Monthly Archives: October 2021

Western Trip, September 2021

This post is mostly a ”photo dump”. The point is to get something up that supports my attempts at an online trip diary.

For a number of years, the end of August has meant camping our way west with the destination of a river trip. This year was the second season in the P Pod (Rpod camper) and I confess to loving it. Comfort and convenience combined with outdoor travel is a good thing at this stage of my life.

Since we only had a week to get to Jackson, Wyoming and the national parks are crazy with people, we repeated last year‘s route, staying off the interstate highways up through the Black Hills of South Dakota and across Wyoming to the Tetons. Custer State Park has become a favorite place and I was thrilled to get one of the last two online reservations for two nights in the park.

A bison herd visited our campground the morning we left.

From the park, we drove to Casper, Wyoming where we camped again at Gruner Brothers brewery. The difference this year was several RVs in the parking lot. Apparently they took my suggestion and joined Harvest Home, an RV membership group with different sites around the country that allow camping on their property. The next night we “boondocked” in the same snowmobile parking lot as 2020 outside Grand Teton National Park.

We got a quick bike ride in on a trail in the park and a stop at the Snake River Brewery on the way to our friend Bill’s forest service camp, where we camped.

For the last couple years we have planned a river trip around forest fire smoke. This year’s destination river was the Main Salmon River in Idaho and the smoke cooperated so we could go. The challenge this year was prepping and staging an eight day river trip out of a campground. We made it work. Slick had driven from Florida and Mike drove in from Ohio. We met Bruce and Ted from Boise at our put in. Yes, it was another Joan and men river trip. When someone, as a complement, described me as one of the guys, I informed them that I preferred that they think of me as a princess 😂 It was a good trip on a beautiful river. Great sandy campsites so I could pretend I was at the beach. Some of these photos were taken by Bill and Mike.

On the way home we found a couple of very nice campgrounds and stopped in Laporte, Indiana for a short visit with our friends Martha and Steve King. The weather was so exceptional that Martha and I visited two Lake Michigan beaches.

Western Trip 2021

2021 Travel Highlights to date (posted now because I started writing in March and …??)

Return to Costa Rica & Avoiding Covid 19: January 13 – February 16

We took Covid seriously, made thoughtful choices, and assessed our decision to go up to shortly before the trip. If Covid increased dramatically at home or in Costa Rica, travel would be cancelled. Bottom line: whether the risk would be worth the reward.

Prior to the trip, we were required to purchase special covid health insurance approved by the Costa Rican government. We chose not to go with the more expensive plans offered on the CR website. Instead, I found that Trawick International insurance offered a plan that met the requirements. A savings of about $200.00 per plan.

Getting there: Wearing masks for 18 hours till we reach our destination in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. Social distancing. Hand washing at every opportunity. Empty Cleveland and Atlanta airports. Departing Cleveland at 6:00 a.m. helped. Delta blocked center seats and managed the lines. San Jose airport was not busy and customs was streamlined. Instead of serial questions, it was more like “Welcome to our country, let me stamp your passport”. We hired a private driver to take us across the country instead of riding in a shared van. A really good idea because traffic jams stretched the normal four hour trip to eight and a half ours. Part of the adventure.

While we were there: We were visiting friends and sharing an apartment with our friend Bill. It is located on gated private property that has three homes and our open air apartment. A former banana plantation, it is now like an arboretum with a pool and shelter. This year we spent a lot more time just enjoying the site and feeling safe. Instead of using cabs, we normally would, we rode bicycles, like many of the local residents do. We rode into town for grocery shopping, errands, and a few meals in outdoor restaurants. Two beaches are also accessible by bicycle, although the heat and humidity make 6.5 miles feel much longer. We could also easily walk to Playa Negra, the black sand beach and the Point, a little beach outdoor restaurant. Any socializing was done with our little Finca pod at the shelter next to the pool. Although I missed the connections you make with new people when you travel, the slower pace was very relaxing and I enjoyed Finca Loco Natural more than ever before. Especially the sloths, howler monkeys and tropical flowers and plants. And my roomies, of course. We spent hours watching the mama and baby sloth in the tree in front of our porch/living room. Dave even had time to make Piña Rapida, his pineapple beer.

Finca Loco Natural

Out and About

The day after our arrival, the U.S. instated the negative covid test requirements in order to get on the plane home. Much to their credit, the Costa Ricans got their act together quickly and we had no problem getting a Covid test within 72 hours of our flight home. Also no problems returning to San Jose and easy flights home. It was a great escape from northeast Ohio winter for a bit.

Trip to Asheville, North Carolina: May 2 – 10

Friends Phyllis and Mike from Seattle flew to Cleveland and we did a road trip to North Carolina. We stayed In Swannanoa at our friend Claire’s airbnb. It was fun to play tourist and introduce new visitors to such a great area in the spring. While most of our time was very laid back, we got in some hiking, a visit to the Vanderbilt Biltmore Estate, five breweries in five days, the Folk Art Center, Catawba Falls and downtown Asheville. On the way home we stayed at another airbnb in Fayetteville, WV to show off the New River Gorge. We had plenty of time to catch up on our lives while hanging out together.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina: June 11-20

A second White Family Five Sibling ET AL gathering at the same spacious house we rented in 2019. Because the beach is always a good place to vacation. Seventeen people is a big group, but we enjoy each other’s company and people often do things on their own. My favorite times were hours on the beach, enjoying the kids in the pool and meeting my college roommate for lunch in Beaufort. Dave and I also found a fun brewery on the drive down. After all, road trips usually mean brewery stops for us. Unfortunately, I did not get photos of everyone.