Trip to Stowe, Vermont – Fall 2017

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Fall (also called Autumn) is a beautiful time of the year to visit New England. The weather is just right, not too cold, not too hot and the trees are all colorful. Most of the eastern coast of US turns colorful during Autumn, all thanks to the foliage.

Basically, the foliage is nothing but the reaction of trees to the cooling temperatures and shortening days. The trees will stop producing chlorophyll as a result of which the leaves will turn colorful. Different species of trees will exhibit different colors.

Vermont (VT) is a state in eastern United states, that shares its northern border with Canada. VT has highest population of Maple trees in the US because of which it is a very popular destination among the leaf peepers during the season of Autumn. Maple tree leaves exhibit one of the beautiful shades of color that goes from green, yellow, orange and then finally red before falling.

So we decided to visit VT during this fall just to enjoy this spectacular show of nature. We decided to stay at the Smuggs Notch resort in Stowe. We booked a studio apartment that has a full kitchen so we can cook food πŸ™‚ We Indians cannot live without Indian food.

VT is about 4 hour drive from our house in New Hampshire via Interstate 89 and then some of the hilly roads just before Stowe. VT has a visitor center somewhere close to Montpelier, the capital of the state. When we visited the center, the information desk there, informed us that we missed the peak foliage by a couple of days. Peak foliage is when the colors displayed by the trees are at their peak and once the peak is over the leaves will dry out and fall, so there wont be any leaves left on the tree and is not a good thing to see. So we got a little disappointed but the information desk also told us that Northern VT still has peak foliage so it should still be a good time to go and we drove further north to Stowe from there with a hope to see the colors.

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Some colors along I-89 to VermontΒ 

By the time we exited I-89, it was dark and we had to drive on a hilly terrain. One of the best driving experience was at the Smuggler’s Notch route, the route gets the name because, once upon a time this hilly place was a hideout for lots of smugglers. The Smugglers notch route is almost like driving any Ghat roads in India but with a more disciplined traffic πŸ˜› This route though, is a single lane at places, so one of the direction has to stop till the vehicles coming in opposite direction passes. Many sharp turns on the route but nevertheless it was really fun driving a automatic transmission car πŸ™‚

We reached the Smuggs notch Resort by 7PM but since days are really short during this time of the year, it was really dark and we just ended the day after having dinner. And since it was already dark when we entered Stowe, we still did not know if the peak foliage was there or not and I couldn’t sleep whole night just thinking about it. At the first light of the day, I was out in the balcony of our apartment and the visuals I could see outside was just stunning.

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View of Mt.Mansfield from our Apartment

The colors were really beautiful, although the peak was over a couple of days before and some of the trees were totally naked without leaves.

Day-1

On the first day we had planned to go on the Gandola ride up to the peak of Mount Mansfield. The mountain gets its name because of its shape. It looks like a face of a man. The Gandola is a small capsule that is driven by motors and it rides on steel cables up and down. It was a over cast day which was not good for Gandola ride as the peak of the mountain was covered by cloud but we did not want to change our plans.

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The temperature was almost freezing at the peak and we couldn’t bear it for long as we were not prepared for that πŸ™‚ So we decided to come down back on the Gandola. On Day-1Β  afternoon we had booked a bicycle tour in Jeffersonville, VT. The company that arranged the e-bikes for us was called Lamoille Valley Bicycle tours, they had something called e-bikes, which are battery assisted bicycles where the battery assists a little in peddling the bike but the battery stops assisting when the person stops peddling. So it is not a fully electric bike. The tour was on a 18 mile trail and the trail was really beautifull all along.

So that was end of the day-1 and we had a delicious dinner at our apartment (Ofcourse ready-to-eat :P)

Day-2

On the 2nd and last day, we had not planned much, it was a day we reserved to roam around the resort as there were lots of things to do inside the property. There was a kids arena where they had all this inflatable kids playroom. Day-2 was a very beautiful sunny day so the temperatures were much better. We roamed around the Smuggs notch resort, took a lot of pictures, bought some souvenirs.

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So 2nd day was a more relaxing day and not to forget we were badly fatigued by riding the bikes for almost 10 miles the previous day πŸ™‚ and it was also the day we had to drive back home 😦

We really wished we could spend more time here in Vermont. A really beautiful place to visit during fall and also during winter. The mountains here have got a lot of ski activities during winter.

-Pradeep

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#IamWithModi on Demonetization

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This news of demonetizing or scrapping the existing Rs.500/1000 note really came in as a shock for most of us. It was a pleasant shock for most of us while it was not a great news for all the people who had stashed a lot of cash at different places. At least I felt, this was the first time it was least burden on a salaried tax payer πŸ™‚

I have become a bigger fan on our PM Narendra Modi after thisΒ courageous step taken by him. Not all PMs have been so courageous in taking such a bold measure as it could go against them badly.

So the day this news came out, people started forming lines outside banks for exchanging the 500/1000 rupee notes they had, which of course is an inconvenience for all BUT it is for the good of OUR country. Would you not stand in a similar queue if you go to any government office to get any of your personal work done? And you never complained about it right? So for the next few months let us consider this too as one of our personal work πŸ™‚ after all it is for the good of our own country. If not us, our children will surely benefit out of this.

In the last few days all these big time politicians like Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav etc are all cribbing about the demonetization saying it is a inconvenience to the common man. Of course it is an in convenience but like I said in the beginning, when most of the people have accepted this inconvenience why are you cribbing about it? In fact many people are proud to be part of this revolution in India against black money, why do you guys want us to deprive of this? These people are talking as if this is the only inconvenience the people of India are facing at the moment, while there are so many others which would have been resolved by now, if each one of the above had worked on in!!!!

I am sure there are many people who are against this step by the PM, but we have to understand the reason behind this and at times we have to think beyond our own benefit.

So #IamwithModi and I hope you too are! Jai Hind, Jai Karnataka

|| Pradeep Prabhu ||

Hiking to Mount Major

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Hiking once in a while is always good for health and it was almost a year ago when I went on hiking back in India. This year our hike was planned to Mount Major in New Hamshire, not a very tough hike but supposedely the views from the peak of the mountain was said to be great with Lake Winnipesaukee in front.

We were about 12-13 people who started from our office in Chelmsford at 11am and we planned to reach the base of the mountain by 1.30PM so that we can be back home by 6PM in the evening same day. The peak of the mountain was about 1.5miles from the base and the descent would be another 1.5 miles or a little more if we take different route for descending. 

We reached the base late by 15 minutes at around 1.45PM and our other colleagues were already waiting there for us πŸ™‚ So we started the hiking roughly by 2PM.

Initially the climb wasn’t too steep but it was a rocky path and slippery at places due to loose soil. The start was really good, all of us were climbing at a good pace but as we moved forward the mountain started to become more and more steep and most of us started panting πŸ™‚ With a sedentary lifestyle like ours its not a easy job climbing . At one point I thought I am going to fall anytime… but them some water helped me going. I am sure it was same with everyone.

And then came the first break.. ah! it was so good.. We stopped for a while, drank water, relaxed for a while and then started again. The terrain was a very interesting one, it was a flat terrain and then suddenly a very very steep rocky climb, in a way that helped us recover some energy. I can say that, the time couldn’t be better for hiking as this is the season of fall and all the trees had turned colorful, red, yellow, peach, pink and all different combinations.

For me hiking means, getting a lot of pictures on my camera, mostly pf the vegetation, macros and if lucky some living creatures too. Here are some of the good pictures that I could click

The climb was only getting tougher as we were burning a lot of calories and every stop to click pictures were useful to regenerate some energy πŸ™‚ So there was 1-2 such places where I thought that its done and I have reached the peak but it wasn’t. But as I climbed the view around the horizon started getting better and better and I started picturing that view from the peak and that kept me moving.

And finally, the peak.. it was there.. and this is how it looked from the peak of mount major,

It was amazing, brilliant like a painting. On one side there was the lake and on the other side the beautiful colors of fall on the mountain. It was more like red, yellow, green dots and then the blue lake. The sky was so clear and there wasn’t a single cloud that day. It was a moment that I will cherish for rest of my life.

Its actually moments like these that will make our life more meanigful!!

Cheers,

|| Pradeep Prabhu ||

Our Cherry Picking Experience

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I think in India there is no such a place where you can pick/harvest fruits, vegetable from the field yourself. But in the US, its a regular thing that people do, they go to a near by farm and they pick the fruits, veggies themselves from the farm. I must say its a great experience, especially for kids who were born in big cities and they never get any chance to see the fruits on the tree. 

In my case, where I was not born in a big city, so for me this was not a very new thing as I always got to pick mangoes, berries etc every time I visited my grand parents home, village side. But for my daughter who was born in a city, it was a great experience.

We live in suburbs of Boston, which is on the east coast of United states of America and there is a farm near our house called the Parlee farm, which is known for letting people pick the harvest themselves, of course they charge good amount of money but its still worth the experience. The Parlee farm lets people know about the picking time and days in a month, and also the type of fruit/vegetable that is ready to be picked. I think they can grow only during the late spring, summer and early fall as rest of the time the climate is very harsh for the plants. 

So every year they start the picking season with different fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, apple, melons, etc and also pumpkin during the Halloween. When we went for the cherry picking it was cherry picking and we paid $18 for a bag. The bag was big enough to hold about 3-4 pounds, so the price was more but as I said earlier, it is a great experience. 

They will form groups of people based on arrival and then take this group to the field on a trailers pulled by a tractor.

I must say, it was great, we ate a lot of cherries, even before we started collecting the cherries in the bag and I think the organisers are aware of this that people will surely eat as much as they want before they start collecting things in the bag, so they charge that extra amount upfront πŸ™‚


The cherries grow on small trees and some trees had cherries at very low level, so low that even my 4 year old daughter was able to pluck those from the tree. The cherries were delicious and very sweet. We really enjoyed the cherry picking and will surely try to go there once again πŸ™‚

Pradeep

A Day at the Farm

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So my office here organizes this voluntary visit to a near by farm in Lincoln, Massachusetts that is run by the Food Org so that we get a day to work as a farmer. This is purely a voluntary service and all we get at the end of the day is Satisfaction.

My other colleagues who had visited the farm previously had told me that it will be very tedious and they were asked to do weeding in the farm, so they are not coming this year. But I thought it will still be an experience and decided to participate. That day morning, it was drizzling and I was sceptical about going but then decided to go.
So we were asked to assemble at the Bakers Bridge farm in Lincoln at 9.15am and then we would be assigned work. And I started from my house at 8.30 with Waze telling me directions, the farm was about 25 miles from my house.I reached the farm at around 9.25 and I must say waze had predicted pretty much correctly.

And when I reached, 5 of my colleagues were already there and they were waiting for me and a couple of more people. So once all th people reached the farmers there told that we will be picking/harvesting beans and water melons.. which was great because a month back I paid for picking cherries from another farm and now I was getting it for free 😁

We started picking the beans from the beans bed, these were called Fire beans or something. The pods were green with fire like red stripes on them.

The only problem with picking these was that we had to bend and pick the beans as sitting was not an option. Finally we gathered about 4 big baskets of beans

And after picking the beans, all of us headed to the water melon field, where they had 3 different types of melons, the regular red ones, the sugar babies and the yellow melons. The farmers said that they would pick the water melons as we may find it difficult to find out the melons that are ready to harvest. There was some way which the farmers knew to find out if the melons are ready to pick. So this time all we had to do is form a human chain and pass the melons from the field to the crate where we collected the melons.

We filled almost 3 crates with water melons and by then it was almost 12.30 in the afternoon and it was time to leave. The farmers were thankful to us and they were generous to give us all one melon of our choice.

Overall it was a great experience and if I get a chance I will surely visit the farm again next year 😁

|| Pradeep Prabhu ||

Trekking to Antaragange

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It was a office outing and was decided to be Antaragange. It’s a temple on the hill near Kolar town of Karnataka. Kolar is famous for its gold mines and rocky mountains, more like the mountains you have seen in the movie Sholay. The Antaragange has a old temple where water gushes out of a Bulls mouth 365 days a year and 24 hours a day, and no one has been able to find the source of water to it. People fill cans of water here and consider it holy. To reach the temple you will have to climb about 1500 odd steps.

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Antaragange Temple

There are a lot of monkeys on the climb and they don’t hesitate in snatching away food and drinks from your hand, so have to be damn careful about these

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A mother and kid Monkey

After the temple you can further climb the hill but there are no steps further but plain hills. Lots of rocks on the hill and if it’s rainy season these rocks could be pretty slippery. You can find a lot of guava trees on the route. After climbing the hill you can try to explore some caves, basically these are not caves but rock formations and there are openings in between so you don’t have to be very scared.

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There are few very narrow passages and openings here and you have to really flexible to fit through these openings. At places you have to do all sort of gymnastics to come out of the passage.

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The peak is about a kilometer climb from the temple but it seems more that that due to the steepness and rocks. The view from the peak was awesome and that’s the reward you will get for climbing the tough Hill.

We also did rappelling on a not so big Rock. It was a amazing experience for all of us too.

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About the Journey
We started from Bangalore at about 8am in he morning and took the Whitefield-Hoskote route to reach Kolar and then Antaragange. We had tied up with Bangalore Mountaineering club for guiding us throughout the trek. We had breakfast at Kamath Upachar and the BMC had arranged lunch at the peak. The peak has a bus route as well so while returning we took the bus instead of climbing down the hill by foot.

Writing this post in a hurry so not so detailed. Please ask in comments sections if you have any queries πŸ™‚
|| Pradeep Prabhu ||

Boating at Ulsoor Lake

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Bangalore or Bengaluru is actually also called as city of lakes, there are abundance of lakes in the city. Even though the city is developing at a very fast rate some of the lakes are perishing but nevertheless there are few lakes in Bangalore which are one of those very few relaxing spots in the busy city otherwise. Ulsoor Lake is one of those lakes and it is very big with few islands in between, although I am not sure if they are man made or natural.
Boating is one of the attraction at Ulsoor Lake apart from bird viewing and a jogging Park.

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Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore

Entry to the lake is free but boating has tickets and the price varies for different types of boats. There are peddling boats, rowing boats, motor boats etc.
It’s a nice place to visit over the weekend, but the only problem I saw there is parking place.
Below are few more pictures from Ulsoor Lake.

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One of the gliding Boat

Make sure you visit the place before 5 pm otherwise the boat owners hesitate to take the boat.

|| Pradeep Prabhu ||