Visitors, followed by a much needed Vacation

The July 4th long weekend brought 7 visitors from Chicagoland. What fun! We did the rounds of the scenic spots in the area, starting with Boulder Falls...

where we watched some daring folks scramble to the other side to build a pile of rocks for a future lagori...

The weekend saw us in the tourist hotspot of Colorado Springs. Below is a picture of the Garden of the Gods with the granite edifice of Pikes Peak in the distance

... followed by a ride up the Cog Railway to Pikes Peak at 14,110 feet.

We also went to Cave of the Winds for a laser show and a walk through the caves which, according to me is Avoid, Avoid, Avoid.

A hike up the Seven Falls restored much of our humor...

We strolled along Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park...

and hiked up to Alberta Falls...

There was so much food! My friends are vegetarian with a lot of clauses so the dining options were limited. My kitchen has never bustled with so much activity. It was so busy that there was no room or time to take pictures. We made:

  • idlis! My idlis worked for the first time since we moved to Colorado. Yay! Two types of coconut chutneys and lots of sambar.
  • the idli batter was used to make uttapas for breakfast on another day. We added mint from my garden on a whim and it was delicious!
  • Calcutta-style bhel and pani puri
  • pav bhaji
  • alo parathas
  • matki chi misal
  • and, I managed to quickly make two fillets of salmon, pepper crusted and maple glazed, for one of my friends who is vegetarian but loves fish.

My visitors left on the 5th and we set off on a much needed vacation to California. Well, my daughter and I are vacationing while my husband works through most of the week. We took the Amtrak from Denver to Emeryville, California. The scenic route through the Rockies and the Sierra Nevadas is spectacular and breath-taking. We were very comfortable in the two roomettes we had booked. Amtrak food was quite good, given that it is 'train food!' I guess I really am on vacation as I did not take a single picture of any meal!

I hope to be uploading pictures of the ride soon!


Nabeela said...

wow...sounds like you are having lots of fun. A train ride through beautiful states sounds very very romantic and relaxing right now....enjoy all you can!

Anonymous said... beautiful. Enjoy :).

Sumi said...

wow, manisha great pictures.
I had spent almost 3 years in colorado, and your post brings back nostalgic memories of my days with some great friends before marriage.We had lots of fun in rockies and colorado springs.
Thanks for bringing back the memories, Denver is a great scenic place to live in.

Anonymous said...

Hi Manisha,
I'm a journalist with the Hindu Business Line, Madras. I've been researching food blogs on an off for a month now, hoping to do an article on them. I came across your blog just today and wonder if you'd be willing to participate in my article.
You can check me out by Googling me as Sravanthi Challapalli and also see my blog - - which contains some of my humour columns.
If you are willing, will you mail me back with your e-mail address, we can correspond further.
Thanks, Sravanthi

Anonymous said...

Nabeela and Shilpa, I wish these were happier and less stressful times. Unfortunately, I am longing for the comfort of home. :-(

Sumi, I'm glad you were reminded of good times in your life through these pictures. We need to hold on to all the good times, especially in times like this. We are still trying to reach family and friends in Bombay after the bomb blasts today.

Sravanthi, I am not sure where to reach you. You can reach me by email at polarmate[a]gmaildotcom. I am currently on 'vacation' but drawn to the computer because of the bomb blasts and other events in our life. I wish these were better times.

indianadoc said...

that's absolute splendour of nature...u seemed to have enjoyed a real communion with nature...

Shammi said...

Lovely photos!! Enjoy your vacation, you! :) I have a question, Manisha... why is the walk through the caves "avoid avoid avoid"?

Anonymous said...

Indianadoc, more communion with nature was had on our train ride aboard the California Zephyr. Take a gander whenever you get a chance. It was breathtaking!

Shammi, there was more hype at the Caves of the Wind and the whole thing seemed rather contrived. The natural beauty was striking but that was overshadowed by the rude attitude and manner of the people who managed the place. They lead you into dark caves and threaten to fine you $2500 and take away your driver's licence for a year if you touch anything. Yet they allow young children into the caves. If you trip and need to touch the walls to steady yourself, that's considered OK.

Also, this is dry Colorado so you are always thirsty. Their water fountains don't work and you are forced to buy teeny water bottles for $2.50. You are then forced to throw them away before you enter the caves. They claimed to have warning signs all over the place. I stuffed my bottle into my little purse and after we emerged, I checked and there were none. All in all, it felt like a cheap scam.

There are other caves and caverns that are more impressive and worthwhile than the Caves of the Wind. The Luray Caverns in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley were more spectacular.

As for their laser show, the less said the better!

Anonymous said...

Hi Manisha!

Looks like you were leaving Garden of the Gods just as I arrived! Spent several lovely mornings there. Your photo of Pike's Peak is great. And you did the Cog Railway!! I was much too chicken for that :)

Thanks for sharing the great pics.

Anonymous said...

Linda, I loved Garden of the Gods. I also admired the spirit behind it. The man who owned the land gave it to the township of Colorado Springs on the premise that it must always remain free for the public.

If you are still in that area, then reconsider doing the Cog Railway. It was a fascinating ride. "Timberline" and sub-alpine vegetation have so much more meaning now! The growing season is just about 30-40 days up on the mountains so the plants there grow just a couple of inches every year. Wagon tracks that are about a 100 years old are still visible because of this. We want to drive up to Pikes Peak next time, just so that we can have more than 45 minutes to spend at the top. The guide on the tram told us that the best times to go are between 8 and 10 am in the morning. The probability of good weather is high at that time. We, on the other hand, took the 2:40 tram and visibility was poor at the top and it was snowing! We only had thin jackets. My husband had none! Here is another picture I took at Pikes Peak.

I loved the town of Manitou Springs. Did you taste any of the springs they have tapped there? One tasted like club soda! It was right outside a Mexican restaurant called The Loop. Their Margaritas were excellent as was their food! The veggie fajita was incredible! And their mole sauce divine! Unfortunately for me, my camera ran out of battery and I couldn't take any pictures of the food!

Have a wonderful vacation!

Anonymous said...

Hi Manisha,

Unfortunately I'm no longer in Colorado, so no chance I can change my mind about the cog railway -- I am really far too scared of heights. I'm glad you enjoyed it though -- the other photo was teriffic! BTW on that same site I saw a pic of cattails at Walden Pond -- were you vacationing in New England this spring?

I did go to Manitou Springs, very artsy little community. Hopefully will go back to that area for another visit sometime :)

Anonymous said...

Linda, that's too bad! I am afraid of heights, too, but I felt pretty safe in the tram. Those cars are Swiss and are the same ones used in the Alps. Once at the top of the peak, I was afraid to venture too close to the edge and freaked every time Medha took a step in that direction! I don't know how I went close to the edge enough to take that picture!

I loved Manitou Springs and managed to get a very early birthday present from a small shop that sold pottery crafted by native Americans.

I was in New England/NJ/NYC in spring, but the Walden Pond with the cattails is in Boulder, Colorado.