4 June 2022

Alaska Trip

  1. Last family vacation before Natasha heads out to college… Jul 23, 2016

    A few days in the Northwest and then off to Alaska…
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  2. Introducing the three to you… Jul 23, 2016

    So that would be – right to left – Facebook, Snapchat and Pokemon Go !!

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  3. Nikispeak – Pokemon Go! Jul 23, 2016

    Getting off the airport train, I told Nikita who was looking for Pokemons (or whatever it is that they look for in that game) on her iPhone: “Niki, we are on vacation. You have to enjoy the sights and the surroundings”
    She: “Dad, I have seen this airport so many times”
    Me: “If you are going to be obsessed with Pokemon Go, we could have stayed back home”
    She: “Dad, I do not have an obsession. Just an unhealthy interest” !!

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Now that she has “Kaine”… Jul 23, 2016

    … will she be “able” ๐Ÿ™‚

    (Even I admit that was a terrible groaner ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  5. Seattle style welcome!! Jul 24, 2016
  6. Ah! those pesky little things called “children” Jul 24, 2016

    First day of vacation to celebrate the impending passage of Natasha’s next step in life – leaving us to join college. While many parents have gone thru this phase in their lives, for Sharmila and myself, this will be our first. It will be interesting to see how each one of us internalize this passage of our own lives – the balancing of the joy of seeing her grow to be her own woman on one hand and then breaking out in sweat at night realizing that if we walked over to the other room, she is not going to be there, on the other…

    Today, she is going to see some of our very old friends who often helped us manage her when she was a mere baby. Many of them have not seen her since those days (and have never seen Nikita!). It probably will not make a big mark in her mind, but for me, it will be momentous watching those “intersection points”.

    There is a fascinating poem by the great Lebanese-born American-settled poet Kahlil Gibran called “On Children” that does an exemplary job of setting the parent – children perspective in the larger context of Life.

    ——

    “Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    But seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    As living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    And He bends you with His might
    That His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    So He loves also the bow that is stable.”

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  7. Why “Sleepless in Seattle”, you ask? Jul 24, 2016

    Because there are way, way too many coffee shops here, I say!!

  8. There must be something in the water of Seattle Jul 24, 2016

    Met five of our very old friends from Dallas to get this first day in Seattle started in high gear. Four of them were also colleagues from a prior job life. Here is the funny thing – in the fifteen years or so that has gone by, not a single one of them has changed one single bit since I saw them last. Not an ounce put on, not a strand of hair lost… unlike… ahem… yours truly ๐Ÿ™‚ I blame Atlanta water for that ๐Ÿ™‚

    It was great to catch up with Pawan, Rajeev, Bindu, Sanjay and Sansern and the kids!! There were some really funny recollections of the past – the He-Li, She-Li story and the Larry Mason feet traveling in first class to Newark story… to name a few.

    I need to come back and spend some more time here…

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  9. Funny! Jul 25, 2016

    (near Pike Place Market in Seattle)

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  10. Mount Rainier! Jul 25, 2016

    Mount Rainier towering over Seattle downtown skyscrapers (as seen from top of the Space Needle).

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  11. Making new friends!! Jul 25, 2016

    Sometimes it is about meeting old friends… sometimes it is about making new ones. We visited Sharmila’s school friend – Saimoon and her family yesterday. I met her and her husband Indranil for the first time. Needless to say, we found out a lot of common friends from our past! The girls – Natasha and Nikita took to Saimoon’s daughters (they are similar age groups) very quickly. We had a great time all around!!

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  12. That was a pleasant surprise! Jul 25, 2016

    Next stop was to meet Piyali – Sharmila’s senior from her engineering school – and her family. I remember having met Piyali and her husband – commonly referred to as “PPD” – long long time back when they used to live in Houston. I think our common friends – Indrani and Aniruddha – had brought them over to our place in Dallas. This was way before any one of us kids.

    Funnily enough, yesterday, I did not even have to start to find out what common connections we had. We walked into one such immediately as we stepped into their house. Ashok and Bipasha – our dear friends from Dallas – and their daughters were staying with them on their way to Banff! Turns out Ashok and PPD were classmates from their engineering college!!

    But the best part was meeting Piyali’s mom. Like every Bengali mom she kept a hawkish eye on my plate and glass. Every time I had finished my food or drink, she would immediately indicate to her daughter to replenish it. Ah! What would we ever do without our Bengali moms and their care in our lives!!

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  13. Rounding up the day with the good old Aroras… Jul 25, 2016

    The best was kept for the last. Visited Gagan and Bharti at their place. Gagan and I worked together in my first start up experience. We had no kids and the four of us had grown very close. Those start up days demanded so much work, we barely used to go back to our apartments to sleep. Sharmila and Bharti used to come over to our office and I recollect them learning roller blading in the corridors of our office over the weekends while we pounded away at more code. Well, Gagan was pounding away at more code. I was just eating those free chips and food we used to stock up ๐Ÿ™‚

    One challenge of keeping the Aroras for the last was that we missed a few other i2 friends who were there at their place and had left by the time we came over. We missed Sanjay, Priya, Vijay and Mamtha. We did manage to stop Atanu just as he was escaping!!

    Getting to see the three of them and their kids was the best ending of a day in Seattle. For the first time ever, after dragging Natasha and Nikita thru four meetings of our old friends thru the day, even they declared that it was a great day for them too!!!

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  14. If you wondered how Martians feel among earthlings… Jul 26, 2016

    … you should try coming to Portland like me – with no facial hair and no tattoo :1)

  15. Dead, but not out… Jul 27, 2016

    Somehow this dead tree caught my attention. Thought it was actually adding immense beauty to the scenery.
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  16. For once… Jul 27, 2016

    … they are not playing Pokemon Go and instead using their iPhones for what phones were originally built – taking pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

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  17. Trying out an Oregon winery… Jul 28, 2016

    Aurora Cellars. Great set up outside with live music on. Ok wine…
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  18. It is all about having fun… Jul 28, 2016

    Enjoying wine at the winery with Sharmila listening to the Pranksters. A great example of a bunch of folks who believe that age has nothing to do with having fun. Also that when you are having fun at something, turns out you become pretty good at that stuff too!!!

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  19. “Tubewell” !! Jul 28, 2016

    I cannot recollect ever seeing one of these in this country. In India, of course, we grew up with these – at least my very early part of life when we were in a village. We used to call it a “tubewell” (and sometimes “hand tubewell” to differentiate from “deep tubewell” that was becoming common in our farms. I also remember a favorite bath time game (we kids used to gather around such a “tubewell” and some adult would keep pumping and we kids would take turns to take baths from the buckets getting filled) was to get an elder cousin to block the spout with their hands and a couple of pumps later, there would be a huge fountain coming out from the top drenching everybody nearby!!!

    Saw it for the first time in my life in US in a rural setting in northern Oregon.

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  20. The hike on the southern slopes of Mount Hood Jul 28, 2016

    Pretty impressed with how long the girls lasted. Nikita wanted to go further but the rest were tired enough that we turned aroundโ€ฆ
    [Sharmila, Natasha]

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  21. Mount Hood my witnessโ€ฆ Jul 28, 2016

    These girls do at times – and I mean only at times – have fun with each other!!!

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  22. Mount Jefferson Jul 28, 2016

    Taken from over 50 miles (80km) away. The cloud above remained there for a long time creating an impression that smoke was billowing out of the peak. If you carefully notice to the left edge, those two peaks would be South Sister and Mt. Bachelor.

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  23. This is like our family favorite waterfall… Jul 28, 2016

    I have run by it, I have hiked up the trail to the top and beyond, Sharmila, Niki and I have visited this before. Natasha was the only one left… so, this time we made a full family trip there. Together, we have made it to Multnomah Falls about 5 times.

    Incidentally, if you magnify the image, you can see all the three girls on the left edge of the bridge looking into the camera!!

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  24. Off the beaten path… Jul 28, 2016

    The two girls decided to get off the paved trail and rough it out…

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  25. Juneau, Alaska! Jul 29, 2016

    Went from the airport straight to the Mendenhall glacier.

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  26. Smooth sailing… Jul 29, 2016

    A majestic cruise ship pulling out of Juneau in Gastineau channel late in the evening…

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  27. Mendenhall Glacier Jul 29, 2016

    Taken from about 2 miles away from the face of the glacier in a completely overcast day. The face of the glacier used to be where I took the shot from about 60 years back. It has been retreating fast over the last few decades…
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  28. Walking back from the edge of Mendenhall lake Jul 29, 2016
  29. One of them never runs out of words… Jul 29, 2016
  30. Like a white hippo… Jul 29, 2016

    Lone piece of ice chunk stuck in the lake, yet to melt after breaking off from the glacier.

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  31. Glacier highway. Jul 29, 2016

    There are barely a few miles of road in Juneau. You cannot access Juneau by anything other than air or water. And yet, there are rental car counters at the airport!!

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  32. Where the glacier is melting away into the lake… Jul 29, 2016
  33. The practicality of it all… Jul 29, 2016

    Sipping my first cup of coffee and looking out into the completely cloud engulfed town of Juneau, I called up my mom for our daily call. The girls were sleeping and I had a lot of time at hand. So, today’s discussions with mom went a little deeper into her local weather than it normally does. Of course, she had numerous questions about Alaska. In her mind, Alaska is a huge sheet of white ice that we are all slipping uncontrollably in with every step – perhaps brought down by the weight of seventeen layers of clothes she has conjured in her mind that we must be wearing. I did not bother to mention to her that I was talking to her wearing shorts and a polo shirt. That could have quickly degenerated into a “thanda legey jaabey” admonition.

    Going back to the weather in her place, after complaining about heat and rain (and the only reason she did not complain about cold is that the temperatures have not gone below 80 deg F (26 deg C) yet), she concluded that the best would be if it would rain during the night and have bright sunshine during the day.

    Now, that did not compute in my mind. I thought rains during the day would be good to bring the temperatures down in that oppressive humid environment. Also, for me, I cannot see the beauty of rain fall if it happens in the dark of the night. After thinking thru a few more angles, I asked her “Keno bolo to?” (“Why so?”).

    “Jama kapor sukhatey hobey na?”, she promptly replied.

    So, apparently, come hell or high water, she needs the bright sunlight during the day so that she can dry her bundle of washed clothes everyday!!

    That was very funny to me. Just the silliness of my assumption that everybody has a washer dryer and that drying clothes to her trumps all the discomfort of a muggy, hot day…

    “Tai to, tai to”… I hastened to agree!!

  34. Nikispeak – How to encounter a bear Jul 29, 2016

    Last afternoon, as we were driving around the Mendenhall area, I overheard the two girls sitting in the backseat discussing what to do if we came up on a bear…

    Tasha: “You slowly back out”
    Niki: “What if the bear is too near?”
    Tasha: “Then you run”
    Niki: “What if the bear can outrun you?”
    Tasha: “Then you lay down and just act dead?” [I think she remembered a story of a person who did the same and the bear, convinced that he was dead, walked away]

    Niki, was completely unimpressed with the tactic of simply laying down in front of the bear and then acting dead.
    “That is silly”, she said. “The bear is going to be – Wow! FREE MEAT!!” ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Soaring thru the clouds Jul 29, 2016

    The sky tram emerging from the clouds. Below the clouds is the Gastineau Channel. On the other side you can see Douglas island.

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  36. Yellow dragonflies!! Jul 29, 2016

    Per capita number of airplanes and helicopters in Alaska is many many times more than the rest of US. Because most of Alaska (more than 90%) is not reachable by roads, these are the most common options (other than boats if you are off the water) both for business as well as tourism. I tried counting the number of non-government non-military airports in Alaska in Wikipedia (including seasonal airports and seaplane ports). I gave up after counting to 400!! Just to understand how akin these are to car parking lots, only 8 of them have control towers!!

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  37. Bird’s eye view of Juneau Jul 29, 2016

    (taken from the Sky Tram)

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  38. These spiders – they are everywhere!! Jul 30, 2016

    Found this cobweb way up in the mountains at the top of the Sky Tram. Every minute a cloud would come thru and drop a little more humidity on the gossamer. And then moment the cloud moved out, it would shine in the bright light!!

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  39. The bald eagle Jul 30, 2016

    This raptor is our national bird (and national animal too, as it turns out) and found all over Juneau – but mostly sitting on the light posts along Glacier Highway…

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  40. Off from remote Juneau… Jul 30, 2016

    … to really remote Glacier Bay. 14 minute flight. That is about the only option to reach there.

    Added after landing: Wheels up to wheels down 10 min 20 sec and Alaska Air flew a 737-400 for this!!!

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  41. After less than ten minutes of flight… Jul 30, 2016

    … now on to a school bus to get to the lodge. And we thought school was over for summer vacation!!

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  42. Walk down the beach trail… Jul 30, 2016
  43. Real skeleton of a humpback whale Jul 30, 2016

    The shape and size was so impressive that my initial reaction was “A dinosaur? In Alaska??”

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  44. Bartlett Cove Jul 30, 2016
  45. Random shot from the trek Jul 30, 2016
  46. Second trail walk – Forest trail Jul 30, 2016
  47. Tree carving! Jul 30, 2016

    Not sure who did it but very well done. Suddenly came upon it during the walk.

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  48. Too funny! Jul 30, 2016

    Where we are staying is so remote that there is no cell phone connection and no (gasp) internet connection. During our walk, we came upon a National Public services building and the two daughter got stuck there and refused to move. You might have already guessed this but the NPS offers free wifi connection (mostly for hikers)!!

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  49. Lazy sea lions Jul 31, 2016

    They just lay there doing nothing … and stinking to high heavens…

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  50. Very cute looking bird – a Puffin Jul 31, 2016
  51. The Cormorants Jul 31, 2016

    I think they are best friends with the sea lions. They too, just sat there lazily, instead of diving for fish…

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  52. Picking up four hitchhikers Jul 31, 2016

    During the boat ride, we spotted and picked up four folks in canoes. They had been in the water and islands for eight days. Apparently, this is a common pick up point for people who go out canoeing and then after they are done, they wait here to be picked up. After coming back from the boat trip, met another couple who were packing up their canoes to set out in the evening…

    I was asking the folks in the canoes what kind of wildlife they had seen. Apparently, their sightings ranged from bears to wolves to wolverines. I think I am going to stay back in my boat ๐Ÿ™‚

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  53. Lucked out with this shot Jul 31, 2016

    The birds flying with their shadows against that of the clouds in the crystal clear water…

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  54. Mount Fairweather Jul 31, 2016

    Apparently the tallest coastal peak (at over 15,000 feet). I need to fact check this one…

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  55. The Roys against the Margerie Glacier Jul 31, 2016
  56. Freeloaders!! Jul 31, 2016

    Speaking of lazy sea lions and cormorants, here are a couple of sea gulls that refused to fly. They just sat on the ice floe that broke off from the glacier and kept floating along…

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  57. First bear sighting… Jul 31, 2016

    It was a black bear that had started swimming about a couple of miles away and swam to the other side of the shore…

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  58. Second bear sighting… Jul 31, 2016

    This time it was a brown bear. The mama bear was huge and had three cubs following it. We were a comfortable mile and a half away in the water…

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  59. Third bear sighting Jul 31, 2016

    A black bear again looking for food up the slopes…

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  60. Whale watching Jul 31, 2016

    We saw numerous whales with their plumes and tail thrashing. Unfortunately, all of them were very far away…

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  61. Got drinks? No ice? Jul 31, 2016

    No problem!! We just fish it out of the water. Pristine clean glacier ice!!

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  62. Marble Mountain in the distance Jul 31, 2016

    First peak spotted as the boat got out of the Bartlett cove and the clouds lifted..

    Marble Mountain

  63. One more dead tree caught my attention… Jul 31, 2016

    I was scanning the mountain side for bears and mountain goats with the binoculars and zoom lenses when this dead tree caught my attention. It is almost like it was uprooted flat out from its base and then laid down onto the ground right next to the water…

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  64. The sheer drop is imposing… Jul 31, 2016

    These mountains start from the water and go straight up thousands and thousands of feet…

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  65. Amazing color of the water… Jul 31, 2016

    I was mistakenly thinking that the cerulean color of the water was due to its pristine nature of the water coming from the glacier. Apparently, this mind blowing color is rendered by glacier silt in the water that is still in suspension and has not had a chance to sediment out.

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  66. That is a swift journey for the water Jul 31, 2016

    All the way from the top (several thousand feet high) straight into the bay below down a near vertical path…

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  67. Interesting strain in the rock… Jul 31, 2016

    Again, while scanning the mountains for bears and mountain goats, noticed an interesting strain in the rock formation. Most of the rocks here are of uniform color and composition. There was a sudden exception – and I think I saw only one such exception – of a rich vein of what appears to be ferrous composition. (notice the rich red-brown part on the vertical section of the rock).

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  68. Landslide Jul 31, 2016

    Large part of this mountain collapsed to a landslide a few years back. You can see the vertical face and the huge amount of rubbles right below it.

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  69. Perfect U-shaped valley… Jul 31, 2016

    Reminded me of my eight and ninth grade geography books…

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  70. Margerie Glacier Jul 31, 2016

    After traveling for 21 miles, this glacier finally ends its journey here. It is an imposing scene that a camera cannot do justice. Just the length of the face (where the glacier ends and breaks into the bay) is over a mile long!!

    Margerie Glacier

  71. Another look at the Margerie Glacier Jul 31, 2016

    The vertical face of the glacier where it melts into the water is – believe it or not – 350 feet. And we are seeing only about two thirds of it here. The rest is under water!!

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  72. Close up of the vertical face of the Margerie Glacier Jul 31, 2016
  73. John Hopkins Glacier Jul 31, 2016

    This glacier drops such large chunks of ice into the water that we are not allowed to go beyond the two mile mark from the face…

    John Hopkins Glacier

  74. Close up of glacier ice Jul 31, 2016

    Amazing striations in the ice as it picks up and pulverizes rocks on its way down. The amount of energy exercised by a glacier is mind boggling…

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  75. Reid Glacier Jul 31, 2016
  76. Forgot the name of this mountain Jul 31, 2016

    The guide told us but I did not note it down. I will research it later and put it down here…

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  77. Beautiful play on the White, Green and Blue palettes Jul 31, 2016
  78. Green trees giving way to hard rocks… Jul 31, 2016
  79. Soaring over the glaciers… Jul 31, 2016
  80. Early morning by the dock Jul 31, 2016

    Foggy morning in Bartlett Cove

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  81. Checking out the local flora Jul 31, 2016

    Last day in the wilderness of Glacier Bay. After checking out the natural scenic beauties – the mountains, glaciers and such and then the fauna, today we ventured deep into the wilderness to check out the local flora. Will post some of the pictures now.

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  82. I am not sure how helpful that was Jul 31, 2016

    Before stepping into the wilderness, we read up the instructions thoroughly on what to do if we encounters a bear or a moose. If the bear charged us, it said “Stay Your Ground”. I would really like to see us not moving with a hulk of a bear bearing down on us. That is not going to happen. The one about the moose suggested that we run if the moose chased us. I am like “Hello – I do not need instructions for that. Anybody with any sense of fear will show a clean pair of heels. Do you have any special tricks or insightful suggestions?”

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  83. Local berries Jul 31, 2016
  84. Some more local berries Jul 31, 2016
  85. Great contrast! Jul 31, 2016
  86. Local flowers Jul 31, 2016
  87. Some more local flowers Jul 31, 2016

    Could not get a great shot…
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  88. Yet, more local flowers Jul 31, 2016
  89. The lichens have taken over Jul 31, 2016

    They are all over. The whole wilderness looks like covered with a light green carpet of lichens.

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  90. Mushroom and Fungi Jul 31, 2016
  91. At the water’s edge… Jul 31, 2016
  92. Final flora shot Jul 31, 2016
  93. On the move again… Aug 1, 2016

    From the wilderness of Southeastern Alaska to the inhabited South-Central part of Alaska. Of course, here in Alaska, when we say inhabited, we are talking purely in relative terms ๐Ÿ™‚

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  94. Lunch at a local restaurant in a small village… Aug 2, 2016
  95. Flyfishing in local Knik river Aug 2, 2016
  96. Reeling it in… Aug 2, 2016
  97. Braving the rains… Aug 2, 2016
  98. First helicopter ride Aug 3, 2016

    Fifteen years back, when Natasha was only three and Nikita was not there, the three of us landed on a glacier in a ski plane. Today, we decided to try a helicopter to land on a glacier. Off we go – Jon Elsass, our pilot, and the four of us on a brand new helicopter to attempt a landing on the Colony Glacier…

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  99. We landed!! Aug 3, 2016

    Our pilot Jon found a nice and safe spot on top of the glacier. There was absolutely nothing other than pure white and blue colors of the glaciers all around. And the constant gurgling noise of water. Other than that it was eerily quiet. Not a single sign of life other than the five of us…

    Landing 1

  100. Twenty mile valley Aug 3, 2016

    Flew along the twenty mile valley. It is difficult to capture the perspective of height and expanse with my camera – but here we were skimming about three thousand feet above the river water level (lowest point in the valley).

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  101. Finally Sharmila got her wish!! Aug 3, 2016

    All this week in Alaska, Sharmila lamented that she did not get to see a moose! Not any more! We spotted a bull moose way below in the valley. In the big picture, it is off center to the right. The inset has a magnified picture that I was able to capture with the zoom lens as the helicopter circled the moose…

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  102. Mountain Goats!! Aug 3, 2016

    Initially, they looked like small white specks on the mountain side. Till our pilot pointed out that they were mountain goats, I assumed they were rocks! How these completely docile looking animals scale the near vertical faces of the rocky mountains, I will never know!

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  103. Unique airport Aug 3, 2016

    I was aware of these kind of small airports but had never been to one. As we took off from Girdwood airport, we circled once over this small bright color (almost looking like a DHL brand) airplane getting ready to take off. Notice something about the runway? It does not have asphalt on the top. It is a dirt road runway. I had heard of these runways but saw it for the first time. (Also, it is a very short runway – only 2,100 feet).

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  104. Top view of the glacier right at the face Aug 3, 2016

    Once advantage of an helicopter over a ski plane is that I could ask the pilot to just hang tight in one spot as I took shots. This is an amazing view of the glacier from a thousand feet up right where its face is (where it melts into the lake).

    While most of the glacier is very smooth upstream, right near the face, there is a a long stretch where there are these long deep fissures. The fissures go real real deep. I have to research why this is so. My guess is the shearing force from the top of the ice layer as it tips off into the lake is creating this?

    But the other thing to note is the amount of rocks and gravel the glacier has scooped up and is carrying with it. Note all the dark brown colors among the deep white and blue formations!

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  105. Birds eye view of the glacier’s face Aug 3, 2016

    It is like somebody took a knife to the glacier and said – Henceforth, thou shall be water….

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  106. Another view of the glacier – this time from the front top Aug 3, 2016

    The sheer scale of these things is staggering…

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  107. A perspective in time… Aug 3, 2016

    Every year, a new layer of snow up in the mountains creates more pressure on the layers below till it starts solidifying as ice and then crystallize. 10 feet of snow gets compacted into 1 foot of ice. But it takes 20 years for that process to happen.

    The face of this glacier is about 200 feet. Quite some of it is under water. This is a particularly slow moving glacier. At barely a couple of feet a day and at about seven to eight miles long … you do the math and you realize something…

    Those dark blue patches at the bottom? Yeah, they were part of the glacier before I was even born!! In my defense, I have had a much more active life ๐Ÿ™‚

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  108. Wait till I show this picture to my parents when I am in India next… Aug 3, 2016

    “Thanda legey jaabey re!!!”, they will yell…

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  109. Setting out for a trek on the glacier… Aug 3, 2016
  110. Top of the glacier can be very desolate and lonely… Aug 3, 2016

    And sometimes that is what it takes for these two to bond together…
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  111. One shot of the family together… Aug 3, 2016
  112. Taking it all in … at Beluga point Aug 3, 2016
  113. Nope. No Pokemon here. Well, then let’s take selfies!!! Aug 3, 2016
  114. Dog Sledding! Aug 4, 2016

    To get a slice of life in Alaska, we went to a sled dog tour. First, I have never seen that many dogs – 90 of them in one place. Second, the Siberian huskies look way too adorable. These dogs are built to run over hundred miles a day. For day after day after day. Running is what they are born to do. Some of these dogs have been Iditarod race winners (that is a 1049 miles route!!!). When we went there, I could not believe how rowdy those dogs were. We were explained that they have sensed that we have come to go for a ride. So, each one is jumping and barking “Pick me, Pick me”.

    We picked thirteen of them to pull our carriage. There were three carriages in all. The dogs were so overexcited to get a chance to run, it was a task just to hook them up. There was even a senior dog walking up and down trying to calm these young dogs down. It was amazing watching the monitor dog bark at low volume to keep everybody calmed down. Most of the young ones were listening to the adult dog as much as my teenagers listen to me!!

    After a two mile sled run (on dirt roads, not snow), when we came back, it was almost startling to notice how quiet every dog had become – the ones that went for the run and the ones that did not. They had realized that the run had come to an end. Now they wanted to be cuddled. Natasha and Nikita went ahead and paid cuddling attention to each one of our thirteen dogs.

    If you ever wanted to know how intelligent dogs can be, you have to try interacting with some of these Siberian huskies!

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  115. The weak points for every Roy in the family Aug 4, 2016

    Be it Kalyani or be it Atlanta, there is a time tested way of melting a Roy heart away in our family… hand any one of them either a baby or a dog. And if it is a baby dog, you have hit pay dirt. There are not too many things that will make Sharmila snatch something away from her daughters (yes, it happened and Natasha and Nikita has made every effort ever since to ensure that she will never forget it ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

    Most people carry big boxes of salmon and other game when they leave Alaska. For a moment, I was afraid that I might have to buy a couple of new tickets to fly some dogs and puppies home with us.

    Truth be told, it was for the asking. Nobody asked me though. They just kept fighting among themselves…

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  116. Last event in Alaska Aug 4, 2016

    We were done with our trip. We still had a couple of hours at hand. Took the family to visit our office in Anchorage. Sharmila had great curiosity to see our cameras and sensors and how they are loaded on our planes. It was a great sunny day. I was fairly sure all the planes would be up in the air collecting data. Fortunately one of the planes – Tango Bravo – had come down to the ground for some checkups. We went to the hangar and had Sharmila, Natasha and Nikita get in the plane and see how we do things.

    Also got a chance to say Hi to my colleagues in the office…

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  117. One last intersection point for the vacation Aug 4, 2016

    We flew in to Seattle around midnight and had a night layover before we headed out. The girls were all sleeping in in the morning. That gave me enough time to sneak out of the hotel early morning and go meet Raghu Ram. We used to work together long time back in the same company in Dallas. Then he moved to Seattle and I moved to Atlanta. We came very close to meeting each other twice but failed in both occasions. This time, I made it though!!

    Was great catching up with him over a cup of Seattle’s very own Starbucks coffee. Other than catch up on family and old friends, I also got some insight into some of the challenges of the high end clothing retail industry.

    It was great catching up with Raghu after over a dozen years or so..

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  118. And now for the last leg of the journey – coast to coast flight… Aug 4, 2016
  119. From the rest of the Roy Family to Natasha… Aug 4, 2016

    That was a great family vacation before Natasha heads out for college.

    We were fortunate enough to see some incredible sights and visit places that we had never visited before and perhaps will never again do so. We saw some majestic animals and birds, petted some really cute baby animals and witnessed some beautiful trees and flowers. We went for long walks and then ate at some quaint local eating joints and wineries. We had some thrilling first time rides and stayed in places with no phone or internet connections. Wherever we went, we made new friends – from Serbia to China to Philippines to Honolulu and met up with the old ones to say thanks for the privilege we have had in crossing our life paths with theirs. We had the occasional fights between the girls and we had the incredible never-seen-before bonding moments between them.

    This adventure comes to an end.

    And now, Natasha, your adventure begins.

    From the whole family, we wish you the best that life can offer you. Like our adventure this time, do not forget to step out of the beaten path. Do not be afraid to venture out in your own way. Seek your own path in life. See the unseen sights, the seldom visited places, experience the lonely paths. And that is what will make all the difference.

    Do not get caught up with the so called big things in life. It is the small things – that stopping to pet the dog one more time, that going to the small eatery that supports a whole family, that going back to the gift shop to pick something for a friend – those are the kind of things that makes life meaningful. And somehow, you will realize some day, that when you take care of the small stuff, the big stuff somehow just happens.

    Do not forget to try. Fear is our big enemy. Sometimes all it takes is a stubborn refusal to accept the alternate. Just like you volunteered to sit at the window of the helicopter inspite of having inherited a morbid fear of heights from me – you will realize that when you open your eyes a teeny weeny bit, it is really not that bad. And it is that teeny weeny step that emboldens you to completely open your eyes and enjoy life the way it was meant to be. But it does take that small teeny weeny step first.

    The glaciers, in many ways, were the perfect metaphor in life. The journey seems slow at times – painfully slow. And just as in the case of the glacier, in life too, when you feel you are burdened with enough weight, there will be another round of snow that will be dumped on you. But it is that pressure that creates the crystals. The best in you will come from your moments of stress – seldom from the moments of levity. The key though, is to keep that forward movement on. As long as you keep pushing forward, the direction seldom will matter. Eventually, even at a glacial speed, you will seek your own valley and then burst out in the form of crystal clear water that will rush down to meet the ocean of serenity.

    And in that process some amount of friction will be necessary. That is the beauty of life. To be true to your own self, you will have to stand up for something. And whatever it is that you stand up for, there will be opposing forces and therefore friction. And that is not a bad thing. Without the friction of the glaciers, new landscapes would not be carved out every year. Without an ability to take on heat, you cannot expect to lead.

    But above all – and this I mean in the most sincerest form – never lose sight of the fact that it is people who matter the most. People are people and things are things. People – any one – has to trump things – any thing. Wherever your life takes you, get to know people, talk to them, make friends, empathize with them. They are following their own life paths. A few steps together makes both of you a better person. Regardless of who you are, try to remember that you are more fortunate than many others. Being fortunate counts next to nothing if you do not share with less fortunate ones.

    And never forget people that you were fortunate enough to cross paths with. Whenever you get a chance, revisit them and remind them that you are who you are because of a lot of influence of lot of people like them. Some small influences, some large influences. But each one of them worthy of your gratitude.

    Some day, your path, like all our paths will come to an end. When we will look backโ€ฆ we will see a melee of people behind usโ€ฆ never the things we carried with us.

    Now go forth in this truly exciting adventure that we fashionably call โ€œlifeโ€.

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