Bay Area Trip (Day 1)

12888701_10154959950683521_2991334542298983485_o

17-Mar-2016: Few of our friends call Bay area their home and we had wanted to visit them and also G and Ar had not been to that area. So this had been in planning for some time, but it kept getting moved forward, one due to we not having the car and also it being a long trip we were not ready yet. This trip got finalized in Feb and we decided to go in March We were thinking of taking couple of days off before the weekend and make it a 4 days trip. The distance from our place to it is around 400 miles and it takes around 7:00 hours to reach if you go non stop 🙂 . We started planning the itinerary as the day approached. The plan was as below:

  • Day 1: Head towards Bay area, via Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and enjoy the scenic route. Reach our friends place.
  • Day 2: Do a SFO sightseeing and spend some time with friends.
  • Day 3: Do some local sightseeing, like silicon valley etc, mainly a relax day.
  • Day 4: Before heading back visit one more of our friend and be home by evening.

We packed our stuff, we ended up carrying lot of luggage ;), mainly food stuff, clothes , gifts etc. I had loaded the car tank preceding night as we were to start early. Woke up at 5:00 am. We had planned to leave by 6:30 am as we wanted to cross LA before peak time traffic. Though as always we got delayed and could start only around 7:30 am. We were cruising along I-5 and traffic was light, but as we entered 101, the traffic slowed us down. It took us more than a quarter hour to cross LA. We took diversion at CA-58 to head towards Moro bay where we got on to the Pacific coast highway (PCH), which was going to accompany us for next 200+ miles. This route is one of the most beautiful and scenic route in the world. The whole road passes right next to the Pacific coast on one side and cliffs on other. There are many beautiful beaches, vista points and arched bridges on the way.

We were making nice progress as traffic was light. We took a stop at San Simon which is a nice town and has great beach front. We had our lunch their which we had brought with us (parathas etc). It was such a nice experience to have it alongside the San Simon coastline. We would have liked to explore this town more as we have heard it has some nice old European architecture style buildings. For some other time ! We also fueled up here and moved ahead. It is important to keep refueling on PCH at regular intervals as you might not spot any gas station for a long stretch.

12719192_10154959951023521_265894510266918026_o

Our next stop was going to be Big Sur. This is a resort town on the way and its very scenic. The main attraction is the cove and waterfall descending into it. We parked on PCH and then you have to descend and you get to a bridge. From here you get view of pristine blue waters and the water falling from cliff into the cove. I have not seen such a sight. Its mesmerizing. We spent some good amount of time there and did not want to leave. Just a short distance from here is Bixby creek bridge, which you might have seen on numerous postcards. There are couple of vista points before the bridge, from where you can see the arched bridge on the cliff flanked by Pacific coastline with blue waters. We then crossed the bridge and took break on the vista point on other side of the bridge. You get a different view of the bridge from here which is equally jaw dropping. Big Sur is a destination in itself and you can spend few days here to explore it, which we did not had unfortunately 😦 . We wanted to see one more point (a beach), which is quite popular but couldn’t find the spot and as we were getting late so we continued further.

Around 30 miles from Big Sur is the famous 17 mile drive. This is a private drive and there is $10 fee. Its a small peninsula and you go round the loop which is around 17 mile and so the name. At the beginning there is forested area and the jungle is heavily wooded. We took couple of breaks there, it was cool and peaceful. From here you drive down and you start feeling the ocean breeze. There are many scenic spots here like the iconic Lone Cyprus tree which is timeless, then there is Pebble beach and many golf coarse on the coast line. We took a break at the Pebble beach and had some snacks on the benches overlooking it. It gave us  much needed break. It was around 5:30 pm and I had been driving for close to 10 hours. Ar was started getting bit restive, with her constant question being “Are we there yet?”. We then completed the loop which was quite scenic and then headed out.

There is an exit for Sunnyvale before you enter Santa Cruz. This is the point you leave the coast behind. It was a mesmerizing PCH ride, which we would remember for ever. Yeah, its just like as they show in movies 🙂 . We stopped at a gas station to fill the tank and then we headed for our destination. We reached out friends home at Cupertino by 8:00 pm. We were quite tired, but had completed the 1st leg. We had driven for almost 12.5 hours and covered a distance of over 400 miles. We parked our vehicle, pulled out all our stuff and headed to their home. After freshening up and some chit chat had dinner and then it was time to go to bed.

PS:  I had done the PCH ride before, but it was as a passenger and I always wanted to drive myself on this stretch. I cant explain enough in words how scenic and wonderful this route is..

Advertisements

Seal & Sunset beach Weekend Getaway

10-Jun-2017:  Today was more beaches day! We couldn’t see the sunset yesterday and so decided to go to some beach to catch one. The plan was to go late in second half and come back after the sunset. G wanted to start late in the evening something like 6-6:30 pm and before that have weekly grocery run. But I was getting bored and wanted to leave early. Finally we dropped the grocery plans and decided to head straight to the beach. We decided to cover 2 of the beaches on our to do list. One was the Seal beach which is close to Long beach and bit south from there the Sunset beach. We planned to go to Seal first and then come catch the sunset on its namesake beach.

We left around 4:00 pm. This time around we didn’t miss to get the snacks with us. The route is go to PCH and head north and Seal beach is located around 9-10 miles from Huntington. The route is our favorite and we were enjoying the drive. It was bit hot though but skies were clear, a good news for seeing the sunset. We reached there around 5:30 pm. There is a big parking lot there and the parking charges are $3:00 for 2 hours. The beach was ok not great. The Seal is for the namesake, we could not spot any Seals 😉 There are only limited amenities, like only one shower/restroom and a small children play area. Also the coasts view is not as scenic as you can see long beach port and rigs in the ocean. Ar though played lot in the water and she was not ready to leave. We spent lot of time in water. The water was warm with nice swirl of waves hitting now and then. Ar also played with her sand toys and created a small castle. We then decided to take a beach walk and enjoy the moment. There is a nice pier where we strolled a bit and then decided to head to the other beach as it was almost 7:20 pm.

The Sunset beach is 3 miles down south from here and its quite long. There are houses lining the beach front and there is ample parking on the road side. So we pulled just before 19th street and beach is just few yards away from there. Ar was not too eager to go as she was feeling bit cold. But after some time she was fine. We put down the blanket on the sands and relaxed. We were hungry by now and had some snacks. Ar was playing in the sand and I just put on the cap on my face and took a quick nap. G also took some rest. It was close to 8:00 pm now and sun was about to set. I wont say this is the best sunset point ever, but it was nice and we had good time seeing the sun set We also shot lot of video footage for our vlogs. It was getting quite cold now as the sun set. We left the place around 8:30 pm.

It had been a bit tiring weekend, but we had nice time covering 3 beaches and the PCH drive. On the way back the traffic was thin and we reached home around 9:30 pm. On the way we picked up bread and G prepared some nice hot sandwiches and we called it a day.

Dana Point Sunset

10-Jun-2017: It’s summer time! Not my favorite month though, but G’s fav and Ar’s also , kinda. One thing we like about summer months is that the day is longer and so you have lot of time at your hands. So Ar’s school break has started and we have planned some beach gateways with family in the vacation time. We plan to cover at least but not restricted to 12 beaches, that would be 1 beach a week for the vacation duration.

This Saturday we woke late and we were behind everything, but after lunch which was a late one decided to head out. We did not have a specific plan, though were thinking about seeing sunset at Dana Point. It was 4:00 pm when we left and as we hit the Pacific Coast Highway, we changed plans and decided to go the other direction i.e. up north and stop at point where our journey takes us. The weather was good, bit cloudy, we had out sun roof open and were cruising along the PCH.

We passed through Laguna, Corona del mar, Newport beaches and decided to halt at Huntington pier. It was around 5:30 pm now and I pulled up in the parking lot, but when I saw $15 rate, pulled out. For whole day its fine, but for 1-2 hours we were going to send there it was not worth it. So we decided to head back to our original destination: Dana point. Ar was bit tired by now and she was anxious when we are going to reach the beach. The traffic surprisingly was thin that day and beaches were also quite empty, may be due to cloudy day. Seeing parking spots easily available at Laguna beach tempted us to stop there, but then we decided to stick to our plans. We took the Golden Lantern exit and were at Dana Point by 6:15 pm. There is enough parking space here and its free.

Dana Point is actually a harbor and you would spot many boats and yacht there. The water on the harbor side is calm and serene and on the other side rash and noisy 🙂 On the extreme right side beyond the harbor is Pacific Coast and located there is the Sun Set point, flanked by the hill cliff. There are some nice benches to sit and relax and during low tides you can go down the stairs to the waters. This is the place which was my first outing when I cam to US. Nice place and nice old memories.

Instead of benches, we decided to sit on the rocks closer to the water. The sound of waves hitting the rocks is so soothing. We knew we will not be able to catch the sunset as it was cloudy near the horizon. We spent good 2 hours there and were lost in time. Ar also had lot of fun. As sun approached the horizon the sky is turned into a painting canvas. It was also getting quite cold now and the tide was also rising, some waves were splashing water on us. It was time to leave. We picked the car and headed home and were back by 8:30 pm. We were back late than we had planned and as Ar wanted pizza for dinner, we had that from Dominoes and called it a day.

PS: Couple of things that didn’t go as per plan: One was snacks which I had packed, was left at home only (no surprises here 😉 )and so we didn’t had anything to eat on the beach and second being the main reason for the outing to see the sunset remained unfulfilled, so we decided to go again tomorrow at some other place to catch the sun going beyond the horizon.

 

Quick gateaway to 1000 steps beach, CA

27-May-2017:  This was Memorial Day long weekend and I had came early home. Ar was playing and G was watching TV. I freshen up and had nice cup of tea and was thinking what to do for the rest of the evening. G suggested we should go out some place. The weather was great, cloudy but not too windy or cold, but just being home from work I was not too enthusiastic to head out, but G and Ar were already getting ready to head out 😀. So I got down to find a nice close by place to go.

G was think of going to park , but I and Ar were for beach. We didn’t want to go to regular beaches so I was looking for different options and found a secret beach, tucked between Monarch and Laguna beach. It’s called 1000 steps beach and looked nice in pics. I may have passed through Pacific coast highway innumerable times but had not seen any trace of this one. Indeed it was a secret beach 😀. So we were even more excited!

We quickly got ready avoiding packing usual stuff to munch on where most of the time goes. It was already 6:00 pm and we wanted to spend sometime there in day light and also as it gets dark it would be cold there. The beach is on PCH, onwards to Laguna beach just opposite 9th street. We were there in 15 mins and found a street parking just before 8th. As we crossed the signal to the coast side we saw a small entrance, with beach’s name. Its so indiscreet, that’s why we never realised there’s a beach here.

More than the beach, G was thinking more about the 1000 steps in its name😀. as we entered the entrance gate we could see scores of steep steps winding down and we couldn’t even see the ground. We were in more some hike here! G started counting the steps as I and Ar also started descending. The steps are steep but on the way down  you make quick progress and in some time we could see the sand down below. We were on the beach in 5 mins and G was sad that she lost the count in between, but we were certain the steps are no way close to 1000 in no, so that was comfort thinking we had to climb them on our way back.

The beach was quite nice and was pretty big. There are private residences along the beach on the cliff end and then on front you have the ocean. On our right at far distance we could see the Laguna beach and on left at the very end we could see a cave. In front of us there were some rocky patches which were slightly at an height and the waves passed skidding it on both sides and curled inwards before receding giving that patch a feel of an island when the waves came in. We spent long time on the rock and it was great just being there. We got some really nice snaps there. Ar was initially hesitant but once she was on the rock she was quite enjoying it.

We then had nice stroll down the beach. Ar had some nice time playing in sand. The beach has limited facilities like restroom and shower and the no of people there were less. Nice place to spend some quite evening. As the sun headed towards the horizon, cool breeze had started blowing. Evening Colors were mixing with clouds creating a unforgettable portrait in sky. The time it seemed had still stood.

We would have liked to stay till sunset, but Ar wanted to head back. As we headed back we could see our island being swallowed by waves! After washing of the sand, we gazed upwards towards the long staircase staring us down, but mawale’s were up for the challenge! After initial enthusiasm weared out, the climb was slow, but Ar went all the way to top nonstop. She won the flag post hands down. The climb was nice excersie for legs. Though there was some disagreement with the count, I and G agreed there were around 220-230 steps, though Ar was confident the count was no more than 56😀.

We headed straight to the car. We Rehidrated, Gluclosed, I took the U turn, slided open the sun roof, cool air breezing in, Sun setting behind us, we were headed HOME!

PS: So 1000 steps turned out more of a gimmick, it still is steep hike, though beach is real nice and we would go back!

Catalina island sojourn

WP_20160513_12_21_58_Rich (1)

14-May-2016 : Every six months we have office event, where we either go on outing or to eat out. This time around there were grand plans to go to Catalina island for a day long trip.  Catalina island is in Pacific ocean and is around 32 miles from the Newport Coast. There are many cruises which do these trips and they leave from either Newport beach or Long beach. As Newport beach was close to us, we were to assemble there and take the ferry. We had to board 8:00 am cruise and we left home at around 7:00 am. We had done the carpool and we reached there around 7:30 am and parked at the private lot. The parking is quite costly, but there is a discount with Catalina ferry ticket. I think it cost us around $15 for the day. The pier from where the ferry goes is close by and on reaching there we found a huge line. After looking for them, we finally found our group and waited in line.

Once boarded we were off to the island. This was my first experience of going to an island. The Cruise was quite big, it had 2 decks. We went to the upper deck for great views. It was very windy and chilly, but we still spent the whole journey there only. As the ship pulls out, you start leaving behind the mainland and on one hand you can see the fading coastline with its buildings and on other you can see only the large blue ocean all around. The journey takes around an hour and you do enjoy every bit of it. As you get deeper into the ocean, you are greeted by the whales and you can see so many of them, seeing to join you. Soon you start approaching the island and you start seeing large hills adorned with dense forest, surrounded by clear blue water. Its a sight which held’s your breath. As you get closer, you see some settlements and the pier and beach on the front.

The island is quite big and only limited section is accessible for outsiders. We off boarded and took up some benches on the coast line. Event organizers had brought in Sandwiches and soft drinks and we had those for lunch. The weather was quite nice, it was bit cold, but skies were clear. Once lunch done, the group split into 2. Some people had opted for parasailing (including me) and some for the golf cart tours. So we moved to the waiting area and after 15- 20 mins of wait, were informed that we are ready to board. So we go into this small boat, there were around 10 people from our group and 3-4 others.

The boat took us into the ocean for a mile or so and then prepared for parasailing. So they have this parachute, which is attached to the rope, which in turn is attached to the boat. 2 people take the turn. First they get you in the safety jacket and then they tie the parachute hose around your waist. You then sit on the boats hood and as the parachute fills with air it stars lifting up and they would release the attached string slowly as you go up. They release you up for a good distance and then the boat goes around, giving you great views of the surroundings. I have done this before, but it was on the beach sand, tied to the jeep, not in the middle for water. This was more fun and it was so peaceful at the top. You can literally go into meditation mode, so serene it is up here. We also spotted some dolphins and you get good view of the island and the ocean. All it lasts is 5 mins and then they start unwinding the string, till you land on the boat. Just before you get on boat, they would lower you so you touch the water :), I would like to do it again 🙂

So we were back to the pier and it was around 1:00 pm now. We still had a lot of time in our hand, as we were to pick the 4:30 pm ferry back to mainland. Also at this time our group dispersed, some went to restaurant, the golf cart group was no where to be seen, so it was me and one of my colleague. So we were thinking what to do, I wanted to do kayaking, but my colleague wanted to go biking. We might have spent 30 – 45 mins haggling over it. Now there was no point of doing Kayaking alone, so I also went along and we rented bikes for couple of hours and it was $10 per bike.

The bikes were OK, but I had hard time riding them. I don’t know when was the last time I had rode a bike, at least a decade earlier if not more 🙂 . Steep slopes didn’t help either, but we still went around the small town for some time. We rode through lanes and by lanes of town and it was really nice. The other guy was doing great, but I sure was struggling. So finally I protested and we turned around and decided to go the other direction, on the road which was running parallel to the coast. It was one of the most memorable moment in my life, when I rode the bike along the coast, blue pristine water on my left and high hills on right. I could have gone for ever. It was awesome. Would love to do it every morning!

On the way we saw couple of our colleagues doing the scuba diving and we pulled on the side to have look. There were some nice vista points and perfect weather aided it further. We then decided to go back and search for the cart crew. After looking for some time, we found them near the town, who were into I don’t know which lap count:). We gave back the bikes (1 hour earlier) and hoped onto the golf cart. You can go around the marked road which might be around 3-4 miles and loop back to town. It goes uphill, through zigzag ghat and then downhill to descend on the town. It had some nice views especially when you reach on top of the hill and get unrestricted view of ocean. Really serene away from any hustle and bustle. So we had best of all, parasailing as well as cart and then dropped back the cart.

Slowly all had started to assemble and in half and hour or so almost all were in except there are always some out-liars 😉 We lined up for the cruise which had already docked in and once boarded were off to our homes. On the ride back also we took the upper deck. The weather was bit warm than morning, but we had drizzles along the way and it was quite nice. We were quite tired, especially after the bike ride and so cool breeze and rain was welcome! After a while we could see the coastline and we started approaching it quickly. I really like the coast contours you get to see so far from the ocean, where the land and water forms different shapes. You could see and recognize many places like Huntington, Laguna, Newport etc .Under the evening sun, it was quite a sight and we reached the deck around 6:00 pm.We bid our good byes and got the car from the lot and headed home. I reached mine at around 7:00 pm and that concluded one of the best trips I have been to. Would definitely take G and Ar some day.

PS: From the time I got to the island, I saw many vehicles there and was wondering how they get these here. On dong some inquiry, came to know that there is a long wait (which goes on for years) to get the permit to get the car here on a ferry. Now that is something !

End of trip, back to Pune

Satara-3

14-Feb-2017 : Woke up around 8:00 am. Today was a slow day. Had a nice cup of tea on the terrace. Weather was nice and today was the last day of the trip. We cleaned up the home, put things in order and were ready to leave. We were not going to come back to Satara home back and so bid a long goodbye to it. After the car was loaded with all our stuff, we first headed towards Ajinkyatara fort. We always make a point to visit this place, which holds such is place of pride and for us lot of memories from childhood.

It is close from our place and road goes all the way up the top. It took us around 20 mins to reach there. The road is small and uneven, but has some nice forest cover, earlier we had even spotted peacocks here. We parked near the fort gate and spent some time there. This is the 4th and final capital of Maratha empire. You can see the whole city from here and we could even spot our home from here.

We didn’t want to leave the place, but reluctantly had to move on. There are many historical places on the top like remains of palace, Mangalai mandir and the famous Ajinkya Tara sign board in marathi which is visible even from NH4. You also get good views of Yavteshwar, Sajjangadh and other hills around. We used to trek this often with my cousins when we used to visit Satara in vacation. One of my favorite places!

We were already hungry and we had planned for breakfast at Supnekar’s. So we headed stright to this eat out which is located just adjacaent to Rajwada. We had dahi misal and tea and was nice as always. Again this is our fav place to go when in city.  Before heading to our native village which is 12 km from the city, we had one more engagement.

One of our firends inlaws lives here and so they had invivted us and so we decided to drop by for some time. We were thinking out spending 15- 20 mins, but they insisted we have the snacks if we were not going to have the lunch at their place. That and the coffee and chat made the time fly and it was already 12:00 pm ! So bit goodbye and rushed toward our car, where our parents were waiting for us. They informed us the visit to native place has to be cancelled wdue to some of our acquaintance not available and which made us bit sad

So we decided to have lunch and head for home. We went to Prakruti which is a health resort cum restaurant. They have some unique combo of ayurvedic/natural cuisine, which they serve. Another of our favs and we visit often. Unfortunately for I and G we were so full with B’fast and food we had at our friend’s in-laws that we decided to skip it and instead had buttermilk. Baba, aai had thalpit and R , some Chinese! Ar had idli. While we were waiting for the Order to arrive, Ar wanted to play on slides and swings. She was having a good time, but fell down from slide and was quite angry at me, like I was the culprit for that :(.  Finally the food arrived and we left our tummy full (I and G’s was already so)

We were on our way to Pune, through Pune – Satara super highway, one of my fav and I was also excited to see the progress of the expansion (it’s now converted into 10 lanes and most junctions being replaced by flyovers. I have driven on this road so many times and wanted to do now so. Lets see when it happens next. The expansion has further cut the time it takes to travel between these 2 cities and we were on the Pune side in no time. On the way we stopped by one of our other favs Kailas bhel. I and G had bhel and tea. Others had only tea. We also took some parcels with us. This place has been our stop over point while coming back from Satara for many years now( The old place was just a short distance northwards from the current location, where they moved as the old place was taken up during highway expansion)

It seems we covered almost everything in this small trip and we were back home by 5:30 pm. What a trip it was, we created some new memories and relived some old. Spent some nice and fun time with family. We went from beaches to historic places to hills and mountains to our fav eat outs. So much fun. When is the next being planned ??? 🙂

PS: We started with may be 4-5 bags/carry bags and when we were back it might have been at least 20+. We even joked about it. Lesson for next time, CARRY ONE BIG BAG !!!

Satara via Pratapgadh -> Mahabaleshwar (part 2)

IMG_1706

13-Feb-2017 : We reached our Satara home at around 3:00 pm. We were fairly tired and took some rest. G and baba got down to dusting and bit home cleaning as it gets quite messy as we visit only once in a while. Ar also put her best by washing the terrace. With it cleaned up it became more habitual. We had garma garam chai to refresh and then I decided to checkout the terrace as I wanted to get a good view of Ajinkyatara and Yeveteshwar. Now till few years back we got the best view just from our balcony, but now many new tall constructions are coming all around and it has blocked the view partially. Who knows in some years, we wont get the view at all, which would be quite sad 😦

I also got everyone on the terrace and we clicked some nice pics, with Ajinkyatara in the background. Then we left the home around 5:30 pm. Our first stop was obviously Supnekar snacks center for some mast snacks, pattice being favorite of all. It is located in center of the city, on the ground overlooking the Rajwada. Its a mini chaupatty and Supnekar  and few others bring in there food trucks in the evening after 5:30 pm everyday (I believe Supnekar  being the first) and serve hot, yummy snacks. It brought back all the old childhood memories, when we used to be in Satara for summer vacation and this joint was on our radar every other evening (On others we used to churn on the bhel at Garden with a train which is opposite to this place).Sadly there was some function on that ground and so chaupatty was closed :(. Great start to Satara trip :(.

With heavy heart we went to the next option we had which was the Ajinkya hotel, which is located at the fork from where the old city starts. Its a nice place and we had been coming here since last few years. We had dosa, uttapa etc and tea. Next stop was to visit few of our relatives in the city. It was back to back, quite hectic, but was nice to see them after a long time and we had some good time with them. Before we realized it was almost 9:00 pm and we were really tired.

Normally we get a parcel from Supnekar for dinner, which serve home made food. But baba suggested we try a new place which he has been visiting since last few visits. It was close to Supnekar’s and was ok place. We had the rice plate which was ok, not as good as we expected. From there we went straight to home. As we were climbing the stairs we realized we had not got the water and so I decided to go and get it. It was around 10:15 pm and most of the city was asleep by now it seemed. Most of the shops were obviously closed, luckily I found one open near Gol Maruti chowk and got the mineral water there.

We all were quite tired, we had been on the move since last 3- 3.5 days. But we were bit sad as the trip was coming to end, tomorrow being the last day. We spent some time chatting on the terrace, it was so quite all around. We then called it a day and picked the bed.

PS: Though we missed Supnekar’s truck, we still had the Supnekar’s famous pattice. Don’t ask how, it was in our destiny 🙂