Tag Archives: india

A Place where Magic still Rules

Sometimes, when we close our eyes, we drift into a state of unconsciousness that is quite pleasant. A state of peace and harmony envelops us as our mind and body reach a truce and dreams begin. Troubles disappear as our muscles relax and serenity takes control of our mind. Physical exhaustion passes as our minds drift deeper into slumber and our subconscious begins to present itself in very realistic, although artificial, dreams. We take this journey each night, sometimes in a warm and comfortable place and sometimes huddled uncomfortably in locations we wish were different.

Unfortunately, when our minds are left to themselves to sort out the difficulties of life, without the input from our outward senses, we often pass from blissful rest to turbulent visions. If only we could recognize that our imagined turmoil is actually only our conscious self trying to make sense of the technicolor fears we have projected in the darkened movie theater we build each night. If we realized that this scary movie is just our darkest thoughts projected, couldn’t we begin to enjoy them as we do any frightening movie? The perceived danger or inconvenience might become entertaining if we could only control our reaction to it.


Ships of the Desert


Our travels are not always pleasant either. Exposure to noise, confusion, delays and foreign tongues often cause insecurities that our minds have difficulty rationalizing. Our inability to control our senses often turn these disturbances into fear. This unnecessary fear can become overwhelming to the point we no longer enjoy the situation we find ourselves in. Simple inconveniences that could be easily overlooked compound themselves to the point that we can no longer see the beauty, magic and spirit that lie just beyond these challenges.

One’s inability to deal with these obstacles has ruined many an adventure. Many potentially great experiences never materialize because of our difficulty to properly manage these challenges. Simple nuisances become problems that can stop even the most intrepid travelers in their tracks. I often find the citizens in “difficult to travel in” countries people have adapted themselves to better deal with these issues. A smile when an obviously ridiculous situation arises, a shrug when frustrating predicaments occur or a laugh when times seem hopelessly confused goes a long way to minimizing difficulties. Many a seemingly impossible to overcome challenge becomes easily manageable with a sense of humor and an understanding that all will work out in the end.


Thar Desert, Rajasthan


Our experience in India has not been without challenge and inconvenience. But we have learned to always try to understand that, like the sometimes crazy dreams that come in the night, they are only temporary and in fact can become quite entertaining if managed properly. The magic and mystery that lies just beyond the chaos has revealed itself. We have hit our rhythm and the dreams we once had have become reality in this ancient land of India.
“The Blue City”
We spent our 32nd wedding anniversary with a crazy cast of characters on a rickety bus traveling from Udaipur to Jodhpur. Stopping for anyone with a few rupees and a desire to get down the road, our dusty, smelly and potentially unsafe bus filled with ever more colorful voyagers. Turbans, saris, crying babies with eye shadow and a bus driver who only grunted joined us for our celebration.


The Blue City- Jodhpur


Our ride felt longer than the scheduled 5 hours. We stopped once in a desolate rest area, filled with cows, stray dogs and a couple of vendor booths that offered nothing but the first unedible food we have seen in India. We were able to scrounge a few packets of cookies and a couple of packs of spicy potato chips that seemed to make up a good portion of the local diet.
As all good things must eventually end, we thanked our driver for the ride upon our arrival in the desperate looking station. He grunted farewell without making eye contact and we made our way to the line of rickshaws surely waiting for the only foreign visitors of the day.


Blue City Puppies- Jodhpur


We chose a hostel on the outskirts of the tourist area. It turned out to be a great choice, clean rooms, a rooftop restaurant, friendly staff and most important for us after our grimy ride, a steaming hot shower.

Dominated by a massive fort that towers over the city, Jodhpur is most famous for the winding lanes of its old town that are, for the most part, painted blue. We spent our days touring the fort, visiting the Brahmapuri area and touring the bustling market area that surrounds the ancient clock tower that rises in the middle of all the confusion. We enjoyed spending some time visiting the restored step well that provided water for citizens in days gone by.


Jodhpur Alleys


We continued to find delicious food everywhere we ate. Sticking mostly to small restaurants, the richness and spiciness of each dish amazed us with each bite. Whether vegetarian or meat oriented, each bite challenged our tastebuds with amazing flavors and tickled our noses with flavorful aromas. We have sampled delicious cuisines all around the world but nothing compares to the complexity and flavor of Indian food.

We visited spice shops that offered rainbow colors and every scent imaginable. We visited textile shops, where talented pitchman showed us fabrics of every texture and color, most adorned with hand embroidery or luscious sparkly adornments. Whether made from camel hair, silk, cotton or bamboo the assortment seemed endless and unbelievably well priced. Multiple floors in both markets made for sensory overload by days end.


Step Well Boys- Jodhpur


We found rooftop restaurants to watch the sunset over the fort before we returned each night to our home that we shared with interesting and friendly young travelers from all over the world. A multi-generational India family rented out most of our hostel on our last night and we enjoyed being included in their festivities.

“The Golden City”

Like an artistic child’s golden beach sandcastle come to life, the Jaisalmer Fort rises from the Thar Desert to command the entire area of this dusty desert city. This was the last stop of camel caravans before crossing the desert to Pakistan in days gone by. While very much a tourist town today, the area inside the fort is still a living city, rare for any of the magical forts of majestic Rajasthan.


Jaisalmer Lake


We instantly fell in love with the fort as we rode in our rickshaw up the hill and through the massive gates as the sun began to set. After our earlier uncomfortable bus ride, we chose a private car to transport us across the desert to our new home for the next 4 days. The day tourists were heading home and the narrow streets and well-restored buildings quickly transported us to an ancient world of cobbled streets and carved limestone havelis. Cows wandered the alleyways. Harmonium music echoed through the stone streets always accompanied by the mournful lyrics of a lone singer. The desert night quickly turned chilly but the excitement of being transported back in time easily warmed us.


Thar Desert near Jaisalmer


Our hotel was located in the walls of the fort and provided sunrise views over the city on one side and a framed view of the red sandstone Jain Temple on the other. The view from the rooftop restaurant provided the same 360-degree view Maharajahs must have enjoyed in ancient times. The perfect view of the long-lasting neon sunset across the endless desert provided the perfect postcard memory all travelers look for in Rajasthan.

Days were spent exploring the nooks and crannies inside the fort. Alleys lead to courtyards that lead to stairways into the ramparts that lead to secret viewpoints. We shared smiles with friendly old people in small courtyards enjoying the bright sunshine and clear skies that warmed stiff joints and tired muscles. We were invited to join badminton games and offered tea on rooftops by old women who spoke no English. Masala chai became a favorite, always accompanied by stunning views from small cafes we spent the afternoons in. With additions of cakes, sweets and even apple pie, it was easy to skip lunches.



Camel Safari Sunset

We made sunset visits to mingle with locals enjoying boat rides in the nearby lake. The streets of the main town were bumpy and rough and we were always happy to return to our tower in the evenings for deliciously spicy curries and friendly conversations with the owner.



Camel Boys- Jaisalmer


People come to Jaisalmer to enjoy the desert and the best way is on a camel safari. We organized a trip far into the Thar Desert’s sand dunes to have our experience with these interesting animals. We visited small villages where old people stared and children followed us. They showed us their goats with pride and loved posing for pictures filled with smiles that would make Hollywood jealous. We stopped for chai in a stick wall shack filled with turbaned men enjoying a smoke and good company. Women in bright saris carrying silver pots on their heads smiled and chatted as they made their way towards distant well.


Camel Safari


We walked high in the endless dunes and were joined by two boys and their camels. The saddles were brightly colored and the camels were well cared for. As the sun set and the sky turned red the boys rode the camels gleefully over the shifting hills. We saw native deer and wild peacocks and hawks sailed overhead. A more magical sight could not be imagined. A long ride home on bumpy roads with the glowing fort in the distance stars brightly shining above was a highlight of our travels anywhere we have ever been and was a fitting way to end our visit to this most amazing place.


“Camel Town”
Jaisalmer is a long way from anywhere. As much as we were enjoying our trip, we knew we had to make a turn back to transportation hubs. Delhi and Jaipur were long train rides and a midpoint would have to be decided upon. We heard rumor of a camel festival in the town of Bikaner. Knowing nothing about the city, we took a chance and booked it as our halfway point.


Bikaner Camel Festival


The town centers around Junagarh Fort, a rust-red monolith combination of defensive walls and ornate palace. Abandoned in the early 20th century by the royal family for more the modern digs at the Lalgarh Palace, it towers over the congested market streets surrounding it. It became our first visit after a good nights rest at our small guest house. The long train ride through the desert was tiring but enjoyable. We shared our train car with a lovely young couple who were traveling with the cutest baby. We stayed well fed as the man seemed to know the best tiny stand delicacies at each of the many stops the train made. The food was hot, fresh and so much tastier than the packaged snacks we were traveling with.


Bikaner Camel Festival


Because it is holiday season in India many of the forts and palaces have been crowded with local tourists. We were happy to have the fort mostly to ourselves as we wandered the ornate corridors, inner patios and majestic rooms of the fort. A bored guard opened a secret balcony room filled with stained glass windows that lit the room in rainbow colors in the early sunlight. When reflected on the mirrored walls the room became a prism of romantic luminance.


Bikaner Camel Festival


We made a self-guided tour of the old town filled with majestic havelis and Jain temples. With a plug of the nose and a squint of the eyes, it was not difficult to imagine the walled city when it was the home of wealthy merchants trading with the camel caravans arriving from the west.

We felt lucky that our unplanned visit corresponded with the annual Camel Festival. More local oriented than Pushkar’s famous fair, the city spends two days celebrating everything camel related. A highly decorated procession of dashing men in traditional Rajasthani regalia and beautiful maidens dressed in the most luscious silk finery intermingle with hundreds of camels to parade through the streets from the castle to the fairgrounds. Bands play and crowds cheer as the lavish parade makes it way down the dusty boulevard.


Old Town Havelis- Bikaner


We made a sunset visit to the lush Lalgarh Palace to briefly relive the Raj era grandness of the Maharajas home turned heritage hotel. Sipping a gin and tonic in the trophy room surrounded by the ruler’s many souvenirs of foreign hunting trips was the closest we ever came to the royal life during our travels.


Camel Festival Procession- Bikaner


Our guest house was a quiet refuge from the festivities. The family who ran the property and small adjoining restaurant were busy hosting family members for the celebrations but always took time to include us in their day. What we had planned as a brief stopover became 4 days of well spent relaxing fun in a place we had never heard of before our arrival.

“The Pink City”

An upgraded train ride brought us to our final stop of our India travels. We sprang for sleeper seats and quiet car for our six-hour trip to Jaipur. With crisp sheets on the bed and comfortable pillows and friendly attendants, we still spent less than 10 dollars on the 300-kilometer trip.


Lalgarh Palace Sunset- Bikaner


We visited Jaipur in 2006 on a previous trip to India and were thinking of our visit as a time to rest up and plan future travels. We well remember touring the City Palace, Palace of the Winds and Amber Fort and thought a relaxing visit might be a fitting end to our trip. The tourists in town were much different from the ones we were exposed to on the rest of our journey. Along with Delhi and Agra, Jaipur is part of the famous “golden triangle” itinerary that most package tourists take in India. All sweaters vests and Tilley hats and minivans, the sophisticated style of these visitors honestly left of longing for the magic of the dusty desert we had come from.

Our hotel was a fantastic early 20th-century hotel in a multilevel style. With hidden terraces and wide verandas, it’s classic style was a great throwback to the grand days of earlier Indian travels. A vast manicured lawn and fresh flower arrangements welcomed guests with a bit of old school luxury. Meals were in a common dining room of shared tables and multilingual guests. We felt slightly underdressed as western style and fine manners ruled the room.


Clock Tower Market- Jodhpur


The annual kite festival was in full swing by the time we awoke from comfortable beds and warm showers. Sitting on the rooftop terrace, the skies seemed full of tiny handmade kites fluttering aimlessly in the light wind and clear skies. Every rooftop was filled with laughing children, both the young and young at heart. We were transported to a time of childhood not filled with Snapchat, video games and iPhone addiction. As kite strings broke throughout the day, many wayward kites fell onto the terrace only to be reflown by the lucky finders. The fragile strings created a spider web obstacle course throughout the town.

By afternoon tens of thousands of kites flew from every rooftop. Music played from hidden speakers and families gathered on the high perches to enjoy the sunny afternoon. Smiles filled the jaded visitor’s faces as the wonder of childhood memories filled the skies. As night approached and the sun set over the palace-lined hills that surround the town, the kites multiplied and the magic intensified. Fireworks began with a few bursts in the distance. Within minutes the bright flashes filled every degree of the sky. For over an hour colorful bursts shot from every rooftop.


Bikaner Camel Festival


It seemed impossible to top the pyrotechnic display until tiny Chinese lanterns began to be launched nearby. First hundreds, then thousands of fire filled balloons made their way into the gentle breezes of the night. For the next hour, more balloons were launched until the entire sky seemed filled with firey projectiles that lit the dark skies like stars. We made our way to the highest rooftop of the hotel and were speechless as now hundreds of thousands of balloons filled the night skies with twinkling light. Cheers rang from each rooftop gathering as their individual missives made their way skyward. It was the single most amazing sight I have witnessed…ever! Mouths hung agape and contagious laughter filled the terrace and childish enthusiasm engulfed every observer. No photograph could ever match the spectacle of this magical display that would mark the end of our journey.


Streets of Rajasthan


We were skeptical prior to our visit to India. Thoughts of grinding poverty, unhealthy atmosphere and squalid conditions caused us to delay this part of our worldwide journey many times. It is true India has all these things…in abundance. However, there is a spirit of kindness and magic that lies just beyond the obvious troubles. No place we have traveled has harder working people who always went out of their way to put their best face forward. Sitting in gridlock traffic in a backroad alley waiting for a train to pass with overwhelming noxious fumes somehow seemed overcomeable while sharing a laugh with a young wife and waving baby also stuck in the same predicament. Sharing food with people who have so much less than you in a slow-moving train that makes too many stops for comfort lifts any burden you think you have. Hopelessly lost in an endless maze, someone has always stopped their day, with a smile and laugh, to lead us back on the correct track.

This is a unique and special place that does not take its cues from anywhere else. Anyone who considers themselves a traveler has to make this pilgrimage. We have been rewarded many times over for any amount of challenge we have had to overcome. Whenever we gather with other voyagers during our journey, we are always asked to name the favorite place we have ever traveled. It is always a difficult choice and we find ourselves struggling to find the best answer. After our unbelievable experiences in India, we will never have to struggle with our answer again.


Cohesion in Chaos

The smell of spring morning flowers floats fragrantly on the cool morning breeze drifting inland from the bay. Strands of marigolds adorn the children’s hair as they smile brightly in the soft morning light. An exotic bird sounds his melodic song from the softly bristling trees that line the golden beach. The early morning sunlight peaks through the wispy morning clouds and begins to color the day in softly shaded pastel colors.
Early morning visitors come to greet the quiet morning. They gather in small groups of quiet conversation. They move in a slow-motion ballet of animated action. A freshness fills the morning as the slight mist lifts and the day begins. This day offers a serene beginning which will lead to a leisurely day of relaxing warmth in this peaceful land of grace. This is my Indian dream.


Jagdish Temple



Bang! The airplane touches down roughly and I awake from my slumber sharply. Consciousness returns and I find myself startled by reality. My tranquil thoughts fade as I realize the plane has landed in the real Mumbai an hour late. People are already getting out of their seats, even as the plane still shakes from its bumpy landing. They push aggressively forward in the aisles despite the flight attendants warnings. My dreams of my imagined India abruptly fade to realities as I gather my bags to make my way into the actualities of our late night arrival.

It’s three in the morning as we make our way to the immigration area. 5 officers attend to the nearly 1000 people in the winding line towards the “electronic visa” counters. The line moves frustratingly slow as each person seems to have problems entering. Fingerprint machines fail and children fuss, verbally expressing all the new arrivals exhausted thoughts. 3 hours later we finally get past the gates to the baggage claim area.
We need money to pay for a taxi but none of the seven ATM machines seem to be working. We see more machines outside the terminal and try each to no avail. We decide to take a chance on the currency exchange inside the terminal but cannot gain access back inside. Another hour passes as we try to find someone in authority who can help us with our plight. Finally, for a fee, we gain access and are able to get 100 dollars in rupees for a 35 dollar fee.


Elephanta Caves


After a wild ride through the pitch black streets of this city of 22 million, we finally arrive at our Colaba hotel as the sun begins to rise. My pleasant dreams of India have been crushed by the reality of honking horns, pungent smells and the swarming masses already filling the streets of this teeming metropolis that never sleeps. We wearily climb the rickety stairs to the ancient elevator that brings us to our home for the next 5 days. Despite the cacophony of sounds outside, we exhaustedly fall into beds, thankful just to rest on our first day in India.

Cohesion in Chaos”

So said the advertisement posted across from the hotel the next afternoon when we make our way out to the teeming street of the Colaba Causeway that splits this district of South Mumbai. The neurons in our brains couldn’t move quickly enough to decipher the rapidity of the pandemonium. The covered sidewalks are filled with shoppers aggressively bargaining with the vast array of tiny boutique owners for every sort of product imaginable. Clothing, jewelry, electronics and all types of gaudy goodness fill every inch of available space, none with listed prices and all open for aggressive negotiation. Within seconds we were offered marijuana, massage, tours and tailor services.


Gateway to India


The impassable walkways force pedestrians to the street where rickshaws, taxis and cart pushers all fight for space. Expensive sedans and rickety jalopies complete the mix, all fighting for territory in the crowded boulevard. Horns sound endlessly creating a symphony of sound that seems to have no point or purpose. As if the devil had financed an orchestra that plays endlessly and only has a few notes, the sound repulses our tired brains and scares us towards the gutters for space. The smells we find there force us back into the madness, more reminiscent of the running of the bulls than a casual tourist stroll.

Our hunger keeps us motivated and luckily we are in the right spot. The Parsi cafes of Colaba are our destination and we are at ground zero for the best of them. These cafes have been in business since the days of the Raj and are always packed with hungry masses. It is said that Hindus thought the corners of the street to be bad luck so the Iranians moved in and brought rapid service and delicious food. Churchill Cafe, Cafe Mondegar and Olympia Coffee House all have their dedicated loyals, but for our first meal, we choose Cafe Leopold. Perhaps the most touristy of all the cafes, we choose it mostly for convenience as it is literally just downstairs from our tiny hotel.


Jagdish Temple


Along with the Taj Palace Hotel, the Leopold was one of the targets for the Pakistani terrorists who brought terror during their attacks 10 years before. Bullet holes still mark the interior as silent reminders of the tragedy. The atmosphere we find today is much more pleasant. Classic wooden chairs and tables tightly packed on tile floors under cranking fans that keep the conversant and smiling customers refreshingly cool. The food is delivered quickly and is absolutely delicious. The flavors are rich and spicy and any difficulties we found outside are quickly and pleasantly replaced with the charming ambiance that fills the cafe.

We spent our days in Mumbai never far from the area of our hotel. We visited many of the Raj era buildings the British built in the vicinity. As the face of England in the western part of the country, they were constructed with a grandiosity that was designed to create a sense of awe as much as for functionality of purpose. Architecturally flamboyant and elaborately decorated, they are grand in an imposingly powerful way certainly meant to impress anyone who thought to question who actually was in control of the sub-continent.


Victoria Teminus- Mumbai


The Prince of Wales Museum and General Post Office are grand buildings built in a fusion style that combined English, Indian and Muslim styles. Victoria Terminus, the UNESCO heritage train station now called Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, certainly must be one of the most elaborate railway stations ever constructed. Strolling past Watson’s Hotel, University of Mumbai and Rajabai Clock Tower made for a pleasant afternoon. Now all faded glory, they take a bit of imagination and a slight squint to picture what must have been amazing in their time.

A few short blocks away, we braved the throngs of Indian holidaymakers in town to visit the Gateway to India monument and the Taj Palace Hotel. The worn roughness of the Gate was a sharp contrast to the perfectly maintained hotel, easily one of the grand classics found anywhere in Asia. Security was tight everywhere and the lines were long but the beauty we found inside the hotel was worth any effort we put forth.


Lake Pichola- Udaipur


On our final day, we attempted to avoid the busyness of the city by boarding the colorful ferries that take passengers on the hour-long journey across the harbor to Gharapuri Island and Elephanta Caves. The pleasant coolness of the breezes were a welcome break from the noise and congestion of the city. Seabirds followed the boat, mostly attracted by the variety of snacks thrown from passengers. The city soon faded behind haze and we were greeted by the green lushness of the island.

We passed from the dock through the gauntlet of trinket stalls that line the path up the steep stairs that wind up the hill to the caves. The vibrant colors of women’s saris led the way past monkeys, cows and goats that mixed with the visitors on our way up the challenging stairs. The caves carved into the cliffs at the top of the mountain were impressive and crowded. Carved by Buddhist devotees in the 5th and 7th centuries, the caves have been partially restored from their dilapidated state. The views were beautiful from the top of the hill and made a nice place to collect our thoughts and reflect on the busy days of our first few days in India.


Indian Musician


Mumbai proved to be the perfect entryway to our visit to India. What we first found overwhelming was now just exhilarating. What had been exhausting was now invigorating and what appeared chaos took on a sense of cohesion that we couldn’t wait to further explore.

To the Frozen North”

We made no plans for our travels in India past the first two nights in Mumbai. As much as we enjoyed Mumbai, we knew we had to move on. With the choice of the beauty of the South or grandness of the North, we opted to move upwards on our map. We cowered from the thought of the long train ride from Mumbai to our determined destination of Udaipur. Jet Airways offered flights that compared in price to the long train ride north. We weren’t sure we wanted to miss the sites along the way, but in the end, the convenience air travel won the day.


Elephanta Caves Monkey


Met by our taxi driver at the baggage claim, we made our way through the early evening to our hotel. It was difficult to find hotels during this holiday season. We were lucky to find a small hotel right on Lake Pichola, not too far from the towering City Palace that overlooks the lake. Everyone was bundled in jackets, scarves and gloves. We were surprised by the chill but welcomed it after the scalding summer temperatures we found when we visited India in 2004.

India does not have heaters in rooms. The pleasant chill became a frozen frost as the pleasant evening faded to shockingly cold night. The thin panes of glass that separated us from the cool breezes coming from the lake did nothing to insulate us from the 37-degree temperature. Given just a light blanket for warmth we ended up getting redressed in jackets that we luckily had with us.


Jagdish Temple


We were happy when the sun’s warmth met us in the morning. Cold showers shocked us awake, no need for excessive coffee this morning. We enjoyed the convivial nature of the other guests as we gathered for breakfast on the scenic outdoor rooftop. Guests from Oman, Japan and England joined us for simple a simple breakfast of toast, omelettes, pancakes and chai. The nights chill gave way to wispy clouds and bright sunshine. A perfect day for exploring the old town area of this bustling city of 3 million.

The old town is set on a hill that rises above 3 lakes, the most prominent of which is Lake Pichola. The hill is topped by the splendid City Palace, home to the Mewar dynasty since the Princely State times. The lakes most prominent feature is the white marble Lake Palace, now reconfigured into a Taj Hotel, said to be the most romantic in the world.
The narrow streets of the town, more alley than boulevard, wind aimlessly upwards to the Jagdish Temple and City Palace. Days here are spent wandering through these streets, making frequent stops to peek inside the grand, if time worn, Havelis that line the streets. Meals are best in one of the rooftop restaurants that feature fresh air and gorgeous views of the lake and the hills beyond.


Jagdish Temple


The City Palace was swarmed by holidaymakers to the point of gridlock. Fire codes and mass tramplings filled our thoughts as we shuffled our way through the former grandness of the Rajput rulers home. Multiple generations of Maharanas built their own palaces on top of former palaces until the entire complex took on a uniform appearance that is one of the most beautiful in all of Rajasthan.

Our experience was much better in the less restored, but still amazing, Haveli that is adjacent to Gangaur Ghat. We had the entire place to ourselves and found our imaginations easily transported to past times of royal extravagance. A dance show is featured nightly but we were happy to spend our time slowly winding our way through the narrow passageways and cool courtyards that made up the stately palace. The few employees seemed happy to show us the hidden corners and elevated viewpoints that featured rare quiet solitude to enjoy the scenery.


Indian Bride


After another frozen night, we moved hotels into the very center of town. With views of the Jagdish Temple outside our window, we found ourselves in the perfect place to observe the non-stop craziness that is the center of town. We enjoyed long meals and short walks through the crowded streets filled with dogs, cows, rickshaws and preparations for New Years celebrations. Fireworks lit the skies nightly from weddings at the Lake Palace or nearby festivals that we heard but didn’t see.

Our room was still cold at night, but ample blankets and thick walls made sleeping comfortable. Our bodies felt rested and our minds had adjusted to the noise and confusion of India. Hot showers refreshed our muscles and clean laundry made our days more comfortable. With no plans set we pondered our further travels. What adventures lay ahead we did not know, but we were excited to see what the next day’s travels would bring.