Arches National Park

Posted September 12th, 2018 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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We have been traveling the world with our kids since they were infants. And no doubt, it has been challenging to juggle sleep schedules and potty routines and short attention spans with trying to see as much of a new place in the few vacation days that we have. But then a trip like this happens and all off those initial struggles suddenly become worthwhile.
Seejo and I had coincidental work trips to Salt Lake City (and suburbs) around the same time. After a bit of adjusting, we managed to get those schedules coordinated in the same week.  We took turns working Thursday &  Friday with the other one managing the kids and then could wrangle time to see Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park over the weekend.  Early Friday evening, we drove the 3.5 hours from Orem (where Seejo’s Utah office is) to Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab. The kids had spent the morning in the hotel pool so they were pleasantly tired out and happy to nap in the car.  The drive was beautiful – minimal traffic, huge mountains that changed color from white to gray to deep red as we neared the town of Moab.

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Rhode Island & Cape Cod

Posted August 29th, 2014 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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Rhode-Island-4Rhode Island has been on my bucket list for a long time. Seejo has been flying to RI a few times a year for the past few years for work. I have always thought of accompanying him but for some reason the plans have never materialized. So this summer, we decided to plan an extra long weekend to Rhode Island & Cape Cod.

Rhode Island was once the summer getaway place for America’s millionaires in the late 1800s and early 1900s otherwise called the Gilded Age. It is here that they constructed their summer “cottages” and spent the summer in their waterfront homes. Calling them as cottages is definitely absurd as many of these are 50+ room castles decorated in a luxurious style and furnished with amazing artwork and surrounded by stunning landscaped gardens. These nouveau rich Americans flush with their railroad , shipping or mining fortunes vied with each other in creating the most opulent, over the top mansions – all for spending just 8 weeks in a year. This was where the Astors and the Vanderbilts and their ilk flaunted their wealth, threw over the top parties and in general lived a life of excess – not surprising that  it was called an age of conspicuous consumption!

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Puerto Rico

Posted July 24th, 2014 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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pr6We visited Puerto Rico for a 4 day trip at the beginning of summer. PR is a tiny island in the Caribbean, much closer to West Indies than the United States, but is part of the US. All PR residents are officially US citizens.  It is a 4 hour flight from Washington DC but after surviving the brutal winter we had, we were looking forward to warmer climates, sandy beaches, rainforests, Caribbean cuisine and some much wanted downtime.  Although PR is officially a territory of the US, the fact that Spanish is the main language of communication, makes you feel instantly like you are in a foreign country.  Unlike Spanish speaking pockets in main land US, everything here is in Spanish: restaurant menus, street signs and it is the language spoken by street vendors and tradesman. Although almost everybody in the touristy areas spoke English, there were enough folks we interacted with such as the nail technician at the spa, the street vendor selling mangoes, the mother of two adorable girls I bumped into near the pool and the kiosk vendor selling arepas who spoke only Spanish.  Nothing makes you feel like you are in a foreign land till you have to resort to hand gestures and sound effects to make yourself understood! Continue Reading »

Annika’s Witty Gems

Posted April 16th, 2014 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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awg4Annika was 27 months when we visited India in February.  She was looking forward to meeting “Ammamma”(my mother) and Daada-Daadi (Seejo’s dad & mom) again – who she knew are in India. Here are some gems from Annika during the course of our visit

Is India Done?

We stayed the first night of our visit with Seejo’s parents. The next morning, we set off to visit my mom along with a suitcase full of gifts for my relatives. Looking at both of us and our huge suitcase, Annika asks us “Is India Done?”. Continue Reading »

Great Wolf Lodge & Jamestown Settlement: Review

Posted December 11th, 2013 by Deepa and filed in Travel, Uncategorized
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GreatWolfLodge-01For Annika’s second birthday, we decided to treat her (and ourselves) to a small getaway trip.  I wanted to take Annika to a water park because she enjoys being in the water. I had two criteria for a water-park: it had to be indoors because it was November and it had to have special area or rides that are suitable  for toddlers.  I had almost given up  hope on finding such a place when a colleague mentioned the Great Wolf Lodge.  The Great Wolf Lodge is an indoor water park with several locations around the country. The two closest to us were at Poconos, NY  and  Williamsburg, Virginia.

Entrance to the waterpark is limited to guests of the lodge, so we booked a weekend at the Williamsburg resort. We selected Williamsburg as it was substantially cheaper than Poconos  as well asGreatWolfLodge-06 a tad bit closer. We left work a little early on Friday to make the three hour drive to Williamsburg and reached the lodge at around 6pm.  After the check in formalities , we spent some time exploring the resort and the water-park.  We were given a wrist tag with RF ID embedded : this way we could move throughout the lodge and the water-park area without needing a room-key or any money. Any purchases could be billed directly to the room using the tag.  The lodge was quite large : our rooms were near one end of the lodge so it was quite a trek  to get to the main lobby  and the park. The rooms were quite standard with a microwave and refrigerator. Clearly we were not meant to spend a lot of time in the room itself. The Lodge has a lot of other activities for children : it had a play area where children could be dropped off, an arcade, a kiddie spa, a couple of eating spots and of course the park itself.  The decor at the lodge was quite interesting:  you are greeted at the entrance of the lobby by a humongous stone sculpture of  a wolf. You enter into a huge and welcoming lobby with multiple fireplaces — the whole place has a log cabin like  feel to it with rustic log  furniture.  There is a grand clock-tower at the center of the lobby — we were told that each evening there is story time for kids near the clock tower along with sightings of Wiley the Wolf and Violet the Vixen. There were several life sized statues of wolves placed here and there , I counted about 15 of them.  We decided not to  go into the water that day but instead went out to dinner  buffet at Captain George’s sea-food restaurant Short Review: lots of variety, average taste , not recommended unless you want to eat a huge quantity of sea-food. Continue Reading »

The towns in Provence and Cote d’Azur

Posted October 20th, 2013 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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My sister and family went back to Dubai after Paris. However my mom, Seejo and I traveled South to the French Riviera. We spent 3-4 days in the South Of France enjoying the beauty of French Riviera and Provence.  I have several lovely memories of the time we spent there including the train ride there where an elderly couple entertained Annika for a long time, the classic sight of  folks playing Petanque, the little dinky Cannes railway station, the sight of a mountain goat up on the Gorges Du Verdon loop, walking up and down tiny towns selecting sachets of lavender, grocery shopping at French malls and so on.  This is not to discount the marvelous natural beauty that we were fortunate to see.   We visited several small towns and was enthralled by the changing landscape. Also we were fortunate to be there during lavender season (albeit a week before peak) and got to see the fields of lavender as well. A brief description of the various little towns and cities we visited is below. Continue Reading »

Dutch Memories

Posted October 4th, 2013 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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The Pakistani cab driver dropped us off at our rental  apartment  in Amsterdam with only one warning.  He pointed out the pale pink pathway through the center of the sidewalk and said “That is the cycle lane. Stay away from the bicyclists. They will not stop for anyone.”

We soon learnt that it was true.  The cycles and cyclists were one of the most interesting aspects of Amsterdam.  Everybody in Amsterdam uses a bike to commute including frail looking old ladies driving back Amsterdamfrom the grocery store, young parents with modified baby carriers attached to their bike, professionals with crisp blazers and blackberrys,  teenagers, school children and of course wide-eyed tourists.   And the locals know that this is an attraction in itself.  In fact the bicycle parking station at Amsterdam’s Central station was one of the highlights  pointed out to us by the tour-guide when we took a canal cruise that evening. Thousands and thousands of bikes in a four storey parking lot!  What was strange to me is that these cycles were not spanking new sports bikes with several gears and fancy features and multiple cup-holders that is the usual bike in the US but infact quite shabby and run-down basic models.  Kind of strange to see a guy in the latest three piece suit with a smartphone clipped to this ear drive a cycle similar to the doodhwala. Continue Reading »

Food Tour Of Greenwich Village, New York City

Posted August 17th, 2013 by Deepa and filed in Food, Travel
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NYC Trip1We spent the last weekend visiting friends in the New Jersey area and took the opportunity to see the Greenwich Village in New York City.  We have been to New York City several times but have always spent most of our time visiting the main tourist destinations in Manhattan. This time we decided to skip that and do something different. While doing some internet research on local attractions, I came up on a site that offers food tours for Greenwich village. Intrigued by the idea of a food tour, I explored some more and found out that there were several recommended food joints in that area.  After some more Google searches and reading a couple of food blogs I came up with my own itinerary for a food tour of Greenwich village.

My friend Pooja lives in New Jersey so, we took the train from her place to 9th Street Metro and walked down a few blocks to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. At the entrance of the park is a large Arch modeled after the Arch de Triomphe in Paris. The park is dominated by a large fountain in the center but surrounding it are strolling areas, gardens, play-area for kids, benches and an open air chess tables.  It was fairly crowded with locals and tourists relaxing, reading, eating, playing and enjoying the open air band. Annika was enthralled by the drummer and spent quite a bit of time dancing to the beats.  After spending about half an hour there, we crossed the garden and entered Macdougal Street where our food tour started in earnest. Continue Reading »

Postcards from Indy!

Posted August 17th, 2013 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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I had the opportunity to visit Indianapolis for a conference (American Association for Physicists in Medicine) earlier this month. Annika was suffering from croup – a variant of bronchitis that affects the larynx and the trachea. She had fever, sore throat and a weird kind of painful cough making her cranky, miserable and irritable.  Seejo was smart enough to have an official trip scheduled  right around the same time.  So I was left to take care of a sick and clingy child all alone, leaving me angry, miserable and irritable.By the time Seejo returned after three days, I was ready for a break.

Although Indy hardly ranks as a top tourist destination, I was really looking forward to the trip to Indianapolis — to unwind, relax and sleep!  I reached Indianapolis on Monday morning and took the cab directly to the conference venue. I had never attended an AAPM meeting, so I was looking forward to learning the hot topics that physicists are buzzing about, their current gripes, and who they like to take potshots at. I find that one of the most interesting aspects of any society meeting is  the clear demarcation of “us” and “them” in that field. Since I work in a very cross disciplinary landscape , these distinctions always fascinate me, mainly because in most cases I group them together.  For example,  I learnt that the biotechnology industry clearly believes that they are different from (and really competing with ) the Pharma folks, the breast radiologists separate themselves from the breast surgeons although they attack the same disease, the data managers love to take potshots at the clinical researchers and QA, the nuclear medicine radiologists are quick to point out the difference between them and other radiologists and so on. And in this case the clinical physicists clearly look down on their brethren who do low energy solid state work. Continue Reading »

California Coast

Posted November 22nd, 2012 by Deepa and filed in Travel, Uncategorized
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Late October my mother, Seejo, Annika and I flew to Los Angeles, CA to drive up the California coast to San Francisco. This was my mother’s first trip to California and our first real vacation trip with Annika.   With breath taking views of the Pacific coast on one side and majestic cliffs on the other side,  California’s Route 1 traverses through some charming little towns , small farms,  beautiful state parks and   provides us with picture post-card views everywhere you look.

Starting from Santa Barbara near LA, you pass Morro bay (with the eponymous Morro Rock), San Simeone with its famous Hearst Castle, the dramatic coastline of Big Sur area along with its numerous parks,  posh Carmel by the Sea with its restaurants, shopping and galleries, the wonderful aquarium at Monterey and several other stopping points on the way

We had not planned to spend a lot of time in Los Angeles preferring to start on our road trip as soon as possible. However we couldn’t leave LA without showing my mother Grauman’s Chinese theater in Hollywood and taking some perfectly cheesy touristy photos in front of the Hollywood sign.  My mother mentioned that she had never seen a wax museum before , so we remedied that immediately by stopping at the one near the Hollywood walk of fame. Continue Reading »