Sunday, November 25, 2012

Coast Rica Part 3--Monteverde and back home

Day 7 we made the drive from the coast to Monteverde.  THAT was an adventure!  The road our  GPS took us up was narrow, bumpy, and turny!  But this time we made it to town well before dark.  Our hotel, Ficus Sunset Suites, was very nice with huge rooms, the best beds of the trip, and amazing views.  We had a late lunch at Morpho's, a butterfly-themed restaurant with really good food.  We walked around town and explored a bit, got the kids ice cream for the first time of the whole trip, and then hit the Serpentarium.  That was way cooler than I expected!  They had nice displays of tons of snakes, and it was nice to get out of the wind.  On the way back to the hotel we stopped by the local grocery store--always love doing that in new places.  That night we hit Mar y Tierra for dinner.  It was sooooo good!  The adults got a great bottle of wine and enjoyed seabass ceviche, steak with a coffee sauce, steak with local blue cheese, and surf and turf with blackberry and passion fruit sauces.  It was all so delicious!  And the atmosphere at this family-run establishment was very cozy.  This was a great start to our final stop in Costa Rica.  We started the day at the beach and ended it bundled against a cold wind!  We fought a few ants in the room, too, but it was still nice.   :)
The awesome roads on the way up.
Still not quite all the way up to Monteverde, but we can see the ocean!
Great view from our room! 
Day 8--This is what we've been waiting for!  Today we headed to Selvatura Adventure Park for zip lining through the cloud forest.  This was just amazing.  We all (even the kids and Grandma) suited up and hit 13 zip lines.  Sometimes you were completely in the cloud, others you were high atop a canopy of lush greenery.  It was so fun, and the best part was hearing my kids giggle and scream as they zipped along with the guides.  Amazing.  We even did the Tarzan Swing, which was nuts, but Trent went first (after saying, "Wait, what are we doing?" and then getting pushed out the gate!) so we all had to try it.  I was petrified!  Then the final zip line was 1 km long and Frank and I went together.  It was super fast and we were in and out of the clouds!  Even after all that hiking and excitement we walked a few kilometers along the trails and hanging bridges to look for animals in the canopy.  We didn't see much, but it was still fun.  Such an amazing day.  After coffee, naps, and an amazing sunset, we hit Rico Rico for one last dinner in Costa Rica.  It was no Mar y Tierra, but it was pretty good.  

We are ready!
The kids got to go together a few times.
Trent on the Tarzan Swing.  Ugh.  I could barely watch!
My little hiker insisted on carrying the family's bag.
One of the many suspension bridges.

Trent was guiding us on the hike.
And after a day at Selvatura, they are out!
Shhhh!  Don't tell the kids we're relaxing!
Final sunset of the trip.  Ahhh....
Day 9--We left Monteverde rather early to account for the roads and to make sure we made our flight.  It was great.  I couldn't stop smiling thinking back on this amazing trip.  We won't get back home until after midnight, but I don't care.  (Late add--the trip back was actually eventful!  We got delayed leaving San Jose and barely had time to clear customs and get dinner in Miami before getting back on a plane.  But, we made it!)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Costa Rica Part 2--Papagayo Gulf

This brings us to Day 5 of our epic vacation, waking up at the all-inclusive Occidental Allegro Papagayo Gulf.  I don't normally seek out this type of vacation, but we thought it would be nice to relax for a few days, too.  Well, the excitement started right after breakfast when we joined a group of kids feeding bananas to white-faced monkeys on the beach.  There were tons of them!  And just 2 days ago we were thrilled to see 2!  We had promised the kids some pool time so the adults sunned/read while the kids swam and then got some serious face painting.  On a tip from one of the waiters at breakfast we loaded up into the car and headed out to find the cataratas, or waterfall, de llano de Cortez. After about an hour drive and a small donation to a local girls school, we were stunned by the beauty of this place.  The water was cold at first, but we all (even Grandma!) swam under the falls.  It was breathtaking.  We made it back in time for amazing sunset views, frolicking on the beach, and the dance show.  Ok, so maybe this stop won't be all lounging by the pool!

Our view of the pool and Papagayo Gulf.

Trent feeding the monkeys.

Frank and Mom on the beach.

Me and the Captain!

Katreina and the  waterfall.  Amazing.

Grandma and Katreina are among the swimmers here!
Sampling fresh coconut water.
Checking out sunset at the resort.
My water babies.
Grandma and the entertainment staff.
Happy Thanksgiving!  Day 6 of the trip we decided to take a snorkeling/fishing/beach/caving tour through the Gulf and out into the Pacific.  The snorkeling was so-so, especially as we all got stung by some sort of nettle.  Trent rode my back and Katreina ended up crying.  Fun!  Soda fixed their moods and we were off the Pacific.  We saw tons of pelicans and frigate birds while we attempted to hand fish.  The crew then took us ashore for a delicious cookout, complete with a bonito they caught.  We played in the ocean, tortured hermit crabs, and explored some caves.  K and I almost got sucked through one!  On the way back we had some dolphins join the boat.  The big news of the day happened after we got back and the kids were playing at the pool, fighting over a ball when Katreina FINALLY lost her crazy loose tooth!  Colones or dollars?  That night we had lots to talk about as we enjoyed our Thanksgiving buffet feast!

Sailors on a powerboat. 
Frigate birds.
Hand fishing (that's the bait he's showing off).
Strutting their stuff on the beach.
Frank and his mom in one of the caves.
"All I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth!"

We enjoyed our time at the beach, but we were anxious to arrive at a location before dark for once and we were all a little excited to get to Monteverde and the cloud forest so we left right after breakfast.  This was a nice stop, with the highlight definitely being the waterfall.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cost Rica, Part 1--U.S. to Arenal Volcano region

Day 1 started as a smooth day of traveling--that quickly changed in Miami! A delayed first flight and a kid that was dying to go to the bathroom made a very short layover even shorter! Surprisingly we and our bags arrived in San Jose without any more issues. Getting through the airport and getting the car were pretty easy, and just after dark (wouldn't you know it!) we hit the road. It was twisty, turny, rainy, and narrow--Frank did awesome!

Day 2 we explored the grounds of the resort, enjoying birds, iguanas, butterflies, and a sloth! After a quick dip in the pool, we joined a tour to Arenal Volcano. The top was clouded, but it was still very impressive. And we saw howler monkeys, black mandible toucans, coati, a sloth, iguanas, and leaf-cutter ants marching through the forest!

The balcony over the San Carlos River at Tilajari
K describing the butterfly life cycle in the resort's butterfly garden.
Arenal Volcano
Toucan spotting around Arenal.
Amazing sky (and a toucan!) at sunset.

Day 3 we did a full-day tour to Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve. The trip to the reserve was nice as we learned a great deal about the agriculture and people of the area. We cruised the Rio Frio via power boat and saw a rare jabiru couple, howler monkeys, snake-eater birds, trogon, heron, and caiman. The highlight was seeing white-faced monkeys, and then seeing one almost get eaten by a caiman! After the tour we let the kids swim before heading out to eat at a local joint. When I ordered the proprietor looked at me and said, "no." We couldn't tell if he was out of something or really disagreed with my selection!

My animals on the river tour.
K collecting coconuts.
Meat.  Need I say more?

Day 4 we decided to do one final tour in the area before heading out and it was amazing!  We floated down the Penas Blancas and San Carlos Rivers with our outstanding guide, Pedro.  Along the way we saw a ton of wildlife--crocodiles, rainbow-billed toucans, howler monkeys, snake-neck birds, tiger rattle snake, basilisk (a.k.a. Jesus lizard), Great Blue heron, long-nose bats, slugs, swallows.  But the most amazing part of the trip was a visit to the estate of Senor Don Pedro, a sweet 100-year old family patriarch and farmer.  His daughters and several farmhands work on the organic farm, sans electricity, and welcomed us with coffee, tapioca bread, plantains, and Brama cheese.  He loved getting hugs from the kids!

Heading out on our river float.
We had a great view of tons of howler monkeys!
Enjoying coffee at Don Pedros.

We closed our visit to the San Carlos Valley and headed toward the shore.  We took a path that took us along Arenal Lake where we attempted a few geocaches, and we tried out a "Soda" for lunch.  I think we just didn't hit a very good one, but it did the trick.  We arrived at the Occidental Allegro Papagayo just after sunset.  After a long day of travel we just hit the buffet and then went to bed.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Calvert Marine Museum

The day started (and ended) with another high-speed dinghy run. We had a great time at the museum. I love how there's a lot for kids, but also great information about the seafaring history of the area.

That night Katreina surprised us by crumbling up her Christmas list, saying "I want the elves to spend their time on the starving kids instead of me." Wow.

We had some sweet sailing on the way back. Eventually the wind steadied above 20kts and we cruised back with a scrap of headsail up. We closed the weekend with a trip to buy Christmas lights and a had a better-than-expected dinner at Outback. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Last weekend for a while

What an exciting start to the weekend! Frank cut the old anchor off and put the new one on, I fell in the water trying to tie up the old dinghy, and we had a nice cruise down to Solomon's Island! When we got here we took the new dinghy out and got up on plane with all 4 of us--it was awesome! Dinner, movie night with "Thor", and now we are having sleepovers with the kids. Tomorrow we honor our veterans and head to the local maritime museum!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Merry Christmas! (Sort of)

In the midst of running a million errands the kids and I picked up the Captain's Christmas present--a Manson Supreme anchor--and they couldn't wait to give it to him! We might get it on the boat before leaving tomorrow.

Tonight we headed to Honey's Harvest for their yummy pizza night (perhaps a winter tradition?) where we ran into dock neighbors and Navy shipmates. It was a great dinner, and to top it off they had pumpkin cheesecake pops--enough said!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


We spent the weekend tied to the pier with a few important chores--test out the new dinghy, dinner with friends, take down Halloween decor, "winterize" the closets, and purge the storage unit. We did it all before seeing the Captain off to Phoenix, and then the rest of the crew headed to the movies. Good times!