Hiking and Wondering

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Bear Creek Trail at Point Reyes

Saturday was beautiful and sunny. I loved it. No jacket necessary. Finally. We headed up to Point Reyes National Seashore after dropping the dog at day care. No dogs allowed on national park trails and Bijan has some separation anxiety. I mention this because we had to be back by 7 p.m. to pick him up. We were going to do a trail on a spit of land that pokes into the Pacific on one side and Drake’s Bay on the other, but we were lazy and got a late start and the trailhead is about 30 minutes into the park by car. Instead, we hiked from the Bear Valley Trail from the visitors center. The trail is mostly flat with very gradual incline, nice after Friday for my legs, which are Midwestern (read: flat, Flat, FLAAAAT) acclimated.

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Zion shirt, Costa Rica bandana

I am 95 percent sure I have done this trail before, long ago when I lived in the Bay Area, but I don’t ever remember seeing so much water. It’s been raining around here for a couple of winters now, so everything is green and the walk was verdant and smelled of fresh vegetation. Aaah.

As we walked, I thought, as I have done in the past when I hike, that an interesting research project (if it hasn’t already been done) would be to study who says hello to whom on the trail. I’ve noticed that young men tend to ignore us old ladies. (Are they afraid we’ll yell at them because their chores aren’t done?) What about other group, gender, race, and age dynamics? There’s a ton of material there. Hiking is a different social situation and self-selecting and I am really curious about what the norms are. I just handed someone a great sociology project. Go for it and let me know.

First Full Day

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A blue heron helped kick off our hike.

We were so busy yesterday, I didn’t have a chance to write, but I”m still feeling the effects of our hike. Did you flatlanders know that there are these huge mounds of land called hills and they are harder to walk up? Yes, it’s true. Yesterday we went to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and did a 3.5 mile hike into the hills about the beach. It was beautiful and only took a couple of hours. So strange how crowded the Bay Area is, but the open spaces feel so free. Mahru’s dog, who you met yesterday, loved the hike, too. We think he found a rattlesnake just inches off trail in the brush. We heard it, but didn’t see it. That’s fine by me.

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Just cool enough for a hike (which means a little too cool for me) but gorgeous views.

img_20190621_163637698_hdr-1.jpgAfter lunch, we stopped at the Columbia sportswear employee store and did some “I don’t need this” shopping by which I mean I walk around with things I like and then put them back because I don’t need them. We were really killing time until the East Brother brewery opened at 4. We each had a light, lemony pilsner called Bo Pils. Perfect for after a hike. The brewery is in a Richmond  industrial park and has some picnic benches outside, so we sat in the East Bay shade and relaxed. We got there right at 4, when it opens, but there were already a couple of people there. By the time we left, it was filling up. There’s no food, so a revolving list of food trucks parks outside. Yesterday was Thai. We didn’t eat any, but Mahru said she had and recommends it.

Then, we headed back to Oakland to get ready for an open mike and poetry slam. Once a month, MLK Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant that also serves burgers and pizza, hosts the Root Slam. The community is welcoming and the artists obviously find great inspiration and support though the organization and events. Plus, they can write and perform! Just listening to other people’s stories and views makes it worth the trip. The food is pretty good, too, but shout out to my own neighbor, Eden, who makes the best Eritrean food ever. By the time we got home from that, I brushed my teeth and crashed.

P.S.: So far, the traffic is not nearly as bad as I imaged it would be. Maybe my bar was very low.

Oh The Things We Will Do & See

We (read Sue) did quite a bit of planning for Costa Rica this weekend.  Usually we try and organize quite a bit of our excursions before we go, or at least we sketch out what we are doing.  For this trip, we decided to plan what we wanted to do but then pretty much try and book on the day or the day before.

The first few days we are staying near the Manuel Antonio National Park. While there we will certainly go white water rafting on the  Upper Naranjo river.   We found a company call Pro Rafting Costa Rica and plan to book through them.  Some other things we are thinking about doing are:

Nighttime walking or boating tour in the National Park. The nice thing about the walking tour is we will be right in the ju03ngle, so close up to what ever we find. On the other hand…we will be close up to what ever we find!  The boat tour sounds more leisurely, but that isn’t usually our style.  Either way, it should be fun–in the jungle, at night.

Mangrove kayaking. There are lots of mangrove swamps and kayaking through them looks like it will give us a daytime view of the jungle at a safe distance from the land-based wildlife.  Sue tells me that the alligators don’t usually eat people as long as they stay in their kayaks. Hmmm: Could she be planning something?  One of the tour operators offers this at night, too.S o alone in a swamp, that is in a jungle, in a foreign country, where we don’t speak the language (Hey, I have been doing Duolingo for 64 days and can say useful things like: Do you work in a factory?) and separated from man- human- (?–yes, human, unless you think they are trained to eat only men) eating animals by a few millimeters of plastic. Sounds perfect.

Ocean kayaking/snorkeling. This tour takes us out into the ocean to kayak and then do some snorkeling.

Segway tour. Segway tour?  Really, going all the way to Costa Rica to ride a Segway?  Well, there is some history to this one.  Before started our blog, we traveled to Morocco (BTW: fabulous trip, fabulous place, a really great vacation for anyone with a small amount of adventurous spirit). For my birthday, Sue organized a Segway tour of Marrakech.  Unfortunately, the tour guide no-showed on us.  Needless to say, it is all Sue’s fault and she owes me a Segway tour.  Maybe we will do it in Costa Rica.

cano-island-costa-rica-scuba-300x216Scuba Diving.This is a long shot.  Sue didn’t really love diving when we did it in Hawaii, but perhaps she will give it another try.  (I said I would. I was just cold and seasick from the boat fumes.) One of the downsides to it is that there is a 10-mile boat ride to the island and she gets seasick (a very terrible feeling) so we will see.

Hiking.We will be going hiking, in the park, near the park, and anywhere else we can find.

Enough for today.  We will write about the things we will do near the Arenal Volcano for our next post.

It is Getting Kind of Late

We seem to be off to a slow start with our Costa Rica plans and I am not sure why. Sure, we have our flights and hotels. We have generally planned where we want to be and when, but no real firm plans. Perhaps this week we will get down to brass tacks and figure it out.

Day 1. We know it is all about getting there. It seems like we will be travelling all day. Our flight is from Chicago to San Jose, with a stop in Fort Lauderdale. I think we arrive early evening. We are renting a car and driving to a coffee plantation.

full-manuel-antonio-park-sign(1)Day 2. An early (9 a.m. I think –maybe a bit later) tour of the coffee plantation then a drive for a few hours (3? 4? more? who knows) to our hotel in the west coast town of Quepos that is right near the Manuel Antonio National Park (I always think that I am missing one of the names for the park….I feel like there should be a middle name in there–but perhaps that is just me).  No, I keep calling Manuel San Antonio. I expect we will just look around, settle in –maybe take a quick trip to the beach to see the Pacific Ocean (Yup…that’s the Pacific.  Yup…it is wet.  Yup…it has waves) and unwind a bit.

Days 3 & 4 & 5. We know we are going to go rafting one day. I have done some inquiries and found a 1/2 day trip on the Upper Naranjo river, I will probably book that this weekend. The other days will likely be hiking in the park (the one that is missing one name), visiting the beach, maybe a kayaking trip and seeing what other types of trouble we can get into. But we have no set plans –yet.

 

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Notice at Trailhead (Translated from Spanish):   It is forbidden to throw your hiking partner in the volcano

 

Day 6. We are going to drive up to the Arenal Volanco. (By the way did you know that Costa Rica has 200 volcano formations, 100 that show some signs of activity and 5 that are classified as active?) Once again, I have no real idea how long the drive is, but I assume it can’t be more than 2-3 hours. That should leave us with 1/2 a day or so to visit places on the way or find something to do once we are there.

Days 7 & 8. We have not made any plans. There seems to be a bunch of places to hike with hanging bridges (you all know how much I love heights), I found a link to a route that goes to a waterfall (only 16,000 steps & up both ways!), and who knows what else. Apparently tossing your hiking partner into the volcano is frowned upon (perhaps less so if they are a virgin?) so I guess I am pretty safe from that. Anyway, you can assume that Sue will run me ragged climbing up and down things for both days.

Day 9. We fly home.

spreadsheetI know! I know!  We are way far behind in the planning process and I must admit–it is all my fault–I haven’t created the spreadsheet… and as we all know…nothing ever gets done in this world without a good spreadsheet. I am not a spreadsheet convert, yet, but I know Steven can’t live without them.

 

 

Why I Go Anywhere

As I sit here with my winter break waning, I turn my thoughts to hiking in Costa Rica. I can’t complain about the weather here (it was above 50 degrees today!) but it won’t last and I need to have an out in my head for when it temperature drops like a stone.

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Manual Antonio National Park: The peace of the unknown

 

I’m going to leave the musings on whitewater rafting to Steven. I don’t imagine we will be doing 10-mile hikes in Costa Rica since the trails near us are short. Manual Antonio National Park is a mere three square miles. I am totally cool with that since that means I can really take my time and drink in my environment. I haven’t spent any time in tropical climes, so I am looking forward to being immersed in a world foreign to me.

Being surrounded by newness feels spiritual for me. When I’m amid a crowd of people who aren’t speaking English,  my senses bombarded by unfamiliar smells, sounds, sights, and even the air touches my skin differently, I feel at once in the moment and completely out of myself. That feeling more than anything else is the reason I travel.

 

 

Doing Canyonlands from the Top Down

OK, we’re a day behind again, but the heat and the hiking are exhausting! We decided that since we had seen Canyonlands National Park from the river, we would head to the top animg_20180627_140530634d see it from the road. The park is set up in such a way that you can pretty much see all the highlights by driving and walking maybe a half a mile or so to a site or viewpoint. We decided to try it and while we got some good pictures and walked a few miles all told, it wasn’t our greatest experience. Don’t get me wrong, the park is amazingly beautiful (as they all are) but it felt like the difference between hiking and sightseeing. These driving routes are great if you have little ones or are unable to really get out and see the park, but if you are an outdoorsy person and want to get away, this is not for you. It’s crowded and sightseers don’t have outdoor manners. img_20180627_1309394021

We did get a top-down view of the Colorado and Green rivers. We had rafted past their confluence the day before, so it was interesting to see it another way. Worth going to, but I would pick a hike and do it instead of hopping out and walking to the viewpoints. I’m not much of a drive and snap a photo traveler.

The highlight of our day was a class at Moab Yoga. It was the perfect counterbalance to all the hiking and rafting. The class just happened to be focused on the spine and I know I was walking taller by the end. Ah.

As a topper to another great day, the full moon shone clearly above the mountains as we drove back from dinner.img_20180627_205853614.jpg

Santa Fe Trail

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This picture is totally gratuitous, but I couldn’t resist because this woman is biking with a dog in her backpack!

After three days of driving, eating, and one too many beers, we decided yoga was in order. We went to Yoga Source, which has two studios. We went to the brand new one on Guadalupe and took an Iyengar class, which neither of us had done before. It was both energizing and really helped us stretch out our car-weary selves.

From there we headed to Santa Fe classic Cafe Pasqual’s for New Mexican breakfast (for me) and lunch (for Steven). I couldn’t decide between my all-time favorite huevos rancheros and the corn cakes, so I got a cake on the side with the eggs. I love the Santa Fe chile heat. Steven had a chicken sandwich with a New Mexican twist and apple-fennel salad plus some corn cake. You really can’t go wrong there.

Since we were in the plaza, we decided to walk around, but I hadn’t been in Santa Fe for _____ (I don’t want to say, it’s depressing) years and it is really really touristy in the plaza. We walked up and down a few blocks and then, since neither of us is really a shopper, we headed for Canyon Road and the galleries. But again, yeah, wimg_20180618_161640544.jpge’re really not buying anything sooooo, we decided on a hike. Unfortunately some of the wilderness areas are closed because of fire danger, so we went to the Dale Ball Trails. This encompasses a series of short trails in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo that you can cobble together into as long and arduous a hike as you would like.The trail is well marked with maps at every fork, so you can make decisions about how far you want to go. It was hot and there is really no cover, but it felt great to stretch our legs and be on hills. Plus, we did get some beautiful views.

For dinner, we walked from our AirBnB to the Tune-Up Cafe for Savadoran inspired deliciousness on the outdoor patio.

The Booking Elves

Well, the booking elves have been busy (read Sue, as she is our official booker).   (I found this out accidentally, when Steven said, “Did you book that? You’re the booker.”) We broke down the trip by day and then started to work through our list of possible adventures.  Some of them we don’t need to book–hiking, visiting Haiku/Paia, driving the road to Hana, etc., but for others, it was time to pull out the iPad and laptop and start to make reservations.

There are a few things we had to be aware of when we started planning.

  1. We have only 2 full free days on Maui, 2 days we have work events (one dinner & one breakfast).
  2. We can’t go up Haleakala and scuba dive on consecutive days as it isn’t safe.
  3. We can’t fly for 18 hours after a scuba dive.
  4. Most trips on Maui seem to start early (7-7:30 am)–especially the ones on the water. (I don’t like the morning, especially on vacation.)

This is our schedule before we started booking things. (Get used to spreadsheets; Steven LOVES them. This hardly counts.):

Day
1 Arrive on Maui at about 5 pm
2 Work dinner at 7 pm
3 Work meeting (Steven only) 9 am
4
5
6 Flight to Oahu 1 pm
7
8
9 Flight home 1 pm

 

Sunrise on Haleakala and then a 23-mile bike ride down the mountain

WOW!  This starts really really really early–can’t they reschedule sunrise for a more reasonable time?  We are on vacation!  We need to be at the departure point at 3:30 am.  UGH!  After a little discussion, we realized that Maui is 5 hours behind our home time zone and figured that if we did this trip the first morning (Day 2), our bodies would think it was 8:30 am.  So we booked it–I will let you know on the day if we are fooling ourselves on this one. (Steven neglects to mention that he then told a friend/work colleague that we would have drinks and dinner with him and his wife after we arrive in Maui. So, late night, early morning given that we won’t get to the hotel until 7ish.)

Kayak to Molokini

I emailed one of the places to understand how hard a 3.5-mile (each way) kayak trip would be.  The reply came back: “It is really good for triathletes.”  I am more of a “try athlete”–you know I try to be an athlete, but not really hard, because then I sweat and might spill my drink.  We pass.

Sunset kayak tour

We could only find one place that did this and not on the days that we were available…strike 2 for kayaking.

Scuba

After poking around for a while, we found a dive shop on Oahu that looks good.  Only 6 reef piratespeople per dive, two-tank discover diving trip, they have their own boat, and they have lots of good reviews on TripAdvisor.  But more importantly, they have a great name & logo – Reef Pirates – which any real diver will tell you is the right way to pick a dive shop.   We booked this for the afternoon of Day 7.

Kayak trip to Gilligan’s Island

This is a four-hour tour (of course, it would be more apropos if it were a 3-hour tour)…plus travimagesel time to and from the north side of the island.  Officially, it is Coconut Island–but it is where some (all?)(at least the pilot) of Gilligan’s Island was shot.  If you are too young to remember the show….Boy did you miss one of the truly great quality high art television events.  A true tour de force with nuanced and carefully planned plot lines and characters (Ginger or Mary Ann? The Professor or ???)….you absolutely should find some reruns of it.

Anyway, we decided to book this on Day 8, our last full day in Hawaii, so if we are shipwrecked and can’t get off the island for three seasons, we won’t have missed any of our vacation.

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(Total aside: I Googled fair use Gilligan’s Island images and this appeared.   No comment.) Perhaps more of a comment on Google’s search process rather than a political comment.