Beaches · Hiking · National Parks in US · Travel · Vacations

Counting it down – Top 10 Travel Memories (Part 5)

After a 8 month hiatus, I am back to the blogging world. Had I written this post 8 months back, I would have written it much differently. There would have been yipees and la la la’s and drum rolls and what not! Its post number 50 and I have to be celebrating, and the blogger-in-me 8 months back would have heard drum rolls playing in my ears as I published my 50th post. But no drum rolls today. Why? Just because!

I am happy to be back doing things that I love and instead of drum rolls and a grand celebration, the blogger-in-me today wants to pause and humbly be thankful to everyone and for everything :). The beauty of life lies in the fact that it is unpredictable and you have to embrace it as it happens. Let me tell you that life without drum rolls is even more worth living and I have made memories to last 10 lifetimes in the past 8 months, but more on that later!

It’s been long, so here’s a quick recap on what we were up to. We were on our way to a count down of my top 50 travel memories (be it day trips, adventures, things that I did to overcome fears or just a short walk down the street) through a 5 series blog. You can read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 in case you have missed it. The basic idea behind doing this was to make a list of trips/moments or days which were memorable either because I attempted an adventure, or tried to overcome a fear, or had a gala time with friends or I was introduced to something that I was oblivious to until that point.

I have had so many of you ask me when I was going to finish the last part of the series that I feel blessed to have readers like you :). So here you go! My top ten travel memories..

10. Speed Boat adventure, Lake Oroville, California – Summer 2007
It’s no surprise to folks who have known me for sometime that I am not a water person. I don’t look forward to water activities and I am never in my element around water bodies. But something took over me when I got control of a speed boat on a day trip to Lake Oroville. My friends wanted to try out knee boarding. I passed on the knee boarding but I’d like to think that knee boarding wouldn’t have been so much fun without such an awesome driver handling the wheels of the speed boat :). You’d be surprised how many water adventures are there in the list although I am petrified of it!

9. Wildlife spotting, Yellowstone National Park – Spring 2010
I wanted to visit Yellowstone for the colorful springs and geysers, but my husband only had one purpose on the trip – wild life photography. Chase the crowds because that’s where the wild life is. Little did I know that the thrill of watching wolves and bears (grizzlies and black ones) only 100 feet away would be a thing I would enjoy so much. Forget the fear, I was running with his tripod when we saw crowds piled up to get a glimpse of the wild life.

grizzly bear spotted at yellowstone np
grizzly bear spotted at yellowstone np
Spotted a fox on route to Lamar Valley
Spotted a fox on route to Lamar Valley

8. Ray Feeding, Moorea, Tahiti – Winter 2008
Every time I talk about this adventure, people are amused and they often tell me that you are quite brave to be in the vicinity of sting rays. Frankly speaking they were the most docile creatures I have come in contact with. Even though I was extremely skeptical to get into the water, petting them was an experience I will never forget. Mesmerizing!!!

Ray Feeding - Motu excursion Moorea
Ray Feeding – Motu excursion Moorea

7. Delicate Arch Hike, Arches National Park, Utah – Spring 2008
I always liked hiking, but back in 2008, a 3 mile hike was a big thing for me. That too uphill in the scorching sun! But the hike to the Delicate Arch in Arches changed my perspective. I realized that the best views and the best locations cannot be seen driving around in a car and by stopping at vistas. You have to go that extra mile (in this case three miles :P) to be rewarded with stunning views. A sunset at an absolutely breath taking location made all the effort worth it!!!

Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch

6. Mendocino and Fort Bragg Getaway, California – Summer 2011
My husband has an uncanny knack of pulling surprises when least expected. Our Mendocino getaway had plenty of elements to make it one of my best trips so far. Gourmet food, hiking, visit to glass beach (quite artsy!), a train ride and a stay at a cozy cottage with breath taking views of stone arches in the ocean. What more can a girl ask for :).

Skunk Train ride - Fort Bragg
Skunk Train ride – Fort Bragg

Picking sea glass at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg
Picking sea glass at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg

5. Flying (in) a Cessna, San Jose – Summer 2013
It was one of M’s childhood fantasies to be a pilot. He never pursued the idea, but he’s much more adventurous than I am and so for one of his birthday’s I gifted him a flying lesson in a Cessna aircraft. I did not fly the Cessna, my husband did (of course, we had an instructor with us and take off and landing were handled by her) but an extra passenger was allowed and I accompanied him. The experience was so fantastic that it made it to my top 5 🙂 🙂 :). We cruised over Santa Cruz mountains at around 4000 ft, much much lower than the cruising altitude of a commercial jet liner so it was a whole new flying experience.

In Cessna flight over San Jose
In Cessna flight over San Jose

View from ~3000 ft
View from ~3000 ft

4. Hiking the Half Dome, Yosemite, California – Summer 2011
I underwent couple of knee surgeries when I was 16. And that was the reason that friends/family never really saw me as someone who had the physical tolerance to attempt a 17 mile long hike reaching elevation of 8000 ft. That’s why the hike to the Half Dome is one of my most cherished memories. Getting to the top of the half dome wasn’t easy, but getting climbing down from the dome was a challenge in itself. I have a fear of heights and I did not look down even once. I blindly followed instructions from you know who 😛 and kept coming down the ropes till I was at the bottom of the half dome. I managed to pleasantly surprise quite a few folks. In my mind, I always knew I could do it, but I know my mom must be really proud when she saw what I attempted and accomplished :).

half dome hike
half dome hike

3. Swimming with Turtles, Maui, Hawaii – Thanksgiving 2010
This was the highlight of my Maui trip and the first time I swam in the ocean – with people and with turtles too 🙂 – off the coast at Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach. And my husband think a turtle even bit me. When I was out of the water, I had a bite mark on my right shin and it no way looked like a coral scratch. It was a smiley shaped mark with a couple of teeth marks too!!! Enough to make it to the top three list!

Swimming with turtles @ Black Rock in Maui, Hawai'i
Swimming with turtles @ Black Rock in Maui, Hawai’i

2. Kayaking the Bio Luminescence Bay, Puerto Rico – Thanksgiving 2011
I literally thought for an eternity before placing this at number 2. It probably shares the same spot as my top travel memory, but I settled for a close second spot only because the top one was the first time I had attempted something out of my comfort zone. Yet again a water activity – This time it was kayaking through mangrove channels when its pitch dark to get to the bio luminescent bay. Touching the water to see it glow with billions of bio-luminescent organisms! I have never experienced ANYTHING LIKE THIS ever.Sort of fairy sparkles in water that vanish in a matter of seconds. Surreal and out of the world!!! And the fact that normal cameras cannot capture this phenomena totally makes it an experience that is just for your eyes to cherish.

bio luminescence kayaking, puerto rico
bio luminescence kayaking, puerto rico

1. Shark feeding, Moorea, Tahiti – Winter 2008
Hold on..before you visualize me in a cage feeding sharks let me tell you that we fed non-killer sharks (the ones you can dive without a cage) on a motu excursion in French Polynesia! Excitement down by a few notches?? Well, for me although I was not in a cage, it was yet another water adventure and the first time I had attempted something of this magnitude. By the way, Tahiti is famous for its motu shark feeding excursions – I believe there are no great white sharks in Tahiti, but Tiger and Bull Sharks both of which you can dive without a cage! It took me 3 tries to finally get in the water with the instructor with my snorkel on. I was tightly holding on to the rope attached to the ship. When food was let out a bunch of sharks rushed in to eat them. I thought I fainted in water, but 20 mins later, back on the ship I was a different person. I (We) went, I (We) saw and I (We) conquered.

Shark feeding in the pacific ocean @Moorea
Shark feeding in the pacific ocean @Moorea

Hugs to everyone who were part of my travel memories and adventures. I truly cherish them from time to time.

I hope you enjoyed my top 50 travel memories. The travel, the memories and the blog are all going strong. I need to go plan my next travels, the next 50 blogs and make new memories. Until then, please keep reading and stay tuned for more!


6 thoughts on “Counting it down – Top 10 Travel Memories (Part 5)

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