Am starting a new series of posts covering my visit to the US of A. Blame it on my lack of imagination, I am plainly calling it “The US diaries”.
I was initially thinking of writing in the day report style covering each day of actual travel (usually weekend). But we do so many things in a day that a daily report post will be really long. Hence I intend to write short posts on just one subject area, for example, the Golden Gate and what we did there, etc. Maybe will link such reports together to stitch a timelined post. Let me see how it goes.
As the first in the series, this is just a prologue covering only a few details.
Destination: San Francisco (Emeryville actually)
Duration of visit: Apr-24 to July 11
Airline: Emirates via Dubai. Hmmm, I got the middle seat in the middle tier with 2 sleepy goons (one had a huuuuge belly making it impossible for me to get out without him moving out) on either side. On a 16 hour non-stop flight from Dubai, I was often found wanting on my capacity to hold the bladder!
Movies watched on flight: Quick gun Murugan (liked the no-sense comedy), Niagara (liked the Marilyn Monroe starring murder story) and few others which I only flipped through.
What I did in Dubai (transit): Window shopping. Exchanged INR to AED to add a few Dirhams and fils to my coin collection. Bought a calling card to call home (only to realize that it would work only on the Sheik’s phone and nowhere else. Since I cant use it here, it means I made the most expensive phone call in quite some time. 10$ for 3 mins). Just roamed around!
Books read during flight: Nope, this time I didnt carry my books as I knew I would not be reading anything (with so much else to do).
Here is the to-do list I drew up one day before the travel:
- Visit Yosemite
- Collect the entire set of 50 State Quarter coins, the presidential dollars and other coins I do not have currently.
- Visit Grand Canyon
- Golden Gate
- Cycle in SFO
- Cycle on the Golden gate bridge
- Purchase tripod, ball head and GND and polarizing filters from the cheapest vendor
- Observe the culture
- Visit Death valley
- Lake Tahoe
- Sonoma and Napa valley
- Do bird watching at least at a few places
Few additions to the same list after I arrived here and spoke to a few friends (esp Adarsh Raju).
- Visit Pigeon point and Point Montara lighthouses
- Point Reyes
- Bryce canyon
- Antelope canyon
- Horse-shoe bend
- Monterey bay
- Pier 39
- Fisherman’s wharf
- Marin highlands
- Redwood national park
- Crater lake
- Farallon islands
- I took a few cooking classes from mom and wife. Nothing special, just plain sambar, rasam and chicken curry. Previously when I had gone abroad, I was entirely dependent on ready to eat stuff or noodles or hotels. Wanted to change that. (Update as on May-16: Am enjoying cooking!)
- At the Bangalore airport, declared my entire camera kit at the customs desk and got a letter so that I would not face any problems on my way back.
- I was warned by a few colleagues that I would be staying in Emeryville, Oakland. And that Oakland has one of the highest crime rates in the US. Not encouraging words for a guy who would be carrying his expensive camera equipment to almost all places! But after having been here for 3 weeks now, am comfortable. But night life is a no-no here sadly.. its dangerous to venture out into few neighborhoods here.
- Cycling dreams seem to have vanished quickly given the lack of time during the weekday, safety issues in keeping the cycle outside the hotel, expensive rental rates, etc. However, I have cycled about 25Km already around Golden Gate. At 25$ a day for a cycle costing 250$, the rental is pretty steep!
- My coin collection is going great. Have added 41 states quarter coins and have only 9 more to go. All of them are from Denver mint. Have added a few other coins like the Millard dollar, a different looking Jefferson nickel, etc.
- Have purchased a Tiffen GND and B+W polarizing filter recently. Also have purchased a Gitzo 3541LS and Arcaswiss ball head. Yet to arrive and I cannot wait to try it out.
- Our flight to Phoenix is already booked for 28th. From there, Adarsh Raju and I head to Bryce Canyon and Antelope canyon. 30th is his birthday and 31st is mine! What a birthday it is going to be, for both of us!!
Okay! Thats it for now. Have a good week ahead!
- Golden Gate bridge
- Trains of San Francisco
- Escape from Alcatraz
- Kule Loklo trail
- Tule Elks
- Hostels International
- Point Reyes
- Tomales point trail
- Birding in California
- Cycling on the Golden Gate bridge