Visiting Uncle Sam – 6 – Stanford University

Since I have been using my car back and forth from Hotel & Office for a week now, I was getting confident that I could drive a little further than that :). So what would be the first place I would want to try, so that its neither too near nor too far. I zeroed in on Stanford University in Palo Alto because it would take me about 35-40 mins of drive (based on my driving ability) and its a very straight road (El Camino Real). Since there were quite a lot of issues to be fixed @ work, I was working late on Friday and Sat I got up only @ 9am. After doing some more official work, by around 11.30 am on this hot sunny afternoon on 2nd October, I decided that I should now get out of my hotel and make a visit to this Saraswathi Kalaikoodam 😉

My GPS wanted me to give a exact address to fetch so after a while of messing with it, I chose the Stanford Shopping Center which it offered. It is on the way to the University Avenue. Started my car and since there was much of traffic as it used to be in the weekdays, I just cruised to Stanford Shopping Center. Now, I didnt have a 0.1% interest in getting down there so I was searching if I had written the address of the University Visitors office somewhere in my bag and thank Lord Saraswati, I had it and my GPS was able to fetch me the route too :). Its hardly 5 mins from the shopping center. And when I parked my car in the Stanford University Campus near Visitors Center, you should have seen my face. I think I was glowing 😉 , due to the satisfaction of doing something that I never ever imagined in my life. Coming to U.S, driving a car, and now I can drive anywhere in U.S..wow…

Went to the Visitors Center, and got a map of the University and since it was only 1 pm, they said that if I got back by 3.15, they would have a guided tour of the campus. I told them that I would be there and my first visit inside the campus was the Hoover Observatory Tower.. Its the main attraction actually :).. So by 1pm, my visit of the campus started, first to the Hoover tower, from where you could see the bay , the bay bridge, (not the Golden Gate one, the other one..) you could see whole of SFO from there 🙂 (it was about 285 ft, and the tower we are allowed to visit is in the 14th floor) and after spending some time over there, came down to the Museum in the ground floor about First Lady Hoover and President Hoover (yes, he was the President of US from 1929-1933 and you must have heard of Hoover Dam in Las Vegas, which he had commissioned to prevent the area from being flooded..) and then ventured out in the maze of buildings in Stanford University.

You know, I walked for about 2 hrs and 30 mins covering almost (I said almost, because as per the map, I left only a few streets 😉 ) all of the places and buildings in the University campus. Grabbed a bite in the Book store cum coffee shop and carried on. There is a chapel which is not there for any religious reason, but as a memorial to Stanford Senior (that is what the guide @ the Hoover tower told me). And there was a wedding going on. It hadnt begun then, so the chapel was closed. But I could see the bride, the bridesmaids, the groom everyone 🙂 Wow, they all looked so lovely. By this time you would have known that my camera would have been working non-stop. I walked, and walked and walked.. Came to the William Gates building of Computer Science (there was a Career fair going on there) and on the opposite side you see the David Packard EE building and William R Hewlett Teaching Center (yes the same Hewlett & Packard guys who had graduated from Stanford in 1935). Go back from there and you go round the building passing small malls (with coffee shops and eateries) come to the Music Center and then all the way to the sports area where you can see so many buildings and stadiums for each sport (gymastics had a building, Ford center for sports, I saw Table tennis building, a big stadium for base ball, etc etc). It was one huge circle. Some how while walking I didnt feel any tiredness. I was walking leisurely and observing the buildings, the architectures…It was nice..

You need a cycle or a car to go around. Its a really huge campus. The facilities are very very good. Seems like the red tiled roof is a symbol of Stanford. According to the guide in Hoover tower, seems like they tried having a dome for a building without the red tiles and the Alumni wasnt so happy about it. So every building is tiled with the red tiles. It gives a great look from above 🙂 Sort of marks the area as Stanford’s. And guess what, I did the whole campus tour by myself that I missed the 3.15 deadline for the guided tour. I reached the Visitor Center by around 3.45 pm and after a few mins, started from there on my way back to the hotel..

Now if there isnt any incident on my first long drive in US, it wouldnt look nice, would it 🙂 ? When I was about to cross and take a left turn to El Camino Real from the Stanford University, my camera which was there in the seat fell down and I turned around to see what happened and in that mean time, there was a guy who was jogging and was about to cross the road and I missed him, I mean I didnt hit him (that way I missed him) , but I also missed seeing him on the left. For that one sec, I doubled on my accelerator and passed this guy who was in for a shock and he must have cursed because I heard him bang on my car from behind.. It was pure accident. But that woke up my senses. Now I really know what to do when I am crossing.. Double check for pedestrians!!! After that it was again smooth and instead of coming straight on El Camino Real, thought of a small detour so took the 101 Freeway :). It wasnt as bad as I thought it would be and finally via Redwood Shores arrived at my destination in Belmont by 4.30 pm.

Well, what else can I say now that I have done what I wanted to….. I am happy 🙂

I feel very philosophical right now, but I dont want to write anything about it in this blog.. When I am done with my trip, I will let you know 😉

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