roadtrips

Travel log: Utah’s Mighty Five minus one (Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, then Antelope)

2700 miles and 8 days can’t really justify a roadtrip circling the Utah’s Mighty Five (minus one, we couldn’t plan anything in the capitol reef due to lack of time). But the stunning memories of rock and ice beauty would forever be your cherished possessions. Touring the Zion, Bryce, Arches and Canyonlands National parks have certainly elevated my spirits, may be because I personally believe, if I ever have to visualize my heart and mind in a comparative form, that would be rocks and ice in monumental sizes ;):P #cold #rock I would say.. hehe.. Jokes apart, it was a wonderful tour covering so many great geological features and nature’s sheer beauty that its extremely hard to compile it all into a single blog post.

  • My first solo hike in -24°C is the most beautiful so far
  • Kolob canyons made me drive backwards in snow for a quarter mile in the exact track I went ahead. Rear view mirror is your only source. No other option.
  • We did our first family hike in sub-zero temperatures at -7°C
  • We hiked the hoodoos in winter #navaho #loop #bryce
  • We were stuck in a passing snow storm and took 1 and a half hour to drive 2 miles in blinding snow fall with no trace of a human or any tire marks on a valley road. And that so happened on one of the most scenic drives between Zion and Bryce. Not scenic at that time ;(
  • Another family hike to the Delicate Arch, the slick rock, the ridge walk and the slope to the Arch are so very tensively beautiful
  • A family self-rescue on a very slippery icy track to Landscape arch, thanks to my crampons, hike unfinished.
  • Walking the slot canyons will take you back in time by a million years for sure, as we did the Lower Antelope Canyon.
  • Getting away from civilization will teach you the importance of a social life ;):P
  • Driving through the Monument Valley is like driving into a movie set

Take a look at the pics. I better be brief in words but I sincerely wish you take the same journey to appreciate and experience the amazing states of Utah and Arizona.

the beginning of it all..No hiking on first day as all trails were closed.

the beginning of it all..No hiking on first day as all trails were closed.

the famous entrance to the zion-carmel-tunnel, once was the largest of its kind, its thru a solid mountain.

the famous entrance to the zion-carmel-tunnel, once was the largest of its kind, its thru a solid mountain.

where is the road? which way to go? come on... try it.

where is the road? which way to go? come on… try it.

count your last minutes in heat.. Now we know why the Sun is a God.

count your last minutes in heat.. Now we know why the Sun is a God.

Lucky deers.. lots of freedom, lots of snow.. exactly what I want.

Lucky deers.. lots of freedom, lots of snow.. exactly what I want.

Get away.. please.

Get away.. please.

you feel like getting down everywhere, but you can't of course :)

you feel like getting down everywhere, but you can’t of course 🙂

please please get away.

please please get away.

And that one pic for my bumble bee :)

And that one pic for my bumble bee 🙂

lesson lesson everywhere. Too much play in snow is a lesson.

lesson lesson everywhere. Too much play in snow is a lesson.

upclose with the Thor's Hammer at -7°C

upclose with the Thor’s Hammer at -7°C

you would love driving those roads.

you would love driving those roads.

zion to bryce via carmel tunnel is my most memorable drive so far.. so memorable that i drove back there again during daytime after the storm and checked the road that pulled my balls into the mouth a night before. What happened was a bollywood movie plot

zion to bryce via carmel tunnel is my most memorable drive so far.. so memorable that i drove back there again during daytime after the storm and checked the road that pulled my balls into the mouth a night before. What happened was a bollywood movie plot

my first hike at -24°C is the most beautiful so far

my first hike at -24°C is the most beautiful so far.

Don't slip. Stay to your right. Use your poles. Tight ridge walking to the Delicate Arch.

Don’t slip. Stay to your right. Use your poles. Tight ridge walking to the Delicate Arch.

Do you see the Ms.World  2017 in this picture?

Do you see the Ms.World 2017 in this picture?

Kids' 10th hike is to the famous Delicate Arch

Kids’ 10th hike is to the famous Delicate Arch

get away, get away.. pl pl pl.

get away, get away.. pl pl pl.

canyon bed from the needles overlook.

canyon bed from the needles overlook.

noone in a 25 mile radius.. why do such places attract me all the time?

noone in a 25 mile radius.. why do such places attract me all the time?

Monument Valley scenic drive is like a movie set

Monument Valley scenic drive is like a movie set

veiled Woman. More than the rock, its the eye of that artist which first caught it that I admire most. :)

veiled Woman. More than the rock, its the eye of that artist which first caught it that I admire most. 🙂

Sunset at the Rocky Mountains

Sunset at the Rocky Mountains.. another classic from the slots.

the fish

the fish.. this is my best in handling the light shades.. of course the guide will help you with all this ;):P

Laughing Dolphin

Laughing Dolphin

getaway.. getaway.. u.

getaway.. getaway.. u.

Balanced Rock is real and yes unbelievable.

Balanced Rock is real and yes unbelievable.

At 7am in -7°C in 7

At 7am in -7°C in 7″ snow, what the heck do some people do?

We hiked the Hoodoos.. Kids' 9th hike is the famous navaho loop in bryce. Our first sub-zero family hike. Thats lot of, really lot of preparation.

We hiked the Hoodoos.. Kids’ 9th hike is the famous navaho loop in bryce. Our first sub-zero family hike. Thats a lot of, really a lot of preparation.

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Categories: friends, fun, hike, my, national parks, outdoors, roadtrips, travel, utah | 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

Travel Log: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Dead Sea

310 miles of my recent road-trip in the heart of Israel is a definite experience of charm, antiquity and excitement.

  • Tel Aviv’s traffic, skyscrapers and sandy beaches reminded me of Mumbai but the Jaffa old city stood out uniquely.
  • Floating like a cork ball in the Dead Sea gave me an unbelievable experience of buoyancy apart from burning my eyes and nose.
  • Jerusalem and its ancient remains inside the walls of the old city
  • the surreal religious fervor at the Stone of Anointment in the church of Holy Sepulcher
  • the Semitic orthodox doctrines and rituals, the Mezuzahs and the Golden Menorah
  • the hummus, khuskhus, polanta and other typical vegetarian food  & the kosher restrictions in the kitchens
  • the Ferrari museum
  • the Dead-Sea scrolls in the Israel Museum
  • the Nano-Bible
  • Masada ruins and Qumran caves (I couldn’t locate them by road and didn’t get a chance to go back again)
  • and more than all, the warm welcome and cordiality of colleagues and citizens alike

… Its a long list 🙂

A rainy morning in Tel Aviv

A rainy morning in Tel Aviv

“Talent, Warmth and Success” personified

the Nano Bible -- its the small dot in the middle of the white panel

the Nano Bible — its the small dot in the middle of the white panel

Tel Aviv from the Jaffa beach

Tel Aviv from the Jaffa beach

Tel Aviv night lights

Tel Aviv night lights

still unknown why these copper 'tools?' were made a thousand years ago

still unknown why these copper ‘tools?’ were made a thousand years ago

Jerusalem in the first temple period 1000-586 BC

Jerusalem in the first temple period 1000-586 BC

the closest I can go to the Temple Dome

the closest I can go to the Temple Dome

Al-Aqsa glowing in the night

Al-Aqsa glowing in the night

the Western Wall also known as the Wailing Wall

the Western Wall also known as the Wailing Wall

the Golden Menorah

the Golden Menorah

mezuzah on every door

mezuzah on every door

the Stone of Anointment -- a definite place of intense religious fervor

the Stone of Anointment — a definite place of intense religious fervor

ancients streets of the Jaffa old city

ancients streets of the Jaffa old city

Everything vegetarian on the table :) at the famous 'The Old man & the Sea'

Everything vegetarian on the table 🙂 at the famous ‘The Old man & the Sea’ (thats just at the beginning) 😉

Guess what? This is an F1 steering wheel :) yes.

Guess what? This is an F1 steering wheel 🙂 yes.

car wheel with spokes? yes they already thought of it and made it too :)

car wheel with spokes? yes they already thought of it and made it too 🙂

Dead Sea is 34% saline that it leaves these salts on your skin once you are out of water

Dead Sea is 34% saline that it leaves these salts on your skin once you are out of water

Dead Sea and its the Jordan visible on the other side

Dead Sea and its the Jordan visible on the other side

Dead Sea beach filled with salts, of course :)

Dead Sea beach filled with salts, of course 🙂

Jerusalem old city miniature

Jerusalem old city miniature

vegetarian noodles and french fries ordered with vodka

vegetarian noodles and french fries ordered with vodka in the Sheraton Tel-Aviv

Categories: my, office, outdoors, roadtrips, travel, world | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 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

Travel Log: 1400 miles of our Alaskan roadtrip is just thrilling

Alaska is no doubt one of the most beautiful places on the Earth. The stunning Glaciers, large lakes, enormous mountain ranges, diverse wildlife and museums with rare collections etc certainly make it one of the bucket list items for any traveler. We did a week long circular road trip of ~1400 miles from Anchorage ->Denali ->Fairbanks ->Delta Jn ->Paxson lake -> Matanuska -> Seward -> Anchorage and thoroughly enjoyed it that we want to go back again 🙂

Day-1 started with a quick hike to the Thunderbird Falls:
thunderbird falls hike

Glacier Ruth — you will surely feel like dancing when you land on it:
dancing on glacier Ruth

Horns Everywhere:
horns everywhere

That was the first time we saw a ‘moose’:
moose

10pm sunlight and the sunset still an hour or so away:
10pm sunlight

Hatchers Pass:
Hatcher's pass

End of the Alaskan Highway mile 1422 at Delta Junction:
End of the Alaskan Highway mile 1422 at Delta Junction

Denali National Park and Preserve:
Denali national park and preserve

Every moose belongs to the Earth 🙂
Every moose belongs to the Earth :)

That was a ‘wild’ bear with two cubs, came so very close 🙂
That was a 'wild' bear with two cubs, came so very close :)

flightseeing was super fun:
flightseeing was super fun

Mount Denali from a flightseeing air taxi:
Mount Denali

wild and bald eagle 🙂
wild and bald eagle :)

look into his eyes, he can read a scribble pad from across a football field 🙂
look into his eyes, he can read a scribble pad from across a football field :)

holgate glacier (that is a flowing ice river, if you don’t mind):
holgate glacier

one house that I always wanted:
one house that i always wanted

designer musk ox (he was just shredding):
designer musk ox

never saw a bear claw that close:
never saw a bear claw that close

wood bison:
wood bison

woolly mammoth skeleton is so huge and the video that shows how painful it is for them to excavate the fossils is just mind blowing:
woolly mammoth is so huge

post card sceneries:
post card scenaries

Road Road Road:
road road road

road road road

road road road

road road road

Doll’s porpoise playing with the tourists on board the Glacier Express:

orca group Ak-6 on the Seward shores:

And the last but not least, a humpback breaching the water surface. You should see it with your naked eye and understand how exhilarating it is to watch the world’s biggest mammal known doing that flip on open ocean:

Thats all for now. Thanks for reading.
Balu

Categories: car, family, fun, hike, my, national parks, outdoors, roadtrips, travel | 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

Travel Log: Trinidad, Portland, Seattle and Crater Lake

End of 2015 in a classic wanderlust way with a 2320 mile road trip also setting my new personal record 

Wow! It was such a fun to see huge rainbows spanning the full horizon, blinding rains, blazing interstate speeds, whiteout snow challenging my guts, deep ice trembling my car and super slick roads shaking my confidence. And then the gigantic redwoods with living trees as huge to pass a car thru, the mystic aura of intense forests, the refreshing air that fills your lungs n mind with new energy, the splashing sexy water falls whispering new ideas and the crashing pacific waves charging you for the year ahead.. And then searching for Sasquatch in thick forests where its dark in the afternoon and the invaluable time with friends in the middle of nowhere, ziplining gondola ride above the tall redwood tree canopy,  that nostalgia in a family get-together, my 5 year old kids setting their own hike record of 8 miles,  meeting a childhood friend after 20 years, greeting a long time puppy who can now lick my cheeks standing straight, peeping into an incredible business empire and see how a Boeing 787 is made, staying with strangers who are unbelievably hospitable and caring..  wow! wow! wow! Here are only a few of the pics that give me a high looking back.

 

with babai my father figure and sis family

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December 31st night at -10°C temperature in snoqualmie pass, WA

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Fern Canyon — another 1 mile of wet beauty thru the tunnel in the background

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Its still a living and kicking tree.. after 2100 years

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thats the rendition of the first leg of journey 🙂

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Photo Courtesy: UXER

 

try wild elks next time 😛

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the subtle beauty certainly whispers 😉

multnomah falls in portland, Oregon

Defy your own self.

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There are only 4 of such ‘dream lifter’s in this world and one I have already captured in this pic 🙂

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My kids’ own record of an 8mile hike to the Fern Canyon

fern-canyon

bumblebee – my sweet subie

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Turn right after 313 miles… wow.. A road bug’s high 🙂

drive-crazy

chase a bear every time you are in the woods

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One day I will surely meet this ‘bigfoot’ guy

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America’s deepest lake might also be the bluest beauty

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Thats the end of the year 2015.. Tubing at snoqualmie pass on December 31st night at -10°C temperature..

tubing at snoqualmie pass

thanks
Balu

Categories: california, life, my, Oregon, outdoors, roadtrips, state parks, travel, videos, Washington | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Log: Sequoia, Redwoods and Lassen

7 days, 5 national parks, 3 different worlds and 1 spirit.

It may seem crazy to drive across California for a week but the sheer fun of a roadtrip connecting 3 unique worlds into one is something I couldn’t have resisted. Please scroll down to check my brief travelogue 🙂

For a patio gardener like me, the Giants Forest is something unfathomable n supremely attracting 🙂

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Giving my kids a chance to explore and then to breach their own limits is more than anything to me 🙂

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Thats the WORLD’s LARGEST TREE folks! If only you wonder the size of seed it came from 🙂

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It matters what you do holding your kids hands 🙂

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Photo Courtesy: UXER

 

And then to leave them free to walk on their own 🙂

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Travel in groups 🙂

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Photo Courtesy: UXER

 

Hike, ski or whatever.. But get lost and get exhausted 🙂

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Photo Courtesy: UXER

 

Wanna get charged for the next day? simple… do firepit and barbeque, the crude way 🙂

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Photo Courtesy: UXER

 

Look straight for love :p

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Photo Courtesy: UXER

 

Check out the roads where only a few cars would love to go… Thanks to my sweet Subie.. bumblebee 🙂

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Photo Courtesy: Pavan

 

Get a large backyard wherever you stay 🙂

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Gen-NEXT-Men 😉

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Sign-in wherever you go 🙂

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Prepare well 🙂

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And the four little mountaineers posing with a live Volcano in the background..  They took pain and braved all odds to come along with me 😮  … More than enough for their age.

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Selfie with the Sulphur.. End of adventure for now 🙂  #stay #tuned

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Categories: california, family, friends, fun, my, outdoors, roadtrips, state parks, suggestions, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

what makes this short drive to a superb californian beach so special?

Half-Moon-Bay on a Full Moon Day

Reach there by afternoon, wait for the sunset and return late to see the Silver God in full bloom over the hwy 280 that glistens like a diamond necklace on your dream girl.. Not to mention the wonderful beach with crackling waves and a milky white horizon. Next time, I will plan a full night camping here on a full moon day. Couldn’t really return so early, but for the kids.

Another little jewel in my roadtrip kitty 🙂 and my #subaru #outback? Just loving it.

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Categories: cars, family, fun, outdoors, roadtrips | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AAA!! not insurance.. Its about a life style!

What is so proud to be a premier member of the American Automobile Association (AAA)?

Its not about some insurance or your car towing… Its all about a life style. What a century of automobile enthusiasm can do to your roads, your roadtrips, your preparation and to your take home experience. Their history first impressed me, their member discounts are unparalleled, and the amount of travel data they have is just mind blowing.

Today I heard over the FM radio that they are giving a sleeping bag for anyone who takes a free quote. I went there to ask one for me as I am just a few days old member. They happily gave me one but thats not all. I wanted few location maps for my future trips and was just overwhelmed with the material given to me by the lady executive in the counter.  It could have otherwise taken many days of my Internet time, don’t you forget your inability to print large paper maps nor how hard it is to compile a handy list of reliable hotels and services.. And not to mention their DMV services, movie tickets, shopping discounts and car rentals..

So I think AAA is not just your car insurance company… AAA is everything about travel… Its about a life style!!!

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Categories: cars, my, outdoors, roadtrips, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bay Area’s best road-trip and my new record 2137 miles, Yey!

Now I know why the American road-trips are a cult. This is one such beautiful trip starting from Bay Area and circling through Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park then back home. The kind and variety of landscapes we have seen are just mind blowing.
From an urban suffocation driving through an agricultural vastness into the world’s entertainment capital that leads into a desert dry-land full of neon ecstasy which sits adjacent to a snowy mountain that makes a huge lake which befriends a deep forest hosting the world’s tallest granite rock that pushes down a slenderly beautiful water fall.. wow.. all in a single trip 🙂  
Thanks to a beasty Ford Expedition and its V6 Engine that made it a breeze and my trip a true pleasure with the 8 souls inside sitting comfortably watching the 3D world changing around them all the while 🙂
These 2137 miles also make my new record roadtrip, overwriting the old 1200 miles 🙂 Yey!
la-lv-road-trip
Categories: cars, entertainment, family, fun, my, outdoors, roadtrips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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