Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Leg 9 - Rapid City to Sioux Falls / Where have all the cop cars gone?

I've discovered something new...blogging on the road. I don't need Internet access cos all i have to do is write my post and send it to my blog e mail address and then once i get to my room and fire up the Internet, it posts automatically to my, huh?

Anyway, here we are driving thru South Dakota, about 40 miles away from Sioux Falls, which is our pit stop for the night. But let me rewind......

We got into Rapid City last night and were so exhausted we crawled into bed and crashed! I usually stay up and blog and add pics, but the Internet connection was lousy, so all i could do was post the blog, i'll add pics tonite. Woke up pretty early and after a lavish breakfast, left for Mt.Rushmore. By the way, the place we stayed at was super (look at the end of this post for more info re: accomodation). On the way we drove throught the famous Black Hills of South Dakota, beautiful scenery and the best part was we saw many deer by the side of the road, eating grass and looking at our cars curiously. Its nice to know that mankind has not yet succeeded in driving them away completely and they still feel like they can freely roam in their habitat. Mt. R is cool.....we have all seen pictures of it but you don't really experience the magnitude and size of it till you're a few hundred yards in front of it. We took turns taking silly photos of ourselves trying to put our face next to the 4 Presidents as the 5th one....goofy, but it was fun. We also watched a 15 minute movie of the making of Mt. R. One of the original workers was actually outside the theater talking to people....he must be about 95!!!!

Didn't really do much else after that. No near run ins with the law fact I haven't seen a single cop car. South Dakota is so different from Wyoming. Its funny how you cross the state border and its so different...I mean, how can that be? One minute you're driving thru flat flat ranch land and then you cross the border into a different state and its all hilly and rolling plains and meadows??? I don't get it, how does it change on either side of the imaginary border line???? The scenery here is sort of surreal and fake, almost child like in its simplicity. Its like a picture a kid draws.....someone pencils in the outlines and then the kid fills it in with color, black with a yellow stripe down the middle for the road, green for the fields, red roof topped houses and blue sky and puffy white clouds!!!! The only other things you see are bales of hay tied up together and laying in the sun like fat giant caterpillars! Very picturesque!

Ok, getting close to Sioux Falls, have to stop now to navigate.

6.45pm: Checked into Baymont Inn and we are getting ready to head out for dinner. Even thought R and I decided that on this road trip we were not going to eat any Indian food since we'll get all the Indian food we want after we get home, after so many days on the road, I am craving some Indian food, so we're going to try out Taste Of India close by. An Indian restaurant in South Dakota????? Almost an oxymoron! I'm sure i'll have some interesting news for you all after we get back...

Well, another surprise (Bear's Den was the first). The food was delicious and we were so sorry at all the leftovers that we couldn't take back. There's not much more news for today. We have about 450 miles to cover tomorrow to Duluth, so maybe we'll go to bed early and catch up on our sleep. Since we got our passports back in record time from the Consulate, we are toying with the idea of going to Buffalo, NY thru Ontario/Canada. Shall keep you all posted.

More pics

Travel Tip - when renting a car, do not rent at the airport. Most car rental companies have offices all over town, rent it from the one closest to your location. This way you save on airport taxes and fees.

Starbucks sightings - None along the way but plenty here in Sioux Falls.

Accomodation rating: Quality Inn at Rapid City. 4.5 out of 5. Fabulous deal. $63 for a night, plus an absolutely lavish breakfast, and a great swimming pool. Big big rooms, clean and very efficient.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Leg 8 - Grand Lake to Rapid City/Wyoming - you'll never see me again

Today is turning out to be a very interesting day. You readers have a lot to read and are probably intrigued by the title, so here goes........

For starters neither of us slept well at all and we woke up bleary eyed and exhausted. The couple in the room above us were fighting till almost 12am, there was a lot of yelling and screaming going on and then finally their door shut and it quietened down. Maybe one of them got fed up and left.....but whoever was remaining kept pacing up and down the room all night long and since it was a log cabin motel, it reverberated throughout the entire building.So much for a 4 out of 5 rating and a good night's sleep!!!! Since we wanted to get a fairly early start to the Rocky Mountain Park, we got up around 8am and then headed on back to Bear's Den (see previous blog) for breakfast. Once again, great food and R says the pancakes he ate were the best he has tasted.

After checking out we drove to the Park's west entrance about 16 miles from where we were staying only to be told that due to heavy snow last night, the entrance was closed. This posed 2 serious of course was the fact that we wouldn't be able to see the Rockies, but more serious was the fact that we had been planning to exit the park thru the east exit and head on towards Cheyenne and Rapid City to the NE, to see Mt. Rushmore tomorrow. By not being able to go east thru the park we would have to take a 90 mile detour to the south and then the north.....that would have messed up everything. The Ranger told us (and all the other cars waiting) that in about an hour and a half they would know for sure. So we were in a dilemna...if we decided to wait and then found out they were not opening the entrance, we would lose valuable time. If we decided to take the detour and then found out later they had opened it, we would be kicking ourselves......after much thought we decided to take the risk and wait....and as luck would have it, they finally opened the gate at noon. We drove through the Mountains and it was INCREDIBLE!!!!!! At some points we were at a 11,000 to 12,000 ft elevation surrounded by snow clad mountains. We felt as if we were on top of the world. There are about 60 mountains in the Rockies ranging from 7000 to 14,500 feet. It was breath taking in more ways than one....we were so high up and the air is so rarified, we had to literally take in deep breaths every so often. Speaking of air, it is so dry in Utah and Colorado....its doing wonders for my hair but my skin is starting to look like an alligator's.......

(I forgot to mention something really cool we were driving thru the first 16 miles to get to the gate, ours was the only car at the time....all of a sudden we saw a flash of brown and a fox crossed the road in front of us. There was no mistaking was a beautiful golden color with a big bushy tail. I tried to grab the camcorder in time but it was too late....then to our delight an elk coolly sauntered across the road, majestic and proud and posed for us in front of the car. It was awesome! See pic attached...)

Some of you may need a break at this point to get coffee or whatever cos there's more to come.....

After leaving the Rockies we stopped briefly for lunch on the way and then headed on north thru Colorado to Rapid City, SD, through Wyoming. Wyoming.....Hmmmm....what can i say about Wyoming????? Its like a lumpy pancake, flat for stretches and then small undulating hills, and you can see the road for as far as the eye can see ahead of you. All you see is ranch after ranch with poor unsuspecting cows corralled by wire fences, chewing on grass or waiting by the fence as if the only fun thing for them is watching the cars driving by. I tell you...if i had a wire cutter with me, i'd be cutting all the wires and setting them free!!!!! But then as R says they'll end up on a dinner plate anyway! Makes me proud to be a vegetarian! Also, if you are ever planning to drive across this state, go easy on water and drinks because there are no rest areas for miles and miles and miles and the couple that did show up were by far the worst we have ever seen! I wonder how the locals manage with so few rest areas but I think I am beginning to understand the "Open Range" signs we see along the road.....

Oh, then the other thing you see is cops with nothing else to do (not unlike the cows) but wait on the side of the road and catch drivers. I was driving along merrily with the cruise set at 66 (speed limit was 65). I saw a cop car coming in the opposite direction, look steadily at me as he passed by, and then very deliberately turn around and come after me. He stopped me and said i was doing 70 and i disagreed, but admitted i had been doing 66. It was no use...he issued me a warning and let me go. I am more than a 100% convinced that if i looked different it would not have happened!!! Officer B.Reech of the Wyoming Highway're a LOSER!!!! R is not very happy with me writing this, but even tho the name of the blog suggests otherwise, it is MY blog!

We got into Rapid City a few minutes ago at about 9.30pm....just an fyi - my computer's clock is still on PST, so all my blogs posted after Las Vegas were actually posted an hour later.

More pics at the Rockies

Travel Tip - If you're tired of fast food, Safeway makes a mean made to order sandwich. With chips and a drink its far better than any processed fast food junk out there.

Starbucks Sightings - none! But then again Wyoming doesn't deserve any!!!!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Leg 7 - Sandy to Grand Lake, Dropping in on Dinosaurs

We left Sandy city this morning about 9.30 for Grand Lake, CO. We stopped at the Olympic Village at Park City - site of the 2002 Winter Olympics - and got some great pics of the ski jump track that was used. The drive to Park City from Salt Lake is absolutely spectacular. There were some light snow flurries, the Wasatch Mountains looked fabulous in the background, the sun was shining and there was a ghostly mist hanging over it all. The we headed on to Vernal, a sort of mid way point for lunch. Just as an fyi - most of our lunches are usually at quick fast food places....Taco Time or Taco Bell, Subway, Pizza Hut...that sort of thing. We try to do a good dinner at a restaurant.
After lunch, as we were heading east we came across the Dinosaur National Monument at Dinosaur, which is right at the Utah/Colorado border, so we decided to stop there and take a look. We had to take a shuttle to the dinosaur quarry a half mile on top of the mountain to the Visitor center. It was totally cool and fun to touch 65 million year old dinosaur bones. See pics attached of fossilized bones on the mountains. A quick note on our National Parks Pass....we are amazed at all the places we can use it. We saved $3 at Timponoga yesterday and $10 at the Dinosaur Park today. After this one hour unscheduled stop, we decided to continue on with no more breaks to Grand Lake. But about 27 miles before GL, we came across the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and decided to take a dip in one of their 24 sulphur pools. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we didn't have our swimsuits with us to be able to use the public pools, and the private pools ($12 for one hour) were booked up, so that was that!
We got here - Grand Lake - at about 7.30, checked into Bighorn Inn and then went for dinner to Bear's Den across the street. Everything here has a bear theme! The restaurant was a log cabin with bear statues and models and paintings all over the place. I was sure they would not have anything vegetarian, but surprise...not only did they have a fairly good selection, it was delicious. R and I had tomato basil soup and a black bean wrap accompanied by a Merlot for him and a Pina Colada (non alcoholic) for me. It was a very good dinner. the place is all log cabins and saloons.......I really feel like i am in the Wild Wild West...except there's a Russian guy who runs this place!
In addition to my travel tip for the day, i will be adding 2 more categories. One is a rating for the place we are staying at and the third is a "Starbucks Sighting" category...
Travel tip - Always keep a bathing suit handy, you never know when you may need one!
Bighorn Inn Rating - 4 out of 5. Free internet, coffee and breakfast in the morning, large room, very comfy bed
Starbucks sighting - Appalling! Not one in sight from Salt Lake City till we got to Steamboat Springs, about 100 miles past the Utah/Co border as you're heading east on I-40. Its at the Safeway store at Steamboat Sprs.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Timpanogos and Tiramisu

Hmmmm....lets see...we woke up late again (by late i mean 8am). The weather had done a 180 degree turnaround from the day before, it was cold and wet and windy. We had planned to go see the ski slopes at Snowbird, instead Naagesh, R and I drove up to the ski slopes at Solitude and Brighton about 30 minutes from home. It reminded us a lot of Snoqualmie Falls near Seattle. We drove thru the area and took a little hike. We came back at 11.45 and then all of us left at 12.30pm for Timpanogos Falls. We got there at 1.30 and hiked up the mountain, a 1 1/2 mile trek to the top at a 20-25 degree incline all the way to the top. The rain which had been pouring since we left home miraculously stopped and it was perfect hiking weather, about 50 degrees or so. It was a fairly strenuous hike...we got to the top about 2.30pm and had a guide take us through the caves. It was fabulous. We left after an hour and trekked down and got to the base by 4.30. By then we were totally exhausted and famished after having hiked 4 miles so we stopped at Olive Garden on the way home for a fat filled carb laden dinner and rounded it off with Tiramisu that was yum! Just got back now at 7.15pm. R and I will now look at the map to decide the route to take tomorrow to Yellowstone Park.

Bad news....Yellowstone is expecting 6-9 inches of snow tonite and tomorrow morning and hazardous driving conditions are forecast. So in the interest of time we have to ditch it....after 21 years in Seattle and always planning a trip there, we were so excited at finally being able to see it...i guess its not in our immedite fate to see it. Oh well, maybe next year.

So, instead we are going via Colorado and stopping at Rocky Mountains tomorrow night. We figured since we are on the road and virtually driving thru Colorado on our way to Rapid City, we may as well see something else. We plan to head out about 9am or so.

More pics taken today

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Chilling at Sandy City

Today was a day of sightseeing and spending time with the kids and V and N. In the evening we went to a nearby park called Sugar House Park and played some frisbee with the kids, followed by a trip to downtown Salt Lake City. We went to the top of a hill called Ensign peak where we got a gorgeous view of the city with the Wasatch Mountains to one side and the Orquille mountains to the other. We checked out the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
To round it off we went to a local well known establishment called Gourmandie and had some decadent pastries (R and I split a cannoli) followed by some really good coffee at Salt Lake Roasting Plant. (Incidentally, i was wondering at the lack of Sbux stores in Utah, turns out that Mormons do not drink anything caffeinated).
Tomorrow we plan to check out the ski slopes at Snowbird and a hike in the afternoon.

Travel Tip - When making hotel reservations online thru Expedia etc, check out the hotels available and call the hotel directly to make the reservation. Or better yet, don't even go thru Expedia. They charge a fee and are not always able to guarantee the reservation or a non smoking room. We found out the hard way....

Arjun's chatter

this is an audio post - click to play

A few video clips from the past few days....

Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Arches Take 1

Friday, May 26, 2006

Leg 6 - Moab to Sandy, Utah

We must be finally getting the hang of this "America by road" thing, because today was a pretty smooth day, no close amputations or running low on gas situations....we really wanted to get an early start, but it was 9.30am by the time we left for National Arches. The sun was blazing hot but that didn't deter us in the least. The park is spread out and it is a 48 mile loop to drive around and stop at various scenic viewpoints. We also did a small 1 mile hike to the top of a mountain to view the highlight - Delicate Arch. We came across a German couple and i impressed them suitably with my rusty German.

R and I have figured out a neat way to get others to take pics of us....we turn the digital camera lens to face us and then we try desperately to look into it and click it and we look so pitiful, 99% of the time someone watching these antics will say "Would you like me to take a pic of you both" every time! By noon we were done and after a Pizza Hut lunch we drove to Sandy, Utah where R's cousin Vatsala and her husband Naagesh and 2 kids Satya(12) and Arjun(4) live. (On a side note these "Utahites" are crazy drivers....there was some serious lane changing going on all at devilish speeds!!!) V & N have a beautiful home (shall post pics tomorrow)....this evening happened to be the spring concert at Satya's school, so we all piled into the car to see it. It was really cute....all the middle schoolers had put up a show. Reminded us of Gautam's school programs.....

Tomorrow is a total relaxation day so i may not have much to post.By the way, i have decided to add a new entry at the end of each post called "Travel Tip(s) of the day". We figured it would be useful info to pass on to those of you who decide to do this road trip thing in the future.I shall be going back and adding them to previous posts too so be sure to check that.

More pics at Arches

Travel tip - If the weather calls for 100 degree temps, make sure you get an early start.....and are done by noon!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Leg 5 - Las Vegas to Sandy/Casinos to Canyons

Today was a very interesting day...both travel wise and otherwise. We left Las Vegas at about 10am after breakfast at McD. We drove thru NE Nevada, into northern Arizona for a short stretch and then entered Utah from the south. Except for that lousy spell of rain from the Bay Area to LA, we have had exceptional weather, almost a bit too hot for me. For a while we have been telling people we are driving thru America, but really what we have found is that we are really "experiencing" America. Every city/state is so different and each so beautiful in its own way. We left the glitz and overdone glamour of Las Vegas to experience true natural beauty in Utah. The scenery is absolutely spectacular! The vast expanses of land are dotted with these mammoth red sandstone like mountains, each with unique shapes....almost as if someone has chiseled these artistic creations out of the red stone.

We entered Bryce Canyon at about 2pm and for those of you who have not been here, it is a MUST SEE EXPERIENCE!!! Having lived in the Pacific NW for so long i thought i had seen all the beauty nature has to offer, but this is really something. As artists we spend hours trying to blend colors in harmonious ways in paintings, applying color wheel theory and principles, but all you have to do is to look at nature to see all colors existing side by side and working together beautifully....Red stone mountains, verdant evergreens, white snow, limestone rocks, gray iron ore all coexisting peacefully and creating stunning landscapes against a brilliant blue sky. Very reluctantly we left Bryce at 4pm and drove thru more incredible scenery to Moab, about 250 miles to the east. I forgot to mention the very tame squirrels that came right up to us looking for food....they were so cute! We did some amazing speed today, the speed limit in Utah is 75 mph, and the only time we had to slow down to 40mph was when passing thru the small one horse towns, and that too, by the time we slowed down to 40, we had passed the town!!! Tomorrow morning we plan to head out early to do the mile and a half trek to see the Arches.

Couple of incidents today....sometime this evening, R and I decided to switch driving we do every 3 hours or so. I had been driving, so i stopped and got ready to slide over to the passenger seat, and R got out and came around the back of the car to the driver seat...turns out i had put the gear in "Reverse" instead of "Park" and the car almost amputated his foot as he was coming around the back. It was a real close miss...whew! Then incident #2 - we were pretty low on gas about 40 miles away from Moab, so we thought we would fill up at a city called Crescent Junction, about 30 miles from Moab.....well CJ turned out to be a ghost town that once existed...we know that because the deserted gas station there had a price of $1.69 a gallon for gas and there was not a soul in sight. By then the red light had come on followed by all sorts of beeping sounds and a green light too......we were sure we would run out before we got to Moab...and to top it all we were on a really lonely stretch of freeway with no one else passing by and it was about 7.30pm....fortunately about 10 miles before Moab, we came across a gas station...close call #2!!!

Then another goof.....i wanted to check in and get into the hotel by 8pm to catch A.Idol finale....but by the time we did it was almost 8.30pm. No sweat, i thought....i'll catch the last hour. Well.....I forgot Utah is an hour ahead so really it was 9.30pm and it was all over!!! I think their TV programming is different...oh well, live and learn!!

Here are more pics taken today

Travel tip - When travelling by road across the country, be aware of time zones and factor them into your travel times so you don't miss TV shows like American Idol....ok, so maybe that wasn't so useful but here's one: Get a National Parks Pass if you are planning to do more than one US National park, you'll save a ton of money!! An annual pass is $50 and typically the entrance fee for one car at each park is anywhere from $10 to $20.
this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It really is the city of sin

For the first time since we left Seattle i was able to sleep in today till about 8.30am. After breakfast we decided to check out Hoover Dam since it was only 30 miles away. When we got there to our (pleasant) surprise we found ourselves in Arizona State. I say "pleasant" because we were able to hit yet another state on our America Road Trip. The dam is pretty spectacular. On our way back to Vegas we thought we would stop at a helicopter tour place we had passed along the way to the dam. The sign had said $29...we thought that was pretty good for a ride. Turns out for a party of 2 or less, it is $35 each and the actual time in the air is 3 minutes!!!! 3 MINUTES!!!! WHAT A RIP OFF!!!! So we headed back to Vegas.

We went back to the hotel and took the monorail to the south end of the strip (our hotel is at the north end). We disembarked at the MGM grand hotel. I had been reading a brochure in the morning and had earmarked all the free shows and one of them was a lion exhibit at the MGM. It sounded cool....surrounded by glass on all sides with lions inside. It turned out to be 2 small cubs in a tiny glass enclosure! Another rip off! But the cubs were too cute. Then after a quick bite we headed to the M&M store for what we thought would be another fun filled 3D movie of the life of an M&M. Guess what - the exhibit was closed! Rip off #3....

Then we walked to Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay to see the hotels inside. Each one is more spectacular than the other. Excalibur is modeled to resemble King Arthurs court, Mandalay looks like a wealthy plantation in Burma and Luxor is of course, Egypt recreated. After our mandatory pm Starbucks break we took a bus to the Venetian. Easily our favorite - you really feel like you're in Venice complete with canals and gonodoliers. The street square scene with puppeteers and singers is fantastic! There was even an opera singer belting out from one of the terraced balconies above. What we noticed was that there is opulence and glitz all over the place but it is all very tastefully done. Some of the restaurants inside the MGM Grand are absolutely beautiful.

By then it was 6.30pm and we took the bus back to the hotel room. Right now we are watching the American Idol finale and after that plan to catch the pirates war show at Treasure Island. We have a pretty long day tomorrow so we don't want to over do it....

11.11pm - Just got back from the Sirens of TI show. It was sort of cheesy but still very enjoyable. We didn't have time to eat dinner before the show so we picked up a couple of deli sandwiches and ate them now...

I am totally exhausted and ready for my sleep. Oh, by the way, we didn't play a single slot machine or that's a sin!

More pics of Las Vegas

Travel tip - When in LV, get a daily bus pass. It will save you your money and your feet walking all along the strip

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Leg 4 - LA to Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps

We spent a lovely morning at Shanker/Shobana's place. They live in a condo right on the Marina in Marina del Ray. It reminded us a bit of our condo on Alki. We chatted all morning and Raga and Mamaiyya went for a walk along the waterfront later. Then after a delicious lunch, we set out for Las Vegas around 2.30 pm. I stopped briefly at the Starbucks store i helped design on Lincoln and Fiji, about a half mile from their place.
We stopped for our usual coffee break around 4.30pm and got into Las Vegas at 8.15pm or after driving for almost 3 hours across the Mohave desert.I was doing 80mph and at one point a cop car pulled up along our car and signalled to me to slow down and then he sped off...weird! Must have had something more compelling to do...Las Vegas is really quite spectacular....glitzy and ornate but in a tasteful way. We have a room on the 17th floor in Sahara and it has a balcony looking right onto the strip. R and I checked in and then had dinner at a Mexican restaurant downstairs. Then we walked a couple of miles along the strip mentally making notes of things to do tomorrow.
this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, May 22, 2006

Updated Travel itinerary


After reviewing our itinerary, we have decided to make a few changes and take advsntage of this road trip to check out a few national as of today, this is it!

5/22 – LA to Las Vegas – 273 miles, next 2 nights in Las Vegas

5/24 – Las Vegas to Moab via Bryce Canyon – night at Moab

5/25 – Moab to Salt Lake City via Arches National Park

26th and 27th of May – stay in SLC

5/28 – SLC to Cody via Yellowstone – night at Cody, Wyoming

5/29 – Cody to Rapid City via Mt.Rushmore – night in Rapid City, South Dakota

5/30 – Rapid City to Sioux Falls – night at S.Falls, South Dakota

5/31 – Sioux Falls to Duluth, Minnesota

1st of June to 3rd of June – stay in Duluth

6/4 – Duluth to Chicago – 475 miles, night in Chicago

6/5 – Chicago to Buffalo, via Niagara Falls – 532 miles, night in Buffalo

6/6 – Buffalo to Princeton – 409 miles

7th of June to 9th of June – stay in Princeton

6/9 – train to DC – mooch off the kid for a couple of days

6/10 and 6/11 – stay in DC

6/11 evening – fly to Orlando

12th of June - 15th of June –stay in Orlando

6/15 – fly to Dallas

15th of June to 18th of June – stay in Dallas

6/18 – fly back to New Jersey

18th of June – 27th of June – stay in Princeton with a side trip to Connecticut

27th of June – leave for Hyderabad, arriving Hyd at 9am on the 29th morning

Leg 3 - San Jose to Los Angeles

Yesterday we left Los Altos about 2 hours behind schedule for Los Angeles. Our plan was to leave at noon but due to all kinds of unforseen delays, we didn't really head out till about 2pm. The weather was against us from the start. It was pouring rain and in some parts it was torrential, not unlike the monsoons in India. I took a little break from navigating and closed my eyes for a few minutes....woke up a few minutes later to find R had missed an exit to I-152 east to I-5 south! So we had to backtrack about 15 miles, not a great distance but due to the wretched rain it was almost a half hour delay. But part of the fun of doing a road trip like this is not having a real time deadline and getting to our destination as and when we do.

We drove thru some pretty large open spaces and land....everything in California is big...distances between cities is huge. My biggest gripe is that from Los Banos to Bakersfield on I-5, there is not a SINGLE Starbucks in sight!!!! There are 2000 Sbux stores in the state of California, you would think they would be all over the place!!! (I have to e mail my ex boss and tell him that particular stretch of the freeway is a gold mine waiting to happen).....and then by the time you see the sign for the one in Bakersfield, you have passed the exit - something else they have to fix!!! But the alu parathas that Sheena had packed for us more than compensated for the lack of coffee....thanks Sheena, they were yum!

The rain continued to torment us vascillating between an annoying drizzle and a blinding downpour. But we finally made our way into LA about 7.30pm and encountered the legendary LA traffic nightmare. We crawled our way to Marina del Ray and arrived at Shanker and Shobana's place about 8.30pm. For those who don't know, Shanker is R's cousin. To our pleasant surprise Kami and Sanjay were there too (Kami is Shanker's cousin on his mom's side).

Crashed into bed by we head on to glitzy Las Vegas for a couple of nights.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Pets spirits...and yet another farewell dinner

There are 44,874,121 dog owners in the United States, who own a total of 62,965,745 million dogs, and there are 76,688,522 million cats for a total of 139,654,267 pets. I saw proof of this today if the Los Altos Pet Parade is anything to go by. R and I tagged along with Sheena and the kids and Cyber - the cutest dog in the world - to the annual Pet Parade in their neighborhood. I have never seen so many animals, mostly dogs, at one place at a time. Along with dogs (50% of them were golden retreivers), there were cats, snakes, mice, hamsters, ferrets, roosters, chickens, parakeets, seahorses and fish in glass tanks, goats and horses. The pets took part in the parade and were walked by their kid owners who were divided based on the local school they went to - Covington, Egan, Almond etc. Parents and friends walked with them. I walked along pretending that Cyber was my dog. Most of the animals all got along well while walking in such close proximity, but every now and then a feisty dachshund would bark at a poor golden, or two dogs would growl at each other. But for the most part it was very peaceful. The cutest thing was the Dachshund delegation - about 20-30 of them all together. A costume contest was part of the event so there were some dogs in starnge and cute costumes. Poor Cyber - I think he had sensory overload today cos he crashed as soon as he came home. After that we walked thru the Art in the Park show where local artists display their art - paintings, sculptures, clothing, pottery, jewelry etc. Very boutiqey arty stuff....
In the afternoon we went to Berkeley Univ. with my brother to help his daughter Nalini vacate her apartment since she is moving into another one before fall. Then we all strolled thru a section of downtown Berkeley amidst Hare Rama Hare Krishna singing devotees, tie dye T shirts, incense shops and other typical free spirited sights...
This evening we go to Shyamala's place for yet another farewell dinner for R and I. Tomorrow we leave for Los Angeles :-(
Had a fabulous time at Shyamala's place. The food as usual was superb! After dinner we all got together for a few rousing rounds of a card game called "Bust"! Our family tends to be very loud and boisterous at get togethers....throw in a card game and you have some serious noise decibel levels!!!! When it was time to leave, once again like we did in Seattle, we had to say our final goodbyes to the Bay area crowd...LA here we come!