wilderness shop

wilderness shop

A Solo Journey Into The Wilderness

Posted on August 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

To get lost in the woods!

I was in the trance state dreaming about the gigantic Himalayas, the high and low thriving green valleys, the water flowing from the narrow streams and making a way through rocks and down the hills. That’s when my watch struck 4PM, and I woke up from the catnap by a cacophony of hucksters in the bazaar; the distant clamor of voWices, hawkers…

In no time, I reached Dehradun ISBT and boarded a local bus to Mussoorie ( a mesmerizing small town in the Central Himalayas). Colorful Tibetan prayer flags were tied across the doors of shops, and across the trees, and everywhere else en route. The bus was moving uphill, picking locals from different places. The locals rely on these buses for their daily commute, and the frequency of these buses is not so excellent.

I reached Picture Palace road early in the morning. Some 10 taxis, a bus, and few tourists were in the market. Mussoorie has definitely changed over the years, clamorous and head-splitting horn sounds, highly expensive shops, stores selling antiques, and hotel agents making it unduly commercialized.

I witnessed two Mussoorie during my trip; the one with restaurants, lodges, big and small hotels, spas, noisy tourists. The other Mussoorie; I will call it my Mussoorie, old churches, long walks, ages old cemeteries, a community of writers, retired people, small shops stuffed with collectibles and antiques (most of them run by Tibetans), locals and people from every walk of life protecting the real charm of this beautiful vale.

I rambled across the mall road and stuffed my lungs with the gentle breeze blowing in the valley. After roving through the Bazaar, I walked down to the road and saw a small hotel standing secluded on the hillside, away from the tumult of mall road.

I chose a small but decent studio apartment, Hotel Emerald Heights, the perfect refuge for a solo traveler. It’s a budget hotel with friendly staff always ready to help you. Although all the hotels in Mussoorie are safe for solo woman traveler, but I find this one safer than any other hotel. This is located on the a small hill on Camel’s back road, which is a calm, serene place to save yourself from the crowd.

This room offered an outstanding sight right from the window. I could see the mountains from my bed, nothing more I could ask for.

I decided to put my feet up for a day, and move to Landour at the crack of dawn. August offered me rain, a lot of it, and mists, a thick layer of mist all over the mountains (Just thinking about misty hills, thrills me and makes me fall in love with these mountains even more). I have always believed that August is the month of romance and month of solitude, in the hills. After setting down in the room, I ban to take a leisurely walk from Camel’s Back road to the Mall road by crossing Kulri Bazaar. What stillness in the air, beautiful, thank heavens!

Since it was off-season, there were not many tourists in the valley, which was beyond doubt a very good thing.

By now I was hungry as a bear, and could eat almost anything, so I wolfed down some dimsums, and a peach drink at Domas, and they are delicious. Domas is an excellent place to stay in. This is an authentic Tibetan Hotel cum restaurant. Dimsum is something you will get anywhere when you are living amongst Himalayan people. I stayed in the bazaar for a while to see the haze moving from one direction to another, covering the whole mall road within a white, semi-transparent sheet. It began to drizzle with chilly winds leading to goosebumps. I walked back to Camel’s Back, in the comfort of my room.

I reached the hotel room and sank in the spongy bed, gazing the enchanting mountains through the glass window, but the fog didn’t allow me to see much of it. It began to rain, and I got busy seeing raindrops falling on the casement, I got completely engrossed in the sound of rain and smell of moist hills that it made me write this piece:

Warmth grows from the dense cold mist
Call of barbets disguises the isolation
Majesty of the sun obscured by overcast dawn
Radiance of the bonfire dwindles and dies
Rampant raindrops fall freely on my forehead
Red velvet mites emerge from the rain as the first rain falls
Droplets on the butterfly’s wings reflect turquoise hue
A snail takes refuge under a fresh fallen leave
It crawls on my diary leaving a trail of the first rainfall.

Some noises broke the spell, in the oak tree in front of my balcony was a gang of langurs (are a group of Old World monkeys), some sitting in the canopy, and some jumping gracefully from one twig to another, feasting on pears. These gray creatures with silky coat looked extremely elegant after bathing in rainwater.

Just in front of my room, there was an abandoned home where a dog and his family resided. The puppies kept on barking at night, and only allowed me to fall into a slumber. It was an awfully dark night, there was no moon in the sky; it rained all night, and I could clearly see lighting through the window.

Knock Knock – Room attendant knocked, carrying a cup of coffee I had ordered while I was half-asleep.

6 in the morning after having the cup of a sweet coffee (overdose of sugar), and taking a bath, I decided to take a walk to the cemetery; the sky was clear at that time. The road was damp, hillside grass was drenched, and foliage of deodar were washed with rain water. There were countless dewdrops on dried twigs of trees and leaves, falling on my head ad infinitum. The green mound on my right was blessed with some white wildflowers with yellow centers, dripping wet, making the hillside look like a broad yellow & white sheet.

The next day I stuffed my bag and began to walk on mall road, and asked locals the way to Landour. It is a steep ascent, you can hire a taxi: a man said. But I love being on foot through the jungle, so I decided to climb ( which later I realized wasn’t a wise move). I started walking up and up, far above the ground; as I was told, it actually was a steep climb. Down in the valleys, the water runs cold I kept singing while walking towards my destination.

In no time, mist started building around me and around the woods too. It began to drizzle, and the intense gush of air, which was more like a storm was making the climb even more difficult. I decided to take a refuge under a small cemented hut-like place for a time. I found myself all wet and all alone and in the middle of nowhere, but I had to walk to reach the top of the hill before the sun says, goodbye young lady, it’s time to call it a day.

I started walking again, but couldn’t see anything because of fog, I was alone, which made me little terrified (languurs, nothing else I was afraid of). I made my way through the haze, and walked almost 6 miles. After walking a bit further, I saw a gang of languurs; I got numb and cold. I slowly walked past the languurs and they didn’t act in response, Phew! The Languurs of hills are not perilous like the monkeys of plains perhaps.

I saw a young Tibetan man on my way up; he was carrying an iron frame (it was a door frame, I think) for the construction work of a well-off man’s home perhaps (I assume a lot). I asked him, which road I should take to reach Char Dukan, take the one going upwards, he said, another one was going to Lal Tibba (a small hill-station which gives pleasant sight of Himalayan vista when it’s not raining, and the sky is clear).

I walked a mile more, and reached Char Dukan. Thank heavens! What a sight for sore eyes. There were barely 15 people in Char Dukan: A policeman resting on the stairs of the church entrance – locals hardly feel the need of police in the hills – , an old man wearing a green worn out sweater, sipping on his tea, shopkeepers, one taxi driver lying lazily on the bench while waiting for his foreigner customers, church’s caretaker almost in his 60s, few foreigners learning Hindi, and a black slothful dog.

Landour is non-commercialized side of Mussoorie, I wish it always remains. Not so many tourists visit this place, because this place has no big market, English restaurants to dine in, no cinema halls to enjoy. But if you just want to mosey, gaze the wild flowers, see the sky changing its color, listen to the twittering of Himalayan birds, to spot silhouette of deodar trees during the hours of twilight, or complete your novel, then this is the place where you will witness such harmony and bliss.

I parked myself on a bench, in the premises of St. Paul’s Church. I was gazing at the beauty of this Methodist church, which was in impeccable state. Later I went to Anil’s cafĂ© ( a famous spot amongst foreigner students of Woodstock Language School), and ordered a vegetable Maggie, and their famous appetizing pizza, after gratifying my stomach I moved on to Sister’s Bazaar. I asked two locals the way to the Bazaar; they told me they are heading the same way so I can join them. People of hills are hospitable and very amiable; In no time I was accompanied by two gentle men.

I asked them if I can get a taxi to drop me till Picture Palace. There were no taxis in either of the Bazaars, but they found out one, and asked him to drop me down in the Bazaar.

So I had 3 hours more to explore Sister’s Bazaar, but there was nothing much to explore, because of the fog perhaps. I sauntered through the lonely road; there was no soul to see and talk, but what a sight to behold. I had nothing much to do, and in the hills, neither time nor life moves so fast. It is just morning, afternoon, evening and night here, do not worry about hours and minutes.

I was resting on a hillside drenched with rain, and slightly muddy, where I saw a Redstart, shiny blue Whistling Thrush and some hill Mynas preening themselves in a tiny, deep puddle. There is no dearth of water during monsoon, but they chose this little stream for some personal reason, I assume. The puddle was made by rainwater and also some frequent drops falling in it through a crack below an enormous, old oak tree. The birds played, splashed, and feasted on some insects, and then spread their wings and soared into the air and then to the sky covered with thick clouds. I gazed the birds until they disappeared in the fog.

I had a lot of time, so I started searching for a brook, just like the birds; I went all over the hell’s half acre, but could not find one. I decided to go to Prakash’s Store, no, not for the brook, but for some homemade cheese, marmalade and jam. I met this gentleman Prakash Ji at the store, and bought their special homemade peanut butter, plum jam, made from Mussoorie plums, a bottle of real strawberry jam, and blackcurrant jam.

Later, when I came down to Char Duan I met Rani who teaches Hindi to foreigners (one of the Hindi teachers in Landour). An unmarried lady of almost 35 years, living with her brother and sister-in-law. She has pleasing features of Tibetan people, a content and calm face like most of the people from mountains. Her light brown eyes were gleaming under the sun that occasionally peeped behind thick clouds.

We sat together and talked for a little time, while she was waiting for her French student. I gifted her the black-current jam I had bought from Prakash’s. It was hazy everywhere, and I could not see the far-flung Himalayan range, which made my camera of no use. I promised to myself I will come here again, because of these mountains, this mist, this beauty, and this generosity, I will surely come again.

They say: there is no escape once mountain in your blood. I harmonize with the statement.

The Majestic Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World!

Posted on August 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

Journey back over 100 years to the Pacific Northwest! Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort is reminiscent of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park. The resort opened May 28, 1994 and remains one of Disney’s most popular (and my favorite) resorts! The Pacific Northwest theme features both natural and Native American elements, and even includes a geyser that erupts each hour from 7:00 am-10:00 pm. The 8-story log-structured Wilderness Lodge is located near the Magic Kingdom and sits along the shores of Bay Lake. There are 729 rooms, including 37 King rooms, 25 Junior Suites, 4 Honeymoon Suites, 1 Yosemite Suite and 1Yellowstone Suite. Disney’s Wilderness Villas, a Disney Vacation Club Resort, is located just steps away from the main building. WLV guests are able to take advantage of all of the wonderful amenities of the main building. Guests can ride boats to the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. To get to the other theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney, hop on a bus for a quick ride!

As you walk into the majestic lobby of Wilderness Lodge, the very first thing you will see will be the beautiful centerpiece- the 82-foot stone fireplace. Nothing beats walking into this beautiful lobby to see a roaring fire (even in summer) and curling up in one of the many old-time wooden rockers near the fireplace. Guests of both Wilderness Lodge and Wilderness Lodge Villas check in at the main resort desk in the grand lobby. A concierge is also available. Guests on the 7-th floor concierge level can partake in the Old Faithful Club, where they can experience complimentary continental breakfasts as well as cheese and wine tastings.

The regular rooms at Wilderness Lodge are 340 square feet. Most have 2 queen-sized beds, but there are some rooms with King Beds and some even have bunk beds (along with a queen bed). Views consist of standard views, woods view, lodge view (of the DVC property), and courtyard views. The rooms contain a writing table and 3 chairs, an armoire with a TV, and a small-key operated safe to keep your valuables secure. In the bathroom, you will find a hair dryer and two sinks with a mirror in a separate vanity area. For those people who can’t tear themselves away from their computer, they will find high-speed Internet access. Upon request, you can get bed boards, bed rails and cribs (the Pak-n-Play type). The rooms are a bit small, but they are all well appointed, and all rooms have a small balcony or patio.

Recreation abounds at Wilderness Lodge! Kids and parents alike will love the Silver Creek Springs Pool. You’ll find daily recreational water activities in the afternoon. Lifeguards are on duty from 9:00 am-10:00 pm, and the pool is open from 7:00 am through midnight. Your little ones will love the rock water slide, and tiny tots will splash away in the kiddie pool! There are also two spas, and the pool is heated to a warm 82 degrees in cooler weather. You will find a sandy beach on the shores of Bay Lake (no swimming) with lounge chairs and a playground. Water lovers can rent watercraft such as water “mice”, canopy boats or pontoon boats. There are also fishing excursions available for both adults and kids. Bike rentals are available and there is a 3/4 mile path that starts at Disney’s Teton Boat and Bike Rentals that runs between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort and Campground. There is also an arcade and sand volleyball court. Tours are available at Wilderness Lodge as well- inquire about the Hidden Mickey Hunt List and the guided resort tours. Lucky families will be chosen to be a Flag Family. Inquire about this at check-in and be the daily lucky family that gets to go to the roof of Wilderness Lodge at 7:00 am to raise the flag for the day. What a view!!

Wilderness Lodge guests are fortunate enough to have some wonderful dining choices at their disposal! Whispering Canyon is right off of the lobby and is a great place for old-fashioned family fun! Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available. All-you-can-eat skillet breakfasts are served as are a la carte items. Lunch hours are from noon to 3 p.m. one of the best things atWhispering Canyon is the family skillet dinner that is served on a lazy-susan. An a la carte menu that includes sandwiches and salads is also available at lunchtime. Hours for dinner are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. An all-you-can-eat family style skillet dinner featuring barbecued beef, chicken, spare ribs, sausage and smoked turkey is offered. Meats are smoked on the premises. Priority Seating is recommended. And make sure that you ask for ketchup!

The signature dining experience at Wilderness Lodge is Artist Point. Food here is prepared in the style of America Northwest and includes items such as cedar plank salmon, grilled buffalo, and berry cobbler. You can dine overlooking the waterfall that leads down to the pool area.

The quick-service option at Wilderness Lodge is Roaring Fork, where you will find breakfast items, hamburgers, sandwiches and salads. This is where you will find the refillable resort mugs as well as desserts and self-serve ice cream.

For Walt Disney World keepsakes, sundries, snacks and Wilderness Lodge memorabilia, head to Wilderness Lodge Mercantile. This is a great shop, and one of my favorite resort shops. Wilderness Lodge also offers a kids club called The Cubs Den. The Cubs Den is for potty-trained children over age 4. Reservations are required to take advantage of The Cubs Den. In the lobby, you will also find an extremely talented caricaturist as well as a pin cart for all those pin traders out there!

Wilderness Lodge is a perfect resort for everyone! There is always something to do, and the lodge itself is absolutely stunning. Last time we were there, we saw ducks, bunnies, deer and baby armadillos. The kids were in awe by the beautiful surroundings! I highly recommend that you book your next trip to Walt Disney World and stay at Wilderness Lodge! Contact Magical Mousecapades for more information!


Shop Discount Auctions for Travel Bargains

Posted on July 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

No matter where you want to go or what you want to do, you’re likely to find travel auctions available to help make the trek easier on your wallet. The auctions that handle travel are generally found online in a number of places and will range from airline ticket auctions to all-inclusive outings.

As you look for the best travel auction deals, remember that there are a multitude of sites that provide these auctions. Which one you’re most comfortable with is up to you, but it does pay to check out the sites before diving in with a big bid on a travel auction offering. If you’re in the market and want to look at travel auction bargains, here are some types of sites to seek out:

* Larger auction sites. These often have a number of travel auction listings going at once. With offerings varying from international trips, complete with airfare, to those that involve more modest destinations, they can all be found online.

* Time share sites. These often have mechanisms for property owners to create some buzz for renting out their timeshares. Sites that cater to timeshare owners very often have their own auctions going to help owners get the most for their property’s rental.

* Ticket sites. Sometimes online sites that cater to ticket sales will have areas especially designed for travel auctions.

As you look for a discount travel auction online, there are some things to consider before making bids. These include:

* Exactly what kind of trip you’re looking for. Travel auction discounts can be found for just about any kind of trip to any destination. If you’re picky on location, dates and so on, make these determinations before you start trying to hunt for auctions.

* Prices. While travel deals can be found via auctions, it’s still a good idea to set a budget. Sometimes a hot commodity might be available that due to bidding wars ends up being anything but discount. If you allow yourself to go too far over budget, you won’t be getting a bargain even if it is a travel auction venue!

* Mode of transportation desired. Travel auctions can be found that include everything from cruises to helicopter flights to remote locations in the wilderness. Decide how you want to travel and where before looking for auction deals.

Once you’ve set a few parameters for you travel auction search, it’s a good idea to remember to check out the auctions closely before bidding. Remember that not everyone that offers auction items is reputable, but that many are.

Vacations can be expensive, but travel auction bargains can make them more affordable. When people book trips and find out they can’t take them, they’re often willing to let them go for very reasonable prices. Or, sometimes timeshare owners want to rent out their weeks in luxury accommodations for a profit. Whatever the case, online auctions can provide real savings for travelers. The key is knowing where and how to looking for the savings.