Silene laciniata)

Wild Blue Flag

Snow Plant

Mountain Misery

Blue Dicks

Indian Paintbrush

Spring Beauty


Yellow Violet

Woodland Star

Yellow Salsify

Pride of the Mountain

Mountain Pretty Face


Fairy Lantern


California Poppy

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Bird's Eye

Wild Bleeding Heart

Blue Larkspur

Tuolumne Meadows and a hike in the snow.

Tuolumne Meadows is the largest sub-alpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Tuolumne River meanders here, rugged mountain peaks and domes surround it. To reach the meadow from the Yosemite Valley, one has to drive on the Tioga Road. The road is a scenic drive with fabulous views of meadows, lakes and granite cliffs. It is open for vehicular traffic in early spring, and closes sometime in fall when snowfall gets heavy. In May, there were still huge piles of snow on roadsides and on the mountains.

This picture neither looks like the photo in my travel book nor how I imagined the meadow to be. The book showed a green meadow with beautiful sub-alpine flowers and I was excited to see it in person. This view is what I got. But then again, this is not the season for the flowers to start blooming.

Beautiful Tenaya Lake, located at an altitude of 8141 ft.

Hiking in the snow:

We had come to see the meadow and to do a hike around the area. We decided to hike to the Cathedral Lake and set off enthusiastically. What we were not prepared for was the amount of snow on the way, in places knee deep. After 4 hours of ploughing through the snow with wet shoes and cold feet, one could tell our enthusiasm was beginning to wane. After a brief meeting, we all decided to turn back. Though we did not get to see the lake, the distance we hiked in the snow was an enjoyable experience. We even came sliding down a few slopes, when our legs needed a rest, which was pure fun! One of the most enjoyable hikes I have done in the US.

The snow was not too much when we started

Views along the way

Then the snow got too much to walk on. It was great fun to figure out where to put the next step and see how deep it would sink in. In some places the snow came up to our knees!

After we abandoned the trek, we spent some time enjoying a steaming bowl of maggi and thawing out our poor toes in the warm comfort of our RV. Parked here it looks like an ad for an RV company!

5 Jun 2007

Mariposa Grove

The beautiful grove with the Giant Sequoia Redwoods deserves a post of its own. We spent over 5 hours walking 14 miles, exploring the thousands of years old trees. A walk among them is truly an awesome experience. Some snapshots of the grove:

Mariposa Grove of the Giant Sequoias

I found this interesting sign near the entrance to the grove
The Grizzly Giant, the biggest tree in the grove, and a major crowd puller

A Chipmunk
Tannin rich bark of a Sequoia
Giant tree= giant cone. The tree grows from seeds.
A Mule Deer peeks out at us as we pass him

The Fallen Tunnel Tree
The Bachelor and Three Graces

A Woodpecker, pecking away, unmindful of the people trying to photograph him

The Faithful Couple Tree

Bird's eye view of Wawona from Wawona Vista Point