We drove for 30 miles, only a short drive from our current home in Amarillo, before patches of farmland started to fade and fall off of the landscape ahead of us. If I hadn’t observed a flash of narrow ravine out the car window, I would have never known that a canyon existed, as the flat farmland around us began to slowly evolve. As we passed the state park entrance, we began to see the various ripples of orange, yellow, and white lining the canyon below. (more…)
Bonita Springs, FL
I remember being out on the water with my family. I was three, and my father would place my hands on the leather boat wheel, empowering me to believe that I was steering. As I grew older, my dad showed me how to spot fish from ripples on the lake surface and how bobbers would move when fish were nipping at the bate. He taught me how to set a hook and clean a fish. We spent hours fishing, but in actuality, he spent hours teaching me to be patient, to observe nature, and to respect nature. (more…)
San Antonio, Texas
My husband, Alan, and I started our Texas Road trip from Houston and made our way southwest toward San Antonio to hit two favorite hotspots, the Riverwalk and The Alamo. We were pleasantly surprised to make a third stop north of San Antonio, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, a scenic ranchland with over 500 animals roaming freely over 400 acres of land. (more…)
Maui, HI (‘Elua: ‘Ulupalakua Winery & Kula Botanical Gardens)
We started our day with a beautiful drive to the Tedeschi Vineyards located in ‘Ulupalakua, upcountry Maui. When we left West Maui I immediately noticed the transition to the quiet and peaceful countryside. The drive allowed us an opportunity to slow down and soak up the scenery. We were away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist towns/attractions, and we were more likely to see a cow or a mongoose than another person. (more…)
Costa Rica (Day 7: Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio)
For our last day in Costa Rica, we visited Manuel Antonio National Park. Elba, Nilla, and Mario spent the day relaxing on the beach, while Andrea, Alan, and I hiked some of the trails. What was unique about this National Park was the natural exposure to wildlife. There were capuchin monkeys running around a few feet away from us. The locals call them the “white-faced monkeys,” and they are also known for their thievery. In one of the pictures Alan was wearing a baseball cap and got a little too close. Being 6 ft 3 in., he scared the poor primate, who nervously glared as his ball cap. You can see the capuchin monkey’s reaction to his unexpected proximity. Close by, there were also monitor lizards, iguanas, and macaws. We could hear howler monkeys in the distance, and somewhere way up in the canopy there was a sloth or two. (more…)
Costa Rica (Day 4: Punta Leona, Shipwrecked at Tortuga Island)
We left the wilderness of the jungle and drove another three hours to the coast, Punta Leona, Puntarenas. We had a rental house that we were going to use for the remaining duration of our stay in Costa Rica. Mario and Nilla’s boat, lovingly named after her cat, Balloo, was docked at Punta Leona. We made plans to sail to Tortuga Island, fish, and snorkel for a while. Tortuga Island, named after its turtle-like shape was expected to have white sand and clear water, so I anticipated prime snorkeling territory, but we could not have anticipated what was yet to come.
Costa Rica (Day 3: La Virgen Del Socorro)
We drove to a remote part of Costa Rica near Alajuela. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you where it is or how we got there. I only know that we passed strawberry fields as we traveled up through the mountains on a tiny road (that was currently being built). A platform for a road hadn’t even been established yet, and there were pebbles that were being laid for traction for the tires. There were several times we had to get out and heave our van forward to move it uphill. Mario’s friend, Antoine, was building a farmhouse out in the jungla (jungle). Essentially, “La Virgen Del Socorro” translates to “untouched relief” referring to the area’s untouched wilderness.
Costa Rica (Day 2: La Paz Waterfall and Wildlife)
We traveled three hours to La Paz from San Jose. The road was rather rugged, and we were inches away from the cliffside, but Mario had the van under control along the jagged turns. La Paz is definitely not a place to miss in Costa Rica. It has a beautiful waterfall hike, and serves as a rescue for some unique, native animals, including several jungle cats (pumas, ocelots, jaguars), a variety of birds (hummingbirds, toucans, macaws), frogs, snakes, sloths, monkeys, and a butterfly house. The view from the climb to the waterfall was breathtaking.