Hawaii (Oahu Island): Part 1

By

Amongst the various sights we visited were the USS Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Bowfin. USS Arizona was a memorial built on top of the ship sunk and destroyed with around 700 people still on board. We were shown a historic video before a motorboat quickly took us to the USS Arizona.

Read More

Hiking Big Four Ice Caves in Washington

By

It is better not to venture into the caves. Don’t be coaxed or cajoled into entering the caves, even if for a bet, an adventurous picture of you inside the cave, or to impress your friends into believing how brave you are. Accidents and deaths are not unheard of.

Read More

Day trip to Mount St. Helens, Washington (USA)

By

I’ve always had a fascination for volcanoes. The sheer power exuded by nature in it’s form kept me awed and humbled whenever I watched volcanoes erupting on TV channels. Living in Seattle provided a wonderful opportunity to explore the volcanic mountains of the Pacific North West (like Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and Mount St. Helens). The most interesting amongst these is Mount St. Helens that last erupted in 1980 (5.1 on Richter scale), scooping off the head of the mountain in the process and making it “the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States.”As quoted in the wikipedia, “The volcano is located in the Cascade Range and is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanoes. This volcano is well known for its ash explosions and pyroclastic flows.”

You can visit either the north face of the Helens or the South face (you can’t do both in a day). I have been told that the north face has the best view of the crater (and is closer to Seattle as well). The southern face has interesting points like Ape Caves, but I am yet to visit it.

Read More

Five great reasons to visit Portugal

By

This was my main reason of visiting Portugal. The sheer beauty of it is amazing. Of the very little time I spent in Portugal, I experienced a little bit of everything. It is like eating a fancy buffet, where you get to taste everything you have wanted to eat. Coastal Portugal has some of the most amazing sights of the Atlantic Ocean. The little fishing villages, the churches, the bell towers, and the winding streets were a welcome relief from the predictable big cities and the monotonous freeways of America. There is history written all over Portugal. There is a great balance of city beauty coupled with rustic country beauty. There are beautiful churches, castles and palaces. The view of the bay from Lisbon is amazing. If you can endure the heat, the weather is awesome. Portugal is easily one of the most beautiful countries I have visited.

Travel tip: The westernmost point of continental Europe is located in Portugal, and is must see.

Read More

Let’s go Puerto Rico- 1

By

Driving in Puerto Rico is not for the faint-hearted. You get used to it of course. As I started to drive somewhat nervously, I realized that not only were the signs in Spanish, but the driving somewhat resembled the aggressive driving in India. Some of the bylanes were filled with potholes and without lane demarcations. Pedestrians just flagged you down trying to cross busy streets, something you never get used to unless you have driven in India. The roads close to the hostel were tiny compared to mainland US standards, often the car from the opposite would have to stop to let you pass, and I would have to find parallel parking on the street, something I am not very good at. When I parallel parked my car, half my car was hoisted up the pavement, just like every other car before and after mine. I said a silent prayer as I prepped myself for five days of driving around the island and parking. The next day, I was kicking ass, innocuously breaking a few driving rules, cruising through the potholes, and navigating my way with a confidence as if I have always driven here. It is amazing how fast your brain gets used to doing things. Some of the Spanish words I learned while driving were “Pare” (to stop) and “Salida” (an exit).

Read More

Channel Islands National Park

By

Channel Islands National Park (located in California, United States) is a cluster of five small islands- San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Anacapa, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz, varying in area and distance from the mainland. Although close to the shores of Southern California, they are isolated for many reasons.

Read More

Whirlwind Trip to Vancouver – Part 2

By

Stanley Park is an urban park surrounding the city, a two minute walk from my hotel in Canada Place. I spent an early morning taking a stroll, watching the runners practice for the upcoming half marathon, mommies walking around with their babies in strollers, and tourists walking excitedly with their cameras, posing and taking pictures of everything. In fact, two of my lab mates signed up to run the half-marathon the day after their conference presentations, and it was inspiring to see people travel across the coast to talk at conferences, and then change into their gym clothes from the formal suits and go about running miles all around the city. Hats off to their energy, although this gave me some more time to sleep late.

Stanley Park is huge, and when I say it is huge, I mean it. If you have been to Central Park in New York City, this is even bigger than that, a paved path running around its circumference. Lined with tall trees, lush greenery, and full of enthusiastic people jogging around, Stanley Park is ranked the 16th best park in the world and the 6th best in North America.

Read More

Revisiting Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

By

How lucky one can be when one gets to time their conference trips with one of their favorite festivals happening concurrently at a different city, in fact, a different country? Once the conference dates in Vancouver was decided, I waited with bated breath for the official announcement of the dates for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, about 70 miles and 1 hour 10 minutes drive north of Seattle on I-90 (Exits 230, plus minus one). The tulip festival has been my favorite things to visit in Seattle, and every year, I waited for Spring to arrive, heralding a trip to the daffodil and tulip fields.

Read More

National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C.

By

March and April are two of my favorite months. This is when the excruciatingly long winters come to an end, and new life springs in every corner and crevice. After seeing nothing but grey, snow white, and the bare skeletons of trees, it is a welcome change to see life sprouting, as buds, colorful flowers, and green leaves. Have you ever noticed the fresh greenness of the baby leaves in spring? The temperature has risen, but not enough to make you uncomfortable.

Read More