Bay Area Trip (Day 1)

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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.

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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..

7/9 – Tamhini Ghat

In my earlier post I had mentioned about the desire to go to Tamhini Ghat in near future in monsoon season. But at that time it didn’t seem to be happening this year, time constraints you know ;). But suddenly this Sunday, we didn’t had much to do and the weather was also good; cloudy but not raining, so I suggested if we can go to Tamhini Ghat. It was on the fly plan, Baba wanted to take rest and Aai was not feeling well, so I, G and Ar decided to go. My plan was to start early so that we can enjoy some time there and be back before dark. But we got delayed and could start only by 2:30 pm.

We were quite late and I was worried a bit, of getting stranded in traffic jam on the way back and also if it would be dark on the way back. The drive was good, great weather, bit cold outside, it was perfect time to go. The road to take is the same as for Mulshi, through Chandani chowk, continue on Paud road and then take semicircular roundabout of Mulshi backwaters. It was all green this time compared to last time we visited as the rains had just started then. Also at that time Mulshi backwaters was quite empty, but now it was almost full and overflowing at some places. Such a great sight and refreshing for us all. We could also see clouds descending low and I was enjoying the drive.

The road to Mulshi is fairly good, but after that the roads are really bad, especially in small ghat sections. At many places roads had been washed away due to heavy rains which happen in this part. We reached the Tamhini village by 4:30 pm. The name of the ghat has been given from this base village. Then we started the ghat ascent. The ghat is one of the most beautiful I have seen. It passes through dense jungle where hardly any sun rays were reaching. Due to clouded weather it was even more darker. There are so many waterfalls on the way, many of them falling from very top of hills. Sounds of so many waterfalls, enchanted our ears.

We then stopped at one of the view spot, from where you could see total of 4 waterfalls. One of them bit far, but big and falling from quite a height. Also we could see many peaks of Sahyadri hills. It was such a great sight. We could have been there whole day. Ar also had cheered up by then. Actually, she was having cough and cold since last few days and only because it had receded a bit that day, we had decided to go out. But she was still recovering from it and was bit subdued overall. We would have liked to go bit further and explore this area more, but as we were getting late, we decided to start the return journey.

On the way we had spotted many small waterfalls as well for us to go, but had decided to be there and enjoy on return. At one such place, where there was no one, we pulled up. We then got into the waterfall. The water was so cold and pristine clear. We had a great time there. Earlier Ar was not getting into the water, which was bit strange, but understandable, considering she was still recovering from cold, but finally she also could not resist getting into gar gar papa . We were there for 15- 20 minutes and then we moved on.

We wanted to have some snacks on the way and G suggested having kanis, at stalls which we had seen on our way here. We pulled up at one such place, but there was a big crowd there and as we were already bit late, we decided to head on. We reached home by 6:30 pm, encountering bit of heavy rain on our return journey. With this short trip, we were rejuvenated for the week to come, though unfortunately Ar didn’t enjoy it that much 😦

Mulshi – 15 June 2014

Continuing with the tradition of travelling to some place on the first day of Monsoon, this time we went to Mulshi backwaters. The way it happened was I and dad had gone out for some work and while returning back we had taken a break at nursery near Chandani Chowk to buy some plants for home. Just when we were parking it started raining heavily and so we stayed in the car for some time till the rain receded a bit. At that moment I thought of going to some place on the first showers of the monsoon and Mulshi came to my mind. So I discussed this with dad and also called G and finalized the plan to go in the evening. We bought the plants and were back home.

We decided to all go at 4:00 pm in the evening to be back by max 6:30 pm as R was also coming back home from Banglore. By the time we left it was already 4:30 pm and we were running bit late. That was not the only concern, after giving us some hope, not only the rains had stopped, but it was now a perfectly sunny day. So I was bit unsure, if we should travel or not, but finally decided to go for it as we all were going together to some place after some time and also I had the feeling that in the hills the weather would be more favorable.

The road to Mulshi is the same as Lavasa, only when we reach to Pirangut, we have to continue straight. The distance is around 40-45 km and should take around 1 hour. There was not much traffic and we were cruising towards our destination. The route is scenic with fields and hills all around and few lakes on the way. But it was still very hot and we were unsure what awaits us. Then as we headed deep into the hills towards Mulshi, the weather suddenly changed. It was cloudy and cool winds were blowing. Ar had also started enjoying the ride. Finally we reached the Mulshi dam and then started ascending the ghat towards the backwaters. It was drizzling a bit and then we spotted the Mulshi backwaters. It was very pleasing site and we pulled up at couple of places to enjoy the nature and click few photos.

The water level was low, but still it was significant and the sight of the backwaters trapped in the hills all around was great to watch. These are the kind of things which make you forget your day today stress and anxiety. Ar was also very thrilled and was quite happy. We may have been there for half an hour or so, but we enjoyed a lot and decided to come again after the monsoon when the waters would be full. Ar was continuously like gaar gaar pa ..pa and wanted to get into the waters:). But the water had receded a lot and it was long downhill walk to go towards waters, so we decided against it. Finally we started back from a short but enjoyable gateway.

Ps: We would be back soon to Tamhini ghat in middle of the monsoon, which we had almost touched. They say it’s very beautiful with lot of greenery and waterfalls. For some other day 😉

Lavasa Drive

I had always wanted to go for a long drive and to a nearby getaway when Monsoon begins, i.e. the first day of showers. Ar also after her birth had not gone for a real outing. I had taken a leave on 3rd June, as  Ar was coming home over the weekend after visit to her maternal home. And then coincidentally all the three things came together, I was on leave, Rains started on 3rd of June and Ar was at home and in good spirits and she likes travelling in car. So we decided to go for an outing to somewhere nearby,  which will take no more than 3 hours for going and coming back as that’s the max Ar would hold out. We finally decided to go to Lavasa, in the second half of the day.

Then it started raining heavily at noon and it seemed that our plans would be washed away, but I was still hopeful that skies would clear a bit and we would be on our way. Finally around 3:00pm, the rains subsided and we were on our way. The road to Lavasa is a toll road, which starts from Chandani Chowk. Basically, once you get on the bridge of Chandani Chowk from Kothrud, you have to just go straight and then take left at Pirangut chowk. The road is in bad shape initially, with heavy traffic but then after Pirangut, it is good and less congested. You have to cross couple of ghats on the way and all the surrounding is very serene. Ar was enjoying the new sights all around and then finally went to sleep :).

Finally we entered through the main gate into Lavasa city, it took us around 1:30 hours to reach there from our house. One of the sight which caught our attention immediately, was group of clouds which had rested on the ridge of the hill through which we had entered. Slowly they were rising and passing across the hill. This was the first time I had seen such an amazing sight. We took quite a few pics there and I think Ar also enjoyed it. We then started towards the city and the whole drive and scenery is beautiful. The whole area has been maintained well and you get a feeling of reaching a hill station outside India. After 20-25 mins we reached the city after couple of stop overs and found many buildings which are constructed there which are nothing to talk about. There is backwaters also of the Varasgaon dam, which was almost empty in the summers. We were thinking if we can have a quick tea or snacks in some hotel there, but just then it started raining heavily and also it would be dark in some time and so we started back for our home.

It was raining heavily and we saw many vehicles parked on the side, waiting for the weather to clear up. The winds were also very strong and it was difficult to drive in such conditions, but I enjoyed the driving very much. It took more time for us in the return journey as the evening office traffic was starting to pick up. We were back in around 2 hours time. In total we went to Lavasa and back in 3:30 hours and  all of us enjoyed this short trip very much.

From next year I have decided to go on a long drive and a nearby place on the first day of the Monsoon. Let’s see if it materializes. So, until next time…