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Old 12th September 2013, 16:26   #1
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Default Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

Dear Friends,

Just back from a wonderful trip of USA and what a trip it was, simply awesome. Really not sure if it is just with me or it is common with most of us that all trips do get planned on the Saturday morning while having coffee. This trip was no different and also got planned on the coffee table. So lovingly call it as " Coffee with Mom" which does the magic and many of my big trips have been planned at that time. Also may be this is all because of the Wander mind (WM) we all have in common and are looking for some occasion to set sail and move out of town. Good part with me is that I have couple of friends who have similar wanderer mind like me and it is really difficult for us to sit at home especially on weekends. But there are always two opposition parties ready to oppose the wanderer mind which I call the dreaded two " Practical Mind (PM) and Money Mind (MM)". In most cases I manage to convince these dreaded two with ease but this time I knew at the back of my mind that it is not going to be easy. So continuing with my story of "Coffee with Mom", my Mom and Dad had plans to visit my sister in US and 2 months prior to their visit we were causally having coffee and planning their trip. Out of blue mom casually asked me : why don't you join us to USA this time ? and we all can have a great family re-union ( My elder sister who resides in UK was also visiting my sister in USA ) This came in as a big surprise and I just shrugged off the idea with a big " what " followed by " absolutely not ". The way that "absolutely not" came I knew from where it was coming from. You guys guessed it right it was from the two dreaded two PM and MM. Instantly like the ruling party of my mind my WM could not take that defeat and started to work and that to over time. So ran to kitchen and grabbed one more mug of coffee to keep the conversation on. Instantly ideas started to ponder on my mind " What USA trip ?? wow and that too after long 10 years. I studied in Oklahoma USA 10 years back and after that never got an opportunity to visit US of A. Though professionally opportunities came couple of times by somehow got cancelled or delayed. Bottom line was that I had not visited USA in last 10 years and had many thing which I had missed and not seen in my previous trips.

2 hrs. had passed by and mom was back to normal with her daily routine and same with other most important people of the house (Her Majesty - Wifey dear ) Dad and daughter. Wifey dear did not ask me a single question and I presumed her thoughts were like " Raat gayi baat gayi" but she did not had the slightest idea that WM had come out winner in those 2 hrs. and now was also wandering in the US of A. I had decided that next morning again along with coffee I will table this USA Trip Bill in home parliament and was hopeful the bill will get passed with majority votes. So by evening like true politician started to count my votes and my chances of winning. So the math’s looked like this 2 votes for " Yes " (WM and Mom) and 2 for " No" (PM and MM ). Dad was neutral and was ready to provide outside support and daughter's vote did not count. So now the deciding vote was to come from....Wifey Dear.

So now was the big question how to convince wifey dear ? So in the evening again started the topic with wifey like, how nostalgic I was feeling remembering the days I was in USA and the fun I had and quietly passed the dreaded question - Should we go ? and to my surprise she said " why not " you have seen but I haven't and I am also very excited to see USA. So when are we going ? My ears actually did not believe what they heard and to confirm that this not some kind of sarcasm again asked are you sure and the answer was still the same. My joy seemed no boundary and my WM started to feel like what a lucky day it is today and all my wishes are coming true. So next morning the bill was passed smoothly in home parliament and celebrations started and the wish lists flowing in. First was my 4 year daughter with her wish of visiting the Disney Land !Though WM had somehow sneaked in the victory still the PM and MM were still very strong and were compelling me to think again and again. Personal trip to the USA ! are you nuts ? and have completely lost it ?. Not worrying about those thought just logged into travel website and started to just check the Airfare and as expected they were sky rocketing. Had budgetary constraints so sat down and did the math’s for complete trip and somehow managed to sneak this trip. Called up my sister in the US and broke the good news “ we are coming to USA “ and her joy scaled even the Everest. Like many occasion this time also having “ Coffee with Mom “ did the magic and wonders and I was off to USA.

Now came the big question US visitor Visa. Checked couple of websites and got all the relevant information and carefully applied for US visa at Chennai. Word of caution for all “ Please fill out the form with out most details and with no mistake specially the spellings of you names or the date of birth to avoid unnecessary delays. Next week got all paper work completed from my end and now was waiting for invitation letter from my sister along with her sponsorship letter if asked. Received all the docs well in time from sister and off I was to Chennai to face the Visitor visa.

First thought i should take the convenient Shatabdi express from Bangalore to Chennai, however due to the Visa timing of 2:30 pm for OFC thought it would had been real touch and go and for sure I did not want to reach the consulate late. So decided to leave by Car early in morning and reach Chennai by 11 Pm.
Preparation:

Week prior took the car to KHT Motors Whitfield and asked for inspection of the car before the long drive. KHT Fiat personnel checked the car thoroughly and gave his go ahead which gave me a sigh of relief.

The Day :

Came late from office previous day as had to attend mandatory Business meet.On the way back filled the Car with Diesel at IOC Station. Don’t know why but I really like to say “ Full Tank please”. Gives you a good feeling and that of being on the top of the world and feel of accomplishment.
As usual before any long trip and drives could not sleep properly the previous night and got up at 4:30 AM and was ready by 5:15 am. To save morning time we had packed our luggage (Tip : Avoid those big bags instead carry airbags as those are easy to fit in boot of hatchback cars. Also do not put shoes/ slipper in bags as that will make them big instead try to fit those at last in the spaces in between airbags) the previous night . By 5:30 Wify was also ready and after praying god for safe journey went down the lift to start our trip.The Moment I saw her she was all beaming, ready, shinning and smiling back at me. Me like a seasoned jockey went into the stable to bring her out for the big drive. Gave her a small pat on her back and cranked the ignition. She responded well with a nice roar. Roar felt like that of a wild horse doing ehee eheea and telling me that all her BHP’s ready to roll. So finally brought her out of the parking bay and moved her from my Whitefield house and my mini Ferrari was off to Chennai. Punto 1.3 MJD on highways is a sheer fun to drive and the feeling is like like uncorking the champagne bottle and zoom she goes beyond 2000 RPM.

No major hiccup on the road except that had a flat tire after krishnagiri , maybe due to the construction work going around in that area. Had a initial scare as the screw with which the spare tire is fastened had got jammed, so had to use a big stone to unscrew the tire. Finally got the tire replaced and in the process lost 30 - 35 minutes.Reached Chennai by 12 in the afternoon and checked into nearby hotel close to consulate. Quickly got fresh and attended the OFC interview with no issues. In the evening had no plans but with daughter's instance decided to visit Marina beach.

Bangalore to Chennai

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Cool way to carry Buffaloes

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Marina Beach

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Next day was the day of my Visa Interview. My Visa Interview was at 9 am in the morning . In the morning was little jittery and reached Consulate well in advance. Stood in the line for some time and finally we were allowed inside the consulate with routine security checks. As I was along with kid I got priority and visa process was smooth with routine one or two question like " where do u work ? and what is the purpose of your trip ? and how long is your trip ? To my surprise I was not asked asked to present a single piece of document and after that heard the words " your Visa is approved " . Breathed sign of relief and I was out of Consulate by 9:30 am. As i had finished my Visa process early decided to visit Mall on Cathedral road (Forgot the name, maybe Chennai TBHpian can help ) and grabbed some Macs before we headed back to Bangalore. Return Journey was smooth and reached back to Bangalore by 6 pm.

Now when all the major hurdles were over come next couple of weeks went in almost all Malls of Bangalore Shopping. Wifey's dear shopping list was endless and went on maybe in miles.Some how sat through all that pain and finally we were in 1-2 days time frame before the big trip.In Between also got all my travel bookings confirmed from my travel agent along with
priority seating.

Tip: If Possible please pay that little extra for blocking seats in advance. Though blocking seats prior is little expensive but really makes sense for these long haul flights and especially if you are traveling with family. In most cases these flights are over booked and chances are rare that you will get all seats in one line and for sure you do not want to seat in four different corners of the aircraft

My Daughter who is 3 and half years had traveled to the UK previously but this was her first 24 hrs plus first journey and so was little apprehensive. So checked with her Doctor for all probable medication and what all that needs to be carried. So we were all set to go to USA.

Finally the night arrived before the travel day and as usaul how much we wanted to sleep could not sleep and I ended staying all awake till 2:30 am in the night. Our flight was at 6:30 am out of Bangalore to San Francisco via London.Finally got the Call from taxi driver that he had come and so went down and loaded the taxi with all our luggage and was off to Bangalore International airport by 3 am. Checked in, did the security and immigration and now was waiting in the airport lounge to board the aircraft.BA service was excellent and got to board the aircraft first as we were traveling with children.Aircraft started to move and in no time the big bird took the big leap and was in open skies at cruising speeds and 35k Plus altitudes.

BA food menu was ok not very exceptional but did suffice the 9-10 hrs flight.

Had a 2 hrs layover @ London Heathrow airport, so the best thing i could do to kill time was to take some snaps of the planes taking off and landings.

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Big Bird B 747 getting ready to fly us to SFO

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Good part was that we had landed terminal T3 and from there had the connecting flight.So did not had to woory of changing teh terminals. Sometimes changing these terminals can be confusing and very tiring.Boarded the next flight to SFO and again started to look at my watch and started to count the time in reverse. 10 hrs to go. now 9 hrs and finally was in the range on 1 hr left for landing. Quickly got freshened and got ready for the final touch down and in no time the big bird was at parking gate @ SFO.Luckily I was in the front portion of the aircraft so got to embark the plane pretty fast and was now at the immigrations queue. Immigration process was smooth with usual 1-2 questions and finally was out of SFO airport where my sister and her family were desperately waiting for our welcome.Drove straight to my sister's house in Santa Clara and that evening just had a wonderful family time with sister family, mom and Dad.

Next Day my sigh seeing started and on the first day was off to Big Sur, 17 teen mile road and Carmel and that too in my sister's BMW convertible. What a joy ride it was.

Typical Californian Orange tree @ my sister's house garden

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US 101 South

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Marina State Beach

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Big Sur

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Bixby Creek Bridge

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Last edited by HarryB : 19th September 2013 at 14:44.
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Old 19th September 2013, 15:25   #2
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Default re: Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

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Rocky Point restaurant

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Lone Cypress :

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Day 2 :

Day 2 was planned for SFO, so to have a more scenic drive to SFO took the US 280 North rather that the mundane US 101 to go to SFO.
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Last edited by HarryB : 20th September 2013 at 11:23.
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Old 20th September 2013, 11:33   #3
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Default Re: Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 21st September 2013, 09:44   #4
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Golden Gate Bridge

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Last edited by HarryB : 21st September 2013 at 09:45.
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Old 29th September 2013, 09:57   #5
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Old 29th September 2013, 10:07   #6
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Old 29th September 2013, 12:18   #7
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Default Re: Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

Good writeup there and the sequence of pictures is good too. Brings back memories of a 10 year old trip to the West coast for me too. I look forward to the pictures from the Midwest. Would it be possible to share some more details about the logistics (number of days, cost, etc)?

It is interesting to see the similarities and differences between the two Marina beaches!
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Old 30th September 2013, 15:49   #8
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So after fun filled SFO now was the turn to visit Los Angeles (LA ). Initial my sister had planned to hire a RV or recreational Vehicle so that we all can go in one big van and have some real camping fun as well. However later taking logistcis and teh group we dropped and finally it was decided that we will go in 2 Cars. My Brother in Law BMW Convertible and and my sister's Merc and i was one of teh designated driver for Merc.

( If you have have Valid Indian DL, I did not find any issues in renting car in US, absolutely no question asked. So would like to clear many people's doubt about renting a car in US with Indian DL, the answer is big " Yes").

All cars packed up and ready to roll. In the morning we realized that going for such a big trip taking the Convertible Beamer would not be a good idea taking into account its back 2 seat accommodation and leg space. So plans changed and decided to take the proven horse Acura MDX.

So the road trip was on for Santa Clara to LA

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Finally reached LA and my sister had booked a Beautiful house near to Disney land in Anaheim

Next day it was Universal studios

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Universal Studio Tour - we passed through studios of Fast and Furious, Jurassic Park, Jaws and many more

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Last edited by HarryB : 30th September 2013 at 15:53.
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Old 1st October 2013, 00:42   #9
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Default Re: Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

Awesome pics! Thanks for sharing.

WE intend to do a similar trip sometime next year. Can you please advise on costs, travel plans, etc that could be of help?
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Old 3rd October 2013, 14:49   #10
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Default Re: Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

Thanks Corsalove.

All travel plans were done by me.All booking were done online on popular travel portal including international as well as domestic US travel.Also booked rental car in 2 location with no issue. Best part was that on most places I had some of my relative or friend to cater for our accommodation (except for LV and NY ) which for sure helped in bringing the budget down. So roughly it cost approx 1.5L per person.

Do let me know if you need any specific information and i will PM you

Cheers,

HarryB

Quote:
Originally Posted by CorsaLove View Post
Awesome pics! Thanks for sharing.

WE intend to do a similar trip sometime next year. Can you please advise on costs, travel plans, etc that could be of help?
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Old 3rd October 2013, 15:40   #11
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Default Re: Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

Set of ToonTown

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Set of Classic Hollywood Movie - Psycho and legendary Bates Motel in background. They also dramatize it and really Mr Bates comes out and attacks you - quite scary

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Set of War of Worlds where a real full size Boeing 747 was used and wrecked

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Transformers Ride - Not to be missed and probably the best ride

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Jurassic park ride

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Return of Mummy

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Water world Show

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Night Street walk inside Universal and Hard Rock Cafe

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Last edited by HarryB : 3rd October 2013 at 15:45.
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Old 22nd October 2013, 10:41   #12
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Default Re: Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

Next the Plan was for Disney land. My daughter really enjoyed all the fun and the rides

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Old 22nd October 2013, 11:11   #13
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Default Re: Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

Disney Cont'd

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No this is not Europe- This is Europe in California-

Solvang- Danish Town complete with windmills and beautiful houses

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Initially got confused and thought it was India Street

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Our Flight getting ready to take us from San Jose to Las Vegas

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Welcome to Vegas !

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Old 22nd October 2013, 12:45   #14
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Default Re: Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

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Last edited by HarryB : 22nd October 2013 at 12:53.
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Old 28th January 2014, 15:16   #15
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Default Re: Coffee with Mom: USA West Coast, Midwest & East Coast

Las Vegas Cont'd

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