Monday, May 01, 2006

Dusk at San Juan

After parts one and two, it is time for part three of the San Juan story. I thought I should put it all down before my memory starts to fade. As I pointed out earlier, memory-fading seems to be happening faster these days than before. Sigh, old age! But I will save that rant for another day.

So we all came back from the kayaking trip, somewhat tired but still going very strong. The next stop was the bed and breakfast place where P had booked us all for the night. We had rented two cottages - a bigger one for the girls and a smaller one (but it DID have what A called a princess bed) for the guys. The hotel was very quaint and pretty and was run by a family who lent a very home-like atmosphere to the place. There were lots of lovely flowers surrounding the cottages - tulips, in particular, abounded. Ah, I love the tulip season!

We all freshened up a bit before the next round of sightseeing. Even as we were getting ready to step out, the hotel landlady delivered a plateful of home-baked cookies - yummm :-)! To get our batteries recharged, stop one was at a coffeehouse. Most of us got some version of coffee or hot chocolate. J and A opted for scoops of icecream instead. All spruced up, were were ready to begin leg two.

This time round, S, M, C and P went in one car and A, J, R and me went in the other. Now, whenever A and me (it usually includes S too but in this case, unfortunately, she was driving the other car and hence couldn't contribue) are put in the backseat of any car, it generally implies lots of fun for us and lots of trouble for the other occupants. So both of us happily sat in the backseat pulling R's leg, offering lots of valuable suggestions, demanding that the songs be changed, chattering non-stop etc. etc. In short, we were having a gala time. I am not so sure about J and R though ;-)!

First stop on the sightseeing itinerary was at the Roche Harbor. I still haven't figured out what exactly we were supposed to have seen there. All the locals recommended it highly as a sightseeing place - we arrived there and did find a lovely view of the harbor but nothing much else. So after taking the mandatory snaps, we were proceeding to the next stop when we saw directions to a "sculpture museum". We got mighty excited - this we had to see! As we drove down down the slopes towards the museum, we saw some twisted pieces of metal in what seemed to a fenced wasteland. Our worst fears were confirmed when we saw the notice that the wasteland was indeed the museum. We did not even slow down and proceeded directly to the next stop - English camp!

English camp was another of the pretty, thickly tree-filled places (of course, with local "history" to boot) that most American tourist spots seem to abound in. But the difference was that we could see one more spectacular view of the lake (or was it backwaters?). We went for a short hike around the kutti hill in that spot. And of course, took some more snaps.

Then it was off to the lavender fields. P was the one who had been campaigning real hard to visit it. "The lavender field smell so awesome dudes! You guys should not miss it." had been P's battle-cry from the beginning of our trip. So we followed the directions to the lavender fields and arrived at what seemed to be a garden filled with rows of green bushes. We thought it was the lavender garden. But according to P's description, the whole place should have been smelling of lavender. Or at least the bushes should have had violet colored flowers. We could spot nothing. Both A and me went one step further and actually smelt a few bushes. But nopes - no smell, zilch, nothing!

Then the other car with S, M, C and P arrived. We asked P where the lavender fields were. He sheepishly said that these were the lavender fields. You can imagine how big a competition the rest of us must have had to see who could kick P first! We found out only later that it was not the lavender season and that's why we could see nothing!

From the so called lavender fields, we had to hurry to the Lime Kiln point - apparently the sunset from there was spectacular. Here is where I should mention something about our car's navigator R. From the beginning, all of us had noticed that R's navigational skills, which, contrary to his protestations, were barely adequate. However, R bravely took on the mantle to chart our course back to Lime Kiln point and pored over the map on his lap. Then in a questioning voice asked, "Does the sun set in the west? So where is Lime Kiln point on this map?" This was followed by a series of equally profound questions. Needless to say A and me were rolling in the backseat with laughter and J had to make quite some effort to concentrate on his driving. Mercifully we had already passed Lime Kiln point on our way to the lavender fields. So all we had to do was retrace our path and not depend on the R's logical thinking!

When we arrived at the Lime Kiln point, the sun was just making its way downwards, casting a beautiful orange-red glow on the landscape. We had to hike a short distance to the cliffs near the ocean to get to a vantage point. The view of the sun setting behind the mountains, with the ocean in the front was simply spectacular. All of us watched, spellbound.

After that cool show from mother nature, it was time to head back to the town. It was around 8.30p when we reached - our hotel landlord had told warned us earlier that most restaurants closed early in San Juan. However, there was one restaurant called Steps which was open till later. Steps happened to be close to our hotel too. Ah, how convenient, we all thought.

However, once we got to the restaurant, the dinner menu posted outside put several of our predominantly vegetarian group-members off. But there was no other option and all of us were ravenous and at that point were willing to gobble up anything edible. So we ordered the food. After a not-so-short wait, (during which all of us mainly spoke of food), the food finally started arriving. A looked at the rather small plate placed in front of S and asked S if she didn't think the portion was rather too small. S confidently replied that it was the side-dish - when another plate, even smaller than the first one appeared. That was the side-dish.

You can imagine our sad plight. All the miniscule food portions were gone before anyone could blink their eyes. And we were all MORE hungry than we had been before dinner started. We were too hungry to even laugh too much at our fate. That was when somebody remembered the peanut butter and bread. Yeah, the same peanut butter and bread which all of us had disdainfully disregarded earlier that day.

The moment we reached the hotel, there was virtually a stampede (amongst most of the girls) for the peanut butter and the bread. We all had at least a slice each and complemented it with oranges and potato chips. After that, everybody was too tired to do anything much other than just go to bed. The guys retired to their cottage while the girls started deciding how to divide the available sleeping places on the futon, the bed and the folding cot amongst themselves.

Phew! This post is much longer than the other two. Looks like the post sizes are growing exponentially. And I am not even done yet :-O! Please to bear with me!

p.s. If there is popular demand, I will do another chart depicting the increase in the number of words per post ;-)!


Archana Bahuguna said...

*grin* We would love the charts. Please have them coming :-) :-).

Interesting post and vow the tulips pics and the sunset photos are beautiful. I dont think there is or can be - anything more beautiful than a sunset or a sunrise.

T said...

Great Pics

Saranya Kishore said...

Hey Arch,
Awesome post and awesome pics..and verrry funny!!
When are you going to post the pics of tulips..that one Shilps talked about? :))

kuttichuvaru said...

nice pics!!

Archana said...

Archana - ha, one "popular" demand...I shall start putting in data into my spreadsheet ;-)! Thats' true - sunrise and sunset scenes look soooo awesome!

T, thank you :-)! This time round, they were all mine :-D!

Saranya - thank you :-)! Tulip pics coming soon - you see, you will HAVE to endure my posts about a subject in order to see the corresponding pics ;-)!

Kuttichuvaru - thank you :-)!

Shilpa said...

I would love to see the chart too ! hehehe

Nice pics and description. If I ever goto Seattle...I will use this as a guide.

SK, I think the tulips will be featured in the next part :-P

Prasanna said...

Hey nice post....funny too!

T said...

for some reason, I cant get over the ocean pic.. not sure if its the color... or the lone boat in the middle of nowhere.. i am usually more of a landscape guy (

for now, changed my desktop wallpaper to the ocean !

Prabhu said...

Wow! Some nice road trip memories. More is merrier right, when it comes to road trips?

And I have noticed the navigator gets ridiculed in all road trips. After a road trip, we named one poor guy a "Transformer" because everytime we had to take a Left he used to say Right and vice-versa. :)

Archana said...

Shilpa - sure :-)! I can give you telephonic advice too if you want ;-)!

Prasanna - thank you :-)!

T, now I am all happy that a picture I took captivated someone so much :-D!

Prabhu - transformer? LOL! Yeah, but poor navigators always bear the brunt. BUT - they do get to sit in the front seat, so that's some compensation :-)!

arvindh said...

Great pics and description!

Archana said...

Arvindh, thank you! And, welcome aboard :-)!