Yellowstone National Park!

Yellowstone was just a wonder altogether. Just spending a few days there isn’t enough. You have to breathe in the life, the air, feel the breeze through the trees and watch out for wildlife that would make you feel like you’ve stepped into another place. Of course, being the beginning of summer, there were tourists, but things were just about opening up and we were lucky. We camped at Canyon Campground and Lady Luck favored us because it had just opened up for the season and already spots were filling up fast.

We managed to book a lovely spot for two days and this campground was close to some really great locations. There was the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – we did see the falls which was spectacular in itself and the raw beauty that exists there will definitely take your breath away. From seeing nature at her finest to being part of something that seems primitively simple.

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You should bring some good hiking shoes if you plan to hit some of the trails there – it is worth spending a lot of time there because there is so much to see. You know, as we traveled within Yellowstone – we saw billowing clouds of smoke rising from the Earth and pools of water in brightly hued colors that seemed as if they fell off a peacock’s feather.

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Mammoth Hot Springs was something else. The white calcium carbonate merged well with shades of grey and flame, to give it an almost smoky feel that complimented the rising steam. Thousands of years have passed and the accumulation of the sediments and minerals has given birth to a beautiful landscape. One that looks raw, still smoldering with inner rage, flowing out in bubbling pots of water and mud.

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For the enthusiastic traveler – there’s lots to do. There’s the Grand Prismatic Springs which was one of the highlights of the trip – even more so than The Old Faithful, the legendary geyser that erupts predictably every 91 minutes, give or take a few. Its eruptions shoot gallons of water into the air, shooting up to 180 feet. It is a sight to see and lasts a few minutes, enough so that the eager traveler can capture a few shots for posterity’s sake.

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For the first time traveler, Yellowstone is the oldest National Park in the US and spans over 8,983 square kilometers. That means there are ample forests and wilderness to get lost in. But the forests and landscape is alive and teeming with wildlife. See the bears frolic near the shade of trees or see the young cubs try their paws at climbing the trees. The Yellowstone Caldera is the world’s largest and is considered to be a supervolcano. It’s no wonder that we see so many geysers and bubbling hot springs. If this were ever to erupt, the world would as we know it would drastically change. However, chances of that catastrophic event occurring is really slim, so there’s no need to worry.

The Upper Geyser Basin has the record for having the most number of geysers in the world and most of them are located within a square mile. These are sights that I had never seen before. Pools shimmering in bright hues of azure blue, aquamarine, emerald and even bright yellow all combined to showcase a display that would rival the world’s brightest emeralds and precious stones.

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So, going back to the Grand Prismatic Springs, the water body and the land around it was so colorful, it seemed that God had done a bit of Photoshop work to it. The steam rising from the ground did obscure the beauty of the landscape and for a while we were bummed. But I had read up somewhere about a short hike that would offer an unparalleled view of the Springs and that’s exactly what we did. We drove a little further and parked near Fairy Falls Trail and walked up the hills. This is where we saw this view. Beautiful isn’t it?

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There are many funny names, and some ever so obvious like Mud Volcano – a crater that sputters boiling mud ever now and then. There is also a spot named Dragon’s Mouth Spring which can conjure amazing images to mind, but it doesn’t resemble a dragon’s mouth by any means. It does make the place seem more fascinating though.

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Yellowstone Lake is the continent’s highest lake, located at 7,737 feet. Fishing enthusiasts can feast on the abundant lake life. Take in the expanse of water, fringed by snow capped mountains in the distance. The Yellowstone River flows from the Lake and flows down the Canyon, which somewhat resembles the famous Grand Canyon. It is worth a visit and perhaps a small hike if you have the time to see the Lower and Upper Canyon Falls.

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Although we came here first week of June, you could try visiting the Park even in Autumn, although late Spring is the best time to view the new born animals. We were fortunate enough to see a fox and her young cubs – they were soooo adorable ! The nice thing is that nobody seems to be in a rush – after all, you come here to get a glimpse of nature – so if you spot something out of the ordinary, nobody will honk at you. We also saw many bears and cubs and at one point the rangers had stopped traffic so that the bears could be on their own, without disturbance from humans. They were soon sent on their way by the rangers and by that time we had taken our share of pictures.

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There are bison scattered throughout the park. They are big, majestic and mighty creatures, but don’t think them to be docile like cows. More people have been injured by bison rather than bears in the park, yet people will exert more caution with bears. Funny. If you see their size, you’ll know they are not to be trifled with. We were lucky with the weather and had the sun shining down, although we did hear the weather is notoriously fickle. I would love to go back there again. Beautiful, wild, majestic Yellowstone National Park.

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The Badlands and the Presidents

The next day we headed to the Badlands. Now doesn’t that sound like something out of The Lion King? The drive was long but pleasant, not much to write home about apart from the horrible traffic jams leading out of Chicago area. But I guess that’s nothing new. Cities will be cities after all.

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From the name I was under the impression that the Badlands National Park in South Dakota would be uninviting and arid, but you know, it had a lot of life. We saw big horn Sheep scampering over the sandy hills. The mama sheep effortlessly went along her way with her young ones running along with not a care in the world. You’d think they were running on flat ground instead of steep cliff-like edges the way they were running around with each other.

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The weather gods had decided to shower us with their blessings and the roads were wet. The Badlands are not great when it rains because it is mostly sedimentary rock made of sand, silt and clay. Add water to this rocky concoction and you’ve got a messy slushpool on your hands. Fortunately there were board walks on many of the sites because this place is a treasure trove for fossils. You’ll find information on little horses that lived here long time ago, along with other creatures like sabre tooth like carnivores. I forget the exact types of fossils found (you should just check it up in the Badlands website) but it is very fascinating. I love knowing what existed before and how they were so different from the species or creatures found today. Evolution is a fascinating topic.

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The colors on the geological formations like the hills and cliffs are wonderful. There are striations of color in tones of rust, grey and everything earthy in between. Even though the sky was gloomy and the world was wet, it was a pretty sight. The wind blew sharp and cold and one spot reminded me of Bryce Canyon in Utah. The colors of the formations in Bryce are more alive and red, but it seemed like a cousin of the geological formations – at least to me.

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We didn’t stay too long and pushed on to Mount Rushmore. We had an appointment with the Presidents which we couldn’t miss. After all, they were waiting for us. As we drove closer, we could make out the increase in the number of cars. Man can truly work wonders with the materials he’s given as well as the imagination. There is no limit to creativity, and whatever the reasons- whether noble or selfish, this has become a monument of national importance. Forever immortalized in stone, Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt all gave us a regal look.

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You know, size can be misleading. It is much further up and we could only take pictures from the viewing point, but the nose on George Washington is 21 feet long! Talk about having a big nose. 🙂

 

However there is only so much that you can stare at stone, even though it is wonderfully carved, especially when busloads of tourists tend to stand right in front of you, oblivious to your presence. We decided to head to Yellowstone which is a different story altogether.

 

Onwards towards BC through the US – Chicago & the first day

Life has a way of coming round full circle. What you sow is what you reap. Completely unrelated to this post btw – just a thought to think about. It’s been AGES since I last posted anything on my blog – and today is as good a day as any.

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Well, it was Spring/ Summer and we decided that BC was our destination. Leaving Ontario behind, we thought we’d take a nice drive across the country, taking in the sights as we drove through various US states. It was an early start and we crossed over at Detroit. We’ve always had great border crossings (touchwood) and this was no exception. The lady was sweet, and after exchanging a few jokes, we set off. There were a lot of places that I had bookmarked for our trip – Like Painted Rocks National Lakeshore that looked breathtaking, as well as Holland Michigan. Unfortunately, a long drive ahead means that we had to omit some of these places from our travels.

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Yes, it does suck, but time and tide wait for no man (or woman) and we had to make do with our revised itinerary. We drove to Chicago where we went to see the Bean or ‘The Cloud Gate’ as someone corrected me. 🙂 It’s so shiny, and quite remarkable – I couldn’t see any joints or connections in the smooth shiny surface.

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The city itself seemed alive, with cyclists, tourists, people all thronging the water front. The weather was great – blue skies that seem to bless the city making the green trees look greener, and giving an added step to my walk. The city is a joy for people who love architecture – with so many styles and designs to really look and appreciate. Parking seems to be a slight problem though, but I can understand why this city is loved by so many.

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Oh, I have to mention the traffic though – It’s a killer! If you fancy yourself to get stuck in long slow moving queues that snake their way into the heart of the city – then this is your place. That’s one thing I definitely DO NOT miss! 🙂 Give me nature and queues of deer any given day 🙂

We stopped only for an hour or so to discover within our short time frame the main attractions of the city. We pushed off to Starved Rock State Park, I think only to realise when we reached in the dead of night that the barriers were down, and no new campers could enter. That was a big bummer. We were tired , so we just went to the nearest KOA and prepared ourselves for the night. Not too much of a big deal – but it was something different.

 

Anyways, day 1 over. 🙂

Ice Tsunami’s, Beavers and beautiful days

I’m not sure if you’ve come across the term ‘Ice Tsunami’, but rest assured, the effect is as spectacular as it comes. Occurring in only a few parts around the world, it creates an amazing effect when the winds cause the ice on the frozen lakes to pile up. This piled up ice and snow slowly moves forward like a glacier, stopping for nothing in its way. It’s been known to crash through houses, while the owners slowly watch helplessly. Water is a destructive element, a good slave but a bad master. Once the power is unleashed, there is very little anything can be done to check it.

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You can check out a video of an ice tsunami in action here.

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It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and we decided to make the most of it. We headed to Point Pelee which is the southernmost point of Mainland Canada. The skies were sunny and blue but there was a chill in the air. The temperature was probably minus, I didn’t really check, but just having blue skies to look at made the day feel a lot warmer. Point Pelee juts out into Lake Erie, and is mostly marshland. If you are a bird watcher, you’ll be in bird paradise. You’ll pass by beaver dams in the marshland whilst you walk around.

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Beavers are so important in maintaining the Eco system. Known as a ‘keystone’ species, they artificially create wetlands which are used by other species and keep the watery systems healthy and in good repair. They use their big front teeth to chew down trees to build their dams. (Remember the song, ‘All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth?’. I think they got their Christmas wish, and the amazing thing is that their teeth NEVER stop growing! This is to make up for the amount of gnawing, nibbling and chomping down wood.

 

So I was telling you about ice tsunamis. I really do digress, don’t I? Well, we went to the beach, and there were huge chunks of ice that had piled up. I didn’t know the term for this then, but it was still spectacular to see. The entire coastline was lined up with piles and piles of ice, and the ice blocks weren’t teeny tiny ones. Some were as thick as 1 foot, and wider than 10 feet.

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They were rock hard and reflected colours of beautiful blue. A mini hill of ice was even created. You could hear the ‘crunch-crunch’ of ice as we walked on frozen thin sheets that cracked beneath the weight of out exploring feet.

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Oh, Beautiful Canada.

Niagara – A Waterfall WonderWall

Niagara. In my eyes, one of the Natural wonders of the world. Water cascading down with so much force, that the land erodes a foot a year! The mist from the water rises up into the air,at times obscuring vision. The hordes of people that visit the Falls is no joke, but being there at a not so touristy time will be a boon for you. Then you’ll actually get a picture of the falls instead of just people. 🙂

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Dom and me 🙂

Anyways, not a far drive from Toronto, we were visiting friends and generally having some time out. We decided to make it a short weekend getaway, especially when our friends had comp off at one of the casino’s there.

From the parking lot and to the drive there, we could see the Niagara at night with it’s multicoloured lights illuminating the Falls. But we didn’t stop to see it properly. Hungry, we headed off to eat.

Of course, being in casino had it’s temptations, and we tried our luck at the tables. I like to think I err on the side of caution, and play for an amount I am willing to lose and no more. So, I played BlackJack and made a $100. Yay.

Nearly lost my passport too. It fell out of my jacket pocket while we were wandering around the casino, and I didn’t realise my loss til the next day. Fortunately, we made a few calls, and knowing we didn’t really travel to many places, the search was narrowed down to just 2 places. The security had the passport and all we had to do was to go and collect it, much to my relief.

So we drove to the Falls, and just relaxed there for a while. There is a lot of info about it, which I didn’t know earlier. Firstly, the shape of the Horseshoe Falls has dramatically changed over the centuries and the falls itself have been eroding the rock beneath and have been retracting. In the past 10900 years, the falls have retracted 10.9 kms!

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The Rainbow Bridge

I’ve luckily seen the Falls from both the American side and the Canadian side. And I have to say, the view from the Canadian side is waaaaaaaaaaay better. Facts. The Horseshoe falls which mostly lies in Canadian territory is the largest of the 3 waterfalls that makes up the Niagara falls. Measures have been taken to prevent the Niagara from freezing up in winter as it provides hydroelectric power to cities on both sides of the border.

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Misty Misty Falls

There is a permanent misty cloud that hangs in the air over the Falls due to the pressure and amount of water that flows over. Can you imagine that 85,000 cubic feet of water flows over the Falls per second ?? Geeez!

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The shape has gradually changed from a crescent to a V due to erosion.

But all short trips must come to an end, and we left the Falls, tired but happy.

Tobermory.. ICE ICE BABY!

Tobermory, in Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, is a haven for hikers, adventurers, and people who love the outdoors. I went there in winter, but I’ve seen that summer is equally attractive too. A good 6 hour drive from home which was Windsor then, we headed there by mid afternoon, which in winter hours is saying there wasn’t much daylight left.

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The amber leaves of winter glowing against the setting sun and the wintry background.

We managed to walk on the snowy trail leading to the cliffs. The pathways were precariously icy in areas, and the sheen of ice glistened off the rocks. My footing was unsteady as I struggled to balance while crossing the cliffs. I can imagine the beauty in summer, with the warm rays of the sun beating down on visitors as they lounge by the seaside.

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Icicles on the rocks…

Being curious little caterpillars, we didn’t want to do the normal thing, so Dominic set about looking for a hole in the ground which he read about which showed you the cliffs from a different perspective. I am the more cautious one I think, and gingerly walked on the icy rocks. He found some hole somewhere between the snow, nearly hidden by the rocks and snow.

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Descending down…. all the way down…..

As he clambered into the darkness and the Earth’s recesses, I stood guard with my phone in hand in case of emergencies. But all was good, and after a while I descended into the darkness too. It was an easy climb down, but it was a small cave, and the opening was not too safe due to the ice and rocks below. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to fall into the water and become an icicle.

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View from the little cave..

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View of the cave from outside.. Looks like a pirate’s cove doesn’t it?

But nature has a way of looking splendid even in any weather – even cold weather. Icicles formed on the cliffs and the stark cold beauty took my breath away. Like diamonds sparkling in the faint sunlight, they captured my gaze, standing firmly against the beating waves of the lake.

At one point, near one clearing at the lake’s shore, my phone actually said unable to use flash due to cold weather!!! Hahahahaha that was news to me.

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There were hardly any people about, although Dominic reassures me that summer is a totally different picture. Maybe 5 other people in the entire time we were there. I’m slowly getting used to and appreciating the solitude. 🙂

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photographer on the rocks…

The air was fresh and sharp, the cold biting at my face but keeping me awake like no coffee ever could. Nature can awaken you in so many ways – by her utter majestic beauty or by her breaths of cold air that she keeps blowing down gently. The weather may have been cold, but the heart was warm. 🙂

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Boston Calling…

Boston. Busy. Bustling with a sea of young faces, all headed for a class or an appointment with friends, all headed to a destination. It was cold but there always seemed to be a sense of purpose in the air. I was visiting my best bud, who is currently studying in MIT. This was a cold winter in New England, and the snow fell hard and fast piling up roofs and roads, making everyone wish for that hot cup of chocolate.

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Obviously compared to Portsmouth, Boston is that busy, busy city where there are things to do anytime. I met some interesting people, and I did the touristy things too. 🙂 The buildings in Boston seem to be all topsy turvy in some areas. Ingeniously designed and created, but haphazard looking, they seem to balance precariously as passersby walk nearby.

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I got confused about getting a ticket for the subway, I was asked to donate money for an NGO, which was a rather funny encounter. I told the concerned person that I didn’t live in this country and I couldn’t schedule monthly payments as I was currently not working. He just stood there, looked at me, and said, But you’re so well dressed!!! HAHAHAHAAAH!!! WHaaaaaaaaaaaat???

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Anyways, MIT is full of people from all over, and the institute itself is fun to walk around in. There’s actually quite a bit to do, if you are willing to brave the frigid air. I didn’t mind it, but I guess I always have too much energy. Before the river froze over, I went sailing on the River Charles, which was a nice experience. The sailing team of MIT were also practicing (if that is the right word to use) for their races, and they all seemed to be not bothered by the cold water, or by the death defying manoeuvres they executed on their sharp turns. The little boats were almost 90 degrees to the water!!! Honestly, I was just scared we (in our lack of experience) would crash into one. I, of course, did the sensible thing, and held on for dear life 🙂

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Then there’s drinks in the Muddy Charles, fun, cheap beer, and great intellectual company.. (which I didn’t contribute much to. ;p ). I mean, people around me were talking about that AI course they were doing, the amount of ‘homework’ they get… (Those days are kinda behind me hehe).

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On the journey from Portsmouth to Boston, I saw so many cars AND TRUCKS go off road because of the slippery icy roads. Eeks. Winter, I tell you.

Brothers and Friends – Can’t live without them :)

This post has to be dedicated to my brother – My brother is very outdoorsy and he showed me the sights and adventures in Portsmouth and around – I know I wouldn’t have had so much fun without him!!! Playing indoor volleyball, to honing my snowboarding skills (still budding heheh) on Gunstock Mountain every weekend, to meeting up with his friends for food or food or playing Frisbee or rock climbing, I never wanted for anything.

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He has his music room (I call it that) set up – with his keyboard, guitars, amplifier, recording mike, and some other gizmos that kept me happily occupied while he was at work. Music runs in my blood – actually in my family’s. We’re the Von Trapp family – so we’ve been told 🙂

In February, my friend Prachi came to visit over the Valentine’s weekend, and we made ourselves busy those few days! Firstly there was so much snow! I wrote my name in the snow – That pile was til my waist.. so it wasn’t that easy either.

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Snow. Have YOU seen soooooooo much… HAHA!!! My friend Prachi came to visit from San Fran and we were in a deluge of snow!!! Tell me, have you ever waded through an expanse of snow? That’s exactly we did, and I have to say it is VERY VERY tiring! My friend Juhi (who visited over New Year’s) had brought a snowman kit which we put to good use – haha! It came with a plastic carrot nose, button eyes, buttons , and a pipe! Classic! She also brought awesomely cool head coverings in the shape of a fox and a panda which you’ll see.

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wading trails

We made a snowman (FAT AND PROSPEROUS) and then proceeded to make an igloo inside his big, fat tummy. As both of us curled up inside giggling away to high heavens, a neighbour was standing nearby wondering where the laughter was coming from considering she couldn’t see us. Haha.

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Our fat happy snowman, which could house 2 people in his tummy 🙂

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From inside the igloo

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View from our igloo – Beautiful sunny sunny day

But the igloo was very very warm as it protected us from the biting wind outside that cut through our layers and made short work of any ideas we had of feeling warm. I also made a snow cave, which again amused my neighbour.

Neighbour> what are you doing? (After seeing me shovel snow from our balcony and hollow out a cave.)

Me> *excitedly* I’M MAKING A SNOWCAVE and I’M GOING TO WEAR MY JACKET AND GO SIT INSIDE!

Neighbour> *smiling*

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The snow cave in our Balcony – the cave grew to nearly 5 feet in height with all the snowfall we were having.

You can expend so much energy just running in snow, jumping in snow, falling in snow, diving, haha, need I go on?

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Always blend in with your surroundings when capturing pictures of wild life.

Portsmouth – Live Free or Die.

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I always have and still do love that slogan from the day I heard it. That is the motto for the state of New Hampshire. Located in the corner of the North East of USA,  the state adopted this motto in 1945 to symbolize freedom and  the culture here still reflects the motto to this day. You can read about reasons why to move to NH here 🙂

https://freestateproject.org/about/101-reasons-move-new-hampshire

My brother Donald lives here, in Portsmouth, and I was absolutely enchanted with the place. I was here for a brief visit and a longer one later in the year during winter. The autumn vista is breath taking with all the fall colours out in full bloom. The reds, browns, oranges and greens all mingling together in perfect natural harmony. Nature is indeed majestic in all her glory.

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However, as I was here only for a short time in autumn, I’ll have to write more about the winter months. Winter. White, serene, quiet, peaceful, and sometimes angry. We had blizzard after blizzard, storm after storm hitting us every week. I honestly found it funny that the Winter storm would lash out Sunday night and Monday morning would be in full fury making it impossible for the office goers to reach their workplace. And this happened 3 WEEKS IN A ROW! I think nature answered someone’s prayers to Monday morning blues 😛

But seriously, what are the chances? 3 Mondays consecutively we were snowed in with the snow piled up at 2 feet each time. The snow was falling down so hard and fast that we could hardly keep our eyes open. The wind was strong, but i was absolutely enthusiastic to go out and play.

Even the residents who had been there all their lives said they hadn’t seen so much snowfall. As it turned out, this winter New England received the second highest amount of snowfall EVER. Geez.

But, hey you won’t catch me complaining. I was happy 🙂

Whoever says winter is boring and dead needs to wake up. Summer can offer a lot, but winter has it’s own charm too. We made snowman after snowman, each time getting better at making it look more presentable. Haha. My friend, Juhi, whom I had written about in the first post in this blog decided to visit me for the Christmas vacations.. Wait, wait.. I’ll come to that later…

Soooo, yes, I was talking about snow. Some of my brother’s colleagues stayed nearby and had just shifted to their new condo so during the first major blizzard they came over to work. We walked over to pick them up armed with a shovel. Oh, BLISS! The snow drifts piled high, and although the roads were periodically being cleared off, the mountains of snow that was created on the sides proved very tempting. I launched myself finding a soft cushiony landing.

I enthusiastically shovelled their snow. Hey, I was on holiday, couldn’t really travel much so I had too much energy. That’s my excuse. Hehe. But our footprints had been covered up by a fresh layer in the 10 minutes we took to return. I fell down creating angels, but the snow had piled so high I couldn’t get up with ease and messed up my angels. Rather like me. A messed up angel ;p (cheeky me)

So yeah, I was saying my friend Juhi came to visit from sunny LA, and she was taken aback by the cold. Being used to temperatures rarely going below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, she did feel the winter’s pinch, but we are kindred souls and we relished frolicking in the snow.

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Portsmouth is a beautiful place, and downtown has some nice joints to hang out in. We showed her the touristy stuff, like the Great Island Common at Newcastle, which is an Oceanside haven. Sprawled over 32 acres, this scenic spot boasts of a lighthouse, a GORGEOUS VISTA which you can appreciate sitting on the green,green grass, on the rocky outcrops or on the benches scattered liberally for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the view on a beautiful day. The birds will swoop down or pose for you and life will seem sweet anytime you are there. There were some people gathered who dressed up in last century clothing and cycled through downtown which I thought was a brilliant idea! Making sure your Sunday is different from every other day 🙂

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There is also Prescott Park, where one can head in winter and summer. There are many plays and events take place here in summer, and Puddle Dock Pond can be found nearby in winter offering residents and their kids a spot for fun ice skating.

Kochi/ Cochin – and the backwaters of Kerala

I had made a short trip to Cochin for my best friend’s engagement, and this place is like walking down memory lane. Blast from the past in some areas, and a rude awakening to the present day in some. Taking you back to Portuguese days, and having Dutch imprints, the city is a melting pot of cultures that reminds me a bit of Goa. After all the festivities were over, I decided to stay back for a day and stay in Fort Cochin.

With any place, I like knowing about the history of the city, and to learn more about it’s culture. This was the first time I was honestly alone and by myself. I’ve always travelled with friends or family and I have to say I was a little apprehensive, been a tourist in a new city. My friend had dropped me off to a hotel we found which suited my budget. Bernard Bungalow Homestay was a delightful (quaint is the word I would use) to describe the ambience. Olden day era wooden banisters graced the stairway leading up, and the owner Carol, was a sweet lady who made sure I was taken care of.

old colonial world charm

old colonial world charm

I was given a room on the first floor as she said I was alone, and only bachelors who were out to party late and were in a group were given the rooms below, so I knew I was in safe hands. In fact she went out of her way to ensure my safety. Giving me directions to a dinner place ‘Dal Roti’ which was right round the corner, her man Friday waited for me by the corner until I was done with dinner. Honestly, the lights were down in the streets too.

This little restaurant serves North Indian food, and the helpings would have made Jughead proud. Definitely serves its value’s worth. But you will be warned by Carol that this little restaurant has a long waiting line. I got a table after maybe half an hour, but some people had to wait longer. And waiting while watching other people eat and smelling the aromas wafting in the air will only increase your appetite, trust me!

Carol arranged a lovely tour for me. She was very helpful in finding out what tours could fit my schedule, and was a lovely companion in whiling away the hours. I was strapped for time but wanted to cram in as much as I could, so I signed up for a tour on a river boat. The next day was packed indeed. A taxi cab came to pick me up and was with me until I was dropped off at the Airport. And it turned out very well indeed.

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I met a family from France who were touring the country and we shared a good conversation over the lazy afternoon as we drifted on the water. I now know why people travel alone. As much it is having company – and I know I’m the type to never travel alone, sightseeing new places on your own opens new horizons. Everyone is friendly, and somehow, you will never find yourself alone. You will always have company and someone to talk to. And you learn a lot about the places you visit.

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Why, I was so curious about the house boat, I tried my hand at rowing it. There is a long bamboo stick which acts like a paddle/oar of sorts. You have to push it till it reaches the river bed (This is all in the backwaters btw) and push it along. It is tiring though, but I’m glad I tried something new.

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File: Photo – taken from google images

I visited the Jewish Synagogue, which is supposed to be one of the oldest in Asia, and not even one of the tiles on the floor are identical to each other. (Sadly, you’re not allowed to take pictures). It has been restored to it’s former grandeur and is well maintained. There are shops leading up to it, where the owners shout out their wares and try to entice you into their store. I did a  bit of shopping – the trinkets are nice if you want something, then we rushed off to the airport which was a while away. And with the traffic, you never know. Always better to be early.

There are many more places to see. The Chinese fishing nets. The last time I was in the city, I sat in a cafe near  the sea and saw dolphins jumping out of the water nearby.

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File: photo – google images

All in all, a memorable but short trip.