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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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From L.A to San Francisco Part 1

Oh man, this post is gonna be huggggggggggge. 5-day trip with full-time photography in manual mode to boot. Since I plan to put up lots of photos, I thought I'll divide this up into 2 parts (maybe more if the need arises :-D). So lets start off without too much ado.

I've mentioned it once or twice (or maybe a little bit more than that) how I want to see California. When we first came here, we thought that Sri would get a change sometime and we may move towards west coast. So we didn't really plan a trip then. Added to that Sri had already been there a couple of times before we got married, so lets say he wasn't too keen :-D. But since Sri is currently in a fixed position and we won't be moving anywhere anytime soon, we had to make a move sometime.

Sri told me along time ago that he had heard about Highway 1 in CA and how he had never been there. So we thought that if we ever go there, the plan would be to drive on the highway. While we were planning a trip and looking for return tickets to either Los Angeles or San Francisco, we realized that driving to and fro didn't make sense. Driving one way was okay, but driving back just to catch a flight was a waste of time. After this stroke of brilliance, Sri booked a one-way flight from here to Los Angeles and another one-way ticket from San Francisco to here. The plan was to drive from L.A to SFO and check out all that we could in between. The one-way tickets were a bit expensive but we'd save time and effort of driving some 5-7 hours.

The plan was put into action on 4th June 2010 Friday. We left Lexington at around 5:30 PM in the evening, caught a flight to Cincinnati and then from there to L.A. Due to the time difference of 3 hours, we got to L.A at 10PM local time. I had packed some phulkas for the night which we guLumed on the second flight :-D. Sri had told Snugli again and again all about the trip. So she was all excited. She knew where we were going, how we were going, who were all going, what we'd do there and recite the entire thing when asked to :-D. She didn't fuss at all on either of the planes and fell asleep on the 2nd one :). All we did after landing in L.A was to rent a car and head to our hotel.

On 5th June the plan was to explore Los Angeles. L.A is famous for only a couple of things - Disney world, Universal Studios, the Hollywood sign and the Hollywood Boulevard. We have been to Disney World and Universal Studios on our Orlando trip. We do want to go to Disney again for Snugli, but we can always go to Orlando again for that. So we decided to avoid those parts completely in L.A :).

Our first stop in L.A was the Griffith Observatory. It serves as the vista point to the Hollywood sign. You can't really see the sign up close, because the entire area is restricted. When we went there, the sign was covered with mist, so we could hardly see it. So we spent some time in and around the observatory.

The observatory was interesting - we didn't see any shows, but they had pretty good displays. An exceptional display was the actual periodic table with all the elements on display. There were also a Foucault pendulum (which shows the rotation of earth) and several telescopes. By the time we got out, the mist had cleared up a bit. Here's the Hollywood sign..

and here's us :).

2 more :-D.

Enough of the sign :-p. Next we went to the Hollywood Boulevard. The main point of interest was obviously the Hollywood walk of fame which is a set of sidewalks where many celebrities are immortalized by stars on the footpath.

We took a walk around for quite sometime and looked around. I really didn't know what to expect, but I somehow felt sad seeing all the names being trampled by everyone's feet. I mean what kind of a monument is that? It felt totally weird. But hey, it didn't stop me from taking photos :-D.

We stopped for a moment at the Kodak Theatre where Academy awards (Oscars) are organized annually.

Snugli met this guy in front of the Disney store and refused to let go ;-) :-D.

We moved around and saw many "stars", some of them being Charlie Chaplin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Travolta, Robin Williams, Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse, Kevin Spacey etc. We also went to the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in front of which are many celebrities' hand and footprints embedded into cement. But soon we decided to move on, have lunch and start on our drive. Here is the entire route map (click to enlarge)..

Pheeeeeew :-D. The plan that day was to drive to Solvang, then to Lompoc (our hotel for the night) and back to Santa Barbara for a sunset on the beach. On the way to Solvang there were a couple of nice vista points :).

Solvang (Point B on the route) is a small village in California which offers a "taste of Denmark". The architecture is all Danish with small houses, shops and several windmills :).

It felt like a place in fairy tales - very pretty, very sweet and quiet. We took a surrey carriage for rental and had a lot of fun cycling around.

Snugli had fun too, except she wanted to be the one steering and pedalling ;-). We also tasted some Danish pastries and chocolates :). In the evening we first went to Lompoc (Point C) to rest at the hotel for sometime and then to Santa Barbara city for a bout at the beach and dinner.

We stopped at the Arroyo Burro Beach and I was surprised at how chilly it was. There was a mist, so there was no sunset, plus there was a pretty strong wind blowing. We had thought of stepping into the water for a while, but it was too cold to do that.

Did stay for a while before we had dinner and then put ourselves to rest :). The only problem the entire day was that Snugli got some rashes, don't know from what - whether it was the bed, the exposure to the sun, allergy to the sunscreen or maybe some plant she touched on the way, no idea. Can't believe I forgot to mention that (this part is an addendum to the post). Shows how something that drives you crazy at one time doesn't even matter a few days later :-\. Well, I was scared that it'd spread, but thank God it didn't. But she was hell bent on itching it like crazy and we got this all-purpose Benadryl gel (it took all factors into consideration) and the rash was gone after we came back :-D.

The next day 6th June 2010, was the D-day for our drive on Scenic highway 1. The "scenic" part begins at Morro Bay (Point D) and supposed to end at Monterey (Point E). The special thing about this route is that you have the mighty Pacific ocean to one side and some mountainous landscape on the other. We were warned that there was no food or fuel available on most of the highway, so we packed a lunch of sandwiches to take with us (Thank Goodness that Snugli eats anything and everything these days :-D).

The beauty started as soon as we started :). There were innumerable vista points to stop at and it was all pretty breath-taking. Here's one of the vista points we stopped at..

There were hoards of squirrels and sea gulls at this particular place, so Snugli had a wonderful time trying to catch them :-D. The squirrels were especially unafraid to come near us (they were obviously used to people), probably looking for something to eat..

We stopped at another lovely place where we could see sea-lions lazing around..

This below one was the only active sea lion around, the rest of them were busy tanning themselves :-p.

We stopped for lunch at another quiet place and made a picnic out of it.

Stayed there for quite sometime, just enjoying the surroundings (well, one reason was also that Snugli took a long time to eat her sandwich :-p). I didn't really mind that as I was clicking away on my camera :-D.

After lunch we started driving again - the only disadvantages being the curvy roads and a fussy Snugli. We tried to stop often and we did have lots of opportunities, believe me :-D.

Flowers on the roadside ALWAYS call for some snaps :-D.

Though the mountains were bald, had no frills and were plain looking, the drive itself was worth it. But I couldn't help thinking that there are such wonderful routes even in India (I know of one such from Udupi to Murudeshwar) and they are not even advertised anywhere. Here is US everything is hyped and it sometimes is just not worth all the hullabaloo. Anyways, our next stop was at the Bixby bridge which is one of the oldest and longest bridges on Highway 1. I took the following snap from another vista point from which we could see the bridge..

And just like that we crossed the scenic part and were in Monterey.

We had our lodging for the night at Monterey, so we put up our stuff and then went to a beach to play in the ocean. It was pretty cold and again the mist made its presence known, so all in all playing on the beach was cold :-D. Not uncomfortable cold though. The only uncomfortable thing about it (which came later ;-) :-D), was the sand getting into places it shouldn't :-p, hehehee :)). Snugli really enjoyed it, so in turn Sri and I did too :). All of us were shivering when we got out and went back to our room for a hot shower :).

Last on the agenda for the day was the 17-mile drive. It is a scenic road famous for its mansions (a community of rich and famous people), its beaches and its golf-courses (one of them - the Pebble Beach golf course is hosting the US open golf tournament currently). It started off pretty good - as serene as a thick forest with mansions inbetween ;-). We stopped at one of the beaches for some time..

It was very private and beautiful :).

But after sometime it kinda got monotonous and wasn't that fun anymore. If you want to visit, be warned that there is a toll fee of $9.50, to enter the premises :-p. We subsequently had dinner at an Indian restaurant (it was called Ambrosia India cafe and it was awesome :-D) and called it a day..

Part 2 here..

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The awareness..

I had this weird/funny dream today that I just had to share.

I was being chased by these robotic creatures (courtesy of the movie "Transformers" that I watched yesterday) when I get to the top floor of this really hugggggge building. You can't even see anything below. From up there I throw my, wait for it, wait for it... iPhone to the unseen ground!!! Suddenly it was as if a switch flicked on between my subconscious and consciousness and I realized it was a dream (within the dream). My logical deduction-> "If this was real life I'd never be foolish enough to throw my iPhone from the top of a skyscraper" :-D. After just a second, that awareness passed and then I was running back below to save my iPhone ;-).

So there was a moment of sanity in a world of madness ;-) :-D, don't we all need that sometimes!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On the wings of time..

I know its been a long time since my last post. Most of these days, time feels like a whirlwind, it goes so fast that I keep wondering what is happening to it. Actually thats not true, I do know how its going, but somehow get surprised every time that okay another week is over and I didn't do all that I wanted to do! I do have many thoughts to jot out and a huggggggggggge travel post coming up, but sometimes I wonder, is anyone even reading my blog? I know my family does and my close friends do, but I hardly get any comments (even if I do, I hardly respond :-p) and sometimes, only a few times mind you, I feel, why the heck am I even putting the effort? But I do know the answer to that. I write for myself, but even typing seems like a chore these days :-\. And the ramblings go on..

Forget that and lets get on with the updates that I have..

1) As I mentioned earlier, we went to California for a 5-day trip about a week back and had a pretty-wonderful-time-except-for-a-few-things :-D, so I'll be writing about it soon.

2) As for how the time goes, I am hopelessly addicted to Survivor (and Jeff Probst ;-) :-D) these days, so am watching the older seasons on a continuous marathon in the afternoons (about 15 seasons done, 5 more to go :-D). Plus have been reading up on Photography, Astronomy and Astrophotography, so lot of things going on in my head. Yeah, that reminds me, have to put up a post on each of those :-p, atleast something on photography which is still going on in full josh mode :-D (lots of experimenting and lot of success :-D) . So, my morning is gone in cooking and some days, taking Snugli to the library and my afternoons vanish in reading or Survivor ;-).

3) As for evenings, I go swimming twice a week, actually thrice including the one time we take Snugli swimming (yup, another post due). I took some lessons last November, re-learned a few things and learned a few new styles. Basically having a lot of fun :)). There is also my gardening which is going great (which means one more post), my gladioli are back and I have new Dahlia flowers coming up. I plan to plant some chrysanthemums soon, so have lots of work there. Flower photography is blooming to say the least ;-).

4) Have to mention the nights, don't I? ;-) :-D. Since about a week, have been trying to catch a glimpse of Comet McNaught (it appears only sometime pre-dawn, so got up 2 nights for that :-\). Its still not really visible to the naked eye, but I thought maybe my camera can "see" it. Well, I have been disappointed so far, but it is supposed to brighten up next week, only to fall below the horizon. Lets see if I can catch it before it falls :).

5) And then there is Snugli. She is fully into her terrible twos and believe me, they are as terrible as they can get! Since she's literally driving me up the walls (Oh God, I have so many posts!) and school doesn't start here until she's 4 years old (I think or maybe its 5), I have started to look for a daycare/pre-school for her (there are waiting lists for the damn things :-p). I don't really plan to send her for the entire day, but I need a break for atleast half-a-day, thrice a week. Right now still looking into it, hopefully something will be finalized by month end..

6) Also wanted to add that we saw Toy Story 3 yesterday and its awesome, awesome, awesome. Especially the last part about growing up and moving on brought tears to my eyes, reminding me so much of my past (our connection with our childhoods never goes away) and making me think about the future when our little ones will fly the nest :(. I think all the women were crying (I noticed atleast 2 other women, we sniffed and then grinned at each other, hehehe). Please don't miss it and if you haven't seen 1 or 2, then there is no better time than now ;-).

As you can see, things haven't been "boring" in the Deeps household :))). I really wish for the 100th time that I had a mind reader which would jot down posts for me. Is somebody listening?? Oh well, I'm here, I am writing, I am living life as I want it and thats all that counts..

Friday, June 04, 2010

The conversation 2

She: That guy keeps staring at me!

A few seconds later..

He: Neighbour's envy, Owner's pride {grins}.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

BTFYA 9 - Less than ideal :).

The final post of the series :). I have to say I enjoyed doing this, though I am sad that it is ending at 9 posts (I don't like odd numbers - one of my quirks :-D). I wish I could have stretched it to one more, but don't want to write anything just for the sake of writing it :). But whatever I have written I am plenty happy with and thats whats important..

Five years ago, as a new bride, I wanted everything to be ideal. But more than everything else, I wanted myself to be ideal - the ideal wife, the ideal daughter-in-law and when the time would come, the ideal mother. I cannot speak for everyone, but I think most girls feel like this. We are always conditioned like that by our parents who are in turn pressured by the society as such. Anyways as I was saying, I wanted to follow all the rules in the non-existent book, so to say. I didn't want to be the rotten apple of the bunch :-D.

But things have a way of going in the opposite direction of how you want them to and isn't that the truth! Not that I'm the rotten apple :-D. I have always been basically a goody-two-shoes in a devil's clothing ;-). So sticking to my own "rules" wasn't the hardship I imagined it to be. But slowly I realized that the definition of "ideal" is different to different people. Though you may think that you have been ideal in doing certain things, there will always be people to contradict you and make you think otherwise. I can't really blame them, because their definition of "ideal" was most certainly something else. The more I struggled to be ideal, the more I realized that I was losing myself. Idealism is an illusion, created by a few unknown people, which only serves in making you miserable.

Moreover, it didn't matter whether I was ideal or not. It never does. People around me were never ideal (yup, according to me :-D) and the situations almost always weren't. For a relationship to work, the effort has to be from both sides, be it in any relationship. If the one side is exerting all the effort, never appreciated for the work put in, while the other side is still venting out frustrations without putting in any effort, then the relationship is doomed no matter what. My dad always says that "You try as hard as you can and don't expect the other person to do the same". For example his saying about a simple phone call is "You make a call to the elders out of respect (even if they don't call you) and you make a call to the younger ones because they don't know better" :-D. Very ideal, I know :-D. I have always tried and followed that (and its not only in the matter of phone calls), but still it gets to me sometimes that most people around me don't try as hard as I do. So how is it ideal in anyway?

For a relationship to work, both sides have to make adjustments. There has to be give and take. But as I said earlier, I felt that while making those changes, I was losing a part and later most of myself. If you are compromising everything, even your true self to make a situation ideal, then who is it ideal for? It certainly wasn't for me. I found myself over-thinking, over-emotional and upset with everything, with even myself. And I realized that sacrificing myself for the greater good is certainly not the thing for me :-D. I have made certain adjustments and they are a part of me now, but all in all, I am what I am. If you can't accept me the way I am, then there is nothing I can do about it (I cannot harm my true self for the so-called well-wishers' sake). One of the women quite close to me once said that she has adjusted and compromised everything all her life, first with her hubby and in-laws, then with her children, just to keep things moving smoothly. But I refuse to live like that. Its not that only I should have a say, but that I too should have a say in the decisions made (I hope you get what I mean). I refuse to blend into the background..

I am not having this epiphany after 5 years. This has been a day-to-day learning. But as I look back at my 5-year younger self, I find myself laughing at her, at the ideas and the ideals she had. If she had known what I know now, she could have avoided a lot of pain, suffering and anger :-D. And that my friends, is called life experience :).

Just a note to people who found this post too vague - I know its difficult to understand unless you are in my shoes. But I know many women are - compromising their true self for the betterment of the family and I hope they can relate to this..

And this post is the end to the Back-to-five-years ago series. I hope you enjoyed the series as much as I enjoyed being nostalgic :).