Sunday, August 03, 2008

Stocks may not be the right "investment" for everyone

Housing crisis, sub-prime mortgages and the slumping economy made the stocks of financial institutions to reach their all time lows. Stocks that were trading in 100s are trading in pennies. Stocks that took 5 - 10 years to reach their all time highs came down to their all time lows in 5 - 10 months. What if you had invested 'just' in financial stocks. Many people have lost their retirement savings because of this crisis. What if you were to be one of them?

Diversification is the key. Maintain a diversified portfolio that spans across different market segments, and industries. Better yet, choose other investments like mutual funds, gold, bonds etc., Let us say, you planted a tree, programmed sprinklers and forgot about it! What is the probability that the tree will grow as you had wished? What if the sprinklers didn't work, what if the wind uprooted the plant, what if some animal grazed over it, what if ... what if... ? Similarly, there are thousand factors that can influence the value of your investment. Monitor your portfolio regularly. Do adjustments based on the market conditions.

Stocks may not be the right "investment" if you don't understand its dynamics and if you don't have time to 'monitor' them regularly.

Crater Lake & Mount Shasta

3rd - 5th July

This was our second attempt to go to Crater Lake & Mount Shasta and we made it :)

We planned for a trip to Crater Lake during the beginning of spring & we had to cancel it in the last minute due to snow storm.

We had a horrible 7 hours drive to Mt. Shasta from the bay area. We got fettered in the long weekend traffic. We reached Mt. Shasta at about 11 pm.

The next day morning we drove to Crater Lake. Crater Lake is about 2.5 hours drive from Mt. Shashta. Crater Lake wasn't very crowded (may be the 'season' hasn't begun yet). We spent about an hour in the visitor center watching few videos & having our breakfast. We took the Rim drive and were disappointed to see the lake fully covered with fog. The lake wasn't in its traditional light blue attire. Imagine how you would feel when you drive for 10 hours to see the lake not looking at its best. One of the rangers said that they were expecting to see the sun around noon. What would you do when you are hungry and you didn't get your favorite double cheese burger to eat. You'll start to enjoy the cold veggie sandwich that you have in your hand. Thats what happened. We started to admire the beauty of the lake in her current form.

We drove a few miles and reached "Cleetwood Cove trail". We decided to walk down the trail to get our feet drenched in Crater Lake. It took us about 1 hour to get to the bottom, with our 20 months old kid. We took several breaks in between- well, our legs wouldn't co-operate otherwise. By the time we reached the bottom, the lake was glittering in silverish blue color. The view from the bottom of the trail was amazing. Boat rides for the season hadn't started yet. We spent a nice 1 hour there. My daughter had more fun than us, by playing in the water. She collected pebbles from the shore. Our return hike was even more strenuous. We took more than an hour to come back to our car. We were very hungry and had our lunch in the parking lot. Thanks to my wife for preparing a delicious meal!

The rays from the Sun had wiped off all the fog. The lake was shining in fresh blue color. It was exciting to see the lake. We stopped in a few locations along the Rim Drive and took some pictures. We drove back to Mt. Shasta and reached hotel in the evening.

The next day, we checked out of the hotel and drove to see 'THE MT. SHASHTA'. Mt. Shashta had a few snow lingering around. Since it wasn't fully covered with snow, it was not as beautiful as Mt. Hood (Oregon). We then went to see Lake Shashta Caverns. It was a guided tour. They took us on a boat, followed by a bus ride to the Caverns. Lake Shashta had very little water (due to drought!?). Lake Shashta Caverns is a must-see place if you are in that area. The caverns was formed out of melting limestone deposits. They looked marvellous. NPS has been maintaining it well. Interiors were neat & clean & well lit. The only thing is you've to have the energy to climb about 200 stairs (& walk down 200 stairs). Our tour guide was very friendly & knowledgeable. It takes about 2+ hours for the entire trip.

We stopped over in Redding to see the Sundial Bridge. I believe the bridge will be more beautiful to see during the night than in the day. We spent very little time, there. I guess you can spend more time in Turtle Bay acquarium if you have toddlers. It is a very 'commercialized' place. I was surprized to see lots of people there.

We drove back to California & reached home in the evening.