The first time I saw the Grand Canyon, I was flying over it at 35,000 feet. I was coming home from visiting family in Louisiana when the captain came over the loudspeaker to announce that those of us on the right side of the plane would have a great view of one of America’s finest wonders. Even from my viewpoint high above the clouds, I could tell that this canyon was spectacular. Having never had a desire to visit it before, I quickly added the Grand Canyon to my list of must-see American sights.
Nine hours and several scattered downpours later, I arrived in the gorgeous town of Sedona. Other than the airport in Phoenix, I had never really been in Arizona and with many of my friends recommending this particular town, famous for its red rocks and metaphysical qualities, I knew that this was the perfect place to explore the Grand Canyon State.
When I wanted to attend a new festival, I had so many options to choose from and not enough at the same time. I began my festival search a little late into my 30-Before-30 challenge and I found myself with a million festivals that I wanted to experience and a year in which to wait for them. That’s right, most of the festivals I envisioned going to had already passed by the time I started looking. Apparently, the prime season is the summer and there aren’t many in winter and spring. I thought about revisiting one I’ve already been to, but I figured that would be cheating myself out of what I set out to do which was find a new one to enjoy.
So I kept looking.
It’s fair to say that I love wine. Though I’m by no means a wine snob and my palate rarely detects the “subtle notes of cherry/hickory/peach/etc,” I do enjoy celebrating the return of the weekend with a bottle. Or two. Whether it be a pinot grigio on a warm afternoon or a cabernet sauvignon on a stormy night, those fermented grapes are darn delicious and have been an integral part of many a fun night or heartfelt chat. And more than one game of Guitar Hero has been played with my mom while sipping vino.
When coming up with my 30-before-30 list, I knew I wanted to incorporate some time in wine country. Luckily, California has quite a few wine countries to choose from. I toyed with the idea of going up to Napa or Sonoma, but those proved to be too far away for a weekend. I briefly entertained the idea of going to Temecula or Paso Robles, but neither panned out. So I ended up revisiting the old standby: Santa Ynez Valley. Though I didn’t spend a complete weekend there, I figure one overnight plus another full day more than count for checking the item off my list.
Despite being woken up throughout the night requiring several trips to the bathroom, the morning from our balcony was absolutely gorgeous and no amount of stomach-ache could make me ignore it. I couldn’t help but capture the glorious morning before the monkeys started howling and the mosquitoes started biting. Continue reading
Early in the morning, we were back on the van headed to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It was a long drive that included gorgeous views from the mountain, naps, and the finishing of books for many of us.
Awaking the next morning, Monteverde was exactly what a mountain lodge would be: chilly, dark, and wonderful. Plus, there was the most beautifully colored bird blocking the path outside of our rooms, without a care in the world but the scrumptious morsel he was trying to eat.
Early the next morning, we packed our bags and loaded the van to continue our journey through Costa Rica. Not too long into the ride, we stopped along Lake Arenal to take pictures of the gorgeous landscape that we would be traveling around for the majority of the day. The girls and I rushed across the highway for better photos and it was more painful than I thought it could be.
Our second day in La Fortuna was arguably one of the busiest of the entire trip. We started early and hopped from one activity to the next until we were completely exhausted.
Rising early, Karen and I headed down to breakfast to fuel up for our packed day. We decided to indulge in an optional horseback riding tour. Karen was excited for this opportunity having never been on a horse and I, never one to turn down an animal encounter, was game to explore Costa Rica by horse. Worried about two silly girls on their own, Papa Carlos decided to join us on our morning ride so he could keep an eye on us.
After two fun-filled days in Tortuguero, it was time to pack our bags, hop in the boat, and head to our next destination: La Fortuna. We made the rounds of the resort saying goodbye and expressing our gratitude to our friends at Mawamba Lodge and we were off, ready for the next adventure.
The boat ride back to the bus had us spying a crocodile and more spider monkeys, but the real treat was after we had boarded our bus and got an up-close look at not one, but two of our most coveted Costa Rican species.