Ports of Call Vacation

It has been a very long time since I posted an adventure so here goes. In August of this year, we took a family trip to Portugal. We landed in Lisbon and drove the first day to Porto to check out the wineries. Porto is Portugal’s second largest city and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s about a 3 hour drive north of Lisbon. We stayed at the Hilton Porto Gaia which is walking distance from the waterfront and many of the commercial wine tours. To get the real experience, we drove another hour outside of town to visit the Sandeman Winery.

The Sandeman Winery was definitely the highlight of the trip. The rest of the time, we spent touring several museums and castles.

Here are a few pictures from the famous Sintra Castle.

After Sintra, we went back to Lisbon and visited the Modern Art museum and several smaller castles in the region of Belém.

No trip would be complete without visiting some great restaurants. Lisbon in particular had a significant “Vegan” scene. The city center had lots of choices and was bustling as if Covid didn’t exist.

We enjoyed our trip to Portugal and are already planning our next trip. Saúde!

Roman Holiday

In December 2019, we went to Rome for a week, arriving on Christmas Day. It was unseasonably warm which made for a great vacation and without a lot of tourists. This is our third trip to Italy as a family. The first time was when the boys were 4 and Annika was 6 months old! It’s absolutely one of our favorite vacation spots.

We stayed at a nice apartment near the Piazza Navona. All the major attractions are within walking distance from there.

Below is the family at the Pantheon.

Abhijit and Apurva came at the last minute to visit (all the way from Orinda)!

Here’s the boys at the Trevi Fountain with the obligatory coin toss.

Below, I am pretending to be Caesar near the Colosseum.

Here is the Vatican. Easy to visit and see without the throngs of tourists.

An “illegal” picture from inside the Sistine Chapel (no picture taking allowed).

Just past the Vatican is an old indoor locals market. One of the stalls had wines that were amazing. Of course Abhijit being the sommelier that he is was able to pick some amazing wines. They fill the bottle for you and you can bring it back the next day for a refill. Pretty cool.

I’ll end it on a funny picture. This was a dessert at one of our favorite restaurants. It sounded quite fancy in Italian, but ended up being a plate of oranges!

Going to College

Annika got accepted to Harvey Mudd college and will be attending in September 2019 as a Freshman (in North Dorm).

Here are some pictures from her orientation day.

For those that know… the picture below is actually taken at Scripps College (next door).

So proud that she is able to attend such a great college (and my alma mater)!


Annika graduated from High School and Vikram from UC San Diego both in June 2019.

Below, Vikram receiving his Math/CS Degree from UC San Diego!

June 2019 UC San Diego
Proud Mom!

Annika went to a bunch of different formal and other events. Here are some pics with her and her friends.

Homecoming 2018

It’s now so obvious to me that yellow is her favorite color!

Homecoming 2019
Prom 2019 – Laguna Beach
Prom 2019 – Laguna Beach
Prom 2019
Prom 2019 Laguna Beach
Winter Formal 2019

We took our biyearly family photos at the cliffs in La Jolla.

Mexico Trip

It’s been a long time since I posted to our blog so here I am catching up on Lots of excitement!

In December 2017 we went to Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and Chichen Itza.

Here are some pictures from that trip starting from Playa Del Carmen.

Anjali and I by the Tulum ruins

We did a day trip to Chichen Itza and hiked up the pyramids.

Iceland Trip

In August, Anjali and I went to Iceland.  This was a last minute decision to go to Iceland.  I was changing jobs and had a full week before my new gig started.  Iceland had been on our shortlist and the timing worked out great with tickets, hotel availability and the fantastic weather in Iceland at the time.

We started our journey in Reykjavik.  The trip from the airport to downtown is about an hour drive and right away, you can start to see the volcanic terrain of the island.

We spent a night in Reykjavik and did some local sightseeing, before heading out in our rental car along the northern coastline.

The main church of Hallgrímskirkja was right next to our B&B.

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The next morning, we began our drive to the volcanic Snaefellsnes peninsula.

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There were so many beautiful waterfalls along the drive.iceland003 - 1.jpg

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The drive ended at the ocean and the Londragar lava formations.  One can follow the lava flows from the mountain all the way into the ocean.  Fantastic!

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As we drove further into the northern part of Iceland, we ran across a seal “crossing” near Hvammstangi.  The seals were lounging in the sun and there were dozens of them. Look closely – there are three seals in the foreground and six in background.iceland1002 - 1.jpgiceland1003 - 1.jpg

On day 4 of our trip, we made it to the northern city of Husavik.  This is known as Iceland’s whale watching capital.  We took an all day boat tour on a a viking sailing vessel from North Sailing.  I’d highly recommend their tours as you will see from the below pictures.

On the way to the whale site, we ventured past Puffin Island – a natural habitat for the puffin birds.  There were tens of thousands of the birds.

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Finally, we got to the whale site and after about two hours of seeing humpback whales from a distance we finally got “lucky” and had one come up right along side the boat.  What a thrill!  We also saw a number of Minke whales – these whales are much smaller and faster.

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There was one whale that played along side our boat for at least 40 minutes.  According to the captain, this was quite an unusual treat.  Must have been the fantastic weather!

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Definitely the highlight of the trip and ingrained in my memories for life.

From Husavik, we drove a couple of hours inland and saw a pair of waterfalls called Dettifoss and Selfoss. Dettifoss (which is a short distance downstream from Selfoss) is know to be the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe.

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Next stop and a bit further inland is Lake Myvatn. The area surrounding Lake Myvatn has the highest concentration of volcanic and geothermal sights in Iceland.  In a single day, we were able to explore pseudocraters, rock formations, lava fields, see mud pools and steam vents and eventually relax in a volcanic steam bath.

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These are photos from the Hverond Mud pits and Steam vents – a little off the beaten path but so eerie and quite smelly. Definitely worth the drive!

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iceland1022 - 1.jpgAfter Hveraond, we went a short drive to Dimmuborgr Lava formations and explored the natural lava formations.


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In the distance, you can see the Hverfjall Cinder Cone.  We spent a couple of hours and hiked to the top of the cone.iceland1024 - 1.jpg

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At the end of the day, we went to the Jardbodin Nature Baths.  It’s the northern Iceland equivalent of the Blue Lagoon Spa.  The water is heated and regulated by the steam vents.  Kind of an odd experience – probably would not go back to do this.

From the Myvatn area, we headed back to Reykjavik to catch our flight back to LA!

What a fantastic, experience and highly recommended!  With less than a week between booking our tickets and beginning on our journey, we leveraged the expertise of a travel planner from Kim Kim.  I’d highly recommend it as our planner Chris McCarty pointed us to so many sights we would not have known about.

Luna doesn’t quite know what to make of the big waves and she approaches them quite cautiously.Puppy16 - 1Puppy13 - 1Puppy18 - 1

Once she wet, she’s all in!Puppy14 - 1Puppy15 - 1

Cute Luna

Luna has been keeping us busy.  She enjoys digging in the yard.Puppy17 - 1Puppy11 - 1

Here is Luna playing with her fried Shelby.Puppy10 - 1Puppy12 - 1

Luna Puppy

We just got a new Golden Retriever and her name is Luna.Puppy003 - 1

She is named after a character from Harry Potter named Luna Lovegood.

She is two months old,  11 pounds and so very sweet.

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She’s got quite the personality so far.

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Mexico Vacation

We just got back from our vacation to Mexico City and Huatulco.

We landed in Mexico City and spent the first few days seeing the sights.  We took a day trip to see the pyramids in Teotihuacan.  These are the Sun and Moon pyramids and we got to climb to the top of both of them.





The ride back from the pyramids is about an hour and a half and we pass thru the mountain ranges and see the the most colorful houses.


On Day 3, we went to a small town on the Pacific side of Mexico about a 1 hour flight from the city.  We rented a nice beach house right on the sand on Playa Bocana just outside of Huatulco.


We had the most amazing sunrise every morning.


Here is a picture from the pool deck.




About a 10 minute walk up the beach, there was a reservoir with pink flamingos!


All day long, we would see the pelicans fishing in the ocean.


On one of the last days in Huatulco, we went for a river rafting excursion.


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It looks pretty scary but wasn’t too bad.

Check out this amazing photo of an eagle we saw on the river.


We are now back from vacation and getting ready for school after a long summer!

High School Graduation

Nikhil and Vikram both graduated from Beckman High School in June and will soon be on their way to UC San Diego (both of them).

Here they are in the procession line.


Here is Nikhil receiving his diploma.


Here is Vikram after receiving his diploma.


And finally the boys with their grand parents.


Annika’s Promotion

Annika is starting high school now.  Here are some pictures from her Promotion ceremony in June.khare-blog-331


Here she is with Mom and Dad.


The boys had a practice session this week before the big day next Wednesday.



Here is Annika with her big brothers.


High School Prom

The boys just had their Prom.  Here are some pics from the big day.

Here is Vikram with his date.


And Nikhil with his date.


Here is Anjali before the boys head out.


And of course Annika below.


Christmas Day in the OC

We went out for our annual family picture at a park in Irvine.  khare-blog-004khare-blog-003khare-blog-0071khare-blog-006

Its getting harder and harder each year to get them up for a picture.  Here’s their “serious” pose.


We hosted Thanksgiving Dinner at our house for the first time in many years.  The Oak family came down to visit.

Here’s the gang enjoying dinner.


We rented the farm table from Classic Party Rentals big enough to seat all of us comfortably!


Annika had a race last weekend in Fontana.  This had to be the absolute ugliest course we have run in the 10+ years of races that she and the boys have ever run… and they have been to a lot of races!

Here is the scenic setting!



There was a graffiti lined cinder block wall on one side and the power lines down the center.


At least it was spectator friendly!




Annika ran her first race of the season at Mt. Sac.

Here she is in the 4K running up the dreaded hill.


And one coming down the hill.