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Old 16th January 2010, 11:54   #151
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Default Reaching Dirang

5:40 PM, 4 degrees & Snow warning on the MFD.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1312.jpg

Road to Dirang.
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Some night shots.
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Our room for the night.
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Hotel Pemaling, Dirang
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Last edited by pulsar56 : 16th January 2010 at 11:58.
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Old 16th January 2010, 21:07   #152
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Default @ Dirang

Warm clothes on!
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Check-out Time
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Time for some Individual Pics
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Group Pic
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View of Dirang Town from the hotel.
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Good Morning to ADC.
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Discussing the plan for the day
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Got BHP?
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Well, Yes, I Have it!
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Basking in the sun
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Pumpe Duse / Pumpe Dude!
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Oh no. Another traffic Jam!
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Colorful flags on the roads of Dirang.
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Destination: TAWANG!
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Last edited by pulsar56 : 16th January 2010 at 21:11.
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Old 16th January 2010, 23:10   #153
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Pics are coming out really well NAZ ........ I'm gonna journal a proper Hardback from both your's and Ravvs's memories.
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Old 17th January 2010, 15:09   #154
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Default Christmas!

Quote:
Originally Posted by absynthguzzler View Post
Pics are coming out really well NAZ ........ I'm gonna journal a proper Hardback from both your's and Ravvs's memories.
LOL, Just make sure that I get a share of the Royalty!

Keep those pics rolling in Nazim they are great stuff.

Christmas and the last leg.

The morning of Christmas day saw us waking late (i.e. not at 4.00 but somewhere around 7.00) and bundling ourselves up is layers and layers of clothes as we were to climb to approx 4100M. We had seen sub-zero temperatures on the way to Dirang the day before but no snow. The zillion dollar question was - would we see snow on Christmas day?

We hurried into the dining room of the Pemaling for a breakfast of toast, eggs and poories, the guiding principle for food from now on would be - the greasier the better! The cold and the altitude demanded that we get as much energy in as possible.

ADC indicated that he would be leaving a little late as he was tired and asked us to carry on. Once we loaded the luggage in, closing the dicky was a breeze as most of what was in the baggage was now on us.

The fuel gauge showed that we still had more than half a tank of Diesel but, we decided to fill up as Tawang was at the end of the line and any disruption to supplies would mean that we would not get Diesel and we just might use a lot of Diesel loafing or just sitting in the car with the heater on. We trundled into the bunk where the attendants told us cheerfully - Diesel hai, light nahin hai. We were about to leave, when he said - no problem, hum 200 / 300 litre haat se bharte hain - 30 litre aaraam se bharenge. Wow, he was willing to fill the tank by turning a wheel to pump the Diesel. Arun however, decided that he would not miss the fun (and the photo-op) and gamely volunteered to turn the crank.

All tanked up, we set off towards the famous Se La pass and Tawang only to get caught in a traffic jam in the middle of Dirang town. Once we got out of Dirang we were hoping to make decent headway but any hopes of better roads than what we had seen the previous day were quickly dashed to the ground as we soon saw fresh landslides being cleared. There were however no convoys of trucks to pass which meant we could move much faster.

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Fresh landslide

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Landside partly cleared and wet - this will probably turn into deep slush as the day wears on.

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Long winding road up the mountainside - that is where we are headed!

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Hmm, Slush and water. How deep is the water?

At one point the road went up a little just before a left turn. Right in the middle of the turn it dropped and the surface was broken and we could see a deep puddle of water. With its front wheels at the top of that little crest in the road, the nose of the car was up and blocking the view of what lay in front. I could not see the puddle or the edge of the road clearly so out go the passengers to guide me through, in spite of that the right wheels went into the puddle and it was quite deep.

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This is what goes into making the road as it is: Broken tarmac, mud, stones and twigs!


As we climbed from Dirang the vegetation became sparser and it was clear that we were no longer in the tropical zone. There was no bamboo, cane and wild banana on the slopes now. The trees were pine, birch and the like. The mountains were now more rocky and bare. Snow could be seen on some peaks. Around noon the temperature started dropping dramatically and it started getting misty. By 12.15 the temperature had dropped below freezing and we saw the first signs of snow/frost on the trees beside the road. By 12.20 we were passing bushes that resembled christmas decorations and we could not bear to continue any further so we stopped - well, after all the board did say we were in Shangrila! Next trip = El Dorado and Xanadu!!

(This was the second time I was in Shangrila, a building we lived in during my school days was called Shangri-La.)

Shangrila was indeed a veritable paradise - mountainsides covered with trees and plants, branches and twigs outlined in white. It was like the crystal garden in the Snow-Queen's palace we read about as kids. Here are a few of the pics that I have:

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Above & Below: Forget Faberge and Swarowski, this is the real thing!
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Land of the Snow Queen and the sleigh that took us there.

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It is official. This is the real thing!

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The lady members of the team enjoying the view.


Refreshed by the break we eagerly set off for Se La. A few turns after Shangrila, we were enveloped in a cloud and the road showed evidence of both fresh snow and old snow. Danger flags went up in my head - this is ice territory, the old snow would have melted and re-frozen as ice. A few snow flakes (wet snow) wafted down as I drove adding to the thrill of the drive. The road was outlined with snow on either side and in the middle. The mountainsides were white. The temperature was well below zero as the MFD showed minus 4 around 1.00 p.m.. Since we were in a cloud we could barely see the edge of the road. One of the girls in our team had given up, Ms. Ellen was clearly at sea. The other girl - Ms. Laura was chugging along happily, her coolant temp at a constant 90 degrees (that gauge is either doctored or the engine has a great ability to maintain a constant temp. once warmed up whether the outside temp is 45 degrees above or 4 degrees below).

A set of pictures from that magical drive:

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Please do not ask how Arun managed to take the above pics. I can assure you that his head was in the car all the time - remember that I told you that once he has a camera in his hands he becomes a boneless acrobat.

We were crawling up carefully when I notice that we are not moving, the engine is fine and there is no change in engine note, I try lifting my foot off a bit and then accelerating a little. Nothing. Hmm, ice! I stop, reverse a bit and try again. Still no traction, the car does roll back though. Another try and Arun gets out, he pushes the car + occupants + luggage, I do not know how he managed to do it on that slippery surface where even standing straight is a challenge but, he managed it and the car starts moving forward steadily. I come to a spot about a 160 meteres ahead that seems clear of snow/ice and stop to pick up Arun. Big mistake!!

This patch was worse than the previous one and the car refuses to move forward but seems intent on parking herself at an angle to the direction of the road. Now both Arun and Nazim get off to push the car. Nothing doing, the car does not climb as there is not enough traction. I am now close to a panic when I spot headlights in the RVM this adds to my panic and at the same time gives me a glimmer of hope. I check to see that there is enough space for the truck to pass, there is so no cause for panic. The hope? I reason that when the truck passes the ice will melt under the weight of his tyres and I will be able to use his tracks to gain traction. I keep a close watch on his tyres and tracks and my heart sinks. The ice melts as the tyres run over it but, it freezes almost immediately. I could not believe my eyes, the ice under his tyres melted and froze by the time the tail of the truck passed. Now it is time for plan B. We had left out a spade etc. while packing due to paucity of space but I did have something up my sleeve. I unlocked he dickie and tell Arun and Nazim to take out two dhurries and lay them out in front of the front wheels. They struggle to do so and Arun falls on his backside doing it but they manage. BINGO - we have traction and this time I make the two of them walk a good 500M till I come to a U turn where the surface is washed out and the soil is nicely churned up. Poor Nazim and Arun get into the car huffing and puffing from their exersions. Pushing a car and walking half a km at 4000 M is not easy and is not for the faint hearted. Take a bow guys, that is one story you can tell your grandkids.

Once Arun and Nazim pile into the car, we get going and are soon leave that cloud behind and climb easily to Se La. Se La was foggy and the only tea stall there was closed. We could see the frozen lake to our left but decided to stop on the way back. In hindsight, this was a wise decision. If we had stopped on our way out, we would have had to get back into the car in about 5 minutes. On the way back, our bodies were better acclamatised to the high altitude and cold and we were able to stop, get out and play around for close to half an hour.

We stopped at Jaswanth Garh and paid our respects to the Martyr in whose honour the temple is built as well others like him. The courage of those men in that inhospitable place in the face of extreme odds is truly awe inspiring and perhaps superhuman, little wonder that they are treated as gods. The letters addressed to "Baba Jaswant Singh" on view at the temple are proof that they are truly gods. We gratefully partook the coffee served by the jawan stationed at Jaswant Garh and dug into a few snacks from the car before descending from Se La.

The road descending from Se La has to be one of the most beautiful in the world and definitely in India. The views are breathtaking. I have just two pics (and bad ones at that) of that road:

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We stopped at the little Shiv Mandir and the beautiful waterfall at the bottom of the descent and spend a while admiring the place and the partly frozen waterfall.

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Director of photography deep in thought - the waterfall provides prospects and throws up challenges


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28 intact! Whiteness to challenge the snow & spray.

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Last action hero?

A little bird mocked us and our layers of clothes by standing in the freezing water.


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Reluctantly we tore ourselves away from that waterfall and made our way into Tawang as darkness descended. Finding the Gori-Chan was quite easy. Go past the new-market and bear left at the war memorial. In the old-market, there is a gateway on the road. The Gori-Chan is the building next to the gateway. The rooms were a revelation - big, huge, humongous! The rooms had heaters too - aah bliss.

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Unbelievable but true!
(Those who know Nazim will forever treasure this snap)

Cheers,

Last edited by Ravveendrra : 17th January 2010 at 15:19.
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Old 17th January 2010, 15:56   #155
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Amazing pictures there Ravvs and Nazim.

Ravvs, Some pictures that i absolutely adored where :-

a) The slush covered roads

b) Your tank picture taken from the right side totally covered in slush/mud. Do ask Nazim to do a bit more photoshop on it and make it look more dreamy and you can cherish that picture forever.

c) Those snow covered roads, you folks did see a lot of snow. Did you also experience snowfall?

Nazim, your nightshots have come out really good.

a) Shot taken of tank from behind with some glimmer light on the front right side

b) A few more shots in the same post that have come out brilliant.

I was just updated by Nazim that the snow pictures have just begun. Keeping one eye on this thread to see the rest of those snowy pictures.

Last edited by mobike008 : 17th January 2010 at 15:58.
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Old 17th January 2010, 16:00   #156
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Hey very nice travelogue. Brave of you guys to do this trip that too with a kid.

I want to ask whether the Laura had a punture in the entire trip as you have driven in horrible conditions? I purposely omitted the word road as there was no road at some places!!

Also I read somewhere that a chain is tied to the tires for it to gain traction in the snow. Did you not think about this?

Again I just cant have enough of your trip and proud of your Laura. Its truly a segment leader!!
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Old 17th January 2010, 16:26   #157
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
.....
a) The slush covered roads

b) Your tank picture taken from the right side totally covered in slush/mud. Do ask Nazim to do a bit more photoshop on it and make it look more dreamy and you can cherish that picture forever.

c) Those snow covered roads, you folks did see a lot of snow. Did you also experience snowfall?

.....
I was just updated by Nazim that the snow pictures have just begun. Keeping one eye on this thread to see the rest of those snowy pictures.
Lol wait for the pics of the mud getting washed off - one cannot believe the amount of mud on the car.

The only snowfall I saw was as I was driving up to Se La. Nothing much, just a few stray snow flakes drifting across and they were gone before I could point them out to the others. It did snow one night in Tawang and the car had a dusting of snow on it in the morning.

This drive was an experience in a league of its own. I shall cherish it forever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sameer sultan View Post
Hey very nice travelogue. Brave of you guys to do this trip that too with a kid.

I want to ask whether the Laura had a punture in the entire trip as you have driven in horrible conditions? I purposely omitted the word road as there was no road at some places!!

Also I read somewhere that a chain is tied to the tires for it to gain traction in the snow. Did you not think about this?

Again I just cant have enough of your trip and proud of your Laura. Its truly a segment leader!!
The kid was a moving force for this trip. He wanted a white Christmas and GOT IT!

No punctures at all. Two tyres did develop small bulges on the sidewall but otherwise the car came through beautifully. Forget punctures, the nitrogen filled tyres did not even lose pressure.

The chain you are referring to are - snow chains. They are helpful if there are a few inches of snow on the roads. They get damaged if there is no snow on the road. Snow did not present a problem by itself, it was when the snow melted and re-froze forming ice on the road that it was a problem. As long as we had fresh snow on the road, we got enough traction and the car turned, braked etc. precisely.

Well in a sense, the Laura was the star of the drive. She performed brilliantly and proved that she is head and shoulders above the rest.

Cheers,
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Old 17th January 2010, 18:09   #158
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Default To Shangrila!

Land slide cleared!
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1418.jpg


Hot Water Spring near Dirang.
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How we wished that we had a home here!
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carrying on with their daily routine...
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NYUKMADONG WAR MEMORIAL
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The truck driver was a master in Off-roading.
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YAKs.
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Oh oh!
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Phew! Successfully across the puddle/stream.
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No. this is not Pagal Nullah.
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BRO sign boards.
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Waltzing on the mountains!
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Old 17th January 2010, 18:52   #159
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Amazing pictures there Ravvs and Nazim.

Nazim, your nightshots have come out really good.
Arun & I were clicking all the shots with the D60 & the D90. I really don't remember which picture was clicked by whom!
I would like to share the credit with Arun too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
I was just updated by Nazim that the snow pictures have just begun. Keeping one eye on this thread to see the rest of those snowy pictures.
Keep refreshing the page.
We are ONLY into Day 7 of the trip.
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Old 17th January 2010, 20:58   #160
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Amazing pictures, guys ... I visit the thread everyday a couple of times to check the latest addition. And I must say, Arun's idea of making a hardback journal is brilliant and would be a treasure.

Cheers.
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Old 18th January 2010, 09:07   #161
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AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1600.jpg

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Old 18th January 2010, 11:04   #162
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Hey Guys, awesome snaps all throughout, particularly enjoyed the last two posts. You can definitely take up Photography as profession
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Old 18th January 2010, 14:20   #163
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Thanks Nazim for posting some great snaps. Seeing them brought a smile to my face and jogged some memories.

The length of the muffler left dangling on Jr. was directly proportional to the temp. if it was too warm he would complain that he was too hot and the muffler would be unwrapped a bit. If it got colder it got wrapped around more. Perhaps we should start a poll for guesses on how many layers each of the team was wearing on any given day!

That truck driver was amazing - he just kept going at a constant speed and maintained a very steady line around those bends. He was much faster than the car on the rough and would overtake us without any fuss. On the smooth, where the car was faster - he would gamely give way. A true professional.

One note on using the HVAC: Once we were in the really cold places beyond Shangrila, the HVAC was constantly on "Lo" or 16 degrees so that we did not get too much of shock when we got out. As soon as we got back into the car we would set it to what I call "Toast" i.e. in the high 20s or even 30 degrees for a few minutes till we started feeling warm.

@ Nazim / Arun: Those pine trees in white look amazing - great snap. That was perhaps one of the most beautiful sights.

Thanks Ardy and Srikant for your comments and encouraging us along.

Reaching Tawang made us for a moment forget that we had another destination! Only after we spent two nights in Tawang did we wake up to the fact that we still had to cover Shillong and its surrounding areas. Tawang itself had a variety of things on offer. All of it coming us soon. Keep tuned in, not by refreshing the page as Pulsar suggested, perhaps by checking in once a day. As Sutripta sir pointed out, we are writing this travelogue much slower than we actually travelled. In part this is due to us re-living and savouring each moment as we post.

Cheers,
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Old 18th January 2010, 16:16   #164
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Excellent Stuff.Great trip I must say and great write up which is nicely complimented with some wonderful snaps. Eagerly watching for the next installment.Keep posting...
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Old 18th January 2010, 21:50   #165
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Default Some more of the Landscape at Se La

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1668.jpg


Packed up. Definitely can't work in this weather.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1670.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1674.jpg

Road to Paradise!
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1685.jpg


May you climb from peak to peak.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1694.jpg


Prayer flags welcoming us.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1701.jpg


Freezing...
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1710.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1718.jpg


This was just before rushing in for the heater after the 500 meters trek once we gave the tyres some traction! The temperature as per the MFD was -5.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1725.jpg


Where AM I? Altitude - 4149 Meters above MSL.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1727.jpg


The Frozen lake at Se La.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1735.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1739.jpg

A view of The World's Best Road!
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1743.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1747.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1750.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1755.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1758.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1761.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1763.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1766.jpg

This one is one of my favorites.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1767.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1768.jpg

Not Camera shy!
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1769.jpg
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