Archive for category travel
This is not a full video of the show, I have edited the parts which contains storyline and some spoilers. This is not just a stunt show but an extremely hilarious show as well.
A video montage of a day at Magic Kingdom. This video covers US Main Street, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Buzz Light Year, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, it’s a small world, daytime parade and Fireworks. To check full video use Magic Kingdom Fireworks and It’s a small world.
There are few things in life that we keep in our bucket list and few things that we have not thought about in our wildest dreams, scuba diving was part of that list. When I first heard that our group would be diving, my reaction was I will stay away from this one. But there were two positive things – first presence of Scott, who is an expert on scuba diving and has done it countless times, have instructed and taken many people for scuba dive for years and has dived to a depth of 200 feet. With his roaring confidence, expert skills and assurance that you don’t even have to know swimming to dive helped me decide. I obviously used twitter for suggestions and many people reassured me of the fun adventure it would be. Second thing that helped me was that I was not the only one with zero experience. That factor helps you decide that learning something new would be fun. And being in Key Largo, the diving capital of world and not to dive would be sort of blasphemy.
We were a group of eight people – one expert diver, two people with diving experience and four of us with first try. We did our first practice in a pool, but parameters of equation had changed completely as we had thought of. It was getting dark so we had less pool time, unusual to Florida weather it was extremely cold, and seeing all the gear with different gauges to monitor and learn everything in short time seemed impossible. I had been bugging Drew with a zillion question, he has taken the diving course and was ready with all the answers. Scott and him had been giving me very good answers, but when it comes to practical I trust experts only. Even though theoretically things work, in practice things are different. But there was no harm to jump in the pool, so we had out wet suits on, air cylinder on the back, fins and mask ready and we jumped into water. We tried different things underwater for around 40 minutes ranging from how to communicate, breath, hold the mask, remove water from mask, control ear pressure etc. We also practiced different situations such as when one loses his breathing tube, how to get other one, how to ask for help. Balancing was big problem and that was resolved by adding weights. We also tried how to go up and down in water by controlling our breathing and I failed miserably in that. Since we did not have time, we wrapped up.
I was not confident and Brett has the similar concerns. Scott once again gave us confidence and scheduled another practice session next morning. Then we were hit with the bad news, next day was going to be coldest in Florida history and none of the boats would be going in water. Scott had a contingency plan for that too, he prepared us to wear two wet suits, so we would be warm. But that adds to another problem, wet suits gives you more buoyancy so we need to carry more weight. Scott also arranged for a boat to go in waters next day.
Next day practice session was good. We had two wet suits on, more weights and it was freezing cold but we were determined. Spending extra time underwater in pool gave me much more confidence and I was ready to jump in water. We practiced how to get on to boat, jump from the boat and other necessary tricks. We were set to jump in Atlantic. I bought an underwater camera so I can shoot something, though the chances were low considering most of the time I would be trying to make things work, but I wanted to capture the amazing experience we were about to encounter.
It was a 45 seat boat, carrying only 8-9 people to dive. Once it was in sea I realized the crazy thing we were about to do. The day before I was making comments about how I have never see a sea calmer then this, but things had changed. It was choppy, 3 feet high waves, dense fog and extreme cold. With these kind of situations I would not even go on a boat but I don’t know what force has been driving me. We reached our dive point, our captain briefed us, Scott gave us last set of instructions (video below) and we were ready (or not?). The plan was Drew and other divers will get into water first, Scott will go next, Wes and Stacy will jump in after that and Brett and I were about to jump last. Scott would take 2 people at a time to bottom and then we will move around and see corals for some time. Things went on fine for few few minutes, I had not jumped into water yet, and Stacy did not like the water. So she came back in the boat, I had no idea why but that scared me. Then boat’s anchor slipped and people were trying to fix it and I had no clue what was going on. I was not sure what I was about to do, rocking boat has already made me sea sick and all this was adding to confusion.
Finally, I jumped in water, hold it to my line and reached next to Scott. Then I started my descent following all the instructions I knew. With the complete precision I started moving downwards. But as I mentioned things change in real life, my ear pressure was changing rapidly, so I used the technique I had learned. But next thing that went wrong was water inside mask. I tried to remove it and was partially successful. So I went deeper and almost reached the bottom, I waved at my fellow divers, stayed for around a minute, tried to look around but could not see much, no underwater life at all. But I had water in my mask again, I tried the technique and failed. My mask had a lot of water in it, so I came back on surface. I repeated the same trick again of going back in and came back after some time. I had tasted salt water and that was end of my dive. Getting back into the boat was another bit of adventure, I had panicked a bit and I could not hear what the guy on boat was saying, cold was adding up to all the confusion. Finally, I was on boat, safe and sound. I did not consider it as dive because I did not get to see the fish but other said, since I was breathing underwater for sometime, I made the dive.
Overall, it was a great experience. Given other day and time, when things are better and I get a chance to see the beautiful underwater life, I would jump again. But this first try could not have been possible without Scott and his confidence. He gave me the confidence, proper training and facilitated the jump. I would not jump into Atlantic on such a crazy day without being in such expert hands. Thanks Scott for such a wonderful experience.
Catastrophe Canyon is part of ‘Studio Backlot Tour’ at Hollywood Studios. This this sequence we observe how rain is created, how an oil tanker is set to explosion and how gush of water changes the scene. Then we go behind the scene to understand how mechanics of these systems work.
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, fireworks at EPCOT. One of the best I have seen in my life.
This is the video from Magic Kingdom’s ride ‘it’s a small world’ where cultures from different countries are portrayed.
This post is not about the Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog but its about me and how I overcame fear of dogs (and pets). To clarify few things, I do not hate dogs as few people have misinterpreted, I am just scared of all the pets. Whenever I encounter some pets, they try to jump over and lick, I always take that as an attempt to bite me and I run away. It’s not the big sized dogs, it can be a small puppy too. I am even scared of small puppies. There have been cases where I was scared of Mr. Townes (picture below) and in attempt to get away from them I have hurt myself.
Townes Van Zandt
The incident that lessened the fear of dogs happened during Spring Break when I visited Wisconsin. When we started out trip, I was told that I would be meeting St. Bernard. I had no clue about them and I thought of them a just a big sized dogs. Just a quick query on Wikipedia revealed that they are very large dogs which were originally bred as rescue dogs. Still, I could not imagine how large they could be. My first (and only) encountered when we entered the farm, and four of St. Bernard came jumping towards us. I was very scared and did not even come out of the car. When my friend got out, I could compare their size with a human and decided against getting out of car. And then I saw something amazing, one of the dogs pushed the front door of house open. This scared me to limit and magnitude of this can be understood from fact that when I friend returned, she found that I have locked the car from inside.
St. Bernards with my friend
Things changed when I stayed with a family who owned a Bichon named Popcorn. He was very active when I first met but soon realized he was not very active. He would sit in the corner and won’t move for long. One evening I was sitting on couch and I did not realize that Popcorn had climbed the couch and was sitting very close to me. Since I was working on laptop I did not realize how close he was, he kept moving closer inch by inch and in sometime he was almost on my lap. He was so slow and silent that I did not think of him more than a pillow. He stayed in that position for around 15-20 minutes and this helped me gain some confidence around him.
Next day we were in Chicago and the family I stayed with had a Bichon named Marley. When I had stayed previously, they had to put Marley in a separate room because of me. This time I didn’t want to trouble them and wanted to ‘face my fear’, so asked them to keep Marley out. He was trying to “pounce” on me as usual, but they told me, it would be best if I let him familiarize with myself. This dog had a peculiarity that to familiarize he would have to smell your breath. It was pretty hard for me to allow that as it has to come close to my face. I sat down and owner held the dog and brought him close to my face. It took me 5 minutes but he understood me and my fear has reduced. Next two hours, we were sitting and talking but Marley kept coming to me. I had to keep petting him or else he would try to smell my breath again. I had to constantly pet him and he was sitting on my lap also few times.
This helped me make “friends” with at least one dog, but I am sure next time I meet a dog I won’t be as scared. Definitely I cannot handle a dog like Marley from the movie but some dogs like Top Gear Dog (labradoodle), which is introvert as well as intelligent can be easy to handle.
Our next destination was Rhinelander, till that day I had not heard of the place but I was not planning and my idea of relaxation requires that. Just don’t think, keep on moving and that is why my friend called it ‘Random Trip’, not much of planning just visit places. Chicago to Rhinelander is about 338 miles and we started pretty late and the weather did not help us, it was raining heavily, road work was going on and there was danger of deer coming on the road. One hour of drive and we were in the dairy state of United States, Wisconsin. Whenever I travel home and as soon as I enter boundary of Rajasthan and then Udaipur, I feel a surge of excitement, a different kind of joy that words can’t explain, and I could see my friend going through same emotions.
By the time we reached Rhinelander it was 2 AM. It is a small and quite town in Northern Wisconsin and I would remember it for its peace and warm people. Our first destination was Lake Tomahawk, around 25 miles from our place of stay. There was snow all around and once we were off the highway the road looked very similar to Finnish WRC track. Lake tomahawk is place where my friend had done a summer camp so she knew one professor there. When we reached there, he was not available but we got permission to visit the place. The lake was frozen, I had never seen such a scene before, I was excited but at the same time cautious too. We saw the classroom built at the lake shore and a boathouse underneath. I walked on the lake for first time, took some photos and we moved on. We visited the place where students stay and it was very beautiful. I have never been to a log house before, so it was another new experience. It would definitely be a great experience to stay and study there, I must say the best classroom I have ever been to. Next destination was Clear Lake, very close to Tomahawk. We did not spend much time there because it was getting colder and it was similar scene as Tomahawk.
It grew very cold that night and I had my first experience with freezing rain and slippery roads. It snowed a lot at night and next morning we could see complete area covered with snow. It was so cold that doors of car were frozen, my friend had to climb through the boot and push doors from inside to open them. Another surprise for me was the way deer come outside your house. Coming from a densely populated country with very little forests it was a great sign, I had never imagined that in this age I would be seeing a deer outside the house.
Big Green Lake, Markesan
We then started for Markesan, place where my friend has spent her childhood. On the way we stopped at Big Green lake, the deepest lake in Wisconsin. I walked over frozen lake too and clicked some photos. We stayed at her cousins place and met few family members. It was a card night (something that I have never heard of) and I tried to understand how to play by watching them, but I realized in few minutes my skills in card playing were limited.
Next day we headed to Madison, it was just an hour drive from Markesan. We went to University of Wisconsin where my friend had done her undergraduate studies. This campus was not as “branded” by Badgers, their mascot, as is Virginia Tech with Hokie bird. Campus is located next to Lake Mendota and adds to the beauty of area. I am sure, if I would have visited that place in summer, I would want to take admission at that university just because of lake. We then headed to to Capitol and had the best tour ever. Tour guide was superb and his knowledge of place was great. He was witty and gave us an amazing tour. The Capitol has the fourth largest dome in the world and as per our tour guide it can accommodate more ice-cream than the Capitol’s dome in DC.
Madison has one more lake (actually five, but its called City of Four Lakes) and that is Monona. After Capitol we headed to Monona Terrace, this place reminded me of Fatehsagar and I had a strong urge to get back home. Since I had entered Wisconsin I have been hearing about its dairy products and especially the ice-cream. Some people had quoted ice-cream as Union at UW to have best ice-cream in the world. So, we decided to go there and get one. Quality ice-cream, great view of lake Mendota and good company made that evening memorable. I liked that place very much and wanted to sit there for hours, deep in thoughts (this happens every time I see a water body with sunset). It was my friend’s birthday so we went to celebrate at Nitty Gritty, unofficially the Official Birthday Place of Madison. That was end of day and I was too tired.
Next on our list was House on the Rocks, but that and my adventures with Popcorn and Marley in next post.
Trivia: I forgot to add, Wisconsin is a state with 15,00o lakes, 5ooo lakes more than Minnesota – land of 10,000 lakes.
After out 1600 miles tour to Orlando, I decided that I would not be doing this kind of travel by car anytime soon. But It just took one phone call and a look at Google Maps to overturn the decision. Most of the readers know my love for Udaipur – the city of lakes and how emotional I am to get back there. My friend, Amy who is from Wisconsin was planning a trip and gave me a call, I just asked for some time to decide. I just Googled Madison and first thing that popped us was the map of Wisconsin, I saw two big lakes and decided to go on the trip.
First destination was Chicago, 836 miles and we have one day to cover. We traveled through scenic West Virginia, Windy Kentucky and Rainy Indiana and by the time we reached Chicago it was late night. Driving through Chicago downtown was very scenic and I got first glimpses of Sears Tower.
Forgot to add here, we had very flexible plan so we decided to spend next day visiting Chicago. Our plan had the first blow when we found out that some parts of Shedd Aquarium were on maintenance and we could not see Sharks. We decided to go to Sears Tower and walk to Navy Pier. With the map screenshots on my iPod I was all set to explore Chicago. It’s better to take public transport in big cities, so we decided to take Metra.
Finding Sears Tower using map wasn’t tricky, as we just had to find the tallest building in neighborhood. Our first impression after seeing Sears Tower was, it does not seems too tall. But when we thought about it again, it was clear all the nearby building were tall too and without the contrast of tall/short it was hard to appreciate the architecture marvel of 70s. As soon we entered the tower, we were hit by bad news that visibility at top of tower has reduced and there is no point going up.
Sears Tower in cloud cover
We decided to walk to Navy Pier which was 2.5 miles from Sears Tower. Even though I trained myself at the lost art of reading atlas, I am used to electronic maps so much that I forgot to point the static map in right direction and we were lost for a couple of minutes. Once we found the right direction, it was easy to figure out which direction to head to. But weatherman was once again wrong and instead of sunshine we were faced with cold and chilling winds and our jackets were not enough to protect us.
Walking was fun as we were at Rivewalk and could appreciate the beauty of Chicago and could lean more about city with the monuments on the way. On the way we saw statue of Mr. Chicago, Mr. Hey Hey and George Washington. We also found out that Chicago is not called Windy City because:
of the windy nature but NY newspaper used to refer them as “windy” with respect to their baseball team. “The ‘windy’ part of Windy City refers to Chicago broadcasters/reporters as being windy or blustery.”
We also found a building (
don’t know the name and Google/Maps and Wikimapia did not help me find it) (WGN Radio building, Thanks Amy for pointing it out) which had stones from different parts of worlds/monuments put on the outer wall. It was exciting to see part of a Pyramid, a brick from Abraham Lincoln’s house, stone from House of parliament (London), White House, a temple in India and Peking, Cambodia, Antarctica and many other famous places. This also proved the point that if one wants to enjoy the city he should take a walk.
Then I had the first sight of Lake Michigan, it was not completely frozen but I could see the ice floating on water. Chicago skyline looks great from it and I wondered how beautiful it would be at night. We moved ahead to Navy Pier, its a public place sort of like a shopping complex mixed with entertainment. We went to the glass museum where there were a lot of beautiful artifacts, modern and historic. It was quite interesting to notice what artists can do with glasses, by just adding color to them and placing them at different levels.
We wanted to go up on Ferris Wheel but it was cold and windy, we decided to go there just to find out that we were the only two people ready to go up. We went up and it was pleasure watching city from top. (The picture of Sears Tower is taken from top of Ferris Wheel). We had no energy left to walk and fight cold at the same time so took the bus to Metra station. Spring Break has started and with a BANG!
We visited Chicago again on our way back from Wisconsin and this time we just visited Sears Tower (It’s name will be changed in July, since Sears has moved out of building). We had to stand in queue for 45 minutes to get into Skydeck and as “sincere” MBA students we discussed which server model should be used to reduce queue length. There was a movie about history, difficulties, planning of Sears Tower. We took the elevator which goes at 1600 foots/sec. Interesting part was that we do not realize how fast the elevator was going, except the vibration at the end and I don’t think they were because of speed it was the altitude (might be slack in ropes, wind). We went to 99th floors (and since it was from basement I believe we went up 100 floors). View from the top was magnificent, we could almost see the entire city.
Series of adventure continue, this time we went for Camping and Canoeing near Independence, VA. As usual the gang met up a Graduate Life Center and introduced ourselves. We were 15 in total and had three vehicles to go. We packed our food, camping equipments and were all set to go.
We were in the van and since we didn’t knew the way, we were supposed to follow the car. Once we had an interesting incident when we couldn’t see the car in front and thought we had lost the way, only to figure out later that we had overtaken them. Way to camping location was awesome, completely surrounded by trees on both sides with magnificent fall colors (Yellow, Orange, Red, Purple).
I had no clue till now that it was just a camping and canoeing trip, I had thought of this as trek. When we reached the location, I am mesmerized with the beauty. It was on the bank of a very shallow(currently) river with crystal clear water with trees all around on the mountains. After we had set out tents,set up propane stove, we decided to get some wood for fire. I was the first one to jump in water and surprised to find out water was not as cold as expected. After some time I took my camera in to and clicked a lot of pictures. I had a chance to go pretty close to flock of ducks.
After we got wood, we started preparing our dinner. Most of them was processed, so we just had to boil or heat it. It was getting colder by that time and Hot Top Ramen tasted pretty good. We checked with the owners there about the trails nearby, but there weren’t any. It was getting darker, best was to sit around fire and play some games. We realized that a lot of games were not known in other countries, so decided to play Black Jack. ( I didn’t knew how to play, but learnt it quickly. There is nothing to learn in it, it is just based luck )
Around 8:30 we realized that our firewood won’t last long, so went for search of some more wood. We found some but that wasn’t dry and it didn’t last more than an hour. We retired for sleep, only to figure out our tents were extremely cold. Somehow I managed to get sleep, but in few hours got up because it was extremely cold. It was so cold that when I picked up my iPod to check time, the steel body almost gave me a shock and I threw it.
Since I was not getting any sleep and from my tent I could see there was some light, I got up and came out of tent. It was extremely foggy, river was completely covered with fog, our tents and all other equipments were wet. I fugured out that what I was considering as rain at night was just droplets falling of from tree leaves because of fog. It was extremely beautiful scene and I along with Zhang went to collect some more wood and click some more photos.
We cooked breakfast and put on some fire. It was 3 hours since I was up and we could not see sun, it was under the cloud cover, but things had started to get warmer. We checked with the owners of the place and decided to go for canoeing at 11. I thought 5 mile canoeing will just take 1 hour but was surprised to find out it will be taking us at least 3 hours. ( In normal conditions when there was sufficient water in 3 hours 10 miles of Canoeing can be done)
Canoeing didn’t start well, Rahul and me has no idea how to steer it, but in just quarter of a mile we found the key. It was fun steering all around, but there was very less water. At some points our boat was stuck in rocks, so we had to get down and pull it out. Once our boat overturned and we had to throw a lot of water out. That time I realized that sometimes theoretical knowledge wont help much. Since there was some water in Canoe I thought how bad can it be, just because of buoyancy we will be able to float and move around. I was wrong, actually water imbalances a boat too much, it will just go in one direction and could tilt the boat. It was hard time steering it. Canoe trip was fun but mostly it was like ‘series of unfortunate incidents’, I liked it though.
While coming back I was so tired that I didn’t realize when we reached back home. It was a great weekend and thanks all for making it such wonderful. Hope to do same soon.