Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

An airplane away to autumn..


Have been meaning to write about this trip of ours for days now. I mean it is more than 2 months already! But as you do see, I had other things on my mind, mainly the BTFYA series (the incidents I had to write about all happened during this time, so well, you have nothing to complain about as you were getting more than enough posts from me :-D). But I haven't been able to get to the trip post at all and I am glad to get to this, believe me. Now this post is going to be a treat because for the first time on my blog, I'm putting up videos of my own :).

You know that fall is my favourite season and we usually have had trips just to see the colours. We always have wanted to head to the North-east US since the time we heard that fall colours are really impressive there. Finally the time for that arrived this year :). We actually planned the trip towards the end of October where we were getting a great deal on flight tickets and we would be able to stay there for 4 days. But later we found out that fall colours would peak somewhere in the second week of October there, so well, our "plan" didn't make any sense. So we actually booked tickets for 2nd weekend of October. Sadly this meant that our flights were timed in a way that technically we were able to be there only for 2 days. Plus we weren't getting a direct flight from Cincinnati (as per our earlier "plan"), but a 1-stop flight, that too from Dayton :(. But we had no choice :(.

And so on 10th October 2009, we left Lexington around 9:30 AM and drove north to Dayton. We had to catch a flight to Detroit at about 12:30 PM and from there to Boston, Massachusetts. I had packed Snugli's lunch and we picked up something for us to eat on the way. Again, I was worried about how Snugli would handle the flight, but she mostly slept through one and was pretty okay on the other, so it wasn't as big a deal as I thought it'd be. The cold hit us as soon as we landed in Boston and due to day-light savings end, the sun sets much sooner, so it was already dark when we landed there at about 6PM. We planned to drive to Manchester, North Hampshire which was about an hour away and planned to settle there for the night.

One thing we thought of half-outsourcing this time was Snugli's food. We did book hotel rooms with microwaves just like the Seattle trip, but this time we wanted to introduce her to outside food, if not the bland American food, atleast that available in Indian restaurants. So we planned it to be microwaved rice (curd rice with boiled veggies that I had packed and carried from home) in the noons and outside food in the nights. Since she is okay with a cheerios (a type of cereal) and bread, breakfast was fine and we bought fruits and biscuits for snack time :).So on the way to Manchester, we stopped at an Indian restaurant and fed ourselves and her some rotis and curd rice. The rice is a bit harder in the restaurants (not as soft as she is used to), but if requested, they heat it up and it may come to some type of mashable form :).

Next morning we set off on our Fall colour viewing drive to the White Mountains in the northern regions of North Hampshire. The drive was beautiful, as you can see ;-) (mute the player before you start off, since Sri is shouting something to Snugli :-D).




Our first stop was the Cannon mountain aerial tramway, just because we thought that the view from up should be pretty good :).




Here's the actual tramway:




When we arrived at the top, we found out that it was freezing! it was 2 degrees below 0 degree Celsius. Thankfully, Snugli was covered from head to foot, but we couldn't say the same for ourselves :-p.





We thought we should be able to trek for 1/2 a mile to an observation tower and back, but on the way Snugli got very quiet (probably because she was getting cold) and so Sri went back to the warm restaurant (the entry point for the tramway at the top), while I made a solo trek to the tower.




The view was pretty good all around, but sadly I can't say the same about the colours. The hike was pretty exerting and once I was back at the restaurant, we agreed that the colours weren't really as good as we expected them to be (atleast from here). Well, we were at the top, so we had to take the photos right? ;-).




After getting down the tramway, our plan was to drive on a scenic highway to see the colours all around the place. The drive was wonderful..




Its not that the colours were any different from the Smoky mountain ones, but these were more extensive. There were more stretches of colours together. So it was enjoyable. We made a couple of stops, but couldn't really stop at many others we wanted to, since the scenic highway became a two-lane road after a certain point and hence traffic literally stopped at a couple of places.







So we actually lost out on a rail ride on the mountains and a couple of waterfalls that I wanted to see. Oh well, that was it for the day.

Next morning, our plan was to drive through Boston and head to a bay south of Boston to do a whale-watching cruise. We had thought that if possible, we'll catch a quick break at the downtown Boston too. But on the way there, we found another place which was just half an hour away - Glouchester, Massachusetts hosting one of these type of cruises. So we headed there instead. The small town had a lovely bay..




We, especially Snugli, had a nice time walking around. We did go to a beach, but the water was brrrrrrrrrr-cold, so simply came back :).




I had lots of worries about the cruise as such. First, the water was pretty cold and hence the wind would be very chilly in the middle of the Atlantic ocean :-p. Second we just had our lunch and didn't know how Snugli would react to a boat trip in the swells of the sea right after lunch. There were restrooms on the boat, but it'd be difficult to handle her in there, since there were no changing tables as such. Also once we were on the way, there was no way to get off for 4-odd hours (that was the length of the cruise). But well, no sea sickness happened and we (make that Sri) were able to manage her pretty well.

The whale watching happens in the gulf of Maine which is supposedly a whale conservatory (fishing is controlled and absolutely no whaling is allowed) and there are lots of whales spotted there usually in summer to fall. The guide on the boat was a whale researcher and so were some of the crew members, so there was a loads of information that we got from the guide as such. The whales usually habit the gulf during summertime to feed and later migrate south in winter to breed. Since they don't feed at all in the winter, they literally guLum tons of fish during their stay in the Gulf of Maine.

And the whales, wow! That was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. They were soooo cool, literally and whimsically :). When we got the tickets, they had this statement saying that if there was so whale-sighting then they'd give us replacement tickets for some other time. So Sri kept saying that they'd probably show us one from far and then their obligation would be over ;-). But we encountered a group of 3 whales right away.




This was a group of 3 female whales, one named "Salt" - one of the earliest named whales, another named "Cardhu" and yet another, the guide couldn't recognize. They are named according to markings on their tail fin (and some other markings on their bodies) and each whale's tail fin is unique. They were quite fascinating to watch, blowing water through the blow holes and splashing their tail fins, obviously used to the people watching them. One even put its head out of the water to say Hello, which the guide assured us, was pretty rare :).




The way we kept the whales in sight was also pretty fascinating. The whales would stay around us for quite sometime (8-10 min) then plunge down into the depths of the ocean with spectacular dives. We would be unable to see them for around 5-10 min, but we would be on the lookout for them. Then they'd pop out of the water quite far away from the boat. Then the boat would speed up to catch up with them and slow down and cruise along with them :).




The sheer size of these creatures was mind-boggling. I mean if they chose to do something about the pestering boat around them, it'd be a piece of cake for them ;-). And its worth mentioning how less we know about these creatures. It seems all our studies are based on the time they spend above water (which makes up only about 10% of their lifetime) and no wonder, scientists still don't have concrete evidence of many of the gestures and sounds that the whales make (they do have theories).

After the 3 whales with whom we spent a long time, we got to see around 3 more individual whales, one of whom was named "Bat", again a female whale whose spectacular dive down I was able to capture in my camera :).




Meanwhile, Snugli loved the whales. I was hellbent on taking the photos, while Sri was carrying her around. When we pointed to the whales and asked her what it was she said "Bhale" (she didn't know the "va" sound :-D). Later for a couple of weeks she'd recall that we went on a boat and saw whales :-D. She saw them for quite sometime but later her afternoon nap caught up with her and she fell asleep in Sri's arms. We had good seating arrangements, so we were able to place her comfortably where we sat.

And that was about it. She slept almost until we got back to the shore and we just had a quick dinner at an Indian restaurant and retired for the night. We had an early morning 4AM flight from Boston to Detroit and then caught a late morning one to Dayton and had lunch at Cincinnati. I surprised myself on the 4AM flight, since I slept right through it (I have always watched the flight take-off and land in every flight I had been in until then and this was the first time I didn't :-O). In fact all of us slept right through it :-D.

The 2-day trip just didn't seem enough. I wish we could have been there for a couple more. We didn't get to see Boston at all and I wanted to visit the MIT campus atleast from outside :(. Also later we found out that the colours in Vermont are even better :-\. So maybe there is a next time ;-) :-D. But the best part as I said in my earlier post, was Snugli's potty training. She surprised me by asking to go to the restroom every single time when we were outside. She hardly used 1-2 diapers per day and it was totally thrilling. Well, you know what happened when we got back :-p. But right now she's almost back to that same level - she asks to go a couple of times per day and we take her the other times, so we are down to 1 or 2 diapers per day :).

Thats it about the trip. Before I say Au revoir, let me leave you with one of my standard road humour photos taken inbetween Dayton and Cincinnati..




Everyone needs more roads I say! Even the roads :-D.

1 Comment:


WordPower retorted...

Excellent post! Awesome Videos esp. the "Bhale" one! :D :D :D

We've been to Cannon mountain too, in the last week of October! It was snowing then! That was my first real experience with snow!

And, I wish Snugli "Many many more happy returns of her joyful Birthday"!