Tag Archives: Photography

Destination Moab: Canyonlands National Park

Dead Horse Point State Park

Getting There

We chose to take a guided tour to Canyonlands National Park- a sunset tour, promising the best views. Let me state at the offset that even though most places can be seen on your own, I personally prefer guided tours because I feel you can get the most in the least amount of time plus you are saved all the legwork. 

We had to drive to the pick up point at the junction of HWY 128 and US 191 about 14 miles from the lodge. The scenic route is through a canyon along the Colorado and well worth the extra drive. 

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Destination Moab: A Travel Diary #1: Getting There

Where to: Moab, Utah- Gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Park

Travelling from: Denver, Colorado.

Tip: Avoid summer months.

It is a long road trip, one of the longest I have taken- over 6 hours, more with stops. It is the only way given the lack of accessible airports. Fortunately, the drive promised to be worthwhile and scenic- through various landscapes, initially through the Rockies then desert . It started to rain when we started in the morning. The forecast promised it’d be light followed by clear skies later in the day. Rain turned to sleet as we wound through the mountains on 1 70. It was nerve wracking and fun at the same time as the drivers wouldn’t slow down hitting 80 mph, and higher on the steep grades and sharp bends surrounded by snow capped peaks passing through the Eisenhower tunnel- the longest at 1.7m and highest point in the interstate system.

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Romance Of The Railroad

Long winding roads, verdent mountains, dotted blue skies, fresh chill in the air, and yes– The Choo! Choo! train.
“Bye, bye Choo choo train!” says a mother to her toddler as they descended the train. The nostalgia and the romance of the steam engine is unique. It brings an immediate smile all faces and a faraway look in those of us who have experienced traveling long distances in them. The sharp sound of the whistle and the smoke plume billowing over the length of the train has a plaintive ring to it– as if seeking for a lost era.

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The Duomo (An Architectural Marvel).

The Duomo of the Florence Cathedral

The Duomo, as Florence’s cathedral is fondly called, sports the largest masonry dome in the world. It sits across the Baptistry- the oldest religious site in Florence. Florence is a city in central Italy and the capital of Tuscany region.

The construction of the cathedral was begun by Arnolfo di Cambio at the end of the13th century, while the dome was added in the 15th century. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1146). Unlike designers and builders nowadays, Brunelleschi did not go to architecture school, rather he was trained to become a goldsmith. But thanks to the Renaissance, which encouraged and patronized art of all kinds, he became interested in architecture, and worked to enhance his knowledge and skills. He designed and invented an array of sophisticated hoists and tools in order to bring his ambitious design to fruition. It is even more astonishing to note that the cathedral dome is entirely self-supporting. It is actually made of two domes. An inner dome made of sandstone and marble and outer dome made of brick and mortar. A copper clad, two ton stone ball that sits on top of the dome provided the finishing touch in 1469. It was built by Verucchio and his students, among whom happened to be the incomparable Leonardo Da Vinci.

To see this and many other wonders visit Florence or Firenze, Italy- the cradle of Renaissance.

Keepsakes for Old Age

I’m not old, I think. Not yet. But I’m getting there. Everyone is getting there. Maybe I’m a little ahead in the line because I’m thinking about it. About getting old. 

Am I sad? Not really. Maybe, just a little disappointed. Because I really didn’t have much of a youth. Because I spent most of it preparing for the future– for getting old. 

I don’t think I’m old because I’m still a productive member of society. People still seek my opinion and try to take it seriously (I hope). My opinion still counts for something. I’m not just someone to be tolerated. But then what is ‘old’? It is a state of mind. There are people who are old in their youth and others who are young when they are old. 

I think I’m at the best time of my life. There is still a skip in my step and I’m not preoccupied with the condition of my joints. I still get excited to see new things, experience new places.

I don’t have any regrets. I’ve dealt with them all. In fact, I’ve dealt with them so well I don’t even recall what they were.  My desires are limited to traveling, reading, assimilating new ideas, and perhaps guiding others to live a better, more informed life. I’ve reconciled with my ambitions and disappointments.

But a day will come when I won’t matter any more; my opinions will be just that–opinions. So, I’m collecting keepsakes. Little memories– that’ll keep me company and help me pass the time. It could be anything– like the flavor of something delicious– from a long time ago–that perhaps I’d never get the chance to taste again. It could be a bird call; a chance conversation with a stranger; timeless streets through which I walked and walked but wasn’t afraid of getting lost because I had wonderful company. It could be the brilliant blue of the sky, the soothing silence of the forest, the dust on my shoes as I embarked eagerly on a different trail.

I hope that time will be short. I hope I won’t become bitter. I hope when you think of me it’ll be with a smile.

Money Well Spent

It’s a Sunday. Not just any day. A day of so-called rest or restlessness. Let’s take a trip downtown. The weather is chilly, the sky is grey. The streets are deserted. Parking in the Whole Foods garage will cost you unless you spend $10 on groceries. Two boxes of cereal and some lemonade- $11 and change; not bad at all. Pick up some coffee at Starbucks (there is still no sitting inside) then wander along the streets.

The trees are finally springing leaves- makes for a nice contrast against the blue of the building across.

Walk through the Union Station which happens to the center of action to 17th street. A man wearing a purple cape slips into an alley covered with striking graffiti. Oxford Hotel, the oldest in Denver- had no clue.

Now back to the parking garage. Money well spent.

Monsoon (Baarish)

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Poinsettias in rain by Simi K. Rao

Drenched in refreshing moisture, earth bursts into colorful melody-

                                                                                                Simi K. Rao

Monsoon in India is a special time. The overcast black skies, the drumroll of thunder, invoke the thrill of anticipation in the thirsty heart. This is then fulfilled by the downpour. And what a downpour it is!

Extending from June- September, the monsoon brings welcome relief from the stifling heat of the summer. The happiness is visible not just on the faces of the citizens but also on the parched earth– the fragrance of the soil, the blossoming of the vegetation, the songs of the cuckoo, the dance of the peacock.

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Weekend Getaway: The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon. Who hasn’t heard of it? Everyone has. But you need to go there for yourself to realize it’s awesomeness! Grand doesn’t come close to describing it. I’ve been there a few times–still I catch my breath each time I lay eyes on it. Over two billion years of earth layers were cut by the mighty Colorado river and it’s tributaries.

My last trip there a few years ago was my most memorable one. It was part of a school trip– with my daughter and some of her classmates. We stayed in the Grand Canyon village at the South rim for two days and even hiked down the South Kaibab trail— only part of the way (it’s extremely steep and strenous). We also saw a mule train, the once almost extinct California Condor which the largest flying bird in North America with a wingspan reaching 10 ft—brought back by a dedicated captive breeding program.

As I have mentioned before I am inspired by my travels and the places I visit. I try to bring them into my writings whenever I can. You will find some of my experiences of the Grand Canyon in my books– Inconvenient Relations and its sequel- Now and Forever. You can check them out here.

Words and Images: Ancient Giants

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It wasn’t just a grove. It was a magical, mystical jungle of living, breathing giants that left Shaan awe struck. Neither of them spoke as they ambled slowly on the well-worn dirt paths and listened to the trees, some almost two thousand years old, as they related tales of times gone by. Of emperors, and kings and queens, and of battles fought for love and for greed.

A sudden transformation came over Ruhi when they came upon a fallen tree. She leaned against the dead trunk; her frame dwarfed by its girth, then closed her eyes and whispered in a voice rife with melancholy. “Who am I but a speck of dust this poor soul can’t even see?”

Shaan couldn’t keep his emotions in check. He hauled her into his arms and they wept together as they grieved for their mutual loss.

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