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Twilight, Aptos, CA
Caught: TwiLIGHT, Aptos, California. 
Twilight, Aptos, CA
The sun had set. The skies looked painted and the silhouettes of trees and buildings seemed to enhance the late-evening-light in the sky.  
Twilight, Aptos, CA
Aptos is a seaside town on California's central coast.
Dusk, Aptos
The location is Seascape Beach Resort, Aptos.  And because it lies on the coast of Monterey Bay, it is a great place to watch the sun set in the Pacific Ocean.
Dusk, Aptos
Warmly lit Seascape (resort).

The following morning:

Seascape, Aptos, CA
Clear blue skies promising a fine day at the seaside. 
Linking to the meme:
Catching Light

July 4th Firework

Here are some pictures from the 4th of July Celebration at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, CA a couple of years ago.  (Pictures from a point-and-shoot. July, 2013.)

Happy 4th of July!

July 4th Firework



Linking to the meme:
Catching Light

Honnavar lies in Uttara Kannada in the state of Karnataka (in S. India). It is here that the Sharavathi River meets the Arabian Sea.

If you remember the post on Jog Falls, you might remember that it is the drop of the Sharavathi River that forms that waterfall that is quite a spectacle in the Monsoon months. When we visited Jog Fall in late October last year, I wished I could see where the river emptied itself, but that could not be worked into the itinerary.

Fortunately, later in the year, while were were road-tripping along the Karnataka coast, I got a few glimpses of Honnavar and the estuary of the Sharavathi. Here are a few shots from Honnavar:

Honnavar (and Sharavathi River), Karnataka, India.

Sharavathi River at Honnavar, just before it flows into the Arabian Sea.

Sharavathi Bridge, Honnavar. NH - 17/ NH 66

Sharavathi and its left bank at Honnavar

Another shot from the bridge.
 Linking to the meme:

Summer sun, North California
Caught: some afternoon (sun)light, North California.

Summer sun, North California
These pictures of the sunlight filtering through leaves, were taken on one of our trips between California and Washington.

Summer sun, North California
Location: one of the 'rest areas' along I-5 near the California - Oregon border.
Linking to







O'Hare Airport, Chicago
Caught: some natural light and some man-made ones.
O'Hare Airport, Chicago
From a room with a view of O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, IL.
(some cell-phone photos from last week.)


O'Hare Airport, Chicago
More airport lights and light in the multi-level parking facility, O'Hare, Chicago.

Linking to the meme--







Old faithful geyser of California, Calistoga, Napa County, CA

Napa is almost synonymous with wine. Step into Napa Valley and you'll lose count of the number of vineyards and wineries you will see. It had been a while since I had been to California's wine country and it was beckoning to me but as I was going through a wine-forbidden period I wondered what it had in store for a teetotaller. I did some 'looking up' and found that it had several hiking and biking trails and art museums, it had hot air balloon rides and cooking classes.

What attracted me this time were some geographical features. I’ve had a fascination for them ever since I can remember and guess what -- I had just learnt there was a geyser at the northern end of Napa Valley. And then, there was no stopping me. 

Old faithful geyser of California, Calistoga, Napa County, CA
Soon we were on the road to Napa, again. This time there was no stopping for wine, obviously. Scores of wineries we did pass as we drove into Napa City limits, and passed Yountville and St. Helena. We headed up north to Calistoga, turned onto Tubbs and then turned into Old Faithful Geyser of California.

As we picked up our tickets-cum-postcards at the gift shop and made our way outside to the geyser area, we wondered if we should witness the water spurt first and then have lunch or do it the other way round. It was long past lunchtime and it was nice to see that the picnic tables that the official site of the geyser promised, were placed around the area that looked like the mouth of the geyser. So we decided to pick a table, take the food out and wait for the natural wonder.

Just as we were settling down to our long overdue mid day meal, there was steam signalling that the hot water was almost here. Before the end of the minute, water shot into the air and seemed to get higher and higher bringing more steam with it. The curious onlookers in the picnic area seemed to be mesmerised by what they were seeing. So was I.


Old faithful geyser of California, Calistoga, Napa County, CA

Old faithful geyser of California, Calistoga, Napa County, CA

After what seemed like 4-5 minutes, the height of the erupting water seemed to diminish till it was a small little fountain and then there was absolute quiet. The visitors seemed to go back to their eating and previewing the pictures they had just taken. And we settled down to eat the burritos and tacos we’d picked up on the way. We were only halfway through lunch when the geyser's mouth started letting out steam again. And then natural hot water gushed out again and this seemed to happen every 5 or 6 or 7 minutes. I was surprised by the frequency of it. My pre-trip reading had told me the phenomenon occurred every 30 to 45 minutes. I swear, I read that at four different places, including the official site.


Old faithful geyser of California, Calistoga, Napa County, CA

Old faithful geyser of California, Calistoga, Napa County, CA


Who’s complaining? The more the eruption, the better. I had the rest of my lunch watching natural fountains of hot water making grand appearances every few minutes. Each time the height of the natural water display varied a bit but again, who’s complaining? It was a great show. Good Old Faithful Geyser. I got to take loads of pictures too.

Now if you don’t remember what a geyser is from those Geography classes back in school, worry not. A geyser is a hot water spring that shoots out several gallons of hot water into the air through some vents on the surface of the earth. Geysers are normally found in places that are prone to volcanic activity. Here’s how it works: surface water flows down into the depths, comes in contact with magma and hot rocks surrounding it, gets heated, and the pressure in there makes it work its way up through the vents and spurt several feet up into the air.

According to experts, the geyser here in Calistoga, California forces water up to a 60-100 feet in the air.


Old faithful geyser of California, Calistoga, Napa County, CA


Old faithful geyser of California, Calistoga, Napa County, CA


A Bay of Bengal sunrise, near Chennai.
A Bay of Bengal sunrise, a couple of weeks ago.

A Bay of Bengal sunrise, near Chennai.
One morning in Injambakkam, a suburb of Chennai, Tamilnadu.
A Bay of Bengal sunrise, near Chennai.
Waiting for the sun to come up.
A Bay of Bengal sunrise, near Chennai.
And then a sign of the sun.
A Bay of Bengal sunrise, near Chennai.
There is the sun
A Bay of Bengal sunrise, near Chennai.
A Bay of Bengal sunrise, near Chennai.
A Bay of Bengal sunrise, near Chennai.
A Bay of Bengal sunrise, near Chennai.

Linking to the meme--


Gokarna, Karnataka

Famous. Famous for its beaches. Famous for its holy sites. Famous of its international travellers.

Gokarna, seems to be one of those places where everybody-who-has-heard-of-it wants to visit; and everybody who has visited it, wants to go again. For us it had been on the cards for a while. One time, a trip had been planned and we were all set to go but a couple of things cropped up on the home front and we had to cancel it. A month later, thankfully it worked. And from 'want to visit,' it became a 'have to visit again' destination.

For us, Gokarna was that first stop along the Karnataka Coast; it was that place where we got beach-dirty after what seemed like  a long, long time. Then we would go beach hopping and have our fill for the time being.

Gokarna, Karnataka
The bustling Gokarna town

Seemingly crowded; yet very charming

We spent our first morning there driving through the town and visiting the Main Beach. These parts of Gokarna were crowded. It screamed tourism. Leisure tourism and religious tourism are really big here; bigger than I had imagined it to be. And there were tourists from abroad and home, making it a very interesting mix of people, and giving Gokarna a character of its own.

Despite the crowds, Gokarna has a charisma of its own. The heart of the town wears the look of another age with its antiquated buildings and narrow streets. Its famous Car Street's lined with small shops crammed with flowers and lamps and clothes with 'Om' printed on it. There were shops  selling idols and framed pictures of all the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. There were shops selling colourful 'holy' threads to be tied on wrists and necks and japamalas (prayer beads strung together to keep track of chants, like rosaries). And then there were toys and bags and colourful attires and all kinds of souvenirs you can think of.

Gokarna, Karnataka

Temple car, Car Street, Gokarna

Gokarna

Scenes from Car Street

The Beaches

The Main Beach was equally swarmed with Gokarna's people; people of different shades of skin, all come to see and experience the this alluring town.

Spiritual, cultural or leisure, whatever is one's reason for visiting Gokarna, a walk or ride or drive to the beach is quite irresistible. On the warm winter day that we were there, it looked like even the bovine populace were out to bask and enjoy the sun and sand.

Main beach, Gokarna
Main Beach, Gokarna

Main Beach, Gokarna

Main Beach, Gokarna

For us the weather was too hot and not exactly beach-weather. So we decided to spend the mid day hours driving around. As we drove out of the hot-and-happening areas, we saw the sights typical of the Indian west coast: houses crowned with sloping terracotta roofs; just right for the heat and those famous SW Monsoons that hit these parts, coconut trees and small restaurants selling 'fish-meals.'

Then we drove toward a part that was pretty much deserted as we headed to Om Beach. We saw Kudle Beach on the way there.

Gokarna


Kudle Beach, Gokarna
Kudle Beach 

Later that day we decided to hit the celebrated Om Beach. You've probably heard of it. For those of you who haven't, this beach is called Om because the beach is naturally shaped to an almost perfect 'Om.' This beach, everybody will tell you is a must-visit. Apart from the natural shape, this beach is known for it's western crowds, its enchanting atmosphere, gorgeous sunsets and the renowned Namaste Cafe.

We spent the evening watching the boats come in and some leave on late-evening sails. And then there was the sun who was all set to call it a day. So we hung out there long enough to see the sun set over the Shiva Rocks and then went to grab a bite (and a beer for hubby) at Namaste Cafe.

Om beach, Gokarna
Om Beach

By the time we decided to call it a day, the night had settled in and the beach was deserted. Although the cafe was still open and still buzzing with activity, it looked like those who had to leave the area had already left. As we walked back to the parking area which was up the hill, there was an eerie stillness as we went up that unlit path, and we wondered if it was too late an hour to be walking that way with a five year old and a baby. That evening we hadn't driven to the beach. Our resort's vehicle had dropped us there and the plan was to hire an auto-rickshaw back. After a rik-ride through a good 4-5 kilometres of an isolated stretch, we were back at our accommodation and impressed with the rickshaw driver who hadn't asked for a rupee more than what was the fixed fare back into town, even though it was an odd hour. Now if you are a Bangalorean (or Bengalurean, as we officially are now) you know that is something to be impressed by. So the good man was very handsomely tipped.

The following day we would drive up north to Karwar and the morning after that we had planned to walk down to Kudle beach; which unfortunately did  not happen. To see Kudle Beach, to chill out at Namaste Cafe, to check out the other beaches that called for a trek and to record my second impressions of Gokarna, I must head that way again.

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