california

you are welcome to the family foosball championship (weekly)

 

  • Every Sunday afternoonUntitled
  • You and your spouse are a team
  • Each team plays 3 games with all other teams on that day
  • Potluck or Pizza Lunch
  • Entry fee $10 (to start with) and the lady in winning team takes all

Lets have some fun as adults. Bring your kids too but focus on your own game. They can play separately :). We can drop the entry fee if none of the teams are interested in OR we can bump it up, bet separately likes if someone wanna become a little richer by the evening 🙂

This is an open invitation welcoming you all to get hands on and have some fun. Beer and wine are on the house 🙂

Please feel free to ping me for any questions or directions.

🙂

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Categories: california, entertainment, family, food, friends, fun, my | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What the heck do kids learn outdoors?

For fun they played in snow
In pain they cried in snow
The contrast taught them a lesson which they don’t realize now

Take your kids to the great outdoors and face the elements, let them handle the inconveniences and they will quickly stop crying and start thinking solutions.

You can’t give them anything better as a parent… Anything.
    
what the heck do kids learn outdoors?

Categories: california, entertainment, family, fathering, fun, hike, kids, my, national parks, outdoors, roadtrips, winter | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

hiking Rose Peak in Sunol Wilderness (only for advanced hikers)

This marks my personal best record of 19 miles, 4k elevation in 10.5 hours.. yey!

And this just happens to be the tallest publicly accessible peak in the Alamada County. Hiking it is very strenuous, the heat just kills, any amount of water is not sufficient (drinkable water is only at the visitor center, for emergencies there is untreated water at Hawk’s Nest) and the long distance would seem to be never ending. Trails are well marked but you better carry your own gpx as you can get lost at few places, but overall we enjoyed hiking this. Never try this alone. We hardly saw any people there and its not worth risking your own self in the vast wilderness. This is meant to be for advanced hikers, but of course I did. 😉

Golden Valleys (with fire hazard warning ‘EXTREME’ of course)
golden valleys

Touch the clouds
touch the clouds

Hawk’s Nest campground
Hawk's Nest campground

You should hike 11 miles to get to this humble flagpost.. aah
you should hike 11 miles to get to this humble flagpost.. aah

thanks for reading. Don’t try this alone or without proper planning.

B

Categories: 2016, california, hike, my, outdoors, state parks, trails challenge | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Half-moon bay beach camping on a full moon day

My kids were camping for the first time and I wanted them to start big 🙂 so whats better than a beach front on the night of a full moon?  Book your campsite on the Half-moon bay, arrange for lots of food n drinks, carry a ton of firewood, plan your barbeque ahead, pitch your tent,  exhaust them on the sand, split the woods, fire the pit, show them how to manage fire, make a few smoking corn and let them avoid burning their lips, lights on, open the sleeping bags, teach them how to go to bed comfortably… All this when the waves of the great Pacific ocean are splashing heavily just a 100 yards away, with a chilling breeze making your fire most valuable.. 🙂

Enjoy the life with most basic amenities and appreciate the value

The cozy small place to stay for the night:
our tent a 100 yards away from the Pacific waves

Thats all you have:
car camping

smoking corn for the evening:
smoking corm for the evening

good night with no electricity:
good night

Thanks for reading, hope this inspires you to go out into the nature.

B

Categories: california, family, kids, life, moon, my, outdoors, roadtrips, state parks, summer | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

hiking the half-dome cables in yosemite

Put a hard deadline by which you should summit and if you don’t reach by that time, turn back.

This is the top rule when you are hiking particularly when the routes/summits are strenuous, dangerous, long and lonely.  And thats one rule that prevented me to turn back from the foot of the cables 😦 I was very sad and missed the peak only by a mere 400 meters but I now have a better understanding of this ruthless trail, of the lacunae in my planning and my very own limitations. Of course, I will work on these points and surely go again. I will carry more than 4L of water, no extra wait, will eat more and try to avoid muscle cramps, next time.

Cables on Half-dome is no doubt one of the best and strenuous hikes I did in the last many years. Its a hiker’s paradise with stunning views, steep granite and a thorough mental challenge.  A grueling 16 mile hike with limited access to water, the staircase with huge steps along side the Nevada and Vernal Falls, the never ending John Muir trail, the risky slopes on the sub-dome all would only make it more beautiful if you ask me 🙂

Parking Tip:

Trailhead parking is usually sufficient for day/night hikers but there are few slots at the Happy Isle too (closed when we were there). And if these two are overflowing, then the nearby Curry Village parking (now Halfdome village) is huge enough for a thousand cars.
 
Cables on half-dome:
cables on half-dome

Trail Map:

View from the sub-dome:
view from the sub-dome

Nevada and Vernal Falls:
nevada fallsvernal falls

A granite bargain:
a granite bargain

 

John Muir trail:
John Muir Trail to halfdome

Try this all out. You would love it.

Thanks for reading.
B

Categories: 2016, california, hike, my, national parks, national parks, outdoors, sun, trails challenge | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Trails Challenge souvenir

Yey! Thats like hiking 52+ miles in different state parks mostly in East Bay though 🙂 … so far.

2016 Trails Challenge

Categories: 2016, california, health, hike, my, national parks, outdoors, state parks, trails challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

mistakes made me

mistakes made me wise :)

Categories: analysis, california, life, me, philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mussel Rock, McCluers Beach and the San Andreas fault in between

Not many would be interested to go to an Earthquake fault on a weekend road trip but what if you add a beautiful beach to it, and a stunning rock floor all filled with mussels, and a big tunnel in the rock with the high waves crashing and trying to close both sides of it? That would be one awesome day, trust me!

As for the record, Mussel Rock is the place where the San Andreas fault re-enters the land mass. The “Pacific Plate” and the “North American Plate” just rubbed against each other and made an 800 mile long fault that looks like a scar on the Earth’s cheek.. Isn’t it creepy?

And touching the edge of such a ” tectonic plate” with your human hands is like a crazy dream.

And then, all the rocks on the shore are filled with tiny black mussels, wow, why? Don’t miss the “hole in the rock” which is just one wonderful experience to sit in the tunnel and hear the crashing waves at both sides.  And another point close to the fault but far away from here is the McCluers Beach. We will do Fort Ross some other day, but this beach is hidden from the public view by few hillocks and the hike down took just 0.5 miles and you enter a private beach thats all your own 🙂

hole in the rock

mussels on the rocks

ever ever sand

ever ever sand

Thanks for reading. You have nice time too.

Categories: california, family, fun, hike, kids, my, outdoors, roadtrips | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel log: Journey to the HOTTEST place ever recorded on the Earth

The HOTTEST place ever recorded on the Earth;
The LOWEST elevation below sea level in the entire Western Hemisphere;
The DRIEST place in the Western Hemisphere;
The TALLEST place in all of the lower US states;
The LARGEST National Park in the USA;

It may sound like crazy that I wanted to visit these places but the privilege of a Californian is to be able to cover them all in a day or two, so why not on a long weekend?  🙂 Yes, I am talking about the famous “Death Valley National Park” which is the largest (in fact larger than Yellowstone, yes, yes).  I never thought it would be so beautiful even though exhausting and dehydrating. We drove through the heart of the valley, its all a dry and barren land with extreme temperature and aridity but God made it “hellafa” beauty, I vouch.

  • Furnace Creek and Stovepipe are aptly named 🙂
  • Badwater Basin is a bold beauty and drains all the water out of you. It was 109°F (43ºC) when we were there
  • Natural Bridge intrigues you sure
  • Mesquite Dunes mesmerizes you
  • the “Death Valley Scenic Highway” is certainly scenic with multiple stops for water and pictures 🙂
  • Mount Whitney stands tall and makes all this rain shadow region what it is
  • Family trek to the Lone Pine Lake at 10k

And we didn’t actually get time to visit many other places like Zebriskie point, Devil’s cornfield, Ubehebe crater and Eurake Dunes etc.. Next time 🙂

Trip tips:   Carry lots and lots of water with you, sun screen, cooling glasses, hat, umbrella and whatever else that can protect you from the scorching sun and dehydration.

My Kids tried to breach the 10k elevation mark but had to turn back at 9153 due to bad weather. It still was a 4 mile hike on the slopes of Mount Whitney. We got two new friends and the 3 year old “Ashrita” was the most energetic:
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Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level
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Bumblebee’s “Off road” to the “Natural Bridge”:
"off road" to the "Natural Bridge"

“Salt Carpet” at the Badwater Basin
"Salt Carpet" welcomes you

“Natural Bridge” — It was cut thru by flowing water, once upon a time 🙂
Natural Bridge, Death Valley National Park

“Mesquite Dunes” — a desert in the heart of “redwood” state
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Another 1200 miles in the log.. um..and special thanks to Manoj and Punnami for accompanying us.

thanks for reading.

Categories: 2016, california, car, family, hike, kids, my, national parks, national parks, outdoors, roadtrips, summer, sun, trails challenge, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

hiking Mount Baldy

I took the Ski-hut-trail to the peak and then the Devil’s backbone to come down. It may look like a normal hike of 10-11 miles but the ascent is an unpaved steep trail filled with boulders and occassional shade. And its the descent I found very dangerous as the Devil’s backbone is nothing but a sharp ridge with deep valleys on both sides. Add some bad weather and poor visibility, it can easily become treacherous as it happened to a lonely me. Don’t go alone onto this ridge, particularly if its bad weather.

10k peak, 11 miles, 12 hours... not bad

10k peak, 11 miles, 12 hours… not bad

mount baldy

it was not easy for sure

devil's backbone

Devil’s backbone looks so normal from the top, but once you enter that area covered by clouds, its nothing but a steep ridge with deep valleys both sides. Don’t go alone.

one in a billion rainbow

Watch carefully! Its a one-in-a-billion circular rainbow which flashed for a few moments with a passing wet cloud and a rare chance, it appeared like an aura around my head in the shadow

 

Categories: 2016, california, hike, my, outdoors, roadtrips, state parks, trails challenge | 1 Comment

bug day at Randall Museum, SFO

Its important to teach your kids something about bugs, what are harmless and what are harmful etc. Thanks to the Randall Museum in SFO, we had a fun day with lot of infotainment. Add that to all our outdoor time and I am sure my kids would have their curiosities answered and still be safe…

Of course each bug is a lesson whether its biting your neck or breaking your code ;):P

hand-crafted Bug Crowns 🙂

bug day
 

The real Tarantula is hide sleeping in grass but the one you see in the box is only the shell he just shed:
bug day

 

One harmless scorpion.. believe me!

bug day
 

the common beetle:

bug day
 

larvae will never be disgusting again:

bug day
 

Its the daddy beetle who carries all the eggs around:

bug day
 

 Not indoor plants, they are all carnivorous hunters:

bug day
 

 This cone shaped death trap is probably the most misguiding:

bug day
 

 Not all beauty is naive, it eats a bug alive and slow:

bug day
 

 Spot the snake:

bug day
 

 Thats the first time I saw a birdie skeleton:

bug day
 

 and a tortoise one too:

bug day

Categories: bugs, california, family, fathering, fun, infotainment, my, outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The first thing I do with my tax refund and you should too!

Its not actually the ‘first’ thing  because I am doing this directly from my tax deductions without even receiving the refund. This time I used TurboTax and came across this wonderful feature to be able to donate directly from the refund while filing the returns itself.. And here is my fav list:

$100 -> Emergency Food For Families Fund

$195 -> State Parks Protection Fund/Parks Pass Purchase

$100 -> Keep Arts in Schools Fund

$80 -> America The Beautiful – National Parks Annual pass (ordered separately)

That takes a cool big chunk from my total refund but I am happy and thankful to God for giving me this opportunity to donate.  I never want to boast about myself but it just gives me good sleep if I do this 🙂 and probably I can inspire a rich aahs to beat me in this someday 🙂

B

Categories: california, my, national parks, state parks, suggestions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

hiking thru Bear Gulch caves at Pinnacles

A superb start to the Spring 2016 with a 3.2 mile hike in the deep talus caverns of the Pinnacle National Park in the Bear Gulch Nature Reserve. My 5 year old kids did this full loop along with my senior citizen mother-in-law and everyone liked the narrow passages laughing heartily squeezing thru the wet rugged rocks 🙂

Don’t forget your headlamps:   Moses Springs Trail -> Bear Gulch Cave Trail -> Rim Trail -> High Peaks Trail -> Bear Gulch Nature center;

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Categories: 2016, california, family, fun, hike, kids, life, my, outdoors, state parks, summer, trails challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

hiking Mount Diablo, California

15 miles of rocky, muddy, slippery terrain on a lonely, cloudy day to the summit at 3850 ft   and the hike route is so well planned that it covers all the park geography with a solid ascent and descent., probably why they call it “The definitive route to the summit at Mount Diablo“.. I enjoyed it thoroughly :).

Michelle Canyon VC -> Back Creek Trail -> Bald Ridge Trail -> North Peak -> Summit -> Juniper Campground -> Deer Creek Trail -> Michelle Canyon Road -> VC.


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Categories: 2016, california, fun, hike, my, outdoors, state parks, trails challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunol wilderness hike

12 miles of sine curve trails under the scorching sun, a nice n hot challenge to your leg muscles, tiny purple grass flowers that are hardly 2-3 mm in diameter covering the stretch of a valley and an absolute aloneness with the nearest human at least a few miles away, not to mention the beast bullies who block your way and complicate things :).  This year’s first hike for the #trails #challenge #2016 #ebparks!

thats a lot of calories guy!

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yes yes true sine curves looking back

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funny tree? bouts of green branches 😉

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be careful with the slopes

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to own just one such ranch house

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cave rocks — don’t dare to enter — one little famous landmark

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purple beauty cutie

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beast bullies.. they don’t give way.. you can’t detour because of the slopes.. nice.. um… guess who charged running!!

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god send lunch bench.. the 4 oranges I ate after 7 tough miles is surely one of my best lunches ever had

Categories: 2016, california, my, outdoors, state parks, trails challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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