Day – 1, 18/06/2016 Circuit: Noida – Delhi – Ambala – Jalandhar – Pathankot – Udhampur – Patnitop. Distance Covered 654 Kms Time Taken 14 Hrs.The day began with an early rise up time of 4:30 AM as we decided to hit the road as early as possible, in order to beat the Morning Delhi traffic and have a head start for a long travel during the day. Thanks to my super excited traveler son Aarav, the luggage was loaded in my Mahindra Scorpio a night before, which gave us ample time to get ready and catch our departure schedule of 6:00 AM. Aarav is a young bright 10 year old boy an avid traveler and always ready for adventure trips. We got ready and then started coordinating with rest of the Group members with Arora’s & Mehra’s starting from Delhi, Dua’s & Gulati’s from Noida. It was decided to meet at Mukarba Chowk the gateway to Haryana, then crossing over into the state of Punjab further driving into Jammu & Kashmir for our first night halt at Patnitop. My personal experience of giving good sense to anyone defies logic, despite several meetings and discussions we had regarding the trip, we started falling behind our schedule. Someone had not fueled up and another getting stuck in a traffic! On an honest note I must admit to group 18 together is a tough challenge. Finally, with all in order, we shifted gears and pressed the accelerator to rev up the engines of our respective machines. Dua’s & Mehra’s in their Fortuner, Arora’s in Innova & Terrano respectively. Breakfast was on the move consisting of sandwiches, paraantha rolls, cakes and tit-bits whatever something little that had been packed as per the plan. We had already decided that our first scheduled pit stop will be Jalandhar Haveli. Now it was 12:00 PM and seemed we were on schedule. Luckily we were hauled in and were given a table to accommodate a group of our size. The food was excellent a mix of Dal,Roti,Chana Masala, Chana Bhatura, Dosa, Lassi and so on. Difficult to remember every bit that was ordered yet mentioned all lip smackingPunjabi dishes we dug in. Rahul Dua’s car was giving a few alignment issues thus it was mandatory to have it resolved owing to the terrain we were to encounter on coming days, Luckily we found a MRF Tyres alignment agency across the road on the Highway where in a short time the issue was resolved. The Journey began again after a hearty meal towards Pathankot. We crossed Pathankot as evening approached and looked for a halt at a road side dhaba. The tea felt refreshing after a long drive from Jalandhar and helped us all in stretching our legs. We finished tea and got behind the wheels driving towards Patnitop. We crossed Udhampur looking at the development being carried out in the region. It was re assuring to look at the laid out railway tracks and bridges which is going to connect Srinagar valley with Jammu. Urbanization has it’s adverse effect as well which results in heavy construction being done owing to which there were snarls on the road doubled up with a large convoy of Army trucks and trucks going towards the valley. These trucks take supplies to forward bases at Ladakh & Siachen where the Indian Army relentlessly guards our borders. Here they deserve all the accolades and commemorations for doing a wonderful job and we whole heartedly salute their unconditional love and honor in safeguarding the borders. Crossing through the painful crowded drive we entered Patnitop to a traffic jam thanks to a load of tourists who had just dawned upon the place without any planning or pre -bookings. Meandering through the traffic we reached our destination Hotel Samson – Patnitop at 8:00 PM. Once we parked our machines and stepped out we were greeted by a cool breeze kissing our faces and we were rejuvenated! It was the time to party thus we all checked into our rooms freshened up and got together over a round of drinks and snacks. We were all quite hungry so we overdid on the snacks that came our way without realizing their after effects. Drinks flowed till we realized it’s time to catch the deadline for the buffet laid for us. Next day was to be another day on the road packed up and finished dinner. Driving all through the day tired yet excited we had few discussions till we retired into our rooms. As I lay on the bed closed my eyes the lines of an old poem by Robert Frost kept flashing in my mind…“I have promises to keep, miles to go before I sleep”.