Labor Day Weekend So. Cal. photos are posted…

I finally got these photos uploaded. It took about 20 hours of work to parse, select and process 56 out of 538 photos. Snaps were very well received by almost everyone. That said, here’s the trip report.

Thursday, Aug 30th: Landing once, landing twice … and landed.

I landed Thursday evening – Aug 30th that is. Rajat picked me up from John Wayne (Santa Ana) Airport in his Mercedes CLK350 – that thing looks sweet. We were home in about 15-20 minutes. Appa-Amma had already arrived the day before. The one person missing was Shanks – can’t have it all. Meg and Mohi were already hyper anticipating my arrival and amidst clamoring for my attention, I fished out the gifts I’d gotten for them. Two video games for Meg – Ratatouille on the GameBoy and Animal Crossing on the GameCube. A Barbie makeup kit and a jigsaw puzzle for Mohi. Also, handed her the toy cellphone that Veena picked up on my behalf (I couldn’t find the kind that flipped open at the Bellevue Toys’r’Us since it was undergoing renovation). Spent the remainder of the evening just chatting with Appa, Amma, Veena and Rajat with lots of interruptions for attention from the kids.

Friday, Aug 31st: Disney downtown

Meghana frowning coz I’m teasing her. Meghana glaring at me coz I’m taking a photo of her eating spaghetti. King Kong anyone? A frog? You kissed a frog?

Looking a little scared. Just a little. Chillin’ w/ Mr.Kong Butterfly on my face. Creepers Jeepers!

The following day was a Friday and so Rajat had to head off for work. After lounging about in the morning, we headed out to grab lunch at an Italian restaurant nearby and then to Disney Downtown – it was too hot for Disneyland, which was plan A. Turns out it was too hot for plan B as well. We tried to spend as little time as we could in direct sunlight, but it was hot in the shade as well. After a good 1/2 hour at the Rainforest Cafe store, we headed to the Lego store – nice. Really nice. Face painting for Meg and Mohi followed. A brief stop at the Anne Geddes store and a good hour at the Disney store capped off the trip. During the course of the afternoon, we made several stops for bottled water, ice cream and fruit juice – in that order of frequency. Rajat was home by the time we got back and we had a tasty dinner outdoors.

Saturday, Sept 1st: La Jolla beach house

We had a last minute booking at a beach house in La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya). So, we left late Saturday morning. Seven of us piled into the Infiniti QX56. It’s spacious. And almost as soon as we were in the car, the competing screams for Hanna Montana (Meg) and “Vaji song” (from the Rajnikanth hit Sivaji, by Mohi) ensued. Of course, neither was willing to let the other have her way. So, they just ended up taking turns for time slots along w/ the adults. It was a very scenic drive to La Jolla with a stop for lunch at a Mexican restaurant – decent lunch topped off by some cream cheese flan and chocolate mousse (more takers for the flan than the mousse).

We arrived at the beach house with an hour to spare for sunset. The others headed off to the water while I setup for some sunset shots from the balcony of the beach house. Managed a few decent photos – nothing great, nothing to be ashamed of. The dirty half-dozen made their way back and after quick showers, the kids were watching some cartoons while the adults enjoyed a game of cards. I was having quite a bit of fun taking photos before I set the camera down and joined the game. Much fun later, we got some shuteye.

Sunday, Sept 2nd: Point Loma, a boat ride and Embarcadero Marine Park

By the time I was awake, it was well past sunrise and a couple of hours later, we were on our way to San Diego. Point Loma was our first port of call that morning. Nice view of San Diego downtown and some good photos. Don’t recall exactly where, but somewhere in San Diego, we stopped to grab some lunch and get a boat. The boat ride was a bit of a novelty for the kids – their second time, but the first where the ride was smooth rather than jerky. We ate lunch on the boat as Rajat mostly manned the steering wheel and after a couple of hours baking in the sun, taking photos and enjoying the sights (and not so much the smells) of the bay, it was back to terra firma. That was not before Meg had a turn at the wheel. We drove around a bit more and then landed up in a local park in the middle of San Diego – Embarcadero Marine Park. Pretty jolly place. Ice cream, coffee, balloons twisted into various cartoon character shaped and some South American live music for the evening.

A bit after sunset and it was time to grab dinner – phone inquiries of friends led to an Indian restaurant recommendation – Monsoon. The ambiance was not bad, but it was hard to have conversations over the excessively harsh sound of heavy rain – they really need to turn down the sound. I suspect we caught them on a bad night. The food arrived out of order w/ the curries and rice served a good 20 minutes before the naan. Food taste was rather average. And I suspect I’m being a bit generous here considering that I have rather low expectations of Indian restaurants in the US. The naan was pretty good when it finally arrived though. On my way out, I heard a few other patrons complain about the poor service, so we weren’t the only ones. The drive back home was uneventful.

Monday, Sept 3rd: Heat-stroke headache-fever and a jolly good time at Laksmi’s place

My plan was to head out early to Lakshmi’s place. The rest were going to arrive later that evening for dinner. But a rather severe headache / fever put a kaibosh in my plan. I wound up sleeping as a result and couldn’t even get out to grab lunch with the others. Slept through the entire morning and most of the afternoon. Dragged myself out of bed to eat something mid-afternoon, went back to sleep and dragged myself out again to get ready to leave for dinner after some painkillers. And boy, did those painkillers help once they kicked in. It was great to be at Lakshmi’s place – she was looking very well indeed. Ananth was quite shy, but would show signs of willingness to play with me from time to time; more so as the evening wore on. Dinner was a rather sumptuous affair with lots of food and lots of variety at that. Payasam (kheer) for dessert was a fitting finale to the culinary delights of the evening.

Appa-Amma and Veena&co headed back and I spent the night at Lakshmi’s place. Kumar had to get some shuteye for an early work day following, so Lax and I spent a few hours chatting about this, that and the other – mostly theology, with Ananth keeping us company through pretty much all of it. Shuteye at around 3 am.

Tuesday, Sept 4th: Back to Veena’s and then to Bellevue

I woke up around 9:30 am, by which time Kumar had left for work. After taking some photos of Lax and Ananth, we headed out to Veena’s place where I packed and got ready to do a web-checkin. That’s when I realized that I’d gotten my flight departure time wrong. It wasn’t at 5 pm, it was at 7 pm. Somewhere in my head, I’d mixed up the time I was supposed to leave for the airport as the departure time of the flight. That gave me another 2 hours to chill w/ Appa-Amma and Veena. I suspect the kids were bored of me by then. It was all too soon that I had to leave for the airport. We said our goodbyes and a couple of hours later, I was at Seatac airport. Grabbed a taxi and headed home since my ride didn’t show up.

Good trip. I need to do more of these.

A break from work results in a wake up call…

So, work is still going at a more hectic pace than expected. But the brief 5 day vacation I took over the long weekend to socal was a bit of a wake up call. There’s a world outside technology – and the rest of the world is living it. Actively. A variety of topics came up for discussion and I had little interest in them and even less to say. A few iterations of that and it struck me that I used to read a wide variety of things – and voraciously.

And so I’ve decided to resume that former passion of mine.

Thinking about it, this is the second one to resurface in the last few months, the first being photography. Let’s see where this one goes.

The break was pretty good – for the first 3 days at least. A trip to Disney Downtown was the highlight of the first day, La Jolla beach house for the second and a boat ride and a tour of the San Diego area topped off the third. Day four was spent recovering from the headache of being in the sun for a bit much followed by a dinner and shuteye at Lakshmi’s place. Day five passed rapidly in packing and flying back home.

Got some decent photos; guess I’ll post ’em when I’m done processing.

First time to Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier Reflection Lake

I’ve been in Seattle nearly 9 years now and never once was inclined to go to Mount Rainier – The mountain / volcano (dormant) does look nice from a distance, but I’ve long suspected that it wasn’t going to be quite that impressive close up.

Turns out I was right. Eugene, Victor, Chris, Rosa and I drove down there yesterday. Continue reading First time to Mount Rainier