Sunday, March 30, 2008

Go Max Go!

Tyler wrapped up as a burrito.
 Coloring Easter Eggs with her Aunt Kiki.
Tyler climbing on her shelves, when she is suppose to be taking a nap.
I'm such a big boy, I'm walking!
Look at me go.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pura Vida - Costa Rica Trip 2008

The long awaited Costa Rica trip finally came.  Jocelyn and her business/running partner Cami Hoff funded the trip... the entire trip.  After selling their goods they had enough to take their husbands on a whirlwind tour of the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica for 10 days.  No stock market, no play groups, no pre-school, no diaper changing, no kids... you get the point.  Just a lot of relaxation and adventure with some great friends in an incredible location.  
We landed in the capital city of San Jose with only a few hours to walk around the city and catch dinner at the hotel.  We were told to spend as little time as possible in San Jose.  We had a nice dinner as we laid out the adventure ahead and turned in for the early departure.
The next morning consisted of a taxi ride, a turbo prop plane ride, a jeep ride and a boat ride to get to our destination.  As you can tell from the day's travel schedule, Drake Bay is a pretty remote area near the southern border of the country in the jungle.  It was a great way to start the trip, but set high expectations for the rest of the vacation.
Bird's eye of the hills of Central America.
This is the airport that we landed at in the jungle.  Just a little airstrip cut out of jungle... not a lot of error for Senior Pilot.  The flight alone was fun in itself.  Once grounded, it was off to the jeep ride with the river crossings.  Needless to say, security at the airport was fairly lax.  
The lodge was incredible.  We neighbored the Hoff's Rancho but could barely tell due to the thick vegetation.  All of the food was made on sight and tasted phenomenal.  Fresh fish, beans and rice, fresh baked bread and tons of fruit.  Outside of taking a boat into town, you could walk via the bridge and then up the coast.  The town just got electricity a couple of years ago.
This is the beach that our Rancho overlooked.  After spending some time on crowded american beaches, there is something to be said for being the only person on a beach staring out at the vast ocean.  Amazing. 
The first dip on "our" beach.
The hot mamas.  (Thanks for the trip)
This one got a bit out of order... this is the boat taxi in.
One of the day trips from the lodge was to the protected National Rainforest.  The rainforest is just as imagined.  Gigantic trees with vines hanging from everywhere, birds, insects, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, etc.  After a hike through the park, we hikes to the falls to take a swim.
Doing a little kayaking up the river from the lodge.
White faced monkey eating water apples by the boat dock.
Yellow billed toucan on the walk to the boat dock.
You fall asleep to the sound of insects and crashing waves, and you wake up the sound of screaming howler monkeys.  Rumor has it that you don't want to get too terribly close to the trees where the howlers are swinging... aparently they like to throw poo on unexpecting onlookers.  We avoided any poo showers.
One of the many crazy rainforest tree.
Croc guarding the outlet of the river into the ocean.  He was about six feet or so.  Cami loved the idea of swimming in a croc inhabited river.  She survived.
Swimming in the waterfall pools.  The pool just above this one housed a resident cayman which the guides assured us NEVER came down into the lower pool.  We made it out with all limbs intact.  We were extremely sad to leave Drake Bay.  Outside of our scuba diving getting hindered by poor visibility due to the huge unseasonable swells the trip was starting out even better than we could have imagined.  
Next we were on to Quepos and Costa Verde.  A much more touristy feel which seemed very crowded from where we had just come.  Although we pined for "our" beach again, one of the highlights happened on this leg of the trip.  Costa Rica is known for their rafting and it did not disappoint.  Being somewhat familiar with US rafting, we were used to the 6-8 man rafting adventures.  As you can see, these little rafts held 3 (max 4).  Going after class 4 and class 5 rapids in these was wild.  As with the rest of the trip, the scenery was incredible and the rafting was a ball.
The ladies sporting the sweet looking brain buckets.
Most of you have probably never seen this section of Brett's thigh, but this was so nasty it just had to be posted.  The story of how he got it was even more incredible.  During the rafting trip, there were sections where we would get out and stretch our legs.  Along the bank of the river there are local villagers that use the river water for irrigation.  On one of our stops, unnoticed by Brett a crocodile that had worked its way up river during low tide.  Long story short, Brett got caught off guard and the croc did a fake charge leaving him little room to get away.  He ended up having to jump off a fifteen foot rock into a shallow pool in order to get away.  The river guide said it was fortunate that the croc was on dry land because they are much more nimble in the water.  This is the souvenir that he came away with after slamming into a rock after his graceful leap.  You will see more of this monster as it grew on the trip.  
It was on to stay at the Tabacon Hotel near Arenal.  Hot Springs are everywhere because of the Arenal Volcano in the area.  
Arenal Volcano.  One of the most active volcanoes in the world.
Outside of Arenal we went canyoning.  For those of you that are not familiar with canyoning, it is basically repelling, bouldering, jumping and hiking down a canyon through rivers and waterfalls.  Here is Cami wearing a red helmet today. 
This was the big repel.  A 300 foot drop following a waterfall.
Bruise #2 - The boil continues to grow.  Actually, the story at the first bruise picture is a lie.  Brett fell hiking down to the river to go rafting and must have hit something just wrong.  There was no crocodile or athletic leap to safety... just a clumsy crash down a hillside.  The croc story is a more deserving story of a bruise like that.  (The white upper thigh really brings out the color)
The helmet du jur is yellow.  This was our canopy tour out of the town of Monte Verde.  Zip lining was definitely one of the highlights also.  
This was one of the longest lines at about 600 meters.
Bruise update - Brett's little continued to grow.  You can see where the harness straps pushed the blood all over the place.  The daily bruise viewing was another highlight of the trip.  
Sadly the final destination... Tamarindo.  A lazy little surfing town where our instructor Miguel Hoff taught us all to surf... some better than others.  (Brett claims his bruise was making him lose his balance).  Our final pet of the trip is pictured here lazying around the pool.  
One of the last meals.  Trying to take it all in.  The roaming cell phone calls to the states were getting ridiculous so it was time to get back and give the little people a big squeeze.  
Thanks to the girls for putting the trip together (and funding it).  Thank you Hoffs for making this trip easygoing and extremely entertaining.  Thank you to all that helped watch the Bills babies and the Hoff babies while we were able to galavant around Central America footloose and fancy free.  Epic trip... can't wait to get back.  PURA VIDA!!!