Sunrise and Sunset in Seattle with Olympics and Cascades

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Seattle gets beautiful sunrises and sunsets. With the Cascade mountains and Lake Washington in the East and the Olympics and the Puget Sound in the West, it can be pretty breathtaking. One of the views below is from my bedroom!sunrise-and-sunset-in-seattle_01

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A night in a Snow Cave on Mt. Rainier on New Year’s day

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Welcoming 2013 from our snow cave on Mt. Rainier

Jen and I don’t really attach much significance to days like New Years day. However, why pass on a nice extended weekend to get out and have some fun? We decided to go snow camping on Mt. Rainier. We had been to Mt. Rainier many times before but had never camped overnight, and never really built a snow cave. Got a lot of help from my good friend Brad, who helped me figure out what supplies I would need and how to use them. Also did a lot of research online on tips on building snow caves. Mt. Rainier is one of the snowiest places on earth and the hike to Camp Muir is one of the 10 most deadliest ones in the US. So I also went through all the incidents of fatalities and emergencies on Mt. Rainier over the last 30 years. Almost all involved bad luck and many were made worse because the victims and survivors hadn’t been planning on staying there long but were forced to due to bad weather. Since we had enough supplies

A night in a Brooklyn warehouse via Airbnb

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Airbnb opens up so many unique options to find a place to live in a new place that it’s really hard to ever consider staying in a hotel again. Case in point this awesome warehouse loft that I spent the night in when I was in NY last week. I was in Boston for work and decided I really wanted to get my NY fix – even if for a day. On my way over in the bus, I checked Hotel Tonight and found some nice hotels in Manhattan ranging from $225 – $400. Then I checked Priceline and Kayak and saw similar options. I could’ve bid and maybe got something for around $150. But none of the options sounded appealing. So I looked up Airbnb. I also decided I wanted to spend my night in Brooklyn because that would force me to go there – otherwise I never end up making my way over. I reviewed some listings but the one that I found intriguing was this warehouse loft.

How Limeade worked on Kilimanjaro

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When I was climbing Kilimanjaro, I carried my fitbit with me on the 9 day climb. I broke a lot of steps records on this climb – averaging 20k steps every day. The peak was great in itself but as soon as I got online, my fitbit synced with Limeade and I also got points within my Limeade wellness program to work towards no insurance premium for the quarter. I didn’t have to log-in anywhere and everything just worked. Which is why we say that Limeade fits into people’s lives.

Crazy cold and windy as it was, I managed to convince Jen to hold her camera steady as I explain this on the mountain – the highest place in Africa.

On top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

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We took a longer, circuitous, beautiful path around Kilimanjaro to get to the top. It was colder than we had planned for and the lack of sleep compounded the effort needed. The endless strong wind that ran across the continent became very overbearing after a few hours. But we were there and we saw the glaciers on the roof of Africa. We started the final ascent on the day of our 4th year anniversary.

Hiking to Camp Muir at Mt. Rainier using 5 finger shoes

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We hiked up to Camp Muir yesterday which is at an elevation of 10,080ft. Starting at Paradise it’s a 4,700 ft climb that happens over 5.5 miles. The last 2-3 miles is just a vast snow-field and traversing up that is a chore. Good boots help but we use 5 finger shoes which don’t do too well on the snow.

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Solution: we used micro-spikes and attached them to the 5 finger shoes and they work really well! Except, the 5 finger shoes don’t have much insulation or water protection and the toes start getting cold 🙁 Make sure you wear socks and have more at hand in case they get wet.

Camp Muir Hike Path

Kayak 11 miles from Seattle to Kirkland and back

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We love kayaking in Seattle and have been going to agua verde paddle club for many years. Last year I was the mayor of Agua Verde on Foursquare. We almost always go towards Lake Union because we like the views and really like getting close to all the houseboats around the water.

Last week we decided to go the other direction towards Lake Washington near the arboretum. We asked the attendant, “How far is it ok to go into Lake Washington?”. To that he replied, “As far as you want. As long as you are back here before we close at 6:00pm”.

GPS Track of Seattle to Kirkland in a Kayak

We decided we will keep going until we reach Kirkland. It ended up being 11 miles round trip.

on lake washington

It took us about 2hrs with a short break in between to get to Kirkland. It was a beautiful day and the water was just gorgeous. 

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichhu

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We had been planning a trip to Peru for a while and wanted to visit Machu Pichhu. When we learned that you could hike there instead of taking a train we decided that’s what we wanted to do. Recent regulations limit the number of people who can be on the trail to just 500 a day. We quickly found that we had to book the hike way in advance. It is also now required that the hike has to be booked through a local company that is licensed to operate on the trail. There are a few hundred companies to choose from. We reviewed many and finally decided to go with Llama Path. So we made our reservation in Jan 2011 for a hike in May 2011.

We had never done a 4 day hike before and realized we would have some prep to do. A couple of months of training, backpacks, hiking poles, shoes etc later we were finally ready for it.

Day 1 12km

We were picked up from Regocijo Square at 5:00am. We didn’t get much sleep the night before because we were busy packing and preparing for it. The idea was to sleep on the way. Two of our porters were waiting for us at the square while the bus had gone to our hotel to look for us because we were late (oops). It was dark and cold and finally the bus arrived. It had the other porters inside and our camping supplies. We couldn’t see their faces well and we were too tired – so we fell asleep.

We were driving through a gorgeous landscape when my eyes opened. The porters were gone – they had stopped to get started on preparing stuff for the hike. We stopped at Ollantaytambo for breakfast. We were the only people at this touristico restaurant which was pretty huge. Buffet included slices of ham, cheese, bread and fruit juices. And egg. It was good.

Crane crash in Andheri

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A crane of the Metro project toppled over, falling on the road and crushed an auto-rickshaw killing two people on the spot. I was at the Bhavan’s A.H. Wadia High school, overlooking the complete crash site and had a clear view of the site. Part of the school compound wall was also broken by the crane’s tip.

Complete view

All pictures with full versions here: http://flickr.com/photos/sameerhalai/sets/72157605048202588/

Hell in your backyard

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Hell, MI
There’s a nice little town here in Livingston County and it is called “Hell”. Why is it called Hell?

[From Hell’s official Website]

The History of Hell Michigan

Hell was first settled in 1838 by George Reeves and his family. George had a wife and 7 daughters – no reason to call it Hell yet… George built a mill and a general store on the banks of a river that is now known as Hell Creek…

The mill would grind the local farmers grain into flour; George also ran a whiskey still, so a lot of times the first 7-10 bushels of grain became moonshine.

In turn, horses would come home without riders, wagons without drivers….someone would say to the wife, where is your husband?

She’d shrug her shoulders, throw up her arms and exclaim, Ahh, he’s gone to Hell!”

In 1841 when the State of Michigan came by, and asked George what he wanted to name his town, he replied, “Call it Hell for all I care, everyone else does.” So the official date of becoming Hell was October 13, 1841…

Hell, MI
So, for the record, I have been through Hell. Next you tell me life’s tough and giving you a hard time, you better think twice – you have not yet seen what Hell is all about!