Australia Diaries – II

We tried checking out early in the morning but I guess we were too early, there was nobody at front desk. And while we waited we took some pictures in the car.

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Also, most of the restaurants weren’t open for breakfast, so we walked around the town still humming and whistling the song from previous evening, trying hard to think of another song to replace it.
We passed cute little shops, typical of small tourist towns, stopped at a general store to pick up sunscreen and lip balm. Tina had been going on about this brand called Moogoo and wouldn’t shut up till I tried some of its products.
After walking a couple of blocks, we finally settled in at Mad Cowes cafe for breakfast. She ordered Salmon Delight and I a MadCowes Hash. She had to work, mainly check her emails and make a few phone calls.

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Food happy after breakfast, we strolled down to the pier and then to the beach.

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After taking more than a handful of pictures, we decided to embark on our road trip. We had miles to go before we could sleep, literally. We were going to follow the scenic drive via Lakes Entrance to Jindabyne. I found the name Jindabyne very amusing, and kept saying it. It just felt so good to say it repeatedly 😉

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We pulled up Arijit Singh’s playlist on YouTube before we started. Our conversation switched to Rosemol, Tina’s sister, when we saw a Jayco’s camper van in front of us because she works for Jayco.

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After we finished catching up on immediate and extended families, we tried calling some friends from college but the fact that everybody lives in different time zone kind of made it difficult to get hold of them.

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When we first started, there were open fields for almost as far as our eyes could see, with cows grazing and a few trees in the distant horizon.

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Then the landscape changed and we were surrounded in lush green. I am so obsessed with roads, this drive was heavenly – narrow, winding roads lined with trees on both sides, and the different shades of green was a feast to the eyes.

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It was a perfect day for a long drive. Reminded me so much of Patrick Rothfuss’s – “Outside the Waystone Inn the air lay still and heavy on the empty dirt road that ran through the center of the town. The sky was a featureless grey sheet of cloud that looked as if it wanted to rain but couldn’t quite work up the energy.” I just love the way he describes things, feels like reading your own thoughts out loud, not that I could ever express something that beautifully. But I digress.

We stopped at the information center at Lakes Entrance and asked the rangers – “we have around 2 hours here. What do you think we should do?”
They were taken aback at first and we had to explain to them that we were on our way to Jindabyne and had only a few hours to spare. They gave us some pointers and we left. We drove around the scenic drive – this is where the Gippsland Lakes meet the southern ocean. The sight was breathtaking. And with it being an overcast day, with mist around, it made the place so surreal.

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It was sunny and warm when we had left that morning and suddenly we were cold and also realized we were hungry.

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We went looking for food but most of the restaurants were closed for lunch. We saw a floating restaurant and were attracted by the view it had to offer but unfortunately it was closed that day.

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Finally, we found a cute little coffee shop called Albert and Co. and ate whatever was available. I also tried my first Lamington here and I loved it. That combination of chocolate and coconut never disappoints and cream filling made it even better!

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We called Maanasa, and spoke to her briefly. After lunch, we drove over to the beach and spent a while looking at the sea gulls fight over someone’s discarded shrimp on the beach.

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It started drizzling  and we left. We picked up some ice cream when we stopped for gas.  Ice cream is always a delight but it is even more so when it is cold and drizzling outside and you sit in the car weaving your way across such picturesque landscape with your best friend listening to your kind of music, almost hypnotic.

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There was hardly any traffic and it had stopped raining. I rolled the windows down and put my hand out and set my chin on the window sill trying to imprint that moment in my memory – the way the wind felt on my face and hair, the occasional raindrop that strayed and found it’s way to my arm as it fell from the leaves when we drove past the trees, the smell of the wet earth, sound of the leaves rustle, the cows mooing and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice. My entire existence felt perfect. 🙂

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We discussed the word petrichor for a while. Though I have known the word for a few years, it’s only recently that I discovered it’s pronounced “petrikor” – reader’s vocabulary! I now know it is not pronounced “chor” but “chor” in Hindi is a thief and we considered it’s etymology for a while.

I was a happy soul – at peace and excited as well at the same time. When Tina saw me taking so many pictures and videos of the road as we drove past, she decided to pull over for a while. And this picture, right here, is one of the best I have ever taken!

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Our playlist complimented the drive so beautifully that every time I hear those songs now, it reminds me of this day. We pondered over some urdu words like fittoor, suroor, fanaa etc and were mesmerized by how sweet and beautiful the lyrics was.

The landscape changed yet again. The lush green trees were long gone and replaced by fields with yellow/brown grass. Few shrubs we saw stood out admist the fields and rolling hills.

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I was so lost in thought and for some reason I was thinking of BFG. I was imagining snozzcumbers and trying to recall the names of all giants – Bonecruncher, Gizzardgulper, Childchewer…and I heard Tina say something. I assumed she was on the same page. We took a turn and there was this giant windmill right in front of us and few more around. That broke my reverie. And because I have always been so fascinated by windmills, I actually squealed with delight and clapped my hands and said – Wohoo!!! Tina, windmills!

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And she goes – I have been telling you about them for almost five minutes now!
Me: What? You mean, there are more? Weren’t you talking about BFG?
Her: BFG?
We both were so confused. The whole episode was hilarious, we had to stop the car to laugh out loud and also to take pictures. We rolled down the windows, breathed in the fresh air and looked around. The sun was already below the horizon behind those clouds, tall grass swayed against the gentle breeze and the windmills were half hidden behind mist. It felt magical!

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The road got narrower as daylight faded and we got closer to Jindabyne. We were grateful there was nobody else on the road. We finally reached our B&B at around 8:30. It was already dark and had started raining again somewhere along the way. We looked for instructions and finally found the key to our room and dragged our bags in. Once we were warm and cozy again, we started looking for food but it being a small town everything had closed already. We had some fruits and olives while Tina checked her work emails and I booked my tickets from Sydney to Brisbane and finally called it a night.

We got up early in the morning, got ready and went to have breakfast. We met the owners and spoke to them for a while. It was owned by a couple and the guy’s parents had come from Canada to help them run the place. Because we hadn’t eaten proper meal the previous day we both were excited about and looking forward to breakfast. But they only had continental breakfast – milk and cereal and toast. We had a toast each. Tina made me try vegemite and I almost threw up.

We packed and carried our bags back to the car, but made sure to keep jackets, gloves and hats outside. We were going to climb Mount Kosciuszko that day and thought we might need them up at the summit.
And because we didn’t know if there were any restrooms along the way and also because we didn’t have time to go shopping the previous day, we grabbed a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom on our way out, in case we needed it on the trail. We were waiting at the front desk to check out and I was admiring Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote on the window by a flower pot.

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We said good byes and as we walked out, the owner pointed to my hand and said – I’ll need that back.
I thought he meant the toilet paper and was about to return the roll when he said – the keys. I didn’t realize I was walking out with the keys!
We walked along Lake Jindabyne. There were a lot of sea gulls and I asked Tina to take a video of me running towards them in slow motion and it turned out to be an epic fail.

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We then headed to Mount Kosciuszko National Park. It took us a while to figure out and find parking and when we finally did, we went to information center to speak to the rangers and collect maps.

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We knew we wanted to do the summit walk from Thredbo which included riding the chairlift, but we didn’t know where to get the tickets from. When the rangers asked if our day was going great, Tina said – Not really. We had continental breakfast!
They were confused and didn’t know how to react. It was kind of hard to explain we were expecting better breakfast, you know, with eggs and smoked salmon.
Anyway, they answered all our questions and gave us directions and we got going.
We went to the gift shop, bought the tickets and took the scenic Mount Kosciuszko express Chairlift up to the start of Kosciuszko Walk, which covered the first 1.25 miles with almost 1850 feet of elevation gain. That would have been a steep climb otherwise. And Tina did great in spite of her fear of heights.

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At the other end of the chairlift, there was a restaurant perched at the edge, above Thredbo village, right at Kosciuszko Walk trialhead. How delighted we were at the thought of good food! It’s Australia’s highest restaurant and had a great view. We ordered our kind of breakfast and ate to our heart’s content.

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After breakfast, we drowned down shots of schnapps. Feeling recharged and ready to take on the world, we finally began our mission to the summit.

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It was a very pleasant walk with gradual elevation gain and plenty of wild flowers in bloom.

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Mount Kosciuszko Lookout point, though, was a little disappointing. What we could see from there didn’t look like the tallest mountain in the country in any way. Few other hikers returned from the lookout point.

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We continued. The map mentioned some point where we could see some tributaries meeting but all we could see were these tiny streams. And don’t ask me what I was trying to do in the picture below.

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We crossed a couple of them along our way and reached Lake Cootapatamba – a tiny lake, almost hidden, snug in that landscape. It was a pretty sight.

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Up the Rowan pass the views kept getting better. Every turn round the corner revealed something new and there were some information about folklore and the beliefs of indigenous people which was very informative and interesting at the same time. I love stories, they add so much to a place and make it easier to remember details.

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We got to the top, found a spot away from the crowd and sat looking around us, trying to take in the 360 degrees view. Tina got a call from Zairah’s day care. I try not to use my phone even otherwise and I hadn’t taken a local number but I was still impressed they had cell service up at the summit.

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We were amazed to see so many ravens up at the summit. There were definitely more ravens up there than humans.

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We snacked on snickers, took a ton of pictures and began our descent. We met people from all over the world along the trail.

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Almost all random conversations I had with total strangers, I had to explain where Portland/Oregon was. Everybody knew Seattle and San Francisco but not Portland. In a way I was happy that we still have Portland to ourselves.  I was kind of surprised when one girl from Switzerland said she was planning to come to Portland in 2019. Apparently she had done Appalachain trail couple of years ago and she wanted to do Pacific Crest Trail next. She knew quite a lot about Oregon.

We took the chairlift back. I was trying to take my phone out of the bag to record a video of our descent and dropped my sunglasses which I had momentarily placed on my lap to wipe/clean. Talk about leaving something behind!

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We were hungry again but most of the places had closed for lunch by then. We walked back to the car and started looking for food around us. We stopped at Wildbrumby to pick up some schnapps. I enjoyed schnapps and rum tasting there but it kind of hit me hard, always does on empty stomach. We tried these cute little ice creams and picked up apple strudel but everything was too sweet!

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We were quite hangry as we drove down to Jindabyne, Tina more than me. I had at least some of the strudel. Unfortunately we couldn’t find anything to eat for almost an hour. When we finally found a deli and pulled over, a truck almost ran into us at the parking lot. Thankfully the other driver hit the brakes just in time and nothing untoward happened.

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We picked up sandwiches and ate them in the car as we drove to Canberra to Pragati’s place, our other friend from college. She was worried we won’t have anything to do in Canberra. She felt we might enjoy the ongoing science exhibition, though she herself was bored. After pacifying her for being late and reassuring her that we would be fine we hung up. And Tina and I started talking about college. And we wondered why Pragati studied mathematics and physics when she was barely interested in either. Made a mental note to ask her when we met her later that evening.

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It was pretty late when we finally got there. I hadn’t seen Pragati since she got married in 2010, I think. It was fun meeting her and her family. Arun, her husband, volunteered to look after the kids. So we got to dress up and go for a girls’ night out. She introduced me to dry shampoo because I didn’t have enough time to wash and dry my hair. It had been a while since I wore anything other than jeans (to work) and hiking attire. Getting dressed up with these two and all the conversation in between was a lot of fun! Brought back a lot of memories of girls hostel. The discussion about “kora” dress, our constant giggling and their disapproval on my lack of makeup skills and products felt so very normal.

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We went to a pub but didn’t quite like the vibe. After a pitcher of cocktail we hopped on to another pub. After a couple of fancy cocktails we did shots and oh, the food was amazing! We were actually lucky we got some, by the time we got there they were getting ready to close the kitchen.

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We rode uber and were talking non-stop on our way back home, mostly in Hindi. I recognized our rental car parked in front of Pragati’s house and randomly said in Hindi – Bhaiya, bas yahin rok do. Ghar aa gaya. (We are home, you can drop us right here). And the driver actually stopped. We all turned to him and said – you understand Hindi?!!!!
Him – Yes, kind of.
Us: You understood every word we said?!
Him : Yes
He was from Pakistan and fluent in Hindi. Not that we were talking bad about him or anybody, but we were having such a carefree conversation and suddenly realized that he was also privy to our conversation. We laughed about it for a long time about it. We called up Divya, another friend in India and had a long group conversation. We did remember to ask Pragati why she studied science in college or as it is called MPC (Maths, Physics and Chemistry) back home. She had no idea herself. We ended up creating a whatsapp group with the 4 of us and it is named – MPC kyun kiya? (Why MPC?). We finally went to sleep in the early hours of the morning.

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Australia Diaries – I

This vacation was special from the very beginning. I was granted visa to New Zealand but had no idea if I would get a visa to Australia until the very last moment.
I had my tickets to Melbourne for 16th Feb from LA and I was at the verge of cancelling it when I got the visa on Friday, 9th Feb, exactly a week before my travel date.

I already had the weekend planned. So, I ended up going camping that weekend. I got back home at around 10 on Sunday night and looked up tickets from Portland to LA. They were around $300 one way for Wednesday/Thursday/Friday. I haven’t paid $300 yet for round trips on domestic flights, there was no question of paying so much for one way.
I looked up tickets for Tuesday evening and it was available for $80. I bought it right away. I have friends in LA but didn’t want to disturb them during valentines day. So, I used a friend’s reward points to book a room in hotel instead for 2 nights.  I tried making a list of things I should pack and I could only think of passport, wallet and phone. With that taken care of I went to sleep. Monday morning, I told my manager I would work remotely Wednesday through Friday that week. At first, it didn’t make much sense when I tried explaining to my colleagues that I was flying out on Tuesday instead of Thursday or Friday because ticket was so expensive later in the week, and that I was going to stay in a hotel for 2 nights. I was contradicting my own logic But thank god for friends who help me out with accommodation during my travels – be it by letting me stay with them or by letting me use their points.
I went home on Monday evening, packed my bags with whatever I could think of and cleared the refrigerator – ate what I could and packed what I couldn’t. I went to work on Tuesday with my bags. I had a dental appointment on Tuesday afternoon that I didn’t want to cancel. Also, I had been trying to get hold of my hair dresser for over 2 months but she had gone on a vacation and had just returned. She said she could see me that very afternoon. Everything had to happen that day!

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So, I dragged my bags all over the city that afternoon and finally made it to the airport, just in time for the flight. I landed in LA around midnight, took uber directly to the hotel and went to bed. I prefer staying in hostels but I had a couple of meetings through the rest of the week and needed to be in a quieter space, so a hotel it was this time. The food that I had carried ended up being my lunch for the next two days.

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After work on Wednesday, I went to buy gifts for friends in Australia. Talk about saving everything for the last minute. On Thursday, I went over to Stephanie’s place and stayed with her in the cutest house ever!

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We went to the not very famous side of Baldwin hills to see the sunset. I loved how quiet and peaceful it was.

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We had dinner on our way back and I literally forced her to take me for rolled ice cream later that night. We don’t get them everywhere. And I didn’t want to miss it when I was in a city that had it. We drove around the city in fun pajamas and the night ended up becoming an adventure!

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The two of us went over to Satish and Swati’s place on Friday and as always, had great food. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner in 5 hours we were there. 🙂

I still dream about all that food. It being my last day of work before a vacation, I had a few things to finish before heading to the airport.

Triggered by a friend’s comment on Facebook I ended up listening to Bollywood music from the 90’s while working all day long.

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Their reaction to Aaine ke sau tukde karke humne dekhe hai

I was done by 5:30. When Don (Stephanie’s fiancé)  arrived, I tried requesting for Uber/lyft hoping I could ride his car but the app kept assigning me other drivers. We got so tired of trying, Stephanie and Don just decided to drop me to the airport.

I reached the airport at around 7 for 10:30 pm flight. It being an international flight I wanted to be on time. But I was done with the customs and security check-ins in less than 10 minutes and I had over 3 hours to kill.

I wasn’t even very hungry but it being a 10:30 flight, way past dinner time, I wasn’t sure they would serve dinner on the plane. And because I can’t sleep on the plane, I decided to eat something. And it was the most expensive and the most tasteless sandwich I have ever had.

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I picked up one of those neck pillows that you see everywhere at the airports, hoping it would help me sleep a little.
Oh, and in all the rush I forgot to check in online and I got the middle seat in the second last row.

And yes, they did serve dinner! At the end of the day, I realized all I did that day was eat. I made a conscious effort not to watch movies and tried my best to sleep. I sat through the night with my eyes closed. They served a sandwich in the night again which I had in the morning when I got tired of trying to sleep and decided to watch a movie after all. Just as I was finishing Captain America, they served breakfast. I watched Mission Impossible as I had breakfast and we landed in Melbourne by the time the movie got over. 15.5 hours flight from LA to Melbourne, with a lost Saturday in between.

Melbourne airport was busy beyond my imagination. The queue at passport control was almost one kilometer long. Took over an hour just to get done with it. Finally, I collected my bags and headed out. And there were Tina and Zairah waiting for me, Zairah with a paging board.

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It had been a little over 3 years since I had seen Tina. She had come to Hawaii to visit me then and it was my turn now. We have been friends for almost 2 decades. Somehow seeing her as a mom was something I had never imagined. Seeing her with Zairah was so incredible.
The last 2 years when I had only seen Zairah’s pictures, I thought she looked exactly like Sumeet. But the moment I saw her in person, I realized she was Tina’s extension. My little drama queen! Oh, how I love this kid!

We took the city bus from the airport to Southern Cross Station. It was a double-decker bus and we sat on the seat upstairs, second from the front. Zairah was telling me about things in Melbourne. When we saw the giant wheel, she asked me if I was happy.
Zairah: Are you happy?
Me: Yes. Are you happy?
Zairah : if you are happy and you know it clap your hands!!!
She was sitting on Tina’s lap and I was on the adjacent seat. We both clapped our hands. There was a little kid (4-5 years old) sitting on the seat in front of us.
Zairah: Hey, little boy, clap your hands!
How I burst out laughing. Little boy’s mother was sitting next to Tina on the other side and she was so amazed at Zairah and tried to coax her son into clapping but he wouldn’t even budge.

Sumeet had gone to pick up the rental car for us when we arrived. He was flying back to Brisbane with Zairah that afternoon and Vera (their friend) went to drop them at the airport. Tina and I took a bus and went to the city. It’s only then we realized we didn’t take any pictures with Zairah. But we more than made up for it during the rest of my stay in Australia.

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Chinese new year parade was in progress as we made our way to this amazing asian restaurant for lunch.

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The amount of food we (read Tina) ordered would have fed at lest 5. We sat there for couple of hours just eating. Finally we packed the leftover food and walked around the city.

We walked past Flinders street station and over the bridge looking at the boats docked on the river below. We had noticed some glitter floating in the air as we had crossed the station on the other side of the road. On our way back we decided to check it out.

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It was an exhibition called “Liquid sky” at a park and the structure rose and fell in the air with the wind. It looked pretty awesome! And I just discovered through a Facebook post that it is described as “giant kinetic sculpture that forms waves in the sky”.

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Next we went to this little store in front of Parliament building, bought ice cream and sat on Parliament Building stairs eating. We used to buy ice cream from the cart in front of the canteen in college and walk to our class enjoying our ice cream, sometimes through the basketball court and sometime via auditorium stairs. In spite of Tina saying we would at least die happy, pointing to ice cream, if the building were to get attacked by terrorists, nothing has really changed in all these years, except for the fact that we used to share an ice cream then and now we can afford to have our own cups and that too  multiple scoops with different flavours 😉

Back then, we had never thought she would end up living in Australia and me in the US and we would travel across the world to see each other. But I am so happy and lucky that we do. I can’t even imagine how my life would have been if I hadn’t met her.

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We walked back to the bus stop and went to Vera’s place. We had already put our bags in the car before heading for lunch. We went in to check if we had left anything behind and noticed a bottle of diet coke and a bottle of whiskey. We poured whiskey into the half empty coke bottle, made sure we had left over chicken from our lunch and left for Phillip Island.
Tina had Great Ocean Road also in her initial plan. But that would have been in the opposite direction and it didn’t make much sense to spend so much of our time driving. We mutually decided to skip it on this trip.
As we left the city and drove past the green pastures with cows grazing and hay bales, I knew I was in a happy place. Because I grew up around cows and goats back home, seeing them makes my heart happy. In between our non-stop chatter we realized we should play music. And for once, I had travelled without my old nokia phone (which is now my music player). We played some songs on youtube and this one in particular just stuck and we ended up singing it till next morning – Tujh mein khoya rahoon main, mujh mein khoyi rahe tu, khudko dhoondh lenge phir kabhi.

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We first went to the hotel in Cowes and checked in, left our bags and left for Nobbies. I loved the drive to Nobbies, especially this section which felt like a tree tunnel.

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We walked on the broad-walk enjoying the ocean air, the scenic coast and penguin nests.

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We ran, we jumped, I mean she posed and I jumped and we saw little penguins. I had only seen penguins in aquariums till then. I had no idea little penguins were in fact that little!

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We had some chicken as we got into the car and went to see the penguins parade on the Summerland beach. We walked around the visitor center first, reading about penguins and then walked right to the beach, past the tiered seating spot and sat in the front row, on the sand.IMG_1295

It was still summer but there was a chill in the air and I was glad I still had the coke bottle in my bag. We both took a few sips and sat waiting for the penguins.
Photography was not allowed past the visitor center and the rangers said we could use the pictures on their websites. The two pictures below are from their gallery.

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It was fun seeing those tiny little creatures waddle from the ocean, past the beach to their nests. Almost every group had a lazy one that would refuse to move half way through the beach. We got up and waddled with the penguins for a while before heading back to the car.
We were pretty hungry by then and the chicken that had looked enough to feed a few people in the afternoon was almost gone. We had driven past Coles in Cowes on our way to Summerland. But it being a small town, everything closed by 9. It was 5 minutes past 9 when we parked in front of Coles and they directed us to Woolworth few blocks away, which was open 24×7. We picked up some olives, cheese, smoked salmon and croissant and went to our room. As we prepared our sandwiches it felt like it was the best meal we had had all day, paired with spiked coke (diluted whiskey).

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Kauai Diaries – Part I

Not so long ago, on an island far far away lived five amazing women in a house on Liloa Rise street – Ramona, Kalene, Stephanie, Christy and yours truly. I just realized the five of us never took a picture together. :-/

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Christy had a friend (Holly) visiting her from Alaska for Thanksgiving (2014) and they had decided to spend their week together in Kauai. Stephanie, was going to join them a day later. One evening Christy asked me if I would like to come along as well and after discussing for a few minutes, I took Wednesday and Friday off and I got my tickets booked. Read More

Utah-Part VI (Arches National Park)

As hungry as I was, I drove straight to Lazy Lizard hostel first and checked in.
Fortunately, they hadn’t marked me a no show. I went up to my room, a little apprehensive. I hadn’t seen any pictures or read reviews of the place. That was the only hostel available in Moab. So, I didn’t have any option to choose from, which kind of simplified things.
While travelling, all I look for is a place to take shower and lay my head down. And I
don’t find it worth spending around $70 a night just to do that. But again, we do judge a
lot of things by price. The dorm bed was $12 a night and I didn’t know what to expect. The only reason I had made a reservation here was because it being a long weekend, I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it to the park in time for a walk-in camp site. And with the campsite at Arches closed, I was just glad I had a place to sleep. And I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the room.

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Utah – Part V (Canyonlands National Park)

I had met a couple from New York on the Monument Valley tour and they were headed to Canyon Lands too. When I told them I wanted to do both parts, the Needles and Island in the Sky, they told me there may not be a lot I could do in the Needles without a four wheel drive or a few days to go backpacking.

So I went through the park website and with the amount of time I had, it made more sense to do just the Island in the Sky. So, off I went on another stretch of road that went on and on forever. I stopped at a Navajo stall to pick up a pair of dream-catchers, one for my favourite niece and one for myself.

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Utah/Arizona – Part IV (Monument Valley)

Once I had my route finalized, and that’s after I landed in Salt Lake city, I decided
to stop by Monument Valley as it was on my way, almost.

I had read that the best way to see the place was through tours. They take you to the
restricted areas of the valley that you cannot otherwise access. And I decided to see
as much as I could while I was there.
But I couldn’t book the tour online. You need to have at least two members in your
party to make the booking online. So, I emailed to tell them I was traveling by myself
and would like to do a tour. And they told me the only one they had available was the
sunset tour on the 31st. I made a camping reservation at The View first and then took
that spot on the sunset tour.

I wanted to reach by late afternoon so that I would have enough time to register at the
campsite and put up my tent before I could join the tour, not to mention the numerous
stops I knew I would make along the way to admire my surroundings. And for that I left early. That makes me want to believe I left Zion not just a year older but wiser too 😉

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Utah – Part III (Zion National Park)

I wanted to do all the 5 national parks in Utah and when I started looking them up I realized how popular Zion was and how tough it was to get accommodation, especially if you wanted to stay in the park. After trying all the date combinations within my vacation, I could get camping reservation for the 29th and 30th. So, I planned the rest of my trip around these two days at Zion.

And if that wasn’t enough, the long wait outside the entrance helped me prepare for the crowd I was about to encounter.

There was a flock of mountain sheep strolling around the road by the entrance. And because there was a place to park close by, I stopped to look at them.

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