Saturday, January 19, 2008

The wet and the dry of the States

Golden Gate bridgeMy travel to/in the US this time provided a different perspective of the country. I landed in the so called 'sunshine golden state' of the US, only to be drenched by a winter storm. I also got a nice view of the dry mid-west of the country.

I landed up in California hoping to escape the cold winter that plagues most of the US at this time, but that was not to be. A storm hit San Francisco exactly one day after I landed there. Apart from hindering a 'sunshine' view of the environs, it also thwarted ski plans in the Sierra up north. So we headed southwards towards LA. Driving via a scenic route, that skirted the Mojave, we reached the Big bear ski resort somewhere near Pasadena.

Skiing turned out to be a much tougher sport than I anticipated. It seems akin to cycling, with balance being the key controller. And I seem chronically unbalanced (oops..). All I could manage was to stand for a few minutes before falling into the snow. I must admit though, that the instructor did put up a brave fight to get me to learn, without much progress. Still, it was awesome to skid around in the snow, even if most of it was on my back.

With the weather deteriorating into stormy conditions, we headed back to the city of Los Angeles for the night. The storm had by that time worked its way downward to LA as well and flooded it nicely. In any case, the next day was bright. LA seems like a nice city. Though, somehow the Hollywood walk of fame and the Kodak theatre didn't seem as 'picturesque' as they were hyped out to be (maybe it was just the storm).

Back in San Francisco after the passing storm, we hit the city on foot and managed to walk our way from the Ferry Harbor to the Fisherman's wharf and then onto the Marina, before catching a glimpse of the Golden gate bridge. The bridge is truly huge in size and impressive in location. It requires quite a brisk walk to reach it from the Marina and a walk on the bridge is truly impressive.

The whole marina area in SF seems to be from a different era, with victorian style colorful and picture-perfect townhouses. Catching the tram and working one's way along the twisting and hilly streets is certainly great fun.

I then headed to Dallas (with a stop-over in Denver which was at sub-zero brrr..). Dallas was a contrast to SF, with its sunny warm weather and dry spread out plains and grasslands. It seems to be a city filled with just expressways everywhere.

The Dallas aquarium downtown which is certainly one of the coolest I've seen anywhere. With a natural atmosphere to view the species on exhibit and a really wide range at that - it even has an shy big octupus and some smelly penguins - certainly a worthy visit.

We headed home late one night, well post mid-night only to catch an Indian taxi driver, who tuned to 'dard-e-disco' playing on the local fm channel ! (while sighing at the degrading standards of modern youth for not appreciating Lata as much)
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