Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I wish I were a kite that could fly high, high, high...

“Don't be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with the wind.”
~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

What doesn't have wings but can fly?? - Kite (eesh that was baad). We had a good time at the Kite Festival in Berkeley this past weekend. If you are in the Bay Area and missed this one, fret not. Santa Cruz will be having a similar event in Sept. (13th, Saturday)


When I started running early this year, I used to put on my regular sneakers and go for the runs. I had a goal of being able to run 5K on a regular basis and wanted to reward myself for achieving that goal. What better reward than a good pair of running shoes? Since the program was following a gradual progression to 5K, the longer runs did not come until towards the end of the program, and was able to get away running in my sneakers. But as I continued running 5K 3 days a week, I noticed that my feet hurt. That reminded me of the promise I had made to myself. I headed to a local running store and bought myself a good pair of running shoes.

My running shoes - Nike Air Pegasus
Now my feet don't hurt and I feel a marked difference in the running experience from before. Here are some things that I learned while shopping for my running shoes.
  • A running store helps - I had a very good shopping experience at my local running store. The sales people were real runners. They started off by identifying my foot type and suggested the best shoes for my foot type. I was able to get a real feel of the different shoes I tried, by running around the store or on the treadmill in the store. They gave me all the guidance that I needed to choose the right kind of shoe, without being pushy about making a choice. I would highly recommend going to a running store where one can get personalized attention over buying something at the mall.
  • Your running shoe should be a size bigger than your regular shoes. Our feet expand on running; the bigger shoe size gives your feet some room to move.
  • Mesh-work on the shoe is an indicator of a good running shoe. The mesh allows your feet to breathe which helps, since feet get hot and sweaty during a run.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, CA
I see a dragon. What do you see?

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
~ Henri Bergson

Reality is what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is what we believe.
What we believe is based upon our perceptions.
What we perceive depends upon what we look for.
What we look for depends upon what we think.
What we think depends upon what we perceive.
What we perceive determines what we believe.
What we believe determines what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is our reality.
~ Gary Zukav

‘One new perception,
one fresh thought,
one act of surrender,
one change of heart,
one leap of faith,
can change your life forever.’
~ Robert Holden

What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.
~ C. S. Lewis.

Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.

The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
~ Marcel Proust.

People only see what they are prepared to see.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are.
~ Anais Nin

Monday, July 28, 2008


Monday, Day 3: I feel most tourist places in America are overrated. Most disappoint me upon arrival. But what I admire is their smart marketing attitude. I wish the Indian tourism industry learnt a thing or two and used it to promote all the wonderful places that are really worth the visit. Anyhoo, so I am always seeking travel experiences beyond the usual and much-touted. So it won’t be surprising that I decided to take the ride aboard the Skunk Train. I will give anything for opportunities that allow me to commune with nature and this promised to be one, I hoped. I had booked tickets in advance for the morning ride to Willits. As we lined to board the train for a 3 hour journey through the redwood forests, a train singer entertained us. The train had four compartments; two of them were regular compartments with seats, one of them was a pantry car, and the middle compartment was an open compartment (the best part about the train).

Skunk Train arrives
No sooner had the journey begun than people, especially those with kids started making way towards the open compartment. We hoped that the crowd’s enthusiasm would wane soon. We could then go to the compartment and enjoy the views with fewer people. But it was hard to sit inside and we soon headed out. The train moved along the winding tracks and took us deeper and deeper into the redwood forests away from civilization and any of its signs. It was cloudy and therefore slightly cold, but every once in a while the sun would come out and bathe the canvas before us in its glow.

People enjoying the open car

The lady in the uniform was our train conductor
We got down at Willits and while the engineers worked on attaching the engine to the other end of the train, people enjoyed their picnic lunches, kids danced to the train singer’s songs and I between taking pictures tried to take in as much of the quaint setting as possible. Technical glitches delayed our start back from Willits, but I don’t think anybody minded the delay. I would recommend highly recommend this ride if you are a nature lover – worth every penny!
Picnic tables at Willits

We were really hungry by the time the train got us back to FB. We spotted a small Mexican restaurant and decided to try our luck. The lunch was excellent. With happy hearts and stomachs we bade farewell to FB. Traffic was unusually good and we were home in time for dinner.

A journey that will be fondly cherished


Sunday, Day 2: Mary had predicted that since the ocean water looked blue on Saturday, Sunday would be clear and sunny. How glad we were to see that her prediction was correct. After a good breakfast at our BnB we headed out. We are regular hikers and wanted to try something different this time. We were hoping to rent bikes and bike along the 10 mile trail. We walked to the bike rental shop in town and were surprised and also disappointed to find it closed. With tourists flocking the area for the long weekend who would have expected the shop to be closed!?

Tops of buildings in FB

Oh well, so we got into the car and headed to some nearby SPs. We hiked at Russian Gulch SP and Van Damme SP. Russian Gulch offered some nice views of the ocean. We stopped by Mendocino for lunch; I was really disappointed with it. I guess previous night’s dinner had got my expectations high.

Views from the SPs we visited

I was really excited about visiting the Glass Beach. The beach area was used as a dump ground for many years until authorities decided to stop that. Over the years, the pounding surf smoothened the glass trash dumped here. Visitors will find the beach sprinkled with smooth glass pebbles that glisten in the sun. I think years of visitors and lack of new glass trash has reduced the glass on the beach; at least I thought it wasn’t easy to spot. I combed the beach for the glass pebbles and got some home as souvenirs of this trip.

Glass at Glass Beach

I really wanted to do the 10 mile trail hike, but having hiked for the better part of the day and gotten good views of the Mendocino coast, I gave up on the hike. I doubt if it the views would have been too different than what we had seen during the day.

We walked along the Pudding Creek Trestle before returning to the comforts of our BnB.

Pudding Creek Trestle and views from the Trestle

I didn’t want to take any risk with my dinner, so we headed to good old Subway. I also wanted to try the local ice-cream (that seemed popular). We grabbed some ice-cream from the Cowlick’s store and rushed back to the Pudding Creek Trestle. We were just in time to see the sun go down. Overall a very satisfying and fun day.

Local popular ice-cream store

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Most holidays in India celebrate festivals and so are synonymous to family get-togethers, celebration and the general hullabaloo and enthusiasm that is so quintessentially Indian. As immigrants living in a foreign country, holidays are best utilized, traveling. (if you ignore the rising gas prices that is).

Summer comes with its share of long weekends. We unlike others in this country are always a (?) step behind when it comes to planning trips. It is well-known that, planning in advance ensures that, you get good deals on flights, hotels, etc. But we are one of those people who are doomed to pay more while others seem to miraculously spot deals. We have discovered that procrastination comes with its share of joys. It tends to eliminate options automatically as economically nonviable. Thus, when it is time to make the decision, one is left with fewer choices and the final choice is an obvious one in most cases. As someone wise once said, 'Time is money'. By procrastinating, we like to believe that we save our most precious asset, time, and thus compensate for the extra money we pay for last minute bookings.
When we started thinking of traveling for the long weekend in May, we realized that all the cheap flights and hotel rooms were already taken. So, we decided to head to a place that was within 3-4 hr driving distance from home, and zeroed in on Mendocino. Our planning timeline automatically eliminated flight search from our task-list. However, we did need to find a place to stay. And so began the seemingly never-ending search for the same. We decided to stay in a bed-n-breakfast (BnB) kind of accommodation and grabbed the last available room at the Atrium BnB in Fort Bragg (FB). We felt there was more to do in FB than in the town of Mendocino (10 mi. south). It goes without saying that our lodging decision was aided by the fact that, the Mendocino hotels within our budget were all booked.

The BnB where we stayed
Saturday, Day 1: Rain showers and traffic delayed our journey. We took a slight detour and visited the Pt. Cabrillo light house before making it to FB. We would have liked to see the Fresnel lens there up close, but gave up on that since those tours are not scheduled regularly.

Pt. Cabrillo Lighthouse

Mary, our host at the BnB welcomed us warmly and showed us around. While we relaxed in the garden behind the house with some tea (did I mention the yummy chocolate chip cookies?), Mary offered us hotel recommendations and provided us with ample information about things to do. Later we headed out for dinner, to the highly recommended Nit’s CafĂ© which was indeed excellent. A walk after that hearty meal was much needed and we took a stroll around town.
FB is a sleepy town (wikipedia calls it a city) along the rugged coastline of Mendocino. It has a small town look about it which sometimes borders on being lackluster. I was relieved to not see any jazzy stores/malls and the lack of homogeneity that is a trademark of any US community. Our BnB housed a small DVD library. We borrowed some DVDs but soon called it a day, hoping the next day would be warm and sunny.

Nit's cafe for yumm dinner