31 October, 2021

Top Places to Visit in Idaho, USA


Idaho, the less popular state is a land of many waterfalls, mountains, rivers, and hot springs. 80% of the state is public land. Idaho is known as The Gem State as it produces 72 types of precious and semi-precious stones. Idaho is also a number one Potato state producing almost 1/3 of all U.S Potatoes.

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We could visit Idaho after our Yellowstone trip. 

You can read about Yellowstone here:

How to Plan A vacation to Yellowstone

Yellowstone Itinerary Day #1 - Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and West thumb geyser basin

Yellowstone Itinerary Day #2 - Midway Geyser Basin and Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook

Yellowstone itinerary Day #2 (Part 2) - Upper geyser basin and Lower geyser basin, Old Faithful

Yellowstone Itinerary Day #3 - Mammoth Hot springs, Roosevelt Arch, and Norris geyser basin

From the Yellowstone's North Entrance at Gardiner, we drove up to Mesa Falls, which is 2.5 hrs. 

Alas, the Idaho board is full of stickers :-)


Mesa Falls:

To reach Mesa Falls, we took US 20 to Mesa Falls Scenic byway at Harriman State Park. The entry is $5 per vehicle and this trip is completely worth the time and money.

From the Mesa Falls visitor center, it is a short hike to the Upper Mesa falls view. When we visited this in June, the place is roaring with the sound of gushing water and the falls are majestic with a rainbow. The viewpoint gives a fantastic view without the need for a hike. 

The Lower Falls is a 10.4-mile moderate hike. We couldn't take that hike with kids.

After visiting the falls, we drove to The Craters of the Moon National monument and Reserve. This monument is around 3 hrs from the Mesa falls scenic byway.

The Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve:

The drive is mostly along the drylands without any towns or civilization. The National monument preserves around 50,000 acres of volcanic formations and lava flows. This place is desolate and lifeless, but yet it amazes us with the peculiar landscape which looks like the surface of the moon.

The entry to the monument is $15 per vehicle. In this monument, you can see cinder cones, lava tubes, lava rivers, spatter cones etc., 

We took the map from the visitor center and started our 7-mile scenic loop drive. Our first hike is Devil's Orchard nature trail. This is a paved easy 0.5-mile loop that gives a good introduction to the park and features like lava fragments sitting amidst beds of cinders. 

We stopped at all the points mentioned in the scenic loop. The next interesting hike was to Inferno cone.

Inferno Cone:

An Inferno cone is a cinder cone. Climbing the steep 0.5 miles out and back cone trail is a bit tough when it's windy. But, the climb is very interesting to us and to kids. When we reached the top at the elevation of 6,181 feet, the 360-degree views are amazing.

Cinder cones form when gas-rich volcanic froth erupts high into the air and then piles in a mound.
This is the most interesting hike in the whole monument. 

The next stops are Snowcone and Spatter cone trails. 

These "miniature" volcanoes form during the final stages of a fissure type eruption. As gases escape and pressure is released, the lava becomes thick and pasty. When these sticky globs of lava plop to the surface, they pile up to form spatter cones. Most spatter cones are much smaller than cinder cones. They are rarely more than 50 feet high. The steep sides of a spatter cone protect the ice and snow inside from the hot summer sun. One spatter cone, Snow Cone, has been known to hold ice all summer.
Next, we hiked to see the caves through the Caves trail. To go inside the caves, we need a permit. 

There are more than 500 caves discovered in the monument. There are 3 types of caves - Lava tubes, fissure caves, and differential weather caves.

Lava tubes are formed when the cooling exterior of an active lava flow insulated the molten river within allowing it to continue to flow. In this way lava sometimes flowed for many miles underground until the source was cut off or diverted leaving behind an empty space or “cave.”
Fissure caves are found within the the deep cracks that make up the Great Rift. Some of these caves are remarkably deep, including one particular fissure that may be passable to a depth of 650 feet (200 meters) from the surface. The King's Bowl area is an excellent place to view the Great Rift but entry into these caves is restricted due to extreme safety hazards within the caves.
Differential Weather caves were formed when volcanic material was hollowed out by wind, rain and frost. These caves are relatively rare and difficult to find.

We drove to Idaho falls and stayed there for the night.

Shoshone Falls:

The next day we drove to Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls. These falls are known as 'Niagara of the West.
At 212 feet long and 900 feet wide, this is one of the largest natural waterfalls in USA.

Perrine Bridge:

On the way to Shoshone falls park, we got down near the Perrine bridge which is 1500 ft long across the Snake river canyon. This bridge offers pedestrian walkways with beautiful views of the river and canyon. 

This bridge is near Twin falls, about 10 mins south of I-84. Perrine Coulee Falls is around 10 mins from the Perrine bridge. So, if you have time, please plan to visit it. On the highway, there is a parking lot near the hairpin bend to get a view of these falls and it is very easy to miss it. 

We reached Shoshone Falls park by 11 am or so. The entry to the park is $5 per vehicle. It was not as spectacular as we expected. It seemed like the water flow is completely controlled by the dam. So, water is not released from all sides yet when we checked from the viewpoint. 

It is definitely a beautiful waterfall, but after watching the majestic Mesa falls and the Grand canyon of Yellowstone, these fell short of the expectation.
The drive to Shoshone falls is scenic though.

After Shoshone falls, we started our return journey to Colorado Springs.

We feel fortunate to have visited these beautiful places in the least visited state of Idaho. How do you like this travelogue? Let me know in the comments.

See you next with more travelogues..

Until next time,


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27 October, 2021

Elevation by Stephen King - [Book Review]

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 Book Details:

Title: Elevation

Author: Stephen King

Genre: Thriller, Lesbian Fiction

Publisher: Scribner

Print length: 146 pages

Source: A copy from the local library

Blurb :

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

Purchase Link:

My Review :

Which Book lover doesn't know Stephen King and his thrilling stories? But, this might not be his most popular work.

The Elevation is the story of Scott who experiences continuous weight loss without the effect of showing off physically. At this age, many would have dreamed of this!

As he is perplexed with his weight loss, he doesn't waste his time while his weight is racing to zero. As a good samaritan in the Conservative town of Castle Rock, he does something to make everyone respect the Lesbian couple and their restaurant. 

There isn't much else other than this in the story. Why does he mystically lose his weight? what triggered it? Why gravity of the Earth completely ignores him? There are no answers in the book.

Yes, it's a mystery unsolved by the end of the book. That made me give less rating.

The narrative is good, the characters are great (not many). The book cover is perfect and the title is apt. 

My Rating:


About the Author:

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His first crime thriller featuring Bill Hodges, MR MERCEDES, won the Edgar Award for best novel and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award. Both MR MERCEDES and END OF WATCH received the Goodreads Choice Award for the Best Mystery and Thriller of 2014 and 2016 respectively.

King co-wrote the bestselling novel Sleeping Beauties with his son Owen King, and many of King's books have been turned into celebrated films and television series including The Shawshank Redemption, Gerald's Game and It.

King was the recipient of America's prestigious 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for distinguished contribution to American Letters. In 2007 he also won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He lives with his wife Tabitha King in Maine.

Until next time,

25 October, 2021

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth - [Book Review]


 Book Details:

Title: The Family Next Door

Author: Sally Hepworth

Genre: Domestic thriller, Contemporary Fiction, Women Fiction

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Print length: 335 pages

Source: A copy from the local library

Blurb :

A gripping domestic page-turner full of shocking reveals, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Amanda Prowse and Kerry Fisher.

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It's the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn't fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange's compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won't let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park - and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread - and they'll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.

Purchase Link:

My Review :

A good Women's Fiction that I read recently. This is the story of the neighborhood in Pleasanton court in Australia. It is majorly, the story surrounding 3 women and their families - Anne, Essie, Fran, and their new Neighbour Isabelle. 

Anne is an entrepreneur with 2 sons and her husband Ben manages his photo studio. Ben is very helpful and unlike other men, he pitches in to help Anne with managing kids, home and work. But, Anne realizes that all is not as well it seems.

Fran is a smart working woman who is on a maternity break with her second daughter Ava, whereas her husband Nigel is a perfect match for her intelligence and her older daughter is exactly like her father. Her life is smooth as a perfect couple until an extramarital affair ruins the peace of the family.

Essie is blessed to have a handsome and understanding husband Ben and her mom Barbara staying nearby. She suffered from postpartum depression with her older daughter. After her second delivery, she is waiting for a good friend in the neighborhood and is happy to find Isabelle. 

The story goes through the dark the secrets of their families, the insecurities, and emotions. This book is very nice to read as a woman as it deals with some important issues new moms face like postpartum depression. I can completely relate to the characters and their feelings.

Surprisingly, this is also a thriller with a twist in the end. So, overall, it's a great read. 

My Rating:


About the Author:

Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) The Mother's Promise (2017), The Family Next Door (2018) and The Mother In Law (April 2019). Sally's books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”.

Sally's novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 10+ languages.

Until next time,

23 October, 2021

The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title: The Accidental Time Machine 

Author: Joe Haldeman

Genre: Science Fiction (Sci-fi)

Publisher: Gateway

Print length: 222 pages

Source: A copy from the local library

Blurb :

Grad-school dropout Matt Fuller is toiling as a lowly research assistant at MIT when, while measuring quantum relationships between gravity and light, his calibrator disappears - and reappears, one second later. In fact, every time Matt hits the reset button, the machine goes missing twelve times longer.

After tinkering with the calibrator, Matt is convinced that what he has in his possession is a time machine. And by simply attaching a metal box to it, he learns to send things through time - including a pet-store turtle, which comes back no worse for wear.

With a dead-end job and a girlfriend who left him for another man, Matt has nothing to lose by taking a time machine trip for himself. So he borrows an old car, stocks it with food and water, and ends up in the near future - under arrest for the murder of the car's original owner, who dropped dead after seeing Matt disappear before his eyes. The only way to beat the rap is to continue time traveling until he finds a place in time safe enough to stop for good. But such a place may not exist...

Purchase Link:

My Review :

This is different from the books I usually pick to read. Sci-fi is not my favorite genre but wanted to give it a try this time. 

Matt Fuller, a research assistant at MIT accidentally discovers a time machine from a faulty calibrator that he builts. The premise is funny. Every time when he hits the reset button in the calibrator, it travels to a timeframe in a linear pattern - like the first time - a few seconds, the second time - a few days, the next time - a few years, and so on.

Thus, he travels through different times in the future, even reaching the moon and different galaxies. But, coming back is complicated. Since he doesn't know how to do that, he continues going to the future until someone helps him to come back to his past. 

Matt meets different people from the future, and one person, at last, helps him to go back, but not to his time. 

The narrative is interesting and the premise is pretty simple though the explanation about how the calibrator traveled through time is not much clear. The story becomes a bit complex and unrealistic as we move to the future. There are many loose ends to clarify by the end.

The climax is very satisfying and relatable. 

My Rating:


About the Author:

Haldeman is the author of 20 novels and five collections. The Forever War won the Nebula, Hugo and Ditmar Awards for best science fiction novel in 1975. Other notable titles include Camouflage, The Accidental Time Machine and Marsbound as well as the short works "Graves," "Tricentennial" and "The Hemingway Hoax." Starbound is scheduled for a January release. SFWA president Russell Davis called Haldeman "an extraordinarily talented writer, a respected teacher and mentor in our community, and a good friend."

Haldeman officially received the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master for 2010 by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at the Nebula Awards Weekend in May, 2010 in Hollywood, Fla.

Until next time,

05 October, 2021

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht - [Book Review]


Book Details:

Title: The Tiger's Wife 

Author: Tea Obreht

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology

Publisher: Random House

Print length: 353 pages

Source: A copy from the local library

Blurb :

Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Téa Obreht, the youngest of The New Yorker’s twenty best American fiction writers under forty, has spun a timeless novel that will establish her as one of the most vibrant, original authors of her generation.

In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.

Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weeklytrips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.

Purchase Link:

My Review :

The tiger's wife is narrated by Natalia, an aspiring young doctor who is inspired by her Grandfather who is a doctor as well. The death of her Grandfather and the stories she heard from him before his death make her dig more into his Grand Father's life and his childhood. 

She comes across many mysterious stories and superstitions where she works with her friend Zora at an orphanage. 

What's great?

I loved the stories narrated by her grandfather to Natalia. The narrative is interesting. The story of Deathless man also gives a good philosophy on love, life, and death. The deaf-mute girl making friends with a tiger and finding solace is heart-touching. 

The characterization is deep and thorough.

Liked some great quotes from the book:

" In the end, all you want is someone to long for you when it comes time to put you in the ground."
"...fear and pain are immediate, and that, when they're gone, we're left with the concept, but not the true memory--why else...would anyone give birth more than once?"

What might have been better?

The narrative shifting between present, past, and between characters of deathless man, grandfather, Natalia, the tiger's wife all make it really confusing. The organization might have been better.

The story seems like ended abruptly. The climax is not satisfying enough and the ending is confusing. 

My Rating:


About the Author:

Téa Obreht 
was born in Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia in 1985 and has lived in the United States since the age of twelve. Her writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, and The Guardian, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She has been named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American fiction writers under forty and included in the National Book Foundation’s list of 5 Under 35. Téa Obreht lives in New York.

Until next time,

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