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I am an ardent blogger and a web enthusiast. My blogs include varied topics from the picturesque details of my travelogue to theology and worldly facts. My passions are reading English and Tamil classics, Management Topics, Playing Tennis and taking long walks. I live with my wife in Bangalore. Visit regularly my children in Michigan and Colorado to spend time with them and three grandsons. Please brief your opinions there in when you read my blog :- http://divinenotes.blogspot.com.

Friday, September 05, 2014

2014 U.S. Diary ( Part 5) - VISITING PLACES OF TOURIST INTEREST


U.S. Diary ( Part 5 ) - Visiting Places of Tourist Interest
- P.Natarajan, camp: Canton MI     


On Aug 03, 2014 (Sunday) we bid goodbye to the world’s entertainment capital Las Vegas and Excalibur Casino where we had stayed and proceeded on our journey to San Diego. We had our usual Starbucks Coffee at Excalibur and it became almost 11.30 a.m. by the time we vacated the hotel, loaded the luggage in the vehicle, and started moving. The weather was favourable and we said our morning prayers as we had to travel about 350 miles to reach San Diego. We crossed the Nevada Border @ Mojave Whiskey Posts zone and entered California State - the time was 1.20p.m. and also time for lunch and we parked the vehicle in front of a Subway. Sandwiches from Subway with 4 to 5 fillings are generally delicious and satisfy the appetite to a great extent. Karthik ordered mexican veg. burger. We collected the hot coffee and continued our journey.


The journey was pleasant as we saw the blue tides of the great Pacific Ocean flowing rapidly up and down at a distance on our right side. The highway was running parallel to the Pacific Ocean. As we were to cover yet another 70 miles or so, it started raining. Aparna was driving and rains were part of the game whenever she drove. We reached San Diego safely and arrived by 7.15 p.m., " The Grand Pacific Palisades -  Resort and Hotel " where we had booked an apartment with a kitchen, dining ,living and 3 large bedrooms for our stay for the next six days.
               
The resort offers a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, has sumptuous decor, provides facilities associated with a good resort and satisfies the needs of the traveler. Recreation amenities include swimming pool, children's water park, spas, activity centre and a restaurant. It also has a basketball court. It is a center spot for sightseeing.
 
We had dinner in the restaurant - Soup, fresh vegetable salads, sandwiches, pasta - which we enjoyed as we were hungry. Sekhar and Aparna went out to buy some food items, fruits to take care of breakfast the next day. 

We washed our clothes for the first time after 6 days in the laundry area where we got supply of soap etc;, the total expense was about $3.50 for washing and drying a huge load. After folding the clothes and watching TV for some time we went to bed around midnight and had a restful sleep to the drone of the a.c.


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Aug 4-
The aroma of Gevalia filter coffee woke us up around 6.30 a.m. Aparna was preparing coffee as she used to do at home in Denver.She had brought all essential items for cooking @ the apt.- kitchen. It is needless to say we enjoyed the coffee along with Parle's buttered crackers as we sat in the balcony outside, watching the rising sun and the blue waters of the Pacific. We could see the tractors ploughing the land for sowing the fall flowers. We missed the summer flowers in that area by a week otherwise it would have been a spectacular view of !0,000 daffodils and roses tossing their heads in the breeze from the ever flowing waters. 

We decided to spend the morning in cooking, going for a stroll around the resort whereas Viggy and Karthik disappeared with their swim suits into the pool. After a lunch of rotis, subji, salads, appams, yogurt and fruits the boys were becoming restless as they were going to meet Ajay mama, Ritu mami, Neel after 2 years and baby Isha for the first time. Ajay and family arrived by 4pm from Detroit, via Phoenix - they had hired a vehicle from the car-rentals at the airport and kept the same for use for the days they stayed in San Diego. Two cars were at our disposal to accommodate the family members of Natarajans, Sekhars and Ajays.





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( Neel and Karthik, the best buddies )


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( Viggy, cleverly advancing with the ball, before throwing into the basket )


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( The Pool and the scenic view including the bare flower bed as seen from the sit out in our Suite in the Resort )


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( Ready to explore In the company of grand children - Isha, Neel and Karthik )


We then drove to San Diego Beach as an outing for the evening. Every one jumped into the warm water and had a nice sea bath. Neel and Grandma fell down so many times as they lost their balance while jumping to avoid the high and splashing waves. Viggy, Ajay and Karthik were at quite a distance ; it was a hard task to bring them back to the shore. We watched the setting sun's hallelujahs in the horizon in the west. (Sun set only after 8.30p.m in U.S. in summer).  
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( Evening in the Beach )

We returned to the apt. by 9 pm. and soon had dinner of sandwiches ,fruits ,hot cocoa. We washed the beach soaked clothes in the laundry and retired to bed after playing with Neel hide and seek. Isha was crawling all over the place and one of us always kept a close vigil.

Aug,5
Legoland :- Legoland is situated just opposite the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort and we chose to walk the distance on the morning of Tuesday, the 5th August. Legoland California Resort was built in 1999 based around the Lego Toy Brand and it stands as the 3rd unit to open in San Diego and as first one outside Europe. The place has become more popular after the ' Lego Movie'.

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It is the only one in the world with a water park.  The Legoland is located in Carlsbad and occupies 128 acres of land. The entrance fee for Legoland alone is $78 per head, extra for Water Park and Seaworld.  Children in the  small age group play in the amusement park  geared with lego blocks and rides. There is an imagination section for promoting creativity and kids are encouraged to build bridges and dams.

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(Family get together )


The Theme Park is full of rides that young kids would simply love them.  We had the chance to see Viggy, Karthik and Neel going on the rides. Miniland USA , which is a part of the Park brings before the visitors the miniature representation of different States of U.S.A. We came to know 4 million legos were used to build this theme in an accurate scale of 1:20.

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( The Miniland of USA - the two pictures above - 4 million legos used in 1:20 scale )



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(Neel seen relaxing above  -  Ajay represents Michigan, but the mini U.S.
behind him represents 7 States in Legoland )

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( Dad and Son enjoying the Theme Parks in Legoland )


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( Legoland California Resort - Only one in the world with a Water Park.)


Viggy, Karthik and Neel - the younger Tykes enjoyed many aspects in Legoland, to mention a few:-- Squabbles Deek, Pirate Shores, the Whimsical Rides, the Musical Fountain etc;..


What is something to look out in Legoland ?  It is the smallest model of a duck hanging in the window in Chinatown in Miniland in San Francisco area. The largest model is Bronte - the stunning lego creation is made with 2 million lego bricks. Smoking is prohibited in all areas. Stroller is available on first come first basis. We availed the stroller basis and Isha the baby enjoyed the ride in it. Park Hopper Ticket costs 10 bucks more per person but the bang is worth the buck - not only you get all the fun rides of Legoland but also allowed to enjoy the waterpark ride as well.

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Viggy, Karthik, Neel and Isha loved the visit to the Legoland - the minion doll what is seen in Neel’s hands is a prize won by Viggy for throwing the ball right into the basket in the first chance itself  - in the picture above Aparna tells her boys that it is time to go )


We had an enjoyable lunch in Pizza Hut inside Legoland - it was a buffet lunch with Salads, Pizza, Pasta and soft drinks.

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( Relaxing in the Resort drawing hall and Planning for the next day).


We returned to Grand Pacific Palisades Resort after spending the whole day in Legoland. It was a day sans four wheeler in this trip.

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 ( Breakfast getting ready in the Resort-Kitchen)

August 06, the Wednesday morning, after a cup of hot filter coffee, we got ready for the day's agenda. We had cereal, bread toasts and more coffee. Children drank juice, filled the water bottles for the way and were ready by 10 a.m. driving towards Malibu.
           
We shared the seats in the two vehicles . Ajay and Sekhar drove comfortably along the Pacific coast and reached Sri Venkateswara Temple @ Malibu in 2 hours before noon. It was a beautiful way as we were going thru' scenic sight, watching houses on mountains with tropical plants and flowers like hibiscus, vinca, nerium (Arali). Though we were driving around noon, the weather was good through out our stay @ San Diego, the mercury was between 60 and 85 F.

The Temple is located in the city of Calabasas, California in Santa Monica Mountains. The Hindu Temple Society of Southern California owns it.  There are two complexes, the upper and the lower. Lord Venkateswara who is in the upper complex stands majestically. We performed ashtotra archana and received the prasad. 

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( Malibu Temple has two Complexes )


The Thayar Sannidhi was behind Balaji's. Shiva Temple is housed in the lower complex. Mrityunjaya Homam was going on - we worshipped Lord Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha, Subrahmanya and the Navagrahas.We received dates as prasad from the priest after the Homam.


1998 Tamil Movie Genes - the Malibu temple features in a song. Beverly Hills Nanjia, the 1998 film also carries some scenes focussing the Malibu Temple. The scenic settings run for 25 miles around the city of Malibu. We enjoyed the scenery as we drove for one more hour in search of VEGGIE GRILL - a popular restaurant with more options for vegetarians. Karthik and Viggy chose their menu with ease. Aparna preferred salads as usual. Ajay and Sekhar chose the items for us. Since the plates were large we shared the items which were hot and delicious. IMG_7345.JPG
( Lunch @ VEGGIE GRILL in Santa Monica )


After lunch we headed towards the Pier of Santa Monica. The parking lot was almost full as a huge holiday crowd was thronging the beach.


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Santa monica pier is a large double jointed pier - a land mark in  Santa Monica and is 100 year old it is a prominent tourist attraction - After gearing us with proper swim dresses we joined the other bathers to have sea-bath in the Pacific ocean. The water was deep turquoise in color. Viggy, karthik, Ajay and Aparna who are good swimmers went a little far into the rising tides , vanished for a moment and came out when the waves pushed them with force to the shore side. Neel came to the dry area to play on the sand. He had brought the shovels and pails to fill water and sand. Isha stayed with grandma as the latter didn't want to wet her good saree. The others enjoyed dodging or being tossed by the force of waves for more than an hour.


We left the sea shore by 5pm and after changing into dry clothes drove towards Hollywood. Ajay and Co. reached the place by 7.00p.m. and the second party joined them a little late. We were speechless to view the vast mansions of the celebrities though we only had the external view. The drive was quite exciting .After parking the cars we leisurely strolled through the celebrated Hollywood Walk of Fame, the long street lit with an array of colorful lights and huge sign boards.
The names of celebrities are seen on the street in a Star Mark and referred as Hollywood Walk of Fame.













Hollywood sign is a landmark and American Cultural Icon located in Los Angeles. It is situated on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hill area of Santa Monica Mountains.
The Hollywood Walk of fame comprises more than 2500 five-pointed terrazzo and brass Stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and 3 blocks of vine street in Hollywood. We could read famous names like Walt Disney, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Peter O'toole, Charlton Heston, Liz Taylor and many more.

We were attracted by a shop sign where for $ 5 one can pick up any item.   We bought a basketful of assorted items from wristwatches, shot glasses, coffee mugs to T-shirts.

After walking for more than an hour capturing the colorful scene in our Canon it was nearly quarter to 10 p.m. when we reached Paru Queen - a vegetarian restaurant in Hollywood famous for South Indian dishes. We were surprised to learn that the original owners who were from pudukkottai were Parvathi and Natarajan. We ordered Masala and Rava Dosas, Poori and Idly and paratha and relished the dishes and the taste of home made masalas..It was nearly midnight when we drove back to the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort and reached safely by 1 A.M. We retired to bed in the wee hours .  

2014 U.S.Diary reports that August 07, the Thursday morning was a sort of relaxation without much activities. Ajay and  Aparna went for swimming in the Resort Pool, PNs went round the resort enjoying the sea breeze for a morning walk.  Aparna made pancakes and sandwiches for breakfast.  The boys loved the cereals and hot cocoa. Sekhar and PN took up the laundry work. Ajay took his mother for buying ready to cook stuffs from an indian shop for lunch. Lunch was prepared in the kitchen and we all finished lunch by 2p.m. and rested for a while..In the evening, we went to La Jolla Cove Beach to see the sea lion. It was an hour's drive. We wanted to watch the sea lions but were disappointed as we could not get into the water because the sea was rough.

From there we drove to Mission Beach for having a bath in the sea. The tides were very high and we were given a fore warning not to venture too far inside the water. Viggy braved the rising tides and went diving with ease. Isha baby also played in the water near the shore.. By 7pm the tides became high and water rushed on to the shore and the stroller in which Isha was sitting was pulled in with the high tide. We called it a day and rushed back to change our wet clothes. Ajay bought huge ice creams for us which we could n't finish fully and had to discard them half heartedly as no messing inside the car with dripping eatables.


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 ( A happy Bunch waving at you from the Beach ! )



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( Aparna having tough time in restraining Viggy and Karthik )


Aug 08 Friday Aparna, Sekhar, Viggy and Karthik started the return journey in their vehicle from San Diego to Denver.  They covered about 1200 miles by halting at Utah for a night. They reached Denver safely on 9th by 4p.m. They had to get ready for the Yajur Upakarma the next day, Aug,10. Aparna and Sekhar shared the driving with caution as there were rains on the highway. At this point, a small arithmetic could be done for curiosity. By adding the distance covered in the forward journey, the total distance of travel by road exceeded 3500 miles.


After Aparna-Sekhar's departure to Denver. - We visited the Sea World along with Ajay and Neel.
Ajay had booked the tickets online and hence we just entered showing our IDs.
Ritu stayed back in the Resort with Isha


Seaworld is an animal theme park, oceanarium and a marine mammal park. Marine Biology R and D Institute is also attached to the Seaworld. Four graduates of Los Angeles University founded Seaworld in 1964 in a land of 190 acres which is leased by San Diego City Administration till 2048. Seaworld Ohio, Antonio and Orlando are the other Seaworlds in the world. By visitors strength, it is ranked 22 in the world with 4.31 million visitors annually. Several Dolphins, Sea Lions, two seawater aquariums are the main attractions.

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There are 26 animal habitats, 10 rides, 20 shows, 2 play areas in the Seaworld, San Diego, besides 4 limited time events. We saw shows in Blue Horizon in the Dolphin Stadium featuring Bottlenose Dolphins obeying the commands of the operator. The three Dolphins had an understanding to come out of the water straight and show their antics. They also performed
acrobatics Splashing water with their tail fins(??). It is a must for any one to carry a rain coat like the ones you get during the Niagara trip because of the chance of getting fully drenched is unavoidable.

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                              ( Ajay seen feeding the otters )
The show featured various birds of flight, pilot whales, aerialists.


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We also visited other stadium to look at Sea Lions, Asian small-clawed Otters.

We attended a live Cirque demare musical show where the players did tricks with poles, jumping up and down the trampolines from a great height. We watched the show with wide opened eyes cheering all the while.
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We had pizza, pasta, salad and lemonade for lunch only after standing in a long queue. 
Neel had a small flower painting done in his left arm.

Another attraction is the  320 feet high Gyro Tower built in 1969. It rises 150 feet per minute @ 1.02r.p.m. Seaworld has 10 killer whales in Shamu Stadium in a 7 million gallon saltwater habitat. Shamu was the name of the first killer whale brought to the Seaworld  and the stadium is named after that.

There are so many rides for bigger kids ; we were feeling sorry that Viggy and Karthik were not with us to enjoy those rides


After completing the visit to the shows, we went for a skyride in seaworld over the bayou or the back waters of the Pacific. The ride was less than 5 minutes but the waiting time was more than an hour.

( Skyride in Seaworld ) -


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It was 30 minutes past 7p.m. we came out of the Seaworld and drove back to San Diego Grand Pacific Resort.
                






















( Isha was eagerly awaiting for our arrival - Don't you see her eyes looking at the door )


We flew from San Diego to San Jose by the 6.30a.m. flight on 9th August to visit two of my brothers and their family. After spending 4 days with nieces, nephew and a grand nephew, we returned to Denver on13th by an early morning flight to be with Aparna till 18th and left with Ajay and family back to Michigan by South West Airlines. 

Our travelogue describes the places visited by us from July 30 to  August 13-  a 15 day program - We have taken nearly 2 weeks to complete the Travelogue - we wrote it in five parts in a narrative form with vivid description of places visited and their importance, backed by pictures of interest. 

This program is memorable as we were able to make it together with our family members. It is also gratifying because our children as well as the grand children were also with us. The entire credit goes to Aparna, Sekhar, Ajay and Ritu for having planned the visits so well on a continuum that there were no hitches, by touch wood. The fact that we visited different States which include Michigan, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Four Corners (junction of 4 States), Arizona and California could always be referred as the highlight of the Travelogue.

" Good Moments with Time will become Sweet Memories ".
We are sure to cherish them as long as our memory is good !


Natarajan and Parvathy.




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