Thursday, July 05, 2012

Day 6 Rapid City, Mount Rushmore

Now the gang gets bigger, Satheesh, Vivek and Naren landed around 1' O clock and we didn't waste any time and started driving towards Omaha. They all were hungry and wanted to have their dinner and almost all smart phones were searching for places to eat. It was almost 4 am when we stopped at a restaurant and it looked like where all the truckers would eat. We ordered  food and when it arrived to the table it looked like 10 persons meal. It's not that we ordered more, it's the quantity that they gave us was huge. V & N has introduced me to the app (app allows you to check-in the places that you have been and credit points for that) and then the fun part starts. Literally I was checking in every exit along the highway and I reached 100 points in no time. On the way we stopped to take few pictures of sunrise and it was one the memorable sunrises I have seen recently. Mists covering the corn fields and as soon as the lights started coming up the mists were moving was a beautiful scene to watch.

After we entered into SD we stopped at a rest area and the west coast guys were surprised by the way it was constructed including the dog playing area. Still Tennessee beats all of them. We started driving at I-90 west and the was so beautiful. All the ranches and Hay bales along the road was pleasing to watch ( some of the windows screen savers might have been take from here) . We stopped at a restaurant for food at 11ish and had a good meal. Everyone was watching our table since we were little louder but most likely the reason they were watching us was we looked like aliens in that area. V is a vegetarian and wherever he asked something in vegetarian all looked like Really??? But he always manages to find something to eat no matter where we go.

While enjoying the ride on I-90 we reached Rapid City 2 hour earlier than we had planned. We reached RC around 2ish and went to our Friend Senthil's home and met his Family. In our car we had more luggage's than free places to sit, so we decided to take his SUV and go to Mount Rushmore. It was a familiar place for me, but this time the weather is good and we got more time to take a hike around that area and able to get some close shots of the presidents. We also took the tour that the ranger has offered and we were getting more history lessons. On the way back we were able to witness Senthi's skillful driving and also found a place to camp that night. Though we know about Senthi's hospitality we didn't expected so much food that they have prepared for us. Chicken, Deer, Biriyani and also marinated chicken for BBQ. Completely overwhelmed and for Vivek it's was just a sub from Subway  and few corn's.

We had so much of fun at the camp site like talking about lot of old stories. While enjoying good food and no one has felt any tiredness though we were driving for the whole day. We know we had to leave early to reach Yellowstone next day but that didn't stop us having fun till mid night. The weather was pretty cold but it was not bad enough to stop of our sleep.

I only took few photo's this day and here are those few,

Next day towards Yellow stone and everyone has a biggggg expectation for that place.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Day 5 Kansas City

It's tough to remember all the things which happened few days back. I should have at least wrote the post in my mobile and posted it later. Anyways I didn't do that and let's test my memory now.

We checked out the hotel and picked a coffee at the lobby in star bucks. Problem with star hotel is you are not allowed to any work and expected to give tip everywhere. The previous night the self-garage parking was full and we had to use valet parking and we spent few minutes to search for change to give it to the guy who took the car to the front. The guy even asked us whether we need a change and It turns out he didn't have for $100 bill. Anyways we were able to find some change and hit the road earlier. We stopped at Waffle House for breakfast and the place was interesting. Though the food was good, we did see a person who keeps smoking one after another till he leaves the place. So in Midwest you are allowed to smoke or the law was not imposed properly. 

We are on the road again and I was booking a camp at yellow stone thru phone and no need to explain, how hard it would be to spell my name and address. This time though it's not just the name, it's about the dimension of our Tent and Vehicle (and they needed the exact measurement) and it took few minutes to figure out all and book the camp site.

We reached Kansas city around 3pm and went straight to the world war I Memorial and this place was something unique. If somebody wants to know the history and weapons used in WWI then this is the place you should be. The memorial also has a tower which offers a good view of Kansas City Sky Line and I don't think there is another place which offers a better view than this.

After the memorial visit we went to Toys R US to buy toys for our friends kid who will be visiting the next day. When we came out of the store there was a Mongolian Fired dish restaurant which welcomed us without the welcome board. Almost all of them were there for dinner and we were there for lunch. As per plan we will take a nap till midnight so that we can keep continue driving as soon as others join us. We decided to park our car at WWI Memorial since it offered a good view for photography and forced him to go there and take a nap. At 9 pm the ranger has asked us to take the car out since he had to close the door. We went to Wal-Mart and bought a cover for Roof Rack and loaded some of our luggage's to the top after making some space for the guys who will be joining us that night. They reached around 1 and we picked them up and the fun continues.

Some of the photos taken during Day 5.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 4 Indiana, St Louis

Was able to leave early from the camp and soon we were crossing the Indiana border. One thing was clear by driving thru these states, Corns are everywhere from Tennessee till Missouri. On I-64 west highway we took exit to have a breakfast and we spotted restaurant called "Red Wagon". Till the last minute we didn't think we were going to have food there but it has somehow pulled us in. One of the best potato fries I had and the restaurant completely renovated with the farming feel everywhere. Some old photos of John Deer vehicles from early 1900's from a Farm field and some animal miniatures and the place really looked like a small museum. Who would really need a museum or history from restaurant, we needed a good food and we got more than what we expected. I highly recommend that place to anyone who happen to be in that area.

We reached St Louis just before noon and straightaway we went to "Gate Way Arch" park. This place is something unique and one should experience it. We could even feel that Arch was shacking little bit when we were up 630 feet and I don't think lot of people who were up there has noticed it. The view of Missouri river bed and the St Louis city was breath taking.  We even ended up watching a movie about Louis & Clark and now we know the history. We were already at the park for more than 2 hours and decided to have a lunch at one of the famous place in st Louis which was highly recommended by one of our friend. The place is called "Pappy's Smoke house" at Olive st and it was awesome. We got corn fry as one of the side and it was really good. We highly recommend this place and no.of people who are coming to that restaurant even on Tuesday is a taste that speaks for itself.

Have taken few pictures of down town and we were in a dilemma whether to move out of the city for camping or stay in the city and check out the night life. We decided to stay and able to get a room in Hyatt for so cheap (Courtesy PriceLine bidding) but the night life was calm like dead street or something (may be because it's Tuesday) . At least we get to enjoy a star hotel now and I can keep you all updated. :)

3rd Day - Tennessee, Kentucky

While we were driving towards Nashville and as the time approaches midnight we checked in at a motel which was 40 miles away from the city. One of the place that we wanted to visit in Tennessee was Jack Daniel's (JD) distilleries. We had to drive one hour back in the opposite direction the next day because we have missed the exact location of JD the previous night. JD was interesting place, during the tour the guide allowed us to smell whiskey which literally let our brain float for few minutes. During the tour there were some interesting facts shared about JD and one thing which really surprised me was that the Distillery is super simple. Also do you know that the place where JD is located is Dry County. :)

Since we had to do some catch for the 2 hours that was already lost, we did not to stop at Nashville city and decided to camp when we neared the sunset. We also had a plan to cross Indiana state, so we had to take slightly off route than what was initially planned and luckily we were able to find a good camping spot at "James Auduban" state park, KY. This state park was just off the highway and it's easily accessible and also power plug and water supply provided at your camp site. This park also has Cabin's, Golf Course and Museum though we didn't had a chance to check them out I would recommend to stay at Cabin if you happen to be in that place.

After 3 hours of good sleep I couldn't sleep anymore for some reason, so i used that time to plan for next few days trip including camping plan in Yellow Stone(YS) . I am so excited about YS and can’t wait to see Bison's, Deer's, Elk's and hopefully some Bear as well.

Few pictures from day 3,

Stay tuned for more news from St Louis on my next post.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 2 - Atlanta

Reached Atlanta last night and stayed at our friends room. Wakeup so late (off course no breakfast) and had lunch at famous south Indian Restaurant. Went to Coca Cola factory tour and the highlight of it was the "Taste It" section. The famous drink from Italy (Beverly) was the stand out and I can still feel the taste after 12 hours. The fun part was standing next to the fountain machine and watching people's reaction when they had the first sip of that drink and I don't think anyone else had the second sip. It brought so much of facial reaction from everyone and It simply brought nothing but laugh.

Few shots from Atlanta,

We drove to Nashville, TN and on the way we crossed Alabama border searching for dinner place but we ended up having dinner in TN.

BTW, Tennessee's visitor center was one of the best I have seen in the country and Georgia might be the dirtiest state I have seen so far.

Will try to post tomorrow activities as well. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

First Day, FL

Landed on Tampa 25 minutes earlier and when I picked my package my friend(Kamal) was already waiting in Chevy Tahoe. As planned we were heading towards St Petersburg Pier. We just missed the last entrance into the pier building, so we couldn't  get to the top of building. However we were able to see the good view of the town down. Here is the view,

It's already 1 am and I didn't have dinner since I was in a rush to catch the flight. So we stopped at i-Hop . We skipped the Tampa skyline view and headed towards St Augustine. ( I didn't have much expectation for the city but that is about change in few hours). Also I didn't know that we have to pass Orlando on the way and we stopped on I-4
East free way to catch the Orlando welcome sign.

It was 4 am and we both were feeling sleepy and we were just one hour away from St Aug and we managed to reach without falling sleep. We stopped at Gas station and had coffee and headed towards the Fort (CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS) for sunrise. One of the best places I have visited for the Sunrise and I highly recommend it for any photographers. While I was taking pictures My Pilot Kamal was in deep sleep. I did two circles of the Fort with different views and I had to let few Misquotes bite me (I am still yet to recover from all the itching happened during my Maine trip, courtesy Baxter park Black Flies) . I was able to verify the location of the Sunrise with the Park staff who just reached there and I was also able to get some history about the Fort. I wasn't sure it's just because of our Trip, from the Fort on all weekends they used to Fire the Cannon's but just for this week it was cancelled for some safety audit. :( Anyways I was quite happy with some of the pictures that I was able to capture and it was 7:15 when I closed my shutters. I wasn't exactly sure about the color of the car but I did check few Tacho's which are in the same shade to find my Pilot. Unfortunately I couldn't find him, so I had to wake him up by calling his mobile to find that he was just near and I was just walked by. He has parked just opposite to bright sunshine, so we decided to take the car to the beach and the next two hours was just a flash. We woke up at 9:30 and had a nice shower at the beach. I don't even remember when was the last time I went into the ocean, but this one was really nice. The weather changes so quickly here, it was raining heavily for few minutes and then blue sky started coming and my Friend told me this Florida for you (which make me to think that NE is not the only place where the weather is not predictable). Anyway's we were enjoying it, after the shower we went to an Irish breakfast place and spent next few hours walking across the streets of St Aug. Few pictures,

Now I am typing this while we are 20 miles away from Georgia and hoping to post this tonight. I will make sure I will keep the coming posts short and please stay tuned for the coming days.. :)

Cross Country Trip

It's been ages since I've visited my own blog and finally i am planning create posts about my cross country trip. I don't think i would have started this if no one has asked me to write. Thanks to the ones who asked and if it's not good don't blame me. :-)

To manage time effectively i am typing this while i am on a train towards the airport. Oh, for people who don't know my plan below the is map that we are planning to cover in the next 10 days. 

Exiting right ? :) 

For the first time i am renting a lens along with ND filter and i hope i take pictures for the rental cost. I am going to land in Tampa around midnight and planning to stop by at few places to take skyline pictures of Tampa. I Will post my pictures as soon as i can spend sometime on my computer. So stay tuned.. :)