USA 2023

Road trips: Communing with nature and family

Road trip 1
A cabin in the woods is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life and when Minerva and Bram invited us to their little slice of paradise, I put away all thoughts of city lights, crazy shopping and fancy dinners and hopped into their car with Leo and sis Gloria to live in the wooded wilderness of Tahoe.

The cabin in the woods

The woods behind our cabin in Lake Tahoe, Nevada

The woods behind the cabin had breathtaking scenic beauty. The majestic tall green pine trees silhouetted amidst the emerald blue sky with the sun filtering through the gaps in the trees was a feast for the eyes. Just sitting on a log of wood and marvelling at nature was a refreshing relaxation for the mind. There were trails and treks amidst the giant pine trees. Beautiful terrains and breathtaking views make it a hikers paradise.

Sunday October 8th

We walked on ‘Kings beach’ at Lake Tahoe and had lunch in the ‘Whitecaps’ restaurant on the lake front. Kings Beach is the warmest area in Lake Tahoe and, therefore, a popular beach for swimmers, kayakers and picnickers.

Whitecaps Restaurant on Kings Beach at Lake Tahoe.

While we enjoyed our lunch, poor Leo got stuck under the table and a Good Samaritan helped us lift the heavy table to extricate Leo. Leo is a big dog and he is one of the reasons that I visit San Francisco whenever I get the chance.

Leo, my adorable pup

Then we made a short visit to the casinos in the area ie ‘Nugget’ and ‘Crystal Bay’ which we had to leave with heavy hearts and lighter pockets. Gloria is a big time gambler while I just like to hear the sounds of the casino machines clanging away.

Casinos at Lake Tahoe

We left the casino to attend the Saturday evening mass at the Church of ‘Our Lady of the Lake’ at Lake Tahoe. Felt totally at peace with myself and with the world.

We ended the day with a birthday dinner at ‘SPINDLESHANKS’. Delicious meal of assorted and exotic dishes and amazing desserts hosted by sis Gloria.


Birthday meal at SPINDLESHANKS

October 9th.
Started getting a flood of birthday messages from early morning. It was also time to leave Lake Tahoe to get back to California.

The four of us played the 7 hands card game at the cabin before setting out for California. I had actually forgotten how this game was played as my favourite card game is ‘Rummy’. But I got a hang of the Seven Hands game once again, but unfortunately lost both the games, making Bram, my partner in the card game visually squirm when I threw in the wrong cards. Sorry Bram, but if we’re card partners again, I’ll make sure we’ll win. Will try to figure out Ashley and Franav’s little tricks to win. Both Ashley and Franav were notorious conspirators in family card games.

Mama bear and baby bear at Tahoe City.

Heard of a bear hug, a bear cuddle, a bear nuzzle or a bear snuggle ? How do I describe this picture?
Seems like Teddy Bear fun between momma bear and baby bear at the Big Bear statue in Tahoe City. By the way this bear statue is made of 200,000 pennies which are embedded in the figures.

Road trip 2

October 11
Drove up to Yosemite with sis Gloria and niece Vanessa. Vanessa was at the wheel. Our first stop was at my nephew Ashley Dias’ memorial at the Lafayette City Centre. Ashley died when he rushed to save school children from a speeding car which knocked him down at a cross walk near Stanley school. He is hailed as a HERO and is the family’s SUPER HERO.

The family hero, Ashley Dias

We stayed the night at my niece Vanessa’s friend’s home in Sonora which faces the Phoenix lake. Sonora is a little tourist town which is close to the Yosemite National Park. Because of its beautiful natural landscape it has been the location for around 300 films and television series.

With niece Vanessa at the Sonora home overlooking the Phoenix Lake

The drive to Yosemite with Vanessa at the wheel was jaw dropping. There were harrowing hairpin turns and I had heart pounding and nerve racking sensations creeping up my spine. But Vanessa, our capable driver steered us skilfully to the land of the living.

The 3 Family AMIGOS

The Yosemite Valley is a traveller’s delight with its granite cliffs, gushing waterfalls, lush meadows, giant Sequoia trees and unique rock formations. They were sights to behold! After savouring the natural landscape of the place, it was time to return back home.

On our return journey, the sun had already set and darkness was creeping in on us. Vanessa navigated the car in pitch darkness through some scary patches of road. The Sierra Nevada range of mountains landlocked us and we had no network and no Google maps, nor did our cell phones work. There were no signage’s or indicators of where we were and Vanessa kept gloomily repeating that we were on the road to deliverance. We kept praying while we drove deeper and deeper into the canyon.

It was then that we all missed the old fashioned hard copy paper map of the area. Any miss and we could be in a ravine. But God had extended his hand over us and we were finally able to manoeuvre safely to the city of Mariposa and civilisation.

The Granite Cliffs and waterfalls of Yosemite


Lake Merced

The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range

Thank you Gloria and Vanessa for an unforgettable road trip to Yosemite. This was my second visit to the valley, but travelling with family in pitch darkness on a road to nowhere was the most adventurous part of the journey. Of course, in hindsight !

October 13

Road trip 3

Took a flight to Eugene, Oregon with daughter Minerva. Mini knows how I love road trips and planned this one exclusively for me.
We rented a car on arrival at the airport and checked in at the Comfort Suites in Eugene.

October 14

Road trip in Eugene, Oregon

Colliding Rivers

Our first stop was ‘Colliding rivers’. It’s called by that name as it’s the confluence of Little River into the North Umpqua River at Glide, Oregon.

Here while we were nature calling, nature called upon us. We went to the park restroom and it was closed. Then we rushed to the Ranger station and that too was closed. Finally we ended up at a gas station with full dignity; a restroom was open and as a special bonus it was a clean restroom.

Our second stop was at the Swift water recreation area. Here Minerva made me walk on a trail which had a truck parked nearby. A dog came lunging at us. We clearly heard one of the occupants of the car screaming
‘Be careful, he’ll bite.’

Mini drew out her walking stick preventing the dog from attacking me. In the meantime the owners of the dog came by and shouted orders at him to stay put. A 5 year little kid came out of the truck to tell us it was safe to go. I made a U turn and quickly went back to our parking area.

Clear water falls

Idleyld Park

Our next stop was Crater Lake in South-Central Oregon. Crater Lake was born out of a volcanic eruption. It is the deepest lake in the USA and is noted for its water clarity. The sight of Crater Lake is spell binding and one can get hypnotised by its sheer beauty. Minerva and I spent a couple of hours walking around Crater Lake with our walking sticks to help us get a grip on the snow.

The Road to Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

A Room with a View.: Sipping hot coffee at Rim’s Village Cafe

That night we spent at Weed, California.
At this spot we experienced the best food road tripping offers -Taco Bell, McDonnell’s and Burger King. We made sure that we got the tacos, the burgers, the chicken nuggets et al.

October 15
We left in the morning for Mt. Shashta. Mount Shasta is an active volcano and is located in the Cascade Range in northern California about 65 km (40 mi) south of the Oregon-California border. It is one of North America’s popular mountaineering ascents with many climbers attempting the ascent.

Mt. Shashta

Road to Mount Shashta

Carefully manoeuvring the slippery slopes

Road trips have a way of adding other levels of excitement to discovering new places and making for unique adventures and memories. What I have realised on these road trips is that one has to be prepared for off the track challenges that come your way like closed lanes, closed toilets, no network, and growling, snapping dogs trying to lunge at you but the most important part is to not let fear shackle you and be open to take the adventure in.
It was a memorable vacation of exclusively road trips and I do hope and pray that the future too will hold some more adventurous journeys.

Having lunch at Bangkok Bay in Redwood City before my return to India.

The view of San Francisco from my aircraft window.

Will be back soon San Francisco. Those road trips will keep calling me back

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