Monthly Archives: January 2012

Driving through the Tetons, Wyoming

We drove from Salt lake City, Utah to the Grand Teton National Park…and this has got to be amongst one of the most scenic drives i have been on. It was about 300 miles..and we were mostly on the State highways driving on the border of Idaho and Wyoming.

Driving north of Salt lake City, we drove by the Great Salt Lake and went eastwards on Interstate 80 before finally joining State Highway 30/89, that would take us all the way to  the Grand Teton National Park. Most of the stretch is through the Bridger National forest and for long stretches we were the only car on the road! The weather was beautiful and the scenery was amazing..and since we were not on an interstate, we were able to make frequent stops and soak in all the natural beauty surrounding us!

Right after we entered the National Park, we were greeted by the Grand Teton Range (The Teton Range is a subrange of the Rocky mountains) and the road through the park runs parallel to this range for the next couple of miles. We drove past  the Moose junction and our first stop was the visitor center at Jenny lake. There are boats available to take you across the lake and you can then hike up to Inspiration Point. Though we did not have the time (takes about 3 hours) to take the boat ride (and the energy to do the hike up to Inspiration point with a 9 month old!), i have heard that the views of the “Hidden Falls”  along the hike is majestic. We spend about 45 minutes exploring the area around the lake and got some very beautiful shots of the adjoining area.

Our next stop was the trek on Signal mountain – The drive up Signal Mountain to the Jackson Point Overlook was well worth our time. We got a terrific view of the entire area atop Signal mountain. Our other stops were Jackson Lake Dam (this also offered some awesome picture opportunities from both sides. Lots of water action on the river side and a placid lake on the dam side), Cunningham Cabin (Another great close-to-the-road photo opportunity, the rustic cabin is situated with the Grand Tetons as a backdrop – though the best time to photograph it is in the early morning) and Snake River Overlook.

The Snake River overlook is the picture point of one of Ansel Adams Grand Teton pictures. The view will take your breath away…Vaishakhi went crazy and we spend about an hour (while she was trying to get the perfect shot, I  enjoying the breathtaking landscape of the Snake river winding through the Tetons).

Though we spent almost the entire afternoon and evening driving through the Teton National Park, we missed being there in the early morning hours. The mountains are East facing and the best time in the day to take pictures are during sunrise when the sun rays fall directly on the mountains. Unfortunately, we could not work out a schedule to ensure we were there in the early morning hours…though hopefully I will be back someday with a lot more time on my hands!

Categories: National Parks, Road Trips | 5 Comments

Arches National Park, Utah

We traveled to Arches National Park on Saturday, July 2nd  a day when the mercury soared to over 100F! Despite the heat, I was really glad to be there. Located in eastern Utah, this park has over 2000 natural sandstone arches, including the very famous Delicate Arch (which is about a 3 mile hike…more on that later in this post).

We had flown into Salt Lake City the previous night, rented a car and drove down to Provo to spend the night there. After a good night’s sleep, we left our hotel for Arches National Park by about 9:00 AM (it was about 200 miles – almost 4 hours  drive to the park gate). We had planned to stay for about 4-5 hours in the park, as we planned to return back to our hotel in Provo for the night.

4-5 hours is sufficient time (yes even with a baby!) to drive through all of the paved park roads, spending about ten minutes at each viewpoint (La Sal Mountain viewpoint, the Organ, Tower of Babel, Petrified Dunes, fiery Furnace viewpoint and Balanced Rock) and taking quick drives through  the Windows Section, Panorama Point and Delicate Arch Viewpoint. Unfortunately, long hikes were out of the question for us with our 9 month old, hence we stuck to the paved roads..though this definitely helped us to cool down in the car after being out in the scorching heat for those panoramic views and much desired pictures. The landscape was very different from anything i had seen before…I was completely awed by the size of the arches and sandstone formations. Also, since it was a hot and bright day…we got some amazing contrasts with the red brown rocks against the clear blue sky.

Hike to the delicate Arch: Since we were a little pressed for time, the only hike that i could fit into our schedule was to the Delicate Arch.

 This is the most widely-recognized landmark in the Arches National Park and is also depicted on Utah license plates. It is located at the end of a 1.5 mi (2.4 km) hiking trail.

My initial thoughts were to embark on this trail carrying my 9 month old on a shoulder sling…though i am really glad my wife talked me out of it!

She decided to stay back with Daivik, and i promised to be back as quickly as i could. Everything would have gone as per plan if I had just stuck to the trail. I have always had a soft corner for climbing rocks and hills (probably something to do with the 10 years i spent in Darjeeling :-)), and decided to take a more unconventional route to the arch (also hopeful that it would save me some time). Unfortunately, i was completely lost and out of water..and barely managed to reach the arch after a very perilous hike! So, my strong suggestion is to stick to the trail and that is exactly what i did on the way back! Anyways, some positives were that i got to glimpse the arch from a point where very few would have seen…and i did get some amazing shots of the park and the salt valley below.

After the adventure, we also drove to the the Delicate Arch view point and took a few more shots of the lovely arch from a distance. Unfortunately we could not  remain for much longer and hit the road by 6:00 PM.

Some helpful tips:

  • Carry plenty of water and drinks (we had bought a disposable thermocol cooler from Walmart, this really helped keeping all our drinks cool)
  • We stopped over in Moab (just a couple of miles away) on our way into the park for some food. Options are very limited inside the park (i think only the souvenir shop has some sandwiches)
  • If you can definitely go for the hike to the Delicate Arch…worth every step!
  • Try and plan your trip so that you are at the park (more specifically at the Delicate Arch) around sunset…you will get some amazing pics
Categories: National Parks | 3 Comments

Negril, Jamaica

One of the very first things i did this year was book a trip to Jamaica! And i am glad to start the year on such a high note 🙂

After a few weeks of intensive research, we decided to spend a couple of days at the Riu Palace Tropical Bay on Bloody Bay beach, Negril. The beach is approximately 2 miles long and the Riu Palace is located right at the center of the beach.

Based on all the reviews I have read so far, this beach is one of the best in the Caribbean…the sand is soft and white, waters are very calms and is almost waist deep for a hundred feet or so! Apparently there is a famous shack that specializes is grilled lobsters, even though we have booked an all inclusive at the resort, I can’t wait to try out the grilled Jamaican style lobsters!! Only 80 more days to go…sigh!

Categories: Beaches | 3 Comments

Palolem, Goa

Goa holds a special place in our hearts and thats probably the reason I chose this as my first blog entry even though we made this trip quite a long time back (January of 2009).

While we were in India, we made it a point of going there every year from 2006 to 2009! (that’s how fond we are of Goa 🙂  While all of our previous trips had been around the northern beaches of  Goa, for our 2009 trip, we decided to try out the more quieter beaches of south Goa…and since Palolem is as far south one can get in Goa…we decided on Palolem!

Palolem beach is crescent-shaped, about a mile long and lined with palm trees. Both ends of the beach consist of rocks jutting out into the sea and you can pretty much see one end of the beach from the other. The land gradually slopes into the water, and the waves make the waters a little murky. However, the best part has to be the sunsets on a clear evening…its as amazing as it can get!

The challenge though with Palolem beach is that, there are no permanent constructions allowed on the beach. What the locals do is, right after the monsoon/rainy season gets over in Goa (around Sep), they line up the entire stretch of the beach with “beach huts” (small thatched temporary cottage with very basis accommodations). They start dismantling these again sometime around May-June. So if you are looking at staying right on the beach (like we always do) and listening to the sound of the waves crashing on to the shore right through your hotel room window, the only options available will be the Beach Huts.

After spending hours going through tons of reviews on the net,  we decide on to stay at the Ciaran’s Camp.It looked like a pretty decent resort and after reaching there we realized that it is definitely the best property on Palolem. The location of the resort can’t be beaten, it is at the center of Palomen beach, you walk out of your hut, take about 10 steps and you are in their open air restaurant which faces the sea, another 10-15 steps and you are in the sea 🙂 The property is really pretty, beautiful lawns and gardens, decent book collection at the library and the staff were really friendly and made our stay very pleasant. The food was mostly good,  remember enjoying most of what we ordered.

We spent 3 days at this resort and the only activity we did was to take a boat ride out into the ocean to see dolphins. The rest of the time was spent just lazing around on the beach and watching the beautiful sunsets while sipping on our drinks. Even though I am hoping that the next time we are in Goa, we’ll take some time out to get away from the beach and visit the lovely forts and churches…i really doubt that will end up happening!

Categories: Beaches | 2 Comments

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