790 Days without you


As I sit down to write after long, the first thing that I want to express is how your presence is felt so strong. Not just me, but everyone around who thinks about you every single day. We all feel your presence guiding us in each step, really strong. Even if your physical presence is missing,  you are taking care of us and giving us that strength. The power of living each day and living every moment even when there is a void that can never be fulfilled. The capacity of understanding that there can be no tomorrow, and at the same time hoping for one. The belief that everything is temporary in this forever world.

The realization that we can lose the most important people in our life, and most importantly we could be the ones bidding goodbye. The latter part is denied by the majority of us. It is the same feeling that I always had when I visited the Pashupatinath temple. As a kid until 14th January 2017, I always saw many people at the Ghat, and never thought that I would be standing there. That is exactly what happened when I could do nothing but just be there for my Popsy. I just wanted to be there till the last, with him, trying to tell him that we were together in this and we still are. It is a strange feeling that hurts but I still want to remember because it was the last time that we saw you. We can never be prepared, but we can accept that the number of breath that we have in our life is destined and nothing can change that. Nothing can change the way we leave this world- be it by suffering from a disease, trying to breathe or a silent death. It will still hurt and there will be no healing, neither time nor change. When I see people wanting to leave this world, because they are very sick, I pacify myself, that you were at your favorite place, when you left us and healthy.

This chapter is that learning of life that can only be understood when one experiences it. But, I did not want to understand and learn all of this on the cost of losing you. I still want to try calling in the number which has been given to someone else, I still want to send those random messages calling you for the pasta treat, even if it wasn’t your favorite, I still want to play badminton in the garden. I still want to ask for permissions to travel and do the research for the ticket prices for the nth time. I know I will always be your big girl, but I still want to get pampered from you. I miss you.


Where, how and what?

I wonder a lot of times,

Where will you be at this moment in time?

I wonder how and what exactly happened that morning,

Not realizing that there is no answer to the questioning.

 

In all this wonder world, people tell me to move on,

To this I want to say, that I don’t want to, he was the only one,

This phase comes often, where I remember what made me break,

Still want the memories from starting till the end, even if it makes me delicate.

 

In all this wonder world, people say you are with us,

In each step, in our journey, in our everyday task,

To this I want to say, we are there for/with you,

As you are by yourself and us together in a crew.

 

It is just not me but everyone in the family,

That misses your cord in one or the other degree,

It is just not us in the family, but everyone who knew you,

Feel blessed to be the daughter, of a gem of a person like you.

 

Travel Diary 5:- New York and Lake George

Every vacation is peculiar, each story is exclusive, each journey has its own charm. There are interesting incidents that happen during one’s journey and there is a different type of fun in each vacation. Some solo trips mark a memory, and some family vacations are perfect to spend time together.

While we left from San Francisco for a family vacation to Lake George our flight was going through a bad turbulence that could hardly get us some sleep, rather it made us think about hundred different things up in the air, even if the view was pretty. We reached White plains and were set for the long weekend getaway.  After packing all the necessary supplies, we left for Lake George, and made a quick stop at the Woodbury Premium Outlet (which wasn’t that quick), to make the most of the deals that start during long holidays. We were amused to see the longest line in front of the Nike store and the craziness for shopping. I guess it is smart shopping as you get the required at half the price but the place was packed. After our shopping spree, we reached Lake George. We checked in Dunham’s Bay resort, we treated ourselves with some hot Maggie and bread. We called it a day after playing some card games.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      As soon as we got up, we were excited to do all the activities that we had planned and also the different things that the resort had to offer. The resort that we were staying at had a board game room, a barbeque grill set up for each cabin, the place for firewood, heated pool and jacuzzi, bocce ball and shuffleboard. We had to learn the two outdoor games as they were very new to us.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a good homemade breakfast, we left for Lake George beach. There were a lot of people already on the beach.  The view was splendid, on one side we saw the steamboat and on the other end was the vast waters. There were little kids swimming, and to our surprise, the water was not that cold. We took some rounds and played with our bubble wands. It was the first experience for the little one who was with us and we did all we could to keep her amused. There were little kids making various kinds of the sand castle on the beach. It was interesting to see how some kids loved being in the water, while some had a bit of fear.

 

After this we went to the Prospect mountain, the drive was of 5.5 miles around the gorgeous views of Lake George surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains. The winding road led us to The Narrows, Lake George, and the Eagle’s eye. These are three different spots that we stopped at to get some pictures ( I would suggest stopping on the second one) because all the others points were similar.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we reached the parking area, there were two options to reach the top, one was a short climb and the other was a bus which ran frequently from the parking. The views of Vermont’s Green Mountains, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, New York’s Adirondack High Peaks could be seen and it was a perfect place for a picnic. The remains of the worlds largest railroad could be found here. We had a great time and spent the evening walking on the roads of Lake George.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hustle and bustle were super and it seemed like this destination was a favorite for many. The weather was perfect, there was so much to do, in and around. We ended our day with some barbeque which was an adventure in itself yet we had a great time preparing the burgers,  corns were the best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we explored the 32-mile long lake on a boat taking turns to ride it. We spent three hours looking at what nature had to offer and made amazing memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then got back home and ended our trip with the best way that one can explore the city:- the walking tour. These tours never disappoint and are fantastic to see the place in an exquisite way, to know the tales about the formation of the city, and different other interesting bits and history. The skyline of New York, the commotion at the subway, the murals, Soho’s impressive art galleries, Chinatown, the financial district, the vibe at Times Square, New York has an energy like no other.

What type of traveler are you?

All of us love traveling. We enjoy visiting new places and exploring different countries. As much as there is constant planning before travel, which could be holidays from work, finances to be sorted, people to go with, the whole itinerary, documentation that is required for a visit to the new country, there is an arrangement that needs to be done while we are on the road too. The planning is always on. Also, after the awesome trip, there is another form of planning that happens when we are back from the vacation, for the next set of holidays that we aspire of, especially during the times of vacation hangover.

All of this, mentioned above, also depends on the type of traveler that we are. Some people want to roam around in a budget so they accommodate more trips per year, while some want to enjoy that particular place with more luxury. With so much of information available online, people these days have started to book their tickets and accommodation by themselves. There are many, who do a lot of research beforehand, they are the early risers, stay out late, make the most out of everything a new place has to offer and do not want to miss anything. They think that this is the only time they will be visiting that town/city because the world is huge and there are so many places to see.

Then we have an entirely different type which is called the backpackers, who travel without any rules. This set indulges themselves in every opportunity they get and are in for any type of circumstance. This group is very flexible with time and the places they visit. They only book their one-way ticket and believe that everything will fall in place. There are another set of travelers, who travel to take their mind off from the regular norm, be it the same destination, again and again, it doesn’t matter to them. This is mostly for people who are overworked and are traveling around their work holiday schedules. They have to travel.

Then we have these categories. Some do make the most of their journey on a business trip, while for some it is not the main goal as they are too consumed with their work. We all know of people around us who are the daredevils, they always find new exotic things to do, which are never heard of. Many do make the most of their long holidays, squeezing in a day and making it a trip of their lifetime. Some prefer to travel solo while some can only get out of their comfort zone when they are in a group.

As much as traveling has picked up in our generation, where we have many trips in a year, there were times when the family would go for a holiday once a year, or sometimes once in two years. In all of this, what we need to ask ourselves, is it travel that we love or is it the societal obligation that is making us travel. There was a time when some travelers wouldn’t mind going to the same place again, while its all about the new destinations now.

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While they said, and I thought

And they say everyone has to leave one day,

Around us, there will be no one who will stay,

They say, it is a vicious circle of life, that will remain,

We need to be practical and accept the playing game.

 

19 months that you left us today,

Can’t say how we feel every single day,

The feeling is the same as that second week of Jan,

While they said time will heal, why should it, their only plan.

 

The emotions at times, I say it is alright to be in distress,

Because it is only the memory that we have, not the presence.

I say it wouldn’t be easy and shouldn’t be too,

It is someone that we have loved, the one out of the few.

 

One day is your turn and the next day could be my cord,

We accept it all except the last part, the last word,

Why are we not pragmatic during this situation?

There is no answer to this, no justification.

 

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Travel Diary 4 : The meteor shower experience

Camping is such a fun outdoor activity, that gets families and friends together amidst the greens and away from everyday life. One of the best things about camping is that there are usually no cellular networks around the area, and one can indulge in nature and connect with people they are with, in the true sense. There is a lot of preparation that goes behind making the stay at the camp, a fun time. The tents, raw materials for barbeque (if you wish to) , utensils, food, water, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, hammock, foldable chairs, grill basket, picnic mats, table mats, stove, lighter, trash bags, paper plates and cups, some games (outdoor or indoor),are the primary things that are required, and the listing usually starts before a week . The list can be as elaborate depending on each group:)   There are many ways of camping, one of it being car camping, where we drive our vehicle till the campground, then we have camping on a recreational vehicle (RV), which is another experience in itself. The other form of camping is when we walk for hours to get to the camping sites, backpacking and carrying all our essentials with us. There is Glamping then, which is the luxury camping than the traditional one.

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On the camping grounds, a marking is done on each campsite and one can put their tent anywhere in the territory. There are common restrooms and many taps around the campsite. Some campsites are between the woods while some can be right next to the beach. The booking of the campsite needs to be done way in advance as they get booked fast, especially the dates and days when one can see something spectacular in the sky.

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For this something magnificent we left for Plaskett Creek Campground on Saturday morning after breakfast. As we head out of the city we realized that the traffic was pretty bad, and a lot of people, were out on a weekend driving south, rather than north, because of the wildfires. We crossed the Garlic capital of the world “Gilroy” and could see different hoardings of events that were due to happen. A Gilroy Garlic festival takes place every year and we saw signs of garlic ice-cream. We skipped on trying that but took some cherries, Mexican mango chili, and strawberries from one of the stores on our way.

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We crossed Monterey and stopped there at a restaurant named Julia’s. After a quick stop for lunch, we drove through CA-1, the Pacific coast way. The views were breathtaking and it definitely was one of the most scenic drives. We stopped at a couple of spots on our way, not to forget the most photographed bridge in California ( Bixby Bridge). The aesthetic design of the bridge makes it a popular stop.

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We also went to the McWay Falls, it is an 80-foot-tall waterfall on the coast of Big Sur which flows year-round from McWay Creek into the Pacific Ocean. We reached our camping spot in an hours time. As we went to our designated campground, we were informed that the grill was not allowed and we had to get a permit to use the propane stove. The permit was half an hour drive and there was an informative video that needed to be seen before the permit was provided. While Soham, Ruchi and me set the tent, Gurtej and Mayank went and got the permit.

The campground was full and different colored tents could be seen. Some were playing badminton, while others were throwing the frisbee, the kids were running around and playing different games. There were no school groups, unlike the previous camping experience. We could see the coast from our campground. As we set the tents and the permit was shown to the ranger, we started grilling the marinated paneer, capsicum, onions. The grilled pineapples were pretty good too. After the scrumptious dinner, we went to scout for the area where we could watch the meteor showers from. We went across the road and a trail led us to one of the prettiest sunsets that we had ever seen. The color of the horizon was orange-pink, and the sound of the waves complement the scene. The view was so pretty, all of us were in awe.

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We headed back to our camp deciding that we wouldn’t get a better view from that area. After a little more of search, we knew where we had to head to look at the Perseids around midnight.  The exploding kittens kept us busy for some time until it was time for us to go to our spot. If you guys are wondering what it is, there are no kittens involved, but it is a fun card game. We had chosen a shoulder along the road and put our picnic mats. All of us lay down and those two hours were the most amazing view of the sky that we had ever seen. The stars,  showers of meteors, the milky way, planet mars all of it was so clear. It felt like we were standing beneath the planetarium. It was marvelous. The time went by so quick and we got back to our campgrounds for the rest of the night.

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The morning was a treat for us as we made sandwiches and some Maggie. We packed our stuff and head to Hearst castle. We took a guided tour and fell in love with the architecture of the place. Comprising of 165 rooms and 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways, all built to Hearst’s specifications, it showcases a legendary art collection. There are two pools, one is called the Neptune pool, while the Roman Pool at Hearst Castle is a tiled indoor pool decorated with eight statues of Roman gods, goddesses, and heroes.

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On an interesting drive back, we stopped at Lombardi’s pasta familia, which had some good Italian serving. The ambiance was cute, and the place had a nice decor. We were back home in time for some good dinner, had conversations and different games of music while we were in the car.

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And this is how our trip can be summarized as a doodle 😀 , Courtesy : Mayank:)

Camping is such an amazing recreation that one should try going to whenever possible. Having had two camping encounters, and different stories for each one of them, camping will be my first choice for a weekend getaway.

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~The learning curve~

Every step in our life is a learning. We are constantly engaging in something or else, improving skills and always on a lookout for better opportunities. Each of our experiences are different in each phase of life and with these encounters, we learn from our mistakes, grow and have become who we are today. The people around us, the circumstances that we have been in, the lessons that we are taught or not, when we do something wrong, shapes and defines us. There are many characteristics , values that are imbibed in us as kids, and stay forever, yet there can be some personal traits that change in us as we mature.

We have all known of some kids who are very naughty during their childhood become completely opposites when they grow old. Similarly there are some who remember themselves being an introvert when they were young, and are extroverts now. There is a huge difference in their persona which is pretty interesting to understand. There is no right or wrong but all of this is an observational study of how our mind grows.

The same topic was being discussed during our visit to the amusement park. The place which is exhilarating and exciting, often involves long queues is a kingdom of different games and rides. The feeling of the wind passing by, the tracks sweeping underneath, being on the flight with everyone who is there for the same fight of returning back to the start is an adventure in itself. All of us were excited for the roller coaster rides, yet we had certain level of fear. Most of us had a similar story, we would never be scared of these adventures on an early age, but it had started to creep in as we grew older. Some also shared that they would panic as kids when the rides went upside down and not feel safe in them, while on the contrary, now, they could spend the entire day in the amusement park. I guess same is the case with heights, some individuals start getting a fear after a certain age.

In all of this, it is amusing to observe how our mind changes with our body. From the time we are toddlers, our brains are adapting, learning, choosing our likes and dislikes, making memories and more. If we notice there are lot of changes happening while we grow, some we observe while some we don’t. All in all, we become smarter and sharper, earning the wisdom that truly only comes with life experiences.

Travel Diary 3 :- Walking Tour

The start of the tour

No city can be seen well unless we walk around different parts of the city. The whole vibe of the place becomes divergent while we are on foot, observing smallest of details and the experience that we get is exclusive. That’s when most of the time, we start to think there is so much to explore. It is interesting to observe how we remember the roads clearly, compared to the times that we are driving. And trust me, nothing is better than taking some time out for a walk in a new city.

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In all of this, the big question stands HOW? WITH WHO? I am sure many of us want to travel to a new place, but get confused on how should we plan our day, to see the most. I would suggest to find Free Walking tour in the city and take one. That’s right as the name suggests  it is free, but they are so good, that we would appreciate and give them money for their time and talent. There is no minimum amount that they quote, but on the norm, one can give whatever amount that they wish to, depending on their liking, on how informative the session was and how entertaining the tour.

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How does it work:- There are lot of walking tour companies, and one can choose after reading their reviews. They have a designated starting point where each person who has joined the group for the day meets and they start the day from that point. Having done three walking tours in my life, I think this should be mandatory on the list of things to do, if you are an explorer. They not only take you to the non touristy places, but describe the history. As it is said the best way to see a place is through a local living in the city, for me the best way is through walking tours and of course with the locals. It is best for people who want to see the place with a group, get to know varied people from all parts of the world.

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One of my first was a walking tour in Edinburg and the next one was underground ghost tour there itself, where I met some amazing people who were a part of the group and we ended up discovering more places together. The recent one was at San Francisco city. They took us to the best parts of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, we walked through Chinatown, North beach and took the historic cable car ride to Nob hill. It was a 5 hour walk wherein we covered about 5 kilometers. They told us stories that were so interesting and facts that are rare to recall. We were a group of 25, and for that entire five hours, we became a family, making sure that no one went missing in between.  I went on Free Tours by Foot and our guide was Britt. He was amazing with his explanations and gave us a list of restaurants of different cuisines during an hour of break for lunch. We started from Transamerica Pyramid and ended our tour there.

My favourite was the visit to the Grace Cathedral, especially the holy door of the cathedral which was super pretty. It took 28 years to carve the door and scenes of the Holy Bible are captured in the door which is also called the Doors of Paradise. The inside of the Cathedral was interesting with a combination of history and modern art. We walked around the neighborhood and then saw the view of the street from up the Nob Hill. It was splendid. After this , we reached Chinatown.  It was surprising to know how Chinese immigration was stopped in 1882, and a city which was affected by earthquakes and wildfires started with a population of 500. The murals all around the place had some significance and by the end I lost the count. There were so many interesting stories that can only be experienced.

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It was one of the most amazing visit to the city. Message in if you are looking for more details about this tour for San Francisco.  Have you ever been to any walking tour? Share in your encounters, if any.

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Tribute to that one person who has taken care of us more than himself

After what still feels like a dream, getting to know that we will never meet and see our MB dai, make us question life in different ways.We know there are no answers for this, and there is nothing that can make the situation better, that we can justify this vicious cycle of birth and death, all of this is just unfair, it doesn’t add up.  The uncertainty of anything happening in our lives, the fear of losing someone close again, the reasoning, the attachments, wanting to believe ,the dream phase, all of this makes us realize again that nothing is for tomorrow. Its all now, and it’s all at the present.

There is always a doubt to accept how in that one moment our heart stops,  how in that one day all our talks are over and we see each other for the last time. How we live only with memories and how there are no proper goodbyes at all. We all know and accept the truth that none of us are immortals, but at the same time, when we lose someone closer to us, we are crushed from inside. We do not understand and cannot comprehend what is happening.

While these thoughts keep moving, I cannot thank that one man who took so much care of our family than himself. From morning till the evening, since 30 years, he made sure everyone ate their meal on time, and knew our favorites. He would prepare different food items according to our schedule, nine people being minimum in the house if not more. He knew everyone, our third cousins, our friends, each one of them and his memory was sharp. Without any complaints, he would happily serve and try doing other household chores. He had his small issues with the phone that he would come and get it fixed by us. He would hardly stay back at his village when he visited and would come back home to help us in the kitchen as soon as his work was over. He had such a big heart that his family treated us with a whole filled meal when we had gone to give them blankets at the village after the earthquake in 2015.

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He was so familiar to the culture at home that he knew everything in and out. The way our festivals were celebrated, rituals followed, and everyday norms, he knew it all. I still wonder how did he do all of this with such purity. He would scold, tell us to take care of ourselves, asks us not to take stress and tell us how we needed to be strong during tough situations. He taught us lot of things, loyalty and patience, being one that tops the list. He had his own reservations and way of doing things. He was a leader, a giver , a companion, a brother, he was the first person we would call out first thing in the morning, in our own timings and the first one when we entered home. He was selfless.  His home was us, and he was family. He is Manbadur Dai, our dai who passed away in a jiffy on a Friday morning and left us with his love and care.

It will be weird to be entering home without meeting him, weirder to not seeing him in the kitchen , weirdest to not be saying Ram Ram, Manbadur Dai 🙁

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Travel Diary II: Mount Rainier, a dreamland.

As many states that I have seen until date in US, each one has had its own charm. There has been something different about each place that I would differ to rank them. Iowa is famous for its cornfields and rolling plains, while the vibe at New York is amazing. Our last trip to Seattle was awesome too. We took the city pass and covered five different spaces around the city. The glasswork at Chihuly garden was spectacular, with the collection café, which is inside the compound; we discovered the marine life at Seattle Aquarium, which was amusing while the Mo Pop would fascinate the Marvel fans. We went on the top of Space needle and the view of the city was glowing from up above. The pass also included a cruise wherein, we were introduced to many interesting facts about Seattle. The Pike place market had its own attraction, the gum wall surely being one of them. We spent an entire day at the city followed by fireworks at Lake Union in the night for Independence Day celebration.

The next day we head to Mount Rainier. On our way, we crossed a small town, named Elbe. It is a cute little place and one defintely needs to check the souvenir shop. I believe this is the only store in the area and is famous for the huckleberry ice cream (which surely is the best that I have eaten until date). There is a tiny little church which is the smallest functional church and the setting of the rail track restaurant is pretty cool. This is the best place to buy the Rainier cherries too.

 

As we drove from Elbe, we did a small stop at Narada falls. It is a must visit and one of the popular destinations. A five-minute trail leads to the most spectacular waterfall that I had ever seen. The rainbow in front of the fall makes it look prettier. We enjoyed the sprinkles of water and after clicking some pictures head to Mount Rainier. We wanted to cover two sides at Mt Rainier, one was the Paradise and the other one was Sunrise.

 

As we drove, the green tall trees were on a line on each side, and it seemed that they were opening for us. The roads created so well in the mountain area that we were so close to the mountain. Each scene was beautiful and was magical. Little did we know that this was just the start?

 

We parked our car and chose our trail. The walk towards the visitor center was splendid; the narrow roads made one way did make the parking a bit tricky. As we reached the base of Paradise, we saw many tourists, people of different ages, some were starting the trail, while some had just finished, and some kept admiring the beauty.

We traveled on a weekday; still there was a huge footfall. July, being the best time to visit Mt. Rainier had attracted many. The mountain, also called a shy mountain, as most part of the year, covered with clouds, we were lucky and blessed to see the top of the mountain clearly, which is 14411’.

There were many trails, and depending on the time, one could chose them or take information from the visitor center. As we chose our trail, we saw kids of 4-5 years of age, walking along us. We saw different types of trees, the Pacific silver fir, western hemlock, mountain hemlockDouglas fir, Alaska yellow cedar, and western white pine, there were patches of snow that we walked across. There was one view that we can never forget, and captured through the eyes. The mountain standing tall, the meadows with wild flowers and the waterfall, was a bliss. The active volcano had so much to offer, and it was so nice to see Asian elderly people experience the same feeling. The fact that roads were accessible and the trails made properly got many to reach. The trails were nicely marked and the place having so many visitors yet, felt empty because of the huge space. We looked at the mountain, which was crystal white and the area being a dreamland, we could hear the mountain. We played with snow and walked down from a different route. As we drove from Paradise, we stopped at another spot wherein the reflection of the mountain seen in the river. The drive was as pretty as the walk and we reached the nearby area Packwood. We spent the night at one of the lodge, and walked towards the street with restaurant. A mile walk made us witness the sunset on the mountain, and the purple color of the sky was so vibrant that we can never forget. The area had limited restaurants that were open in the night; we were done with a quick dinner.  The next day, after the breakfast, we went to the Grove of patriarchs. It is a loop around Occapeloch River. We saw different types of trees some 1000 years old, some 200 ft. tall.  It was interesting to see kids draw and learn 100 types of leaves while they hiked. The different color of the river was interesting with pebbles beneath and at the same time very cold. There were interesting facts written around each block, which made it an hour walk. There were some dead trees, which still gave nutrients to the other trees.

After exploring that area, we went to the Sunrise point, which again was so scenic. There were couple of trails but sadly, we could not do any, as it was time for us to leave. The two-day trip to Mount Rainier was just not enough; and it stands to be one of the beautiful places that we have ever been to. To more of travels and exploring!