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Horse Riding at Fort valley Ranch


We came out of the adorable Luray caves after the spending a wonderful time there, We then spent half an hour at the entrance corridor and took rest. We were not sure about the next place to visit. We’d initially planned to visit White House on our way back to New Jersey, as we’re already in Virginia we’d planned to visit either Virginia beach or go for Skyline drive in Shenandoah national park. All of a sudden one of our friends suggested Horse riding.

Without second thought Ananth had called up fort valley people and inquired about the timing. The next batch was about to ride at 4 o clock. Before riding there will be a demonstration session for which we were required to be there exactly at 3:30 PM. But when we’d called the time was 3:15 and it was 10 miles away from where we’d stopped our car. Map showed that we could reach there only by 3:50 or so. But we didn’t want to miss this chance as it was the last ride for the day.

Ananth had started the car and all I could see him was nothing but Jason Statham in Transporter movie. He had bursted chuckles and gripped the steering firmly.

Though it was just 10 miles, since it was a valley, the roads had very sharp turns and if we go off the road, we’ll be down somewhere down the hill. So he was riding very carefully. On our way to the ride, it was already 3:30, I’d called them up and said ‘heyyyyy… hi…’ we’ve almost reached… We could see your place… yes the board’ (but we had no idea where we are and map showed 2 miles). The location outside was so beautiful , but we could barely enjoy it as we were in a hurry to make it to the place. Just when we thought we would reach the place after looking at the map that said ‘drive 1 mile straight and take right turn’ , it had said ‘drive for 800 meter and take left turn’ and so on… so every time it was like the crowd cheering the football player shouting ‘yeeeeeeeeeeeah’ to make it to goal, but when it is missed, they sit back shouting  ‘huuuuuuuu’ in chorus. Also there was a truck ahead of us going slowly without allowing us to pass through which slowed down us by few mins.

FInally we reached there at 3:45. Good job, Ananth. As soon as we entered the valley, a group of people who were waiting for us to arrive, so that they can go for ride breathed off like relieved, and the jockeys got ready and the front desk lady hurried up to enter and fill the disclaimer form. oh god! I was so happy until we reached there and when they gave the form to sign, I got scared reading at all the points. 1. If you fell off and broke your leg we’re not liable, 2. If you get hurt badly and lose life we’re not liable and all that which makes you scared. hmm… lets’s sign it, thought to myself and I’d signed.

She asked us to pick a helmet if we need and asked to keep our bag and my selfie stick 😦 there before getting to the Horse. She asked us to hurry up to the back of the office where the demonstration would take place, we went fast but the demonstration was almost complete and I heard only three points, 1. how to sit while climbing up the hill while sitting on the horse, 2. how to sit when climbing down 3. how to pull the horse up when it eats the grass and then said are you clear? We only got practiced to say yes, when this question was asked since childhood, so said yes clear in chorus and waited to see what’s next. 😀

There was a two steps stand to get on to the horse and he had picked us randomly and pulled horses from its stable. We missed to hear the first point itself! How to get on a horse, then how will we get on?!!! I was thinking in mind,,, dai don’t call me, don’t call me… let me see how others sit on the horse’… 😀  Everyone started getting horses and now I was thinking I should get a clean horse. Then came a white horse but faded off colors, I was thinking that he shouldn’t call me, and he turned to my side… (chaaa!!! I was thinking…) but he called Dhileep who was standing next to me 😀 😀 The next horse was wow!! Dark shining black Jersey horse (that’s how I have seen calling this kind of horse in Tamil movies and even my dad had said this Jersey horse name quite a few times). He called me and I looked at him and he gave the rope to control the horse and I sat on the saddle without any problem.

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This was the Horse I rode!

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Last time I went for a Horse ride was in 2006 I think. And it was in marina beach, That was my 4th or 5th time horse ride. Where the jockey use to hold the rope and walk for few meters and come back and that’s it, the horse ride is over and when I got down from the horse the last time, I got sprain on my right leg, yeah I remember it. Now I sat on this horse after a loooooooong years.

As it is Game of Thrones (GoT) season I sat on the horse with the GoTs theme music 😀 He walked with me and made the horse to stand in a line, I asked him, will you be coming with me? (I asked him this thinking, will he walk with my horse holding it’s rope) but he thought something else (will tell you what in next para) and said yes. Now I could smile as this ride will last for one hour and we’re going to ride on a mountain, I’d asked him that question.

He went back and helped other people to get on the horse and took them to the line. Now I was shocked to see him sit on a separate horse and he rode ahead of us and stood in front of the horses. Adapaavi!! (Exclaiming word in Tamil) I said to myself and looked at my friends, they were sitting happily! There was a jockey at front and there was a guy at back of the queue. So a 20 horses lined up and the horses started to move. Just when I started the GoT theme music fastly as it use to play, the horses walked slowly! The theme music faded down to slow phase in my mind 😀 😀

The horses are trained very well and it started to walk when the jockey at front started moving. He said it is going to be a slow walk on the mountain and we’ll climb off slowly after a while. I started looking around the places and when we just moved away from the back of office, we were beginning our horse ride. My first horse ride, without a jockey holding the rope and walking with me. We then entered at the bottom of a mountain and started climbing through the muddy pathway.

The trees had no leaves as it was fall season and climate was moderate. At the start of our ride was a small pond and a big landscape and behind these was a mountain! Wow! It was amazing as I use to watch it in documentaries and in cowboy movies! Wait it is just the beginning, something said to my heart and I’d smiled. 🙂 We then started moving towards the mountain and the horses followed one another gently. A horse at front had stopped so are the horses at the back till end. The jockey at front turned back and took a look, he said that horse is trying to pee, so it will move once it is done. As all the horses were stopped my horse moved forward… Ayayo!!! I was thinking to me wondering how to stop and I didn’t want to do anything with the rope other then turning left and right as I was afraid that might make the horse run fast. my horse chased Dhileep who was ahead of me in the line, while doing it my horse and his horse got fight!! Both were shouting in horse language 😀 We didn’t know what to do and my horse was trying to kick his horse… Luckily the first horse in the line had done with peeing and started moving! 😀 😀 So other horses started moving now and the fight got over abruptly.

We started moving further, the mountain was so calm place and all we could hear was chirps and tweets and singing of the birds. With the sunlight rays trying to enter the mountain through the tall giant trees with leaves off, the horses moved further walking and breaking the dried leaves that are on ground that had fell in that season.

We climbed few ups, the demonstration was absolutely helpful and I’d moved the horses left and right when it was needed. All of a sudden my horse stopped moving! And in this gap Dhileep’s horse tried to overtake me, but my horse’s kick kept him away from overtaking 😀 😀 The jockey said now my horse is peeing! 😀 I asked Ananth see if it spills on my shoe 😀 Luckily it wasn’t  😀 We then moved and only after half an hour or so I sat relaxed. There was small stream in the mountain and we got to cross that, It was very beautiful moment 🙂 The horses walked with ease in all ups and downs.

It was very quiet mountain and the tree shades made it very enjoyable though there were no leaves. I felt how important it is to plant trees and was smiling gladly thinking about more then ten trees that my dad and I’d planted in our house and thought to plant more trees further.

We then climbed down gradually and came out of the mountain, I was smiling so happily after reaching the starting point as nothing happened negatively as it was written in the forms we’d signed. It was a wonderful and best time ever. It was absolutely worth for the money we’d paid ($30/Person) & must enjoy. Thanks a lot to Ananth who decided to drive the ‘Transporter’ way, if he had thought we couldn’t make it to the place, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this ride until now and who knows I wouldn’t have enjoyed it anytime at all!

If you’re planning to visit Virginia, you must include this in your agenda. Tips: Don’t be afraid while riding, it is absolutely safe and enjoyable, unless you kick the horse in his sensitive area 😀

Here is the brochure I got from the Valley.

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On our way back was a spectacular meadows, Microsoft should have taken picture from here for the wallpaper instead of California. It was beautiful grass meadows with cows eating grasses. Stopped our car for a while in roadside and enjoyed the place and started back home 🙂

Uncut video version of this trip below (04:09 minutes). Subscribe to my YouTube channel to enjoy more videos.


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Cycling at Central Park, New York


As a bicycle lover, I always wanted to ride bicycle in New York. As it was winter season when I’d arrived here, I had to wait until the winter is over. As the spring begun a month ago, I had been telling my friend to make a plan for cycling. The wait was over finally on April 18.

I always wanted to start early for any trip but end up waiting for my friends to get ready! This plan was no exception! I’d got ready and was waiting for my friends to start from their place & finally I’d started from my place an hour before it was noon. I’d reached New York port authority bus terminal, only difference was I was not in formal wear as I do everyday to office.

As soon as I reached I was wandering the streets and went to times square just to pass time until my friends reached NY. As they reached I’d boarded the car and together we came across few streets to find parking. One main thing to keep in mind if you are visiting New York on a weekend in your car is that you need to either reserve your parking in advance or you need to know which street has meter parking for longer hours.

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                                                                          oh! Who it at the top right corner? 😉

For those who like to know more about parking in New York is that there are several types are parking available in New York. We cannot park cars anywhere we want, like we do it in India, There will be selective portion in road which are allowed for public and it will be allowed for 3 hours, on weekend some streets will allow maximum of 6 hours, if your plan exceeds 6 hours, you need to renew or add more hours after the 6 hour is over. There will be meters placed on streets, you need to enter the number of hours you need to park and pay through card, Once the receipt is printed, it needs to be placed in front of driver seat and it should be visible for cops. Else penalty/ticket (fine) will be issued.

So we roamed around few streets and finally found a place to park. But we were already moved ahead of the parking place, so I got down with Ananth’s friend and we both were holding the parking place by standing in the parking space on road, It was like holding place for your friends in movie hall or in bus 😀 Ananth had to go around few streets to get back to the same road again, we cannot simply take a reverse to park even though it was a few steps or one car space ahead of the parking space.

We then walked to a cycle shop on 56th street and rented 3 bicycles. We’d booked it already through mobile. It was $20/Day through an offer. Else the prices were different. We then headed to a Subway nearby to have lunch. As it was cycling day we didn’t want to eat heavily as it would ruin our cycling mood.

I felt awesome when I started riding the cycle, it’s after 6 months I’m riding a cycle. When I rented the cycle it reminded the days when I use to ask 50 paise and 1 rupee from my mom when I was at school. I use to rent cycle for one hour and roam around streets of Hosur enjoying with my friends, every now and then we use to go to the cycle shop and ask the owner ‘Anna how many mins left?‘ and then go on to the streets again. 🙂

Similarly I took the cycle here and only difference I don’t have to visit the shop to ask for the hours as I have a watch now and also it’s rented for a full day. The lady asked us to return the cycle by 10 PM. When I’d left the shop the time was 2:15 noon. After lunch we started from Subway around 2:50.

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The rental shop lady gave us New York city map for cycle route, central park map & another brochure with rules for cycling in New York (which I read the next day :D), the only rule I have for cycling is enjoy the ride without causing trouble to commuters. As I started form the shop my friends asked me to carry water bottles in a bag for which I said no! may be they didn’t ride cycle for so many years now and had forgotten how painful it will be to ride cycle carrying bag at your back. As these cycles didn’t had carriers at back I didn’t want to carry it in my shoulder. Since I’ve done that during my school days I knew I won’t enjoy the ride if I carry load, so phew!!!! Kept the bag in car and headed to park.

Central park starts from 59th street to 110th street. It is the biggest greenery spot in New York City, One cannot believe New York City, the concrete jungle has such a beautiful place in center of the city. It was heavily crowded and streets were full of people 🙂 It was so nice to see the city with more people in streets. As the weather on that day was awesome city was heavily crowded and it was full of people. As we entered the park, we started riding cycle in the cycling track, the road/track in central park is the place for cycling, running, walking, roller skates and much more. On weekdays public transportation is allowed but on weekends it’s strictly for the above said purpose.

As I started riding cycle I was so amazed by being in central park, secondly I was riding cycle, so I felt very happy when I headed in the track. As it’s spring season, there were blossoms at many places. Some trees with white flowers and some with pink. When I kept riding I saw a place where people were looking through a fence. I wanted to look what it was, but my friends were not interested… haha! I said I’ll look at that and I had headed to that fence… Wow! It was a ground and it was full of people! It looked awesome! People were with their family and their loved ones. Just like a picnic spot in movies, they were sitting on a blanket and enjoying their time. Many were with bikini and taking sun bath. The kids were playing, people were playing frisbee. It reminded me the days I played frisbee with my sister and cousins at Marina beach, Chennai.

You can find so many birds and squirrel in the park, there was a tortoise too!  There is a zoo in the park which I didn’t visit. I then moved on to enjoy some guys who were playing guitar and singing. People were sitting, resting and enjoying that. I spent a few minutes near a small pond and then moved on. The cycle track/the road in park is full of ups and down (don’t wave your thoughts about the quotes now, life is full of up and down :D). So many trees in the park which reduces the noise from the outer streets. I kept riding, there was a small water falls, swimming pool (which didn’t had water, I think it’ll be filled in summer), a very big lake, two playing grounds, a very big open place filled with grass to sit and rest.

It took one hour ten minutes for me to complete the first round, As I’d stopped at many places to enjoy the spots it took this time in first lap. I then started with the second lap and rode slowly and enjoyed the lap time was 4:50, end of 3rd lap 5:35, end of 4th lap 6:30, there was a CNN news display at one point in the track from where I saw the time every time I wwas near the end of lap. For every lap I’d stopped at the lake and asked someone else to take me pics. At 4th lap I took a off road and walked in a small hill inside the park near a waterfall, that spot was very nice. It looked like one of the track which I’d played in NFS.

Then during 5th lap I bought some snacks which were costly than what we get outside the park, even the water bottle! It was $3 inside the park with just a difference in shape but was costly for that price. But there were drinking water spots in park which is very neatly maintained. There was another spot in the park to sit which is so close to another lake, it was so peaceful, we can sit there for hours just to enjoy the beauty.

I’d completed 5th lap and then called my friend who asked me to come directly to the rental shop, so after 5 hours of cycling I met my friends 😀 Gave back the cycle and felt so happy for riding cycle for a a long time… Time was 8:15 when I returned the cycle, so from 3:00 – 8:15 I rode cycle in Central Park. All that I was wondering was I didn’t felt pain or I didn’t sweat a lot. Just that last lap I rode fast in a steep hilly track in park, otherwise I rode slowly and enjoyed every lap.

I then headed to bus terminal and reached home at 10:30, had dinner and went to bed. It was at 3 am, when I turned upside down and bent my leg 😥 😥 my god! I couldn’t bend my leg 😀 😀 I felt pain at 3 AM. I woke up and went to wash room, did a small warm up to make ease to legs. Did few sit ups 😀 haha… it was like doing dumb-bells at gym the very first day thinking rock and john cena and ending up with pain in hands. But I rode it slowly, may be the longer hours caused the pain. I then slept at 4:30 AM. As soon as I woke up I wanted to check the area of the central park to know the miles I’d rode. I was so surprised to know it was 6.1 mile a lap and that I’d rode 30.5 miles which is 49.1 kms. 🙂 🙂 🙂 I was so surprised that I rode cycle for so many miles without even knowing! And now planning to do it once a month until the season is over 🙂

Plan for cycling in Central Park if you visit the city. You can rent cycle per hour, 2 hours and so on. Check websites for rental cycle and make your plan.


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2015 International Auto Show – New York


As it’s beginning of the spring season there are lot of events happening in New York. One such event is International Auto Expo. It’s happening from April 3 – 12, 2015. I’d visited Javits center on 4/4 to experience the NYIAS. As it was 2nd day of the event also a Saturday, it was heavily crowded and there were a big queue for all the virtual tours, games and all fun events.

Here are the photos & video clips I’ve taken at this event, you may need to click on some pics to view it in full size. Check out the short time-lapse video too. And yes, photos may not look like magazine covers due to the crowd 😀 and these pics are taken in mobile. Plan to attend and enjoy the event if you are in city.

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