Thursday, September 15, 2011

Travels in foreign lands-XXIII (Going West in America-II)

The journey to Lake Havasu was truly through the country of Mackena's Gold! Pappoo had planned to take me to Sedona which is known as the Mackena's Gold country and then to Grand Canyon before returning to Lake Havasu. After leaving flagstaff we travelled through some pine forests and mountain country. We stopped at a couple of spots near some mountain streams. It was nice travelling through this picturesque countryside. However, soon we reached dry and barren areas. Deserts and barren brown rock formations. The landscape seen in most of the Wild West movies! Arizona is mostly barren and dry. One gets the impression of being in some part of Ladakh except that there are no high snow clad peaks and glaciers! On the way we also visited an Indian Reservation. The entire life style of Red Indians has been preserved. We saw how the Red Indians used to live in their tents. We also saw the fire places which had been preserved in the original farm. The whole area gave the impression of being in the Red Indian country as we used to see in the movies. In America all such important tourist sights have a "Visitor Centre" at the start. In this Centre, there are brochures, maps, photographs, and also some audio-visuals which give an account of the sight with directions and also its history. One can also buy souvenirs from the Centre. It would be very useful if our tourism officials could also think of similar "Visitor Centres" in different tourist resorts!
The Grand Canyon is a dramatic sight. The extent of the Canyon and its depth are enormous. Going near the edge is quite scary! Recently they have built a glass bridge over which tourists go and look directly down on the Canyon base. There are many agencies which organise rafting trips down the Colorado River in the Canyon. Going down into the Canyon itself is a tough adventure. The Canyon reminds one of the Ladakh region back home but in an upside down manner as the top of the Canyon is all flat!
We went round the Canyon top and had some fantastic views. After a snack type of lunch in a Mexican Restaurant, we went into the I-Max theatre to watch an hour long movie on rafting in the Canyon. It was with 3-D electronic glasses. The movie is very dramatic and with 3-D glasses one gets the feeling of being on the raft itself! Rafting down Grand Canyon is one of the most popular adventure sports and many movies have been made about it. We too have something dramatic and challenging in the field of white water rafting. The Zanskar River gorge is more dramatic and challenging. It is very much frequented by top rafters from all over the world. In winter the same River freezes and it becomes a more difficult challenge of a frozen road also known as Chaddar by the locals.
We reached Lake Havasu late in the evening. Lake Havasu City is on the banks of a big Lake. The lake is quite deep at some places. The water looks blue and beautiful in brown landscape. There are many house-boats on the lake. The jet skis are very popular and there are many competitions held on the lake. Pappoo Sharma had just built a multi-storey condominium complex. He had sold some of the condos and some were still vacant. He was staying in a condo on third floor and he put me up in the condo just opposite his. It was a two room flat complete in all respects. It was ready to live in with all facilities. I would have my meals with Pappoo and his family and then sleep in my condo. I had the choice of making my own breakfast and have tea and coffee whenever I liked. It was like living in a luxury apartment all by oneself!
Pappoo's wife Robyn and daughter Breezy were very glad to see me. A plan was made for my sight seeing programme. We would do boating and jet skiing on Lake Havasu. Next we would go on a two day trip to Las Vegas and finally we would spend two nights in Los Angeles in Robyn's parent's home on my way back to New York. It was quite a hectic programme. We spent two days on the Lake. Pappoo taught me jet skiing and it was real fun. We spent one whole day jet skiing. Next day we did boating with Pappoo's friend. We also spent some time on a house boat owned by Pappoo's friend. These house-boats are like small apartments with front deck and top sitting area. However, these are absolutely no match for the luxury house-boats of Kashmir. The only difference is that house-boats in all lakes or rivers in the west have fool-proof means of sewage disposal while as ours' dump the same into the lake directly! This would constitute a criminal offence on these lakes in the western countries. We also took round of the town and met some other friends of Pappoo. I also got a hair cut at home. Pappoo called his hair dresser and she gave me a nice hair cut at home just for $ 20, which was cheap by local standards. While going through a dress shop, I also bought a dress for my sister in Gibraltar. Strangely, the only good cotton dresses were from India or Sri Lanka. As she already had Indian dresses, so I got one from Sri Lanka. It was odd carrying a present from America for someone in Europe but made in Sri Lanka! In the next episode I will describe our trip to Las Vegas, the American Gambling and entertainment hub.

(To be continued…)

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