Welcome to the paradisenearth blog. I am Urvi owner & founder of the paradisenearth blog. Traveling is my passion since childhood. I am an Electrical Engineer and studied MBA in Marketing but due to my passion, I have left the corporate world. Basically from India but moved to the states in May 2013. After moving to the USA I got time to share my experience of traveling with the world through the internet.

May 16, 2019

We all know lentils and legumes are great sources of protein and iron. One day on social media one of my friend had posted about iron deficiency. She asked others how they manage the amount of iron intake on a daily basis. Instead of taking supplements, she wanted to include iron-rich food in her daily diet. That's when I decide to share my regular Gujarati Toor Dal recipe. I am born and brought up in Gujarat one of the states in India. Traditionally in my house every day 6 things are prepared for lunch. The lunch menu is like this Roti (Indian Bread), dry vegetable sabji, Toor Dal, Rice, Salad and Papad. The only variation you will see in vegetable sabji everyday rest of the stuff remains the same. Even in my house, I follow the same tradition, but I have cut off on rice and wheat so consume little less than usual. For those who are looking for an iron-rich recipe do try this Gujarati Toor Dal Recipe.


Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Pea)

Toor Dal is a major source of protein for us and widely used in Indian cooking. Pigeon pea is a legume from the family Fabaceae. Besides protein, it also contains a good amount of iron, Potassium, and vitamin B. Those who watch their carb intakes, please make sure how much amount you are eating as it contains a good amount of carbs as well.

We usually pressure cook the dal for three whistles and do the tempering later but my friend doesn't use a pressure cooker. Hence I am sharing the recipe of Toor dal without using a pressure cooker. Let's prepare the ingredient first

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup Toor Dal (Pigeon pea)
  2. 3-4 cups of Water
  3. 1Tbsp oil
  4. 1tsp mustard seeds
  5. 4-5 Methi seeds
  6. pinch of Asafetida
  7. 6-7 curry leaves
  8. 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  9. 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  10. 1 tsp cumin powder
  11. 1 tsp coriander powder
  12. 1/2 tsp lemon juice 
  13. 1 small piece of Jaggery 
  14. salt to taste

Recipe of Gujarati Toor Dal

  1. Wash the dal(lentil) 2-3 times. Soak Toor Dal about an hour (it helps Toor dal to cook faster and if you use pressure cooker then you can avoid soaking step.)
  2. Now heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Add muster seeds and let it splutter. As soon as it starts spluttering add Methi seeds and asafoetida. Now add curry leaves and add socked Dal. 
  3.  Add water to the tempering mixture. Keep Dal to water ratio 1:3. You can adjust consistency later.
  4. Now add spices to make your Dal flavorful. We will start with the salt. Add salt, chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and turmeric powder. Add lemon and Jaggery as per your taste. 
  5. Cover and cook until lentil is cooked nicely and textured seems mussy. You can adjust the spices according to your taste. 


Serve this Toor Dal with white rice or you can have it as hot lentil soup. If you are planning to use this dal like soup then keep the consistency little thinner and serve it hot.

May 6, 2019

Traveling is my passion and I have really enjoyed all my trips. To accomplish my 2019 travel goals I was noting down places to visit. I also have to check out my budget so I don’t go broke at the end of my trip right? I got a casual message through social media and the person really like all my traveling posts and he was asking if I have any anxiety. I was not able to answer him because I never thought about it before. Then I asked him about his anxiety. From the conversation I have realized How people will able to manage traveling with anxiety? That is when I decided to create a blog post on Does anxiety really affect our traveling?



 What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is one type of mental disorder. When you have an excess feeling of worry or fear it cause anxiety.

Does anxiety really affect our traveling?

I will start with my anxiety. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know about my anxiety until one of my followers had asked me. After that, I realized I am afraid of being alone. I have a fear that I will be left alone in this world and that is the reason I haven’t been on a solo trip. It doesn’t mean I don’t go out alone. I took many flights alone, but I have someone who drops and picks me up from the airport. I use local transport without anyone’s help. Besides all this, I never tried to take a trip where I have managed to stay at an unknown place for a few days. I feel like if I lost somewhere and not able to make it back home. What if someone hurts me physically or emotionally. I am trying to come up with some solution but still, anxiety is there. I have started doing meditation to calm myself and reduce negative thoughts and divert it to a positive attitude.

Everyone has different anxiety. You know many people have anxiety from a height. Some people cannot go on tall buildings because of fear of height but I know a person who is afraid of tall buildings even if she standing on the ground. By looking at tall buildings she feels the building will fall on her. It’s just fear in your mind. If you love to travel then the fear of flying can be a big issue. These will lead to boundaries while traveling because you can not go everywhere by car or train. Many people experience motion sickness from winding roads. Even seasickness is also common.


How to solve the issue of Anxiety?

Personally for me closing eyes and thinking about good times make me calm but every person is different. Here are a few solutions which you can try.
  1. For any anxiety or fear writing journal is the best thing to do. Just take out your feelings and you will get relax.
  2. Meditation can help you to calm yourself and improve your health overall. 
  3. Develop a positive attitude and think nothing will affect you and focus on how you will enjoy your ride.
  4. Keep your mind busy with interesting activities like reading a book or playing game.
  5. Travel with a companion or with a group initially which reduce fear being alone at an unknown place.
  6. Music can be a great option to divert your mind. Close your eyes, Plug in your headphones and enjoy music
  7. You can also consult your doctor for calming exercises which work best for you.



Apr 25, 2019

Hi, guys after creating 10 national parks to enjoy summer one of my friends suggested to create a post for state parks and other less famous parks so today I am creating a post for Starved Rock state park. It might famous and known for hikers but not for all.

Even I didn't know about these park until one of our friends planned to visit and then I google it about these place and I came to know these are voted as number#1 attraction in the state of Illinois.

Did someone say they love canyons and waterfalls? Oh than Starved rock state park is the perfect place for you. The starved rock state park is situated at the Illinois river bank. 

How to get there

Chicago o'hare international airport is the nearest airport from the Starved rock state park it takes approx 1 hour and 45 mins to get there but still, time will vary according to traffic. 

Another option is Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport or Dane County regional airport are other two airports which quite near from Starved Rock state park. It takes more or less than 2 and a half hour to reach there. 

You can rent a car from the Airport and drive to Starved Rock state park. If you leave nearby than obviously, you can drive straight to the park. 


Tip to explore Starved rock state park


  • First and foremost thing try to reach as early as possible around 9 AM. As the day will pass on it will get crowded. And difficult to walk around and reach to the spot.
  • If you are planning to walk on a hiking trail than wear proper shoes which comfortable for a walk. Do keep a water bottle and granola bars in your hiking bag.
  • You have to park your vehicle at the parking lot around the visitor center and the trail will start behind the visitor center so grab all your stuff from the car when you head to the visitor center so you don't have to come back again. 
  • If you are planning to spend just one day and cover the whole park than stay energetic because the trail has plenty amount of steps for up and down especially at the bluff trail.
  • I would suggest you spare at least 2 days so you don't have to keep running all day to cover points you can divide your adventure in 2 days.
  • As visitor center doesn't have exact address enter lodge address:-  Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center, 2668 East 873rd Road, North Utica, IL 61373 once you enter in the state park look for the sign visitor center and follow it unless you are staying at the lodge.
Points to explore Starved rock state park

The very first thing you have to do is go to the visitor center and grab a map. The day when we went it was raining and we were worried about getting wet. If you face the same don't worry gift shop beside the visitor center have ponchos so you can purchase one for your self and stay safe from rain. :-) :-)

So now you have a map which will look like these.

Trail map of Starved rock state park


You can board starved rock state park trolley from outside of the Great Hall of the Lodge. Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for children. Very 1st stop will be visitors center. 


Starved Rock trolley
Starved Rock state park is all in one package. The starved rock state park offers hiking along the nature trails, Magnificent views along the Illinois river and recreational opportunities. You don't like hiking then don't worry you can do Picnicking, Fishing, Boating, Horseback riding, Camping and winter sports.

Wildcat canyon

This state park has almost 18 canyons formed by glacial meltwater and stream erosion. They slice through covered tree and sandstone bluffs for four miles at a starved rock state park.


View of dam from starved rock

The park is best known for its fascinating rock formations. This state park provides a great view of wild trees and great waterfalls.


Pontiac canyon

You can see the view of the dam from the other side of the dam as well. You can do kayaking and fishing. The day we visited it was cloudy and rainy so romantic, isn't it? You can see the picture which shows a beautiful cloud. 


Beehive overlook

Basswood canyon

We were walking through the trail and looking around tall trees and suddenly I had seen one tree lying on the ground and the tree seemed like the face of a horse.



One of the more popular canyons for photographers. This canyon is quite a long walk from the Visitor Center parking lot, but great for avid hikers. This canyon features a waterfall that is active most of the year. You can exit this canyon from a trail on the west or the east side of the waterfall by walking behind the actual waterfall. This is also a gorgeous icefall in the winter! 

Water fall from inside of LaSalle Canyon

LaSalle canyon




It's time to say bye bye to summer and give warm welcome to fall and upcoming winter. I know it's hard to say bye to summer but with cold breeze fall brings lot of colors in to life. When I was in india I had seen fall colors only on TV. I was feeling it's animation or computer graphics but when I moved to US I realized it's really true beauty that God created with colors.

Today I am going to share my 10 favorite places to see fall colors. So get ready to spend your fall weekends with your loved once by viewing lovely colors and hot coffee.


1. Door County, Wisconsin 

October 2nd and 3rd week is best time to visit Door county to view fall colors. I would suggest find out the dates for fall festival in egg harbor, Door county and visit at that time. They have food, fun, music and lovely stalls to explore.



2. Smokey mountain 

I feel Smokey mountain national park is the place to be visit in all season. It has great hiking trails, zip lines and camping. You can experience cabin living also. But I like fall colors specially. In smokies leaves start changing colors from last week of September to first week of November. According to elevation difference lower elevation tree leaves change colors first.



3. Aspen, Colorado 

Fall is one of the most spectacular times of year in Aspen.Peak foliage season is typically the 3rd & 4th week of September. Aspen is located in the White River National Forest. 
Here are some of our favorite spots to enjoy scenic autumn in Aspen:
1. The iconic Maroon Bells are an ideal location to capture the splendor of fall leaves on camera.
2. Cathedral Lake, American Lake, Hunter Creek and Crater Lake are all wonderful hikes to enjoy nature's show.
3. Scenic Driving Roads Maroon Creek Road, Castle Creek Road and Independence Pass are all available for those that prefer to enjoy the golden Aspen's from the comfort of their car.



4. Shenandoah national park 

If you are living in or around Washington DC and worried where to go for breathtaking view of fall colors. Than don't worry 90 minutes from DC you will find Shenandoah national park which has amazing views and hiking, camping and many other fun activities. Best time to visit is late October. 


5. Colombia river gorge, Oregon 


Fall foliage in the Pacific Northwest ranges from vibrant red, orange and yellow to more muted russet tones; and glorious pockets of color hide here and there among robust evergreen forests. 
Indeed, the drive to our Columbia river gorge cabins can be a scenic event unto itself. The Historic Columbia River Highway, lovely any time of year, is glorious right now. Travelers from the Portland area head east along the southern bank of the Columbia River, where there are numerous hikes to destinations such as Latourel Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Wahkeena Falls. Scenic overlooks are always worth the stop.Another good way to see the foliage along the Columbia River Gorge is to take a scenic cruise. Portland spirit river cruises offer afternoon scenic cruises and evening dinner cruises in an authentic sternwheeler. .
Then there is the fruit loop, a 35-mile scenic drive through farmland, orchards, and forests in the Hood River Valley. Apple and pear trees, lovely in spring, are colorful in the fall. Stop by u-pick farms for baskets of fresh fruit, fresh and hard apple cider, and pear wine. Various farms offer hayrides, pumpkin patches, and live music through the end of October and into early November.





6. Upper peninsula, Michigan 

The Upper Peninsula is home to all but one of Michigan’s waterfalls. There are more than 300 falls scattered across the Upper Peninsula ranging in size from under 5 feet to 48+ feet vertical drops. Almost all require hiking to reach, but there are paths (several barrier-free) to some of the most popular. The best time to see them is in spring when even the smallest falls roar to life. But while you visit these falls in October you can see leaves turning into yellow, orange and dark red color. That looks amazing. Pictured rocks national lakeshore is also very famous to view fall colors as well.


7. Glacier national park, Montana 

In Fall visitors have to be more self-sufficient when they are in the park. Generally, the park is a lot quieter and wildlife is more active. On the west side of the park, the trees begin changing color mid-September, and on the east side, fall color appears more towards the end of September and beginning of October. The last color change is when the larch trees, mainly on the west side of the park, turns a gold color in mid October. Sometimes the best road for viewing the larches is on Hwy 2 around the southern boundary of the park.


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