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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Part II
Day 4: i.e., June 5, 2004
Yellowstone National Park and Grand Titon National Park

On the fourth day morning, i.e., 5th June, 2004 we left Cody, again early in the morning, on our journey to Jackson Hole, where our stay for the night had been booked and on the way, we passed through a portion of our sight seeing tour to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Cody was only about an hour’s drive from the East entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Our first stop was at Buffalo Bill Dam built across Shoshone River. This Cody - Buffalo Bill Highway is a scenic beauty across 27.5 miles and follows the north fork of Shoshone River.

We took a few pictures here and then proceeded further to enter Yellow Stone National Forest through the eastern entrance. On the way we passed through the Yellow Stone Lake (7732 feet above sea level) and this is the second largest high altitude freshwater lake in the world. I understand that the maximum depth in this lake is 387 feet. In winter, ice nearly 3 feet thick covers much of the lake, except where shallow water covers hot springs. The lake freezes over by early December and can remain frozen until late May or early June. When we passed by this lake and took pictures, the water was fresh, blue in colour and ice had already melted. This is also a Grizzly territory and in a few places, we saw several tourists parking their vehicle on the road side, taking positions, standing, sitting, lying down and zooming their camera and looking at far off places to spot grizzly bear or other wild animals. Visibly, some movements and the silhoutte of an animal in the far off distances, gave us the impression that they were probably grizzly bears. We were not very sure, but plenty of tourists, have come only to watch these animals and were waiting hours together to spot these animals and photograph them.

As we passed through the Yellowstone Lake, our drive through the Yellow Stone National Park on that day and the next day took us through a loop that resembled the number eight and, took us through the geysers both passive and active, canyon, water falls, forests devastated by fire, waterfronts and all.

Yellowstone National Park is located in the western states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone is the first and oldest national park in the world and covers 3,468 square miles (8,983 km²), mostly in the northwest corner of Wyoming. The park is famous for its various geysers, hot springs, supervolcano and other geothermal features and is the home to grizzly bears, wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk. It is the core of the Greater Yellostone Ecosystem, one of the largest intact temperate zone ecosystems remaining on the planet. The world’s most famous geyser, the Old Faithful Geyser is also located in Yellowstone National Park. A geyser is a type of hot spring that erupts periodically, ejecting a column of hot water and steam into the air.

However, after crossing over a portion of the Yellowstone Lake, we drove towards south towards Jackson Hole where we were to stay for the night. This is the southern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, which remains closed during winter. On this way, we first passed through Lewis Lake. The drive was narrow, very beautiful with water one side and mountains on the other side. The remains of some of the not-so-active geysers were there on the route and we stopped over at few places, to have a closer look. The small pits were fuming with clear water beneath and transparent to allow view of the lime deposits in rock-like-shapes below. There were water ponds nearby the geyser pits and the water was crystal blue as you can see in the pictures. The lake was just adjacent touching these geyser bases. We could even see huge – probably dead – geysers spots amidst water in the lake. They have built wooden fences surrounding these dead geysers; they are very dangerous to go nearby as they could violently erupt anytime. There was a small waterfall – Lewis Falls – running into a small stream. We stopped over and took pictures.

Then as we drove, we passed through Jackson Lake that had snow-peak mountains in the background. The view was breathtaking.

Jackson Lake is a lake located in north western Wyoming in Grand Teton National Park. The lake is natural, except for the top 33 feet (10 m), which is due to the construction of Jackson Lake Dam, built in 1911. This top level of the lake is utilized by farmers in Idaho for irrigation purposes. The lake is the remnant of large glacial gouging from the neighboring Teton Range, and is still fed by runoff from small glaciers in near the peaks of those mountains. The main source of water is the Snake River – where we went for a thrilling two-hours float ride the next day – and this river flows in from the North. Jackson Lake is one of the largest high altitude lakes in the U.S. at an elevation of 6,772 feet (2,064 m) above sea level. The lake is up to 15 miles (25 km) long, 7 miles (11.25 km) wide and 438 feet (134 m) deep. The water of the lake averages below 60 degrees even during the hottest summer months and can freeze to more than 6 feet (1.8 m) thick in the winter.

Grand Teton National at 13,770 feet (4197 m), is the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. I understand that there are trails for 200 miles on this park for adventurous hikers.

Part of the Rocky Mountains, the north-south-trending Teton Range rises from the floor of Jackson Hole without any foothills along a 40 mile (65 km) long by 7 to 9 miles (11 to 15 km) wide active fault-block mountain front system. In addition to 13,770 ft (4197 m) high Grand Teton, another twelve peaks are over 12,000 ft (3660 m) above sea-level. Seven of these peaks between Avalanche and Cascade canyons make up the often-photographed Cathedral Group.

We reached Jackson Hole sometime in the late evening. We had early dinner and slept off dreaming about our next day’s proposed float on Snake River. We were building up lot of expectations about this float trip and we were also quite apprehensive about what if the river turns wild, which it does without any notice.

Day 5 i.e., June 6, 2004
One thing we strictly followed during our entire trip is to go to bed early in the night and get up early in the morning. This gave us substantial daytime saving. Our trip was planned at the end of winter and beginning of summer. So, it was very bright sun and light in the early morning. We were able to wander around with only our T-shirts and we did not need heavy winter clothing, though we were traveling at higher elevations.

So, this day we started out early around 7.30 – 8.00 a.m. after our breakfast. The hotel provided, cereals, fruit juices, doughnuts, coffee or milk as breakfast. We first roamed about the small town of Jackson Hole. This is a valley. The valley is formed by the Teton Range on the western side and the Gros Ventre range on the eastern side. Grand Teton National occupies the north-western part of the valley encompassing the much of the Teton Range as well as as Jackson Lake. The town of Jackson, Wyoming, is at the southern end. The Snake River threads through the entire valley from its headwater in Yellowstone in the north to the mouth of the Snake River Canyon at the southern tip of the valley. The average altitude of the valley is over 6,500 feet. High altitude and steep mountain slopes on all sides of the valley often causes calm winter nights to be very cold.

We walked through the malls; restaurants were just getting opened for business in the early morning and the shops generally closed. There was a beautiful park with lots of green plants artistically cut into shapes. There was an ornamental arch inside the park. The mountain slope just began very close to the main road, fully green and resembled a sloppy meadow.

We, then, drove down several miles to reach the point from where we will be picked up for our Snake River float trip. We bought our tickets for the float trip in advance using AAA coupon as only limited tourists were taken through the float trip every day. We were driven in a van up the hills for about 10-12 miles and taken to a place very close the river. It was a small concrete bank built on the rushing river. The water flow in the river was very strong.

Snake River is a 1038 mile long river. The Snake originates near the Continental Divide in Yellowstone National Park in NW Wyoming and flows south to Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park and past the town of Jackson. The river flows down Wyoming's Snake River Canyon, then enters Idaho; it finally joins Columbia River in the State of Washington.

We were helped to get into a giant sized float (made of rubberized plastic or some synthetic material) which was dangerously wobbling in the water current even while anchored and tied to a pole on the banks. There was seating arrangements for about 10-12 people inside the float. We all wore life jacket before stepping into the float. Other than us, there was another family of 4-5 people in the float for the trip. There was a chief who took the rowing and another to assist him – both young guys. The person has to stand on a small platform inside the raft and he had a huge bamboo-like pole to row and direct the flow of the float. He has to, not only deftly manage the smooth ride of the float along the river, but also has to guard the float from getting stuck with sharp water-plants underneath the water, which could severely damage the float. In several places, the river was shallow, but with uncontrolled water current – should be due to small rocks and sharp rocks and trees below the water. On one side of the river were the magnificent mountainous ranges, many with their snow peaks and on the other side slush wild vegetation. The water flow was wild and the float rocked in several places, thrilling as well as scaring us from time to time. There was heavy breeze as the river flowed through the ridge. During the trip, the rower exchanged places. We understand that one of them is just a part-time and had been moving places in all kinds of odd jobs; he has eventually learnt rowing on a float. Both of them gave great explanations of the great peaks that rose from the riverbed. The float trip ended (at the point from where we were picked up) after a two hours river float along 11 miles river flow.

From there, we started driving towards north, where the Yellowstone National Park is located and inside, you have the world famous geysers. This was the same route by which we reached Jackson Hole. As we approached the south entrance to Yellowstone (this route generally remains closed during winter as I mentioned earlier), we saw in several places the remains of fallen snow accumulated on the sides of the road and in the small woods. As it was after several years, we were seeing snow once again, we stopped by the roadside and that is when we started our playing around ice. I started the play by picking up some loose snow and throwing at Bala and, he picked up the game with Viji who in turn retaliated back by throwing snow all around. We had some of the nicest action pictures on my video as well as on our still camera as we played on ice. Reluctantly, we stopped our play after some time realizing that we were already getting late towards our next tour spots. We also saw the devastating effect of forest fires as several charred trees having fallen aground. I understand that Yellowstone and surrounding areas are prone to forest fire the last most ravaging one took place in 1988 which destroyed almost 36% of the park. While the whole scenario in the valley and hills were eye catching, we could also see the rage of nature at several places.

We entered the loop (which resembles the number 8, that I mentioned earlier) and our first stop on this loop was the world’s most famous Old Faithful Geyser.

The Yellowstone park sits on a high plateau which is, on average, 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level and is bounded on nearly all sides by mountain ranges of the Middle Rocky Mountains, which range from 10,000 to 14,000 feet (3,000 to 4,300 m) in elevation. These ranges are: the Gallatin Range (to the northwest), Beartooth Mountains (to the north), Absaroka Mountains (to the east), Wind River Range (southeast corner), Teton Mountains (to the south, see Grand Teton National Park) and the Madison Range (to the west). The most prominent summit in the plateau is Mount Washburn at 10,243 feet (3,122 m).

The Continental Divide of North America runs roughly diagonally through the southwestern part of the park. The divide is a topographic ridgeline that bisects the continent between Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean water drainages (the drainage from one-third of the park is on the Pacific side of this divide). For example, the Yellowstone River and the Snake River both have their origin close to each other in the park. However, the headwaters of the Snake River are on the west side of the continental divide, and the headwaters of the Yellowstone River are on the east side of that divide. The result is that the waters of the Snake River head toward the Pacific Ocean, and the waters of the Yellowstone head for the Atlantic Ocean (via the Gulf of Mexico).

The major feature of the Yellowstone Plateau is the Yellowstone Caldera (A caldera is a volcani feature formed by the collapse of a volcano into itself, making it a small, special form of volcanic crater); a very large caldera which has been nearly filled-in with volcanic debris and measures 30 by 40 miles (50 by 60 km). Within this caldera lies most of Yellowstone Lake, which is the largest high-elevation lake in North America, and two resurgent domes which are areas that are uplifting at a slightly faster rate than the rest of the plateau. (In geology, a resurgent dome is a volcanic dome that is swelling or rising due to movement in the magma chamber. In the monitoring of volcanic hazards, resurgent domes are often observed the most intensively. A magma chamber is a large underground pool of molten rock lying under the surface of the earth)

Yellowstone Caldera is the largest volcanic system in North America. It has been termed a "supervolcano" because the caldera was formed by exceptionally large explosive eruptions. It was created by a cataclysmic eruption that occurred 640,000 years ago that released 1,000 cubic kilometers of ash, rock and pyroclastic materials forming a crater nearly a kilometre deep and 30 by 70 kilometres in area (18 by 43 mi) (the size of the caldera has been modified a bit since this time and has mostly been filled in, however).

Each eruption is in fact a part of an eruptive cycle that climaxes with the collapse of the roof of a partially emptied magma chamber. This creates a crater, called a caldera, and releases vast amounts of volcanic material (usually through fissures that ring the caldera). The time between the last three cataclysmic eruptions in the Yellowstone area has ranged from 600,000 to 900,000 years, but the small number of such climax eruptions can not be used to make a prediction for the time range for the next climax eruption.

Preserved within Yellowstone are many geothermal features and some 10,000 hot springs and geysers, 62% of the planet's known total. The superheated water that sustains these features comes from the same hot spot described above.
The most famous geyser in the park, and perhaps the world, is Old Faithful Geyser (located in Upper Geyser Basin), but the park also contains the largest active geyser in the world, Steamboat Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin

Old Faithful Geyser: An eruption can shoot 3,700–8,400 gallons (14,000–32,000 l) of boiling water to a height of 106–184 feet (30–55 m) lasting from 1.5–5 minutes. The intervals range from 65–92 minutes with 91 minutes being the average.

An eruption can shoot 3,700–8,400 gallons (14,000–32,000 l) of boiling water to a height of 106–184 feet (30–55 m) lasting from 1.5–5 minutes. The intervals range from 65–92 minutes with 91 minutes being the average. An eruption can shoot 3,700–8,400 gallons (14,000–32,000 l) of boiling water to a height of 106–184 feet (30–55 m) lasting from 1.5–5 minutes. The intervals range from 65–92 minutes with 91 minutes being the average.

Steamboat Geyser is the world's tallest and currently active geyser. During major eruptions, water may be thrown more than 300 feet (90 m) into the air. Steamboat's major eruptions last from 3 to 40 minutes in length, and are followed by powerful jets of steam. Steamboat does not erupt on a predictable schedule with recorded intervals between major eruptions ranging from four days to fifty years. The geyser was dormant from 1911 to 1961. Minor eruptions of 10 to 15 feet (3-5 m) are much more frequent. After an eruption the geyser often vents large amounts of steam for up to 48 hours. Cistern spring, located nearby, will drain completely during a major eruption of the geyser and the spring refills within a few days.

The reason, I ventured into writing the geological details about Yellowstone and its attractions, is: we have seen with our eyes, the glory and ferocity of nature; we have experienced our hair rising on our spine when we were there watching the spring go up high into the air; we have experienced the fear in our mind what if we fall under the ground in these places or the ground erupts below our feet; many have not had these experiences. As I read my own writing and muse over our visit and the feelings we had, I feel so grateful to God, that he gave us a chance to experience a part of his grand dance. I have tried to narrate our trip and our feelings as accurately as possible without trying to embellish the story about our trip. We were in a great awe, admiration, astonishment, bewilderment, fear, appreciation and respect for mother nature as we were sitting, standing and running between different hot springs as they blew up from beneath the ground. The whole springs were cordoned off for a distance of almost 200 feet and we could only watch them from a distance.
When we arrived at the Old Faithful Hot Spring site, it was about 3.00 p.m. We learnt that the next eruption of spring might take place at 4.00 p.m. They have studied thpattern for long and have reasonably estimated the timing of the spring from time to time. So, we waited over there and also walked around the trail. The areas around the hot spring were cordoned and we saw a number of Bison gazing around these hot springs and also antelopes in the wood areas. Sharp at 4.00, we saw slow activity in the spring. There was a small fountain type from the geyser pot initially, which started growing higher and higher as time passed by and suddenly, it started shooting up vertically to almost more than hundred feet or so. The spring lasted for about five minutes or so and it subsided. We quickly moved to other geyser spots, especially the Steamboat geyser. We saw several people running towards that and we also ran and there we saw the geyser rising to heights. It was a magnificent view in both places. There were minor, smaller geysers too.

We stayed in the Old Faithful Geyser area for almost two hours and walked around the entire trail, where there were several alive and dead geyser pots. The authorities must have had tough time in erecting platforms all around the trail to ensure safety of the visitors.

Having thoroughly enjoyed our stay near the Old Faithful Hot Spring area, we decided it was time for us to reach our destination point for that day. We had booked our night’s stay at Best Western Hotel at Gardiner, which is the northern entrance for Yellowstone National Park. During winter, the southern and western entrances to the park are generally closed because of snow.

This was the first day, when Bala and Viji decided to eat out, though Lakshmi and me decided to manage with some bread and buttermilk, which we procured from the nearby store. The town of Gardiner was virtually deserted in the evening time excepting a few passing vehicles and people inside the restaurants. We took rest to be ready next day morning again for a long drive out going around the entire Yellowstone.

Day 6 : June 7th, 2004

Gardiner, the northern entrance to Yellowstone, lies in the State of Montana, just across the border. Yellowstone River passes through the town and our hotel was located just adjacent to the river on an elevation. After taking a couple of pictures near our hotel, we started out and our first stop was at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Mammoth is a large hill of travertine that has been created over thousands of years as hot water from the spring cooled and deposited calcium carbonate (over 2 tons of calcium carbonate flows into Mammoth each day in a solution). Although these springs lie outside the caldera boundary, their energy has been attributed to the same magmatic system that fuels other Yellowstone geothermal areas. A travertine is a mineral consisting of a massive usually layered calcium carbonate (as aragonite or calcite) formed by deposition from spring waters or especially from hot springs.

Thermal activity here is extensive both over time and distance. Terrace Mountain at Mammoth Hot Springs is the largest known carbonate-depositing spring in the world. The most famous feature at the springs is the Minerva Terrace, a series of travertine terraces. The terraces have been deposited by the spring over many years, but due to recent minor earthquake activity, the spring vent has shifted, rendering the terraces dry.

The hot water that feeds Mammoth comes from Norris Geyser Basin after traveling underground via a fault line that runs through limestone and roughly with the Norris to Mammoth road (the limestone is the source of the calcium carbonate). The Mammoth Terraces extend all the way from the hillside, across the Parade Ground, and down to Boiling River.

The entire walk around the Mammoth Hot Spring and the hills of calcium carbonate deposits took more than half an hour. It also presented a colourful picutre with panoramic view of the green hills, the town below steaming water from the springs when viewed from the top. We could also view from a closer angle the limestone deposits over the red and brown rocks and some of the deposits resembled the scenery one gets while travellng on hilly tracks, where you can see the step farming on the hills from a distance.

We then drove down south towards the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This canyon is 900 feet deep and half a mile wide. The specifics of the geology of the canyon are not well understood, except that it is an erosional feature rather than the result of glaciation.

(Yellow decayed rocks in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone)
One has to climb down to have a closer look at the waterfalls and so went down on a steep path and we reached the view point from where we can see the falls from a closer distance. Probably, this was the best ever spot, I have seen in our entire trip, I thought. With the sound of waterfalls roaring from the distance and the strong winds piercing one’s nerve, (my long hair going hay-ware in all possible directions clumsily), viewing the canyon on the sides, I felt so calm and peaceful inside. I wanted to meditate on the spot and so I sat on a small rock and meditated for a short time. I felt that this was one of my best meditating experiences in my lifetime.

After the meditation was over, I found a western couple, young in age, sitting over the wooden ridge, completely oblivious of the dangers, seemed to be in an entirely different world. The other side of the ridge, was just steep down three or four hundred feet – a sure way to hell(or may be heaven). I was panicky and I wanted to shout at them to get out of that place from that ridge. They were sitting there for some time. Though many tourists were moving around, no one felt like cautioning them. I was furious and feeling helpless. I just closed my eyes and prayed fervently, ‘Oh, Bhagawan, please go and tell them to get out.’ Just when I opened my eyes, I saw they got out of the ridge and walk away. I thanked Bhagawan that he responded to my prayer instantly.

I was not willing to move away from the spot for quite long. The view was so fascinating to me and the spot was compellingly mesmerizing me. Realization dawned on us that it could become dark soon. So, reluctantly we climbed back the steep passage back to the top and it took some considerable effort for Lakshmi and me.
We reached back to our hotel, took rest, had an early dinner in a restaurant opposite and went to bed. The next day is our return back to Billings city and back to Phoenix and that is when we passed through one the most splendid drive we ever had in our life.

Day 7: June 8, 2004

This the final day of our trip and we have to get back to Phoenix taking a flight from Billings. So, we departed from Gardiner reluctantly in the morning. Viji was insistent that there are some waterfalls on the way by taking a small detour. However, we probably lost our way and returned back, pushing aside any idea of taking further detours as this could delay our reaching Billings and we do not want to miss our flight to Phoenix. We began our journey along what initially looked like a valley on the hills until we started our climb on a winding route from Cooke city, which took us to an elevation of nearly 11000 feet above sea level. The entire travel was zigzag with several switchbacks (hairpin bends). This was the Bear Tooth Pass overlooking the glacier lakes. The approximate elevation rise is from 5,200 to 8,000 feet in 12 miles (1,600 to 2,400 m in 20 km) in the most daring landscapes - the highest parts of the Beartooth Highway level off into a wide plateau near the top of the pass, and then descend.

At one place in the valley, we were so excited about the scenic beauty and we stopped the car for a while. Viji wanted to feel the coolness of the waters of a small stream, running nearby. We took pictures at this place with the snow-spread mountains in the backdrop. As we climbed, we found that hardly anyone is on the road excepting us and that was scary too. It appears this road was cleared for traffic after the winter snowfall, just the previous week. As we climbed towards the peak, we could see at some points, people gathered for snow skying. Further up, at one place, we were so enthralled by the view of snow everywhere that we wanted to step into the snow. As we were trying to venture, we just noticed luckily for us that it is not just snow fallen on ground, but it is a frozen lake. We thanked God for not letting us into our misadventure into a frozen lake. Then we saw several such lakes frozen completely at the top; we did not know how deep they are. As we further climbed and reached the peak, the view was breathtaking with series of mountains scattered with snow. We climbed down from 11000 feet and reached Red Lodge. The travel from Cooke city to Red Lodge over a distance of about 69 miles on the hilly track took almost three hours for us and was one of the adrenalin shoot up experiences throughout. I came to know that due to the high altitutes, snowstorms can occur even in the middle of the summer and the pass is also known for strong winds and severe thunderstorms Our cell phones had gone dead during this entire mountainous drive and it was just Bhagawan’s grace that nothing untoward happened on the way. We also came to know that several mudslides and rockslides have taken place on this road severely damaging the road during 2005 and they took up extensive repairs on this section.

We stopped somewhere on the way to have our lunch, something we brought with us and finally reached Billings around 1.00 in the afternoon. We drove straight to the airport, deposited our car and awaited our departure for Phoenix. We reached back Phoenix sometime into the night.

Now, even after two years of this trip, I was vividly remembering the places we saw and the pleasant experiences we had. I would say that this was my most memorable sightseeing tour I ever undertook. The nearest I could think of is our trip and stay at Kedarnath and Badrinath in India during 2002 and I am ever determined to visit Kedar and Badri once again, before we loose our health, to stay and experience the Mother Nature in all her Purity and Sanctity.

Viji tells me that a place called Kalgiri in Canada is equally beautiful, fresh and engrossing. She has visited this place during 2005 and she must be a very fortunate person to see around places.

I owe my gratitude to 'wikipedia' for good deal of information about Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park and for some of the images I have produced here. I also thank Bhagawan to have given me an opportunity to visit these places and I pray to HIM that everyone who reads this travel report be able to vist these places so that they too enjoy what we did.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mount Rushmore

As I start writing about my travel to Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park/Grand Teton National Park – that took place during June 2004 and lasted for a week - I still recollect our experience vividly with great awe and inspiration. I need to admit that this was one of the grandest tours I ever undertook so far. The areas we visited are among the greatest blessings of Mother Nature and God. We saw there the highest manifestations of HIS grandest blissful state. Some of this planet’s most daring evolutions have taken place here on this expansive field several hundred thousands or millions of years ago and its geological manifestations are there for everyone to see, admire, bewilder and enjoy even today. The mountains with its valleys, rocks, waterways, geysers (hot-springs), woods are all stunningly beautiful.

Our entire circular trip took us through three States, Viz., Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming.

America is one country that has been abundantly endowed with natural resources and they generally take care of them very well. What I saw in these areas lend credence to my earlier belief that they also contribute a lot to conserving nature. They seem to be spending phenomenally on preserving their natural resources, providing and maintaining facilities for the visitors who throng to these places and, documenting their wealth for everyone to know in more detail. Wherever we went, we saw convenient visitor centers, information on places, well laid and maintained roads and, patrolling by police. Though most of these roads looked deserted, tourists could always move around fearlessly on those desolate places.

I have tried to narrate our tour as realistically as possible without trying to create artificial embellishment. My thanks are due to a number of brochures, literatures, publications and for the information contents and some of the images and through them I also understood in great detail about this region, their history, heritage, geology, animal world etc., My thanks are also due to Viji and Bala for their extensive research on this area for quite long for the trip and for the meticulous planning for travel, commutation and stay in this wilderness. And again, as usual, my grateful thanks are due to Lakshmi for her excellent company and food ideas during this trip.

I felt it is impossible to contain a report on a weeklong tour just in a couple of pages, especially when you have exhaustively covered different places of interest. Hence, I will be subdividing the report into two or more parts – one covering Mount Rushmore and the nearby areas and the others covering Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks.

Part I
Mount Rushmore

On 2nd June 2004, we – Viji, Bala, Lakshmi and me - departed Phoenix by an early morning flight to Billings(State of Montana) with a stop over and change of flight at Denver. Denver is a huge international airport with an underground train facility to move from one terminal to another. I was admiring the engineering marvel at the airport when we took the train to change terminal. This is one important thing that I noticed in America. They seem to be planning for big things and for a century ahead of time. Fortunately for them, financial resources do not appear to be a major constraint. I had a similar feeling when I first visited World Trade Center at New York during early January 2001. The World Trade Center with the twin towers appeared to stand over a mammoth three level underground train station. America has built some of the world’s biggest airports. For that matter, Sky Harbor at Phoenix is one of the busiest airports in the world. Every minute, a flight either takes off or is in the process of landing at Phoenix Airport.

We reached Billings at around 12.00 in the mid afternoon. Our travel from Phoenix to Billings took nearly six hours or so including our stop over at Denver. Viji and Bala had booked a rented vehicle for our entire trip from Billings for all the seven days. They approached the Car Rental counter. The vehicle we were allotted was a large Chevy Impala with plenty of leg space. Bala took the steering initially and Viji sat with her Yahoo and AAA (Automobile Association of America) Map opened up on her lap. We passed through the city of Billings located at a height of 3126 ft above the sea level in the Yellow Stone Valley, carved out of Yellow Stone River, which passes through the city. Two thirds of the city is in the Yellowstone Valley and the city is divided into the Valley and the Heights by the Rims, a long cliff, also called the Rimrocks – mostly sand stone cliffs of 300 to 500 ft high. Billings is surrounded by six mountain ranges - Beartooth Mountains on the South and Snowy Mountains on the North being most significant - and is the largest city in the radius of 500 miles.

The journey from Billings to Keystone (State of South Dakota), the town where Mount Rushmore is located, took about seven hours by road. On our way, we were passing through the Rimrocks, which presented tantalizing picturesque for our eyes. We reached Keystone at around 7.00 in the evening. We rested for the night after having the dinner we brought all the way from Phoenix. This was something, which I insisted – that we should make our own food during the entire trip to Mount Rushmore and Yellow Stone and avoid eating out. So, we brought some rice, puliyodarai mix, pickles, and a small electric rice cooker. Enough buttermilk or curd was available in many stores. We made plenty of salads, sandwiches with spread and cheese, cut-vegetables (with lots of green chili) and sauce. During the entire trip, hardly two or three times we ate out. The breakfast was complimentary from the hotels we stayed in and we generally ate sumptuous breakfast in the morning. We gained substantially in terms of food cost in the entire trip and we never encountered any digestive problems.

On day 2, i.e., on 3rd of June 04, we left the hotel after our breakfast. Our first destination was Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which is located near the Keystone town at a short distance. This is a monumental granite sculpture located within the United States Presidential Memorial that represents the history of the first 150 years of United States of America with 60 feet sculptures of the heads of former U.S Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The entire memorial covers 1278 acres of land and is 5725 ft above sea level. The weather was excellent that day, bright and sunny and the air was a bit chilly and during our entire trip weather cooperated with us very well.

The entrance to the Memorial, the surroundings, the ambience everything was picture perfect. Near the entrance, there was a person who had dressed like Abraham Lincoln with his tall black hat and it was nice to take photographs with him with the entrance gate to the memorial and the sculputres at the back ground. He was so tall that Lakshmi was measuring hardly up to his hips.

I understand that the carvings on the mountain started in 1927 and ended in 1941 with few injuries and no deaths. Gutzon Borglum was the sculptor. He along with 400 workers undertook this historical project and when Gutzon died in March, 1941, his son Lincoln Borglum continued the project. The entire project costed a million dollar those days. Extensive visitor center, museum, sidewalks, the Presidential Trails have all been undertaken during the redevelopment work in the 1990s.

Mount Rushmore is controversial among Native Americans because the United States seized the area from the Lakota tribe after the Black Hills War in 1876–77. The Lakota consider the hills to be sacred, although historians believe the Lakota also gained control of the hills by force, displacing the Cheyenne in 1776. The Crazy Horse Memorial is being constructed elsewhere in the Black Hills to commemorate a famous Native American leader and as a response to Mount Rushmore. It is intended to be larger than Mount Rushmore and has the support of Lakota chiefs; the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation has rejected offers of federal funds.

So, our next destination was the Crazy Horse Memorial which was loacted a few miles from Mount Rushmore.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument in progress in the Black Hills of South Dakota that when complete will be the world's largest sculpture. It is named after the Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. The sculpture's final dimensions will be 641 feet wide and 563 feet high. By comparison, the heads of Mt. Rushmore are 60 feet high; the head of Crazy Horse will be 87 feet high. It was begun in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, who had worked on Mt. Rushmore under Gutzon Borglum, who claimed that several Lakota chiefs requested a counterpoint demonstrating a Native American hero. The sculpture portrays the warrior Crazy Horse, who led the Ogala Sioux (now Lakota) battle in 1876.

The memorial is to be the icon of a huge educational and cultural center that will include the University and Medical Training Center for the North American Indian and the Indian Museum of North America. The current visitor complex will anchor the center. The entire complex is owned by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, and Ziolkowski's wife and several children remain closely involved with the work, which has no fixed completion date. The face of Crazy Horse was completed and dedicated in 1998, with a view to aiding fundraising. The monument is being built with no public money and is primarily supported by visitor fees (more than one million people visit annually, bringing in millions of dollars). Much of the earth-moving equipment used is donated by corporations.

The US Federal Government offered $10 million to help fund the project but was turned down. This was supposedly due to fears that the Government would claim a stake in the project and its profits.

When we visited this place, very little work was going on at the construction site. One could see the gigantic face of the sculpture coming up even when one approaches from a distance.

We went around the visitor centre and tried to grasp the great efforts of the Native American Families in bringing up this memorial without governmental support. As we were extremely satisfied with the great view of the sculpture coming up even from a distance, we decided not to go inside the construction complex and we decided to hop on to our next destination, that is, Custer State Park.

Among other things North America is so much blessed with rain, soil, alternate water resources, and the resultant greeneries and forests. Every place looked uniquely beautiful on its own.

The lean, tall rocks rising from ground are called needles and when they rise in rows creates a fabulous view from distance.

Custer State Park is a state park and wildlife reserve in the Black Hills. The park covers an area of 71,000 acres (290 sq. kms) of hilly terrain and is home to many wild animals like free roaming bison, Elk, mule deer, white tailed deer, mountain goats, sheep, mountain lions etc.The park is famous for its scenery, its scenic drives Needle Highway and the wildlife loop.

We drove around the park and the scenic drives. One or two sample pictures attached are sufficient proof for the scenic beauty of this place. We saw several bisons in the park and at one point there while driving, there were so many sorrounding our car that we had no choice but to stop the vehicle and allow the horde of bisons pass by. We had the pleasure of many close encounters with their faces when a few of them decided to stop by and tried to peep inside our car through the glasses.. It was almost evening now and we decided to return back to the hotel to take some rest so that we could visit the ‘Light and Sound’ show that was to be held in the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the early night time.

So, in the night we went back to Mount Rushmore National Memorial to watch the Light and Sound show. The whole atmosphere at the Memorial was one of great quietness. Though thousands of people started assembling there, one could hear only the noise of the stillness there. We watched from an elevated open-to-the-sky balcony, the speaker addressing and so we had good view of the show. Plenty of seating arrangements have been made at the lower level. The speaker’s voice reverberated over the hills and rocks. He recalled the contribution of the Great Presidents of America in the early years of the formation, integration and development of United States of America. The speaker had deftly ornamented his address with weighty notes on patriotism and in the finale, with the grand music in the background, a number of celebrities and stars were invited to the stage for commendations. The whole crowd stood up and clapped and cheered. The speaker’s address, the depth of his voice, his voice modulations, the music, the light effects and the finishing touches to the show were all resonating in our mind for the rest of the night.

On the third day of our trip, i.e.,4th June 2004 we set out again early in the morning. The weather was very sunny, bright, and pleasant. We decided to go on the winch ride that was located adjacent to the hotel where we stayed, as our first activity. We bought our tickets and got into the open winch that took us to a higher elevation over a steep hill. We were dropped at the summit of the hill from where we had a great view of the city and also the statutes of the four Presidents. To get down from the hill, we had a choice – either we slide down a crooked path specially built for fun and adventure loving people or take the winch back to the ground. There were many who took the slide and it was funny watching them sliding down at terrible speed and hitting the ground. We could not afford to be adventurous and so we took the winch and landed back. The winch ride took about 10 to 15 minutes each side. There was also a helipad near the hotel and it took visitors for a mountain ride for a fare. We decided not to take the helicopter ride as we were not very sure whether the ride would be comfortable to us.

We then hurried to the Rushmore Caves not very far from the city as we would have to leave Rushmore immediately thereafter around lunch time, if we were not to be late for our next stay at Cody for the night. We were in a totally alien terrain and we did not wish to be stranded for any reason.

The beautiful Rushmore Cave was discovered by placer (Gold) miners in 1876. The miners were digging a flume (an inclined channel) into the mountainside to carry water to the gold mines below when they found the cave opening. The cave was opened to the public in 1927, just before the carving of Mt. Rushmore began. The Black Hills Region, to which the Mount Rushmore belongs, is home to some of the most unique caves – unique for its age, evolutionary history, rare formations and complexity -in the world. They share common bonds of their origin; each is unique in its own way. Located in a band of limestone rock called the "pahasapa limestone" the caves encircle the central granite core of the Black Hills. This limestone was created during the Mississippian Period, approximately 360 to 330 million years ago on the bottom of an ancient sea. The present day caves were greatly affected by a number of evolutionary stages they had gone through in their history of geological past.

I was trying to visualise the enormous difficulties the original miners might have undergone in excavating the place without damaging the naturally evolved limestone rocks that were hanging from the roof in different shape, dazzling in light everywhere, resembling in some way the solidified melting ice falling from the rooftops. While walking through the caves with the hanging limestone deposits all over, we also felt a bit frightened. The admission to this cave was not free and the price one pays is really worth.The tour guide who took us around the cave was a high school student working part time over there and he gave lucid explanation on the cave formation, it’s chemistry and geology, origin, age, etc and he meticululously showed us some of the very minute and most delicate formations using a torchlight. Even as we were appalled by the exquisite beauty of the caves, we were holding our breath throughout, imagining that the roof could just heavily collapse on us. We heaved a sigh of relief only when we exited the cave after about an hour completing the cave tour.

Immediately after the cave tour, we left Keystone after a brief stop in the market place to buy some souvenirs of the place. Our drive to Cody (State of Wyoming), where our night halt was planned, ended later than we anticipated. We had to retrace the route back towards Billngs and on the way took a diversion at Sheridian, a small town towards west. We again passed through winding roads, rising mountainous rocks on either side and also plains. Our journey to Cody took almost eight to nine hours and the roads were desolate with virtually no vehicular traffic. When night fell and it became pitch dark, I felt scared of the completely empty roads and suggested that we could change our plans and rest somewhere in between instead of driving through night time. The idea was vetoed by both Viji and Bala, who shared the steering alternatingly and we finally reached Cody in the state of Wyoming sometime around 10.30 in the night. We were all exhausted. The food we have cooked in the morning at the hotelroom in Mount Rushmore was still with us. We gulped them quickly and slept away.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Epilogue for my report on P F Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

To my amazement, a number of you have come back to me with your comments on the marathon. The response was way beyond what I expected. I suspect, it was so because, it was Viji and Bala who successfully participated in the marathon and to a small measure because I reported on the event. Nevertheless, the comments from many of you were very much encouraging not only to Viji and Bala, who are now determined to take-part in the next marathon too, whenever that takes place, but to me as well for my enthusiasm to write. I found that a website provides an easy platform from where we can all share interesting events and experiences amongst ourselves. This could also be a welcome change from and in addition to our routine, ‘hello, How are you? Trust this finds you all in the best of your health and prosperity,’ types of mails and letters, we usually exchange. So, you can be assured of more mails and write-ups from me. I look to you for your continued commentaries – good or bad – palatable or not – so that I can explore adopting changes to the way they are written and to the areas written about or drop writing altogether.

Eventually, I do not know whether most of you are aware or not, I am a fond traveler and a quick-to-move-out-of-town character. It used to be generally hard for me to sit or stay in one place for long until eventually seven or eight years ago, I started taking up meditation more seriously, after I came into contact with Sri Kalki Bhagawan. In my last little more than three decades of work life, whenever, I got the slightest inkling, I would travel out. Thanks to the nature of my job, I was very frequently transferred from place to place, north to south and vice-versa and that gave me enormous opportunities to me to see places in India and that I loved. Places that are scenic beauties are my favorite places and that way hilly terrains are my most sought after destinations. I had the privilege to travel to several hill resorts in India and I still continue to cherish my memories about my trips to those places.

An idea just occurred to me, ‘Why not I write on some of my travels?’ I am sure many among you too visit places and love your visits to these places and your memories about them.

Hence, I started writing about, one of my, not so recent, travel to Mount Rushmore and Yellow Stone National Park in USA. This took place in June, 2004 and it lasted about a week. I would confess, this was one of my grandest tours in my lifetime. Mount Rushmore is a great memorial to the great Presidents of USA. The surrounding areas of Mount Rushmore and Yellow Stone National Park are among the greatest blessings of Mother Nature and God. To me, they are one of the Highest Manifestations of His Grandest Blissful (Ananda) State. Some of the earth’s greatest evolutionary geological manifestations and exhibitions are there for everyone to see. The rocks, the hot spring geysers, the waterways, the woods, the heights are all stunningly beautiful. I thought I should write about them to begin with. You will have a chance to watch some of the most beautiful photographs we took during our trip.

As this was a weeklong trip, it will be very difficult for me to complete a write up in just one report. Hence it might take a series of reporting. Our each day trip was more and more bewildering about nature’s display of its beauty. I am sure you would all enjoy the travel reporting which might begin to be published in my website: in the next about a fortnight or so.

Finally, I have three things to tell you:

1. I presume that I am not inconveniencing any one of you with my frequent mails on my writings. May be, I am taking a little extra liberty with people who are near and dear to me. I apologize if I have been indulging in your valuable time.
2. I also wish to reach more readers and more friends and relatives. So, I would not mind, if you mention about my website to your meaningful friends and relatives. This would encourage our family becoming larger, bonded to each other through a common medium.
3. Please continue to send in your comments.

23rd Jan,2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, 2007 at Phoenix


It was sometime in late October,2006, Viji and Bala enthusiastically mentioned to us that they have registered themselves for participating in a Marathon to be held in January,2007 at Phoenix. The Marathon, we were told, was being organized by P F Chang and Rock ‘n’ Roll to mobilize funds for some noble medical research programs. It did trouble me initially because firstly I knew that they were never so fitness freaks to undertake any great physically stressful activities. Secondly, Viji was just recovering from the after-effects of the medically terminated pregnancy. To add to their woes, during their visit to India during September/October, both had a taste of the polluted air and water over there and some food contamination and they both were sick even as they were returning to Phoenix. However, they assured us that everything is going to be ok, their health is fine and that they are going to assiduously practice long walks regularly in the next couple of months to improve their physical and psychological fitness for the marathon. We were told, the full marathon is a 26.2 miles run and the half-marathon is a 13.1 miles walk. The half-marathon was to be completed within a maximum of four hours to be eligible to receive a certificate.

We arrived in Phoenix on 17th Dec,2006 from Chicago. During the weekend following our arrival, we had the first taste of their preparations for the marathon. They had heavier than usual breakfast and we set out to a nearby park. The park had a long and circuitous walking-trail and in the center a fairly large lake. The park and lake were very beautiful. Three rounds of this walking-trail would make 2 miles and as such they have to make a little more than 18 rounds to cover 12 miles and depending on the time they take, they have to make finer adjustments to their pace in the marathon Lakshmi and Me took nearly twenty minutes to complete even one go. One of Bala’s friend and his wife too joined that day’s marathon practice. Viji, Bala and his friends completed the entire 18 rounds in a little over three and half hours and that was fairly close to what they are expected to do in the half-marathon. We were told that right from the time they registered themselves for the marathon, they had been vigorously practicing. Great! I thought, regardless of the outcome of the marathon, their participation is going to give them a useful and productive routine to go for regular walk and keep themselves physically fit. It was no doubt a worthy effort.

The participation in the marathon was not free. The fee required to register was seventy- five US dollars per person for the half-marathon and one hundred and twenty dollars for the full marathon.

In between, they had an opportunity to test their own fitness again. There is a mountain peak named Squa Peak in Phoenix and they went for this hill trek. Rajamani, Girija and Sriram, and Prakash who were eventually with us at Phoenix from Chicago to enjoy the Christmas vacations, joined this hill trek. This was an arduous trek, as I understand and predictably Lakshmi and me kept ourselves out; we had food to cook at home for everyone. However, Girija decided to cut back on the full trek, sensibly, of course. Others had reached the peak. Predictably, I was really amazed at the tenacity and will power of Rajamani who too made it to the top; though, I was told that however after reaching the peak, he felt physically fully exhausted. Anyhow, he managed to stay there and return back safely feeling full of enthusiasm for having made it. Rajamani and his family returned back during the first week of Jan itself as Sriram’s college was then re-opening for the next semester.

So, we grew confident that Viji and Bala, would after all, make the marathon as they appeared to be fit.

The D-day came. It was January 14th, 2007, a Sunday, – the day for the marathon. Couple of days before, Viji and Bala had gone to collect their marathon-kit. The kit contained, among other things, a six-by-six inches cloth with their registration number printed on it, a t-shirt with the half-marathon logo, a timer sensor, called the “champion-chip”, to be worn inside their shoes, information on the route for the half-marathon, and car parking, details of the entertainment programs en-route etc. The instructions were precise.

On the day prior to marathon, they told us that they felt as though they were just about to face an examination (reminiscent of their school and college days). They told us of the butterfly in their stomach. They were full of excitement and expectations about the day to follow.

The previous week, Lakshmi had read from weather reports that it was going to be very cold on 13th, 14th and 15th Jan. We did not really realize at that time how cold it was going to be on the D-day eventually, when the day dawned.

We woke up at five in the morning. We took shower. Both Viji and Bala had breakfast to half-fill their stomach. They were saying that plenty of refreshments would be available for them during the marathon, if they wanted to. Lakshmi and me packed some Uppuma as breakfast for us. We set out for the great marathon. Both Viji and Bala had several layers of dresses/sweaters. It was biting cold outside. Aided by the map, we reached the ‘orange’ parking lot near the destination. Luckily, we could locate a comfortable parking slot immediately.

It was around 7:25 a.m. We came down from the parking level to the ground. A long line of people had already formed waiting to get board the buses that will take them to starting point, Arizona Capitol. The finishing point was close to the Sun Devil Stadium and that was not far from the place we parked. We were all virtually shivering in the cold as we stood in the line. When their turn came, they boarded the bus and rode off. Waving hands, we prayed to Bhagawan to help them complete the marathon successfully.

We went back to the car in the parking lot. We were loath to the idea of exploring nearby areas in that biting cold. We just sat inside the car for about one and half hours. In between we finished our tasty breakfast. It was dark and not enough lights were there. I closed my eyes and was listening to some music. Lakshmi too must have dozed off for some time, I presume. In fact, we did more preparations on how we will spend our time even as the marathon was on and so we had some books, cassettes, audio CDs. I even had a small notebook to write notes. All these were packed neatly in my backpack, without realizing that the marathon event was going to be a great thriller and fun and we would hardly be requiring any of these to spend our time.

Noticing bright sunshine at around 9.15 or so, we stepped out of the car. Outside was less cold now. We slowly walked towards the finishing point near the stadium. Waves of people too were moving towards the stadium. As we arrived close to the finishing point, we saw thousands of people already assembled there and cheering up the marathon runners who were just making it to the destination. At the time when we reached, the runner who was the fourth to make marathon was just there.

So, I assumed, after all, we were not very late then for the events. T.V camera crew on mounted platforms and on ground at the finishing point were shooting pictures and beaming them on the huge electronic screen for everyone to watch. In loud voices, the commentators were reeling out their commentaries and galvanizing the crowd to cheer the runners with all its might.

The first to finish the 26.2 miles marathon run, as I understood later, was the 25 years old Terefe Yae, an Ethiopian and he bagged the US dollars twenty thousands prize money and he made the marathon run in 2 hours, 14 minutes and 13 seconds won only by a margin of 3 seconds over fellow Ethiopian Fikadu Degefu, aged 34. Many of the front- runners were from the African American communities and I could see thousands more of them witnessing the run and cheering up their runners. I understood later that many of them from distant countries do participate in the marathon either as a trial for Olympics and other international marathon runs or for the huge prize money. I also understood later that when the marathon kicked off at 7.40 a.m, the temperature at the Sky Harbor Airport, Phoenix, the 5th busiest airport in the world, was 29 degrees. No wonder, we were shivering and freezing that morning and so, thousands of runners and other spectators.

The area around the finishing line was full of gaiety, cheer and fun. Wherever I turned, I saw only heads moving over the area like waves. There were several tents, put up for the benefit of the participants to re-energize themselves on the marathon route and at the finishing point. The organizers surely, must have worked for several days and nights in the preceding months before this event to make all preparations. Many facilities included for the crowd too. I was very much impressed by the disciplinary manner in which the spectators conducted themselves even as they were exhibiting all their passionate enthusiasm in their loud cheering, whistling, clapping, jumping, filming, shaking hands, waving raised placards and posters, encouraging their family and friends who were running. Anywhere else in the world, the whole place would have been a scene of utter rubbish thrown all over, but not here. The ground and surroundings were still neat and clean and the air still fresh. Mobile restrooms were kept in several spots to help people ease themselves without any discomfort so that place does not turn filthy.

Adanech Zekiros (Ethiopia)(2:31:43) ended the three-year women’s reign of Shitaye Gemechu 2004(2:31:33). We were there at that time, though we did not know her name at that time. Gemechu, 2:31:43 was the second fastest by a woman, but slower than Gemechu, the women runner who gamely hung in the top four through the first half of the marathon before being taken to a Scottsdale hospital suffering from dehydration and hypothermia. The wheel-chair course record fell to Tyler Byers of Reston, Va in 1:57:28. He is a University of Arizona graduate who also won here in 2005 and set a course record at 2006.I happened to read about this in the next day newspapers.

After hanging around the marathon finishing point for some time, we moved slowly to the half-marathon finishing point. Around that time, the first to complete the half-marathon had already started reaching there. The half-marathon participants were released in batches of thousand or so, starting at 8.30 a.m., to avoid too much crowding. I came to know that Northern Arizona University student Morten Bostrum, a native of Finland, and perhaps used to the cold, won in 1:06:33. That is the best time since 2004 when some top American ran here to prepare for the Olympic Marathon Trials. This place was much more crowded than the full marathon. We could see people of different ages energetically reaching the goal post. Astonishingly, we could see people who were virtually in sixties and seventies making the half marathon- even people with potbellies - and so also people in their teens. Americans seem to have phenomenal energy and enthusiasm for such events, as I could see in their faces. They were boisterously jumping around everywhere. Many small children were there standing in line close to the periphery, either waving off their placards and posters or shaking hands with successful participants.

We moved slowly in the opposite direction to the marathon and eventually entered Mill Avenue, a notable market place. The marathon was progressing from another direction. A couple of coffee shops and restaurants that were open were full of people. At several junctions, there were musical bands that sent out the right reverberations in that chilly atmosphere. We were roaming around Mill Avenue for some time, had some coffee, strolled around a bookshop, bought a book (that one thing which I cannot resist, whenever I am in a book store) and gradually returned back to the marathon finishing line. In the mean time, Viji had already called me over cell phone to inform us that probably they will finish the half marathon in another about an hour.

As we neared the finishing point, even we were excited to watch Viji and Bala running towards the goal post. I was urging Lakshmi to get faster on her foot, so that we don’t miss them. I did not know at that time that we were already late to reach the observation posts at the finishing point.

We stood on a viewing stand near the finishing point, keenly watching the crowd, taking lots of pictures and looking beyond to find out whether we can spot Viji and Bala in the crowd. No, we could not. It appears that Viji had called us over the cell phone several times to inform that they have already made to the finishing point, but in the din and noise, I did not get the cell ringing. Eventually, she caught us and we rushed back to meet them.

There, they were. They had completed the half marathon well in time. They were presented with a medal and – shall I call it – a plastic shawl as a celebration of their success. Lakshmi was in tears that she missed them near the finishing point. We were very happy about them completing the half marathon and so, they were too. They were very too excited about their accomplishment, as I could see on their faces. They had managed it and I thank Bhagawan for that.

In conclusion, this marathon gave substantial boost to the morale of Viji and Bala. This event is an exemplary sample for human spirit and its endeavor to accomplish, tenacity in times of challenges, and its response to the collective needs of society. The marathon had targeted to collect US dollars 5.8 million towards 13 charities for serious medical researches and was a great effort to contribute in no small measure to ease some of mankind’s problems. More than 37000 runners have braved the morning freezing temperatures to make this possible and more than that number have cheered these achievers, without which the event could have missed much of the warmth and enthusiasm.

January 18th, 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


24th Dec,2006

We all create. It might be hard to accept this. But it is true.

We first create everything in our mind before they become reality outside.

Our mind and our body are tools that are given to us to create.

We create what we deeply desire.

When the desire comes out of our mind, what is created also has all the elements, which the mind is associated with.

Initially everything arises as a thought, before it becomes an intention. When we give shape to our intention, sooner or later it becomes reality.

What comes out of our mind depends on what state it was while it intended something. Hence the outcome too has all the ingredients of that state from which the mind intended.

Many times, it is the body that is put to use to create what mind intended. Other times, the universe responds to bring into reality what mind intended.

When we intend from deep inside, 'but out of our mind', then the outcome is always blissful – for what is deep inside knows nothing other than bliss.

Nothing becomes reality overnight, though, many times, it could be instantaneous. It took nearly 14 billion years since the so-called “Big Bang” to reach the state, what we currently see. It was nearly after about 10 billion years from the so-called “Big Bang” that the first life came into being. Everything seems to have begun from ‘nothing’.

No one clearly know what was IT before it became something.

So, when we intend – whatever level from where it happens – it takes its own course before it can become reality – though each intention has the potential to become reality spontaneously.

So, why are we just anxious that our expectations are not becoming reality immediately or according to our plan. We do not know what other plans are in force. We are operating in a field where everyone’s intentions criss-cross, how many of them will co-operate with each other, or fight with each other, we do not know yet.

Whatever you wish to happen in your life, wish them well; intend from the level of soul, that deep-inside phenomenon, for, when you desire and intend from the deep inside, you have the whole cosmos working for you to bring your intention into realty.

Ultimately, when you use a brush, a paint, a canvass, a stand, a model and paint something, the ultimate painting is not the brush, not the paint, not the canvass, not the stand or not the model, but it is, what it was already ‘inside you’. Painting is an outward expression of what you have pictured inside and is your creation.

Yes, We can all create and We are all Creators. We have to only know this. We are no different from the Creator who has created us and by the same argument what we create will not be different from what we are. We are a blissful expression of God, but gifted with free will. We can use our free will the way we want it, the way we choose it. And so, intend well, choose well, express well and create well. Create from your blissful state. All your creations will be blissful.

Oh, Thank God for today’s revelation