Beaches · Hiking · Travel · Travel with tots · Vacations

A weekend in Mammoth Lakes

Trips that are not planned often turn out to be the most memorable ones :). We badly wanted to get away for some uninterrupted family time so this past long weekend we made a last minute decision to drive up to Mammoth Lakes. We knew we may hit a few thunderstorms, and some chilly weather but we were desperate to go to a place away from the crowds. Our only goal was to get in quality family time and we couldn’t have been happier with how the weekend at Mammoth panned out. From biking to beaches to hiking, Mammoth Lakes has plenty to offer for adults and kids alike. Here’s some of our picks that would make a Mammoth Lakes a great family getaway!

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Biking the Lake Basin Path  My 4 year old is learning how to bike with his training wheels and we took his bike with us thinking we’ll find a trail where he can bike, the only glitch was that because the trip was unplanned, we had no idea that we weren’t going to be able to keep the promise of letting him bike on his own! When we got our bike rentals, we realized that our tot wasn’t ready to bike the slopes of Mammoth so we rented a trailer and took the free shuttle all the way to Pokonobe Lodge (we skipped Horseshoe lake since we hiked there the previous day). We drove our bikes downhill (thankfully) about 4.5 miles making various stops (Lake Mary, Lava Tube Lookout, Tamarack Lodge, lunch stop at Twin Lakes and all way down the bike path back to Mammoth Village). I guess at the end of our half day bike adventure, my son realized that the trailer was way better than riding his own bike.

June Lake Beach Fun Sand, shallow waters, sunshine and spectacular views is what you get by taking the 20 minute drive to June Lake! It was a perfect relaxing afternoon to help us wind down from the biking around the Lake Basin that morning 😉 Don’t forget to take a swimming costume if you are making the trip in summer, June Lake is one of the  few swimmable lakes in the area.

Horseshoe Lake Picnic Hike – Our first morning in Mammoth Lakes, we wanted to pick a hike that would be easy for our toddler so we choose McLeod Lake. Unfortunately the trail to McLeod Lake was covered in a bit of snow, so we turned around half way on the trail and decided to hang out by Horseshoe Lake. From Lake Mamie to Twin Falls Overlook, there are plenty of picturesque spots on that particular part of Lake Basin path to just sit and relax.

Inyo Crater HikeIt’s a happy moment when your toddler tells you the day after the hike to see the 2 craters that he “really enjoyed going up the mountain to see the crater”, and that “it was really fun” and that “we should find more craters and hike up the mountain to see them”! I think it’s the time of the year we made the trip, the trail hardly had any crowd. My son boasts that he completed the hike on his own, making it special for us ;). To be honest, he did make us carry him for a short time on the way back downhill, but the fact that he would like more of these is music to our ears 😀

Hot Creek Geothermal Site / Hatchery – About 10 minutes from Mammoth Lakes is a hot creek geothermal site, which also has a trout hatchery. The colorful landscape made it a fun downhill walk and a quick halt in the evening after our coffee break.

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Hot creek geothermal site

Mono Lake South Tufas On our way back home, we decided to hike the South Tufa trail at Mono Lake. This was my toddler’s least favorite part of the trip because he couldn’t go inside the water like June Lake beach, but nevertheless, adding the word Tufa to his vocabulary was the highlight of our hour long stop. It’s certainly worth a stop for the older kids and adults who are able to understand and appreciate the science behind the tufas.

Since we made the trip end of May, Devils post pile was closed and some of the other hikes family friendly hikes like McLeod Lake were covered with snow, so we’ll save that for another fall trip some year. But all in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our much needed family getaway 🙂

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Beaches · Travel · Travel with tots · Vacations

Dubai Diaries – The First Edition

Dedicated to Vidhi and Abhishek

Chapter One: Sibling Love 😉

We have transited through Dubai multiple times over the years en route to India, but this year was the first time we decided to take a halt, for the sake of sibling love :). Although our stay was a short one, meeting my sister after a whole long year made it worth every bit. Needless to say, my son was excited to meet his “masi” (mom’s sister) and “masa” (mom’s sister’s husband) and I am glad we were able to get some family time before we got back to the grind.

 

Chapter Two: The “tall tower” attraction

My 4-year-old loves reading his big book about the world, and one of his favorite pages in the book is the one with a picture of “Burj Khalifa” – which he calls the “tall tower”. He was very excited about the Dubai trip because he knew he was going to visit the tallest tower in the world. And because Burj Khalifa is a bit much to pronounce, we just call it the “tall tower” in the house. Right from the first glimpses during the car ride home to watching it from my sister’s terrace to ascending in the fastest elevator to get to the 124th floor, it was the highlight of kiddo’s Dubai trip.

 

Chapter Three: Sand and water

Masa and masi wanted to bond quickly with N and they picked the perfect location for our first outing – the beach. Apart from sand and water, cherry on top of the cake was the attraction of finding sea shells on the beach. We also spotted plenty of folks kite surfing at the Jebel Ali beach. (Hoping I got the name right!)

 

Chapter Four: Meeting a friend after ages

Nothing like meeting a friend from school after years. I met up with a very close friend and her family after ages. Although we just had a few days in Dubai, I was glad we managed to pick a kid friendly activity for mine and her toddler. Dubai Safari had just opened, although we did not get tickets to the wild animal park, the kids had fun spotting some of the other animals.

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Chapter Five: Being touristy

Since it was our first trip to Dubai, we had to have a bit of touristy flair, so signed up for the desert safari. It was indeed a full package – 15 minute off-roading adventure in the sand dunes, a camel ride, a horse ride, falcon on the hand, climbing up the mountains, watching the sun set, barbecue dinner and ending with belly dancing performances and a fire show. The fire show was a huge hit with the toddler. We were surprised he made through the 6 hour thing without fussing.

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Sunset – Desert Safari

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Chapter Six: Foodies and the philosophy of live to eat

Yes, there has to be mention about food, the diaries would be incomplete without that. My brother-in-law has a list of 10 restaurants to try out in Dubai, although we only went to one in that list, we did try and bunch of other things which are worth a mention here.

 

  • The dessert that is famous in this desert land – Kanafeh
  • Zafran tea (Saffron tea with a hint of cardamom) at Filli Cafe

    Chapter Seven: Old town Dubai or say things that you miss out on because of the fear of those that can’t be named!

I know, I should have stopped at the title at Old town Dubai, but it’s a place beaming with feral felines and for those who have known me for a while might get a hint of what I am talking about. The plan was to visit old town, but I took a pass after a brief encounter with an old nemesis, namely the cat. Glad that my genius photographer captured a few classics for me to view 🙂

Chapter Eight: Something for the child in you

Be it the couple of hours spent at the shooting range or a January Christmas surprise or playgrounds and water fountains, or window gazing at the Dubai aquarium the trip was a perfect culmination to cover activities that made everyone happy.

 

Chapter Nine: Architecture Galore

It would be a shame if I didn’t mention the amazing structures and the skyline of Dubai. My memory fades me, and I don’t remember the names of a lot of buildings, but it is a photographer’s paradise and M would love to take a walking tour next time we are there!

Chapter Ten: Time Travel Paradox

Any of you readers want to provide time travel references? We’d love to revisit the wonderful time spent in Dubai with some of our favorites 😉 and a time travel machine would be very helpful 😀

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#withmyfavorites

To be continued…

P.S: Dubai Diaries – Second Edition will be published after our next trip with the duo. Date of publish has not been decided yet, for all I know the title could end up being something else too, depending on where we meet 🙂

Beaches · Hiking · Travel · Travel with tots · Vacations

Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood – Day trip from Portland

We spent a few days in gorgeous Portland this September and while there’s plenty to do in Portland for first timer visitors, we wanted to drive to the Gorge and explore surrounding areas. If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know how excited my munchkin gets on spotting waterfalls, and there are plenty of those along the historic Columbia River scenic byway so he was pretty excited about heading out even though we woke him up early. We told him that after the waterfall hike, we’ll try and head to the Hood River beach for a lunch picnic and he was all excited for the drive and the long day ahead of us. We left from downtown Portland early in the morning – a quick spot to pick up coffee and we hit the gorge area before the crowds got in. Unfortunately, it was drizzling for the first hour or so of our trip, so we weren’t able to take advantage of the early start. It got much better as the day progressed and by the time we reached Mt. Hood, the weather was gorgeous too! Although its best to spend a day each at Mt. Hood, but if you are in a time crunch and are trying to fit in both in a day trip, here’s a recommended day itinerary.

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Mt. Hood from Timberland Lodge

Vista House at Crown PointOur first stop was at the Vista House observatory. It had amazing views of the Gorge even on a drizzling morning. I can imagine it being picture perfect on a bright sunny morning.

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Columbia River Gorge – Waterfalls HikesAfter leaving from the Vista House, we headed to Latourell Falls. Its a pretty short hike to the base of the falls and can be easily done with a toddler. Our next stop was Multonomah Falls, and finding parking there was a nightmare because they are the most famous falls along the loop being the second tallest in the US. If you are short on time, and don’t plan on hiking to the top of the falls, I would skip going up to the bridge and rather pick a hike to Wahcleella which is toddler friendly.

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Bridge of Gods, Cascade LocksBridge of Gods spans across the river connecting Oregon and Washington and we decided to drive on the steel truss instead of getting out since it had started drizzling again.

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Bonneville Lock and DamThis was an unplanned spot, but we found out there was an option of spotting fish through the fish ladder at the Bonneville Dam and N wanted to see some “fishies”. A pleasant stop to spot some fish :).

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Historic Columbia River Gorge HotelAnother unplanned stop was at the Historic River Gorge Hotel. This is a nice place to sit, sipping coffee and enjoying the spectacular views of the river.

Waterfront Park at Hood River – The best stop of our day trip: This was an absolute gem. Away from the crowds, more popular with the locals, the Waterfront Park has a nice sand beach with shallow waters for swimming. Hood River is THE place for windsurfing and kitesurfing in Oregon and Waterfront Park is THE place to watch the windsurfers and kitesurfers. Plenty of restaurants at walking distance from the park for lunch and some food trucks if you want to do a picnic lunch at the beach. There are breathtaking views of the gorge from this park. Ideally, you could easily spend an entire day here.

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Timberline Lodge at Mt. HoodAfter a late afternoon lunch, we headed to Mt. Hood. En route are plenty of orchards for apple picking, but our kiddo was napping so we decided to head directly to Timberline Lodge. If you are headed to Mt Hood post lunch, don’t forget to stop for some freshly baked goodies at one of the orchards/bakeries on your way. The route itself is quite scenic. After spending some time at the Timberline Lodge, we headed up the hiking trail. N was excited to climb the mountain. Although it was chilly, he had the energy to pace up the trail.

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Timberline Lodge has picturesque views of Mt. Hood and it was worth every bit of it. We headed back to downtown Portland after a wonderful day in the gorge and Mt. Hood! We did spend a lot more days in downtown Portland, but this day trip was a highlight of our mini vacation for my son – waterfalls, swimming at the beach, sand play, climbing mountains (well, for him that’s what it is even though it’s barely a mile or half of climbing :)). Can’t ask for more, right?

Beaches · Travel · Travel with tots · Vacations

Riviera Maya and Cancun diaries: Toddler calls it home!

Kids look forward to birthdays, and when its a week of celebration with sun, beach and sand, its’ likely they’ll never want the celebration to end. Last year for Thanksgiving, we planned a trip to Cancun to celebrate N’s second birthday. After our week long trip in the Mayan Riviera, when we were packing bags to head back, my toddler tells me ‘I like this home, I don’t want to go back to the other home! Can we stay here?’ I told him we will be back when he grows up a little, but it was a trip he talked about for a long time after coming back. And going back to day care after the vacation was not easy. I don’t remember him calling any other vacation spot that we’ve been to as ‘home’ so I have a feeling he had a blast!

We decided to stay in Riviera Maya over Cancun because of its proximity to few of the attractions we had planned for our trip. Here are highlights from our trip – things that we were able to do with a 2 year old in Mayan Riviera.

Private tour to Chichén Itzá, Valladolid and Ik Kil Cenote: We opted for the private tour to Chichen Itza over guided group tours, since its a 2 hour drive from the resort area and it definitely makes sense to go there early to avoid the crowds and pick your stops, especially when you have a toddler with you. This option also gives you a chance of stopping for tequila tasting that most guided tours don’t offer. Within Chichen Itza, we decided to stick to a route and missed out on going all the way to the Sacred Cenote, but were able to cover a lot of the ruins. The trails are stroller friendly and that was a huge help :). The town of Valladolid is vibrant and reminded us of the streets of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico! We did go to the Ik Kil Cenote but it was quite deep and decided against jumping in with our 2 year old. But if you are traveling without kids, its a great way to cool of the humidity. We saw several folks diving in!

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Dolphin Interaction: There are plenty of eco-parks in the area including Xel-Ha which offer activities for older kids, but we opted to visit the Dolphin discovery center at our resort for an interactive tour since its more suitable for younger kids. My son really enjoyed his encounter with Plata – the dolphin. He was hesitant at first but then did not want to come out of the water.

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Mayan Ruins of Tulum: A trip to the Mayan Riviera is not complete without a visit to the ruins in Tulum, so we opted for a half day group tour of Tulum since it was only 30 minutes from our resort. The beach at Tulum is one of the best! Though we didn’t carry a hiking carrier with us so were not able to explore the entire area within the allocated tour time! If there’s an option drive there instead of the tour so you can explore as well as spend quality time at the beach.

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Sand castles and serenity of white sand beaches: Nothing excites my 2.5 year old more than a sand pit, so the resort’s beach was a perfect way for us to relax at the beach while he immersed himself in the sand.

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Pool fun, especially if you have a water baby like mine :): I can see why staying at all inclusive resorts is a great idea after you have a baby.  With more than 5 pools with plenty of kiddie areas and water slides, we couldn’t get enough of pool fun! Seriously, if we had an extra day or 2 there, I would have opted to have him in the pool rather than going any place else because being in the pool brings out a mile wide smile on his face every single time he splashes in the pool!!!

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And much, much more: Carousels, shopping, eating, kids club, vibrant statues and Christmas decorations – These were all part of our trip but my memory fades! Looking at the pictures makes me feel very nostalgic 🙂

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What we saved for a later trip: We got great valuable input from the resort staff and they suggested saving XCaret, Xplor, snorkeling at Akumal and Coba ruins for a later trip since those are more suitable for slightly older kids, especially if you want to enjoy majority of the attractions.

I know the kiddo is not going to remember his second birthday blast except for the pictures and videos, but it was a good one! M and I will surely cherish it :).

Beaches · Travel · Vacations

A lazy weekend at Bodega Bay, California

I have missed writing and can’t express how happy I am back doing things that make me who I am – blogging being one of them. For all those of you who messaged/emailed/asked when my next blog entry was going to be, here it is! Thank you for being patient and making me pick it up again. A lot has changed around me since my last entry so I figured a new theme and appearance to the blog was in order too. Change is indeed the only constant!

Well, I am picking up blogging again after more than a year of lazing around, so I am going to start with an entry on my lazy weekend getaway last year with the best people I have the pleasure of knowing – My family :).  With an active toddler in the tow, VRBO offers the  best options when picking for a place to stay in my opinion. So, we booked a lovely hill top home with great views of Bodega Bay.

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Views from Bodega Head

 

Staying at Dubloon was the best decision of the trip. The glass doors have great views of the ocean and the deck has views of the green patches of hills. Although it was a little cold when we went, the house was quite cozy and fully stacked up with necessities. We went with my parents and sister and they absolutely loved it. The house is not baby proof or baby friendly, so we had to move a few things around to allow ample of playing space for my son and carry everything that was needed for him. Nevertheless, it was in an excellent location – close to the beach, close to restaurants as well as a gas station! I did not post a lot of pictures of the house, but check out their VRBO link, the owner has plenty posted there.

The whole idea of the trip was a relaxing family retreat, but here’s a quick list of toddler approved things that we did on our Bodega Bay trip.

Whale watching at Bodega Head : This was a mere co-incidence, but we were glad to spot a couple of grey whales at Bodega Head during their southbound migration. They were extremely far off, so we never managed to get good pictures, but my dad was the most excited – I am sending him whale watching at Monterey Bay on his next trip :D. I don’t know if I can handle all the sea sickness but he’ll be up for it. I know the whales are much closer to the Bodega Bay shore during the north bound migration which happens during the months of March through June, so spring would be another great time to visit. I can see why Bodega Head is such a popular spot of the Sonoma Coast State Beach. Breathtaking views in all directions and the vastness makes it serene. In spite of it getting colder, we made sure to stay for the sunset before heading back to our villa.

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Doran Beach : Bodega bay has a bird walk coastal access area that we were able to check out. It was quite foggy and not a lot of birds but may be summery and non-foggy days are better. Doran beach is also a great area to hangout with a kid who loves playing in the sand and making destroying sandcastles 😉

There’s plenty of stuff to do at Bodega Bay but our favorites were playing in the sand, watching whales (which we did not expect on our trip) and spending quality time with people that matter most.

Beaches · Hiking · Travel

Day trip to the Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz

Two years, multiple surgeries and a plethora of ups and downs later we are back to doing things that we love. And I hope it continues this way. We kicked off 2015 with a short hiking trip. Our first hike in almost over 2 years and our first hike with our one year old was at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz, California. I must say that picking a hiking spot was slightly challenging since we are trying to get used to carrying a baby on our backs and want to target shorter hikes. Nevertheless, our first pick find turned out to be a great one. It was M’s idea to go to Natural Bridges State Park to photograph the monarchs, spend time at the beach and keep it baby friendly. So off we were to Santa Cruz all prepared to introduce our little one to hiking.

Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge

So what’s special about this state park? As per the state park’s website: The beach, with its famous natural bridge, is an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, and seals and otters playing offshore. The park’s Monarch Grove provides a temporary home for up to 100,000 Monarchs.  From late fall into winter, the Monarchs form a “city in the trees.”   The area’s mild seaside climate and eucalyptus grove provide a safe place for monarchs to roost until spring. The monarchs typically begin arriving in mid-October and have left by mid-February. 

On the Monarch Trail
On the Monarch Trail

The GOOD: Lovely weather, clear skies and my excited little one who couldn’t stop muttering “fy-fy” and fluttering his hands like a bird when I explained to him that we were going to spot butterflies and they fly too, just like birds!

Can you count how many monarchs are there?
Can you count how many monarchs are there?

 

The BAD: Not being able to spot as many butterflies as we hoped too.

Before we went on the hike, I googled up the ‘Monarch Trail’ to find out what to expect and I was thrilled by the images I saw. It appeared as if it was going to live up to the hype that M had created. Of course, I knew that since we were going there towards the end of the season, the number of butterflies might be less since they migrate back. Google up images for monarch butterflies at natural bridges state park in santa cruz and you will know what I am talking about.

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Unfortunately, we did not get to witness so many butterflies and the so called “monarch bokeh”. When we were on the hike, the rangers told us that the number of butterflies has been much much lesser this year. Even during the start of the season. They are dwindling in numbers 😦 I wish next year and the years to come are better! I never thought I would say this – NEVER and I really mean NEVER, but we need to preserve nature and our natural habitat, for the next generations. I am a nature lover and I feel a joy that I cannot explain when I go hiking and it would be nice if my child can experience it! The rangers at the state park are encouraging everyone to plant more milkweed plants because that is the only plant these monarchs feed on.

Caterpillar spotted at the visitor center
Caterpillar spotted at the visitor center

Anyhoo, after the hike we headed to the beach and spent some time there. There’s only one natural bridge now, but earlier there used to be three. The first one fell off in the early 1900’s and the second one around 1980 due to a storm. There is access to tide pools from the beach so we took a stroll there. All in all, it was a great day out and my little one loved it. Post our trip, butterflies have become a thing for him. He cannot stop saying “fy fy fy” and flutter his hands when he spots a butterfly in the book. Every time I see that, I feel the trip was worth it 🙂

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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!