Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Travels

January was not a great month of travel for us. Work, weather and weary weekends were the culprits that kept us from making our customary weekend long trips. So I decided to write one describing our collective travels this month. Arun and I spent New Year eve at home with old friends, Wii, wine and home-cooked food. It was fun, albeit uncharacteristic of us to give up a long weekend and stay home.

The following week, I had to be in California for a few days. So I packed my running shoes and made good use of the balmy weather (well, in comparison) by getting a few runs in. It was almost nostalgic to do my old routes once again. I also made a trip to San Francisco to meet up with some friends. Nothing much in the way of travel though.

Around the middle of the month, it struck us that we'd not gone any place new since Christmas. No! We couldn't possibly let the winter go by without getting out there and braving the chill. You'll know if you've read our posts from last winter. So on an impulse we decided to visit the Botanical Gardens at Staten Island in New York. For some reason it didn't occur to us that we can see most of the same barren trees from the balcony at home. Here's one of the few good views we managed to see at the Chinese Scholar Garden.

Chinese Scholar Garden with frozen lake running through it

To make up for the otherwise disastrous trip, on our way back we stopped at New Jersey to meet a friend. We literally dragged him out of his house with less than an hour's notice. After eating a thousand calories worth of chaat, we watched the latest Jackie Chan movie, The Spy Next Door. Nothing to write home about this one, but a funny movie nevertheless.

If you are are still reading, you are probably thinking "What losers?!" That's what we thought too. So the following weekend we took off to the Washington DC area to do some real traveling. We left on Friday afternoon and drove to Baltimore, which is only about two hours away. We were there right in time for the city to light up and Arun got some great shots of the skyline.

Baltimore Skyline - shot from Baltimore Inner Harbor

Baltimore Skyline - one more

By the time he was done taking pictures from across the Patapsco river, we were both freezing from the wind. Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the place where we took these pictures from, is lined with restaurants. So we hurried into UNO Grill and warmed up with some awesome Chicago style deep dish pizza.

We drove down to Virginia for the night to stay close to
Great Falls National Park, which was the first destination we'd planned for the following day. But come morning, the sun was out and shining brighter than it should have been. Trust me, Arun was not pleased. Sun is a big no-no for waterfall photography. Did you know that? The sun definitely didn't on that day. So we changed plans and decided to spend the morning at The National Arboretum, just outside Washington DC, while we waited for the sun to go down. This visit completely redeemed us from our Botanical Garden debacle I described earlier. You can see for yourself from Arun's pictures.

Capitol Columns - columns that once adorned the East face of the US Capitol, now at The National Arboretum

Capitol Columns - a different perspective

There was a greenhouse with a Bonsai Garden which was fabulous. We got to see Bonsai that had been in training for over 400 years. The miniature creations of large oaks, pines and maples seemed fascinatingly impossible.

Bonsai on display

Later in the day we drove to Great Falls National Park in Virginia. It has three small waterfalls (couldn't figure out why they are "Great") cascading down one after the other. We did a short hike to the various vista points. The day being slightly warm, there were throngs of people at the park. I had a great time playing with all the dogs while Arun battled with his camera to get this shot.

Great Falls at sunset

Those were rough waters and hence popular with experienced kayakers. We didn't know this until someone asked us if we'd caught sight of any. We hadn't, not yet at least. But we got lucky. Half an hour later we saw a guy row upstream in his bright red kayak. It was so cool to see him expertly paddle around in the surf, as the current rocked him and splashed icy water all over him. Brrrrr! He really seemed to know what he was doing, judging by the gasps he received from his sizable audience.

Kayaker ruling the waters

We ended our trip by going back to the nation's capital. Arun took pictures of Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial from either side of the Reflecting Pool. Here they are:

Lincoln Memorial

Washington Monument

So that was a quick hash of our low key January. February should be good, for there's a long weekend coming up! Until our next jaunt...


narendra shenoy said...

What superb photographs! Awesomeness!
Lol @ the sun and waterfalls thing!


Siddharth said...

Amazing pictures again. Hey do you publish to some magazines or web photo forums already? You should if you don't already.

Kavitha said...

Narenji: Ah! There you are, back in the blog world after ages (by your standards)...

Arun can be finicky,I know! You should come visit us here, we'll take you everywhere.

Siddharth: I had no hand whatsoever in the pictures. Check out Arun's flickr for more breathtaking shots-

Alan Smithee said...

When is the long weekend in February?

Kavitha said...

Alan Smithee: Always trust you to notice the most salient thing in every post. Feb 15th is off for President's Day.