Thursday, December 5, 2013

Picto Blog _ PALM DESERT, CA

This holiday season, we decided to skip the long lines in the popular destinations and take the lesser travelled road to Palm Desert, CA.  

Imagine majestic mountains, a desert landscape and an oasis in the middle; that is Palm Desert, CA. Only 20 minutest east of Palm Springs, CA, it could be called sub-urban Palm Springs too. This is my first travellogue cum picto blog. Come with me to this small town where you can see life spring from stones and rocks. 

SFO _ PALM DESERT, CA _ Approx 7 hours drive assuming NO Traffic and minimal stops. It took us 9 hours. As soon as we entered LA .. it was stop and go. The last 120 miles took 4 hours :) 

Every good road trip needs a picnic. Lots of stops along the way to Palm Desert to have a little picnic.
As we crawl in LA traffic.. Last 120 miles took 4 hours.

Club Intrawest Lobby. Beautiful place and definitely a thumbs up accomodation.

This is what we saw as soon as we entered our accomodation. 
Many don't like cooking during vacation.. but thank fully I don't mind it.
Makes life a lot easier when you have a family with a varied pallete.
And this kitchen was a delight to be in.

The main living are.

DAY 1: SUNRISE ... and view from the Patio.
Definitely a Good Morning!

Panaromic view from the patio.
Palm Desert is heaven if you like golfing. 

Day 1: Tourist Stop:  THE LIVING DESERT

Love knows no caste, color, creed or animal group.
Some Giraffe Love.
Ok.. In reality its feeding time.. they are eating from the feeder from two opposite sides :) 
No two giraffes have the same spots :) 

And you thought a nest was simply some twigs put together.
It's a science. 

This would look gorgeous in a backyard too.
Beautiful display in the African Village at The Living Desert. 

A very handsome Yucca!
What do you think?

The Live Animal Show at The Living Desert.
This is an African Serval. Very unique animals and very up close interaction. 

DAY 2: THE PALM TRAMWAY: It takes you from a Desert landscape to a National park 8500 feet above. From a dry desert landscape to a snowy redwood forest. AMAZING! 

The beginning of the hike as we get down from the tram at the Mountain top. 

Hike starts _ Its a simple hike, but most of the walk is unpaved, so wear good shoes. 
Tree Canopies _ it was a gorgeous day. 
The Desert Trail _ An easy trail for little ones too.
There are 5 vista points, check out all of them.. they are breathtaking views.
Learnt something new.. Jeffery Pine trees.. their scent is like Vanilla or butterscotch like :)
And yes, we did get a few whiffs.. YUMM!

Another tree canopy.. the trees are just gorgeous. 

Can u see the Desert Below? 

Can u see the remains of the melting snow?

This was also Thanksgiving Day _ We had a gourmet meal made to specification and taste of every member of the family.  The boys wanted Chicken and the girls wanted something spicy and Indian :) And why not.. Palm Desert is surrounded by Indian Reservations. 
The Thanksgiving Dinner table is set.

Pani Puri _ transcends all cultures and festivals.

Green Beans Casserole with an Indian Fusion

Chicken Tikka

Cake _ yes we bought it from the store. The kids topped it off with ice-cream too :)


The Drive to Indian Canyon. 

The Aqua Caliente Indian Reservation taken over by modern man. 

As we drive towards Palm Canyon

Wonder what thrived here before? 
Some excitement in the otherwise dry landscape
It's dry, barren and lifeless. 

And then we see this.  The word "Oasis" comes alive. 

Life springs in the most lifeless conditions. 

As we hike down to the Palm Canyon Trail. Its a 15 miles trail.
i would not recommend going all the way.
As you hike down, you will see the Oasis area.. its perfect for those vacation Photo Opps.
Take pictures and then head on over to Andreas Canyon. 
Pictures don't do justice to the beauty of this landscape.
ANDREAS CANYON TRAIL _ My Personal Favorite Part of the trip.
Its a 1.5 mile easy trail. Its unpaved with up and down climbing on small rocks , but its totally worth it.
You will be blown away.  The stream I am told flows all year long. 
Andreas Canyon Trail
It's hard to believe there is a desert on the other side of the trail. 

As we exit the trail, this is the view that greets us.
It was surreal.
Cabot Pueblo. A very nice little Pueblo... tucked away in its own world.
If you have time, take their tour.
A door in the Pueblo. Love the words next to the door.
"There is no place just like this place, anywhere near this place. So this must be the place." 
Notice, I did not link this in the post above. We were hoping for it to be more
than just a date shop.
Well that's the impression we got after eading its flyer at the hotel.
But it does not have tours, just a 15 minute video and its a very basic date shop.
But if there is still time in the day, go on over _ their date cakes are pretty good and so are the dates that you will buy.

Day 4, we head out early from our hotel, hoping to hike a little in Joshua National Park before 
heading home. But seeing the traffic and how far away it was, we saved it for the next trip to 
Palm Desert :) Yes, I think we will go here again some time. 

It's one of those places that surprises you. We went thinking there won't be much and the 
only saving grace will be the hotel pool.  At the end of the vacation, we realized, we tested the
pool waters only once. 

All in all, a great place to take your family to.  Next time you don't know where to go to.. 
Think Palm Desert, CA. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Simple Thank you.

The world as it stands today, there is a much to ponder about, more can be written and many can talk. Today however is a day when its best to let silence speak for itself. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Feel the Rain...

Feel the rain on your skin no one else can feel it for you, is the only song in my mind as I watch it pour outside.  I love the rain. To those who think only sunshine brings happiness, I say "you have never soaked in the rain."

As I walk to the school armed with my umbrellas to pick up the kids, I look around me; folks searching for that awning to stand under and here I am walking under the open sky with my umbrella tilted just ever so slightly to the left, so I can feel the droplets on my face.  It's the one time, I do not care about  looking out of place. The water makes me come alive. If I wasn't trying to protect the kids from this freezing cold shower from the heavens, I would have thrown the umbrella and soaked in the pure blessings of mother nature. Water is the essence of life.  Two thirds of this Earth is water, we spend thousands to go on vacations and stay in an ocean front property; yet a few drops of water and we scout for cover. Humans! We are without a doubt the most contradictory species alive.

Once home, I brew my cup of tea and sipped on it staring aimlessly at the magic outside. Random thoughts of child hood crossed my mind. One incident that has stayed with me from a long time ago.. it must be the early 90's or maybe even the end of 80's.. regardless, it was a scorching, absolutely brutal Indian summer. The Earth was parched and after many chants from the gurus, the clouds came and poured. I remember running out on the terrace and just throwing my arms up to soak in the rain. It was a liberating moment, wherein the stare of a stranger did not pass through the water shield I was surrounded by.

Rain like love embraces you from head to toe and soaks us with pure innocent droplets from the skies as the clouds play cupid.   Romance the rain for it gives you the chance of slowing down to release your inhibitions and splash puddles like you once did as a child.  Romance the rain just because. The continuous pitter patter or raindrops on my window makes me inexplicably happy. 

If weather was food, sunshine would be a scrumptious chocolate cake, a  delicious bite would warm our souls. Wind would be a spicy tangy sauce, jolting us with its bite. Snow would be ice-cream, frosty cold frosty and yet so comforting. Rain would be what it is; plain pure refreshing water, blending effortlessly with all foods and moods.   There really is no such thing as bad weather, just different kinds of weather. Good or bad is a human concept. 

The seasons exist for a reason, without them our Earth would not be the living planet that it is. 

"Next time it rains on you, step outside and don't just get wet, but try and walk in the rain. The truth is if there was no rain, there would be no rainbow." 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Shy Little Girl.

Once upon a time in a land faraway was born a little girl. Her parents had wished for a daughter and there she was, a quiet shy little thing trying to make her space in this beautiful world.  In time she too grew up, still continuing to be quiet, shy and content in her little world. Challenging the world was never her style, but walk camouflaged amongst a crowd was more her style.  Amongst the crowd, though camouflaged she met some like minded friends. Some stayed with her, some she lost along the way.  

Father time did not stop for her either, it kept moving and so did she. Today as she looks at the mirror, she remembers the young girl that crossed the seven seas to start a journey far away from home in an unknown land.  She was nervous, but not afraid. She took small confident steps and today as she stands in front of the mirror she sees the woman who continues to live in her little world, but is not shy to explore the world around her. She walks amongst the same crowd but does not camouflage. She continues to stay true to her old friends and has made a few new ones too. 

A year and 50 posts later, here she is reflecting upon the past. What does your birthday mean to you?   To her, its her very own personal new year.  

The little girl always loved birthdays. She would turn the house upside down just because her birthday was only two months away.  Today, her kids do the same to her.   She no longer creates the hoopla for her birthdays, but rather on her birthday she pauses and thinks. She thinks about stuff. Yes, stuff in general. No philosophical retrospection. She ponders about all the little imperfections she has seen and how despite the glitches in life, at the end life finds its way. It's quite amazing to her.   

She thinks about the year ahead and tries to write down a plan for achieving her dreams and objectives for the year and realizes that the more she tries to pen them down, the more far fetched they seem so she tears the paper and being true to herself, she once again leaves it to life and decides to keep her thoughts to herself and go with the flow; for life she believes has a way of preparing us for the future in its own unique way. 

As her big day gets closer and everyone asks her about how she plans on celebrating. She realizes that now her birthday is not about the party but its about reflecting upon her life and being solely with her family. She loves receiving the phone calls from her friends and family from lands faraway. She loves seeing the effort her family goes through trying to keep it all a surprise, but most of all she loves just being thankful for another year. 

Around her she sees a world trying very hard to stay young, and she wonders, why is the world so afraid to grow old? Maybe because growing old is mandatory but growing up is optional. Sometimes in an effort to stay young forever the gap between growing old and growing up becomes so wide that it leaves us feeling and looking confused. As she thinks to herself, she is thankful that the gap is not so for her. She is staying young just enough to be able to talk to her kids and growing up just enough to be there for them when they need her. 
So true. Be thankful for growing old. 

She stops staring and instead smiles at the mirror, for now she is a year older and a year wiser. She is no longer afraid or shy because she knows its not the leaps and bounds but the one confident step every time that makes the journey possible.  And for that she is thankful not to herself or god, but to her better half. He doesn't surprise her with roses and diamonds but yes he took  the shy little girl by her hand and continues to introduce her to the confident girl that was and in some ways is still hiding inside her.  He tells her that at this point she should do what she likes.  

She looks at the cake in front of her and realizes that the icing is no longer pink and purple, the number of candles keeps changing, but the cake beneath is still the same.  She closes her eyes, makes her wish, cuts the cake and once again closes her eyes to secretly thank for and the imperfectly perfect world she lives in. 

Its YOUR very own personal New Year.