Thursday, December 29, 2016

Muir Woods

Muir Woods National Monument is located about 12 miles north of San Francisco. It is a beautiful park with giant redwood trees.

 It took us over an hour to drive from Sunnyvale. As we saw signs along the way that the parking lot was full, we went to the shuttle stop and waited another hour for the shuttle to arrive. It was freezing and as usual I didn't have enough layers. 

When we finally reached the park, we grabbed a map and decided to do the easiest trail that would take us 30 mins round trip. It was pretty flat, shaded and beautiful path. It was a bit crowded and there were some people who were talking loudly which took away from the serenity of the place.

We covered in the loop and got back to the entrance just in time for the shuttle back. I wish we had planned better and started early. We barely got an hour to spend inside the park after all the driving and waiting.

The park is scenic but I don't think it is much different from any of the other parks with giant redwoods. The state park in Santa Cruz is just as beautiful. So I'm not sure I would go through the trouble of driving all the far and wait for the shuttle when I can go to other parks. It may be that the other trails in the park lead to much more dramatic scenery but from what I saw, I won't be paying a second visit. 


This was my first ever dandiya. I've always wanted to go for one but never got a chance. When Pooja from my dance class suggested we go, I was all for it. After all, Falguni Pathak was going to be at the event!

The trouble of not having appropriate clothes was solved by Pooja who offered me her lehenga and jewellery. I was so happy with the the attire.

Leena, her roomie and I took an uber to pick up Pooja and then headed to the venue in San Jose. There was so much traffic and people had trouble finding parking. Lucky for us, we asked the driver to stop at a distance and walked the last mile.

At the venue, we were joined by a big gang of Leena's friends. We kept our belongings on the floor and formed a circle around it to dance. Most of them had no clue how do play dandia. We just copied steps from each other and tried to do the best we can. We danced non stop. I got so sweaty and tired after two hours. I didn't even remember to click a picture of Falguni!

We took a break and ate some food. By then I met Nutan and Sandhya who joined us. We continue dancing past midnight. I had picked up enough steps that at one point I was leading the group and teaching them steps :)

It was a total fun night and I'm looking forward to going for more dandiya nights next year.

Giants Game at Levis Stadium

I've never watched American football and don't have any clue how it is played. Yet, when Vishnu's company gave us tickets to watch the Giants game, I decided to go anyway. I just wanted to get the feel of watching a live game at a stadium.

We reached the stadium a little early fearing traffic. Since we had reserved parking, everything was a breeze. This was my first time visiting Levis stadium and I was so impressed how big it was. VMWare has a special suite so we went up there. It was so comfortable and the view from the top was wonderful.

We spent time clicking pictures and grabbing some high priced tasteless food from the food court.

The game began and I had a tough time following what was going on. Vishnu had to explain the rules and by half time I had some idea of the game. It didn't help that the Giants (the home team) were playing terribly. Most of the people left much before the game ended as it was pretty clear who the winner was going to be. We stayed until the end.

Bollywood Dance

I haven't danced since the final year of college. But I always wanted to learn how to dance. When I heard about Mona Khan Dance Company from my SIL, I was eager to give it a chance. I signed up right away.

It was a 8 week session with an hour long class each week. It being a performance quarter, we also had a technical rehearsal before the final performance. The first day I reached class, I was very excited as well as scared whether I'd be able to grasp the steps. The teacher, Shipali introduced herself as well as the assistant teacher, Dhanashri. She told us we were going to learn the choreography for two songs-Rock the party (I had never heard the song before) and High heels.

I was exhausted after the first class especially since I hadn't been doing any cardio for a while. The teacher recorded the last 5 mins of the class and sent over a detailed email on the steps that we learnt in class along with the video recording. This was super helpful in remembering the steps.

After the first few classes, all the students decided to meet on the weekend to practice. It was fun meeting at a different house each week and dancing. There was a lot of food and chit chat along with the practice. It was quite tough to get everyone to come at a common time but we tried.

On the last class, we had a dress rehearsal.

We then had the tech rehearsal at Chabot college in Hayward. It gave us the exact feel of the final performance day. It was useful to mark our positions on stage and to get over the stage fear a little.

On the final performance day, Vishnu, SIL and BIL all came to watch the show.

I was pumped and happy about my hair, makeup and overall look.

When our performance started, there was some difficulty with the stage curtain and we had to stop and restart. That was a little unsettling but we managed to give a superb performance. Everyone gave their best and I'm very happy with the final result. Our 8 weeks of hard work showed and I surprised myself with my performance.

I've signed up for the next session (non performance) and I'm looking forward to improving my skills and learning some fun steps.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Redwood Canopy Ziplining Tour

Ziplining in the Redwoods is an amazing experience. It was on my to-do list for a long time so when Anne mentioned she is interested in trying it out, I jumped at the opportunity right away. We picked a weekend and booked the tour. Did not regret it at all.

This activity is arranged by Mt Hermon Adventures in Santa Cruz. They have 3 different activities The one we chose was called Redwood canopy tour in which we zipline through 6 lines and cross two aerial bridges. Its a 2 hour activity and can accommodate up to 8 people at a time. They have several slots available so it should be fairly easy to get a booking. It costs $89-$99 per head depending on the time of the year. It is pricey and there are no discounts available as far as I searched. I would say it is totally worth the price as the activity is conducted in a very organized manner with detailed instructions from experienced and friendly guides.

Anne, Nush and I in our gear

At our allocated time, Anne, Nush and I arrived and were introduced to the two guides for the day. They helped with with the harness, gloves and helmet. All of them were super smelly so you will need to go home and shower! We practiced ziplining on a mini line just to get a feel of it and also to go over the basic safety protocols. Nothing too complicated.

Our awesome guide Mitch

The first one was very daunting. Walking across the aerial bridge onto the platform built on the tree was scary enough but from the platform when I looked down below it made me very nervous. At that point we were only 35 ft above the ground! I took a deep breath and without looking down, crossed my first line. When I reached the other end, I realized it was so simple and not at all scary. All the following ones felt easy and I actually looked around the trees and at the creek below. It was as if I was flying. A very exhilarating experience!

Walking across the aerial bridge

The highest one was 150 ft above the ground. The guides talked a little about the redwoods and the forest. They even kept throwing a challenge at each level like standing at the edge of the platform and leaning back which I was too chicken to try. They were nice enough to capture pictures for us as well. The last course does have a camera that automatically clicks pictures which you can purchase at the end of the tour.

It was time well spent and an activity that I enjoyed. They do have another tour which is like an obstacle course which looks very challenging as well as fun. That one's for another day!

What: Ziplining
Where: Mt Hermon Adventures, 17 Conference Dr, Felton CA 95018
When: Throughout the year
Cost: $89-$99

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lake Tahoe In Summer

This is a long overdue post. I took a trip to Lake Tahoe in August of last year and I have not yet blogged about it! It was such a memorable trip but soon after I started a new job and things got crazy.

Nutan, Jui and I planned this trip. We found a gorgeous cabin on airbnb and we were all set to go. Since our schedules were different, we all drove there individually. We started on Friday morning to avoid the traffic and reached there comfortably by afternoon. The rest of them got there pretty late in the evening. On the way we spotted at a few scenic spots as well as spent some time in Pope Beach.

Pope beach at sunset
Pope beach
The cabin was simply superb. Three bedrooms spread across two floors and a huge living room stacked with games and a keyboard. It was very well furnished. We spent the entire night talking, laughing and having a great time.


The next morning we headed to the Zephyr cove beach, rented some beach chairs and sun umbrellas and spent the day there lazying and playing in the water. Vishnu and I even did parasailing which was scary initially but then super fun. The view from up top of the pristine water and mountains was gorgeous. Didn't take the camera so no pictures. In the evening, we went to Heavenly village to get some snacks and then returned to the cabin.

Zephyr Cove
Playing in Lake Tahoe
Beach chairs and Umbrellas rented at Zephyr cove
Snack stop at Heavenly Village

The next day morning, both of us rented out bicycles and biked on the bike trail along the beach. The dedicated bike trail meant no pedestrians or cars. It was an awesome experience. It wasn't very difficult although there were a few slopes for which I walked the bike. It was the first time I was biking such a long distance and I did quite well. Shortly after, we headed back home.

Biking Trail

Pope Beach

San Juan Bautista Mission

On the way back from our whale watching trip, we visited The Old Mission at San Juan Bautista. After watching the famous Hitchcock flick 'Vertigo', visiting the historic Spanish mission was on our list.

Outside the Church

San Juan Bautista

As soon as I reached there, I started looking for the bell tower featured in the movie, To my utter disappointment, the tower no longer exists. In fact, it did not exist even during the making of the film. Those scenes were shot on a set in a studio. The mission has a $3 entry fee.

We saw the museum, the church and the gardens. As mentioned in my previous post, I was too drowsy from the tablet I had taken to pay any attention to the historical artifacts. I walked past them casting a quick glance.

Handwritten music books

I loved the gardens with all the colorful flowers and giant cacti. The stables and the Hall opposite to the museum have a separate entry fee so we skipped it.

Colorful flowers

We took a few pictures and headed to a nearby cafe to fight off our drowsiness with caffeine. The cafe, not surprisingly, was called 'Vertigo.' I chose to have the affogato and to my delight it was the best coffee I have ever had in my life! Everyone else also loved their coffee. For us, that coffee was the highlight of trip!

What: Old Mission at San Juan Bautista
Where: 406 2nd st San Juan Bautista CA
When: 9:30am-4:30pm
Fee: $3