Saturday, June 22, 2013

La Paz (Mexico)

We catch a huge ferry from Los Mochis (Mexico) to La Paz at 9 am. Ship gracefully moves in the peaceful water of the enclosed Gulf of California. Water is still, blue and once a while you can see a large fish, as this gulf is shark infested so we see sharks too. Sea gulls are flying along the ship because it stirs up the water in the back and brings small fishes up and bird dive in the water like a missile. Before diving, seagull becomes like a torpedo and dives as deep as 20 feet and always returns with a fish in its beak.
Baja California Desert
Baja California Desert

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ultimate Road Trip – The scenic Overseas Highway to Key West, Florida USA

The Florida Keys are coral islands in southeast United States. They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about 15 miles (24 km) south of Miami, and extend in a gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West. At the nearest point, the southern tip of Key West is just 90 miles (140 km) from Cuba.
Visit to Florida Keys is a spectacular hundred miles drive and road crosses several islands over the spectacular bridges. Alongside the Overseas Highway, there are hundreds of places where you can pull over to fish or kayak or enjoy a pina colada. Camping in the Keys is a special treat, and there are dozens of magnificent coral reefs where you can snorkel or dive. Fresh-caught seafood is a Keys staple, offered at a broad range of Keys restaurants.
We leave Everglades early in the morning and return to the Florida town of Homestead and catch on the US route 1.

Sunset in the Keys

The Strip at Las Vegas

The Strip is what Las Vegas is known for. No matter where you are on the strip it is sensory overload. The crowds, shows, musicians, Elvis imitations, hotels, and attractions pretty much ensure there isn’t a dull moment. There is always something on the grandest scale going on.
North end you have the Stratosphere, where we stayed and regretted. It is a grand hotel so why regret? Each time we had to walk miles from the parking and then within the corridors to get to our room.

Las Vegas

Everglades, Alligator country of Florida (USA)

The Everglades is a slow moving river in the South half of Florida (USA). It is a large watershed. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which empties into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee. Water leaving the lake in the wet season forms a slow-moving river 60 miles (97 km) wide and over 100 miles (160 km) long, flowing southward across a limestone shelf to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state. The Everglades are shaped by water and fire, experiencing frequent flooding in the wet season and drought in the dry season. Writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas popularized the term “River of Grass” to describe the sawgrass marshes, part of a complex system of interdependent ecosystems that include cypress swamps, the estuarine mangrove forests of the Ten Thousand Islands, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rockland, and the marine environment of Florida Bay.
Everglades is a jigsaw puzzle of free-flowing channels of water, sawgrass prairies marshes, wet prairies (are slightly elevated like sawgrass marshes but with greater plant diversity), hardwood hammock patches, Pinelands, Cypress swamps etc.
At the bay are Mangrove and Coastal prairies.
Everglades
A funny signboard in Everglades directing hikers to the side

Monday, May 27, 2013

Toli Bugyal – Dumak – Kalpeshwar – Rudranath Trek 6

Rudranath Trail Sitemap

1: Chopta to Mandal walk
2: Mandal to Anasuya Devi
3: Anasuya Devi to Hans Bugyal
4: Hans Bugyal to Rudranath
5: Rudranath to Toli Bugyal
6: Toli Bugyal – Dumak – Kalpeshwar

We wake up from our sound sleep in narrow dingy hut of Bakhtwar Singh. He serves us tea. We pack our belongings. He makes us breakfast of aalo-parothas and offers us to pack some food for the way but we decline. Dumak village is now barely 10 kilometers and it is all effortless descending.
We say goodbye to our best friend Bakhtwar Singh. Hope he lives forever and we want to see him again and again. Our heart is breaking upon leaving this heavenly set up.
Dumak Village
Toli Bugyal

Rudranath to Toli Bugyal – Rudranath Trek 5

Rudranath Trail Sitemap

1: Chopta to Mandal walk
2: Mandal to Anasuya Devi
3: Anasuya Devi to Hans Bugyal
4: Hans Bugyal to Rudranath
5: Rudranath to Toli Bugyal
6: Toli Bugyal – Dumak – Kalpeshwar

Next morning we walk back on the trail to a waterfall to take bath but water is too cold so we use minimum water.
Morning puja at Rudranath Temple begin at 9:00 am and we drag Trai and Company to the temple.
After temple visit, we all have breakfast of aalo-parothas. Madam is again given a cupful of goat ghee. Horse man is still here in Rudranath along with his both horses and Tari and Company are all set to return with him. We wonder how Memsab would mount the horse; she is even unable to walk. We suggest her to walk some distance and then mount the horse and she should again walk after the pass because then it is descend all the way. This time they will be going to Sagar, that way is a bit short and better with some more food stops.
We shake hands and as they are about to depart Harsh plays a cruel joke with them.
He says to Madam, “Did you eat goat meat at Panchganga bugyal yesterday?”
She cries, “Really, they had goat meat there? They didn’t tell us.”
“Since pilgrims don’t eat meat on their journey so they don’t tell these things to people. Otherwise people won’t even drink tea from that shop.”
First time we see smile on her face and now her eyes are beaming.
“They have goat meat, really?” – now she gets sad – “It might be finished by now.”
“Yeah, I saw them cooking goat meat in desi ghee tadka. How could it finish by now. Everybody comes here only and just two more people came here after us. They were cooking whole bakra there.”
Even Tari has a smile on his face now because she may enjoy her lunch and then may leave him alone for a while.
Rudranath
Priests relaxing at Rudranath temple



Hans bugyal to Rudranath – Rudranath Trek 4

Rudranath Trail Sitemap

1: Chopta to Mandal walk
2: Mandal to Anasuya Devi
3: Anasuya Devi to Hans Bugyal
4: Hans Bugyal to Rudranath
5: Rudranath to Toli Bugyal
6: Toli Bugyal – Dumak – Kalpeshwar

We wake up in the morning at 6AM, it is intense cold. Using the fuel wood from Swamiji’s stocks we make black tea outside and soon Tari and Horseman join us. Tari seems miserable. Horseman tells us that the Chatti (night staying place where boarding and lodging is provided) run by Mr. Rajinder Singh Bhandari at Panchganga bugyal after the Naola pass is open. Panchganga is the place where other main route for Rudarnath merges.
This is good news that we will be getting hot lunch in the high altitude wilderness.
For breakfast we swallow one parotha each because we are eating these for third time and these seem tasteless. We prepare black tea for Swamiji and also for Memsab who accepts it from Harsh’s hands. Kid also drinks 2 cups of tea while his mother is not looking at him. He seems enjoying very much here and is despised at his mother who is rude to his dear Pa. He is always sticking to his father and shunning away from his mother. We also leave out 2 kilograms potatoes that we carried as emergency ration, there because food is available at Panchganga bugyal.
I and Harsh resume our walk to Rudarnath although Tari again pleads to wait for them. Kid wants to walk with us but Tari stops him. Gradually the forest thins and the evergreens give way to conifers, less tall trees and finally to twisted willow trees. We reach a small patch of flatland with a few sun-baked flat rocks, called Dhanpal Bugyal. We find many sheep and goats arriving accompanied by a couple of men, they tell us that this is the last point of obtaining drinking water till Panchganga bugyal.
Rudranath
Rudranath temple

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