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California to Madison

Here's a brief account of my trip my California to Wisconsin by Car. My trip from California to Wisconsin was pretty eventful and enjoyable. There were 4 of us in the car : Myself, Deepak, Sanjeev and Gokul (all 4 desis from Univ. of Wisconsin, Comp. Sc Deptt...i wonder why i was travelling with 3 guys and not even 1 girl..:).

We started on 26th Aug (Sat.) in the morning. After going a couple of miles we realized that our luggage was excessive and the people in the back seat might get uncomfortable later in the journey. And so it was decided that we shall ship my bag (since it was the biggest) so that the back seats stuff could be put in the trunk (dickkey). After handing over my bag to a friend for shipping, we started out at 10am instead of our originally planned 8am.

After driving for 2 hours we reached heavy slopes. The car we were in was an Infinity G20 (luxury car), 7 years old. The car started giving out burning smells and we suspected that it might have got heated excessively. So we stopped for 5 minutes and started again. Again after sometime it gave that same smell and then we decided that it was time we opened the hood and gave it a look. On opening the same, we (amateurs) couldn't detect any trouble and decided to allow the car the cool down. After we started again, we realized the problem with the car: the car being a manual one, could not climb even low slopes in the 4th gear (there are 5 gears in US cars). It needed the 3rd or 2nd gear and slow speeds. The problem being detected, our non-troublesome journey began again.

That day we stopped at a place called Winnemucca in state of Nevada. Next morning we started our march towards Salt Lake City in Utah. The journey was peaceful and we reached the city by late afternoon. There we saw the "Temple Square" consisting of temples (sort of churches) built by a sect of christians which inhabited the city sometime in mid 1800s. Following this, we drove by the Salt Lake and went to an island and enjoyed enchanting views of the lake with the sun setting. The Lake has the 2nd most dense water (after Dead Sea) due to salts and minerals deposited by adjoining mountains. Unfortunately all of us forgot to touch its water to see how dense it was !! Unlike India, there is nothing like paddle and row boats in US lakes where one can paddle for some time in the lake. I believe they want to keep the "natural" beauty untouched.

After sleeping in some arbit place nearby, we started our 3rd day towards YellowStone National Park. The road was hilly and our car went slow, and we ended up following a group of 4 unrelated vehicles suffering from the same problem ( poor performance on hilly roads). Finally we reached the park by 3:45pm. The park is huge ( about 60 miles x 80 miles) and contains a lot of mountains, springs, hot geysers and stuff explained below. We had reserved 2 nights stay in the park before-hand. But yours truly forgot the place where we were supposed to stay the first night. So after ringing up someone in calif to look up the reservation on the net, we finally got to know where we were supposed to stay. This ended up wasting 1.5 hrs and a nice scolding from my companions. Enroute to our sleep-site, we visited the Geyser Country which contained various hot water geysers giving out hydrogen sulphide ( bad smelled gas) and other gases. The geysers varied in height from 1 feet to 5 feet. The pools they created around them were of various colours (colors...:) such as Sapphire, Opal, Grey, Deep Blue, etc. Some were nice (althoughful gave an unpleasant odour). Along with the hot pools were "bateria mats" : collection of bacteria on rocks near the pool. The mats were of beautiful colours and shades and lets see how much of that comes out in camera snaps. The bacteria there are able to tolerate the 90C temperatures of the boiling pools. In the evening the arrived at the where was located the biggest geyser called Old Faithful. It is called so since it has been erupting every 85 minutes for last 100 years and it goes upto a height of 70-100 feet for about 2-3 minutes. After watching this amazing geyser, we went to our lodging in the Lake country.

Next morning (4th day), we toured the Lake country consisting of mainly the Yellowstone lake and trails along the lake. As we were approaching one of the trails and got down from the car, we were surrounded on 3 sides by a herd of wild bisons. It was an amazing experience. Slowly, we went away from the bisons. The bisons roamed near our car for 10-15 minutes and then went away to a green field nearby. Fortunately, we had our cameras with us and took snaps of that incident. Then we took a long trail beside the lake and into the forest region. We were hoping to encounter some bears or elks (deer-like) but in vain. The trail had some nice sights. Then we proceeded to the Canyon country which contains the Grand Canyon of YellowStone. We went to various spots from where we got some amazing views of the Canyon. There were also 2 huge waterfalls (one of them being the highest in the world). After enjoying the Canyon and waterfalls, we went to our lodging near Old Faithful. An important point of interest was the Inspiration Point. We were all tired when we reached there and after we left that place we were so inspired that all of us were about to open and sit into someone else's car. Just in nick of time we realized else the car alarm might have gone off.

After seeing Old Failthful erupt in the morning (5th day), we proceeded to a trail in the Geyser basin where we saw different kinds of Geysers. Then we began our last leg of YellowStone towards Mammoth country which contains some huge springs and terraces. The terraces have formed naturally from acidic (sulphurous) fluids erupting and flowing from fissures in rocks. The result is multi-coloured beautifully carved terraces. I don't know how much colours my camera would have captured. Finally, we proceeded on our way out from YellowStone and had some photogenic encounters with some "elks". Enroute we rested at Sundance City, the city famous for the Sundance Kid who stole a horse and was sentenced to 15 imprisonment and ....blah blah blah.

Our 6th days destination was Mt. Rushmore. It is the mountain on which the faces of 4 US Presidents have been carved. It was an OK sight. We also saw another such construction in progress called Crazy Horse which involved an Indian war chief on a horse and was 10 times bigger in magnitude of the US Presidents project.

After a nice sleep near the base of Mt. Rushmore, we started the next day by visiting Bad Lands. Bad Lands are an array of mountains of mud and soil and not rock. Due to rain and winds, they have been continuously eroded and now have acquired picturesque shapes and small canyons and valleys have also formed. They are called bad lands as no one has been able to inhabit that place due to mud erosion and infertile soil.

Finally, we reached back Madison on the 8th day. Thus ended our exciting and eventful trip bringing end to my unending monologue.