You can never come back from Red Rock Canyon

Photography, Travel

The constant whirring of the slot machines, the dings of the win, the clink of the glass, the hypnotic lights, and the thick cigarette smoke that tear your eyes is a constant in any hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.

And if you are not into this scene, just head out 20 miles West of the strip and drive straight into a serene scene of the desert mountain. The Red Rock Canyon is a beautiful sandstone landscape that will capture your soul. Each peak and valley are unique with the tricolor rock formation. The red rocks are a result of oxidation of the iron minerals, thus looking like the limestone is fused with another rock.

IMG_6120

Views of the canyon at the visitor center

IMG_6133

Visitor center view

To enhance this beauty were snow capped mountains in the background and desert plants in the foreground. The air was refreshingly different from the thick blanket of smoke I endured at the casinos. It was hard to believe that this place was barely 45 minutes away from the strip.

IMG_6087 copy

The foreground is desert plants and snow-capped mountains in the background.
How scenic!

IMG_6132

Close up of the snow-capped mountains

IMG_6107

Shades of red with limestone on top.

My husband and I booked the Pink Jeep tour. A bus picked us up at the hotel and dropped us off at the Red Rock Canyon visitor center. From there we went in the Pink Jeep which drove us to scenic spots. The first part of the drive was on concrete roads.

IMG_1782 - Copy

Concrete roads + views

IMG_1779 - Copy

iPhone panoramic shot. I experimented with this for the first time. What results!

IMG_1777 - Copy

The same rocks everywhere, but it never gets old. I love how the land just transforms from one state to the next.

IMG_1771 - Copy

Spot it: the moody cloud with a hint of blue, the mountain, and the ups and downs of the barren land. And If you have keen eyes, the concrete road with cars.

After a couple of stops, we approached reddish gravel roads.  This was the beginning of the offroading adventure that felt like one long chiropractic adjustment! The twist and turn of the mud trail were riddled with rocks and our expert tour guide ensured he drove over each one of them. I tossed like a salad in that jeep, in a good way.

We could see some few people trying to hike along the mud path. But as we went deeper and further, there were fewer people and things to see. This was the heart of the trip —  it was just us, nature and a very pink jeep. I could hear the winds whisper my name. I am a sucker for nature and went into my meditative state instantly. Along with that comes the wonderment, “what it would be like to live in a place like this?”
Who hasn’t had that experience? *wink*

After ten minutes,  It was time to leave this undisturbed piece of heaven.
It was back to the visitor center with one last stop. A rock which had prehistoric handprints. It was fascinating to see the touch of human from thousands of years ago.

Then the jeep takes us back to the visitor center, the bus takes us back to our hotel.
The dings and the clinks resume.

 

Poetry in Landscape, Karwar

Photography, Travel
DSCN1356

All alone he rows but he is not alone, Of the 1000 waves, that splash around him, Of the setting sun so warm and bright, Of the gentle winds that rock the boat, Of the solid mountains, he steers away from… Immersed in nature, how could he be alone?

When I visited Karwar, I was both in ecstasy and agony.  I was going through a phase on personal conflict, and the beauty of Karwar was a gentle balm to my soul. Every wave on the beach, the trees that rustled, the glorious sunset, and the abundance of flora and fauna were a gentle reminder that there is hope in every situation.

I stayed at Jungles Lodge’s Devbagh Beach Resort. One has to a take a boat from the mainland to reach this Island resort.  Devbagh was secluded with nothing but trees and the beach for miles. It looked like the location in a movie where the actor is marooned in a beautiful uninhabited island.

This vacation wasn’t not about hitting the local pub, sightseeing and visiting landmark places. It was all about being consumed by nature, and being one with it. I did not sign up for any activity except for the nature walk which entailed learning about the flora and fauna of the forest/water with a naturalist.

For this walk, I had to be up by 6 AM and reach the waterside of the resort. As soon as I arrived, an overwhelming reflection in the water consumed me. Karwar is in fact, notorious for its amber skyscape; and I vouch to this. I witnessed breathtaking morning and evening sky on all three days of my stay.

DSCN1512

The guide had arrived and cut my day dreaming short. We walked towards the shallow side of the water where I could see a wavy pattern in the water. He explained when the winds blow strongly in one direction, sand ridges tend to form. Although you cannot make out in this picture, these ridges are underwater. That’s how clear the water is! Stare at it a little more on the bottom left corner, do you see rustic red dots?The dots are created by the sand artist called crab; they bubble the sand making the sand like a small aerated ball thus creating intricate patterns.

DSCN1524

DSCN1576

Karwar has many species of crabs and the naturalist guide discussed this topic in detail. Above is the ghost crab which got its name because it is quick to disappear from eyesight. I chuckled a bit because they have a black ink-like design on their back and it got me thinking that the crab visited some tattoo parlour (I have Ally McBeal moments all the time!). The naturalist showed the right way to pick up a crab.

DSCN1543

Along the waterside were dead branches and stalks that looked like modern art installations. I for one enjoy art anywhere. I was documenting every dead branch along the way till the guide got a little miffed. Hehe.

DSCN1586

As we progressed along the trail, the trees grew dense, and naturally, birds became the next topic of interest. We spotted two birds, I don’t recollect or recognise the first one, and I think he mentioned the second one as “barn swallow.” Notice the skies now? It was as if someone rolled out a silk white screen behind for background. The skies of Karwar are really moody, the change in tone and texture so often, and it is a delight for someone who loves sky watching (like me!).

DSCN1509

DSCN1530

Of course, what is a nature walk without studying some fauna? This one (photo below) caught my eye with it baby pink touch. There was a tree with half of the soil that was washed out and the roots were exposed, a fungus growing from the middle of a branch, an anthill inside the bushes, some animal footprint  … he was pinpointing to things that perhaps I would have missed had I walked by myself.

DSCN1567

DSCN1574

DSCN1555

It was like a walking with a “Natural Geography” authority. The abundance of information he had was mind boggling. The trail ended right back the at waterside.
As I said goodbye, I noticed the fishermen were setting up for the day. To earn their living, to feed mankind.

DSCN1610

Vacationing in the deep forest or by the shoreline leaves me with a yearning to be with nature all the time. It doesn’t help that Kawar has the sinister mix of deep forest and waterscape, add the breathtaking skyscape to this. What is the “hair of the dog” equivalent for nature’s hangover? It took me weeks to commit to city life once again. Karwar did truly capture my heart and soul.

From my archives series: Karwar | February 2009
Karwar is a city in the South Indian state of Karnataka. It lies on the west coast of Southern India at the mouth of the Kali river. Its geography creates a natural harbour with protection against monsoon weather. Being a port town, Karwar is a centre for agriculture,  manufacturing and tourism. Karwar derived its name from the nearby village of Kadwad (Kade Wada, the last wado). Kade means last and wado means precinct or area. Before Indian independence, the name Karwar was spelt Carwar.