Bear Watching

Posted February 16th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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PHOTOS: ALASKA BEAR WATCHING

One of the best decisions we made in selecting day trips in Alaska was choosing the folks from Emerald Air  from Homer to guide us on a unique Bear Watching trip.  Chris & Ken, a husband and wife pair who serve as guide and pilot respectively took us along with seven other   tourists to Hallo Bay to get a close look at the brown bears or grizzly bears in Alaska. It was an once in a lifetime experience and it will be the bar against which we will measure any future animal watching trips.

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Wildlife in Alaska

Posted February 16th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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PHOTOS: ALASKA

The “Big Five” in Alaska probably are: the bears (brown bears and  black bears), moose, caribou (also known as reindeer)  wolves and Dall Sheep.  My goal at the beginning of this trip was to make sure that we saw all of these  animals in their natural habitat.  We started off very well; within half an hour of landing in Anchorage, we spotted the Dall sheep.  We were driving down the TurnAgain arm, a spectacular drive that hugs the coast through the Chugach National Forest, and we had just stopped for our very first photo op.  Seejo, with his 20/20 vision noticed some animals on top of the mountain. I immediately dug out my binoculars and saw that these were indeed a herd of Dall sheep climbing up the steep mountain cliffs.  They were quite recognizable due to their snowy white coats and characteristic curved horns—appearing like a cross between a sheep and a goat.  A solitary sheep had wandered down the cliffs almost as if to  pose for us while we clicked away furiously.

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Goodness Glaciers!

Posted February 16th, 2010 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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PHOTOS: ALASKA

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Before we landed in Alaska, I knew intellectually that Alaska had glaciers and that we would see one. But I was totally unprepared for both the ubiquitousness as well as the accessibility to these glaciers.  In the course of the few days that we spent in Alaska, we had the opportunity to see the glaciers as we cruised past in a boat, view it from the air, hike up to a glacier on foot, and land on a glacier and experience both the sight and sound of a calving glacier.

As soon as we drove into the town of Girdwood – 30 miles from Anchorage, within a couple of hours of landing in Alaska,  we could see the humongous glaciers that surrounded the town. They looked like snow capped mountains, only we could see that the snow had become packed ice with the distinctive blue color that defines a glacier (apparently purer the ice , deeper the blue color).  The next morning, we drove down to Whittier and boarded a catamaran– the Klondike Express–  to see the 26 glaciers promised by the eponymous 26 Glacier Cruise.   Whittier is a tiny town — so tiny that 80% of the town lives in one grey building.  It is also very picturesque: a popular marina with hundreds of boats and yachts anchored  in the Prince William Sound and surrounded by ice-capped mountains. Continue Reading »

A Visit to the Zoo

Posted June 23rd, 2006 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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Every Monday morning, although disgruntled at the start of yet another busy/boring/terrible/frustrating week, I very firmly resolve to write an e-mail to all you good folks , detailing my activities of the past week and hopes for the week to come. Unfortunately, the only exciting activity to report takes place while I sleep. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a walking talking (and sleeping) Freudian laboratory. The moment my head hits my pillow my mind is filled with one exciting adventure after the other. Last night I single-handedly saved two busloads of kids from certain death from a falling giant tree. And the night before , I was the leader of a group of people creating solutions to save the world from “GRAVE DANGER”. And the night before was the catalyst in a romantic drama involving three couples that if I penned down would make me a Bollywood legend. See, that’s what I said…since my life is so mundane my creativity and desire for adventure find an outlet subconsciously through my dreams.

Reality is the unfortunate time in between.

This weekend however was somewhat “exciting” due to a trip to the Washington National zoo. How have the mighty fallen!!! After dallying around Italy and zooming off to Vermont and driving up-to the Niagara last year….all I have to report this year is a trip to the local zoo. But I have said I shall describe my weekends and so I shall start with the zoo-story. “Bear” with me!!!! ( hahaha!!)

During my last visit to San Diego , I visited the San Diego zoo, touted as the “best in the country”. After crossing the country to visit a zoo, I thought it a shame that I have never been to the one in my backyard. A visit to the DC zoo was necessary to compare the two. That was not meant to be taken literally. I shall refrain at this point to describe the wildlife and the insects that live happily behind my house and occasionally find a way to come and visit me inside. With this noble purpose, Seejo, Robin, Ashu and I set off on Saturday morning to “go to the zoo”. The DC zoo scored its first point over the SD zoo, because it was free.

IMG_6765We started off with the cheetah, and watched it dozing for a while and imagined the tremendous speed it could achieve if it ever woke up from its slumber. Just as we were tired of watching it sleep, and were about to leave, it raised its head to watch us go , almost as though saying “good riddance!”. We wandered off next to see a couple of wolves, who had clearly marked their territory by liberally spraying strongly stinking urine lavishly around their area. All we managed to see was a glimpse of two pointed ears, hiding behind the tall grass. By this time, it was getting quite hot (it was almost 95 degrees); the giraffe was standing quite listlessly , a baby elephant was trying to cool itself off by splashing water from its pool, the pandas were dozing in its cave. The pandas by the way were the star attraction of the DC zoo. The panda cub was actually born sometime in the last year in the zoo making it a rare creature. There were large amounts of children trying to glimpse the sleeping pandas imaging them as giant cuddly bears, oblivious of the fact that these are quite vicious creatures!! We saw a big ball of fur which we correctly interpreted as a dozing panda and ticked it off our “to-see” list.

We soon escaped to the cool confines of the aviary, where a few chattering birds were the attractions, impossibly still owls, some cockatoos with exhibitionist tendencies , colorful birds from the Amazon, a flock of pink flamingoes that had their neck tied up in knots. Out of the aviary, the next on the list were the seals, sea lions and beavers, all of them swimming gracefully in the water, making me quite resentful of the fact that they had their own water hole to splash about while I was trudging along in the high morning heat.

The next stop was the reptile museum where there were at least 50 different kinds of snakes, a dozen or so types of frogs, a variety of lizards and even a komodo dragon. By the way hilarious bit of stuff overheard at near the dragon enclosure: a piece of sage advice from a dad to his son, “ If those dragons bite you, you will die immediately cos they have bacteria and stuff ”. Sniggering at this, we passed on to the next exhibit: the monkeys where I learnt an important bit of information that the gorillas are African while orangutans are Asian in origin.IMG_6877 The monkeys were quite relaxed and oblivious of the people gawking at them. In fact one particular gentleman was reposing gracefully up a tree, and from time to time would take something from his arse and devour it as thought it was a tasty tit-bit. Another one wandered to the glass partition that divided the human apes form the gorilla apes and majestically sat there unmindful of the clicks and flashes that popped around them, like he was a famous star condescending to give the paparazzi a few poses !!

That was it for the day and tired after an exciting day out in the sun, we trudged homewards. And so when someone asks me in the future…so whats new with you…done anything exciting, I can proudly answer them. Yes, ofcourse we visited the zoo last week.