Category Archives: california

My Journey as a writer and America Deconstructed

As an immigrant in America, journeys have always fascinated me. As I have written about my various travels, I have always tried to make it more about my journey than the destination. I have strived to make my blog more than a travel guide. It has been my scrapbook that I have from time to time re-read and relived every moment. Today’s blog posting is personal because it is about my journey as a writer.

 

September 29, 1995 is my writer birthday. I remember sitting in front of my dad’s body and wondering how I was going to move on. I kissed him for the last time ever and felt the stillness of his body. His warmth that was my blanket on cold nights no longer existed. I was daddy’s little girl and I followed him around like a puppy. As I sat there contemplating the changes in my life little did I know I was becoming a writer. Few days later I wrote my first poem. I was still a closet writer and my poems were my deepest thoughts.

 

In 2001, I moved to America from India. In spite of being in college, I had lots of free time in comparison to my life in India which was filled with friends, school, basketball and studies. I began writing website content and other creative content in my spare time. Eventually I started freelancing as a writer which paid me pocket money. At that instant I was still focussed on becoming an engineer, which I eventually accomplished. Somewhere along the writer in me wanted more. My passion to travel the world collided with my writing thus giving birth to this blog.
In 2014, I wanted more and thus began my journey to be a novel writer. I have had the opportunity to meet amazing people who left their home for America in the 15 years that I have lived here. They shared their dreams, their embarrassments with mundane everyday tasks, their loneliness being away from family, and their endless desire to survive. Together with my friend I decided to write a book about sixteen amazing people who were willing to share their stories with us. There is humor, dreams, sacrifices, embarrassment and real experiences of people who made America home. Thus was born our little venture titled America Deconstructed. We are in process of getting our book published and we hope each and every one of you will support us in this endeavour. In the weeks and months leading to the release of our book, I will share snippets of our book. So if you are curious on what America Deconstructed is, stay tuned. America Deconstructed has romance, emotions, war, Taliban, prison, marriage, children and everything in between. Please follow the blog https://americadeconstructedblog.wordpress.com/

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Pristine Point Reyes in California

Point Reyes in California promised pristine beaches, sun and sand, and delivered with tons of memories. This past weekend my husband and I along with our year old German Shepherd puppy Zed spent the weekend in Point Reyes. This was not our first attempt at visiting Point Reyes. Seven years back, my husband and I decided to visit Point Reyes for a day.  We knew CA-1 was windy but I had no idea how windy it could be. While being beautiful beyond words, the ride had me reeling with terrible motion sickness. I couldn’t remember much of the day beyond trying to hold my composure. This weekend was our second attempt at visiting Point Reyes, but this time we decided to spend few days there at Nick’s Cove.

 

We decided to take the lesser windy path this time around. We reached Nick’s Cove and after a briefing on our cottage we were ready for the day. As soon as we walked outside to our porch, we were welcomed by the beautiful coastline. We decided to visit the Kehoe beach, but ended up at Millerton Point. With limited to no reception in the area, and no google to help us, we decided to explore Millerton Point. We thought we were going on a hike but were pleasantly surprised by a beach in addition to our hike. Our puppy Zed is not very excited by the gushing beach waves, but Millerton Point with its calm waters was exactly what Zed was looking for. He marveled at the water, tried chewing on a mussel. I love mussels but I learned the hard way that touching uncooked mussel can be disgusting. The smell stuck on my hands as I tried to remove the mussel from his mouth, and I had to use his poop bag as my version of Michael Jackson gloves to ward off the mussel smell. We ended our night with a dinner at Nick’s Cove.

 

On Sunday we began our journey to Bolinas Lagoon, a 24 mile drive from Nick’s Cove. We walked the beach while Zed acquainted himself with some puppy friends. Our next stop was at the Samuel P Taylor Park where we hiked for an hour before returning back to Nick’s Cove. We took Zed to the waters near Nick’s Cove hoping our puppy would finally enjoy some beach fun. After 30 minutes of analyzing the waves, growling at the water, digging up sand holes, Zed was slowly turning into a beach bum. He frolicked in the water, tried to catch the gushing waves and at the end of our two hour beach fun was covered with sand all over his black lustrous coat.  On Monday, we did some more beaching at the Limantour Beach, a pristine beautiful beach on a windy path. Being a workday, we had very few companions on the beach giving it a perfect secluded aura. If ever I am stuck in a island, I would hope for these two beach bums- my husband and Zed were with me. Zed dug some more holes and tried eating crab shells. In short the weekend was a beautiful and serene getaway.

 

Point Reyes epitomizes California with its sunny weather and beautiful beaches. It also made me feel like I was miles away from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area with its fog capped mountain, pristine and untainted landscape and the serenity of the ambiance around.

Helicoptering through California

On a bright and sunny April day, my husband and I stood at the Bay Aerial tours gates waiting to be let in. We had come here few weeks before hoping to helicopter our way through the Bay Area sights. The ride was at 4:00pm. The pilot checked the weather prior to taking us to the helicopter, and as we sat there watching the live doppler of the area, we could see fog slowly cover the horizon. We were bummed but needless to say we decided to postpone it. Mr D(my husband) was upset that his surprise was out of the bag. So here we were on our second try to go on our helicopter ride.

 

The gates opened and we were carted to our personal helicopter. That’s right, we owned a helicopter for one hour and it was amazing! I guess I know what it feels to be rich. The helicopter ride was my birthday gift from Mr. D. He had me in the loops for weeks until the weather cleared up, often throwing hints at me. Sometimes he asked me the one question you ask no woman, “What is your weight?”. He hates flights, and helicopter was a no-no in our marriage contract. I am not good with surprises. It’s not that I hate surprises as much as I cannot stand the suspense around it. This was one of the best surprises ever next to the time he got me books as a Valentine’s day gift. Books are my diamonds, and I was on cloud nine. For the adrenalin junkie in me, the helicopter ride was a close second. Knowing how much he absolutely hated flying, I definitely appreciated the gift much more.

 

We were summarized on some of the do’s and don’ts of the aerial tour. It was take off time, and as the helicopter fans started roaring I could feel my heartbeat increase from the adrenalin in my system. Most people who read my blog know I suffer from motion sickness. I was prepared with  my dramamine, although the cocky me thought I would not need it. As the helicopter made its first turn, I felt my stomach in my throat. That was 10 min into the 1 hr of our time slot. The ride took us through Oakland, San Francisco, Angel Island, Half Moon Bay, Alcatraz and finally back to redwood city airport. My absolute favorite was when the helicopter flew below the Golden Gate Bridge. My other favorite was seeing some parts of the San Andreas fault near Half Moon Bay.

 

I have seen San Francisco several times before, but flying over San Francisco skyline was amazing. While the winds were still a little unsettled considering we were flying at 11am which made the ride bumpy, the beautiful scenery around made it an amazing adventure. I have always felt a certain serendipity with nature, and flying over God’s wonderful artistry had me spellbound. In spite of how horrible I felt with every turn of the helicopter, I would do the helicopter ride a million times again. I cannot guarantee Mr D would be along for the ride.

 

Here are some pictures from our amazing helicopter ride!

 

 

John Steinbeck’s Monterey in California

I was first introduced to Monterey through the words of John Steinbeck’s the Grapes of Wrath. Until I had read the book in my sophomore year of college, Monterey never figured on my must see places. Why would I visit a Monterey when I could spend my weekend visiting the San Francisco? I am a city gal who loves the city more than any beach and enjoys hiking to laying in the sun.  As I read the book, I decided to drag my parents along to explore Monterey. That was my first time in Monterey. We walked through cannery row in downtown Monterey. Cannery row used to be the sardine packing industry which formed the backdrop for Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. It was cool to walk through the old world charm of cannery row imagining what had been.

 

Monterey in the central coast of California is lush with beaches and water everywhere. The most famous inhabitant of Monterey includes the Monterey Aquarium. The Aquarium is big with fishes of every kind, gelly fish of every color flocking around you. They also have a backdoor pass wherein they take you through the backdoors of the Aquarium. I have visited so many aquariums that they no longer tickle my fancy but the Monterey Aquarium was my first in America, and I had never seen anything like it before. It is an absolute must see in Monterey and one can spend a whole day just marveling at the varieties of fish there.

 

While most people go to Monterey for the Aquarium, my absolute favorite is the serene seventeen mile drive. The seventeen mile drive provides breathtaking landscape of the Pacific coastline. One encounters the Pebble beach, golf courses and beautiful mansions while driving on the seventeen miles of beauty. There are different vantage points to enjoy the view and take pictures.

 

My last visit to Monterey was in February 2016. We took our puppy to the beach and stayed over in Monterey for the weekend. While the beach continues to haunt Zed, my german shepherd, he had fun frolicking on the sand, getting acquainted with dogs at the beach and just getting his paws wet. We chose Monterey State Beach for our day out. Zed had his fix of puppy friends while we walked the beach. After an exhausting beach day, we ate at Rosine’s Restaurant. I am not an Italian fan but this restaurant made me a believer. I cannot wait to go back to Rosine’s again!
Monterey offers everything California is known for, sun, beach and scenic beauty. The next time you are in the bay area, gorge on some clam chowder at Monterey. Even if you are not a beach bum, that one spoonful of clam chowder will make you return back to the town that inspired John Steinbeck.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival in San Francisco

As I have walked through my life and as I have aged my likes and dislikes have grown and changed. I remember being in my early twenties and being completely enamored by the clean shaven boy. I hated facial hair on boys. But as I neared my mid to late twenties, the stumble was the look for me. I went from wearing plain t-shirts to t-shirts that now reads “ Friday is my second favorite F word”. This is a small sample size but I can never like something or someone for long. There have been constants too- cricket and basketball have always been my love, Shahrukh Khan an Indian actor has had my heart since I was in 4th grade and chocolates have been my addicting forever. I am a chocoaddict and will absolutely never say no to chocolate. When I heard about the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival in San Francisco, I knew it is God working his magic on me.
I visited the Ghirardelli Chocolate festival with my girlfriends on a Saturday. We were giddy with excitement even before we got there. The festival was at the Ghirardelli square. There were booths across three floors with each vendor handing freebies. With a bag in tow, my girlfriends and I were ready. While there were coffee vendors, popcorn, organic drinks and in some instances water, there were several chocolate vendors from brownies to Sundaes. The Sundae was the absolute best and the higher one got on the Ghirardelli square, the better the samples got. I never thought I would be chocolated out in my life, but that’s what happened for a few hours and then I was ready to eat the freebies I carried home with me.FullSizeRender-4 FullSizeRender-5 FullSizeRender-6 

Mesmerizing Half Moon Bay!

Half Moon Bay, a serene town on the beautiful CA1 stretch was scenic, pristine and quaint. The amazing part of traveling for me has been the unknown. You think you know the destination but as you unravel each layer, you are in awe, surprised and speechless. Every place I have been to, be it the majestic Morocco or the lesser known Dominica have left me speechless. Half Moon Bay in California was yet another one to the list.

The first time I ever visited Half Moon Bay was five years into my American stay. I had heard about it from word of mouth but never really had an opportunity to visit. The little beach town offers stretches of water against the Pacific, unlimited clam chowder and seafood and an ambience of complete relaxation. It is hard to believe the hustle and bustle of San Francisco is in its backyard.

This past weekend we took our little puppy to his first beach expedition and Half Moon Bay won the lottery again. While he wasn’t too fond of the waves messing up his lustrous coat, he rolled in the sand to no end. He smelled sea weeds and flaunted a fish carcass like it was his kill. While Montara State Beach has people, it was mellow in comparison to the Santa Cruz beach or Ocean Beach. We ended our Half Moon Bay trip with clam chowder from Barbara’s Fish Trap.

Half Moon Bay has become our go to spot for beaching (if that is even a word!!). While I am not too fond of the windy roads in the scenic route, the landscape is unparalleled. With Halloween around the corner, pumpkin patches decorated the streets, the sunshine was just right and the fog provided the icing on the top.

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HIKING THE REDWOOD REGIONAL PARK

Hiking is more than just an exercise for me, it charges my depleted battery and invigorates me. I enjoy scaling the mountain and reaching the summit. In my own weird way, I feel close to my dad as I stand on top of the mountain. My dad passed away years ago, and even after twenty years I feel connected to him as I stand on a mountain. After hiking Mission Peak for exercise twice to three times a week, this June my husband and I adopted a german shepherd puppy Zed. Since June, I have stayed away from hiking and have missed it terribly. During this Labor day weekend, we took our puppy hiking not once, but thrice. He had all his shots and we were elated to abuse his tiny paws.
Redwoods Regional Park in Oakland was one of our hikes. We were looking for reasonably easy hike that was shady for his black fur. Encrusted by acres of redwoods, nature provided a shady carpet for Zed’s tiny paws. The park has several acres of land with children’s park, fishing and camp grounds. There was even a wedding happening in one of the camp grounds. We walked for two hours before turning back to our car. Zed was famished and tired to say the least. He was knocked out the moment he sat in our car which was our mission.

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