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Old 1st August 2012, 18:59   #16
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Awesome pictures and narration. Keep them coming. Droolworthy photos of Maximus too!

Rated 5 stars.

Ladakh on my agenda after the Oct Kumaon trip. Do share whether the Fortuner needed any extra care.

Btw, had to mention: twice I read 'getting Leh'd' or 'got Leh'd' as 'laid' instead of 'Leh'd". Must be something wrong with my eyes.
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Old 1st August 2012, 21:57   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick5490 View Post
@ Columbus: WOW! Awesome narration and Fantastic pictures. Hooked on to your drive in Thin Air!
Thanks Maverick

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlphaKilo View Post
Nice travelogue in the making! I am sure with all the expertise (likes of HVK, Laluks and TSK) on-board, TBHP list will be more than enough to capture any terrain in any part of the country.

Hats off to those brave men and women warriors of the nation. As such BRO is one such organization which receives less or no credit for the job it has been doing up the hills. If not for the Army, MES and BRO, Leh would have remained only on our maps.
Thanks Alpha for appreciating the log. Very correct.. BRO's job is virtually thankless. People know about Army, Navy and Airforce but how many actually know about organisations like BRO or the ITBP who are the back bone of the Indian defense structure.

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Originally Posted by Manuuj View Post
I dare not discuss this TL while driving the Fortuner. It will auto eject me as i have been promising to stretch its legs in this region for sometime now.

Looking forward to lots of pics and detailed information to help me plan this elusive trip also. Please also continue to update the thread regularly. Don't keep us waiting!

Hooked!! (Rated 5 stars already)
Thanks Manuuj. Its not good to make a handsome lad like yours wait to get Leh'ed. He is born for that stuff. Its a different thing if he too has become fond of a fraulien just like Admiral of General Guderian..!!!

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Originally Posted by VeluM View Post
Incredible log. Stunning pictures and beautifully written. Not to mention gripping!! Can't wait for more. Inspirational.
Thanks Velu.

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Originally Posted by HorsPwr View Post
I dont want to stop reading it. The narration is superb as are the pictures. Hats off to your perseverance man !! Hooked up obviously
Thanks HorsPwr.

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Originally Posted by aviorp View Post
Ever since I read your ownership report, I knew this was coming. Its been worth the wait and those pictures are just 'class'. Really liked your narration and waiting for the rest of the story to unfold. Hope the rock that was tumbling down dint cause any serious issues.

Just a query on the road condition : Apart from the Dholpur stretch, how is the road condition between Gwalior and Agra?

Thanks for appreciating the pics and the log. And thanks for reading my owenrship review and remembering it for so long.
Apart from Dhoulpur the stretch between Gwalior and Agra was decent. Its the patch between Beora to Gwalior which is horrible.

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Originally Posted by flycatcher View Post
Oh this promises to be one heck of a TL. Bring it on bro! Please dont delay in posting things. This TL is already delayed by a year!
Thanks flycatcher. Will try to maintain good pace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Awesome pictures and narration. Keep them coming. Droolworthy photos of Maximus too!

Rated 5 stars.

Ladakh on my agenda after the Oct Kumaon trip. Do share whether the Fortuner needed any extra care.

Btw, had to mention: twice I read 'getting Leh'd' or 'got Leh'd' as 'laid' instead of 'Leh'd". Must be something wrong with my eyes.
Thanks Nilanjan for aprreciating the log and pics. No the Fort did not require any special care. Just a routine service. Its capable to handle any terrain in Ladakh unless you want to try the tracks done by Army stallions.

Leh'd or Laid .. however you read it ... the catharsis of emotions after the big O is same in both cases ..
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Old 2nd August 2012, 09:14   #18
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Day 3

Delhi-Chandigarh-Bilaspur

Vikrant was up early and was looking for me. After searching for couple of minutes he noticed that the engine of the car is running. He too was amused to see me sleeping in the car. Anyways i felt refreshed after those invaluable 4 hrs in the car. A strong coffee and breakfast brought me back to senses.
We pushed off towards Chandigarh at around 11:30 where we had to pay visit to Vikrant's sister-in-law. She had spent 2 years in Leh when her husband was posted in All India Radio Leh. She insisted on giving us some valuable tips about surviving in Ladakh. We were not that keen on visiting Chandigarh...however you can't bypass sister-in-laws .

The first 100 kms on the GT road were great after which comes diversions and more diversions, The average speed gets reduced considerably. However traffic was smooth and it was a comfortable drive especially after previous days marathon. At 4:00 in the evening we were as expected arguing with a chandigarh cop at Tribune chowk. Conversation goes like this :

Licence hai - yes

Insurance hai - yes

Gaadi ke original papers hai - yes

Pollution (with a smile on his face) - yes

Cop says - ummm pollution bhi hai twade kul ...lekin fine to fir bhi hoga..!!

I said why?

Kyuonki aapne left turn karne ke liye middle lane se cross kar ke aaye ho. aapko left lane mein hona chahiye tha...(which actually was correct).

I said 2 more vehicles infront of me took the same turn same way and i just followed them.

He says Us wakat maeri akkhan band thi..!!

Started with impounding the vehicle and getting it from court and finally settled with Rs 200. There is a saying that Ghat pe aake devta ko chadhava diye bina nahin ja sakte ! Same is with chandigarh cops. Always ready to fleece you...especially if its an outside number plate vehicle .

Had a great evening lunch at SIL's place and started for Bilaspur at 6:00 in the evening. Now SIL had stayed a full 2 years in Leh and she gave us a truckload of advises which we agreed with Haan didi... yes didi.... haan didi...!!
Did a route confirmation with a friend and hit the road again. The hills started and so did trucks from the ACC cement factory. Traffic jams shall be part of everyday and this day was not an exception. The ususal stuff...Truck loosing its gear box on the incline and suddenly you find a long que of vehicles on both sides. Wasted an hour before we could break free. Reached HPTDC hotel lake view at around 10:30 PM and called it a day with some kadhai chicken and dal makhani.

Sorry no pics for the day. Yersterdays tiredness ensured that the cam was not pressed into duty. Also i was enjoying driving Maximus on super smooth roads and hence the cam remained on the back seat.


Day 4

Bilaspur - Manali

Woke up to a foggy morning with light drizzle. Monsoons had quitely entered Himachal during night. It was looking beautiful but not a good sign if you want to cross Rohtang.


View from hotel

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Started late from Bilaspur at 10:30 after a breakfast which took hrs to come. The road conditions were decent with occassional rough patches and potholes. Being the last weekend of holidays the traffic was dense. As if the whole of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana wanted to go to Manali. Drunk youths with SUVs zipping past even in Aut tunnel.
Youth, Drinks, powerful SUVs makes a heady cocktail and a sure shot recepie for disaster. One such group bagnged their Fiesta in an on coming Innova while overtaking on a turn. Thankfully no one was hurt.

This was my first drive in the hills with Maximus and i must say i was completely at ease. With almost zero turbo lag there were no issues on inclines, hairpins, and overtaking manouvers. The vehicle is effortless to drive and held its ground on twisties. Ofcourse you can't do things which you can do with a sedan on hilly roads.


Maximus enjoying the cool weather


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Again got caught in a traffic jam at Bhuntar where there is a turn for Manikaran. Lost an hr and then took the Naggar route for Manali.


Misty hills.


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Just as we entered Manali and payed the toll we were handed over the dreaded leaflet which said outside number plate vehicles to take permission to go to Rohtang. There goes our plan to hit Rohtang early morning. Had a late lunch a 4:00 in a small restaurant in Prini New Manali. From there straight to Hotel Iceland in Solang where we were booked for the night.

Aah...sights which are balm to city dwellers.


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Hotel Iceland is a nice place to stay in the Solang. It overlooks a camping ground and has parking for 8 to 10 cars. Our decesion to stay at Solang to get a bit more acclimatized proved a very good one for it helped us a lot later in the journey.


Night Night


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Old 2nd August 2012, 09:41   #19
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Default Re: Driving in Thin Air

Gritty stuff columbus. Awesome pics of Maximum and great narration. I'm going to be Leh'd next week via Srinagar and coming back via Manali, so hooked on to your t-log. Rated 5 stars.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 11:03   #20
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Awesome Log Ravi sir!! Beautifully narrated. I was stuck on it like you get stuck to a good book! And its the classic tale! A trip to Leh-Ladakh! A petrolhead Meccah! Already getting goosebumps and the main story is yet to come!

Really looking forward to it! Cheers! Don't make us wait too much
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Old 2nd August 2012, 11:48   #21
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A great write-up. Congrats on successfully conquering my dream destination.
Rated 5-stars.

Ever since I walked into the theatre showing 3 IDIOTS, I forgot about about the movie and decided I would visit this place. Later I digged through the threads i about Leh(1st one being that of tanveer's tsk1979 ) and became obsessed with the place.

While going through the threads, one of my friends saw the pics and he is already on board to make the trip to Leh. A couple of years down the line, I plan to drive down from the stay(currently Bangalore) to Leh and back, with my friend.

Sorry columbus for hijacking your thread, your write-up made me nostalgic.


Quote:
Originally Posted by columbus View Post
Rohtang 9th July 2011

Battle of Carthage


......I came out and stood on the footboard to gauge the path i'll take. Suddenly everybody shouted " Patthar aaya..Patthar aaya ".
As i looked up i saw a huge 2 foot by 2 foot rock flying down straight towards me ! I said to myself "This is it"....

Fingers crossed. I am growing real impatient to know the outcome.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 14:38   #22
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Originally Posted by rahul_sinha View Post
Gritty stuff columbus. Awesome pics of Maximum and great narration. I'm going to be Leh'd next week via Srinagar and coming back via Manali, so hooked on to your t-log. Rated 5 stars.
Thanks mate and have a safe trip.

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Originally Posted by thumpingheart View Post
Awesome Log Ravi sir!! A trip to Leh-Ladakh! A petrolhead Meccah! Already getting goosebumps and the main story is yet to come!
Thanks thumping heart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ashis89 View Post
A great write-up.
Ever since I walked into the theatre showing 3 IDIOTS, I forgot about about the movie and decided I would visit this place. Later I digged through the threads i about Leh(1st one being that of tanveer's tsk1979 ) and became obsessed with the place.

Sorry columbus for hijacking your thread, your write-up made me nostalgic.
Thanks ashis89. It is the same feeling i used to get when i read Ladakh Logs. And obsessed is the correct word .
3 IDIOTS is perhaps responsible for putting Ladakh on tourist map of Indians. Weather it was a boon or bane for Ladakh is alltogether a different issue.

Day 4 log coming up shortly.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 16:11   #23
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Day 4 , 27 June 2011

Manali to Keylong


Permit ka funda !

Since the DC office was to open by 10:00 AM only we had a late morning and a sumptous breakfast.
Solang is where they do gliding. Which is essentially a lousy 1 minute ride from a small hill. Want to do some real hand gliding then try on the naggar road. You will have experience of a lifetime.


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Since outside number plate vehicles had to take a permit to cross Rohtang our plans of reaching Sarchu went in the drain. Went to DC office at sharp 10:00 in the morning. As expected it was chaos at DC office. All you have to do is fillup a form and submit at the office. After a wait of two hrs we got the permits.
Funny part was that the reason for starting the permit system was to restrict personal tourist vehicles. Because tourists don't know how to drive in the tough conditions at Rohtang and are the primary reasons for traffic jams. OK fine I accept that but then everybody was writing Keylong as the destination and getting the permits !! So the whole idea of restricting the vehicles was lost cause everybody was getting the permits. I guess the decision was influenced more by vested interests of Taxi union rather than easing chaos at Rohtang.
And later in the trip i realised that its the HP no. plate vehicles be it Taxi or personal are the cause of the jams. More on this later.

After getting the permits went back to the hotel, had lunch and pushed off to Rohtang. In mean while forgot to tank up Maximus. I had full tanked him at Mandi. We were already late and i thought i would tank him up at Tandi. I was in for a pleasent surprise though .

Day 4 continued

Rohtang A pile of dead cars and a dead lens sitting on top of it !!


The climb to Rohtang..


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No sooner did we approach Rahni Nullah we got stuck in the dreaded Rohtang Jam. It was more than 2 hrs and Vikrant was at a place where smaller cars were getting stuck. An Alto which was a sitting duck in the center of the road was the primal cause of the Jam. Vickrant coordinated the efforts in pushing aside the Alto and the clearing almost 30 odd vehicles which were in double lines. Gum boots and his experience of clearing Agra bypass jams came in real handy. People who had come in their Altos, Desizres, Manzas when get stuck need some external guidance in calming their frayed nerves and giving them directions. My friend was doing just that. With an Umbrella, Gumboots he looked like a BRO guy incharge.


Slush fest..!!


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By the time the we were stuck i decided to take out the camera. BIG MISTAKE. It was quite foggy and my Tolina 12-24 was on the cam. Couple of snaps and the dreaded "error 99" started flashing on the screen. Tried everything from cleaning the contacts, removing the battery grip, but nothing. Other lenses were working fine. The Tokina had gone dead along with the many cars going bust enroute to Rohtang. Rohtang true to its name had given me the first casualty of the trip. If you ask me to just pick one lens for Ladakh trip and i would pick the 12-24. You don't need any other lens in Ladakh where even 12 is felt less wide. Now it was dead and i was like ...

Some of the last pics from the Tokina..


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Thankfully i had brought a spare a camera Sx30IS which went upto 24 mm and was the saving grace for the entire trip.

Day 4 contd..

"Chalte rahiye .. Chalte rahiye.."

Inching slowly reached the point of landslide at Rahni nullah. There was slush everywhere. I was merrily cruising in 4H. Ahead me was a Force Tempo Traveller taking the slushy incline and behind me was a Scorp from Punjab belonging to a MLA who was relying purely on momentum. Midway between the climb the Force Traveller saw its wheels loosing traction. By that time i had also commited for the incline and the Scorp behind me had also gained momentum.
To my horror the traveller started sliding back . With a traveller sliding back and a scorp relying on momentum coming from behind i knew were going to get sandwiched. I started slowing down. The MLA scorp had a public address system which screamed "Chalte rahiye Chalte rahiye "..!!
I had to act fast..very fast. I was already in 4H. The left of the Force traveller was open but with some HUGE amount of slush. My only chance was to take that left. Slowed down to less than 5kmph and engaged 4L on the fly , severed left and pressed the pedal. The Fort was ploughing through almost 2 foot of slush and rocks. Right side ORVM missed the traveller by an inch and i ploughed ahead. We were free....and I now new why i had bought this vehicle .


Day 4 to be contd.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 17:15   #24
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Day 4 contd.

The other side of Rohtang


The road after Rahni nullah is equally bad with traffic being allowed in only one direction. The visibility was almost zero and tailing the car infront was the only option. The road becomes a superb black top just before Rohtang. BRO has its own ways of pleasing you. It was dense fog at the top. Did the customary photo shoot, had some tea and pushed off to Jispa.


Dense fog at Rohtang Top

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The vistas after Rohtang are breathtaking. Mist, sunlight, snow, waterfalls making it appear the eden on Earth. Even though it was windy and chilly we spent quite sometime by just leching at the scenery. Wish we were here 2 hours early. Light was fading rapidly.


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The decent from Rohtang was decent. Atleast there was no slush on the road. We were very late because of the numerous breaks for gaping at the scenery and also night had fallen and i was more cautious in driving. The road conditionalso did not help since at many stretches it was blasted for double laning. Only good part was that there was no oncoming traffic. Who would want to attempt Rohtang at night..!


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Reached Tandi at around 9:00 PM only to find the Petrol pump closed. Couple of Taxi drivers had gone to pump owners home to bring him back. Checked the MID...Maximus was returning 10+ mileage. Did some rough calcs. and took the risk that we should be good enough till Leh..!! Which means the even with a provision of carrying 60L fuel extra in the boot we were attempting "Mandi (not Manali) to Leh" in one Tankful..!!
We decided to proceed ahead. By 9:30 we were at Keylong and Jispa was another hours drive from here . I was in no mood to drive further. Decided to halt at Keylong. Checked HPTDC Chandrbhaga and were told no rooms available. As we turned back the manager called "Saab Dormitory Khali hai ". The dorm was a four bedded room with attached toilet and an immersion rod for hotwater. And with only two of us it was like a big room. At 200 rs per bed the manager asked "chalega kya ". We smiled at each other " Dodega bhai saab Dodega.."
Maximus did not get his fuel but there was no short supply of our fuel. Time to celebrate. We were on the other side of Rohtang...!

Last edited by columbus : 2nd August 2012 at 17:17.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 17:57   #25
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You are driving me mad! I need to get up and get going..... Going to Leh.

Hats off, very well narrated, Columbus. Thanks for sharing and let it roll on and on.

I can't help sharing a small fact, hope you will excuse me. I visited Rohtang in 1984. We were six guys in second year engg. One bullet, one Yezdi and self on Priya. I very vividly remember that drive. Month of Sep, monsoons over, the hills were green and wild flowers blossoming. The road rose up through this garden and on the Solang side were endless waterfalls. Mind you at that age all these things dont normally captivate you but we were overwhelmed with the beauty of the place. We reached the top, no boasting but I led the other two, superior pick up and maneuverability of the scooter helped it maintain the momentum.
There was nobody over there. We drove our vehicles on the lush green meadow and came back.
Later in Manali somebody mentioned that the road further leads to Leh. We decided that we will come back and I dont think except one other five have made it till date.

So time to crank up the motors once again!

Cheers

Last edited by PGA : 2nd August 2012 at 17:59.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 17:58   #26
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Keep it coming.."chalte rahiye.. chalte rahiye" I have a couple of Q's..

When and where did the permit that was taken from the DC's Office get checked?

Does one need a Permit while coming from the Leh side also?

Did engaging 4L on the move prove difficult. Were there any grating noises.? Its my understanding that we have to come to a full stop before we attempt engaging and disengaging 4L.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 18:55   #27
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Firstly - 5* rating !
Secondly - Fabulous snaps and entertaining write up.
Thirdly - Do you have to keep breaking off like this ? Can't you apply for a days CL, pick up a flask of coffee, sit under a tree and finish off the narrative in one shot ? And that too after keeping us waiting for a year ?

Great going Columbus - loving every minute of it. Desperately not trying to think of my long over due visit to those parts.
Though we talked about it - but glad to read that Maximus performed admirably !

And like Oliver (of the Twist fame) I ask - " Can I have some more please ?"
Speed up sir...
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Old 2nd August 2012, 20:53   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PGA View Post
You are driving me mad! I need to get up and get going..... Going to Leh.

Hats off, very well narrated, Columbus. Thanks for sharing and let it roll on and on.

I can't help sharing a small fact, hope you will excuse me. I visited Rohtang in 1984. We were six guys in second year engg. One bullet, one Yezdi and self on Priya.

So time to crank up the motors once again!

Cheers

Thanks for appeciating the log PGA. Rohtang in 1984 on Bajaj Priya... must have been some adventure. We too have a priya in our garage. I can imagine by your description how pristine Rohtang must have been at that time. Today its not even a shadow of that. But beyond Rohtang its still virgin.

Its high time you crank up the motors..!

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Originally Posted by Manuuj View Post
Keep it coming.."chalte rahiye.. chalte rahiye" I have a couple of Q's..

When and where did the permit that was taken from the DC's Office get checked?

Does one need a Permit while coming from the Leh side also?

Did engaging 4L on the move prove difficult. Were there any grating noises.? Its my understanding that we have to come to a full stop before we attempt engaging and disengaging 4L.
Manuuj

The permit was checked at Marhi checkpost. so no escaping that.

No you don't need any permit if you are coming from Leh side.

The manual says it can be engaged if the speed is less than 5 kmph. The vehicle was just about to stop when i engaged it. No grinding noise. Though after that always engaged 4L when vehicle was stationary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guderian View Post
Firstly - 5* rating !
Secondly - Fabulous snaps and entertaining write up.
Thirdly - Do you have to keep breaking off like this ? Can't you apply for a days CL, pick up a flask of coffee, sit under a tree and finish off the narrative in one shot ? And that too after keeping us waiting for a year ?


And like Oliver (of the Twist fame) I ask - " Can I have some more please ?"
Speed up sir...
General

Welcome to log. How i wish that i could upload the log in the circumstances you have mentioned but some dreams never come true but l i'll try to be as fast as possible !

More is coming. Wait till tomorrow.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 00:07   #29
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Columbus
Hi
You have a great way with words.
Can imagine your feeling cooped up for hours in a jam.Driving by itself doesnt tire you it is the perennial stop and go in first gear that saps your energy/stamina.
Incidentally on different forums my tagline is "the road is the destination."
Look forward to more.
Regards

Last edited by faustus77 : 3rd August 2012 at 00:14.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 01:29   #30
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Originally Posted by columbus View Post
Pictures...
What a co-incidence! The dumb bell like reflection in one of your pictures near Nubra valley (Day 8 first picture). I took the same picture at the same spot and it is my cell phone wall paper for an year now! There are lot of very similar pictures in almost same spots - but this one is a 100% match!

Thank goodness you did not take a City. When we were going to Tso Moriri (IIRC) there was a City in front of us. He simply could not drive it. Every few meters he had to stop, stress out, get out of the car and see whether the bottom would get hit. When he moved it invariably got hit. We moved past him in a short time. Heaven knows whether he made it. Even if he made it, it was absolutely not worth it.

Last edited by idofsuresh : 3rd August 2012 at 01:39.
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