Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

First, the settling into the new house, and all those home improvement projects.

And some significant family events.

Mia came home in March and celebrated her first birthday in December.

Mia in action

Mia in action

My niece, Ira, made her presence felt with her non-stop activity and, in Reva’s words, comic relief.

Never-sit-still Ira

Never-sit-still Ira

Kelu came home 14/15 years ago, and refused to leave. This November, he ran off to the hills and never came back. Missing you, Kelubhau!

Kelu

Kelu

For me, it was the year of the water sports.

And finally, all that delicious travel!

Malaysia

Canada

USA

and, of course, Indonesia!

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Four cities, four rides

My life was eventful last month, what with the long vacation and its aftermath (all happy). One of the highlights was the cycling trips in different cities. So after I completed a ride yesterday at one of my favorite events – car free in Jakarta, I thought it would be fun to post all the routes, and relive those rides. Here they are, in reverse order:

Sunday, July 1: Car free Sunday in Jakarta. We usually park the car at Plaza Senayan, which is a km away from Jl. Sudirman with all the action. After the ride it’s mandatory to have a leisurely breakfast at Starbucks to put back all those burned calories, and then some more. My friend, Prachi, did her first ride yesterday,  and is presently lamenting the lack of appropriate cushioning!

Wednesday, June 20: All around Lake Monona, Madison WI. The subject of my last post, with no pictures yet (am still sorting them out!). Unforgettable ride all by myself, trying to decipher the route with the billowing map, and getting rewarded with some views of scenic neighborhoods of Madison. Rukmini took me out to a Lebanese lunch after that. I think we skipped the baklava, but compensated with salted caramel cupcakes from Cupcakes-a-gogo later.

Thursday, June 14: Central Park, NY (where else?). Souvik & I started this route with a bit of trouble with my bike – flat tires and grumpy me – but we cheered up at the sight of bare-chested runners (aspirational for Souvik, eye candy for me). We could’ve done a couple of rounds more, but it was lunchtime. We missed lunch, but had mini cupcakes “Baked by Melissa“. Oh, you think there’s a theme to this post that has nothing to do with cycling? 🙂

Wednesday, June 6: Twice around Stanley Park, Vancouver. Sigh! That’s all I want to say here. If you want to know more, I did a whole separate post on this one here. What did we eat? Ummm, cupcakes and ice-cream at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory ;-).

Day 19: My weekly big bicycle ride

My last day of vacation dawned hot and sunny, but I was not to be deterred from the desired cycle ride around a lake. Madison has 3 lakes of different sizes. We went kayaking on the smallest Lake Wingra, and people watched on the terrace at the largest Lake Mendota, but the mid-sized Lake Monona just begged for a cycling trip.
Armed with a bike and a big biking map I set out for the ride through charming lakeside neighbourhoods and parks. Biking in Madison is Very evolved, with bike paths all over the city, and there are Rules to be followed! A lot of the route around the lake had almost no traffic, making it a pleasant, unpolluted ride that took me a little over 2 hours to complete.
Rukmini worked while I cycled, then we met up for more food and more shopping before heading home for a home-cooked Palak Paneer meal (and a sinful cupcake).
Uploading photos is going to take some more time, because I’m all packed and checked in, ready for my flight back.
And that is the end of my wonderful vacation!

Day 18: Resting my feet and Stuffing my face

That’s all I did on Tuesday, under a nice shady tree at James Madison park for the entire morning. Finished reading a book, watched some people play on the grass, kids out on a nature walk from school, and a late bird looking for leftover worms. Such was my stillness that an enterprising spider thought I would be the right spot for his next cobweb!

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The hunger pangs soon set in. A search on trip advisor came up with Bradbury’s, reputed for crepes. Yumm!! That’s mine, strawberry with mascarpone and mint:

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Rukmini collected me soon after, and we spent the afternoon shopping for shoes (nice boots) and clothes (bo-oring!). Next came a round of putt putt golf, my big opportunity to be silly.

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Walking around for 20 meters had us ready for the awesome Michael’s frozen custard – supposedly it is never frozen, and thankfully not custard at all. Just fresh ice-cream. Nice!

There was still some day left, for a quick visit to Rukmini’s garden patch to harvest spinach and coriander, then tapas dinner at Eno Vino.

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Day 17: On foot in Madison city…er..town

Yesterday was my day about town while Rukmini went to work. I started off with a leisurely breakfast at Starbucks with an eyeful of the Capitol across the street.
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Fortified by the cookie crumble mochaccino, or something like that, I started my walk around the Capitol square, taking in the sights, and the museums (closed on Monday’s). Then came the tour of the Capitol, with an excellent guide and interesting stories, and a walk through the Senate and Supreme Court and other important offices of the Wisconsin government.
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Rukmini joined me for a light Italian lunch at Francesca’s al Lago, then took off again while I walked over to the Monona Terrace designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, overlooking the Monona Lake at one side and the Capitol at the other. I have the FLW coloured pencils jigsaw puzzle, and I so wanted to buy the transparent colouring books and the suncatchers, but settled for the fridge magnets instead, to be able to stay hands-free while walking around, rest of the afternoon.

I then strolled over to State Street, the #1 attraction in downtown Madison, taking in the eclectic shops full of pretty, colourful, mostly useless stuff, and couldn’t help buying a few for myself.

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After being on my feet for 5/6 hours, it was time to give them a break, (read: to be whisked off by Rukmini to get our nails done). Oh bliss! Foot massage equals rejuvenation, and fresh local beer and cheese curds (local favourite pub snack) gives a spurt of energy for…..shopping!
We ended the day on a (relatively) light note with some sushi at Muramoto (numerous and excellent vegetarian options for me!), and an episode of our favourite TV show!

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Day 16: Falling in love… With Madison

My friend, Rukmini, came down to Chicago yesterday to drive me to Madison, the final leg of my very exciting holiday. Everyone I spoke to before that was amused by the contrast between the big city and small town vibes, while I was thinking about putting up my feet and relaxing all the 3 days here.
We had a cheerful 2-drive up, singing along with the latest Bollywood numbers, and laughing over inane matters. Pulling into town, Rukmini decided to give me an orientation to the town. Instantly I was a fan! There was the Capitol building, the University campus, and best of all, the lakes!
Later in the evening, we went kayaking on Lake Wingra, how could I not be supremely happy? All thoughts of chilling out flew through the window, and plans were made afresh for cycling and walking about.
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Next we headed to Memorial Union on Lake Mendota for some locally brewed beer and spectacular sunset.

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Finally we strolled down State Street and got some night shots of the Capitol before calling it a night.