Summer, Summer, Summertime

 

Fun in the Summer

Summertime Fun

 

You know Ab and I have 6 kids right? No? Yep. We do. 3 boys and 3 girls black Brady bunch style. Well he has 3 and I have 3, together they are ours, but who’s counting right? Each year (well this is only year two actually — but you get the point) all of the kids converge with us for what can only be described as a summer fun smack down (I just made that up. We’ve never actually called it that.)

So, given the obvious amount of planning and expense involved in keeping 6 kids entertained entails, we have begun planning our summer adventures.

Stuff we are supposed to do:

  • Camping
  • Grand Canyon
  • Swimming Lessons
  • Lemonade Stand

I would really love to take the kids on an international trip, but coordinating and getting approval from all the co-parents would be quite the exercise. We’ve also briefly looked at family camps which seem like fun conceptually. A family adventure vacation could be cool. Check out this one from REI, but at $2,000 a kid I don’t see that happening unless the little ones are smuggled via duffel bags or our loyal readers want to donate such a thing to us hint hint :D.  There are even entire sites dedicated to family adventure travel.

Do you have any super fun and cool ideas for us for the summer? We’d love to hear about them.

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Unbridled Lust…

We are having travel lust… Pure raw animalistic lust… National Geographic Adventure has published a list of the Top 25 trips for 2010.

  • Oh my my my… It is our goal to take each one of these trips before we die..

Even if these trips don’t suit your fancy check out the adventure travel companies associated with each link. They have lots of unique offerings for the intrepid among you.

The trip to Nepal looks awesome and who wouldn’t want to go to Bhutan?

Tonight we shall have sweet dreams cuddled up next to our laptops with heads full of adventures to be…

Good ‘ole National Geographic. Who knew you were good for something other than showing little boys their first set of naked breasts?

How About A Little Weekend Get Away Babe? Part 1

Catch Up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 

So, I was sitting in my living room Saturday and I call Abdul. I swear to God this is how the conversation went:

J: “What are you doing?”

Ab: “Why?”

J: “Just asking? I want to go out of town next weekend. I need a little get away.”

Ab: “Where do you want to go?”

J:”How about Costa Rica?”

Ab:”Costa Rica?”

J:”Yeah”

Ab:”Why?”

J:”I want to go rafting.”

Ab:”You can’t swim.”

J:”So… You want to go?”

Ab: “Yeah. Sounds fun.”

(by the way he can’t swim either).

I got the tickets from Travelocity (6 hour layover in Mexico City — who cares we are going). I picked some adventures, arranged care for the kiddos and marked the time off in outlook. It’s was on!

Ab and J at DFW

Ab and J at DFW

Abdul was out of town on business in Chicago until the day before we were to fly out so I had to do his shopping: XXL grey shirts, cargo shorts (they had to be camoflouge) — do you have any idea how hard this is in winter? , shades, hiking boots… etc… etc… etc.. Boy I’m really racking up the good girlfriend points 🙂
I also find out that the car company I had arranged for at the airport was closed when our flight arrived. After a brief panic, I learned there is a national cab company in Costa Rica that would wisk us to our hotel for $20.00.
 We were both up until 4am trying to pack and get everything ready.We look pretty hot working on 2 hours of sleep.

Ab Adventure Sleeping

Ab Adventure Sleeping

Up next… travel.

 

Weekend Get Away Part 2: Travel

Catch Up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | All Travel Photos

So the last time you left us, we were at the airport working  with a couple of hours of sleep. Our flight from Dallas had a several hour layover in Mexico City. I won’t go into details about the logistics of the Mexico City airport, but you might want to bring a fan and some comfortable shoes if you plan on spending any time there. We step off the plane and immediately begin a hunt for Taqueria tacos (pollo con tortillas de maiz of course) — I am from Texas you know.

The Elusive Elote

The Elusive Elote

Alas, no authentic in airport taquerias to satisfy my craving for elote y tacos… I guess street food necessitates that you go on an actual street. Crap!

Oh well… always being ones to make the best of a situation we begin airport hiking to see if we can find something to tickle our collective fancy (hey who doesn’t love fancy tickling?)…

We decided to stop at a restaurant and eat. 

Travel Adventure: Ab's Prop Joy

Ab's Prop Joy

 The food was okay but, since Ab doesn’t eat cheese his selection was pretty sparse.  I always have to snap a few pics of whatever we eat to satisfy the inner Anthony Bourdain in me. This picture snapping prompted our waiter to burst in with props which were very well received by Ab.

You see the odd thing is that we selected the restaurant based on the wall

The Wall Menu
The Wall Menu

menu outside. “Amazingly” the menu inside did not match the illustrious wall menu at all.  This is a trip planned in a week so, I’m rolling with the punches.

While in the Mexico City airport we learned two very important lessons:

1. Fanny packs are still in style in many parts of the world.
2. Smoking kills.
What? Smoking is Dangerous

What? Smoking is Dangerous

Weekend Get Away Part 3: Accomodations

Catch Up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Santo Tomas Photos  | Pacuare Photos

We arrived in Costa Rica at about 11pm local time on Thursday 10/01 . The plan was to spend the first night (Thursday) in the City. Friday night in the Jungle. Saturday back in the City and fly out at 6am Sunday morning back to Dallas.

Sounds like a plan. Let’s do this! 

 
 
 
 

Costa Rican Taxi

Costa Rican Taxi

The trusty red official Costa Rican taxis were at the airport waiting to take us to the hotel.  The ride to the hotel was something like the start of a gore movie. I fully expected this dude to turn into a random garage and go Tourista or Hostile on us at any second.  But luckily, we arrived safely. (You probably already figured that out since I’m writing this blog entry.)

I’m not really a fan of luxury hotels.  I can stay inDallas for that. If there is a hut, camp site, local family or other off the wall place for me to sleep — I’m in.

While in San Jose we stayed in Hotel Santo Tomas . My research (you can call one internet search research right?) indicated it was cheap and safe which were pretty much the only criteria I had for housing in the city. We snapped a few pictures that I think say way more than those photo shopped travel site examples :).

 

The Hood Around Santo Tomas

The Hood Around Santo Tomas

When we arrived at the hotel, local square in the middle of downtown San Jose a hooker and a street kid greeted us before the hotel manager could come out.

 The hotel was inside of a gate system to keep some of the neighborhood flavor out I suppose. We didn’t mind at all. As long as there was a bed and a shower we were good. We checked in using an actual check-in book which I dutiful wrote my name in using my best 4th grade handwriting skills. We received a room key (not card.. an actual key) and went across the hotel up some uncovered stairs to our room. I’m thinking accessibility wasn’t a core consideration during the construction process.

This is Where the Magic Happens

This is Where the Magic Happens

The room was simple and clean. The bed was firm. The TV included a channel called the Golden network which Ab informs me was free soft porn — awesome. What more could you ask for? Nothing I say. Nothing 🙂

Because we arrived so late Thursday we really didn’t have a chance to see anything. However, on the trip back (Saturday night) we were lucky enough to get drunk drinking Costa Rican sugar cane liquour with complete strangers and meet Ted who was apparently in Costa

Where We Met Ted the Nudist

Where We Met Ted the Nudist

 Rica to visit a nudist resort. We did not ask him this… He eagerly volunteered the information… Here’s to you Ted where ever you are. I swear you can’t make this stuff up. We also used that little metal shed in the back of the picture to the right to try to dry our soaking wet rafting clothes before the return trip home.

Friday and Saturday we stayed in the rain forest to raft and zip line in the middle of nowhere on the Pacuare river. More on that later. I found an eco-lodge online (again with EXTENSIVE research) called the Pacuare Jungle Lodge. You can’t drive there. It requires a two hour drive out of the city and about 2 hours of rafting to get to. There is no electricity. You eat what’s rafted in. Sounds excellent right? It so was! It was a complete Swiss Family Robison setup. We took a lot of photos of the place since it’s not the sort of thing you see every day.

Our Little Jungle Hut

Our Little Jungle Hut

We rented one of the smaller huts. It had a bed, bathroom with a shower (solar heated water) and a couch. The windows were screened to keep out bugs and there was a mosquito net over the bed.

Jungle Magic

Jungle Magic

Ab and J Fresh Off the Raft

Ab and J Fresh Off the Raft


Weekend Get Away Part 4: Rafting

Catch Up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5  All the Rafting Photos 

 
 
 
 

The Raft

The Raft

So Ab and I can’t swim. If there are 2 people that can’t swim, what better thing to do thousands of miles away from home no where near medical personnel than to jump into a piece of inflatable plastic in fast moving water? I’m waiting… See you can’t think of anything either.

 

Costa Rica is well known for adventure sports and has many rivers well suited for rafted.  We were tackeling the Pacuare River which has class II through IV level rapids. ‘Cuz we don’t need no stinking entry level rapids!

Ab was very apprehensive about rafting…  hahah.. Kidding… The guides gave us some introductory lessons “Forward left”, “Forward right” “Back”

Ab's Pensive Raft Pose

Ab's Pensive Raft Pose

 “Down!”  “Oh Shit”  that’s not really one but I heard it a lot on the raft :). The first day, rafting in the rapids were pretty tame. It rained over night which took the rapids up a notch. You have not lived until you have been completely under muddy water with complete strangers.  We rafted in with a couple from Boston that were quite the athletic pair. I will not comment on the picture snapping couple we rafted out with.

The Costa Rican rain forest is definitely one of the coolest places I’ve ever been in my life. I could have easily spent a week or a month just disconnecting from everyday life there. It felt really freeing to be out there on the raft filthy in the water.

In the Rapids

In the Rapids

On the Raft

On the Raft

Weekend Get Away Part 5: Zip Lining

Catch Up: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4  All Zip Lining Photos

Well rafting in rain forest and sleeping in a hut just weren’t enough for us to maximize our Costa Rican fun. What other nice relaxing things can we do…. oh I don’t know…. what to do…what to do. How about being suspended 80+ feet in the air on a cable and sliding between trees faster than you can ride a bike? Good idea!

Side note.. it is probably not a good idea for the adventure guides to tell a story about how one of the workers cut three of his fingers off due to his hand being in the wrong position before your turn… I’m just saying…You know for marketing purposes you probably want to save that story to the end. Make a mental note.

Adventuring Couple from Boston

Adventuring Boston Couple

After eating we went to the hut and changed for zip lining. Hat check – check. Gloves – check . Weird crotch harness thingy – check. One other couple from Boston went with us. The hubby said one of the funniest lines I have ever heard while adventuring “Oh God do I have to go on that?!? I think my balls just went back into my body.”

We were dressed and ready to go!

  The guides might have left out one tiny detail about zip lining — the 20 minute hike straight up the side of a muddy mountain side. Yeah. Now, I like a a little jungle hike in the heat as much as the next girl, but a little warning might be nice :).
Costa Rica Zip Line Adventure

Going Up the Side of the Hill on the "Trail"

After we we made it to the top of the hill, the guides explained to us how the zip lining would work. Looks easy enough. The course consisted of about 12 zip lines high in the tree tops and ended with a repel back to the ground.

It started to rain just a bit but it was a welcome development — for me at least.

We also so quite a few bullet ants. With my very extensive research of the rain forest (watching something on Discovery Channel because I couldn’t find the remote) I knew to stay away from those bad boys.

What's Up with this Pose Dude

What's Up with this Pose Dude

So I’m all gung ho to get on the zip line right. And wouldn’t you know while I’m all big talk I get stuck in the middle of the zip line! wth?
 
When you get stuck on the zip line, you have to pull yourself across. Luckily, I’ve been doing a lot of tricep work in the gym so I had it waaay under control.
 
Ab was a natural at zip lining (I mean other than hitting the tree at the end — yeah other than that he was perfect heheh.)
Ab on Zip Line
Ab on Zip Line