Category Archives: Travel

Swan’s Trail farm

Still-life of Honeycrisp Apple

Fall is the perfect time to take a day trip to pick apples, partake in Apple festivities and celebrate the harvest. Washington state produces almost 60% of the nations supply of apples.

Apple picking starts from mid September till October. Washington being famous for home grown apples, there are many nearby places around Seattle for Apple picking.

It was Sunday and the weather was in our favor, sunny and bright.  We drove  to  Snohomish, Swan’s trail farm 25 minutes from Bothell. The farm has corn maze, pumpkin patch, kids play zone, farm animals, of course apple orchard with Honey crisp, Gala and Jonagold varieties, fresh bakery outlet and much more.

Entrance of Swan’s trail farm

At the entrance of the farm there is an old truck and a tractor giving rustic look to it. The greenery around them made these objects stand out. Kids were having fun around it. Being Sunny afternoon I grabbed a shady place and did a quick sketch of it. These old farm vehicles attracted kids and people to click pictures. Later, we took the trail to pick apples. I remembered my childhood days of apple orchard visited in Shimla, India. Our daughter was super excited to pluck the apples. It was her second visit to this farm, so she was the guide for each event out there. Trees were fully loaded with red apples and indeed they were sweet and juicy. The freshness of picking an apple straight from the tree and eating it, is simply delightful! All of the juice drips down your chin and it tastes quite different from a store bought Apple.

We sat in a high wagon, with bales of hay as chairs, which was something completely different. The wagon took us back to the entrance of the farm.

It was amazing to walk in the farm and pick apples of our choice. There were few cherry trees too.It was great fun to sketch those red Gala apples in the beautiful serene nature.

Gala Apples

Along with apples we enjoyed roasted corn and fresh farm fries with cheese and, of course apple cider. There was also  a pumpkin patch  and it was fun to walk around in the pumpkin fields.

Entrance to Pumpkin Patch

After spending a relaxed afternoon, we headed home. It was great family time together and a wonderful, fun-filled afternoon! We were ready and rejuvenated to face Monday!!

Arches and Hoodoos! Part-1

Utah, greeted us at the start of Summer vacation. Exploring red sandstones and barren landscape through sketching and hours of hiking on trails was the main motto of this adventure. I geared up myself with maps, camera, favourite hats, sunscreen and pink/black Nike shoes. We wanted to experience the land of rocks, towering fins and spires and the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. We took a flight to Salt Lake City from Seattle. On the flight, I could watch movies and play games on the screen in front of me. I sat in the window seat like I always do.

Delta 752 interior view blue neon on ceiling was highlighting

When we arrived at Utah, it was very hot. We rented a car, then my dad had to drive for 4 hours to get to our hotel in Moab. The drive was different with raw landscape and very few vehicles on US6. Our hotel was close to Arches National Park and Canyonlands. When we arrived at our room and got settled, we decided to go to Arches National Park. First we saw the Balanced Rock. It was a naturally formed structure that was balanced. My mom was busy sketching, while me and my dad explored the area, saw vegetation growing over there and I was struggling to capture ants into my camera. Entrada sandstone with blue backdrop and a moon is a visual treat. 

   

The next destination was Delicate Arch. On the way we took breaks to load the camera with moments and filling sketchbooks.

Huge sandstone structures and green vegetation around

The hike to Delicate Arch was 3 miles but it felt like 4 or 5! Delicate Arch looked very beautiful at Sunset. It is a Must-Watch Arch! During our hike we paused and smelled the fleeting bloom of a desert flower, felt the twisting trunks of ancient Junipers, and listened for Raven-call echoing off the rocks.

Large sandstones! Mom’s hand were not stopping to sketch each detail of journey!

We came back down faster, probably because it was mostly downhill. It was a dark and starry night and I could see millions of stars and the White Moon. It was my 1st time walking experience through the dark in a barren landscape with a torch. Indeed thrilling!! By the time we reached to our room, all were exhausted and desperately in need of sleep. 

Worth watching Delicate Arch

The next day we headed to Landscape Arch. The hike was easy as compared to Delicate Arch. It was cloudy and cool breeze of mornings, felt good to have a break from the sun. On our way I saw lizards, ants, different birds, cactus plants and played in the sand too. 

Morning time at Landscape Arch

Later, we hiked to the North & South window arch. It was incredible view on the other side of Arch and windy too.

North Window Arch Entrada sandstone and the tan Navajo sandstone show diagonal lines called cross-bedding

It was noon by the time we hiked back down, so we decided to have lunch and go to Canyonlands. The drive from Arches National Park to Canyonlands was about 1 hour. On our drive, we saw Sandstorm at a distance and encountered a slight drizzle of rain. The changing weather, typography was noteworthy into my journal. This entire place is a place of enduring life and raw beauty, a window from which to contemplate the past and our shared future.

Scripted by our daughter!

More on Cayonlands and Bryce in Part-2

Spring break – Los Angeles

We traveled down to Los Angeles last week to enjoy warm sunshine and explore new city life in LA, California state. Our daughter was in full enthusiasm for Disneyland and Universal studios. My husband was aiming for relaxation and I wanted to use all my pencils, sketchbooks, charcoal etc. to do full-time sketching of new environment and of course break from kitchen, ha ha…

We took early morning flight from Seattle to Lax. Our first destination was Santa Monica Beach. It was wonderful bright sunny weather with cool breeze. The city welcomed us by tall palm trees and heavy traffic. We spend hours on beach, visited Amusement park and build sand castles. I tried to capture the sea, sand and deck of Santa Monica. 

Santa Monica Beach, LA
Palm Trees, Santa Monica

At the beach people were relaxing, playing frisbee, cards, flying kites etc. Tall palms looked completely mesmerizing. It was amazing experience to sketch the beach. Later, we took a walk at Third street Promenade and did window shopping. One can find all famous brands in this area. Live singers, musicians and bubbles in the air created magnificent surrounding. Though wanted to sketch here but unfortunately it was too windy.  

Second day we targeted Hollywood Walk of fame & Universal studios. It was bit difficult to sketch at Hollywood Walk of Fame as the crowd was more and many eyes to look upon. Still I managed to capture Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the street with names of stars. The street had Spiderman, Mickey Mouse, Superman… posing to their character.

Grauman’s Chinese Theater

Being Spring Break long wait was there for rides at Universal Studios. I could scribble the Flight of Hippogriff ride with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in background while standing in the queue.

Flight of the Hippogriff

The studios are pleasure to watch. The day ended in a jiffy with thrill and adventure of rides.

The next day was most awaited Disneyland. Beautiful weather and super excitement was within us. It was easy to sketch here as I could grab a good shady place and everyone was in their own Fantasy world.

 

 

Sleeping Beauty Castle, Disneyland

Fourth day we went to Downtown LA. Tall buildings, art & culture and Staples Center one could notice here. Staples center is a multipurpose sports arena in Downtown.

          

Walt Disney Concert Hall is a great example of Architecture, mainly play of planes and forms. The entire structure looks different through various angles. Frank-Gehry designed the structure in 2003.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown LA, Charcoal

Last day was visit to California Science Center, Griffith observatory. A panoramic view of LA can be observed from the Griffith park. Indeed great Spring of LA, break from Seattle weather and fun-filled adventure in LA. Packing all good memories and experiences we were back to Seattle and now with normal routine.

Snowlanders


Oh the weather outside is frightful, But the fire is so delightful,and we have no place to go, Let it Snow, Let it Snow…Let it Snow…

Dazzling words suited to the cold winter weather. But we did have a place to visit in chills and enjoy white powder, the famous Bavarian alpine village ‘Leavenworth’, 4 hours from Seattle.

          

With Rodnee from Sound Excursions we headed to our journey by Frosty’s Ferrari(bus) from Bellevue to Leavenworth. Sara was our guide throughout the journey. Gearing up with all cozy, warm jackets, gloves, boots and hoods we were set for adventure experience. Our first long distance bus drive in United States. In Frosty’s Ferrari we were Snow-landers. Each family had chosen their team name. Of course the name was thought by our snow lover daughter. The bus was spacious, luxurious and with wash-room necessary for the journey. The weather was freezing cold, snowing throughout and we were entertained by Sara playing Holiday Trivia and Holiday movies. Unfortunately we Snow-landers didn’t won the game but the fun, thrill and family enjoyment was immense and cant be expressed in words. The entire path from Bellevue to Leavenworth is mesmerizing. Tall lush green deciduous trees covered by snow, as if we were travelling in white dessert. The huge transparent windows of the bus made the view crystal clear.

Snow on trees – Sketching

Leavenworth is famous for its Christmas Lighting and Ice-fest. Its a modeled German town and attracts tourism. Leavenworth surrounded by Northern mountain cascades in the backdrop is replica of countryside Bavarian Germany. Our all time fascination to feel the falling snow on our cheeks, making balls and throwing at each other, sledge and tubing, all came true. 2016 was the 50th year of Christmas Lighting festival. Half a million lights were twinkling in Leavenworth. The Lighting festival starts a month ahead of Christmas and fills with crowd during weekends.

Front street Gazebo

Live musical performances of all favorite Christmas songs fill the streets, interrupted briefly at 4:30 pm for the arrival of St. Nickolus at the Front Street Gazebo. Throughout the day we were entertained by high-caliber performances in the Front Street Gazebo, including hand bell choirs, a top-ranking Army National Guard Dixie band, breakout solo artists, the best high school and professional choirs in the Pacific Northwest. We saw carolers strolling through town, the smell of roasted chestnuts filling the air, sledding in Front Street Park, a traditional Gluhwein Tent (selling hot spiced wine and cider), costumed Christmas characters (including Santa, Mrs.Claus and Father Christmas). At regular intervals hot burning fire-woods kept people warm. Being entirely open area, all winter gears and mental preparation for long waiting queues in the restaurants are must. We relished our supper in Los Camperos Mexican restaurant which was served hot, spicy and cheesy apt for cold winter.

The winter fun doesn’t stop here! Holiday concerts and productions, dogsled rides, snowmobiling, alpine skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing – there are plenty of ways here for each person to make the most of their winter wonderland!! Leavenworth is indeed dream destination to visit especially in winter. Must watch place from my Seattle Diaries!!!

View captured from Frosty’s Ferrari (Bus)

 

Xīnnián kuàilè!!2017

29th January was sunny, chilly Sunday morning. We headed towards the Chinatown International District by Bus no. 522 from Bothell to Downtown Seattle. The best way to explore any city is to travel by its public transport. Packing our favorite tuna sandwiches and cottage cheese rolls, we were set to explore Chinatown and Hing Hay Park. To capture the moments of Lunar New Year celebration and  to draw live sketches for the occasion. Being my first time with Urban Sketchers Seattle, I was enthusiastic, nervous to sketch and meet all new people. Though Architecture is my background but almost for 10 years I was focused on Product designing and detailing. Going back to the roots and feeling the composition of blocks(building structures) around, overwhelmed me. My perspective turned from products to building elevations and Urban planning.

The grand entrance to Chinatown welcomed us with massive colorful gate. The lamp post with dragon caught my eyesight. The Urban sketchers meet was at Hing Hay park. Unfortunately I missed the first meet with sketchers but later saw many of them engrossed in capturing the moments on paper. I too grabbed my spot, at the corner of Hing Hay Park and started with my work. It was heavily crowded and no wonder to stand for hours at one spot in cold and scribble on sketchbook was bit challenging. Kids were either standing on trees or on shoulders of their dads, to get the perfect view of happenings.

Though I took glimpse of Lion dance but glued myself to sketching. The experience of involving yourself into your creativity is like meditation. My husband and daughter too accompanied my passion and left no chance to traverse and enjoy new experience. They tried to capture Chinese cultural dance by Tanya woo and Japanese Taiko drumming. The beats of drums motivated me, getting into rhythm of sketching. The firecrackers were giving festive feeling. My first sketch was of the notice board where all the schedules were tagged and surrounded by dozens of people. Though it was sunny in the morning but as the day was passing it became cloudy and windy. Many eyes were viewing my sketches, though awkward state but deep inside was feeling happy and contented. The popcorn smell, hot corns and lemongrass barbecue was tempting me, but hands and brain was simply drawing.

The dragon mural on the buildings took my focus and I tried to get every bit of it. It was difficult to change my perspective and position to get better wider views. The Chinese dragon is a symbol of power, strength and good luck for the people. The Hing Hay park structure is a combination of yellow(gold) and red. Red symbolizes joy and good fortune while yellow is a beautiful neutral color. The entire town was lit with red lanterns. There was huge queue at food stalls.

 The temperature was dropping and hands were getting numb. I winded my sketches by single liners and texting, as we were to head Starbucks for the Urban Sketchers meet and exchange views on our drawings. It was incredible experience to view so much talent and meet different people from different background. Each sketch was special and different. Use of various mediums, thought process, lettering skills, literally bowled me away. I am feeling fortunate to get associated with them. Meeting new people through your travel and listening to their views truly inspires.

Xīnnián kuàilè!!2017(Happy New Year in Chinese) a wonderful experience indeed and perfect way to start truly my New Year with Usk Seattle.

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” – Michael Palin.

The most awaited day came to an end with lot of motivation by genius people and doodling again with new thinking hat.

 

 

 

 

Tulip Town

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Dekha ek khwaab toh yeh SilSile hue…the famous Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha’s song from movie ‘Silsila‘ pictured in Pahalgam of Indian state Jammu and Kashmir and tulips of Keukenhof (Kitchen of garden) also known as Garden of Europe situated in Lisse, the Netherlands. Since childhood fascinated by these flowers and the song picturization, atlast it was a dream come true to actually feel the flowers and enjoy its different colors. Eventually it was neither in India nor Holland but 66 miles  i.e.( 1 hour 15 minutes) drive from Seattle, to Tulip Town in Skagit Valley.

Skagit valley is surrounded by Mount Vernon and Skagit river snakes through it.The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is one of the destination events for the Pacific Northwest, held from April 1-30. Roozengaarde and Tulip Town are two destinations to take the joy in. We approached to Tulip Town. Every spring hundreds of thousands of people come to enjoy the celebration of spring as millions of tulips burst into bloom. As with all things governed by Mother Nature, the tulips bloom according to their own schedule sometime during the festival. The tulips allow people in Skagit valley to share their corner of the world and showcase Skagit Valley agriculture too. The beauty of the flowers truly transcends differences, bringing cultures, ages and diverse lifestyles together to marvel at nature’s creation. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is a perfect destination for a day trip.

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Tulip Town Windmill is the replica of Holland windmill by the Tulip Town’s owner Tom De Goede. It was designed to pump water from one canal to the next. It is another attraction for visitors apart from the carpet of colorful tulip bulb farm.

Tulip Town Festival has enjoyment for everyone from child to an elderly person. Activities like face painting, postcards & paintings of tulips signed by artists and opportunity to meet them as well, ice-cream and hot snacks, gift galleries, kites to fly in the huge open lush green field, fresh bulbs i.e. tulips to sell and historical description of tulips through paintings keeps you engage for the entire day. Trolley ride too available to enjoy farm. Flying different colors of kites in the sky makes you child again and mesmerizes old memories. A perfect picnic spot to relish beauty, food and relax mind and soul. Indeed a photogenic site to capture various shades of nature under the bright yellow sunshine and blue backdrop.

 

Stevens Pass

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Its Friday again! Now that the weekend is finally here, we are ready to kick back and relax. The very thought of not waking up to an alarm is so delightful, isn’t it? You certainly need to rest after working hard all week long. We too had tranquilizing Saturday morning and suddenly to make it more merrier we planned for long drive through the woods and destination was Stevens Pass.

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating, there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather. – John Ruskin

Being fascinated by the word ‘Snow’ since childhood, seen and fantasized only in stories, cartoons and movies,  Seattle gave us the exposure of Snow flurries too. Though city doesn’t adore heavy snowfall but nearby surroundings does. 60 miles from Seattle 1 hour 30 minutes drive take you to Skiing mountain i.e. Stevens Pass. Its about experiencing the mountains in their natural state and a heart-thumping passion for powder and gravity. Our reverence for nature runs deep. At Stevens, learning the terrain and the sport is a lifelong adventure.

With all winter and rain gears, we were set for adventure of skiing and beautiful scenic drive. Listening to the melodies of Bollywood singers the commuting of U.S. Highway 2 was amazing. The greenery of forests and high peaks of mountain drag to nature’s beauty. There is so much more to these mountains than rock, slopes and snow. Stevens magnetism makes you explore all the avenues. The play with white powder, making snow man and trying skiing is memorable. Apart from skiing areas the snow on trees and surroundings was soft as if white tiny granules blanket covering it. It was amusing to walk on the white surface, getting legs sink into. The reflection of blue vault of heaven was seen on the snow. Though the snow was cold as it bit our fingers and cool breeze kissed our cheeks, but it was fun.

All skiing equipment’s are available on rent. The Lift to the peak of mountain visualizes the luscious dark green trees and pure white snow underneath the blue sky. Night Skiing can also be enjoyed.

The peace and serenity at pinnacle relaxes the soul completely. The scenic tour of mountain with lift (cable car) is worth taking.  After enjoying the deep powder of Stevens Pass, relaxing in a retreat as picturesque as these surroundings is enthralling. The Lodges at the base provides delicious hot grills and pizzas. The barbecue smell at the outdoors catch your taste buds. Indeed its an altogether different adventure with ‘Snow’.

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19 March 2016 – Snow Condition

Experience the quieter side of Stevens Pass and a historic beautiful setting of classic skiing, skate skiing or snowshoeing. Surely a place not to miss in Washington.

 

 

Spring in Seattle

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University of Washington – Quad Cherry blossom (12 March 2016)

An appealing ‘Similie’ is created between Man and Nature. Season changes as months go by. Due to global warming though variations are seen in weather cycle each year. As man needs diversity in life so do Nature. Before coming to Seattle, I was never a daily observer of weather. But Seattle habituates you to look out the daily forecast.

Seattle’s weather is like mind of a child, which never stuck to a particular toy to play upon, similarly weather deviates the whole day showing its different shades. Though infamous for all time showers and downpours the whole year, still city gets delight of other season like winter, spring, summer and autumn. The notoriously rainy, dreary winters in Seattle can be jarring and stuck you to indoors. To get out this winter rut is indeed an experience to relish in. Yay!! Spring is on roll followed by Summer. Its time to start fresh.

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Spring seems like a natural, massive reset button for us. While the winter rains can get ominous, the result in the Spring time is an almost impossibly bright green landscape dotted with flowers everywhere.  Springs main attraction in Seattle is distinguished Cherry blossom trees. University of Washington Quad Cherry trees (aka Yoshino Trees) are well-known, which are 80 years old and bloom during early March and last for 3 weeks. Yoshino trees originate from Japan. The Cherry blossom trees at Quad of University WA feels like a giant squatting trolls at the base on the yawning green patch but stretch overhead and dwindle into velvet bursts of delicate blossoms. The pink and white flowers mesmerize your eyes in the bright blue backdrop of sky. Chilly breeze blows the flower petals as if snow flurries in the air, thereby forming a carpet on the lawn.

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Seattleites flock to the streets to soak up the sun’s rays and glimpse cherry blossom trees. People fill-up the outdoor cafes, the piers, picnic tables and submerge themselves in bright sunny streaks. No way to fastened yourself to cozy warm comfort and books as winter compels it. The bright flare and floweret pulls you out to exploit. Activities like cycling, skating, baseball games, soccer blocks the day. The happiness blooms in air and even in office people dodge work and urge to get the bliss of ‘The Sun’.

A brand-new exposure  of ‘Spring’ make the cameras fully-loaded with beauty and different species of flowers, trees and fruits.

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Close-up view of Cherry Tree Flowers (aka Yoshino Cherry/Sakura)

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While some trees floret and others bloom into tender light green leaves. The dead trees again become lively giving us an inspirational message -‘ Letting Go’. These trees shed their leaves, ripened fruits that clings to their branches. Man and tree, all living things are created to drop what is no longer needed and again starting the new life.

These blooms are sight to see. Although there are lot of places in the town to visit the blossoms , it is hard to beat the sheer concentration of trees at University of WA with the expansive  green fields and surrounded old buildings. Spring indeed brings color, joy and zest in life.

UW Cherry Blossom and Spring Flowers  (12 March 2016)

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Snoqualmie Falls

20 hours of journey from Mumbai(India)- Seattle with all zeal, we were thrilled for upcoming weekend to explore Seattle. Our first destination was to traverse Nature in Seattle.

A little escape to Nature, indeed it was famous Snoqualmie Falls. Snoqualmie Falls hidden in exquisite landscape, surrounded by Maples, Spruce, Cedars and Fir trees is a treat to our eyes. The 25 miles (40 kms) drive from Seattle downtown to the Falls is a splendid drive. The curves of roads, the play of clouds showing all blue shades and greenery of trees soothes mind and soul. Its the most stunning waterfalls of United States.

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The Falls are major source of naturally generated hydro-electric power for the region. Its 268 foot, 82 meter wonder on the Snoqualmie river visited by over 1.5 million people per year. The splashing of water from a height mesmerizes all. The small water droplets sprinkling on the decks, face of viewers and Oh! My Gosh!! feeling makes the observation more stimulating and entertaining. The cold breeze makes the cheeks, nose red and palm of hands numb. At that moment a desperate desire to have hot coffee urges and to our wish Espresso is around to grab one.

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The overhead pathway over the road from parking area is a pleasure to walk. There is a trail of half a mile to reach the river bed of Snoqualmie. Different birds, insects and old trees covered with moss makes the walk adventurous. The hike back-up is fairly steep, so you will definitely get a work-out traveling back-up trail.

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The next door Salish Lodge 4 star hotel famous for its country breakfast is an amazing option. But Indian taste buds need more spice and tadkas in food. Just a mile away from the Falls is the downtown of Snoqulamie. The walk in ‘suburban’ downtown is great and relaxing. Being choosy food lovers we targeted the Aahaar-An Indian Eatery famous for its South-Indian cuisines. Fried Fish in Kerala(India) style, prawns, vegetable korma with Malabar Parothas were delicious in taste and awesomely served. Though the wait for a seat was 40 minutes but it was worth and still the taste is relishing in  our mouth. The meal was ended by desert Badam Halwa. Chef Ajay Panicker from Kerala(India) who is passionate about cooking  had made the dishes mouth-watering.

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A great kick start for travelogue – Snoqualmie Falls. As they say Nature acts as a Stress-Buster, which truly can be experienced here.

For a souvenir be sure to visit the gift store and pick up box of Snoqualmie Falls Pancake or Waffle mix to remember your journey. The free parking and free viewing areas are open from dawn to dust and are wheelchair accessible. Leashed pets are allowed. Light illuminate the Falls in the evening.

Video of Snoqualmie Falls