Monday, December 15, 2014

Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park - July 4th weekend - Part 4

Yellowstone National Park - Day 2
Continuing from previous day of Yellowstone Park... as everyone was really tired, couple of friends decided to skip the park for 2nd day and instead just hang around in the nearby area to see the downtown, check out the skyway (which takes you to the top of the mountain for a beautiful view of the Grand Teton), etc.  This required some re-shuffling since now only 2 out of 4 cars were going back to the Yellowstone Park.  So, from the entire group, 5 of the friends decided to stay back (including my brother) and the rest (10 people) decided to adjust in 2 cars and continue the day 2 activities.

First (and for most) stop was the famous Yellowstone National Park sign!  We stopped there, took pictures and then continued our ride.  Beware of the mosquitoes at this spot as I got bunch of mosquito bites from make sure you have mosquito repellent before you decide to stop here.  The view is gorgeous at this spot.
At the sign of Yellowstone National Park
For day 2, our first stop was West Thumb Lake which was not very far from the entrance compared to the previous day drive to the Old Faithful.  This place also had some different looking geysers along with a magnificent view of the lake surrounding the park.
West Thumb Lake @ Yellowstone National Park
West Thumb Lake @ Yellowstone National Park
Next, we headed to Mud Volcano which was basically a mud geyser (very surprising to see!).  What was surprising me the most was that we found Bison sitting right next to the mud volcanoes which seemed very scary (for the bison, of course).  I guess they weren't scared of it at all.

Mud Volcano @ Yellowstone National Park
Next, we headed to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  On the way, we were lucky to spot a herd of Bison with bunch of baby bison as well!!  Once we got to the upper falls (another name for grand canyon), it was a sight to see.  There are bunch of spots from where you can take pictures of the falls from different angles.  I guess we must have taken picture from every possible angle.
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
After a heavy load of photo session, we had our lunch and decided to head to the last spot for the day.  This was a long drive from where we were to where we had to be, however, it was a beautiful drive!!  On the way, we encountered, for the very first time, a jam-packed traffic with people all over the side of the road!  Before I could even guess, my friend excitedly said "There has to be a Bear! It's a bear!"...and indeed he was right.  The entire traffic was jammed because there was a bear spotted in the woods at the far distance.  We also tried to see the bear and it was very hard but we surely spotted it!  I think that is what was missing from our trip and we were able to fulfil it with this last experience of spotting a bear :D.

This brings us to our last stop not just for the day but for our Yellowstone Park trip.  We came to Mammoth Hot Springs which had its own unique formation of geyser and stones.  At this point in time, it was screaming hot and my skin just felt like burning.  We split in 2 groups where 5 of us took the hike to the top of the springs, only to find that there wasn't anything there!  It was kind of disappointing but still there was a nice view from the top. 
Mammoth Hot Springs @ Yellowstone National Park
With this last stop, it concludes our Yellowstone National Park trip!!  We headed straight for our condo and made it there in time for dinner.  We had our dinner and decided to meet at the other friend's condo to hang out together with everyone. We hung out for a bit, talked, and saw part of a movie and then off to bed. 

This was the only night where all of us were able to sit together and relax before everyone starts taking off the next day separately.  We only had 2 cars (out of 4) leaving early the following morning, so we bid goodbye to the rest of the friends and headed to our condo.  The next day, started our journey back home around 8:30 am and got home before dark.

This was one of the memorable trips with great group of friends and family for me!!  It has given me moments to cherish for lifetime!  Hope you enjoyed reading my trip experience and get some useful info out of it when you decide to go for the Grand Teton and/or Yellowstone National Park.

Have a great day :)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park - July 4th weekend - Part 3

Yellowstone National Park - Day 1

First of all, before I tell you about my Yellowstone Park experience, I want to tell you something that I heard the most before I started this trip.  I heard from most people, who had been on this trip before, that July 4th weekend will be the busiest time of the year to visit the park and that we'll have to be prepared to be STUCK in traffic for hours since it'll be moving at a snails pace.  There was nothing like that!!  We left our condos around 8 am and we barely saw any traffic.  In fact, our first view of the Yellowstone National Park (on the way) was of Bisons (which I was very excited about :p).  The different places in the park itself had some crowd but it wasn't that we were stuck in traffic to get to that location.  Parking was definitely hard to find but if you're there early enough then you don't need to worry about it.

Alright, here is another heads up to you if you're staying in Grand Teton and heading to the Yellowston Park from there.  It'll take you around 2 hours to drive to the park and then another 45 minute to hour drive to get to the first spot in the park from the entry point of the park :(.  It's sad but it's a fact!! This is something we were not prepared for even though we knew about it.  Anyways, the drive to the Park was beautiful as well as we encountered a big group of Deer/Elk on the way.

Our first stop in the park was the famous, the popular, The Old Faithful Geyser!  This Geyser is true to its name (faithful) as it erupts every 90 minutes without any hesitation :).  We got to the spot and it was a packed place already but you will always be able to find a spot to stand/sit to wait while the geyser erupts.
The Old Faithful @ Yellowstone National Park
After we saw the Old Faithful, we took the 1 mile hike around that park which had bunch of other small/mild geysers which were just amazing to see!!  I was amazed with the number of geysers that surrounded the Old Faithful as well as the crystal blue colors that formed some of the geysers.  Here are some of the pictures of most beautiful geysers I saw.

Crested Pool @ Yellowstone National Park
After an adventurous hike, we decided to put some fuel in our body to recharge and head to the next location.  Even though it was a late lunch, it was still very fulfilling and entertaining as we sat right in front of the Old faithful, just in time for it to erupt again.  I think by the time we wrapped up it was late afternoon and we hurried up to the next location which was Biscuit Basin.  Just like The Old Faithful, this stop was equally interesting to check out.  Look at the Sapphire  Pool at the biscuit basin and the geyser next to it which has aqua blue color (amazing!!).

At Biscuit Basin
Sapphire Pool @ Biscuit Basin (In Yellowstone National Park)
Continuing our drive, next stop was The Grand Prismatic Spring which was one of the best geysers to see.  You can see the steam from the Grand Prismatic Spring from far away while you're driving towards it.  It was more like a big hot swimming pool (except you just can't treat it as a swimming pool)!!  There is a short hike around the spring which we took and surprised with how this amazing natural beauty was formed.  See it to believe it...(right now in pictures) for yourself :)
Grand Prismatic Spring @ Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring @ Yellowstone National Park
To squeeze in one last thing, we decided to head to Norris Geyser Basin.  We didn't really explore much here but did see some of the geysers from the top instead of taking the hike down to the bottom of the basin.  This one is said to have the poisonous geysers of all (or at least that's what I heard from one of the friends).  It had bunch of small geysers on the trail if we had done the hike, but we just saw it from the top.  Here is a sneak peak for you if you decide to go there.
Norris Geyser Basin @ Yellowstone National Park
Wrapping up the day, it was already close to 7 pm by the time we left Norris Geyser Basin, which meant a drive of 3 hours back to our condo.  It was amazing day to see what we covered so far in the park but it was also exhausting with lots and lots of walking!!  I dozed off for some time in the car and woke up just little before we got to our condo.  Saving every little energy that we had, we embarked on the staircase to 3rd floor to get to our condo.  It wasn't easy, but we made it...!  We quickly made some meggie noodles with some of the other food items we had left to fuel ourselves.  Wrapped up kitchen as fast as we could and passed out without even thinking what to do for the 2nd day since everyone was so tired from the day itself.

Well, let's keep it for the next post to tell you all about the 2nd day!  Until then, enjoy your day :)  See ya!

Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park - July 4th weekend - Part 2

Continuing from the last post of the Grand Teton/Yellowstone National Park trip....

We started our day early to head to Grand Teton National Park....obviously making several stops in the park to click lots of individual pictures, group pictures, and of course, pictures with the natural beauty of Grand Teton :-).
Grand Teton National Park (beautiful view on the way to Visitor Centre)
We made first stop to the visitor centre to figure out where we were heading next.  The guide gave us couple of options and based on the time we had, we decided to take the boat ride on Jenny lake to the hidden falls and then some of us decided to hike back down (instead of the boat ride back).  The drive from the visitor centre to the boat ride was short but the hike to the hidden falls was something unexpected :-/.  It was just half a mile hike but the roughness, slopes, and steep steps made it really hard.  I also had my mom with me who is not a hiker at all but I can't believe that she did the entire hike with me without any issues.  You start seeing the glimpse of Hidden Falls as you're hiking up your way and it's nice sight when you actually reach the final spot.
Hidden Falls @ Grand Teton National Park
If you hike just little bit more (maybe 10-15 mins more), you get to the top where you have a nice view of the park and the lake itself.  Since it was still bit rough hike, my mom and I headed back down while the rest of our group headed to the top.  I saw some pictures that my friend had taken and I think it was a nice view.  My original plan was to hike back to the starting point instead of taking boat ride but due to extreme heat and getting tired from the previous hike, I decided to just take the boat ride back down.  We got to the parking lot and had nice lunch while waiting for few of our friends who were hiking down from the hidden falls.  Once everyone was back at the station and had their lunch, we continued our journey in the Grand Teton National Park.  There was one place which I don't remember the name of, but it was just a stop in the park which had one of the BEST views of the Grand Teton mountain ranges.  We parked our cars on the side and sat down on the sideway to enjoy the view and relax a bit.  Check out the view!!
Grand Teton National Park (Gorgeous View from within the park!!)
We had also stopped by at one of the Dam locations for a while before heading back to our condos.  It was close to 8 or 9 o'clock when we got back to our condo, tired and exhausted from the entire day but also hungry, so we cooked something quickly, had a nice meal.  Lucky for us, we were able to witness the July 4th fireworks from our condo which was nicely done.  Then, decided to call it a day to be prepared for the next day in Yellowstone National Park!!

That's all from me about Grand Teton National Park.  Stay tuned to hear about our Yellowstone Park adventures!!

Have a great day :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park - July 4th weekend - Part 1

I don't remember since when, but I had always wanted to go to Yellowstone National Park.  I had heard so many things about it that I put it on my places to visit list.  Unfortunately, every time my family and I thought about it, it was too late to plan a trip there since the lodging would get completely booked on the Park and it would be hard to decide where to stay nearby.  Luckily, some of my friends decided the trip almost 3 to 4 months in advance, but I was not sure at that time.  Long story short, I decided to go and the trip's final count was a group of 15 people :).  We booked the condo in Jackson Hole Resort Lodging (same place as other friends booked it)  and surprisingly we got it at a better rate even on last minute.

To tell you little bit about the condo that we booked, it was booked in Jackson Hole Resort Lodging and we got it in Teton Village, 3rd floor, which had perfect view to the base of the lodging.  We just had to step out of the condo, into the balcony, to see the July 4th fireworks which was very convenient!  The condo was fully furnished, and perfect for our stay.  It was 1bd/1ba condo with fully equipped kitchen, a dining hall, spacious living area which included a sleeper sofa, and a beautiful view!  We had booked the condo for 4 nights for $738 which is not bad at all since it came out to be $148/person (between 5 people) for 4 nights.

Our trip started on July 3rd morning which consisted drive of little over 9 hours.  As I said earlier, we were group of 15 people going on this trip and we divided in 2 groups where 2 of the cars were going to leave on July 3rd morning and the other 2 cars were going to leave late in the afternoon.  We left in the morning around 9 am and reached our condo around 7 pm.  There was some nice scenery on the way to the lodging which you can see here.

Drive in Wyoming (on the way to Jackson Hole Resort Lodging)
Drive in Wyoming
View from our Condo (Teton Village @ Jackson Hole Resort Lodging)
If you need to do grocery shopping before heading to Jackson Hole, make sure you stop by the Albertson's in the town before you head to the lodging. 

Great thing about our condo was that the Jackson Hole does fireworks on both July 3rd and July 4th nights at the base (very close to the lodging) and since our condo was on 3rd floor facing the base, we had a great view of fireworks right from our condo.  We were able to enjoy the fireworks right from our condo balcony with clear view!  After fireworks, little relaxing in the condo, had nice dinner, and then slept early to be going the next morning to the first stop of Grand Teton National Park.

Next, our packed day at the Grand Teton National Park!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Blogging - sounds familiar...

Well, blogging does sound familiar but it feels like lost somewhere...or maybe I have been lost from it?  I can't remember last time I wrote something that I wanted to share with you all....or there was something that I really wanted to share but just never got around writing about it.  That's it! That was the problem, I just never got a chance to write anything.  Anyways, enough of puzzling, but I am so happy to be back on my blog to write a sentence or two even though they are silly or about nothing at all!

From past 3-4 months, I have been so busy that I can barely remember doing anything other than work!! Work, work, work!!  That's all that has been on my mind.  But, I am trying to get it back to normal.  And that too when 2014 is coming to an end....:-o.  I can't believe that this year has flown by me without even me realizing it.  In fact, I can't remember doing much this year (well, I can't forget IIFA, of course)!  It's like I have had to squeeze some things here and there for this year before it ends, so I can say that yea I did this and that in 2014, but I feel it was all so rushed!!  I even forgot that I have a blog that I maintain where I share things about my cooking experiences, my travel experiences, or anything that I feel like writing about, but that seemed to have lost for a while too.  Thank God that I have not forgotten about it and didn't get lazy to come back to it.  How could I?  I enjoy this space of mine where I can share my travel stories, cooking adventures (haven't done any in a while), silly things, and anything at all (well, not anything, because I don't share everything with you :P ).  See, how silly I am being right now writing this!  But, I am just happy to be back to writing something.

Well, enough of me bragging how I was and where I was and etc. etc. and back to sharing some interesting things with you all (or at least with those who read my blog)!!  I have been to 2 trips since I was last on my blog.  The first trip was to Grand Teton national park and Yellowstone national park with group of 14 people (awesome time) and second trip was to Aspen, Mesa Verde national park, and Durango-Silverton railroad with group of 10 people (the group was divided in installments for days..haha..more on that later).  So, I have a lot to write up for these 2 trips but I promise that you will get to hear about it in the year of 2014 and sooner than later with some great pictures of both the trips!

So, with that, I take your leave and promise to come back with some interesting travel stories :)
Have a wonderful day!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

IIFA Awards 2014 - Day 5 - Tampa, FL

Dear Readers,

I hope you enjoyed the previous posts of IIFA Awards from Day 1 to Day 4!! I tried to give you my entire experience with few pictures here and there.  I hope it didn't bore you and you enjoyed reading it!!  Well, the IIFA festivities were over but the fun was far from being over :).  As I said in my previous post that my friend and I slept around 7/7:30 am in the morning, as much as we would have loved to sleep in, we had to wake up by 11 am to check out of our room :(.  We just can't catch a break!!!  Thankfully, my friend, V had her room for another day, so we grabbed everything from our room, dumped it in the bag and rushed to her room to drop it all off.  Checking the room one last time, returned the keys at the front desk and went back to V's room to relax for a bit.  Sunday wasn't really planned at all since it was going to be a relaxing day (nothing related to IIFA) and hanging out with friends.  V and I decided to call our friend K and planned to have lunch together.  On the other hand, Ka had her flight booked for the evening, so she had to make sure she packed everything before we left the room.  All 4 of us left to go to Hilton to pick up my friend K.  Little did we know, we ran into couple more celebrities at the hotel :).  We saw Ankit Tiwari again (singer), and also clicked few pics with Sonu Sood and music composer Ehsaan (from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio).  It was fun!  We also caught Priyanka leaving the hotel.  I asked for a picture but it seemed she was in a rush to get to the airport, so she just shook hands with me.  Finally, after a round of celebrities leaving the hotel, we decided to give ourselves a break and get something to eat.

We went to an Indian store but it was closed so ended up going to the Taco Bus which is a great alternative anytime of the day!! It has vegetarian and vegan Mexican food options.  Food is definitely great! If you're ever in the area near Taco Bus, give it a try.  I am sure you will not be disappointed!  We sat down, chatted, had our food, and then decided to go to the famous Clearwater beach in Tampa.  In between, Ka decided to postpone her flight to the next day since we all were having good time so she decided to stay back with us and hang out.

We got to the Clearwater beach and it was beautiful!! I would recommend that whoever is in Tampa, do stop by this beach as you will enjoy thoroughly.  It's a beautiful beach with white sand and has great sunset as well!  We hung out at the beach until sunset and then headed back to my hotel to pick up my rental car and return it at the airport.  Even though I was staying until Monday morning, my friend was going to drop me off at the airport, so I had kept the rental only until Sunday night to avoid last minute rush to the airport.
Clearwater beach, Tampa, FL
We decided on an Italian restaurant for dinner and headed there which was kind of in the downtown area.  I forgot the name of the place but the food was good.  The weather was great so we sat outside in their porch area and had great coversation with the dinner.  Time really flies when you're having good time and it was already closed to midnight when we got out of there.  Ka, who had postponed her flight, booked a room in the same Hilton on the same 17th floor where the celebrities were staying.  She was able to get a room there for a good rate since almost everyone was gone by Sunday night.  It was our luck that she got her room right across from Ranveer Singh's room and then it was a hide & seek game for us to make sure that we pay close attention to when he comes and goes :P.  We were literally peeking through her room's peephole to keep a close eye on his room to see him and keeping a close attention to any noise made which indicated that he was coming or was crazy fun!!  Unfortunately we didn't get to see him from front, but I did see him from the back when he went in the room and when I went close to his room, his door was not closed all the way.  I was soooo tempted to go and knock on his door but couldn't do it :(.  For the rest of the night, in the hope of seeing him, we waited but that didn't happen.  Finally, we gave up at 2:30 am!!  I said bye to my friends, V, S, and Ka and headed to K's home and it was already 3 am.  I had an early morning flight where I had to wake up in 2 hours, so just got a short nap and K came to drop me off at the airport.

That was the end of my IIFA weekend!! Exciting, Amazing, Unpredictable, Unbelievable, and FUN FUN FUN!! It was an experience of lifetime which I will never forget and it'll always be memorable!!  I can't thank enough to my friend K for convincing me to come to IIFA and helping out with I am back to normal routine, but the IIFA fever had not gone down until after a month of IIFA event.  I guess it has that effect on everyone who was part of it.

I hope you enjoyed this journey of IIFA with me as I was writing it after a month.  I got a chance to re-live the moments as I was penning it down on these posts :)

Hope you all have a great day!!  Enjoy :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

IIFA Awards 2014 - Day 4 - April 26, 2014, Saturday

John Travolta @ IIFA Awards 2014
Lots of excitement of IIFA was finally coming to a finale!!  It was the last day of IIFA events with the main IIFA Awards show being held in the Raymond James Stadium!!  My friend and I got ready to head to the Hilton. By this day, it had become an everyday thing to head to Hilton after getting ready...:).  The two main events planned in Hilton was the press conference with John Travolta and IIFA Master Class Panel with Kevin Spacey but the latter one was invite only whereas the John Travolta press conference was open to the media.  We went in the room and found a spot to stand (it was already packed with people) and waited for John to arrive.  The press conference went well and got a hint that he might be performing in the evening show...well, that's certainly something to look forward to!!  Soon after, there was a press conference for Nawazuddin Siddiqui where he was interviewed by few media people.

IIFA Awards 2014 Crowd @ Raymond James Stadium
The original plan for the day was to get the evening clothes with us to the Hilton so we didn't have to go back to the hotel to change and get ready.  Keeping this in mind, my friend and I both packed our clothes to take with us to save time in the evening.  It turned out that I brought everything except my ticket for the IIFA Awards. I had to go back to the hotel, get ready at the hotel and then head to the stadium.  This took a lot of time which meant finding a parking spot much further than the closer parking lot :(.  When I got there, it was completely packed with zillion people!!! There was no room to squeeze in and on top of that it was burning hot....must be 85 to 90 degrees!!  I was not on media side since my friend stayed at hilton and left from there whereas I left from our hotel room to the stadium so it was hard to find her but I eventually got in touch with her and she was able to take me to the media side since she had my badge with her.  Even after going to the media side, the actors had not started arriving, so I just relaxed a bit (standing, of course) and waited for the show to begin!!  Before I got busy, I did snap a pic as a memory to see how crazy crowded it was at the stadium.

Farhan Akhtar & Shahid Kapoor @ IIFA Awards 2014
I am not going to post any green carpet pics of the IIFA Awards as there are waaay too many, but I will post some pics of the actual show.  The green carpet for this event went on until 10:30/45 pm.  The show was supposed to start at 8 pm but lucky for me that it started 2 hours late, so I only missed like 45 minutes of it which didn't have any Bollywood performances, so I was very happy about it.  Another reason to be happy was that my friend had 2 floor tickets and her cameraman finished before time so he was not going to come inside and my friend asked me if I wanted to come with her to the floor seating!!  I was like "of course!!" was really nice of her to ask me to come with her for that ticket since I know I wouldn't have had the same view with the upper seating ticket that I had originally bought :).   We went inside the stadium (it must have been like 15 minute walk) and I would say the main show started after we got in!!

The show was fantastic!! It did go on for looooong time though, to be precise, it was 5 hours long.  They did a lot of time pass in between but fun overall!!  There were performances by Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Siddharth Malhotra, Madhuri Dixit, and Hrithik Roshan.
Powerhouse Ranveer Singh Performance
I think all the performances were great, but 2 which struck the most were Ranveer Singh and Hrithik Roshan.  Both were powerhouse performances with full on energy and great dance moves.  Also, the other highlights were John Travolta dancing with Priyanka Chopra on Tune Mari Entriyaan and Kevin Spacey dancing with Deepika Padukon on Lungi Dance!! It can't get better than that!  Among all this, Shahid and Farhan even took a Bollywood selfie with the celebrities, inspired by the Hollywood selfie taken by Ellen in Oscars.  What do you guys think?
Bollywood Selfie @ IIFA Awards 2014
The show finally ended at 3 am in the morning and the next challenge was to get to the car and get out of the parking lot.  This event was in the Raymond James Stadium which had the audience of about 25,000 to 30,000.  Can you imagine the kind of chaos it had created getting out of the parking lot??  No, you can't!!  It took us 40-45 minutes just to get out of the parking lot :( and then another 20-25 minutes to get to the Hilton hotel.  The reason we went to Hilton is because that's where the after party was and thought that maybe if we get to see some stars on the last night of IIFA.  Just as we pulled in to the parking garage next to Hilton, we could clearly hear Hrithik's voice hosting the party.  I was so excited to think that he might be in the after party for a bit, so we quickly parked the car and walked fast to the hotel (even though our feet were hurting like hell from standing on the green carpet for soooo long).  It turned out that the celebrities had their own separate party going on where Hrithik was hosting it, but  nonetheless we still made it to the after party for the non-celebrity people :).  The first thing we did was get something to eat since we were starving and had not eaten since afternoon!!  Food was great, finally, there was something to eat!! This entire event took the entire night which we didn't expect.  My friend and I headed back to the hotel at 7 am in the morning, completely tired and exhausted.  As soon as we got to the room, we both crashed in our beds!! It was one hell of a day and night!!

The rest of the IIFA weekend, which included an entire Sunday, I will post later with more details of the Hilton visit, visit to the Clearwater beach in Tampa, and saying bye to friends and Tampa, FL.

Hope you enjoyed the IIFA coverage from my point of view!! Cheers!!