WildZests: A Sequel to Dec 2011 - Finally The Trip Begins

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Sequel to Dec 2011 - Finally The Trip Begins

As the vacation time comes closer, most folks are either already out of office or are in no mood to conduct too many meetings. I realize that I could easily take a day off on Friday to make preparations for the trip and that would also give us the opportunity to plan an early departure than the 2AM schedule. I had a quite few things to take care of before the trip could start. First and foremost, the car hadn’t been checked for readiness and even though it was serviced only a while back the clutch wasn’t feeling all that good. So I took it to the service center in the morning and got it checked thoroughly and had all the fluids topped up as well. The clutch seems to have suffered a normal course of wear and tear with almost 56k on the odo and though there is no risk of failure it does feel a bit hard now. The SA told me that I could choose to replace the clutch  but it would need a day, so I can finish the trip and then leave the car when it’s due for the next service.

2.1There was a lot of packing to do, get all my camera gear cleaned, batteries charged, choose accessories that I needed etc. An 8-9 day trip meant a lot of munchies had to be stashed in the car since we don’t usually stop for meal breaks. I usually carry a 20 liter water can and a 5 liter smaller can for daily use along with wide mouthed pet bottles, that way I don’t have to trash the place with plastic bottles. By the time I finished all of this, it was already evening and so we decided to leave between 9-10pm so that we can grab some quick dinner and be on our way out of the city. I had a quick lie-down for an hour which is nothing but keeping your eyes closed no matter whether you’re actually fallen asleep or not followed by a refreshing bath that is enough to keep me going till we reach the destination.

We started at around 9.30PM after having some quick frankies for dinner. My friend Elly decided to join us till Mumbai since we had some college friends gathering for a small reunion of sorts. Given that we were leaving early meant that we’d be skipping the stopover in Pune since we may cross it really early in the morning for the folks to be awake. It would be better to directly halt at my parents’ house in Navi Mumbai and rest till the evening before we head out for reunion party.

Getting out of Bangalore was pretty okay except for the traffic jam in the Mahadevapura to KR Puram area where we spent almost 30-45 mins crawling in 1st gear. The highway was busy with the buses that leave the city around the same time but with the wide roads, it wasn’t so much of an issue to overtake them and make sure we were ahead of that crowd. The BLR-MUM roads are now pretty much like driving in your backyard since we’ve done this 4-5 times in the past year. Soon we were happily cruising at 100-120kmph and making good progress.

With no big stops on the way except for one tea break before Kolhapur, we stopped directly at the Datta vadapav just outside Panvel at 8.30AM for some nice sumptuous breakfast. Given the time delay we had exiting the city, we still had managed a decent time of 11hrs for a little over 1000kms. Reaching early also meant lots of time for rest before we head out in the evening and that’s pretty much what we did apart from filling our stomach to the brim with my mom’s super amazing food at lunch.

2.2The evening was fun and it turned out to be a very good idea to meet at a friends’ place at Vashi instead of a restaurant. The kids had all the freedom to run and play and leave us alone to talk about the nostalgic stories from college days. We were back home a little after midnight, and I could sense that my sleep deprived body was just waiting to hit the bed before I started snoring.

The next day was primarily divided between meeting some family for short visits and then a surprise meeting with a friend who’s had a baby recently. Then it was time for some resting at a friends’ house in Thane from where we’d take off in the night to reach Zainabad at or before lunch time. So the stay at Ahmedabad was reinvested in some quality time with friends, reaffirming the fact that having your own flexi travel option surely helps to make choices on the go.

The day went off pretty okay and we were running on time as we reached our friends’ place for the evening. Thankfully it being a Sunday we didn’t hit much traffic as we traveled from Navi Mumbai to South Mumbai, then to Andheri and finally settling in Thane. The rest of the evening went in chatting and catching up on updates etc, followed by some nice Chinese for dinner. It was well past midnight by the time we hit the bed, the departure time was adjusted to 4AM instead of 2AM and the alarm was set accordingly.

The alarm went off on time and I had a quick bath to freshen up for the morning drive. Pozu was still sleeping and it was good to keep her that way since otherwise her full day’s schedule gets upset. We were ready to leave by around 4AM which was a very good thing but I had to lug around 15-20 kilos of my camera equipment and laptops to the car. I hate it when I’m carrying my camera equipment on my trips and have to park my car outside a secure area. Not only do I have to carry all the stuff with me, it also takes time to get the car ready when it’s time to leave. Unfortunately, in Mumbai there’s no way you can find a secure parking for a visitors’ car and except for my parents’ house I end up lugging all my stuff up and down a few times. At 4AM in the morning, I walk down with all my gear for about 300m to get to the car and that breaks me in sweat even with the rather cool weather for Mumbai. Anyway, we were finally on the road and were placed comfortably to make it to Zainabad by lunch time.

I drove for the first 3-4 hours and then passed on the wheel to Gozu who did a pretty steady 90-100 kmph until we crossed Bharuch. Now the bridge at Bharuch has been discussed at length on numerous occasions on t-bhp and it can be a nightmare if you don’t know that you can actually go the wrong way and then use the older bridge to avoid all the jam. We crossed it in about 15 mins which is not bad, but the main bridge seemed to have pretty slow moving traffic and I could see quite a few cars stuck in between those the trucks. I remember the first time even I had almost gotten myself stuck but I managed to reverse for about 100m and move over to the older bridge else I would have been in for hours as there was a truck broken down in the middle of the bridge and the traffic was basically going nowhere.

The rest of the stretch was pretty uneventful and after tackling a little of the Ahmedabad traffic, we were on our way to Zainabad. The good thing about Gujarat is that the roads are pretty darn awesome everywhere and there is no frustration that sets in during long drives. We reached Zainabad at around 3PM and quickly got ready for our first jeep ride into the Rann at 4PM.

The vacation had officially begun and the next four days had only nature and photography on the agenda!


More in the next post....

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