As Fourth of July long weekend was approaching, Shusmita wanted to travel to a nearby place and stay overnight to relax a bit from the city crowd. So Monterey/Carmel area on scenic Highway One or Napa Valley came to our mind immediately. I sent an email to my close friends/families here in Bay Area at 3rd week of June asking if anyone else was interested to join us. In a lunch party of Hasinur’s house where we watched Brazil’s win over Chili in Fifa world cup 2010 South Africa, we found many of them there are interested for a group outing. So I, Sumit Bhai & Wali Bhai started searching for good places and hotels in Big Sur as this was what all the group members thought the right place for an overnight stay in the nature. We booked 3 suites in Big Sur Lodge one of which had an attached kitchen.
We started for Monterey from Wali Bhai’s house a little after 8 o’clock in the morning of 4th July. There were 8 cars in total 2 of which joined us a little later on the way. First we went to 17 miles drive where there were some good beaches and vista points. It was windy and I thanked Shusmita for bringing extra jackets. We stopped over Bird Rock and Spanish Bay. As is the case for most of the SF bay area beaches, the water was cold. But that didn’t stop from some of us going down the water and playing with the sand. The kids were happy too.
Our next stop was in Carmel by the sea in a seafood restaurant. We enjoyed the lunch there in a slow manner although we had to walk a bit because of the distance between parking spot and the restaurant. We headed towards Pfeiffer Beach from there but that beach was temporarily closed for 2 hours due to heavy crowd leaving no parking spot available. So we went back to Big Sur Lodge and started settling on the rooms. It was not easy to maintain 8 cars aligned and follow each other in sync but we made it.
We were 15 adults, 4 kids and 2 infants in the group. Let me do the name count here – Ashik, Shumita & Ahyan; Sumit Bhai, Shumi Bhabi & Ayana; Wali Bhai, Asha Bhabi & Omera; Shahriar, Sachi & Safwan; Ezaz, Shaki & Mahi; Nitol & Shoma; Hasinur, Sigma & Nuryeen; Ahmed Amin (the only bachelor guy). We allocated room 17 for the guys, room 19 for the girls and room 59 for Hasinur and Nitol’s families.
Shahriar prepared an excellent puffed rice, chanachur combination with tomato, oil, onion & what what I can’t even recognize. But what I recognize is that by night I finished 5 plates of that mix! J For kids we brought some food from outside but looked like people are not that much enthusiast about those foods and instead preferred banana, nuteela and bread that we brought from Fremont.
We had a grand adda in room 17 till late night. We played Antakhshari dividing the group into 2 teams – Ladies & Gents. The competition end in a stalemate as none of us could defeat the other group although to tell you frankly, the ladies would have defeated us unless we would do some trick to modify couple of songs that didn’t start with the correct words. Or may be the ladies did the same trick against us who knows. The gathering was put to hold after 2 solo performances by Shahriar & Sachi. Sachi was the lyricist, musician and singer of her song and this made me think we have so many talents around us in this group.
We guys sat down in a guys-only chat later in the night where we started re-discovering ourselves from the time when we were back in Bangladesh. While some of us slept after the free-floating adda Shahriar, Ezaz, Wali Bhai & Sumit Bhai had energy left in them to still play 29 for half an hour after that chat.
In the morning, all I know is that Shahriar & Ezaz families went to Pfeiffer beach to see sun rise before others even woke up from bed. I found Shusmita a bit ill, as the trip had taken its toll on her. The fever/cold that Ahyan had couple of days earlier, got hold of her and me. Or may be it was just due to the weather change. We checked out of hotel a little earlier than noon and went to Pfeiffer beach again. This time I, Shahriar and Amin did a little bit of rock climbing there in the left side of the beach. I was very close to the top but decided to stop when I started slipping as after 2 days I have a very important mission to finish and it’s not good time to get injured at this point of time. Shusmita liked the place – a small but beautiful beach with high & colorful waves and told she wants to come back here when the weather will be warm in near future.
We drove back to Monterey to have our lunch at Maha’s Lebanese Restaurant. The food was very disappointing there. I, Shusmita, Ahyan & Amin sat down in a local coffee shop for an hour while the rest of the group went back to Fremont. Needless to say, at night when we came back we were exhausted after crossing all the long weekend traffic & trying to cope up with the runny nose and headaches. It was a great trip considering such a big group could stick together for 2 days.
First July was my birthday and hence when I came back home from office, I found Shusmita arranged a surprise birthday party for me. Last night Shoma and Nitol also came with a cake around midnight and I was surprised even if sleepy. But today I started getting some hints even before coming home. Every year I say Shusmita that I am aging enough not to celebrate birthday with bells & whistles but still she does something every year. And you guess what, I don’t even take a leave from office or allow myself anything special in my birthdays. But this birthday was fun compared to other years. I started the day with a practice hike of Mission Peak with Shahriar for couple of hours early in the morning at 5 AM. By the time I came back from hiking and having coffee, Ahyan and Shusmita were still sleeping, so I could prepare Ahyan for school and drop him on time.
My Aunt (Fufu), my 2 cousin sisters (Rumi Apa & Ripa), their sons (Iram & Siyam) and brother-in-law (Touhid Bhai) came to New York the same day. Ripa and Siyam will come to my house 11th of July and the others will go to Toronto. But they will also come later in the August in my house. So I had to be on the phone for long time last few days.
Finally the day has come to start for hiking Mount Whitney. Should I say it hiking or climbing? Looking at the snow level in pictures posted in forums by people who recently went to Mount Whitney, it may be either of the two. This time we are under-prepared compared to our Yosemite Half Dome hiking last year. I have recently purchased trekking poles from REI that I have never used in my life. However, I am still positive to go till the summit and I hope Shahriar & Tanjeem are too. We decided to start at 6 AM in the morning tomorrow and come back Saturday night (10th July) staying 3 nights at Comfort Inn of Lone Pine. Our hiking permit is for 4 persons at 9th July and as Sayeem couldn’t join us, it will be 3 of us. Shusmita has cooked some food for us and I know Shahriar & Tanjeem are also bringing some foods for the next 4 days.