US diaries-1: Prologue

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”.

Golden gate bridge

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:

  1. Visit Yosemite
  2. Collect the entire set of 50 State Quarter coins, the presidential dollars and other coins I do not have currently.
  3. Visit Grand Canyon
  4. Alcatraz
  5. Golden Gate
  6. Cycle in SFO
  7. Cycle on the Golden gate bridge
  8. Purchase tripod, ball head and GND and polarizing filters from the cheapest vendor
  9. Observe the culture
  10. Visit Death valley
  11. Lake Tahoe
  12. Sonoma and Napa valley
  13. 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).

  1. Visit Pigeon point and Point Montara lighthouses
  2. Point Reyes
  3. Bryce canyon
  4. Antelope canyon
  5. Horse-shoe bend
  6. Monterey bay
  7. Pier 39
  8. Fisherman’s wharf
  9. Marin highlands
  10. Redwood national park
  11. Crater lake
  12. Farallon islands

Misc stuff:

  • 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!

Coming soon:

  1. Golden Gate bridge
  2. Trains of San Francisco
  3. Escape from Alcatraz
  4. Kule Loklo trail
  5. Tule Elks
  6. Hostels International
  7. Point Reyes
  8. Tomales point trail
  9. Birding in California
  10. Cycling on the Golden Gate bridge

3 thoughts on “US diaries-1: Prologue

  1. Now thnx to you, I have started biking and competing you in collecting the qtrs :p
    Lookin forward for the loong weekend dude..
    And ya, did you forget to add Farallon islands!!

    1. @Adarsh: Thx to you. Pt Reyes was a reality. Oh yeah, how could I forget Farallon islands? Added now 🙂

      @Sameer: Next time maybe :-). But California is huuuge.. you need months to explore the place. Am sure I will feel the same when I see someone else’s list.

  2. Nice! I’ve been to the Bay Area a few times – including a 5 month trip. Now I’m wishing I’d gone around a bit more and seen all the places you’ve listed 😀 Will watch this keenly.

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