Tag Archives: hiking

Getting Spit on in Oyantaytambo


photo-aug-02-11-32-54-amTo be sure, this is not the first time we have been spit on in our travels.

We were innocently there to see the ruins that day.

Through the Incan courtyard at the base…

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To begin our accent at the bottom…

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Stopping halfway up, aghast at how much more hiking up there is to go…

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To finally reach the top to see the “big rocks”…

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And the view…

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And then back down again…

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But first, a distraction. We just thought they were cute, and merely wanted to express our admiration…

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But we found out all too late,

the feeling was not mutual…

Costa Rica Part 3: The Eco Adventures


When in Costa Rica, one must Eco Adventure. In fact, I am pretty sure they don’t let you leave the country until you have partaken in some Eco activity. Luckily, there is something for everyone where that is concerned: from hikes through the rainforest, canopy hikes over suspended bridges or tram rainforest tours , to activities of varying extremes like white water rafting, zip lining, ATV riding, kayaking, horseback riding, surfing, plus you can pretty much rappel and jump off of anything – waterfalls, canyon walls, the Marriott Hotel (not really, but Teen considered the possibility). And the list goes on!

There are two good things about the Eco Adventures in Costa Rica.  First, almost all of the activities are offered in every region and, second, the Costa Ricans, across the board, are vastly adept at making the experiences safe, fun, and exhilarating!

Although we could not work in every activity we wanted to do, we did manage to come away with some amazing adventures. In fact, every tour we went on was a memorable experience.

1. ATV  RIDE– The Four Hour Tour

Tour Company: AXR An Xtreme Rider – Jaco, Costa Rica

ATV tour

Our ATV Tour in Jaco, Costa Rica started out to be a 2 hour ride through muddy river beds, rainforest trails, rivers and in the mountains above Jaco with beautiful vistas of the Pacific Coastline. However, at the end of our scheduled 2 hours, we were just not ready to be finished! So we kidnapped our guide and demanded he take us to a waterfall, kindly asked our guide, Luis, to take us for a few more hours, to a waterfall (‘cause in Costa Rica there is apparently a never ending supply of waterfalls to go to and swim in). He agreed, and off we went!

ATV TourTo top off what turned out to be our favorite Eco experience, Luis (who I should point out made the ride really enjoyable and exhilarating, and was very patient with myself and younger son who were first time ATV riders!), took us to mountain high restaurant – Rancho Shadday – to experience, hands down, the best homemade Epanadas (made to order no less) in the whole of Costa Rica (I still dream about them!)

"Welcome to the place where there's no world crisis"

“Welcome to the place where there’s no world crisis”

2. WHITE WATER RAFTING – Monkey See Monkey Do

Tour Company: Hacienda Pozo Azul Adventures – La Virgen, Sarapiqui River

Whte Water RaftingLet’s see, white water rafting, through a rainforest river, with Toucan and Howler Monkey’s looking on – not much to dislike here (except, I am pretty sure those Howler Monkeys were laughing at us because despite the many promises throughout our time in Costa Rica of seeing monkeys, the glimpse of them in the trees as we tried to not get flipped out of the boat was the only siting we would ever have!).

Add to it, the midway stop with fresh pineapple, machete’d on an overturned boat on the shore (Note: Costa Ricans love their machetes, available for purchase in the local grocery store), 15 foot high ledge to jump off of, and a swim in the Sarapiqui River and you have the makings of a pretty perfect experience.

The rapids were just extreme enough to be fun and not terrifying – 3’s and 2’s (although the rest of my family was ready to take on some 4’s by the end!).

White Water rafting, Sarapiqui river, Costa RicaThe beauty of the river winding through the lush rainforest is not an experience I will soon forget, if ever! Luckily, since the truth is, I don’t have any pictures that really do justice to the beauty of the surroundings. You will just have to take my word for it!

3. ZIP LINE AND TARZAN SWING – Ahhhhhaahhhhhhaaaahhhhhhahhhahhahaaa

Tour Company: Ecoglide – Arenal Park, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Zip Line, Arenal Park, La Fortuna , Costa RicaZip Lines are everywhere in Costa Rica – you would think they, like, originated the idea or something (which, of course, they did). We chose this particular Zip Line tour partially because, duh, the added Tarzan Swing. At no extra cost, we just could not pass up the chance to potentially lose our lunch doing a bungee like drop on a “Tarzan Swing”. However, it proved to be worth the risk of losing stomach contents (which we didn’t) to scream our way to the bottom (which only I did) on the Tarzan Swing– actually, the whole experience was serious fun.

The 13+  Zip Line runs (plus Tarzan Swing) were thrilling, beautiful, and felt like a once in a lifetime experience. The guides at each  tree stand between runs were fun, the level of safety was exemplary and the instruction for first time & repeat zip liners was just the right amount.

Zip Line, Costa Rica, Arenal Park

4. HORSEBACK RIDING – The Frog of Death, our new pet

Tour Company: Discovery Horseback Tours – La Quina (near Jaco), Costa Rica

Horseback Riding, Costa RicaWhat do horses and spa quality volcanic mud have in common? Only the Discovery Horseback Tour company’s Spa Tour in Costa Rica. Owned and operated by English couple, Chris and Andrea, now 12 year residents in Costa Rica, the tour was the best possible choice for our desire to ride horses in Costa Rica. The horses were beautifully kept and cared for, many rescued from abuse situations. We chose to take the 2 hour ride by a local farm, up into the rainforest and to a small waterfall (remember what I said about the waterfalls…) where we got to slather volcanic mud (a boys dream) all over ourselves before swimming in the waterfall pool.

After emerging from the pool with smooth as silk skin from head to toe, we were treated to fresh fruit, homemade fruit juice and flavored tea before continuing on our ride. Along the way on our ride, Andrea educated us with knowledge of rainforest growth patterns, ecology, wildlife and insect habits,  and located for us various creatures to observe including the infamous Costa Rican poison dart  frog (no, pre-teen-now-teen, you can’t take him home…but he is cute for a frog that emits poisonous juices)

Poison Dart Frog, Costa RicaAnother perfect experience – Pre-Teen-now-Teen’s favorite.


Tirimbina Rainforest– La Virgen, Costa Rica and Arenal Rainforest – La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Here is the thing, rainforests in Costa Rica are as plentiful as dirt on a ditch digger (little redneck humor for ya there). They are all stunning and I don’t really think it matters which rainforests you choose to visit, just make sure you do! The Canopy hikes – going across bridges suspended over the rainforest floor– offer a view from the “upper floors” of the rainforest. (Tirimbina)

Canopy Bridge, Tirimbina Rainforest, Costa RicaWhile the hikes through the rainforest gives you the up close and personal touch. (Arenal Rainforest)

Arenal Rainforest, Costa RicaMany of the hikes offer views of waterfalls along the way and they all offer an abundance of insects (don’t mess with the ants, they may carry you off), wildlife (be sure to look up high into the trees to see monkeys – if you are lucky- and exotic birds), and lush green foliage.

La Fortuna Waterfall, Costa RicaLa Fortuna , Costa Rica

Some areas offer an aerial tram that can be a good alternative for seeing the rainforest from above if you are not inclined to Zip Line.


Honestly, when it comes to Eco Tours in Costa Rica, you can’t really go wrong – turn the wrong direction, yep- that could happen, but have a bad tour…not likely!

More on Travel in Costa Rica!

Costa Rica Part 1: Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer

Costa Rica Part 2: No Signs Allowed!

For More Sweet Spot Travels: GO HERE

Puerto Rico Island Travels Part 1: The Lost Tour


Palomino IslandIt was probably just a coincidence that after spending half the summer on a speed marathon through the entire 6 seasons of LOST, we ended up choosing to vacation on an Island…or was it?

Teen, after breaking his arm and being banned for a good chunk of summer from all worthy pursuits, ie baseball and swimming, began watching the series, LOST. Soon, Pre-teen was completely hooked as well.  I, having already experienced the whole mind blowing journey (and by mind blowing I mean wishing my mind would blow up so I wouldn’t have to contemplate anymore unanswered questions) upon original airing decided “what the heck”, maybe the second time around it will actually make sense… and cool Mr. Echo will defeat the smoke monster and not ‘be voted off the island’ so soon – it didn’t and he didn’t.

Nonetheless, when vacation time came we found ourselves boarding a plane for the island of Puerto Rico, questioning the providence of our choice.  However, never ones to mess with destiny or the frustrated attendant taking our boarding passes, onto the plane we went.

We decided if fate should intervene,  I would be the Kate- type person because, duh, all the cute guys are willing to die for her,  she can kick butt and she never, ever has ‘bad Island hair’.  Teen wanted to be Sawyer because, yeah he had a tragic childhood, but doesn’t get maimed as much as the rest, has great comebacks and always gets the girl.  Pre-teen wanted to be Jin because he can beat up anyone when he needs to, is nice about it and is always there just when you need him.  We decided Hubs would have to be John Locke – someone has to keep the faith (I do believe in fairies, I do , I do) and get us back off the Island (although hopefully he would not have to die and then be possessed by a smoke monster in order to do it).  We all agreed, along the way we needed to find a Hurley for pure fun, and a Sayid for protection (because nobody messes with a former torturer if they know what is good for them)

As expected, we started out at the beach – you know, just in case we needed a quick helicopter rescue from a psycho marine, guy who talks to dead people or scientist who has done way too much experimenting on himself.

Isle Verde Beach, San Juan Puerto Rico

Isle Verde Beach, San Juan Puerto Rico

Isla Verde Beach, San Juan Puerto Rico

Isla Verde Beach, San Juan Puerto Rico

But eventually, as any stranded Islander, we felt the need to explore “the other island” – you just never know when you will be in need of a monkey cage, baby doctor, or well, baby daddy.  Upon approach it surely looked like a place to fall into the hatch (push the button, brother), or come across The Others and the eternally young and mysteriously guy-linered, Richard Alpert.

Off the coast of El Conquistador,  Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Approaching Palomino Island from El Conquistador, Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Nonetheless we disembarked from the boat (not Penny’s boat) and we were not sorry (just like Ben, although hopefully, we would not have to get pummeled on a daily basis for it).

Palomino - Is the island tilting, or is it my imagination?

Palomino – Is the island tilting, or is it my imagination?

Snorkeling in and around the rocks.

Snorkeling in and around the rocks.

Exploring the beaches

Exploring the beaches

And what is any three hour tour (oops, wrong ship wreck reference) without a hike into the jungle – because, of course, it is the only place to hear the whispers, see Walt appear out of nowhere – visibly aged by several years, and come upon random planes, trains and automobiles…or boats with explosives.

El Yunque Rainforest

El Yunque Rainforest

El Yunque Rainforest - swimming in La Mina Falls

El Yunque Rainforest – swimming in La Mina Falls

At the end of our week, we wandered if the Island would let us leave – we secretly hoped it wouldn’t. But in the end, it did (apparently, we were not on the list).  We only hope the Island will let us go back again, soon.  And then maybe, the next time, we will actually discover what lies in the shadow of the statue.

Coco Beach, Puerto Rico

Coco Beach, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Island Travels Part 2: The Clothing Optional Tour

Puerto Rico Island Travels Part 3: The Big Cajones Tour

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Spring Break at The Devil’s Bridge

Along the hike to The Devil's Bridge

Along the hike to The Devil’s Bridge

Around this time last year, I shared some of my favorite pictures and moments from our Spring Break trip to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona – more particularly, the highlight of The Devil’s Bridge!

However, I never really got around to telling the story of how we actually got to the Devil’s Bridge – or rather almost didn’t get there – until now!

Thanks to my fabulous writer friend Sherri Kuhn (whom I have known since the dark ages – i.e. when I still had braces) I am sharing the story over at SheKnows.com as part of a multi-writer contribution article about most memorable Spring Break vacation trips!

Find out what turning 50 (please, NOT ME – my husband) and a quest for The Devil’s Bridge have in common.

Go here to jump right to my story of how we strayed off the beaten path!

Go here to start at the beginning and read all contributing articles!

Really, it’s all good!

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Today’s Best Moment: Thursday, April 5

Photo By: Paula Danner

Photo by: Paula Danner

Devil’s Bridge – Sedona, Arizona

We had to hike to get there.  I didn’t even panic when they walked across.  Ok, that is a lie.  I did panic, a little. But man, it was cool.

The truth is, the best moment may very well have been afterwards,   playing football with them in the hotel pool. That was cool, too.

For more on this adventure, finding the bridge and living to tell about it –   Go Here!

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!