When We Visited #Redwoods…

Young Redwood trees
Young Redwoods

I had heard about the giant Redwoods but always thought that they must be just another kind of trees till I saw them! I was stunned at the feelings they could evoke. The first thought that came to my mind and kept reverberating all the time: “Seeing is believing.”

The moment I entered Redwoods Park, a strange exhilaration overpowered me. To add to my excitement was another nature lover, my daughter who had flown from east coast to spend a few days with us and was elated to accompany us. We chose to stay at Emerald Cabins, which are nestled right in the center of redwoods and the distance to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is just 24.5 miles.

Cabins in the midst of sequoias
Emerald Cabins

While driving toward Trinidad on Freeway 101, we stopped at Garberville for a quick snack and discovered the first delight of the day! Though I had done enough research online to keep in mind what to see, I didn’t come across this “Grandfather tree,” said to be “world famous” as it is 1800 years old. Its height is 265 feet and diameter is 24 feet.

World famous Grandfather Tree
Grandfather Tree

I won’t be able to describe the delight of watching these trees…seeing is believing, I kept repeating as I walked through the Redwoods. They are not like any other trees, they touch your heart. Surprisingly, They do!

I was mesmerised by their beauty. They can entrance you beyond imagination! As I stood in the midst of those trees, deep in the woods, an entirely different world encompassed me and slowly I  seemed to merge into the environment. I felt time didn’t matter here!

While I stood and watched, trying to figure our my escalating emotions, my husband walked ahead and my research-minded daughter stood by each tree, spending umpteen moments, touching the soft bark, hugging the trunk, looking at the patterns as if she would like to talk to them. Then she would enter the fire damaged trunks though I cautioned there could be an animal inside. She even paid attention to every little flower growing in the vicinity.

Fire damaged tree
Fire damaged tree

Pictures or videos can never do any justice to what they look like and the vibes they emit. Their ironic beauty reveals how the vagaries of nature or fire could never wipe them out from the face of this earth. Some of them are thousands of years old. They can sprout even from stumps or fire damaged trunks.

The phones go out of service as you enter the park and we had to depend on the maps provided by the visitor’s center. Our map showed 31 trails, most of them were marked ‘easy’ or ‘moderate.’ We didn’t even look at the strenuous ones and chose ‘Big Tree Wayside’ and ‘Foothill Trail’ on the first day and felt encouraged to pick up another moderate one of 4.3 miles on the second day. The trails are well-maintained and thankfully we didn’t meet any animals.

Drive through tree
“Shrine” Drive through tree

We also drove through the Avenue of Giants at Humboldt, a picturesque drive, which is surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park. It led us to a ‘drive through tree,’ a unique experience. Be prepared to shell our $8 to drive through this tree though we didn’t pay any kind of entry fee anywhere to enter the state parks.

Balroop Singh.

Do you know?

    • Redwood forests are millions of years old.
    • Fossils show that the relatives of today’s coast Redwoods thrived in the Jurassic Era 160 million years ago.
    • More than 95% of the world’s old-grown redwoods are in California.
    • Only 4% of the world’s old-growth redwoods exist today. 96% of the original old-growth coast redwoods have been logged.
    • Redwoods get their common name from their bark, which is reddish brown in color.
    • They are self-resistant to fungal disease and insect infestation.
    • They can protect themselves from fire with their thick bark, which holds large quantities of water.
    • Giant sequoias can live to 3,000 years, with the oldest on record living more than 3,500 years.

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New Year Greetings With Flowers #MiracleGarden

Happy 2018

I had saved this post for New Year Greetings!

When I entered the Miracle garden, (Dubai) I asked myself: ‘am I dreaming?’ An incredible haven of tranquility, a fiesta of flowers, a riot of colors all around in astonishing shapes and sizes and an innovative display dazzled me!

Miracle Garden

As I was trying to brace myself, William Wordsworth’s lyrics from “The Daffodils” flashed across my mind “ten thousand I saw at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance”… “I gazed and gazed but little thought, what wealth the show to me had brought…”

Miracle Garden

Actually this garden has 45 million blooming flowers and the captivating shapes in which they grow are amazing. I have seen Tulip gardens but their grandeur didn’t enrapture me as much as this one.

Miracle Garden

When I was looking up the options to visit this garden, I came across online booking of tours, which offered a five-hour trip to Global Village and Miracle Garden in $80.00 per person, which included hotel pick up and entrance fees. I thought we would be stuck up for five hours and since I was not very keen to visit Global Village, I chose to work it out myself.

Miracle Garden

We took a taxi from our hotel and reached the garden within half an hour. The entry ticket costs 30 AED per person. After spending an hour at the garden, admiring those who could create this wonder in the middle of a desert and marveling at the maintenance, we walked across the road to visit Butterfly Garden, which was a huge disappointment.

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I would never recommend a visit to Butterfly Garden due to the exorbitantly priced ticket (60 AED per person) to enter and find a few butterflies, in an oppressive humid atmosphere. I think this so called Butterfly Garden is a misnomer! It should be called ‘Test your Patience at a high price.’ I bet nobody would enter!! The moment I entered, I wanted to rush out. It was disgusting!

I had clicked some pictures but didn’t find them worth sharing as there are hardly any butterflies to be seen!

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Since the sun was about to set, we thought let’s visit Global Village too and capture the sunset there. So we took another taxi and reached there within minutes. The entry ticket to this place is just 15 AED.

Designed to attract tourists, this village, as the name suggests showcases the culture and wares of different countries through pavilions, which have been set up to sell their local products and seem to be doing a roaring business. There is too much to see…stroll around, watch the shows, take the rides, try global cuisine, shop the souvenirs. We spent an hour there and were in no mood to stay longer. We clicked some memorable pictures.

Sunset at Global Village
Sunset at Global Village

The whole trip cost us half the amount as compared to the online trip advisors, with the choice of how much time we wanted to spend at each place. Planning skills are indeed rewarding!

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing all my readers a Healthy, Happy and Peaceful 2018.

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Balroop Singh.

 

A Spectacular View Of Palm Islands From 52nd Floor. #Dubai

Palm Islands view from 52nd floor
View from 52nd floor of Marriott Harbour Hotel

Draped by a fearless felicity
That defines my ebullient spirit
I could tread treacherous trails
Eager to take in the gales.

Each new path beckons me
Promising joy and thrill
Of adding another folio
To the cryptic book of life.

Pages that stand out are self-written
They smile and glow with our ventures
Infusing delight all around for self-quenchers.
© Balroop Singh, Nov. 2017

The Palm Islands of Dubai, considered to be the 8th wonder of the world is one of the most popular destinations to explore. An eloquent example of superb engineering and affluence, The Palm Islands are man-made marvels, created in the Persian Gulf to expand Dubai’s coastline. They are shaped like a palm tree and their shape can only be seen from an elevated place.

We didn’t take the long route of going to the Palm Gateway Monorail Station to take the Monorail upto the top, to view the major landmarks like themed hotels, Aquaventure Waterpark, Dolphin Bay and the Aquarium because the real thrill lies in viewing the magnificence of man-made palm shape, which cannot be seen from the surface.

Palm Islands - view from 52nd floor

After much research and review reading, I came across The Observatory Bar and Grill, which is situated on the 52nd floor of Marriott Harbour Hotel. My excitement doubled to know that this restaurant offers panoramic views of The Palm Jumeriah and Dubai Marina along with delectable food.

We booked our table for lunch well in advance to be greeted with smiles and were ushered into the magnificient lobby divided into three segments. Most of the tables were laid by the massive windows through which we could look down at the astounding azure landscape, dominated by palm shape, created by incredible planning of master minds.

Palm Islands

An amateur photographer in me was too excited to take as many shots as possible but none of them could capture the whole shape of the so called islands. We couldn’t take our eyes off the serene scenario while we enjoyed the drinks of our choice. Delicious food added an extra zing to my senses! We carried another string of unforgettable memories, shimmering in our souls.

Thank you for reading this experience, special in many ways.

You can read more interesting facts about Palm Islands.

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Balroop Singh.

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Image from Youtube

Sunrise – At The Top Of Burj Khalifa

Sunrise from the top of Burj Khalifa

Some moments of joy come uninvited.
Some moments become memorable
Just because we let them be,
Without any expectations.
They never disappoint!

I have never made an effort to watch sunrise except once, which I had shared in an earlier post but watching it from the top of world’s tallest tower seemed special. It was spectacular and exhilarating!

Sunrise from the top of Burj Khalifa

A visit to Burj Khalifa (Dubai) was never on my bucket list. It just got planned at the last moment of our annual visit to India as we were flying Emirates. We thought that a hotel just opposite this Burj would be an ideal place to stay and we chose a room with a view.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

Then I stumbled across a promotional offer of watching sunrise from the 124th floor of this iconic tallest structure in the world. I booked the tickets a week before we started our trip, keeping in view the long queues that you have to deal with.

We woke up very early to keep our rendezvous with the sun.  Jet lag helped us too! Since we were staying in a hotel opposite Burj Khalifa, we could just walk across the road to reach the entry point, which is through The Dubai Mall and you have to walk almost a mile to reach the ticket counter from where the online voucher is converted into a ticket.

A musical climb up the elevator within seconds was a memorable experience worth mentioning. This is the best time to watch the city from the top of Burj Khalifa as a beautiful skyline greets you from the terrace.

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We spent almost an hour, waiting for the splendor of the sun to spread across the sky…an experience of a life time! Each moment has gone down the memory lane, glowing gorgeously orange. I was elated at the choice I had made.

Most of the reviews suggested that the evening time is more appropriate to go up but it gets very crowded at that time.

View from the room
View from our room during the day

I didn’t expect another thrill, which I could watch from the window of my room – the sunset! Just look at the image that I clicked:

Sunset view from my room
Sunset view from our room!

Could I ask for more in a single day? I heart was overflowing with gratitude for my daughter who had suggested the hotel to us.

Thank you for reading one of the memorable experiences I had recently. I have many more to share.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

No Less Than An Adventure!

Life is an adventureWould you call this an adventure?

I did, but one of our friends who was with us, disagreed.

Imagine driving round and round in circles and the navigator of your IPhone saying ‘reached’!

It seemed funny and we did have a hearty laugh but our frustration seemed to mount with each attempt.

I refused to give up and was sure that there was a way to reach the destination.

Were we missing something…turning on the wrong road?

Let me relate the story from the beginning. Our trip to Crater Lake (Oregon) was planned in a hurry but we wanted to make the best of every place of interest on the way rather than driving non-stop and reaching with cramps in our legs and back.

My research yielded two places, out of which we chose Dunsmuir, a city on the upper Sacramento River in California, known as the “Home of the best water on Earth.”

Further research revealed Hedge Creek Falls and Mossbrae Falls (most popular) as the top sights in the city.

We reached by four in the evening and after checking in the place we had booked for the night, we thought it was a good idea to visit Mossbrae Falls. That was the beginning of this adventure.

Web results revealed that it was a 45-minute hike and a 5-minute drive. We chose to drive to the Falls but our phone navigator took us round and round, bringing us back to the place we would start. My friend felt that there was something wrong with my phone and told us to start again, with instructions from her phone! We turned right, as instructed by her navigator, then left and then right and right again according to the names of the roads and reached the same place!

We decided to ask a local who laughed and told us he could tell us ‘how not to get there!’ He warned us that it is illegal to go there because the only path that could lead us to Mossbrae Falls was walking by the rail track.

‘Why is it listed as top attraction!’ I dismissed the thought as quickly as it had flashed.

He advised us to drop the idea of visiting these Falls.

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Disappointed but determined, we came to our lodge and read the reviews on Tripadvisor. One of the reviews exactly mentioned how to get there. It also cautioned about the hazards involved and why people took the risk of visiting these falls. I declared that we would surely try the next morning.

One of our friends, a law abiding freak, was very reluctant to go as the only way to approach the Falls is a walk by the rail track and he considered this a calculated risk. Nothing could deter me.

Why haven’t the authorities developed another track? This thought still reverbrates around me.IMG_4349DSC02218

We parked our car at the Botanical Garden parking and walked back towards Shasta Retreat. We kept walking downhill till we reached a bridge. As instructed by the reviewer, we turned right from the bridge and were at the rail track. It was a single track railway.

A long walk on uneven surfaces and on stoney sides, quite narrow at places, with warnings to each other to be careful, go slow and watch out for a train, we kept going till we reached another bridge. We could hear the Mossbrae Falls near by!

They were not very high but looked awesome. Despite the sound produced by falling water, a serenity pervaded all around. Somebody was lying in a hammock, soaking in the damp, breezy, soft spray of water. The river was shallow and we could see the pebbles below the water.

I had read that the pictures do not do any justice as the Falls are much more beautiful than they seem in the pictures. I couldn’t agree more.

IMG_4355 2We were lucky as no train passed by. We met all kinds of people on the way, even those who were carrying little children on their shoulders and one not very old man, walking with two sticks, in the center of the track.

We returned with some delightful memories.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this post, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.