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.