Highway 17 to Santa Cruz

This is Highway 17 in California, USA, which connects San Jose in the Bay Area to Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast. Winding through the Los Gatos Hills and the Scott’s Valley, it is one of California’s most scenic highways. Shaded with huge trees, the play of light and shadow can make driving difficult for first timers on this route. The route has heavy traffic and along with narrow shoulders, blind curves and sharp bends, it makes this highway one of the most dangerous highways in California. The destination of Santa Cruz at the end of this route though makes it a highway worth passing through.

The largest town of the Santa Cruz County in California is Santa Cruz. It sits on the northern edge of Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast. This beautiful quite town is a destination of all people who love the ocean, the sun and the sand. The walk along the ocean front in Santa Cruz is a view worth millions. On a clear sunny day, the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean, coastline and skyline all blending into one is a feast to one’s eyes and soul.

Surfing has been a major attraction to many here. Some come to compete in the prestigious competitions while others simply enjoy the sport from the windswept shore. If you are anywhere near here, do come along and soak in the incredible atmosphere of this town and its shore along the Pacific.

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My Pink Beauty

A Word A Week- Pink

Gorgeous Pink flowers in my terrace garden

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Iron Bridge, Telford, UK

The beautiful town of Iron Bridge in Telford flourished as an important center of Industrial Revolution in the 1700s. The availability of minerals along the gorge of the River Severn helped the development of various kinds of industries.But there was one problem. The minerals were mined on the opposite bank of the river from where the people lived. This made it difficult to transport both goods and people during the Industrial Revolution. As the mines of clay, limestone, coal and iron ore lay on the other side of the river, laborers had to cross the river on boats for work and to bring back the minerals to the various industries. A bridge was essential in connecting the two banks of the River Severn which could facilitate the increasing volume of people and goods during those times.

Mines, foundries, factories and workshops flourished here. Coke was discovered and cast iron was used to produce various household and industrial items. Traffic increased and by the late 1700s it became necessary to connect the two banks of the River Severn with a bridge. The Iron Bridge is in the town by the same name in Shropshire, UK. The bridge which opened to traffic in 1781 is a World Heritage Site today as it is a symbol of Industrial Revolution because it not only influenced the development of the industries around it but had influenced a way of modern industrial life all over UK, Europe and the World.

It was the world’s first cast iron arch bridge which was the first leap in bridge building technology. Abraham Darby3 who belonged to a family of iron smiths was given the job to make the cast-iron parts of the bridge. Cast iron was expensive in those days but the production of coke for the furnaces and the proximity of the cast-iron workshop itself made it possible to build the bridge. Abraham Darby3 himself bore most of the costs in the construction and he lived and died in debt. The engineering of this bridge was the first of its kind. The frame was cast separately part by part and put together by bolts. Work on the bridge started in 1779 and it was opened to traffic in 1781.

It was here that coke was discovered and cast iron was used to not only make smaller articles but even in building of this bridge. The engineers needed a lighter and stronger material than stone to build the bridge. Stone was too heavy to make the curve along the width of this river and cast iron was strong and light enough to meet the requirements. Some of the foundries and small industries here manufactured smaller household articles like letter box cover, door knob and it was used all over Europe and was in great demand.

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The Golden Gate Bridge

One of the most enchanting cities of the world is San Francisco. The beautiful Pacific Ocean lends this city its misty and mysterious cover where residents and tourists alike are in awe of its sights and sounds. One of the iconic structures of the world is to be seen here–The Golden Gate Bridge. This bridge connects the City of San Francisco to Marine County. The most photographed bridge in the world is an engineering marvel of its time and was the longest bridge for around 27 yrs after it was built in 1937. Mist and fog from the Pacific Ocean often cover the bridge giving it a mysterious aura. This bridge attracts people from all over the world in all seasons and the wind swept and cloud covered views of San Francisco’s skyline are a million dollar view not to be missed if you venture to this part of the country.

The bridge can be crossed by car, bicycle and even on foot. Driving on the Golden Gate Bridge is an experience in itself. Its 6 lanes are a part of US Route 101 and California Highway 1.

Golden Gate is a suspension bridge designed and built under the able guidance of Joseph Strauss. It stands as the symbol of recognition for the city of San Francisco and even California. Seen here is the city of San Francisco as a backdrop to the bridge on a clear sunny day.

The 1.7 miles of the bridge covers Golden Gate Strait connecting the Pacific Ocean to the San Francisco Bay. The red colour of the bridge is from the red rust free paint used to save the bridge from the ravages of weather. It is also a favourite spot to commit suicides. People come from far and near to keep their appointment with death. Besides patrolling, numerous suicide hotlines and posters try to discourage the people from jumping off the bridge and into the frigid waters of the strait, a drop of about 75m.

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Help!!!! My Car Is On Fire!!!

On a road trip to the south of USA a couple of years back, the red Suzuki Reno was what we got as a rental car from Athens, Georgia. We were to travel  for 8 days winding our way through rural and urban America enjoying its coast, cultural heritage of the south and the wild parties of New Orleans. We were happy with the small size of the car, its colour, fuel efficiency and thought we were out to have a lot of fun.

We had already logged in some 6 days on the road and crossed 5 states–Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. Approaching towards the end of our journey, we were looking forward to end in Atlanta, Georgia with the last 2 days of good food and more fun.

Somewhere in Alabama, on I-65 we encountered an accident and traffic slowed down to a crawl. The clear blue sky, the high temperatures and the long drive ahead was taking over our senses. We decided to reapply our sun-screen lotion to save our skin from further damage. In the meantime, traffic started to ease and my foot began its press on the gas pedal. I realized then that something was wrong and I was not able to pick up speed.

Since we started to slow down, we decided to move to the right, park the car and take a look. As soon as we parked, we noticed smoke from the front and it was increasing by the ‘second’. We managed to scramble out of the car and I desperately started to sign passing cars for ‘Help’. Well, we had just lost our only cell phone the previous evening and we couldn’t even call 911 for help…..

Immediately as we stopped, one of the crew who were clearing the road from the previous accident, pulled up behind us and he called 911 and road assistance. Then he started to help us pull out the entire luggage from the car. By then we noticed that there was on fire and it was spreading fast. It was all over on the road and under the car.

By the time we pulled out the last important thing from the car, the heat was unbearable and there were lots of ‘boom, bang and pop’ sounds from the car. We, like any true Hollywood-Bollywood fan, thought it was going to erupt into a ball of flame any second now. With help still on the way but not yet here, we started to pull further back and away from the car.

The further we moved back, the more intense the heat, smoke and fire became. With still no fire truck in view, my friend instructed me to start clicking photos …….well the car gone in flames now, we need the proof for the insurance and another vehicle from the rental company to get us on the road again.

As the fire engulfed the whole car, we heard the fire truck sirens at a distance. Traffic was still filing past the inferno very cautiously. Thick black smoke rose to heights into the blue sky and we were still standing helplessly by the road. We couldn’t believe we were in the car some 5-10 mins ago. The fire truck finally arrived but by then the entire car was up in flames. The smoke was thicker and darker by the minute and Mile 89 stood a silent witness to the fire and smoke display. Traffic was finally stopped as now the car certainly seemed to be erupting into a complete ball of flame.

Good news–the firemen seemed to get the water finally started. Once the firemen were at work, the smoke changed its colour from black to white. It took a while but finally the fire was out. The fire was now no more and the car was no more too!!!

Our next mode of transportation was the Alabama State Trooper’s car.

What we saved–Ourselves and most of our luggage

What we lost–The CAR and its GPS

What we learnt–Where there is smoke, there is fire and fire spreads unbelievably fast

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

Hutheesing Jain Temple

This incredibly beautiful temple is a testimony to the craftsmanship of the local people of the Sonpura and Salat communities and their strive to preserve beauty for posterity. Built in  1848 by a merchant, Seth Hutheesing, who had immense reverence for his faith, this temple is a must see on your local tourist map of Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

It is dedicated to the 15th Jain Tirthankara, Shri Dharmanatha. Created of white marble, the motifs and intricate work of this temple are par excellence and show a strong resemblence to the Sultanate minarets of Mughal architecture.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

Bergen Fish Market

Fresh food always attracts locals to the market.

Here in Bergen, Norway, we were attracted to the local fish n vegetable market situated besides the harbour. This 700 year old market is one of the main tourist attractions. The vibrant colours attracted us and we spent a whole afternoon meandering through the market.

The fresh sea food can be bought raw and for the hungry there are live counters that serve the seafood of your choice and we indulged ourselves to our heart’s content. The friendly and knowledgeable sea food traders answered all our queries and it was a great experience to interact with them. When we satisfied our hunger issues, we turned our attention to the fresh berries, fruits and vegetables on display. For the 2 days that we spent here, we spent our entire food budget in this market.

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