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Old 13th June 2014, 08:03   #1
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Default Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

Its been a while since I posted a travelogue. Work or family connection finds me in the US a couple of times a year. In February of 2014 I was in the US and travelled through a number of cities. I landed in Boston. Stayed there for a few days, then went to New Haven, CT for a weekend and back to Boston. Nephew was studying there at Yale in New Haven.

Around Boston work sent me to the states of Rhode Island and Smithfield. From Boston I flew out to Salt Lake City in Utah. A couple of days there and then to the beautiful town of Park City where the winter Olympics took place and has perhaps the best ski slopes anywhere in the world. From there I flew through Chicago and finally back to base camp Bangalore.

Last winter was particularly brutal in most parts of the United States. Newspapers spoke about the "Polar Vortex". Following the Weather TV channel I could understand that the first indications of Polar Vortex were picked up in December 2013 and lasted till mid-March 2014. Time magazine was writing about Polar Vortex in March 2014. There were various days of extreme temperature, heavy snowfall and strong winds making the temperature feel ten degrees further below due to the wind chill factor.

As I travelled there was literally a white blanket and everything seemed to be covered in snow. Several cities across the US recorded their coldest temperatures in a decade. Driving was difficult and if the roads were not cleared - well one had to forget reaching a meeting on time. Thousands of flights and trains were cancelled or running behind schedule. Every conversation was around the extreme weather. Every place I visited had temperatures between -3 (warmest) to -28 (coldest). I was prepared for the extreme cold and travel disruptions but as is always the case - there is always a surprise around the corner.


No leaves on trees

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Just footprints -

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It is unique to see how life goes on despite the cold and how various buildings, monuments, shopping malls, transportation go on about their business. Of course they are no strangers to severe weather.

Some pictures

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After arriving in Boston late in the afternoon I went out to the market and wanted to orient myself to the changed temperature and get past jet lag. Some pictures as I walked around Quincy Market. Somewhat deserted. The temperature on this day was around -5 to -6. There are other pictures of Boston from a previous visit on this forum which show the bloom but this visit was in a cold winter time and there were hardly people around.

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As I walked around in Quincy market I came across a support group that was showing off a NASCAR. Being a petrohead the vehicle attracted my attention and I spent the next hour just walking around and trying to see all the modifications. The engine, exhaust, tyres, fuel tank, driver cage, brakes etc - everything had been modified.

Pictures below of the NASCAR and a support truck that had come along. I am not a major speed racing guy but these modifications and the effort that would go into making these possible in a safe manner is something worth thinking about.

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After a routine tour of the Quincy Market I walked over to the North End and the Columbus Park. Quincy Market was an old market place a century ago. North end has a dozens of Italian eating places.

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In spite of the bitter cold kids have their share of fun.

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I have played tennis on these courts on previous visits. This time the snow was just melting.

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One thing to consider - does every place have a good coping mechanism to severe weather?

Coming up - more monuments and then visit to other New England states.
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Old 13th June 2014, 08:35   #2
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Default re: Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

I moved to the Charlestown part of the city. The USS Constitution is the oldest battleship that is afloat. There is a small ship museum and the ship itself. Can you imagine that this battleship was commissioned in 1797 and has a great history.

For those of you who follow armed forces this will be of some interest. This battleship has a full fleet of 60 Navy officers and its present objective is outreach and participation in public events. Pictures will perhaps do some justice to this -

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There are 44 guns in this ship and as you will notice the entire ship has been preserved in pristine condition.

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After a very very informative tour of the USS Constitution I walked over to see the other presents of the Navalyard. Charlestown Navy yard also used to repair ships. The picture below shows informs us how they could repair ships after bringing them into this huge tank and then pumping the water out.

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On any normal summer or spring day I have seen this place teeming with people. This day in February was cold and there weren't many visitors. A very peaceful tour.

Does this mean that snow and cold don't disrupt life. Find out in the next posts.
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Old 13th June 2014, 12:40   #3
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Default Re: Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

Many thanks for sharing this travelogue! The pictures bring great memories. Boston is amongst the most charming cities I know of. Modern enough, yet with a lot of history. I lived there for 2 years and agree with you on the brutal winter; it can freeze you to your bones. Equally, I must add that I got used to it by the 2nd winter I saw.
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Old 13th June 2014, 19:58   #4
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Default Re: Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Many thanks for sharing this travelogue! The pictures bring great memories. Boston is amongst the most charming cities I know of. Modern enough, yet with a lot of history. I lived there for 2 years and agree with you on the brutal winter; it can freeze you to your bones. Equally, I must add that I got used to it by the 2nd winter I saw.
Hi GTO

Thanks for commenting and yes your observations are spot on. I have been to Boston a number of times and amongst all of the US cities this one holds a special place in my heart. It is business like, yet relaxing, it does not have the brashness, hooliganism or the hurry that a number of other large cities have.

In fact the human body does get used to the temperatures. After the initial couple of days my body was able to adjust to and accommodate to the dipping cold temperatures. In fact when I went to Park City in Utah I was simply in a pullover.

More of the travelogue coming up.

Cheers

Rajain
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Old 13th June 2014, 20:19   #5
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Default Re: Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

The next few days saw extensive business travel into the neighbouring states of New Hamphire and Rhode Island. Driving on the roads was not easy even though they had been cleared. You must be thinking that the title of this thread is Polar Vortex and freezing but so far snow has been somewhat less. Well the next posts have more and enough of snow.

With temperatures falling to anything between -15 to -22 flurries (very light snowfall) was fairly routine. My hands were all white as I took the gloves off to take pictures.

A beautiful sunrise and roads through small hills

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Up in New Hampshire all water bodies were frozen and snow had been piled up at various places.

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What do you do if there is no one out there to click a normal picture!

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Here are some snow and only snow pictures. These pictures were clicked over a span of a few days. On most days the temperature was anything between -15 and -22. Walking out in the cold was ok if one was prepared but taking hands out of gloves and getting a picture was not easy. The hands then had to be placed back in overcoat pocket for the next 5-6 minutes to normalise.

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It was a huge white blanket. The picture below shows the amount of snowfall. Its almost to the seat level. Easily 2 feet.
Attached Thumbnails
Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014-dsc02892-1024x768.jpg  

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Old 13th June 2014, 20:52   #6
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Default Re: Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

As days passed the body began to get used to the cold and I started to like walking around and getting about. The snow was not proving to be such a dampner after all. One just had to get used to it. After all the local population was living in this bitter cold and going about their daily lives.

However, the snow blanket was everywhere and even with different shoes outside office sometimes one had to be very careful of where one was stepping into.

Melting snow leaves the surface wet and you don't want to fall into those cold puddles.

Let the snow pictures speak for themselves. As they say the colour white never looked so pristine.

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Old 13th June 2014, 20:56   #7
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Default Re: Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

LOL. People here in New England are trying to forget last winter and you bring up this thread just to rekindle the memories
I am only joking, btw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajain View Post
The next few days saw extensive business travel into the neighbouring states of New Hamphire and Rhode Island.

It was a huge white blanket. The picture below shows the amount of snowfall. Its almost to the seat level. Easily 2 feet.
Is the last picture from your office campus? In Merrimack?
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Old 13th June 2014, 21:00   #8
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Default Re: Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

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LOL. People here in New England are trying to forget last winter and you bring up this thread just to rekindle the memories
I am only joking
Yes it was a brutal winter and yes it was fun being there. Imagine 2-3 feet of snow. Which by the way is no big a deal as some parts of Leh get 25 feet of snow!!!

I can only smile at the next observation of yours. As they say take it off line.
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Old 16th June 2014, 11:39   #9
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Default Re: Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

So, after a few days in New Hampshire and Rhode Island I went out for a weekend to the home of Yale University, New Haven. My nephew was studying there and in fact graduated recently.

I took a train from south station, Boston. This was a scenic journey. South of Boston running parallel to the Atlantic Ocean it was really beautiful. Unfortunately the pictures are not good since the train windows were frosted from outside. By now I was used to the cold and almost all the times the temperatures were around -12 to -15.

At New Haven, a town built around the university and very little else. Majority of the buildings are university buildings and there was - well snow all around.

We drove out to a small hill and my nephew gave me a tour of the town. I also had a chance to meet my brother, his wife, 2 more nephews - so it was a mini family get together.

The pictures below are of a very aspirational school. The Yale School of Management.

A very modern building (as you can imagine) LEED certified, eco friendly, utilises natural light to the max. The entire building - classrooms, labs, group discussion rooms, library - all state of the art, very aesthetic, very classy and very eco friendly.

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It was a matter of pride to know that at least 35 plus Indians were pursuing MBA in the present course.

It reminded me of my university education , which was also from a top school in India but any of the Ivy league is - well in a league of its own.

As we moved on from the school my nephew took me around the other parts of the town which had some very nice houses and university buildings. Most of the buildings are around one central courtyard. Do not miss a regular student notice board -

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We also went around town to a nearby hill. Students often trek up there. It was a nice small getaway. The temperature was around -8 and thereabouts. A few pictures

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Old 17th June 2014, 09:13   #10
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Default Re: Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

From New Haven I took the train and came to Rhode Island for a day and then back to Boston. It was a humbling experience to see Yale University.

So, the bitter cold parts of the visit came to an end in Boston and I flew to Salt Lake City in Utah.

Just a couple of late evening shots in Boston a day before getting away to Salt Lake City.

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The next leg of the journey was Salt Lake City and Park City in the Utah mountains.

Salt Lake City hosted the winter Olympics in 2002 is right between the Utah mountains one side and the great lake on the other. Almost from any part of the town the mountains are visible. The city if primarily known for its outdoor sports industry a majority of which is connected to skiing in the neighbouring Park City.

A couple of shots of the main stadium

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I went around the town. A laid back town with wide roads, a tram, beautiful buildings and yes people with lovely boots and hats. No longer the wild west but I did hear stories of shootouts reminding one of "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly"

As I went around there was a 'view point' and one could see the entire town, the mountain range and in the far distance the lake. The temperature was a comfortable 5-8 deg C. Very nice after all those cold days.

Some shots through Salt Lake City.

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From Salt Lake City I had the opportunity of getting to Park City. Park City has perhaps the finest ski places anywhere in the world. The snow is just powder. Park City is about 50 kms east of Salt Lake City and a perfect tourist town. Given the ski slopes it is easy to think there maybe nothing else except skiing but the city has more to its character than just skiing. A prominent attraction for Park City is the film industry and there is a popular film festival that takes place at Park City, the Sundance Film Festival.

For those of you who have regularly done Chandigarh-Kasauli - well the parallel of Salt Lake City - Park City is about the same-distance and altitude wise. Of course, with the major skiing slopes Park City is far spread out and there are slopes as much as 30-40 kms away.

Park City was originally a mining town and slowly with people coming for skiing, the main attraction became skiing and mining slowly vanished.

Pictures from Park City

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Just see how powdery the snow is -

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Old 19th June 2014, 23:52   #11
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Default Re: Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014

Park City has the ski slopes and the town where majority of the hotels and resorts are located.

There are ski slopes which literally come straight into the town. The ski lifts are also fantastic and they take you right up from where skiing down is good fun. Thousands of people were skiing around and those still in the town were generally enjoying the lovely weather. It was cold enough to be just below freezing but that seemed nice!

Some more shots from Park City, the slopes nearby and the Utah mountains

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I was informed that a number of Hollywood stars have villas around here and several have summer homes.

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The height of the place displayed in feet in my watch

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With an eventful day out in Park City we drove back to Salt Lake City from where I caught my flight back home via Chicago. Some late evening shots of Salt Lake City and the frozen Lake Michigan from the flight.

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The frozen Lake Michigan from the plane

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It was a unique feeling of flying out back home after several cold days out there, after seeing miles and miles of area simply covered under snow. Sometimes we, in Bangalore, take our climate for granted and are not really grateful to Lord Almighty for how blessed we are.

Upon landing in Bangalore I felt the cool breeze and as I walked out of the airport building I saw this magnificent sight - our tricolour. Most of us live and die for.

Experiencing 'Polar Vortex' - Freezing cold USA, Feb 2014-dsc04784-1024x768.jpg

Jai Hind
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