Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Finding Cuyamaca : California Nevada Dec'14 Series #1

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view near the Cuyamaca lake, Canon 450D, Tokina 11-16

About 40 miles away from South San Diego, when I took a left turn from National Hwy 8, I never had the slightest of the idea, that I'd be in for a 'surprise of the trip' here. The Charming winding roads, cattles grazing, rustic old victorian architecture, beautiful ranches in midst of the oak forests, red and orange hues of fall colors ( still there in december) and the grass in color pallete I can not possibly describe. From the sea level I was suddenly standing on a lake shore, at an elevation of about 5000 ft, trying to get a glimpse of a vast valley and the mountains, hidden in the mist.

Out in the wilderness here in USA multiple times now, I do not carry any plan any more. We just land at a certain city, hire a car and get on the road. Though the limited time, doesn't allow a satisfactory level of discovering the landscape, I feel its a good recce for the future trips. Because once the terrain is somewhat familiar, its easy to venture out for a deeper exploration, i.e. a couple of days of hiking, or even photography trips for that matter, because, while on the road, I hardly do justice to the place, just stopping the car in the corner and taking a quick shot, that my friend, is no way photography.

So landing in San Diego, we thought we'll do something backcountry in the SD-LA-LV (no sea world or zoo of course) circuit. it may or may not have bigger names, I wanted to camp at the beach for a night, and perhaps go to 1-2 national parks, and thats all what was the so called plan. Then I remembered "Salton Sea" from a bucket-list post i wrote sometime back, ( link here, I'd write more about my experience in upcoming posts) and decide to head there the very first morning.

There is no road trip with out a roadmap right? to make it easy to follow, here I have attached a approximate map of the entire trip. The two arches, beginning San diego - El Cojan, entering in to quite pretty Cleveland National Forest Area, then heading north to Anza-borrego desert park and reaching south most corner of the Salton sea, and here's what I felt about this part before the trip = umm.. Not Interested.

You may now question, then why would I take this route, if I was n't that interested in area. not interested in many way, is not so excited, not so explored on google map- the little research I do, or somewhat ignored, and definitely not someplace I am planning to spend a lot of time at. I took the route because, I hate freeways and national highways, good for speed, but you can not possibly slowdown or stop to see. On the contrary the two lane state highways are mostly the back country, old roads, many historical, well maintained ( rarely in bad condition), low traffic in comparison to the highways, and the surroundings are more scenic than anywhere else. In this case it led right in the state park, not one but  2 or more, and even though I was not too keen on exploring the state parks, anything and everything is better than the time spent driving on the boring freeways, I thought.

California | Julian | iPhone 4S | PS CS6
On the road to Julian, SH79, iPhone4S

I may be on the road with lot of conviction, "going with the flow" and be ready for surprises, but I, like everyone else, am not immune to choices, I too have bucket-lists, things I want to see and those I don't, contradicting my own words of wisdom. seriously, who cares about small state-parks yeah? and when I do that, thats exactly when I get a tight slap on my face by mother nature. Did I not tell you to not be biased, and explore what may come? - She reiterates.

I am kind of in hurry to reach the dead sea and abandoned flats, But, what I see in front me is something I did not expect, and now can not comprehend, Isn't that I was out on the road for? The SH-79 also called Cuyamaca Highway, looks like a deserted exit out of NH-8, at the first glance. the road is narrow, slowly gaining the elevation, and what looks like to be entering in the valley, through the dry forest land of a small town Descanso. it is nothing appealing, until you see the reforestation when you enter the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and then its one surprise after another.

Entering the two mountain ranges of Laguna and Cuyamaca that host a few Six thousands+ ft mountains such as Cuyapaipe, Stonewall and Cuyamaca Peaks, from south san diego area, is like entering another world, the terrain transitions into mountain top conifer and broadleaf forests, meadows tucked in like little jewels in a garland like peninsula. I doubt I know the name of exact viewpoint I first stopped at, but below is how it looked like, I was earlier speculating if these barren trees are in such state due to winter, the forests looked heavily condensed, however, there was no lack of fall colors in early december as I witnessed the hues of orange dispersed all over in the jungle beyond the layers of hills.

poonamparihar_cuyamaca_MG_0018-PCuyamaca Rancho State Park, Canon 450D, Tokina 100mm


On my return from the trip, when I was looking in to one of the govt forests protection websites, I learnt, there is one reforestation project going on in this mountain range and the state park, after the massive damage that incurred after the Cedar fire in 2003, so I am guessing this view may be somewhat related, someone local may have more knowledge about the flora though.

Pretty clear until this point, the road ahead is wrapped in the mist, traversing through pale yellow grass meadows, and deep green oak woodland forest. At the average elevation of about 5000ft, One or two vehicles pass us by in both directions as we stop to soak a little of mountain beauty, but mostly there are not many visitors, until we reach the Lake Cuyamaca, which is very close to the Old world - Gold mining town Julian, and has cars lined up in the parking area near the restaurant. we stopped a little ahead of the recreational area as the view of the lake from this side was somewhat blocked. At about 2:30PM PST we reached Julian and since we had a long way ahead ( now I am thinking I should have stopped there a while and explored), took a right towards north 78 and Anza Borrego Desert State Park, the journey I will be talking about in the next post.

California | Cuyamaca Rancho State Park | iPhone 4S | PS CS6
Cuyamaca Mountains, iPhone 4S

Not ashamed to admit, one of the many things that I did not know about before this trip, was this area was big huge part of Gold Rush in late1800s, I had long read about Death Valley Gold rush, but never about these range of mountains. Interestingly 26000 acres of Cuyamaca, isn't the only park around here, but it hosts few other county parks and there are at least 100 miles of riding and hiking trails, including the Cuyamaca Peak Trail which climbs to the 6,512-foot summit with a spectacular view of the Pacific coastline, Colorado Desert, Mexico, and the Salton Sea. There are proven reports of mountain lions here btw. But here is the best part, Its an all season wilderness experience, it snows in winter here, fall colors are gorgeous, and from what I see on flickr, when the valley is covered in wildflowers from head to toes, is when Cuyamaca looks it best. Dont believe me? Go search "Cuyamaca Wildflowers on flickr". All this, and I was thinking it'll be just burned grass and grey desert, Clearly the road is full of surprise, I mean who knew?

Pine Valley, San Diego Back County California | iPhone4S | PS CS6
Bordering Cuyamaca, Anza-Borrego, Harrison Park, iPhone 4S

Next up - Anza Borrego Desert State Park and more on the first day of trip...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What I learned from my 5 Back-road Trips to America's National Parks in Last 1 Year...

I am out in 2 days and I thought It'd be a good idea to summarize the experience and leave you with little read, so here you go...

Since 2006 when I first came to United States ( for a -3 months business trip ) on my maiden international trip, I have traveled to many popular as well as remote places in this country. Most of these trips were group road trips to nearby cities and wilderness-state parks, and I was mostly on the back seat, i.e. all I am doing is going where others would take me, see what others wanted to me to see, seek what others were seeking, and even sometime eat what others were craving for. I still do that though, don't really prefer to interfere in hungry people's palatal desires. These trips in all except a few weren't as fulfilling as I feel now these could've been, But they paved the path for me to discover what sort of experience I was looking for, and thats apart from taking in to account the kind of travel I was doing.

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"On the way to Lower Antelope Canyon"

When I moved base to united states again, earlier last year, I had this desire to explore national parks on my own. So I began my adventure with the 49th State, Alaska, and then explored the South west, Pacific west, Southern and bits of Mid-atlantic and North-east and in different seasons.  12 months later, I feel I am wiser, more confident and actually do understand this country and its landscape, much better than I ever did. And this I say about both, one, planning the adventure part and two, cultural part. In this article, I would jot down a few points focussing mainly on the planning part because as easy as it may sound, that all you need is a credit card to travel in this country, there is way lot more to it and knowing those tit-bits can save you a lot of time and make your experience in back country area much better. ( City travel plan I may cover somewhere else and later )

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Coney Island Presents...

I hope you'll are having a great thanksgiving weekend, enjoying family time and of course shopping deals atleast here in US, but weekend still in rest of the world. I did my fair bit of online shopping earlier this morning, clearing out carts that were pending for couple of days, and avoided going out totally. Although I am totally regretting my decision now, I should have just gone for a walk. Just thought I'd be a little productive on an otherwise lazy day and write a bit, while I wait for some ombre magic  to set in my hair.

I know I have been talking about image archives almost nonstop since earlier this year, and that I really want to bring all the images out, in one way or the other, because honestly, thousands of images sitting in the archives, unpublished, unseen, really don't do good to no-body. So I suggest if you photoshoot often, and have good inflow of images, you better release them in whatsoever way you' feel comfortable.

Having said that, I should also take my own advice, right? so here I begin with sharing few images from April this year, when I visited this interesting, historical and a very unique place in New York called Coney Island.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Philosophy? Passions? Je ne sais quoi. | 2014 - Year in Review

Teardrops in the sky. #rain #music #neilsedaka #saturday #YouMeanEverythingToMe #oldies
If not anything else, how remarkable and noteworthy 2014 has been as a proof that I am such a liar. or perhaps truly a very optimistic soul, so much that I absolutely hated 'intersteller' I don't think we as a society have peaked yet and doomsday, if there is one, is centuries away. and I can continue living my lazy life aha. anyways, I just read through my last years' review and plans and resolutions of course for this year i.e. 2014 the write-ups though had pretty much nothing as goals except on blogging front, and on which I failed miserably. sorry about that. but here is my promise to you my readers, for the future. no more blogging goals. *feels relieved*

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So while I am trying to find my passions, fruits and fitness, all and everything life around 10 miles radius of central park, I do admit I am slow and I continue to be because I feel its a good thing. I am really loving the fact that I wait and stay back every day for sunrise and sunset to wish the sun, hello and goodbye, that I can remember and cherish the harvest and blood moon from my window still and that, I no longer run to mountains, with only motive to escape the regular life but for greater connection with nature and the extra pleasure. I am happy where I am.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Solo Traveling - Truth Or Dare

“HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE” - Che Guevara [Front Page Explore!]

I have been getting quite a few questions about Solo Travel and Safety measures around it, So rather than responding individually which I have done in the past and found it very difficult to do, I thought I'll share a quick post on it with everyone.

This is not the first time I have received this type of question and not the first time me writing about and emphasizing on different aspect of it every time. A lot of time focus is on female solo travelers, but this time, I have got many messages and emails from male travel enthusiasts, interesting.

For me more than traveling, its the idea of the travel that's intriguing. Imagining yourself in a strange surrounding, contemplating what and how'd you feel and absorb the the atmosphere and interactions with the strangers. Experiencing any place, with all your heart and mind, without certain fears and inhibitions is what is truly a travel experience, not just visiting a place and worrying about numerous things, and safety as one of them. That means one shouldn't travel unless s/he is comfortable doing it but isn't that the contradiction to what travel is all about? - leaving your comfort zone and venturing into the unknown.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Of Salgado, Summer, Artistic Adventures & New York City

The Second Spring is here. The leaves have began their winter melon'ish rendezvous and streets are about to turn in to paintings, and along with them, I have ventured on another artistic voyage of my own, to paint every corner of my new place, in red. but that's a story for another day I suppose. For now I am only trying to share a certain experience with you all, and Oh, how difficult it is to articulate my thoughts and put them in to words!... after all this while.

IMG_0194अनुच्छतु प्रवाहं ॥..meaning-  "Go with the flow". .. just like water...I keep telling myself at every situation. For all these months, I felt I had nothing significant to say or share, so I shifted my focus towards other things and stopped writing. This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a talk with world renowned Photographer Sebastiao Selgado in lower Manhattan, an experience, many felt I was lucky to have, and I thought I might share few thoughts about the episode with everyone since it sort of brought affirmation to my own opinions, aspirations and ambitions.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Falling In Love With Seattle

Castle Point State Park, San Juan Islands Seattle Washington
castle point / san juan island

Technically, This isn't my first trip to Seattle, Washington. I had been there before in October last year on my way back to New York from Alaska. But I dint spend much time there then and It wasn't home. Now It is, and I already miss it.

I just got back from a couple of days long trip to the west, Washington & Oregon. This trip was due earlier, in March and I could make it only now, but nonetheless It was great time spent with family, friends the beauty that the wilderness there is. Actually, Just a week before, I was in West Virginia, VA, PA and Maryland as well. Needless to say, I have soaked in so much of glorious lush green forests beauty this summer has brought, I will cherish it through the fall season when the red, oranges & yellow show up and this time, I hope I'd get lucky.

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