Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Chicago

We reached Chicago at around 3:00 pm. Jonah was in a race mood for some reason and it was kind of scary for Seb and me at times. We accidentally took the i-pass lane at a tollway. We had to call and figure out that the fine would be directly sent to Hertz if any.



We drove directly to navy pier. The weather in Chicago was very bad. The entire place was covered with mist. Most of the rides in the pier were closed. So we just walked around. Went to a 3D show and watched some artists sing and dance for kids.



We then drove to Aurora to Jonah’s Aunt’s house. It was about an hour’s drive. We reached there at may be around 8:30 pm. Aunt and uncle were extremely hospitable and they had cooked some dinner for us. She had specifically ordered Dal and Malai kofta for me, the only vegetarian. That was really sweet of her. After dinner, Jonah’s cousin Jimmy invited us over to the basement to watch a thriller movie called Saw. What a crazy but interesting film it is. We all were shit scared when the movie ended. 

Next morning (Monday- 21st Feb) after breakfast we drove to Shed aquarium. The dolphin show was interesting. We also stopped by at the planetarium to watch a show called - "Stars of Paraho." 




The view of the modern city is spectacular from lake shore drive.




Next stop - Sears tower, tallest building in the world with its 110 Floors. Night view from the top was formidable. The weather was excellent and the sky luckily was clear. I must admit that i have never seen a city this beautiful. On a clear day it is said one could see four different states from here. 





As it got darker, the entire city began to light up and from the lake shore drive, the view was spectacular. Chicago is no doubt famous for its modern architecture. At the lake shore drive there was no one but us and that made this experience memorable. 



The city traffic is horrible. Everyone speeds here; at least by 15 miles more; even the trucks and thus driving here is a little difficult for those who are used to driving in Colorado Springs. We returned back to house at around 9 pm and had dinner. After which at around 10:30 PM we left on another long drive back home. This time we made no mistake such as last time. Experience had taught us not to have more than 2 hours of drive per person. That worked very well. Most of our drive back home was during the night. We drove through states of Iowa and Nebraska. Driving across Nebraska was really boring; plain lands on both sides of the road. We reached Colorado Springs at around 3:00 PM on 22nd Feb. More than 1000 miles in approximately 16 hours.



This trip boosted my confidence in driving long distances. In me it gave rise to the joy of travelling and exploring new places. It was somewhere during this drive that the traveller in me took a complete form. In days to come, I knew that I was going to travel as much as possible.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Saint Louis

Next day, Well the same day on Sunday, 19th Feb, we relaxed at Vishnu’s Place. Vishnu is doing his masters in the university of Rolla. His roommates Shivaraj and Vivek were quite friendly. We were planning on leaving to St Louis by 10:30AM but got really late and left only by 1PM. Vishnu and Shivaraj joined us. We reached Saint Louis at around 2:00 pm.


We had to stop first for lunch at a restaurant called peacock. I reckon it is a Pakistani Restaurant as it had a board claiming  Indian and Pakistani cuisine as their specialities. The food was okay. We then stopped at an indian store for some grocery that Vishnu and Shiv had to do. They normally do that while they are here as that seems to be the closest Indian store for them. After that we drove to the famous St Louis arch. The drive to there was a little confusing as the city to us seemed very congested. Lot of interstate cross each other and hence it is a must to be watchful. Instead of getting on the road to arch we got on the road to Chicago and then had to circle back. Vishnu suggested we park next to the Missouri river to skip parking fee.


But not everything worked in our favour. All tickets to the tram that takes you up the arch was sold out. Disappointed, we had to return after visiting the museum. We planned to visit here again the next morning on our way to Chicago.

The place was entirely covered with mist so it appeared very gloomy and uneventful. But the arch seemed to stand tall and magnificent gracing the city since 1963.






On our way back Shiv and I had a good conversation and it was really funny. We started by jokingly commenting on how many kids Americans had and then I mentioned how the parents did not have to worry after they turn 18, unlike in India. That’s when it turned really funny when Shiv started off - « In india parents have to look after their children, provide them education, get them married and send fools like me to study and die in the US and we come here and wonder! Who’s fault is this - Society’s or US’s? All this conversation was happening in kannada and that made it even more enjoyable and humorous. 

We dropped Jonah at his cousin’s house and made a quick stop at Vishnu’s cousins place before returning back to Rolla. We were extremely tired by our long drive previous night and then a eventful day. Shiv prepared some delicious curd rice for us and after having dinner we went to bed. Shiv left to college library for studying.

Next morning we bid farewell with Vishnu and left at around 6:30 AM and reached St Louis by 8:45AM. Had some delicious Dosa’s at Jonah’s cousin’s house and left at around 9:30 AM i guess. We stopped at the arch again and still had no luck since the next tram was supposed to leave at 12:30 PM. So we thought that this was it with St.Louis and decided to drive to Chicago.


We had some good time in Rolla and St.Louis. We got to meet some friends of us who are studying and get a glimpse of their life style. Vishnu and Shiv were of great company for us and I shall always remember this time spent with them. I also remember being sad to drive away quietly from an eventful company the previous day. But at the other end of the road another bigger city was awaiting us with perhaps more excitement. 



Friday, February 18, 2005

Colorado Springs to Rolla, Missouri

Our first long trip! We were all excited and definitely it required lot of planning. But less would have happened without Peggy’s help. Not only did she make a list of things we must carry, she also gave us her Cell phone in case we had to make emergency calls. By Friday, 18th Feb, food and other accessories were ready and we left home by around 5:30 PM. We decided amongst ourselves to split the driving into three parts of 4 hours each.  One drives, other gives company and the third would sleep; that was the plan. Seb drove the first stretch.


Drive: Colorado Springs, Colorado to Rolla, Missouri
Start: 6340-Timber bluff Pt, Colorado springs, CO 80918
Destination: 1517 N Bishop Ave, Rolla, MO 65401-2154
Distance: 797 miles
Estimated time: 11 hours, 42 minutes.



We took the US-24 road which then becomes I70 and on it another 500 miles passing through Kansas State. The scenery was breathtaking; vast plain lands filled with golden brown grass. It appeared to us that nobody ever lived here. In between these constantly flowing landscape were small towns, tiny shops and few houses.The shops resembled indian roadside dabhas. It was an interesting revelation for me to see the country side. Because when one thinks of America, skyscrapers and cities come to mind but there are people living even in these small towns with not much comfort. With their farms and ranches they seemed to leave a life so disconnected from what I had pictured or seen thus far. But most of all there was just acres of acres of land. Questions were many but answers were none. But the deep silence of the place all along the road was hauntingly exciting.

We stopped by a small village to fill some gas and then drove nonstop for a long time. It was already dark. I kept Seb from being bored by narrating to him funny versions of Hindi films Pardes and Raaz. 

We had a very interesting experience while driving through Kansas. A Semi truck was driving in front of us and he kept switching on his rear lights blinding our sight totally. He would keep it on for a while and then switch it off. Then he would repeat the same. We wondered what was happening until we finally figured out that he wanted us to switch off the high beams. 

At 10:30pm we stopped to fill gas and I switched to driving. Jonah accompanied me while Seb tried to take a nap in the back seat. I drove till 2:45 AM. I drove mostly through Kansas city. It is told that the cops here were severe but we were lucky even though our speed did not have a limit. It was raining heavily that night and the freeway had loads of water. The vehicle in the front would splash lot of it on our front window hence necessitating  a safe distance between vehicles. In a rest area where we stopped, we met our colleagues KC and Sajil who were also driving to Chicago. They had decided to take a nap at the rest area and advised us to do the same instead of continuing. But we were in a hurry to reach our destination and decided to leave. 

At Kansas city there was some confusion and I took a wrong turn and I think I entered the city. But thanks to some signboards, I corrected myself. The song that played on the CD player during this was - “ Dil ne pukara hein oo jane janna….” From the movie Shakti. Whenever Jonah and I listen to it now, we recollect this incident and our drive around Kansas city.

At 2:45 am when we stopped for gas again, Jonah changed to driving.

I slept during rest of the drive. I think it was around 6AM that I woke up and we were nearing Rolla. Jonah was feeling really sleepy. He had to sleep during the first leg but then that was too early for him to catch any sleep. So practically he had no sleep at all. When the car began to drift towards the shoulder he decided to stop and requested Seb to drive.

At 7:15 am (central time, 6:15 in Colorado), as expected we reached Rolla. We called our friend Vishnu to confirm the proper location. And the fun part was that we called him from  a telephone booth exactly behind his apartment.

Time Taken: 12 hours 15 minutes

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Go Denver! Oceans Journey

February was a time of exploration. We were all enthusiastic about driving around and exploring new places.

Seb and I went to Denver one of the weekends and we kind of got lost and ended up in front of an aquarium called Oceans Journey. So we thought it would be cool to try that out. The aquarium experience was good. Even though we saw better one’s later, this remains to be a special one, because it was Par hazard that we landed there.





We roamed around in Denver downtown for a while and then stopped at Woodlands hotel. A dosa festival was a pleasant surprise there.

At work, we have a new receptionist, Morin. She is very friendly and always strikes an interesting conversation. She would tell me stories from her hometown in Hawai, about her 11 year old son who plays good hockey.

One of the most memorable drive to office was this day. The entire place was covered with ice. Not exactly snow but as though everything was covered with crystal of ice. These pictures can speak for themselves.




Seb and I made another trip to Denver to watch a hindi film called "Shabd." At times when ever i could i took out the car during the night and drove alone for a while around the city. It’s so much of fun to do that. If I was not driving, I would walk around the apartment complex during the night. With my mind full of interesting thoughts, as I walked below the same sky, it did not make a difference where i was; i enjoyed every bit of it.