A sudden change in weather prompted that we take advantage of it. After biking for some time, we ended up at a typical Dutch backyard beach where we took to some contemplation at the sight of the evening blues and winter hues.
Am often keen on doing things I have never done before. Sailing was one of them, which I jumped onto when an amazing colleague offered a spot on a sailboat he was borrowing for a day. We set sail from Monnickendam on a chilly weekend morning.
The feeling of cutting through water, wind and the elements in an non-motor-powered craft; through the waves up and down; rocking in the ripples emanating in the wake of other boats; the feeling of danger yet with calming knowledge of fact that the boat cannot topple; sounds of silence, of water splashing against wind and itself; was oddly relaxing, meditative while being thoroughly exhausting.
I was feeling adventurous, so I carried my drone, which in hindsight, could have benefitted from preparation of a flight plan. The take-off was easy, but the landing was fraught with difficulty, leaving us with some bruises as we barely recovered the machine. It brought back vivid memories of how I lost my previous drone
As we sailed, we took turns amongst us three, handling various duties onboard such as: enjoying the sun, steering and enjoying the sun; punctured by an occasionally call for all-hands for a huddle to perform tacking or jibing manoeuvres with the sailboat.
The notion of using headwind to sail upwind often did not compute in my head. I spent significant amount of time staring at the geometries of the various connected components in contemplation. I was in awe of physics and the classical perspective, triumphing over my romantic worldview.
After a frustrating bout of boredom as we had no winds for a long time, we started up our underpowered motor to make a pit stop at Haven van Marken for lunch.
Wind as a form of fuel on a sailboat combined with calories expended in human effort resulted in momentum for the boat and contentedness for the soul, leading me to speculate an imbalanced situation for the laws of thermodynamics. I thought to myself “Take that, physics”, as we entered the haven towards the end of the day.
Desert plains and scorching sun; Endless hills and reddish glum; Dried up shrubs and flowing sand; Hundreds of miles and no waters in sight. Death Valley almost lives up to its name, and it ultimately misses on expressing the incredible beauty that’s hidden behind the veils of prejudice set by itself.
For almost half a decade, I have been yearning to visit Death Valley, ever since somebody that I used to know planted that idea. It now feels like life has come a full circle. The visit through the valley was part of a much larger road trip beginning in San Francisco, through Sequoia National Park, Death Valley, Las Vegas and ultimately culminating at the Grand Canyon.
Following a visit to Sequoia National Park, I made a stopover at in a little town called Inyokern in California. The motel owner suggested two routes towards Death Valley, one through the well maintained Hw-395 and another more dangerous route via Hw-178. Of course, I ended up taking the later. It was desolated, deserted and deathly and I loved it.
At the first sign of gas station, I made a pitstop for refuelling. There was not going to be any more of such stops for the next several hundreds of miles.
Some ice cream to beat the heat.
I stared at the road, and the road stared back at me. How the distance passed and the time flew was lost on me. I think my mind was numb and lost in the beauty that was racing against me.
Apocalyptically appearing dead trees marked the approach towards the great Mesquite Sand Dunes.
On the road again
Gazing at the sprawling lands with sparsely spaced shrubs and lit under blue-yellow sky, from hill-top view points was amazing.
Artist’s Palette, a natural and colourful hill formation, resulting due to the occurrence of various mineral deposits in the valley. I was quite amused to hear fellow tourists tout amongst themselves that it was due to elements such as mercury.
Watching two travellers camp up with portable chairs was envied by many including me.
As the sun began setting, I began making my way out
Not before stopping near Badwater Basin to make long exposures and some classic desert shots
After being snow-deprived in the past few years, except for that one time in some January, the first snow came in early this winter. While I thought I was going to miss the first snow in Amsterdam, little did I realise that a much grander treat would await me when I reached this little town called Enschede.
The views out of my friend’s window, the UvT campus overlaid in a carpet of trees and wooded parks, were fast filling up with snow. The smell of hot Indian food and Chai started filling up the tiny living room. It made us ecstatic and filled the air with this unexplainable feeling of joy and cheerfulness. Suffice to say; I had to, in anticipation of a hot brew, step out in the blistering cold to make some pictures.
Tea is another word for it, commonly used in the western world. To most, it is a hot beverage. I amongst many would describe it as a feeling. It never ceases to make everything – the look, the feel and the passage of time – ethereal. It shifts the state of life from the monotony of cell-phone and the instant messaging riddled world to that of just being – still and present.
On a rainy Sunday morning, my friend made some chai for us. We were all sitting by the window, sipping chai, watching the world go by. It was a surreal feeling.