Oh, The Things We Will Do

I know that Sue promised you that I would have my trip spreadsheet ready by today, but I am afraid that I just have not gotten to it yet. Have no fear, I will get it done, perhaps for my next post. In the meantime, we have been looking at all the things to do in Costa Rica and I have come to the conclusion that we just don’t have enough time.

cost rica raftingOne absolute requirement is that we go whitewater rafting again.  There are whole bunch of places that do it, but broadly speaking there are three areas.

The Pucuare River is about 2.5 hours east of San Jose. It is considered one of the top rated rafting rivers and runs alongside the Talamanca Mountain range.  There is lots of wildlife to be seen, everything from monkeys to deer to jaguars. The river has Class III-IV rapids. There are single day or multi-day trips.

The Tenorio River is about 3 hours north and west of San Jose. This is a relatively short 8-mile rafting trip. It has many quick twists and turns. Overall is rated as Class III-IV, but does have one 12-foot, class V rapid.

The Naranjo River is also about 3 hours from San Jose, but southwest. It is only about 15-20 minutes from Hotel Costa Verde, where we are staying for part of the trip.  This river has Class VI+ rapids and is apparently geared towards “thrill seekers.” It features 9 technical narrows and a tight squeeze though a canyon.

Yes, there are so many decisions to be made. This is just rafting; we need to decide on where and when to hike, which waterfalls to take in, whether we want to do repelling, jungle tours–daytime or nighttime?–do we take a rain forest cloud tour,  how about zip lining? and so many other things to decide.

Let’s face it…we need a spreadsheet to keep track of all this.  😉

A Whole Raft of Experiences

Our campsite

We just finished our two-day whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon into Lake Powell. We planned this months ago, but the timing was perfect. We needed a break from all the hiking in the heat and two days on the water was perfect. Cataract Canyon is part of Canyonlands National Park and as you can imagine, it has steep red rock walls that rise from the river.

We arrived at 7:30am on Monday at Western River Expeditions in Moab and met the four other people on our tour.   There was one young couple, Zach and Megan, and one father and son pair, Gary (dad) & Cory (24 years old).  Our tour was supposed to be on a 26-foot motorized raft.  Due to the very low water levels, it was changed to be a fast run down the top (quiet) part of the river on a motor boat and then on to an 8-person self-paddled raft for the rapids and remainder of the trip.  We loaded ourselves onto the motor boat for a 2-hour run to the point where we met our guides, Daniel (on our boat), Nick & Anna who rowed the supplies down on inflatable rafts.

Helmets and PFDs (personal floatation devices), formerly known as life jackets.

Words can’t really describe the landscape, the quiet, or the sheer blast of running 32 rapids, a couple of which were classified as Category 5. We ran them all our first day. I have to give props to Western River and our guides–they were cheerful and clearly knewimg_20180626_090705089 what they were doing. We never once felt unsafe. Bonus was the food, which was surprisingly good for camp food. They even cooked steak for dinner on Monday night. We camped under a bright moon on a sand bar that won’t exist when the water rises. Sleeping was a challenge for everyone but Sue, who can sleep standing up on a cliff face when she’s tired.

Tuesday was a lazy day. Since we were finished with the rapids, we tied onto one of the supply rafts and motored at a leisurely pace to the put out point. I was happy to sit and enjoy the scenery and the company. We were a little sad to say goodbye to our guides, but ready for the 2.75-hour van ride back to Moab. Being on the water for two days in the sun is tiring for us old folks. We promised to exchange GoPro footage (which we will post once we edit) with everyone and went our separate ways back at Moab.

Our separate way was to a beautiful inn called Red Moon Lodge. They have their own water source, so there is a pond to hang out around once it cools off. Plus, there are real flowers. It is odd to see something in nature that is not red, brown, or tan after all this desert.

Finally, we headed to Moab Brewery for dinner, where we met up with none other than Daniel and Nick, two of our guides. We were happy to have another chance to tell them what a spectacular trip it was!

A whole raft of thoughts

While Sue is heads-down planning her trip to London, I have turned my eye to the whitewater rafting portion of our trip to the Southwest.

Who knew that doing an overnight whitewater rafting trip would require a 13-page preparatory document?  I’ve seen articles in Scientific American less detailed than this.  The only thing that seems to be missing is a schedule:

Wake at 07:30

Brush teeth 07:32 (3 minutes)

Wash face 07:35 (2 minutes – 30 second to dry face)


Anyway, me being me, I read the entire thing. (Steven is very bored at work these days.)  The section on what to bring was fascinating…

Not surprisingly, they recommend a safety strap for your sunglasses, quick drying shirts & pants, sunscreen & a hat (with a string or hat clip).  One thing on the list caught my eye….”Gloves for protection while gripping holds on the boat”…hmm…I hadn’t thought that one through…I guess I will need to hold onto the boat.  Now, they do have a recommended outfitter, so I could get them there…but what fun would that be?   Off to the Googles I go!

7052_2_grandeAfter a bit of poking around, I found that there is an entire class of gloves made for sailing which have padded palms, are quick drying, and come in full-or half-finger.  As you would expect from the interwebs, there isn’t a single source of truth nor agreement on the best gloves. However, I seem to have found the Gill Deckhand gloves on a few lists and so that is what we are going with.  Full-finger gloves (which by the way don’t have a full finger on the index finger so you can play with your cellphone while trundling down the river) because I figure we can always cut them down to half finger if they are too warm, but can’t make the half finger ones longer if they are too cold. (This man is so smart.)  Here is a link to Sailingworld.com’s review of them.

Into the Amazon basket they go…along with waterproof covers for our cellphones, safety straps for our sunglasses, a small flashlight (I know I have one….but where the hell did I put it???).

One more item caught my eye…”Major credit card and photo ID in case of evacuation”…well that’s a bit worrying isn’t it?

Finally, a few other words of whitewater rafting wisdom:

“Weather is always present on a river trip.”

“A smile is a curve that sets a lot of things straight.”

Should be good fun.

Grandiose Plans

grand-canyon-2299751__340While Sue is getting ready for her trip to London, I will be gearing up for our next journey – a road trip to the Grand Canyon & then whitewater rafting in Utah.  We had scheduled this trip before we won the one to Hawaii; we don’t usually have two trips in consecutive months, just lucky this year. (So very lucky!) Our plan is to put the top down on the convertible and drive from Chicago to Santa Fe (with a stop somewhere around Tulsa), on to the Grand Canyon and then to Moab, Utah.  I have never been to the Southwest or whitewater rafting and I am really excited.  We originally planned to go for two weeks, but as we saw in Hawaii, I always want to extend the trip.  We are currently at 16 days, but I am thinking…maybe just one or two more (perhaps a stop in Denver on the way home?) (Mom mom used to say I had big eyes because I always put too much food on my plate. Steven has big vacation eyes.) …We will see.

All suggestions welcome. We are game for adventures.