Category Archives: wild flowers

Costa Rica – Pura Vida!

On January 23, we flew to San Jose, Costa Rica and escaped the Northern Ohio winter  for 23 days. Weather at 41 degrees latitude is a sharp contrast to  the mid 80’s F at 9 degrees north of the equator.

Part I of the trip was a “Week of Rivers” paddling experience with Costa Rica Rios, an adventure outfitter. Our group of 12 friends, came from Idaho, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Quebec. Only three of us knew everyone, but we were all had river connections and years of experience (somewhere between 200 and 300 years collectively). It was a great mix of people. Thanks to trip organizer Bill Sedivy!

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Costa Rica Rios is based in the central mountain region in Turrialba. They take great care of their guests; providing accommodations, food, transportation, equipment and knowledgeable river guides.

Our paddling was on the Pejibaye, Serapiqui, and Pacuare Rivers in kayaks, IKs a canoe, a cataraft and a raft. They are in the interior mountain region and flow through remote jungle areas. The water was extremely low, which meant these whitewater rivers required more technical paddling. My waterproof camera had issues, and some people just got better shots, so many of the photos I have included were taken by other members of the group.

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We spent two nights at the Pacuare Outdoor Center, in a remote area where we paddled in and out. It’s a jungle camp located high above the river, with a climb up a steep trail to get there. It has a large open-air shelter, screened cottages and no electricity. The guides made special drinks for happy hour and delicious meals. While several people enjoyed their zipline course, I remember our cottage, the quiet and the peaceful ambience.

After the river week, four members of our group went home and eight of us continued on for Part II of the trip. Our first experience was a visit to the family farm of Pablo, our lead guide. We met his family, had a group cooking lesson, toured the farm, milked a cow, had a good meal and a very enjoyable afternoon.

Next we traveled to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast just north of Panama. We have visited this small laid-back town before. Here we stayed in The Birdhouse, a rental home in Finca Loco Natural within walking distance of the beach and town. It was like staying in our private jungle garden with a pool. Pamela and Carter are wonderful hosts and also built the house. It was good to see them again since our last visit 6 years ago.

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Here is where I insert plant pictures. One of my favorite parts of Costa Rica is the exotic flowers, plants and trees. Lush overgrown house plants. Can’t get enough of them.

In Puerto Viejo, we had lots of choices to make: Walking or taxi? Which beach to enjoy? Playa Negra? Arrecife? Punta Uva? Serious or casual birding? What to read?  Happy hour at the pool or the house? Get up early or sleep in? A day with plans or winging it?  Lazy Mon on the beach. Evenings in town listening to Soul Caribe and visiting Kaya’s Brewery. Hanging out at the Birdhouse and grilling. Having a party. Hiking in Manzanillo and Cahuita National Parks. Lunch at Maxi’s.  Restorative relaxation. Sloth watching.

It was hard to leave Costa Rica to return to Ohio and winter.

DAY 19 – Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix & Gambling in Maricopa

Tuesday, March 19 – another tourist day for Joan & Dave’s final escape from riding through Phoenix.   This place was amazing.  Established in 1939, 145 acres and over 50,000 plants. And a bonus butterfly house!  I walked 2 miles, read everything & happily took pictures for four hours.

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The day ended on a completely different note.  For our last evening in town, we went to the local casino, where I actually gambled instead of just using the restroom.  I entertained Dave & Phyllis at the poker machine, where I won $11.30.  Really, Phyllis won it for me.  I pushed buttons cluelessly.

DAY 10 & 11 – Sand Dunes & Desert Wildflowers – posted March 11 from Palo Verde, CA

Sunday we passed through the Imperial Dunes aka North Algadonis Dunes Wilderness area, the “Sturgis” of Southern California. Caravans of BIG RV’s with a trailer carrying their BIG utility vehicles.  Huge dunes 300 feet high. The area is 40 miles long and 5 miles wide, a popular weekend spot for yahooing around on utility vehicles.  It’s like the middle class Hell’s Angels chapter gatherings.  I met a really nice family who gave me a ride on their utility vehicle.  It allowed me to have a taste of the “Glamis experience”. Once was enough, but it gave me a better handle on the adrenalin rush.  The vehicle could go 70 mph & had incredible shocks to take the hills. Dave spent a large part of the day getting sand blasted & dealing with crosswinds & “dips”, i.e. small steep hills.

Our campsite, Mitchell Family Camp Association (really!) was right on the bike route & the former channel of the Colorado River.  The other side is Cibola Nature Preserve in Arizona. Great value for $15 a night.

We opted to stay 2 nights because choices were limited in this area.  It made it easy to start out on Day 11. I had a funny encounter at a Border Patrol checkpoint after dropping Dave off for the start of today’s ride.  Technically, I was leaving California & almost crossing into Arizona, so they stop vehicles.  A really cute guy (the kind I wasn’t sure whether it would be neat to adopt him or date him) was really interested in the sign on the truck about the Uni ride. After the usual explanation, I asked if they had a bathroom.  The conversation went something like this:

J – “Do you guys have a bathroom I could use?”  BP – “Just cells” – J – “Cells? Bathroom cells?”  BP – “Alien cells.” (Now I’m thinking Roswell Alien Amber Ale!) J – “Oh! I think I’ll head back to the campground.”

Dave said I should have used the cell & then I could say I was detained by the Border Patrol.  Honestly, I don’t know what these guys (always men) do all day, hoping to stumble across an alien!

The desert wildflowers are blooming & I’m having fun finding & photographing them. Then I do internet research to figure out what they are.

When we got back to the campground after Dave’s first 40 mile day, I found a new use for my sarong. Created my own computer cave to create enough shade so I could see the screen!

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