Sunday, May 31, 2009
The insides of the caravan looked exceedingly well furnished and the key was on the living room table, as told. I invited the other folks to join, only for them to be suprised and excited! Kavitha and I had our moments of laughter, as only we knew what we'd planned for and how it had all ended up! Everyone seemed extremely happy and it was one hell of a night!
Kavitha and I spent the next half hour outside in the cold attempting to take a night shot of the Caravan and also a long-pending picture of star-trails. I was not entirely unhappy with what it finally turned out to be.
The next day had equally exciting moments, but on water instead of land. We rented a Pontoon boat and set off into the waters. Yours truly being an experienced boat driver (having rented a Pontoon boat once before, I can't call myself a Captain yet!), started the boat engine and within 10 metres of slow-sailing near the dock, we heard people shouting and waving at us. We looked around, only to find that I had been inadvertently dragging one of the fishing nets by the boat engine.
Who the hell would expect a fishing net there? We had to wait for help. One of the rental company folks arrived in a smaller boat, disentangled the net. We started all over again, this time with no problems. We spent the next 3 hours in the water,enjoying the sights of the numerous islands around. Everytime a big boat or a ship passed us, the waves made our boat rock big time. Everyone tried their hands in the wheel and overall, it was quite an experience in itself!.
We then visited one of the state parks in the area and spent the evening watching the splendid sunset. After a sumptuous dinner at an Italian restaurant and a super-filling ice cream, we headed back to the caravan, where we played a few interesting games of poker and hit the bed, knowing we have a big day at Niagara the next day.
Niagara falls, for some reason has become desis' paradise. 9 out of 10 people I saw were desis. I could have counted the stars in the sky a little more easily. The place was absolutely crowded for Memorial Day weekend. For the much-acclaimed 'Maid of the Mist' ferry, we had to wait a whopping 1 hour in the queue at a scorching 90 degrees. Completely drained, we entertained ourselves by playing interesting self-invented games such as 'Spot the tambrahm in the line' and "Count the H4's in the line", etc. The parents, of course, were impressed by the grandeur of the falls and the excitement of the boat ride!
We spent the rest of the day roaming around the falls area and dining at one of the 'worse than spit-worthy' Indian restuarants. Late evening was good, as the weather became nicer and there was fireworks to celebrate Memorial Day!
Niagara Falls- overlook
The parents and us
Overall, it was three days well spent and left us with the satisfaction of surprising our parents with the coziness of a caravan, adrnelin rush in the rough waters and the wonderful sight of the gushing waters of Niagara Falls!
Ciao, till the next trip travel update!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
After brooding over the loss of my previous camera for exactly 27 hours, I ordered my new camera. I got it shipped mid of last week and immediately jotted down plans to visit Finger lakes region of New York state. Kavitha did all the planning and this time, one of my very good friends and a photo enthusiast, Amar joined us from Boston. This weekend trip was one hell of a mix of adventure, excitement, angst and also a few 'near-death' experiences.
Our first destination being Filmore Glen State Park, we started with heightened enthusiasm. Surprisingly and more shockingly, some of their trails were still closed for Winter (surprising because their websites said nothing about it and shocking because it's gonna be summer very soon). We took pictures of the only waterfalls that was accessible (by crossing the 'DO NOT CROSS' fencewires). The waterfalls was good, but the downside was some women who were sun-bathing on the rocks. We had to make sure they were not in the frame (not that they seemed to care, but we somehow did not want to include bikini-clad women in nature photography. Maybe some other time!).
Our next destination was Carpenter falls, which involved an 'Open to all, mildly difficult and extremely hazardous' hiking trail to reach the falls (so said the welcome sign board). After parking our car on the roadside parking area, we set off on the hike which in the beginning seemed very easy. In a few minutes, we saw the falls but the place was not favourable to set our tripods nor the view was too good. So, after a short contemplation, we decided to climb down what looked like a steep slide, with rolling stones and slippery rocks.
Kavitha had sneakers which had the smoothest of the soles (I found it hard to believe it must had sole buttons once upon a time. There were absolutely no signs!). Nevertheless, she decided to stay atop letting myself and Amar climb down.
With bags and tripod, I should say it was not easiest of the hikes. We strategically invented routes, took assistance from tree roots, twigs, rocks, even firm mud and finally reached the stream. The view was good. But not too good. We knew we had to cross the stream to get a better view. So we did. The water was almost at freezing temperature and we somehow managed to use the dead logs and rocks to cross the stream. The view was much better.
We instantly knew we were not in the right place to fight rain and started packing. By the time we crossed the stream, it started raining big time. We still had the steep slope to climb. With not much of flowing water in the slopes, I managed to reach the top using the support of tree branches, roots and rocks. With the enthusiasm of reaching the top, I started running towards the parking area, when I realised Amar was not with me. I looked back, only to find him struggling to climb up the slippery mud trail with two hands and two legs.
The rain was pouring by then. We walked to the car drenching wet, to find Kavitha listening to music in the cozy confines of the Prius. In sign-language, she told me that I looked like a wet goat. Awesome. The rain stopped in about 20 mins. We strolled around, dried ourselves and continued the drive.
Next day was not as adventurous, but more beautiful nevertheless. We drove to Letchworth state park, which in my opinion had some of the largest waterfalls I have everseen (only next to Niagara). We did a mild hike along the river stream, took satisfying pictures and spent about 3 hours there.
Letchworth Lower Falls
Our next stop was Taughannock falls and we reached on time before dusk. Amar felt (and insisted that we agree) that it's the most beautiful waterfall in the whole world. After taking pictures of the falls from one of the vista points, we hiked a mile down to see the falls upclose. I had to agree with Amar at that point - it was a fantastic waterfall.
Taughannock Falls, as seen from Vista point
An hour and a few pictures later, we left the place, stopped for coffee at a gas station and drove away on our respective ways.
I just could not forget the jubilance of being in that 'high-five moment' with Amar after we ompleted the hike at Carpenter falls!
Wide Angle picture taken by Amar
There is indeed nothing better in this world than traveling!
P.S: More photos at www.flickr.com/photos/arunsundar