Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Start the New Year Off Right....right?

The last leg of our trip landed us inland, near the Arenal Volcano in the town of La Fortuna. 
The most we ever saw of the volcano
As for activities, we all had some ideas of what we wanted to do. On the first day we all planned to visit a nearby waterfall....
It looks so... accessible from this angle, doesn't it?
Like there might be a nice shady path leading down to it or something pleasant.

All of us started down the path, a few of us (Mom and Don) got wise pretty quickly and headed back up. The rest of us could not be stopped... slippery path, humidity, elevation, approaching dusk, the presence of a 5 year old that you totally know will not climb her way back up, and common sense be damned.
Survivors - happy because the walk up hasn't occurred  to them yet.
I'm not pictured because  it wasn't pretty.
Anyways... the hike down and up was totally worth it because there was a very nice swimming hole at the bottom. Not too cold, sparkly clear and beautiful.

Grandma Linda and M cooling off their feet
M watching the swimmers
Looking downstream
After such an adventure, we thought that we'd all take it easy the next day and visit one of the hot springs. Everyone recommended that we make reservations because they only allow so many quests in the facility at a time. The weather looked like it was going to turn a bit cooler with possible rains, so we reserved spots for the first session of the day to avoid the crowd as much as possible. What better than to spend a cool day at the hot springs?
The next morning we arrived at the springs and were shown to the changing houses.... just as it started to sprinkle. It didn't look like there were many people, but we were early. 
The path leading to the pools - decidedly less hiking involved than yesterday.
Walking down the path we could hear howler monkeys roaring in the trees.
When we got down to the pools we found all the people... exactly two of them. Our only company was a couple who preferred to sip drinks and watch the rain - so we had all the pools to ourselves for a couple of hours.
Grandma Linda's sentiment was felt by all.
Everyone can thank me later for using only long distance pictures
of them in their bathing suits (even thought you totally know I had my
telephoto lens...Merry X-mas)
It rained off and on, but who cares about a little rain when you are sitting in a giant hot tub?

The biggest pool was just deep enough so that M could walk in it with her head and shoulders still out of the water, it was really the perfect situation for us. We even had a bar to ourselves!

It turned out even better than expected and was a nice relaxing day for all of us. 
I guess we all figured that we should do something the next day. I mean besides lounging around....
Grandma Nancy and Papa Donny wanted to do some bird watching, and Grandma Linda had a great idea - She, BZ, M and I would all take a rafting trip and see some wild life. 

M - all ready to go!
"Which oar is mine?!"
The four of us had a boat and guide to ourselves, and had a really nice time. The water was calm and we were able to see some interesting plants and animals. Our guide was really good and knew a lot about the area.

On our last night we all agreed to find dinner on our own... but ended up all in the same restaurant! Brilliant minds think alike, right?! Then we all enjoyed some social time in one of our hotel rooms, reading and talking.

M and Grandma Nancy pouring over new books.

M enjoying her new Legos and all the attention.

The next day was filled with traveling to the airport and traveling home.... On the drive we finally found a fruit stand with the much regaled "manzana de agua", which we had been looking for our whole trip. We (I) made the driver stop and turn around just to get my hands on one. Mine wasn't quite ripe, but I could tell why they would be so popular. It was like a firm red pear that was super juicy and tasted like roses, worth the stop!

Everything went fine - M slept a lot on the plane rides home.
M's sleep on the plane position - Head on stuffed "Sleepy Owl", leg  out. 
After a lot of annoying little problems with TSA and Spirit Airlines (my tip to you - do not fly with Spirit!), and once we were on our United flight home, it was one of the easier trips home we'd had. We were actually able to WATCH THE IN FLIGHT MOVIE. What?! I know. 
It was almost too good to be true. I appreciated it all the more because I realized it's probably the last time we'll get any quiet for a long time. Oh...

Another little one on the way to fill some big prints!
That's right... I should mention that we took all this family time to tell our folks that we'll be +1 next year. It went over pretty well, as you can imagine.
Happy New Year.