My 2016 Travel Roundup

The rate at which January has whizzed by is mind-boggling. It is evident that this has been the quickest month in the history of 2017. Wink, wink. Jokes apart, if there’s any consolation these days, it is that the days have started getting longer here and I can’t help but feel a tad bit more hopeful. And, with hope comes waves of nostalgia.

While February has a tonne of reasons to get me nostalgic, it also reminds me that I am lagging behind in the department of travel blog trends. I mean who really does a 2016 travel round up in February? Yours truly. Who believes in the adage that it is better late than never (mainly because it gives a darned good excuse to put up such a post so late)? Once again, yours truly.

Also, this post is to serve as a marker for some of my future posts where I plan to  write about my individual travel experiences at the places listed, though not in the same order. I will eventually update this post with the relevant links to make it easier to find them all in one place at a later date.

A roundup of my travel experiences in 2016 spanning places accessible from Southern California, island hopping in Hawaii.
Feel Free to pin this image for later use

Off we go!

1. Goa, India

January | I started off 2016 with sun, sand and sea in India’s most famous (almost only-famous) beach destination – Goa. Back then, I was still living in India and this was a much needed getaway in a long long time. Gorging on some amazing food, wading in the waves, simply lying in the shacks while sipping on Piña coladas and reading some Murakami made this short vacation a perfect way for some self-healing and introspection after the particularly hard and trying times that I encountered in 2015.

2. Big Bear Lake, California

March | I moved back to the US in early March to a warm welcome, and within the week (jetlag be damned!) set out on a weekend trip to Big Bear Lake in order to catch a glimpse of the very little snow that southern California had been blessed with. Sightseeing around the beautiful lake, some first-timer snow shenanigans with friends, snow-tubing and the return drive along the ‘Rim of the world’ highway made it all seem like the weekend went past in a jiffy.

3. Lake Tahoe, California

March | Lake Tahoe is one of the top winter getaways in California and rightly so. The picturesque views of the incredibly blue lake sprinkled with emerald glory and the snow-capped Sierras surrounding were highly evocative, to say the least. Combine that with lip-smacking food and a private hot-tub under the star-studded sky for a date-night, this turned out to be an amazing romantic getaway.

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Breathtaking, ain’t it?

4. Death Valley National Park, California

April | It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I said that my trip to Death Valley National Park changed my perspective manifold. For starters, I wasn’t expecting to be astounded by such stretches of barren lands. I didn’t imagine that a place so devoid of vegetation would still look so colorful with all the hues. The surreal panoramic landscapes left an everlasting impression that I can’t wait to go back.

Death Valley Nation Park can alter your perspective
Perspective.Don’t the cars look like tiny specks ?

5. Pacific Coast Highway + San Francisco, California

April | The scenic Pacific Coast Highway reads like poetry describing the love affair of oceanscapes with land. With dramatic cliffs and raging ocean waves, every bit of the meandering coastline is instagram-worthy and we couldn’t help but pull over every few miles just to drink in the views. The stretch we covered was only from San Francisco till Big Sur but I would love to cover the entire route till San Diego one day. We topped off this trip with a touristy two days in San Francisco before flying back home.

The drive along the PCH has some beautiful scenery all along
Dramatic cliffs along the Pacific Coast Highway

6. Portland, Oregon

May | Whoever gave Oregon’s Portland its name must have most definitely intended to name it ‘Port to Wonderland’. Apart from being a cultural hub, and housing one of the best bookstores in the USA, Portland is the perfect pit-stop for nature lovers. The incredible views of Columbia river gorge, the numerous waterfalls, and the unforgettable hiking experience (which involved climbing up a log jam and wading through water) through the slot canyon in Oneonta gorge – all made this an extremely memorable trip.

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Breathe. This is real.

7. Pismo Beach + Hearst Castle, California

May The memorial weekend trip that we undertook with friends was all about lounging around a campfire by the ocean, trying our hand at kayaking despite being non-swimmers (Thank humans for life-jackets!), and a visit to the Hearst Castle. The grandeur and the history of this relatively-modern castle is bound to leave any visitor spellbound.

8. Yosemite National Park + Mono County, California

June | I kid you not when I say Yosemite is mighty – in terms of its splendor with jaw-dropping landscapes. From the towering granite structures, gushing waterfalls, serene meadows, to scenic drives – Yosemite managed to steal my heart in every way.

Tunnel View at Yosemite National Park
In my version of Red Riding Hood, I found my wonderland in Yosemite.

On our way out of the National Park we exited East end and spent a day in Mono County, being amazed by the surreal tufa formations along the electric blue Mono lake and had a lovely time soaking in a natural hot water spring with the views of what can be called “Switzerland of California”

tufaformations1
Tufa Formations at the 760,000 years old Mono Lake.

9. Kaua’i + O’ahu + The Big Island, Hawai’i

September | My gypsy soul couldn’t be more blessed to have an incredible spouse such as S who planned this dream vacation as an almost-birthday-surprise. (‘Almost’ because I discovered the plan before he could shout ‘surprise’). With postcard beaches, tropical weather, lush green cliffs, roaring waterfalls, volcano sightings, a short cruise and a skydive – this was a soulful vacation. And there’s no way I can encapsulate the intensity of this trip spanning three islands in a few words or just one blog post for that matter. I will try to do a series of posts about our incredible experiences here.

NaPali Coast - 2016 TravelRoundup
Na’ pali, one of the most beautiful coasts in the world is located in Kaua’i island of Hawai’i.

10. Monterey + Big Sur, California

October | This getaway to the sea-side town of Monterey was to meet a few friends and all of us had a lovely time catching up and exploring. On the drive back home, we split off and headed out on the PCH again, this time making sure to hit some of the spots we we had missed earlier like the purple sand beach, Henry Miller Memorial Library, and finally McWay Falls just in time for the sunset.

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Sunset at McWay Falls in Big Sur coastline of California

11. Fall colors at Mammoth Lakes, California

October | Nature’s annual fashion parade is not to be missed. Even though California’s fall colors are not as extensively vivid as in other parts of the country, we managed to catch glimpses of this wonderful phenomenon dotting the various lakes that constitute the Mammoth Lakes. This was the first colorful autumn I had ever experienced and I loved every bit of it.

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The splash of colors in Lee Vining

12. Grand Canyon + Page, Arizona

November | The trip to Grand Canyon was every bit grand in terms of the varied experiences that it rolled out on our plates. Be it the stupefying views of the Canyon itself or the experience of having an exotic animal trainer as a host who had close to six pet snakes living in the same house, or surrealistic terrains with sculptures of rock weathered by wind, or hiking up a slot canyon and having it all to ourselves – this was the getaway that made me realize how much I had underestimated the beauty of South-Western desert wilderness.

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Looking back from the entrance of a slot canyon.

13. Las Vegas, Nevada

December | Urban jungles are the least of my preferences. Even so, I was mildly curious about Vegas having heard so much about it. The city has its own unique vibe with all its dazzling lights, hordes of excited people thronging the streets and each of the casinos trying to outdo the other in terms of grandeur. As a tourist, I was most definitely entertained throughout my stay here.

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Like the U2 song goes, ‘In the city of blinding lights’.


The year ended at Yosemite National Park where we went to spend time amidst nature to bid adieu to 2016, glad to put some tough times behind us while being thankful for the wonderful moments. And oh, Yosemite donning its winter’s cape in all-white looked every bit of the ravishing beauty that it is.

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Phew! It turned out to be a long post after all. But I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together, going through the pictures (finally!) and recounting it all. I’d like to know if you have visited any of the above places. If not, which of these would you like to visit?

~Amo

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Miriam says:

    Wow! Jaw dropping gorgeous images Amo, all of these places look absolutely spectacular. I would love to get to Hawaii one day and Yosemite looks just like something out of a fairy tale. Love the Red Riding hood pic. Wonderful post ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amo says:

      I am glad you enjoyed this post, Miriam. You would absolutely love both Hawai’i and Yosemite. They are two of my favorite places (I mean along with the others, but these two are a tad bit more special). About the Red Riding hood pic, I must warn you that you will be seeing many similar pics in the upcoming posts. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. outnaboutweb says:

    You really visited oalds of wonderful places! I am soo jealous! Your photos are beautiful and stunning! Keep travelling!
    love, elena

    outnaboutweb.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amo says:

      Thank you Elena. I hope you get to go to the places and see them for yourself as well. I’m sure you would love them all.

      Like

  3. moosylicious says:

    Great places and awesome pictures

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amo says:

      Thank you so much for dropping by. Glad you liked the pictures.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Deb says:

    Welcome to the USA!! I have not been to any of these places but would love to visit them all…not in any particular order but I might start with Hawaii…have always wanted to visit California, in my youth I wanted to be an actress…so Hollywood here I come, then the Grand Canyon would be next. I considered going to college in Oregon, I thought it was the most beautiful, scenic places. You really had quite a year, how wonderful and your photos are beautiful! I look forward to reading about more of your adventures! 🙂

    Like

  5. KuminKueche says:

    What a lovely post!! Really like it!!
    I found your little space in the community pool, so glad I did!! amazing write up!!!keep writing and inspire us…. surely will be waiting for more!!
    Please do visit my blog when time permits, thanks in advance and see you there! 🙂

    Like

    1. Amo says:

      Thank you for such lovely comments. I have been away hence the uber late reply. I’m headed out to check your blog.

      Like

  6. janine says:

    Beautiful photos! Sounds like you had an eventful year! I’m headed to Death Valley at the end of the month! What was your favorite part? Can you even choose??

    Like

    1. Amo says:

      Janine, thank you so much for taking time out to read my blog. I just can’t seem to pick any favorites. I am sure you will love Death Valley. I hope to work on a blog-post on Death Valley before the end of the month so you will definitely see detailed updates 🙂

      Like

      1. janine says:

        Yay! Reading travel blogs is one of my favourite activities! Can’t wait to see what you share next 😀

        Like

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