Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Backpacking around Europe Part 1 (Tourist Visa process)

At last here is the series of post of my first Europe Trip during the September and November this year.
As I had thought about earlier, if you go on a business trip through your company to US from India it makes a sensible choice to think about taking a stopover at Europe. I had thought about this during my second trip that I will definitely do it during the next one. As its well known travelling as youth ( below 26 years of age) has its own advantages.

I had little time to apply for Visa as the trip came up as urgency but various sources of information told that 5-7 days should be enough for a visa. Here are some (hard learned) realities (All info is about Schengen Visa applied at French Embassy in Mumbai) :

0) The main thing, almost all countries Visa office now issue Schengen visa for Tourists. This means once you get a visa you can travel freely between 22 nations. Usually you need to apply for Visa of the country where you gonna spent maximum number of days (This point is slightly elaborated in 5)

1) A Tourist Visa isn't as simple a deal, the big list of documents that I had to submitted included:
Hotel reservation proofs, No object letter and covering letter from Employer, Payslips for past 6 months, Income tax returns for past 3 years (I submitted 2 that I had worked for), return tickets printout, Medical Insurance proof, Two photograph white background 35 x 45 80% face, Visa Form, Credit card copy and of course a valid Passport.

2) The French Embassy in India didn't give me Visa based on these documents alone, they schedule an appointment date 6 days after submission of my application (due to high number of pending applications)

3) The interview process is pretty much similar to a B1 visa for US. The consulate tries to ensure that your documents are your intents are real and not harmful. You have to appear in Person for this interview, I had to visit the Nariman Point Visa office.

4) They issued the Visa the same day in a matter of 30-40 minutes after the interview.

5) On entry to France, they put the date of entry on my passport. The Visa was a 15 days, multiple entry, I guess based on the documents I provided (my plan showed I wished staying for 11 days and had insurance for 21 days and had slightly flexible requirements of date as my US return trip dates weren't fixed yet).
As much as I understand you would need to exit from the same Airport as they will have to put the exit stamp.

Against the general impression and opinions I heard from others, the Embassy isn't sitting there to solely reject the visa requests, they were pretty cooperative and in no sense non-welcoming. I was not really questioned about why I requested Multiple Entry (which I still don't know :D)

Oh, btw the Tourist visa was valid for a duration of 2 months, but 15 days in one trip, as against the usual notion that they will give very restrictive visa according to your itinerary, I guess explaining them that my US travel was flexible helped.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A train trip to Lucknow (on Abhishek's wedding)




It was Abhishek Dixit's wedding on 29th November, 2008 that led a trip to Lucknow. The trip didn't add much to my tourist knowledge of the place but I learned quite some things about train travel. The prices for flights had gone up so horribly high that I decided to travel by train. Fortunately the sanity in flight prices is back. The Tax has decreased by 1,400 Rupees in past week making the ticket cost more reasonable once again.

So the train journey started with Gorakhpur express from Hyderbad. This time the good thing was that I made it to the train in sufficient time in advance, something I have almost not done since long. The train seemed to have a almost perfect timing all the way till Bhopal and "just" 1 hr delay at Jhansi, but then I got reminded of the old days of delayed train again. The train kept stopping at every random station for uncalled amount of time and eventually reached the destination Lucknow at 2:00 PM instead of 9:30 AM.



I must say I was surprised to see the city contradictory to my preconcieved notion about the city being part of a state which has been politically exploited based on caste politics. I had heard that parties whenever they came to power used to bring down old statues and errect new ones wasting loads of public money. Not having seen statues at every junction I felt relieved to know that my information wasn't correct. But wait, the junctions all had lavish water fountains and should have been a big waste of construction and maintenence money, water and electricity anyways.

Then I was pointed to one statue on the left of the road, it was Mr. Ambedkar's. I was told that he is the only person whose statues get put at every place and that I found true within next 2-3 Kms. Other than that the City indeed looks pretty developed seeing the flyovers and broad roads.

The original plan was Sandeep and team would be coming from Delhi and we would go sight seeing around but they couldn't make it because of not getting their seats in the train out of waiting list and also not being allowed to take a taxy out of city boundaries due to some rule of Election commision to "Seal" the boundary of state during election, another seemingly stupid rule. Arvind and Sreejith did make it to the wedding being in IIML also Piyush Bhargav came.


The marriage had all the traditional north Indian wedding stuff like Baraat walking with a band playing some famous songs, some of us dancing and also some fireworks on the way. Something that was different from the wedding in MP was that the Dullah came in a car all the way to the venue instead of coming on a horse. The dinner was pretty good and I found it pretty much similar to the one we have at weddings in MP. After the dinner was over there were some private/family events including the Pheras that went on over the night again another similarity.

I had an early morning train next day. The train started on a bad note with a delay of 2 hrs, keeping me worried if I will catch my connecting train from Allahabad. I came to know later that my choice of train the Nauchandi express was a bad one. I should have rather taken an intercity train which people say is much better in maintaining timings.

My train kept adding more and more delay so instead of reaching Allahabad at scheduled time of 9:55 AM I reached at 2:10 PM. At once the train was at a station 5 KMs or so away from Allahabad for approximately 30 minutes. Someone knowledgable proposed us leaving the train and taking an auto rickshaw to avoid wasting another 30 minutes as this train waits for another train to cross. I was interested because I could have caught my connecting train, some others had a appointment at the (Army?) office at 1 PM.

Turns out that despite the delay of 2 hrs my connecting train left the station before I could reach it. I came to know some interesting stuff about trains:
1) If my ticket was a normal ticket (not an e-ticket), the station superintendent could have given me a seat in another train based on availability without me going through pains of cancelling this ticket and reissuing another.
2) Even with my e-ticket, I could still claim my refund for this ticket because I missed the train because of the delay and I had PNR numbers of connecting ticket.
3) You can buy a general ticket when reservation is not available and contact the TT to get you a seat in Sleeper category. The TT issues a "panelty" reciept for 320 Rs for the distance from Allahabad to Jabalpur and I could use that along with my general ticket worth 87 Rs to travel. Effectively paying 400 Rs instead of may be 300 Rs ticket.

The journey from Jabalpur to Hyderabad was much more peaceful with no major delays or hiccups. As I understand it train delays are a thing of past for many places in India but not for UP still, be careful about giving ample extra timings between your trains and reserve extra time for the delays in your plans.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kerala Trip Onam-2008

My much awaited Kerala trip finally happened last month. Was pretty busy to blog about the awesome experience rt away, but I will try doing justice to the trip now.

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


The trip started with as much planning as two flight tickets booking, To and From Coimbatore, none of us really had time to plan out and also all 3 were okay with on-the-fly decisions. So we started from Hyderabad to Coimbatore on Wednessday evening. At around 10 PM we were in Comibatore looking for bus to we didn't know where, it could have been Munnar or Alleppey, wherever the routing worked easier :). We didn't find bus for either but were told how to reach Munnar in one hop or two via Polaci and Udaimallaipet and also told that Allepey was gonna be hard. We took the bus to Pollaci (after going to the different bus stop, there are seeming 3 bus stops in Coimbatore)[will try giving info abt the stops sometime].

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


At Polaci where we reached by 12:00 or so, we had to wait till 1:30 for the bus to Munnar. This was a nice Kerala Transport bus which had enough free seats and which was also driven very well reaching Munnar in morning around 6:00. As soon as we got out of bus, we realized what Kerala rains were. Its basically a 5 minute on/off thingy which keeps going all through. People are very used to the same so much that an Umbrella seems like as regular an item to carry as a wallet. We quickly looked around for hotels/lodges though the Lonely plannet book, but cudn't get a satisfactory deal. Then we walked a bit too see some nearby hotels. We were able to find "Issacs Residency" as sweet 3 star hotel very near to the bus stop. The guy gave us a good deal because of the "Off-season".

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


After some rest we decided to go out for a sight seeing tour which was available for 1000 bucks for full day tour. We got a indica car at our disposal. From here started the nice sight seeing tour which covered Tea Estates, Waterfalls, echo points, Tea Factory tour and a trip to Evarikulam national park. In the evening we witnessed the famous Kathakali dance and then treated ourselves with the famous ayurvedic massage (available from 500 to 2100 bucks).

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


Next day we started for Allepey via Cochin. We decided to stop over and spend time as Cochin. In Cochin (Ernakulam) you would want to go to Fort Kochi via Ferry, there are a couple of things to see their including Fishing Nets, Churches, etc. most of which were close that day for onam. It was turning out to be a dull day until I was lucky to spot a board about . the Keralan Martial art show which was one of the major things I wanted to see in my Kerala trip. The show was amazing and just that show made up for the whole day which wasn't very well spent. We left for Allepey in the night around 11:00 PM reaching there by 3 AM.

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


In Allepey the book Lonely plannet gave us a good help finding the right accomodation. We had figured out the plan for next day already. We hired a covered boat for out 4 hours backwaters tour. The tour started on a bad note as I observed the city pollution on the canal where the boat starts and was pretty skeptical about the whole thing, I was soon glad to be proven wrong. Backwaters in kerala are indeed an awesome experience and they deserve all the great mention ppl do about them. I will let the photos speak more but it was a four hours of relaxation tour among very beautiful sceneries. The rest of the evening was spent at the Allepey beach, which wasn't a great experience except for my first successful kite flying one. I am told that they have better beaches at Kollam and Vikara(?), I would trust the opinion. I am quite sure there is another trip necessary to cover atleast some part of the Kerala including the widelife and the snake boat race.

From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)

Other Imporant facts:
Food : Keralan Famous vegetarian food includes Iddiappum and appam with Chana curry. We never really looked for a place to have a great meal but the tiffin centre we at Munnar served awesome Appam. Priyam the only non vegeratian found some good Fish curry, which seems another famous food item. Parrothas are available almost everywhere and vegetarian would probably end up surving on them or appam only. Lots of north indian restaurant are also available if you don't care to enjoy the ethnic food.
From Kerala Trip Sep 2008 (Onam)


Onam turns out to be a very in-family festival. You won't find major celebrations all around at least, in fact on the last day of Onam the Cochin city was completely shut down like a Bandh. In Munnar we learned that the best place to see the onam festivities is the 3 star hotels around, which organize some programmes as part of package and also let visitor with some nominal feest. Best time to go to Kerala we are told is Decemeber to April (just after and before rains). But I believe anytime is good time to visit Munnar and Allepey.

Best mode to travel as I found out was Buses or Trains, the roads are too winding to give a pleasant experience to the passangers and quite difficult time to the driver to sure specially because of the slippery roads due to contant rains and also the narrow width which at many places effectively makes the road oneway. Also the bus drivers drive pretty fast and that might cause some scare to the cars too :D

Kallaripayat and Kathakalli are available through out the year (will put address soon). Boat races timings are pretty much unclear to even localites, some say they happen in August, some say September, some mentioned that they happen on various days at various places during the onam festival.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

10th Anniversay of IIIT Hyderabad, remembering good college old days :)

On 2nd September 2008, IIIT Hyderbad its 10th Foundation day. It was a Tuesday so not many Alumni could make it but few of us did. As expected it was great time to recall some of the great memories of college time.
I heard some great speeches from some of the profs and then from Hemanth Gogeneni and Vipul amongst Alumni. The great moments were recalled about how the first batch students took the risk of joining the college when there was little name and assurance but just promises. I recalled when I was joining the college and all that was known about the college was the great course structure and quality of education and that the college was going to get a deemed university status soon. Many of us remained confussed even after joining but on August 21st, 2008 when we got the Deemed status, we celebrated, we danced around the bonfire.

Vipul helped recalling some of the moments, like the "interraction with the seniors", the "holi at the hostels" and the similar others.
Prof Sangal reminded of the great days we had at the beginning of our UG, when the college didn't have too many rules and when internet was made available in the hostles, some of us from the first few batches would recall missing those classes in the morning because we played TT or Quake all night :). Remembering the second semester whenever I used to come out of my room and think of going to classes all the neighbouring rooms would be bolted from inside, giving me enough reason to go back to sleep :)

I recall a particular semester where the attendance rule was introduced and ppl didn't seriously believe that we would lose grades for not attending the classes and ended up losing 2 to 3 grades in some cases :)

Beyond these there were some discussion about how IIIT H, should we reaching newer heights in next decade and what kind of help we cud be to the society etc...

I cudn't catch the whole of it, but the little that I did was totally worth taking half day off from work. It feels great proud to be Alumni of the institute. As Vipul said, the upcoming batches would definitely miss the kind of experience the early batches had in the kind of bonding that we had in the moment of uncertainity and when we didn't have a great brand name to leverage upon, but sure they get to be part of a great college's early years when every one can contribute very significantly to taking the name of the college to next level.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mysore, Bandipur, Ooty trip

On weekend of July 5th-6th, we started on a trip to 'places' around Bangalore with a vague plan which was jotted over a group chat of 15 minutes :). Out of various options that came up, Wayanad, Bandipur, Ooty etc Majj came up with a good plan which made everyone happy. The plan was Start from Bangalore to Mysore, stay overnite, Bandipur next morning, and then Ooty and drive back in the night.

The journey for Sachin and I, stated on a interested note, when we boarded Kacheguda-Yashwantpur exp which departs form Kacheguda at 9:15 PM at just about time it was departing in such a situation that we had to walk approx 8 boogies to reach ours. The MMTS train from hitech station (scheduled departure 8:24 PM) turned out to be a risky choice to catch this train.

As we started on Saturday afternoon from Bangalore, there was a suggestion to consolidate the plan, overruled :). We decided to have the trip as ad-hoc as possible. We started for Mysore and decided to spend some time at the famous Mysore Palace, which thanks to the guide turned out to be very informative and interesting tour compared to one that I had some 2 years back without a guide. After this we went to the famous Church. Which is beautiful, though I found big similarities to one I have seen in Medak. The Vrindavan garden trip came a little too late so we could only see the Light and Sound Fountain show. Which is okay for one time visit.

Next morning we started for Bandipur on the decided time of 4 AM to reach Bandipur by 6 AM for the first Safari tour. The tour started at 6:30 AM and ran for one year. Before the tour even started we had seen at least Deers and Wild bores. The extra animal seen on the safari were Elephants, Bisons, Spotted Deers and some birds including Peacock and Eagle. All these animals were also seen while we drove back from Ooty.

Ooty trip was short and quick, we would spend around 8-10 hrs of the day before returning back at around 5 PM because they seemingly close the city gates after that time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bike trip to Bhongir fort and Medak Church

Last Sunday turned out to be a full day biking event. We were all waiting for the Monsoon season to begin so we can have some nice weather for such a trip. Almost as planned we(I ?) started at 5:30 AM from my house when we were supposed to start from Shopper's stop towards our destination. With some delays picking up ppl we eventually were all set to go at around 6:30 or so.

The first destination was chosen to be Bhongir fort as the only seasoned driver amongst us Kannan suggested that we go there first. Bhongir fort is pretty close to Hyderabad it would have been around 50 KM from shoppers stop on NH 202 towards Warangal and the road and traffic didn't trouble us much, as a result we were at the fort in around an hour. After a quick bite at a restaurant we started climbing up the fort which seemed like being composed of a single rock all the way up to top(which indeed is the case). The fort has very minimal remains and it was more like hiking on a mountain than anything, the good part was the strong and nice winds which were awesomely refreshing. We would stop every once in a while and enjoy the winds and the nice view of the town from top. The weather was pleasant all the while.

At around 10:30 we were already down and discussing about weather we should go to Medak or Warangal. Medak as I figured out on the previous night while collecting maps was on the opposite side of the city and would have required us to go back through Hyderabad. Warangal was on the other hand 145 KMs from the place where we stood. After lots of discussion we decided to go to Medak Church and postpone Warangal trip for some other weekend.

Medak Church is on HW 97 around 100 KM(at least) from Hyderabad. While we came back from Bhongir fort and were enjoying our lunch at the Pickles restaurant near Paradise, we wondered again if we should go to this place, Aditya and I were in favour of dinning heavy and going back home as the destination was definitely more than 70 KMs away(various sources of information were not maching :)). Gene had "her" race to watch. But Kannan, Jhinuk and Ajay convinced Aditya and me to go.

After driving out of the city for more than 20 minutes, I saw a distance board mentioning the number 90 KM, but we had already come far enough to think about going back. We continued. The route is almost straight except forward except for a turn at a Gandhiji statue, which even after being warned one of the bike missed. The whole wrong route backtracking turned out to be pretty costly as we lost around 30-40 minutes and reached the Church only when it was 5 minutes from being closed. Kannan's information about the closing time being 6:30 went wrong again. It was 6:00 PM.

The short inside visit of the church was breathtaking the Church is indeed very beautiful. The paintings on the walls are simply one of the best piece of art I have seen. We so wanted to take photos but weren't allowed to and we soon ran out of time. The outer structure of the church is a monumental piece of architecture. The Church definitely happens to be biggest I have seen till now. From wikipedia article "With its massive dimensions, 100 ft width and 200 ft. length, the church can accommodate as many as 5000 people at a time."

The ride back to Hyderabad got pretty bad due to the darkness and very frequent diversions on the road which is under construction. The dinner was again at Pickles. My advise to Vegetarian folks don't expect much from this restaurant and don't by any chance order their veg sandwich. My Non-Veg friends did like the non veg sandwiches though.





















More Photos:
http://picasaweb.google.com/vardhman/BhongirFortMedakChurchBikeRide/

Some more photos from Aditya : http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/aditya.sahay/BikeTripWithGooglers

And some more from Ajay: http://picasaweb.google.com/ajay.vg/MedakBikeTrip

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back to KDE/OSS development, new interesting dev environment

After a long break interest in OSS contributions came back. Basically Caulier Gilles has pinged me couple of times asking if I was gonna work on upgrading Flickr/Picasa exporter kipi-plugins I wrote earlier to support the new KDE4.

KDE4 is obviously something I was waiting for long back when KDE evangelism used to be a major timepass :) but that changed over time as most ppl I worked with used Linux lately. KDE 4 does however seem to be a step ahead of the older version and the difference is visible not only in the interface but also in the development libraries. As expected things have been cleaned up and better interfaces have been developed so much that running KDE on Mac and Windows has been made simple.

For long I have not used my home Linux workstation and the default choice for working turned out to be my laptop which is a Mac Book and however enthusiastic I would be about developing my plugins I would probably never want to even experiment running C++ compiler on a macbook forget about QT and all other deps. So I had to look for other options. Thanks to the world of Virtual OSes, I am now running Linux virtually on my macbook and its almost as good an experience as developing on Linux natively.

The added advantage was that I could easily install two different Linux version one for KDE3 and another for KDE4 instead of hacking my way to get both of them to work simultaneously on a box. (I have earlier had the nightmare of compiling QT and KDE libs from scratch, downloading multiple libraries and dependencies as the list never ended and I finally gave up :()

Virtual Linux worked liked a breeze except for some minor tweaks/retries which I needed to get networking to work. My conclusion of the whole exercise is this:

1) Try using bridged networking whenever possible. This gets you the network settings from your Host OS, using DHCP in my case.
2) For Kubuntu 8, where I ran in to problem of the default network adapter being identified as ipv6 and failing consistently in assigning an ipv6 address (because of lack of ipv6 routers around), I had to go the /etc/modprobe.d/aliases file and disable the line containing ipv6 module entry. Followed by a service network restart and then it works like breeze.
3) I also noticed another issue where my eth0 adapter was not recognized at all, the fix in this case was to add it in the /etc/networking/interfaces file and then restarting networking.

Right now my dev enviroment seems to be fixed and the real struggle lies ahead the real porting work :)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Kings Canyon and Sequoia national park

We had a trip to Kings Canyon and Sequoia national park during weekend of 26 April. What a trip. I had a vague idea of what the Sequoias would be like having seen the Muir woods forest near San Francisco but the sequoias in these national park are much taller compared to the Redwoods in the muir woods. Here are some numbers:

1) Largest tree in the world (by Volume): The General Sherman: 275 ft, ...
2) One of the widest tree in the world : The Grant Sequoia 40 ft wide


















Besides the talls trees which are seen in both forest, there is also a high probability of spotting some wild life, yes we did see it. We spotted two baby bears, a wood pecker, some wild cats, a wild lizard and also some other birds I don't know the names of.







The oneway journey is approx 5 hrs and you have to drive quite a bit inside the parks so though the earlier plan was to get back the same day by afternoon I was pretty sure I can't drive back all the way, as we kept seeing various points and did some trails we also figured out that the sequoia park itself takes one full day to have a good tour and then the kings canyon would need another full day, we cud only complete the tour by Sunday evening 7 PM (instead of earlier plan of leaving for Mountain View by Saturday 9 PM or so :P). Lodging was at the Snowline lodge on the way to Fresno, If you are prepared with camping equipments however you may easily find other places to stay for e.g YMCA or some camps in either of the parks.


Lots of beautiful spots and nice trails, waterfalls, lakes and awesome views of mountain ranges besides the big tall trees which were there at all places, is the best way to describe the place. I hope the photos speak themselves.







Thursday, April 24, 2008

Weekend trips, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Point Reyes, Uvas Canyon

A short post about the four weekend trips:

Santa Cruz: Just 40 minutes away from Mountain View, SC offers a beautiful ride along the coast and a whole lots of beaches to stop by and the most important of these is the Santa Cruz beach broadwalk, an amusement park next to the main beach where you get to pay per ride, which makes it good to visit any point of day.

Monterey: Is another such place to go along specially famous for its 17 miles drive which is one of the things in my list of must not miss things. Monterey also includes a set of famous beaches including the Carmel beach and the Pebble beach. This time we tried dinning at the "Indian Summers" restaurant in the downtown, which was pretty good in ambiance and taste too except for the spicy level being very high (4/5 was too high, yes he asks you how much spicy on a scale of 0 to 5 and we over estimated ourselves :D).

Point Reyes National Seashore: Its another national park close to the SF and just ~1.5 hrs of drive. We started at around 4PM and it turned out to be not so great trip as by the time we reached it was already dark, cudn't see much of the place but just a beach which was pretty good though. The other group which reached some time earlier also missed the sunset (which seems to be pretty famous) but cud spend lot of time on the beach and also cud see the lighthouse.

Uvas Canyon State Park
: This is a close by hiking trail close to San Hose. The only strong reason we had for going there was the Waterfalls section of the San Francisco and Bay area travel guide enlisting it. Turned out to be pretty good trekking experience with almost 4 miles overall walk.







[Photos only of Uvas canyon will upload others later]

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Shasta : The Lesser known Tahoe Alternative

Last weekend three of us, Mayank, Roshan and I had a trip to Shasta. Its been another awesome trip, thanks to Nishit and Subeer for telling us about this place.



My usual wikitravel search wasn't very helpful in informing what this place offered, but a 5 minutes of browsing first few results on Google helped. The place offers among other things: Ice Skating (Shasta Ice Ring at Siskiyou county), Skiing (country-side and downhill at Mount Shasta), Snow mobiles (The Fun Factory at Deer mountain) besides the scenic Lakes including the Shasta lake, very scenic drives along the mountain with the view of Shasta mountain covered by snow. The Caverns at the Shasta lake weren't open when we reached but seems to be another major attraction here.



The places seems to be much lesser known than Tahoe, may be because of a longer distance from Mountain View, the drive is around 5 hrs without break. Reaching late afternoon on the Saturday turned out to be a bad decision as we felt a time crunch when we collected the pamphlets and brochures from the Visitor info desk. Ultimately we decided to just drive around and see some of the famous points driving along the Mountain Highway. After the first few points we were to witness road blocked due to snow fall. We then drove to Siskiyou lake and it was already dark when we returned. Took accomodation at the Filindia motel which was pretty decent for the price.



Our car after an overnite parking
The next day, we were decided to do skiing the first thing. As we were heading to the Ski park on the road we saw another ski trainer/rentals group. This group offers the Lessons and Full day pass for just 40 bucks. Which seemed much less compared to Tahoe. Soon I did realize that the equipments and gear were not exactly the same as my last ski experience. Turns out we selected country-side skiing this time and it was Downhill skiing last time (Gosh I didn't know there were two types :)). I would recommend ppl to try both kinds of skiing as they are very different experiences (In one you keep working all the time to go forward and in other you keep breaking the speed that you are automatically getting due to slope).

[Adventure sports picks are to be put up soon]

Then we went for Snow Mobiles, thanks to the people whom we saw doing this a day before and asked for details. The snow mobiles thing happens at around 40 miles distance from the ski park place and road you got to take goes around the Shasta mountain to almost 360 degrees providing a great view all along. Snowmobiles are rented by the Fun Factory group. Again this whole thing looked like a decent deal with just 50 bucks plus fuel charges per hour. Snowmobiles are pretty different from Jet skis, in the fact that they are pretty heavy and don't have such smooth steering, but they can go pretty fast and are indeed a great adventure sport.

On the return journey we tried the caverns which were closed and then visited the Shasta dam the second largest in the US. To me it didn't look like anything that is worth spending time on.
Lake Shasta from Shasta Dam
Tips:
1) At this point of year the temperature was seeing a low of 18 F in the morning, so early morning adventure may be difficult. The snowmobile ppl asked us to turn up after 10 AM.
2) Though country-side skiing mostly doesn't hurt much on falling, its always good idea to put on extra clothes and pads to avoid any injury and also the cold.
3) This place deserves lot of time, we cud have spent another day very easily if we had it.
4) Caverns tour close pretty early like 2 or 4 PM depending on time of year, so plan out properly.