Travel Alaska — Day 1

August 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

Just before our day 1 —

Anchorage was first stop in our Alaska trip. On a warm Wednesday night, we hopped onto our flight from Seattle. By the time we reached Anchorage’s Ted Stevens airport, it was around 11pm. The first thing we noticed — it wasn’t dark. Summer in Alaska is very different from summer in Portland. Here, sun rises around 4 20 am and sets around 11 30 pm. But, even after sunset, it doesn’t get dark!

We booked our rooms in GuestHouse Inn, downtown Anchorage. We made a phone call to the hotel and a shuttle came to pick us up. It is probably a 10 ~ 12 mins drive from the airport. We checked in and slept well.

Day 1 —

Our day 1 plan was to travel from Anchorage to Denali. The usual way did for other vacations was to use a car or a flight, but this travel was different and special — Alaska Railroad. Yes, a train travel. Back in India, during my childhood days, I would be so excited when my parents took me to my grandparents’ place. The excitement was two folded – I see my grandparents and I get to travel in a train. The sound of wheels moving over the train track, the sudden sound when train switches to a different track and the view from a window seat were few wonderful moments I cherish even now.

Our train from Anchorage was at 8 15 am. The railroad depot is very close to the hotel where we stayed. We got up early in the morning, checked out of the hotel and had breakfast at Sizzlin’ Cafe which was just a five minute walk across the street. We took a cab to the railroad depot and got ourselves ready to board the train. By the way, we can check in our bags and they will be delivered to respective hotels in Denali!

The train journey was an absolute beauty. If you are a nature lover, you will enjoy a lot. On a clear day and if you are lucky, you will see Mt. Mckinley during the journey itself. During the whole journey, a guide is available who would explain the area through which the train passes. Having lunch on a train is also special. It was an enjoyable lunch in the train. We reached Denali at 3 40 PM.

We had booked our stay at Denali River cabins. We got down from the train and there was a bus waiting for us. We reached our rooms and refreshed ourselves. There is a restaurant named Denali Roadhouse, just next to the cabins. We could have finished the day here, but we wanted to do something for the evening. So after having food, we chose to have fun with ATV ride. There are different options to choose from Denali wilderness adventure ATV rides. We gave a call to them and they picked us up from our cabins. After our fun ride with ATVs, they dropped us back at the cabins. Little tired, but enjoyed day 1!

In short, our Day 1 schedule looked like this:
Rail travel from Anchorage to Denali.

* Ticket cost $150 (per person)
* Depart: 8 15 am
* Arrive: 3 40 pm
* http://alaskarailroad.com/OurTrains/DenaliStar/tabid/99/Default.aspx

Hotel check-in.

* Denali River Cabins & Cedars Lodge – Milepost 231.1 on George Parks Highway Denali National Park, Alaska 99755
* http://www.denalirivercabins.com

ATV tour

* Denali wilderness adventure ATV ride.
* Costs $160 for two seater ATV. Time either 5pm or 7pm.
* http://www.denaliatv.com/DenaliWilderness.html

Stay tuned for day 2 in Alaska!

Travel Alaska !

July 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hello !! It was travel time !

This June, we had a fun filled trip to Alaska. Before I post day by day details, some general information on Alaska trip:

The usual question is on the number of days. We had four full days in our trip. I must accept that, this is not enough. As you might already know, Alaska is the biggest state in the United States. There are lots of places to visit in Alaska and to cover most of the places, one might need two weeks. Maybe, more than two weeks🙂

Since we had a short trip, I should agree that this trip was a busy one. A little bit of tiredness during our trip, but our main idea was to visit most of the places in short amount of time. We were okay for a hectic trip.

The next question my friends ask – When is the right time to visit Alaska? It depends. Fall would be the best time. Summer is fine too. You will have a different experience in winter. It also depends on what you want to see in Alaska. For example, if you plan to see Northern lights, then winter is the right time.

Lastly, in my situation, we were a group of 8 people. To be more precise, three families. Few of them came from India on a vacation. When I was in Alaska, I interacted with other folks who were there on vacation. They were surprised that we didn’t do any fishing. So, heads up: no fishing plan in this trip!

Surely, I would have missed something in this post. Feel free to post a comment if you want to know anything more.
Soon, I will post what we did on our day 1 in Alaska.

Cheers!

Scenic drive – Zion National Park – Part III

February 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Okay. I have been really busy and I am late in posting part III of Zion national park. So, if you had read my last post, you would be wondering what after Angels Landing. At Zion, you would not want to miss a 7 mile roundtrip scenic drive. When you start driving in the scenic drive, first thing you will see is the virgin river which flows alongside the road. It looks really beautiful with the trees and the rocks. Throughout the drive you will feel and hear the sound of river water flowing through the rocks. Amazing and colorful!

We started driving and within few minutes, we just pulled over and parked our car. With few steps, we went down near the river and clicked few pictures. We just walked along the river for few minutes and then got back into our car.

Virgin River

Keep driving and you will get signs for ‘Court of Patriarchs’. This is a good spot to stop and click few pictures. I have heard that it is good spot to get sunrise shots. There is also a trail out there, which is easy and one can spend some time there. Next, if you continue to drive along the scenic road, you will find an area where its possible to park your vehicle and then take shots like the one below. Its a good background and it provides a good view.

Zion scenic drive

Again, keep going and you will see signs for Grotto and Angel’s landing. If you want to do hiking, you can actually choose emerald pool hike. There are three hikes here: lower pool hike, middle pool hike and upper pool hike. They are easy/medium hikes and are good ones. Here is a shot from our hikes in emerald pools. Upper pool hikes provide a wonderful view of the Zion canyons.

Emerald Pool hike

Next, drive through the scenic drive, you will see signs for ‘Weeping rock’. It is a small hike, which will lead you a rock where water slowly trickles down the rock (weeping effect). When you start towards weeping rock, you will also find signs for ‘Observation point hike’. This, I believe is a 8 mile round trip hike and will consume a day. I have heard that it is a strenuous and good hike. The view the top would be spectacular. If you are ardent lover of hiking, I would suggest you to take this (We didn’t have time to this hike).

IMG_4979

Enough of hiking? I would say so. You can get back on road and start driving towards ‘Temple of Sinawava’. While going towards this temple, you will see signs for ‘Big bend’. If you do Angels landing then ‘Big bend’ will be visible. My blog post on Angels Landing has a view of Big Bend. Temple of Sinawava is known as the starting point for ‘The Narrows’. Firstly, getting a parking spot is very difficult. If you do not find a spot, you can try to park your vehicle on roadsides,

Here, you can find virgin river flowing through the rocks and into the canyons. You can spend some time here and walk towards the canyons. This path is known as ‘Riverside walk’. This is a casual walk and we did this during sunset. ‘The Narrows’ – is water hiking and it requires a whole day. So, you can do this on a different day. Scenic drive is done and you can drive back to your room to take rest!

Oh wait, some wildlife pictures:

Male Deer

A Squirrel

Angels Landing, Zion National Park – Part II

December 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

In my last post, I mentioned possible places to stay and eat when you go to Zion national park. In this post I am going to write about a hike in Zion. You don’t want to miss this one.

When you decide to stay in Springdale, the closest park entrance is the south entrance. Zion national park’s visitor center is just near this entrance. As usual, visitor center has lots of information. You can do lots of things in Zion and it really depends on your interest. Remember, that when you go in summer, Zion provides shuttle service inside the park and we are not allowed to take our car. In winter, you are allowed to drive your own vehicle. Check nps website for more details. Lets get back to the main topic.

Something you do not want to miss when you are in Zion – Angels Landing. You will hear lots of people talk about this. It is a popular 2.5 miles hike to the top and the last 0.5 miles – crazy! You will go through a path where you will find cliffs on both the sides and yeah, you don’t want to look down. But, people who hike will love it.

So, sleep well the previous night and get up early. You need to go out of your lodge or cabin to see Zion at sunrise. Its absolutely colorful and vivid. Take some pictures and enjoy the view. When you start driving from visitor center, less than 0.5 miles you will see a T-junction and a small bridge. See signs for Zion scenic drive and take a left. You are on your way to Angels Landing.

Keep driving and you will be captivated by the rock formations and those mesmerizing colors. Look for sign named ‘The Grotto’. Park your vehicle in the parking area and get ready for the hike. Pack your hiking bag with some energy bars, light snacks and water. Be sure to apply sunscreen and wear a cap.

You are going to climb to top of this mountain (at left):

Angels Landing

Angels Landing

Angels landing is a very well maintained hiking path. You will slowly see switchbacks and they will be gaining elevation. Keep going. You will reach a point where you will see the awesome path you have travelled. Look at my picture taken while we were hiking:

Our path to Angels Landing

Our path to Angels Landing

Keep going and now you will leave this view and go around a canyon named ‘refrigerator canyon’. Yes, it feels like being inside a refrigerator but, not dont worry, it would not be so cold. Keep walking along the ‘hair pin’ bends and you will reach Scout lookout. Take rest and enjoy the view. Few head back to where they started. Few carry on to top of the mountain. Yes, those 0.5 miles to the top. I would not advise taking small children to the top.

One of my shots taken along the last 0.5 miles:

The big bend view

The big bend view

It is better to keep your cameras safe because, it involves using your hands and you will hold on to the chains along your path. It is a one way route meaning you have to allow people to pass or they have to allow you to climb up. If you are interested, look below for some scary-awesome views. Again, keep going until you figure out the finish line. And at that point you will witness one of the spectacular views of Zion Canyons. A breathtaking view. You will feel satisfied and a sense of achievement. Spend some time and take lots of photos.

On top of Angels Landing

On top of Angels Landing

Done! Now, go back along the same route and get back to the parking lot. Relax. You will feel hungry and as I mentioned in my last post, head to Zion lodge where you can eat a late lunch and get back your energy. You will still have some time, so drive along the scenic drive and take pictures. You probably would be done for the day and head back to your room. Have a good sleep and dream about the Zion Canyons. I will talk about points to visit in scenic drive in my next post.

Zion National Park – Part 1

December 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

IMG_4788

I started to travel a lot this year. Apart from writing posts which would come under technical category, I always wanted to write something about my travel. I hope this gives some help to people who plan to visit the same place I visited. Recently, I visited Zion National Park, Utah. A wonderful place, spectacular views and awesome colors. If I get another chance to visit, I would love to go and spend some more time.

Best time to visit: 

I would not be the best person to answer this question. But, we visited Zion during the Thanksgiving week. There was no snow and no rainfall. It was cold when the day started but became warm and bright with clear blue skies. As expected, evenings and night were cold. But, it would be manageable with one good jacket.

Temperature (high): 16 F to 19 F.

Possible option for stay: 

Again, I cannot give a perfect answer to this, but let me tell you where we stayed and how our experience was. We stayed at Best Western Inn, Springdale. The price was nominal and our stay was very good. The rooms were clean and sufficient for Zion visitors. The best thing we liked during our stay: complimentary breakfast at Switchback. Good and filling breakfasts everyday. Best western is just outside the park entrance and it does not take much time to drive to both the park entrance and visitor center. Refer http://bestwesternutah.com/hotels/best-western-zion-park-inn

We also had chance to eat at Zion lodge (Red Rock Grill). Good and tasty food. Both dining and lodge looked very pleasant. This lodge is inside Zion national park and it would be a good option to stay. Refer http://www.zionlodge.com/

There are many options in Springdale which is close to south entrance of Zion national park. Few people also stay in Hurricane, UT, but that would be close to 25 miles of travel (one way) to south side entrance.

Places to eat:

I would suggest Switchback and Red Rock Grill. Of course, Subways help us when we are traveling by road. We also had dinner at Thai Sapa. This Thai restaurant had good food but pricey. Springdale is a small town and most of the restaurants were priced higher compared to normal pricing.

My future posts will consist more details on what we covered during our stay at Zion.

P.S: I am not writing this post for Best Western Inn/Switchback/Zion Lodge/Red Rock Grill. These are my own personal opinions.

Playing with Git commands

October 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

In this post, let us see how we can use some of the Git commands to create a temporary branch, commit, merge with the master branch and handle conflicts while merging. I faced a situation where the file I was modifying was also being modified by my teammate and that particular file was pushed to the master branch in remote repository. During merge process, I could see the conflict and resolved it manually, then pushed the file with my changes. Open Git bash through which we can enter Git commands.

Assumption: We have modified a file, say fileA in master branch.

Here are commands:

git status

The above command will provides the list of files, which have been modified (if there are any new files added, they would be under untracked files).

Next, let us see on which branch we are currently working with:

git branch

The above command will show which branch we are currently in. If there are multiple branches, then the one which has a ‘*’ sign in front of the branch is the current working branch. For example

*master

exampleBranch1

exampleBranch2

Now let us create a temporary branch and name it sampleBranch.

git branch sampleBranch

The above command creates a new branch named sampleBranch. So now if you type in ‘git branch’, both master and sampleBranch will be listed.

Now, lets switch to this new branch and do all our changes, commits etc.

git checkout sampleBranch

The above command moves the HEAD to the new branch. From now on, if we make any commits, it will be made into sampleBranch branch. The command also  lists the files, which are modified in the branch sampleBranch (This will be the same set of files which got modified in the master branch). And yes, if you now type in ‘git branch’, the ‘*’ sign will be in front of sampleBranch.

Next,

git commit -a

Above command will commit all the modified files in the temporary branch (which is the sampleBranch in our case). Another point to note: ‘-a’ in ‘commit’ command will commit all the modified files. If you need to commit only particular set of files, then use ‘git commit path/filename’.

Now, lets switch back to master

git checkout master

As you did before, above command switches to the master branch. Now let us get the latest changes from the remote repository.

git pull

With above command, all the new changes would have come into the master branch. Let us now switch to sampleBranch and start merging process.

git checkout sampleBranch

git merge master

Merge command tries to merge modifications from sampleBranch with master branch. When you see conflict indication from output of merge command, then, we have an interesting situation: to resolve conflict. If we open the file (here fileA),  then we would be seeing the following somewhere in the file:

<<<<<<< HEAD:

///Some code

=======

/// Some other code

>>>>>>> master

“Some code” indicates the code modifications under the HEAD. “Some other code” indicates the code modifications under our master branch. Git could not resolve this conflict and hence asking us to resolve this before it can complete the merge process.

From above snippet, merge ‘some code’ and ‘some other code’ manually and delete the following lines in the file:

<<<<<<< HEAD

=======

>>>>>>> master

After resolving the conflict, lets switch back to master and merge with sampleBranch.

git checkout master

git merge sampleBranch

Master was already up to date and now we have merged changes from sampleBranch. We are almost there now. We just need to pull once and push our changes to the remote repository.

git pull

git push

Done! We have pushed our changes.

Last note: Merging and conflict resolution can be done in the master branch itself. In my case, I had to test the version that was in the master branch and hence I did not want to make changes on those. Therefore, I had to create a temporary branch, make changes and then test the separately.

 

 

How to add Boost static libraries (.a files) in Xcode project?

September 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

In our previous post, we saw how we can build Boost library in iOS platform. After the library is built, we need to add the ‘.a’ files in the Xcode project. This post provides how we are going to add these ‘.a’ files in a Xcode project.

To compile and link to any static third party libraries for the iPhone, you need to do the following:

  1. Build the library as a static lib for the different platforms (armv6 and i386 at the least).
  2. Use lipo to create a universal library from the individual static libraries built above.  ‘lipo’ utility can be used to build a universal library for both i386 and arm.
    1. For debug, this got built in this folder: /<MyWorkingDirectory>/some-path/debug-version/prefix/lib
    2. For release, this got built in this folder: /<MyWorkingDirectory>/some-path/release-version/prefix/lib
    3. Drag and drop the header files into your xcode project or just add the header path under the build settings of the project.

Debug, any architecture and any SDK:

i.     “/<MyWorkingDirectory>/some-path/debug-version/src/boost_1_49_0”

Release, any architecture and any SDK:

i.     “/<MyWorkingDirectory>/some-path/release-version/src/boost_1_49_0”

Drag and drop relevant universal libs into your xcode project. For example if thread.a and filesystem.a are the required libs, then just drag them from the folders mentioned in 2.a and 2.b to your Xcode project. (Note: It is better to create a separate folder under your project in the navigation area and then drop these .a files).

That is it! You are now ready to use Boost APIs.

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