bhargavkesavan

Travelogue, Nostalgic memories and more…


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Adventure Zipline at Shenandoah State Park


Zipline is one of the adventure sport that I was planning to do from past two years. Finally the time came to make it happen! My wife Anu and I went to Virginia to meet our friend Praveen; who gave an idea to do Zipline when we planned to visit Richmond.

We booked a master suite for our stay through Airbnb near Praveen’s house. We like to have breakfast from Market Cafe in Richmond everytime we visit; Anu & I like the Pongal in Market Cafe. You should really try it if you happen to visit Richmond, VA anytime. The two varieties of chutneys are too good & the sambhar as well!

You may remember about my Luray Caverns trip during spring 2015, I wanted to take my wife there and after having breakfast we started to Luray Caverns which was the first place to visit for the day & the next was Zipline.

I’d looked for coupons in groupon and compared few zipline providers and decided to go with Virginia Canopy as they were ready to provide for the same rate in groupon. We got the 3’o clock batch for the activity. We then had a tight schedule to visit Luray Caverns and then to travel to Shenandoah State Park where Virginia Canopy is located.

The drive from Richmond to Luray Caverns was too good! Anu said that the route resembled the drive from Coimbatore to Ooty. Yes, It was like that but the difference is that the roads here were very broad and the curves were not risky to drive. Since the weather was almost like early summer in Hosur, We could see lot of bikers and cyclists through out the way.

We have to leave the caverns atleast by 2:15 so that we can reach Shenandoah State Park by 2:40 PM which is 17 Miles away from the caverns. As we reached Luray Caverns time was 1:10 PM but there was a huge line since it was Easter weekend. It would definitely take an hour to just enter the caves to get ticket & we would miss the reservation for Zipline for sure. Since it was heavily crowded and there was no space for parking, we parked our car in the lawn as directed by the staffs.

We then wandered the place for a while and took photos at the pond and took photos at the Love sign they’ve at the entrance. It was 2’o clock already & we’d decided to start to Zipline.

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Check my 500px & Flickr for more pics.

Virginia will remind you about your childhood days if you were ever grown up in village. Such a green and calm place throughout! It was drizzling as we entered Shenandoah State Park! The smell of soil welcomed us with smile! I felt I was at home when 🙂

Staff at the park entrance was very kind to explain me the route to reach the Zipline tours building. We reached the Zipline parking precisely at 2:40 PM.  As we entered the office we were given the forms to sign the disclaimer, for sure the papers may have said that they’re not responsible for any injury etc… when have we every read anything before signing? We signed it anyways!

Exactly at 3 o clock we were called at the backyard where they had all the zipline gears arranged for us. There were 9 people in our batch, Scott & Jennifer from Philadelphia and a family of four & three of us. The staffs helped us in wearing the zipline gears and even the helmet. As we are done with the setup we now got ready to board the UTV for the ride to woods.

Five of us were in a UTV and rest were in other vehicle, their staffs took us on the UTV trail ride. We enjoyed the off road up hill ride in the woods. After 10 minutes we got down somewhere in the forest and waited for the other set of people to arrive. After the remaining people arrived, we walked a few meters in the woods to the training spot.

Lion and Chris were with us since the training till end of the activity. They both were very kind and friendly. They both gave the basic training on how to move forward, how to slow down and if we at some point slow down how to get back in the rope. Like the ok sign in scuba diving, there was a sign to slow down. They made sure every one of us are comfortable with this and made us do all the basic training in the steel rope tied between two tall trees for this training purpose. After the training is over, we now marched towards the main activity tree (activity spot) 😀

The first zipline was 20 ft height and it was a short distance, it was very much sufficient height and distance to make us get use to the sport. haha that first feel was fantastic and very nice 😀 After the first line I felt like achieved something! We loved it so much! They ensured our safety and constantly communicated in their walkie talkie, Lion first went to the other end, Chris sent each of us one by one and came to other end as last person.

The next zipline was 40 ft height and the length was more than the first one. It was very fun standing in mid top of the tree and looking at the forest like how we see in discovery channel. Anu and I loved it so much! After the second zipline got over, we all got ready for the third ride which was 90 feet height form the forest level and the distance was approximately 400 meters. It was really fun! Looking at the mountain ahead of us and moving in 40 miles per hour speed in between the trees were amazing!

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IMG_9832As we finished the 3rd line and was waiting to go for next line, we were able to see some deer wandering in their home. Since it’s deer and not bear it ran away fast 😀 We then took the 4th line which was not very length, but height was almost same. It’s at this point their photographer Treesha took snaps of us when we were in motion in the zipline. As we reached down we took group photos and My wife and I looked at each other and we looked at Praveen discussed among us saying that’s it, activity completed. Since we were told it’s a three hours activity and it was just less than an hour and half, we thought they gave a false promise, but wait… The fun part & adventure were still pending.

We drank some water from the can they’d kept near the tree which was very clean & they were making fun statements that the water was not from Michigan flint water; which is a serious issue here due to lead poisoning (similar to how we discuss about Kaveri water when we go to KA).

We then took a short nature walk and Lion explained about some rare and poisonous plant in a fun way and kept all of us engaged and interested in the activity. We thought the activity is completed when we saw the UTV near us, but we were asked to climb the next tree (using the wooden steps they had attached to the tree!) it was a big relax when we saw the rope again and was excited more now! 🙂 After the 5th line, which was a short length, there was a Air Stair Bridge which we had to walk to pass on to the other end of tree, it was fun. Lion escorted four of us facing us and walked backwards, while we walked slowly following him. Anu dropped her bracelet while walking in the bridge, since I was walking behind her, I was able to take it as I passed it.

Then we crossed the sixth line each by shouting like different animals 😀 which was fun! Anu, Praveen what did you shout like? Comment below. I shouted like ape inspired by Ceaser (Don’t ask me who or what is Ceaser!). Then passed 7th line and now there was a Sky Bridge, which was easy to walk but Lion gave a open hand challenge, which means we should cross the bridge without using hand to balance.

And now the finalllllllll zipline! A lengthy one… It took 30 seconds to zip from one end to other end! As we reached this end I was joking to Anu saying we have to jump down from the tree and she was scared as well, but after everyone finished the zipline and assembled in the last tree, it was real! We really had to jump down from the 1,035″ tree! Not literally jump but we’d to rappel down from the tree! It was the adventurous part of the zipline but their staffs made it feel very easy! First Praveen went down then me and then Anu. It was very nice experience!

We took a short walk from the tree and in five minutes we’d arrived to the office where we started. We arrived to the place where we put on the gears & their staffs helped us to remove it all. They were very nice people. And the best part was, we were all issued a certificate for doing the Zipline! 🙂

They could have made a last zipline to end after the river which would have fulfilled the adventure sport absolutely thrilled! Of course, I left a feedback about it.  Definitely a fun day I’d with Anu. It’s a very nice place to do Zipline and enjoy the nature at the Shenandoah State Park where the Shenandoah River passes just opposite to the Zipline office.

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Taken at Shenandoah State Park River.

Grace-ful Ice: Safari

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It’s the time of year where Live Ice Carvings are performed at the Grace building.

The artists from Okamoto Studio show their talents in giving a shape to the just plain big rectangle ice bars to a stunning animals (2016), the dinosaur (2015), microcosmos (2014) etc.

Here are the photos taken during this event on 12th December 2016 at Grace building, New York City. Because of the good weather these crafts are still good in shape unlike last year where it melted the very day because of high temperature.

If you’re in the city & reading this now, you still have time left to see these beautiful Ice animals before it melts down.

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Deers – Crafting in progress

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Lion King – Crafting in progress

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Zebra – Crafting in progress

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Crafting the details…

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Crafting the details…

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Small birds – Crafting in progress

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Oh!!! Not in the eyes!!!

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Crafting the details…

After the final shape…

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Some moments that I found very funny when this crafting was in progress! View it in full size to see if you can find it fun 🙂

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The New York Times reported that Mr & Mrs Bhargav witnessed this event at Grace plaza on 12/12/16

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Anu cheering heyyy woww at the end of ice crafting 😉

Thank you for visiting 🙂


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Manhattanhenge, New York’s Stonehenge


I have seen photos of Manhattanhange (without knowing the name then!) several years ago. I was not aware of such event until last year when I discovered something like this happens twice a year. One in May & another during July. The dates are May 29 & July 12, also a day before the above dates as well.

When I was reading newspaper last year (2015) I saw the Sunset photo and the news referred it as Manhattanhenge, I then googled about it & got to know I’d just missed it by two days or so. The disappointment level will be very high when you realize you could have witnessed something that happens in the very street you walk every single day & it’s historic which happens just twice a year.

Immediately I checked the dates for 2016  Manhattanhenge, it was May 28, 29 & July 11, 12. After a year, on May 29th I’d visited New York to see this, unfortunately everyone was disappointed as it was cloudy! The crowd waited until the sunset but it happened behind the clouds! May be the sun was shy to look everyone as hundreds of people were looking at it at the same time after an year!

The last time of the year to witness this came! I totally forgot about it on 11th, on 12th I remembered it after I boarded bus to New Jersey! I couldn’t stop bus as they won’t stop it once it’s started from departure until the first stop arrives. I waited until the first stop & crossed the road & waited for the next bus to New York.

Arrived at Times Square at 7:50, the streets were already crowded. Both sides of road were crowded and none crossed the road for the walk sign! Some taxi’s lowered the window and asked what are people looking at? Some people got down from Taxis after knowing about it. Cops were on the fly & ensured people are not blocking the traffic, as center of the road is best spot to see.

Everyday there is sunrise and sunset, but how many days are we looking at it? When was the last time you saw the sunrise & sunset by standing in a position just to look at it? But there is a point here, it’s not just a sunset, it’s a sunset that aligns in center of the street. Just like the Stonehenge in England which was constructed somewhere around 3000 BC to 2000 BC.

At 8:10, like the curtain opens before play, Sun came out with glittering rays from behind the building it was hiding. It was so beautiful to see the Golden sun surrounded with reddish ring and orange and golden glittering rays! At this evening, Nature was the celebrity! People shouted out of happiness and I kept smiling 🙂 It was the moment everyone was so happy and some even clapped for the nature 🙂 I asked someone to take a picture of me instead of just taking a selfie, what’s the use of having hundreds of people when we don’t talk to them.

People kept looking at the spot for a while even after the sun was set. More than hundreds including may not get another chance to see it next year or in future! Next time when you’re in New York City around May or July, do not miss this! It’s for this 10 minutes I waited an year! 

Checkout the video below!

 


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Cycling at Central – Spring 2016


Since the winter is officially over and Spring has has begun! I was waiting for a day to ride cycle in Central Park again!

Since friends schedule (:D :P) didn’t match, I went alone on April 24th to Central Park. I was well prepared for the day and my goal for the day was very clear, it’s just a day for me and to enjoy the day well by cycling!

Carried a fully charged power bank, sunglass, Cap, wallet, a juice bottle and a box with apple slices for the day. Made sure my rope bag is as light as possible (which I usually do!) so that I’ll feel comfortable the whole day & the energy won’t be wasted in carrying the bag with unnecessary weight & won’t reduce the time to ride bicycle.

As I reached the rental shop, there were few people but no cycle! Yeah.. I was late already & the shop was almost empty, but there were cycles left for me. They seem to have changed the cycles & almost all cycles were new. Last year the cycles were silver color and this year the new ones were black color.

Rented a cycle and since there were no locks left & I was asked to wait until someone returns the cycle to get a lock for me, I didn’t spend time waiting for anyone, I just left saying I’ll collect it later if I need.

Left the rental shop just the same way I use to leave the rental shop in my childhood paying 1 Rupees for 1 hour 🙂 As I entered the park, I was among one of the thousands! And the rest were almost same as last year.

Here are the pics and video taken this year.

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This flower adds beauty to this post!

 

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Relaxing after completing first lap!

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ohhh… you too relaxing??

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End of lap 1.

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End of the day! After 5 laps.

As usual enjoyed my cycling & had fun with my friends Sriram and Kalai who joined me at evening after seeing the photos I’d posted in our whatsapp group!

Watch the short video that I took while cycling!

As I say in all posts, leave your comment below, when I revisit this post after several years, I could read your comment. Comments in whatsapp and FB will be long gone after few years! Thank you for reading!


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Home Automation, no more a fantasy!


Remember the car chasing scene in Tomorrow never dies? Pierce Brosnan operates his car using a remote device?

This movie was released almost 20 years before! The remote controlled car in this movie was a very big hit! So how does that matter to this post? Well, let’s see.

Since a long time ago there are many companies that are trying to make a lot of automation to the products that we’ve using. When TV channels were manually tuned to different channels, remote control to TV was introduced. Similarly lot of automation were introduced to what we’re using.

One such automation to the home electronics is WeMo. WeMo is a series is of products by Belkin. There are several products that can be used at home in all power outlets.

downloadAfter talking to my friend, Libin, I’ve ordered a WeMo Switch Insight and was very curious to use. As soon as I’d received my order I’ve started using it.

WeMo switch is a 372.jpg simple device, just plug it in any power outlet and connect it to your home wifi, download wemo app in your android or ios device to start using it.

You can easily turn on and off any device that you’ve connected to this device.The remote access feature allows you to control the device from anywhere in the world using your mobile data! You can also connect a switch hub and control all the devices that are connected to the power hub.

I’m using it for my light and it’s super cool to control it from your mobile. The best part is, you can schedule the device to turn on and off anytime you want. And there is a away mode, using which you can schedule the device to turn and off at multiple times just to make up as if people are at home.

You can also see the energy usage using the device which is the additional feature in the device. There is a basic version which is $10 lesser price than this one which is good and same as this one. The reason I bought this is, it’s an affordable price. Unlike super costly devices, this one is $50 & the basic is $40.

On a lighter note, if you’re buying it, don’t tell anyone at home and make a ghost prank by turning on and off remotely, Don’t do it to a light hearted person who can’t handle a prank!

Check out the 30 secs video, I’ve just recorded the turning On and Off using mobile!

Check out  Amazon for more of WeMo products.

Do comment if you like this post. Thanks for reading.