Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fall '11 & Winter '12

Yosemite Christmas Break
Pizzeria Locale, Boulder, CO
Emerald Lake, Weminuche Wilderness, CO
Getting upclose at the Cheyenne Mtn Zoo, CO

Point Reyes, CA
Amalia & Olivia, Yosemite ChristmasLocal kitten we nicknamed 'Cloud'
Kansas Thunderstorms

Yosemite Christmas Break
Pikes Peak Cog Railway, 14K ft & looking belowColorado Mule Deer Buck
Amalia fishing on Vallecito Lake, CO
Wawona Dome, Yosemite, CASarus Crane seen at Cheyenne Mtn. Zoo, CO
Pikes Peak via Garden of the Gods

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Retired Elephants and Golden Buddhas

Down the coast of Karnataka we made our first stop in Mangalore, (nothing much to say about the place except for one impressive frescoed Catholic church painted by one man in 2.5 years) and then on to the hill town of Madikeri.

The first picture is of our chop job to our "guide" book, The Lonely Planet. A few things: a. the book weighs close to 3lbs, b. other than some basic how-to-get-there, orientation maps, and common tourist stops, the book is almost worthless, c. what was once a backpacker's bible, has turned into a "guide" for middle-of-the-road, generally unadventerous travelers looking for an overpriced "Indian experience," without too many challenges to their comfort zones. So we took a knife to ours and cut it down to only to bare necessities. :) Now back to our adventure....

From Mangalore to Madikeri we endured a 6+ hour bus saga over roads under major construction or in desparate need of some. Not the 3.5 hours we expected. Anywho, when we arrived in Madikeri we stayed a few days longer and planned our stay on a coffee plantation (post coming soon!).

From Madikeri we took an early bus to Kushalnagar to hang out with some elephants at Dubare Forest Reserve who had retired from their previous work in forestry. It was a lovely time and we really enjoyed getting up close to the pachyderms during their morning baths and feeding hour.

From there we hired our autorickshaw driver for most of the morning and visited a nearby Tibetan Buddhist enclave. At Namdroling Monestary they have three golden statues with the center Buddha reaching 60ft high. While there were plenty of tourist gawkers who detracted slightly from the solitude we wanted, we still found ourselves at peace meditating in such a wonderful place.

It had been a long time since we had been in a Buddhist temple but it was nice to be back in the spiritual realm once again. There is just something about Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhist monks that I feel calm and centered when in their presence. Although we didn't have time, it would undoubtedly be quite a treat to attend one of their ceremonies at the temple. Perhaps next time...

Leaving Kushalnagar, we caught some buses heading south for our stay at Honey Valley Estate's coffee plantation in the Kodagu hills. We were looking forward to some good fresh ground brew...