For the Love of Movement and Sunsets: My Costa Rican Adventure (Part 3)

You know how in Part 2 how I said it was Best Day Ever? Well, in my journal for the next day I corrected myself, “No, today was Best Day Ever!”

It was our last day in Costa Rica, and I was feeling a bit sad that our trip was almost over! Making the most of it, I was up a bit early and spent some time enjoying the hammock life for a bit.

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After breakfast we congregated by the hotel pool for a final workout using the EmPacks! (

Team Relay of 3 rounds:

  • Maybe 200m sprint with the EmPack
  • 21-15-9 Thrusters

Once all team members have completed all 3 sets, continue with:

  • 200m sprint with the EmPack
  • 21-15-9 Power Cleans

Teammate #1 runs with the pack and performs the first set of 21 thrusters. While the Teammate is working, the other teammates squat hold. After Teammate #1 is done with the 21 thrusters the pack is passed to Teammate #2 and they perform the set. Continue cycling through teammates until back to Teammate #1, where they only do 15 thrusters. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Once all of the thruster sets are completed, start over with the Power Clean set. On this set, the non-working teammates plank instead of squat hold.

This workout was so, so fun. This was totally the moment when I realized, I just love working out for the sake of moving and enjoying movement. For once I wasn’t working out¬†because I ate too many cookies, or because I have a race coming up and I have to prepare, or because I’m supposed to. I wanted to work out because it was fun and makes me feel good. The end. And the vibe was so positive. When we all first got there and Donny was explaining the workout and the EmPacks, you could tell none of us were really sure how this was going to go. After a few rounds, the energy totally shifted. We were all getting dirty, cheering each other on, and really getting into it. It was the best.

After the workout we showered up quick and assembled to walk down to the local farmers market. I bought some souvenirs for the fam. And I bought another coconut.

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After the farmers market we had some downtime before our stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) session, so I took the advantage of the hammock and took a little nap. Hammock naps are so a thing. Now I want one at home.

Then we walked down to the shore for some SUP’ping!

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SUP was incredible. The water was so warm, and although I’ve paddle boarded a few times at home, it was always in the bay or lake or otherwise still water. The ocean was fairly calm, but even a calm ocean has some waves to it. I’ve never fallen off the board before, and there is a first time for everything! But the warm water felt really nice, and soon I felt gutsy enough to try to do yoga on my board. Because the worst that can happen is I fall into the warm water! I did nail a headstand, which was pretty cool ūüôā

South of us there was a thunderstorm brewing, but it was far enough away that we were safe, but we could still see the clouds and feel the energy from it. We ended up paddling way too far out to sea, and by the time we went to turn around it took me about 20-30 minutes to get back! But we were rewarded by the most insanely gorgeous sunset imaginable.

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Like, seriously. Can’t even.

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Yup, pretty damn content.

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We enjoyed every drop of that amazing view, then headed back to the hotel to shower an start getting packed up for our airport shuttle in the morning. Insert pouring tears crying emoji face.

The next morning we all trekked back to the airport to head home. We talked nonstop about how amazing the trip was, and how we weren’t ready to head back yet. I asked our guide Adrian if he would adopt me so I could stay in Costa Rica. He said yes, but I don’t think he realized I was serious, hahaha! As we got off the shuttle we hugged goodbye and swapped Instagram handles (as befits¬†our generation) and wished each other safe travels. They were an amazing group to travel with; everyone was so nice and welcoming, and even though many of us didn’t know a soul there we became great travel buddies¬†and had a wonderful time together.

I had some lunch at the airport – my last opportunity for plantains! – and hunkered at my gate with a book.

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I was connecting through Panama City,¬†and I knew my layover wasn’t very long, maybe 45 minutes. But I didn’t worry too much about it, until I realized the flight before mine was taking a way long time to load. Too long. Which ended up delaying my flight by an hour. Which means I missed my connection in Panama City. Which means I would have to spend the night in Panama City. Alone. Which has always been my number one fear with international travel – being stranded in a foreign city. Eek!

With that, I’ll see you next time in Part Four!

(Spoiler alert: I survived. Obviously, because I am writing this like two months later)

Go make it a great day!

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Under the Jungle Canopy: My Costa Rican Adventure (Part 2)

To make sure I remembered this remarkable trip, I journaled¬†about my activities and experiences every night. On the Third day of my trip, the first words of my journal entry were, “Best. Day. Ever.” Pretty much.

I woke up refreshed and rested, but my eyes were sooooo puffy. One of the girls says that puffyness happens when it’s high humidity. I did pack some nuun electrolyte tablets but hadn’t used them yet, so I decided that it might be a good idea to balance out with some electrolytes today. A couple of nuun-charged bottles later, and I was already feeling more hydrated and balanced. I had been drinking water like it’s my job the past two days, but certainly wasn’t replenishing my electrolyte stores with all the sweating I was doing. Pro tip: if you’re drinking like 10 bottles of water today and still feeling dehydrated, you might need a little electrolytes too!

After breakfast we went out to do yoga at the beach. There were monkeys. The end.

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PC to our awesome guide Adrian

Our yoga instructor Luz was amazing. She led us through some challenging yet restorative flows, competing with the ocean’s crashing waves to make sure we could hear her, and not in her native language! And she was so freaking adorable, making sure we were all comfortable and having the best time possible. It was just the best possible experience, shaded from the sun in the trees doing yoga on the sand with the ocean in the distance and iguanas and monkeys running all around. Why can’t yoga always be like this!

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After yoga we packed up the mats and Donny led us through a super sandy partner WOD:

2 sets of tabadas (8 rounds of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off):

  • Junkyard dog (one partner sits on the ground, arms straight out and legs straight in front. Partner 2 jumps around them, over one arm, over the legs, and over the other arm, and back the other way. Switch positions after each tabada round
  • Something that I called downward dog push-ups (partner 1 gets on the ground in a downward dog pose, partner 2 crawls under them. Then partner 1 does a push-up, and as they are down partner 2 jumps over them. Repeat, and switch places each tabada round)

So, so much sand and I couldn’t stop laughing. Which was really bad, because sand. In my mouth. Another jump in the ocean fixed the sand issue!

We had lunch at Cafe Milagro, which was the coffee place we went to yesterday. I finally got my tacos!

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Then we went zip lining. Holy crap, that was one of the most awesome experiences of my life.

The team at Safari Adventures picked us up at the hotel and drove us to the zip lining site, about 45 minutes away. It was way back in the mountains, and at times it didn’t even look like we were driving on a road. The bus was fording various rocky creekbeds and streams, and we saw some amazing views. Once we got to the site, we were greeted by an ADORABLE puppy that decided he liked to chew on my leggings. Ow. The guides suited us up in our harnesses and gear, and we were ready to go!

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I was totally freaked out on the first line, which was a little one designed to get your zip lining feet a little wet first. But once I figured out the trick (just lean back and go!) I absolutely loved it! The guides were also hilarious, with this infectious energy that just kept the adrenaline going. They would give all of us a hard time in a kidding around way. Once, they were lining me up to go on this huge swing. I didn’t know exactly what was happening, and they told me “Go!” and sort of pushed me off as I half-jumped off the platform. As soon as my feet left, they yelled,” No, no, not yet!” just to freak me out. It worked. As soon as I realized what they were doing, I just laughed. We had about seven lines total to cross, and the longest one was maybe a quarter mile? It was so long! You were up in the canopy and we saw some toucans which was pretty cool.

The whole time our guide Adrian was warning us we would be getting wet, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. Of course it was meant to be a surprise so I didn’t think too much on it. I’ll find out when I find out! At the very end we all found out – the last run was a 20-ft plunge straight down into a pool fed by a waterfall. They let us take off our shoes and anything else we didn’t want to get wet, and one by one we jumped. One of the guides was in the pool with our rope leads controlling the fall, but you were totally at his mercy on how fast you fell! I told him to just let it rip with me ūüôā There was nothing quite as exciting as dangling above a pool of water, suspended in time, then suddenly the rope cuts and you just drop. Pura vida.

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PC: our awesome guides at Safari Adventures

After the adrenaline rush we went back to the home base where they fed us an amazing meal of arroz y polo and I got to play with the puppy a bit more. On the bus ride how we saw legit wild horses.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed happy hour by the pool, and Joy went around interviewing for a GGW bonus episode. Then as we were eating dinner, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain! I love the energy of a good rain, and it was a soothing way to close out the day.

That’s all for now, see you next time with Part Three! Go make it a great day!

Pura Vida: My Costa Rican Adventure (Part 1)

I’m finally posting about my Costa Rica trip that I took in April! At least I only waited two months to post about it, rather than the year and a half it took for me to get around to posting about that time I went to Alaska. Better late than never, my friends!

I was chatting with a friend about my trip, and after my “what I did in 20 words or less” response, his reply was, “Wow, your trip sounded just like all of those travel brochures for a Costa Rican adventure!” Reflecting back, it totally was.

I first found out about this trip to Costa Rica last fall, when the Girls Gone WOD podcast posted about hosting a CrossFit retreat¬†in their monthly newsletter. I’m a GGW superfan, and I instantly knew I wanted to go. It was around my birthday when I talked to Hulk about it, so he said, “How about this trip is my gift to you? Happy Birthday!” Total win-win! So I booked it for myself, not having a clue as to who I was going with or what exactly it would entail other than daily CrossFit workouts. But it was a guided trip with Under30 Experiences, they had good reviews, so what did I have to lose except to make some new CrossFit friends and do burpees on a beach followed by tacos?

My trip started with a drop off at the international terminal at SFO. I was a little nervous because for whatever reason, my airline didn’t offer online check-in. Or TSA Precheck. So I had to, you know, go to the counter like all of the common travel plebeians and obtain my boarding pass. But whatever, I got to the airport early enough to snap some pre-boarding selfies in the rush of OMGIMGOINGTOCOSTARICA excitement.

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My flight was a red-eye that connected through Panama City. So I got approximately 34 minutes of sleep, because I found after my last red-eye experience that I do not sleep on planes. But there were plenty of free in-flight movies, so I just watched “Arrival” a couple times (OMG so good!) and landed without issue in Panama City for my connection.

It was a quick flight from Panama City to San Jose, and I made it out of customs and wandered to the cafe where I was supposed to meet my group.¬†I arrived around 8am, and my group wasn’t to leave until 1:00, so I was basically the first one there. I had tons of time to hang out … and drink LOTS of coffee. The coffee there is so good! Like angels roasted it. Then I noticed a¬†couple of girls that appeared American and were wearing spandex a few tables over. One had an EmPack. So I figured they were on my trip and introduced myself.¬†We joked¬†that I introduced myself wrong. I should have walked up and asked, “Do you know ..?” If you’re a Girls Gone WOD podcast listener, you¬†may get that inside joke. “Do you know the CrossFit?”

The rest of the group gradually trickled in, and we made introductions with each other as we loaded the bus to drive us to the beach for our first workout, then to our hotel which was a couple hours’ drive away. There were 20 people on our trip, and three guides. I knew nobody except for Joy and Claire, who would be joining us that evening, and even then I know them from the podcast, but they don’t know me.¬†Not awkward at all! But many of us were traveling solo so we were all in the same boat.

We made a stop halfway through the drive to use bathrooms, grab some local snacks at the roadside shop, and see some crocodiles. Because why not? I picked up some sea salt and lime flavored plantain chips, and they were amazing. Then one of my new friends offered me some strange fruit I didn’t recognize – green mango. To me, mango is usually yellow and very sweet. These were green, firm, and lightly sweet. After my first bite I decided that I must have my own to devour, so I purchased a small container. The guy ringing me up asked if I wanted lime juice and salt on them. I asked, “Is that how you eat them?” when he said yes, I said to local me up! Realize it’s like 90 degrees and a jungle, so very humid climate. We were all engulfed in about seven layers of sweat at this point. Eating that citrus-y, salty, cool mango in the muggy heat was heavenly. It was a great introduction to the whole trip experience.

Then we took a short walk down the road onto a bridge over a river. A river swarming with large crocodiles.

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They were probably something like 8-10 feet long. And just up the river you see cattle grazing. Snack?

We got to the Playa Hermosa beach and suited up for a beach workout. We met Donny, our coach for the trip. After a warm-up we split up into teams of 3 for a team workout:

12-min AMRAP in teams of 3 cycle through the following movements:

  • Bear crawl 50m(ish?)
  • Air squat or squat jumps
  • Hollow rocks or situps

Start with two lines about 50m apart. Persons 1 and 2 start on one line and Person 3 starts on the other line. As Person 1 bear crawls between Persons 2 and 3, Person 2 air squats/jumps and Person 3 hollow rocks/sit-ups. Once Person 1 reaches Person 3, they switch and Person 3 bear crawls back to Person 2 and Person 1 takes over air squats/jumps. When Person 3 reaches Person 2, they switch. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I was so, so sandy after that. I mean, it’s sort of a “duh” thing, but really. Sand was everywhere. Everywhere. But then came the best part – I’m all sandy and sweat is dripping in my eyes and I’m roasting hot … so I jump into the ocean. The water is bathwater warm, but it feels amazing. We should always have an ocean dip after every workout. That is an experience.

After our swim, we cleaned up best we could in the nearby restaurant bathroom then had dinner. The restaurant was on the beach (I wish I remembered the name!) and was open-air. As the faint coastal breeze blew in, we were served on tables made of huge, raw slabs of lacquered wood. They were gorgeous. I had an amazing poke bowl, and after we ate we went around with ice breakers getting to know each other better.

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We got to our hotel later in the evening. As the bus parked and we started gather our stuff, a guy jumped on our bus and said, “Hey everyone, there’s a sloth on the power line above the road!” Turns out this was Matt, co-owner of Under30 Experiences and one of our guides for the week. Not some random guy that likes to alert tourists of interesting local animal activities. I had never been that close to a sloth before, it was hanging maybe 20 feet above the road from a power line, just chilling.

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So that was a pretty cool greeting.

At the hotel we were assigned our rooms and roommates, and settled in. Our rooms were so cute and spacious, with a hammock outside!

After getting settled in and showered up, we congregated by the pool for drinks and waited for Joy and Claire to arrive! YAYYY! When they got there, I was trying so hard not to be a goobery fangirl. It was hard. They were so sweet and gracious, and Claire kept remarking how awkward it is to introduce yourself to people who already know who you are, #sofamous. But they seemed exactly like I had imagined them from listening to the podcast for the past couple years – friendly, approachable, and fun. We all chatted with Joy and Claire for a bit, and then hit the hammocks. I was exhausted from the long day and the red-eye, and had no issues dropping off like a rock.

The next morning I woke up early-ish after a solid night of sleep and had breakfast. The breakfast was awesome. We had an option of an American-style of bacon, eggs, fruit, and toast, or the traditional Gallo Pinto that consists of eggs, rice and beans, a fresh tortilla, and plantians. I mean, COME ON that’s no contest. Give me all the plantains!

We then loaded up on the local bus to head to Manuel Antonio National Park for a nature hike, a beach workout, and some beach time. The nature walk did not disappoint. We saw all sorts of birds, some sloths, and TONS of monkeys! They were everywhere on the beach, and when we were workout out they kept trying to get in our stuff. I didn’t realize that they were so aggressive when it comes to food, and I had brought in some snacks to the park because, you know, you bring snacks on a hike and beach day, right? Anyway, I was nervous that my hidden snacks would attract the monkeys, but we were close enough to our bags and our stuff was safe.

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After the nature hike we gathered on the beach for another beach partner WOD

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Trade off with a partner on 5 Rounds of:

  • 36 jumping lunges (regular lunges for me)
  • 12 v-ups (situps for me)

MEANWHILE, every EMOM stop and do 12 burpees

Again, we all got super sandy. It was hard keeping my footing in the deep sand! After a few minutes Donny changed the EMOM movement from burpees to mountain climbers. I think my partner and I finished at around 9 or 10 minutes, because we lost count of how many burpees and mountain climbers we did! We cheered the rest of the groups on (at this point the EMOM changed to tuck jumps, SO glad I had finished already!) and then we all hit the water to de-sand and cool off.

After chilling in the water a bit, Donny organized a trail run for whoever wanted to go. I was pretty hot, but I really wanted to go on the run. The run was a short loop around the peninsula the beach was on, and we did 2 loops, so maybe 30 minutes, complete with lots of ups & downs (I love the downs!) and some gorgeous views of the ocean. I was totally the caboose and at one point Donny came back to make sure I was okay. I was starting to feel a bit dehydrated; my legs were super heavy and I felt sooo hot. We made it back to the group and he gave me some of his ice water, since my bottle was empty. WOW that ice water made a difference, and I was starting to feel a bit better. Pro tip: when you think you have enough water, bring some more anyway.

After the runners had jumped back in the ocean and cleaned up, we packed it in for lunch in a nearby restaurant. As we were walking out of the park, we passed by vendors selling coconut water … from real coconuts.

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There seriously is no better way to get your coconut water.

I had a beer with my lunch, which was delicious at the time but later maybe not the best move when I was already feeling dehydrated. We headed back to the hotel on the local bus, and on the way had the option to stop at a local coffee shop for some afternoon coffee. Um, YES. I had an iced coffee and the most amazing chocolate avocado mousse. Then we went back to the hotel where I promptly jumped into the pool.

After floating in the warm water and hanging out with everyone,  I got changed for dinner and hit up happy hour.

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Because why have one pina colada when you can have two? Dinner was a traditional casados with rice, beans, a green salad, fresh tortilla, veggies, and I chose pork as my meat. So, so good.

After dinner we hung out by the pool and recorded a podcast with Joy and Claire! It was crazy awesome to watch as well as listen. You could see their gestures and expressions where you can only guess what’s happening when you’re listening. It added another element to the show for sure! The podcast is Episode 197 of Girls Gone WOD Podcast if you want to listen! The best part was listening to the episode after it was released when I got home, and getting to live a little slice of this amazing week again!

Okay, I’ve bored you enough with Part One of my adventures. Go make it a great day, and I’ll see you again with Part Two!

All the Alaska, Part 2

This is the continuation of our Alaskan Adventure saga. If you like look at pictures of other peoples’ vacations, check out All the Alaska, Part 1!

On Thursday, we woke up and had the most amazing breakfast ever. Our Airbnb host said to help ourselves to any of the salmon in his freezer, so we made up a wicked salmon scramble for breakfast.

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After breakfast the plan was to drive to Homer to take the ferry to Seldovia, which is a town that’s not on the highway system. You can only get there by boat or plane. So the following conversation takes place:

Hulk: “What time is it?”

Me: “11:30”

Hulk: “Okay. It’ll take us about four hours to get to Homer, and the last boat leaves at 6:00. So we should pack up and head now.”

*Leisurely, non-rushed packing ensues*

*I Google map the directions*

Me: “Google says it’s six hours to Homer.”

Hulk: “What time is it now?”

Me: “11:50”

Hulk: “And the boat leaves at 6:00?”

Both of us: “@!#$%!@#$”

Lesson learned, one inch on a map of Alaska is, like, driving across three states in the lower 48. Or driving through a couple countries in Europe.

It was a pretty drive, but we didn’t really stop to take pictures.

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Long story short, we made the boat with about 10 minutes to spare. Plus, the captain was running late anyway so we didn’t embark until 6:30. Plenty of time for more pictures!

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Once safely in Seldovia harbor we met with our host. ¬†For our stay in Seldovia, we were hosted by a very gracious family through couchsurfing.org (if you’ve never used couchsurfing.org for travel, I highly recommend it if you’re the adventurous type!). We arrived right at dinner time, and there was another couchsurfer staying with us, along with some friends of our hosts. It was a beautiful dinner party filled with warm conversation and wonderful food!

The next day, I explored the property a bit. It was very different to what I was accustomed to back home! The folks here are very self-sufficient, and while there was electricity there was no indoor plumbing. We quickly learned how the outhouse works (pretty self-explanatory) and figured out where the wash house was. They also had a huge, beautiful garden where they grew most of their food. And while they had WiFi I choose not to connect to it, opting to stay as “unplugged” as I could from the outside world for as long as I could ūüôā

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The view from the front porch. Hello, bay!

 

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The hosts’ bunkhouse, where we slept. Soooooo cozy!

 

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Hulk heading to the wash house to brush his teeth

After breakfast our host took us to the local community center where she led a yoga class. It was just the thing we needed after sitting in the car half of the day yesterday! Then we explored the town a bit. We ended up at the Seldovia harbor looking for otters. No otters, but tons of jellyfish and other wildlife.

 

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Carvings by a trailhead for the Otter Trail
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Boats ‘n’ jellies

 

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Panda sighting! (Panda is our hosts’ dog)

 

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Harbor view

We had lunch by the harbor, then headed out for a hike on some local trails. This was by far the most fantastic part of the whole trip for several reasons.

Since folks around here are very self-sustaining and live off the land as much as possible, our host was a mushroomer. She knew several mushroom varieties that were safe for eating and whenever she hikes she keeps a lookout for her favorites. I had never mushroomed before, let alone foraged for food anywhere more “natural” than a farmers’ market, so it was really fun keeping a lookout for mushrooms. Many of the pretty ones we found were poisonous, and our host encouraged us to¬†ask questions and keep looking for them.

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These we called “angel wings” and are very delicious, but hard to find.

 

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These are not edible, but it was just really pretty and I wanted to take a picture.

 

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Here they are, “hedgehog” mushrooms everywhere! They’re the big brown spots under the leaves.

Next to the huge score of mushrooms were blueberry bushes. I don’t think I ever just ate stuff from the forest before (except that one time at girl scout camp when I found a mulberry tree that I totally recognized and identified and helped myself; the camp counselors freaked out that they were poisonous berries and I got in trouble), and it felt so¬†fun and, well, nourishing¬†to eat berries right from the bush.

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I DID take photographic evidence of the blueberry plant, just in case it really wasn’t blueberries and I die someone can identify what I died from

After our foraging, we continued along the trail and reveled in the natural beauty.

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Doesn’t this mushroom look just like in Super Mario Bros? I have a feeling it is poisonous and will probably not give me super powers.

We then came to a secluded cove off of the bay.

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Next we climbed up and over the cliff to beach #2, aptly named White Rock Beach”

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2015 09 11 Emily and Tim White Rock Beach

 

At this point my phone died and I couldn’t take more pictures. ūüė¶

But then we went to a third beach, and this one had tons of beach combing potential. We filled our pockets with rocks, shells, even a sea urchin shell. I picked out a special rock for each of the kids. Kids love rocks.

The next morning we had to pack up and make our trek to the Anchorage airport. Our Alaskan Adventure was coming to a close, so nature gave us one last gift and parted the clouds so we could see the volcano in the distance from our hosts’ front porch. Dormant volcano, for now.

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On our way to the ferry we were still keeping a lookout for wildlife. Our host said that it’s common to see a bear alongside the road this early in the morning, but alas we were bear-less. They seem less scary if you’re in an enclosed, moving vehicle. However we did find tons of starfish in the low tide. They were crazy brilliant colors like Skittles. It was like an alien invasion.

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Goodbye, Seldovia!

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The  boat ride was cold, so Hulk borrowed my beanie.

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We made it to the airport in time for one last Alaskan brew. And that’s when I decided I want to brew beer.

 

 

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My hair looks pretty shiny for now showering for six days!

Meanwhile, the kids survived the Gramma and Grampa invasion.

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It’s always good to “get out of Dodge” as my folks say. It was a total jackpot trip, and we couldn’t be more grateful to our Airbnb and especially our Couchsurfing hosts for showing us a fantastic time in this beautiful part of the world. Hopefully we will be able to explore more beautiful places and have many more adventures to come! Also, after this trip I realized¬†I need to go to the beach more often.¬†Seriously, we live, like, an hour away. Or just get out into nature more often; this should be a regular thing.

As always, go make it a great day in your own part of the world!

All the Alaska, Part 1

I finally went through my Alaska pictures, so get cozy ’cause here’s a run through of our Alaska vacation!

Hulk and I headed out Sunday night.

Yay! No kids!
Yay! No kids!

We had an amazing view of San Francisco as we headed out.

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For the flight Hulk slept while I enjoyed a beer and caught up on some reading.

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We arrived in Anchorage pretty late, so we stayed in a hotel by the airport our first night. The next morning we figured we’d kick around Anchorage and see what the cool kids are up to. Turns out on Labor Day, the cool kids are somewhere else. After a hike around the bay,

Not without beautiful scenery, of course
Not without beautiful scenery, of course

we headed up to near Denali to check in to our Airbnb cabin.

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Wait, no. That’s the brewery.

But it might as well have been the cabin. We went there literally every day evening when the hours of drinking were appropriate. If you end up in Talkeetna, Denali Brewing Company is amazing! I loved every single one of their beers, especially the Abbadon.

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This is what a glass of happy looks like

After we were done sampling the local brews, we finally checked in to our cabin.

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Very “Alaska,” no?

We “oohed” and “ahhed” at the super fun quaintness of the cabin we drove over to nearby Talkeena to check out the goings on.

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Awkward selfie!!

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Of course we had to dine on some local fare. I had a smothered halibut that was so not Whole30 and so worth it, while Hulk demolished some king crab, complete with crab shell shrapnel at the poor couple eating next to us.

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The only bear I saw

Tuesday we wanted to do some tourist-y things like ziplining, but it was raining buckets. So we went with plan B and drove up to Denali State Park to see the famed highest point in the continental U.S.

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Well, that was the plan. In practice, it’s usually too cloudy to see the peak. On a rainy day, you’re lucky to see mountains. Good thing they have an infographic there, so you know what you’re missing.

Whatever, it’s still pretty.

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That's Hulk's "I can't believe we drove two hours to look at clouds" face
That’s Hulk’s “I can’t believe we drove two hours to look at clouds” face

As we were driving around, we caught some of the mountains peeking through the cloud cover. They looked so imposing from the road.

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After all the rain hiking, beer!

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The next day was slightly less rainy, so I started off with a walk around the “neighborhood”

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Then we drove North again to Denali National Park

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Not a selfie!

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Between the leaves turning and all the rain, the mountains were literally all the colors.

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We even got an awesome rainbow out of the deal. Perfection.

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We had lunch at a hotel that overlooked, like, everything.

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You know, because we like to rough it. Oh look, more beer!

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On the drive back, the clouds slightly lifted so we could get a good peek at the mountains.Alaska 2015 108

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Still no sight of THE Denali mountain peak, though. These were all of the piddly lesser mountains. If I paid more attention to that infographic yesterday I would probably know the names of them. But here’s two people that don’t quite care.Alaska 2015 115

And then more beer.

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Then the REAL adventure began …

SoCal Family-Palooza, Part 2

Wow! This week went by so fast. We have been enjoying all the family hijinks and shenanigans of our San Diego vacation.

Every day we hit the beach. Every day. I got so burned tan!

Hulk went surfing. It was his first lesson ever. This is the best my iPhone camera could do to capture the memories, apparently it’s not good for long-distance sport shots.

Other than laying on the beach doing absolutely nothing, we also toured the USS Midway in San Diego off the Navy Pier.

I’m on a boat!

I also indulged in some horchata,

Pretended to be healthy by eating salads,

And enjoyed some homemade pesto with basil straight from the garden. Perfect topping for both pasta and tilapia, it turns out!

And lots of undocumented snacks.

Time to pack the bags and head to the airport, to join with the real world once again. Boo, real world.

 

 

 

A South Lake Weekend

Hello! Long time no blog! When I miss a few days, it’s always so hard getting back into the habit again. I never know if I should recap all that I’ve missed, or just start over again with what’s current. But we had a lovely weekend away, and it would be just poor form to not mention it.

Last weekend Hulk and I took a couples’ trip to Lake Tahoe, where my company is hosting a weekend getaway for employees and their spouses. I have been looking forward to this weekend for weeks now, as I loooove visiting Tahoe! For the record, I brought my computer fully intending to blog while we were away, but hotel internet was $12 a day and I am too cheap for that. So I just chilled and disconnected instead.

Normally when we vacation as a family we stay at North Lake, but this time we are experiencing South Lake. I won a raffle at work for one of the top floor suites at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe. Woot!

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We arrived at South Lake Tahoe around 6:00, just in time to join some coworkers for happy hour. We hung out for a while enjoying the margaritas (well, Hulk did) and live band. Then once everyone else was ready to hit the casino floor, this granny-mamma called it a night around 10pm and we hit the super comfy bed in the suite. I am not a gambler; my money is better spent just throwing it in the street. We slept in until 10am! I don’t remember the last time I slept in that late.

Later Saturday afternoon we had a picnic on the beach. It did not suck.

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After sleeping in all morning and laying on the beach all afternoon, Hulk and I were a bit antsy so we checked out the hotel gym. It was pretty spacious for a hotel gym.

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Hulk tried to photo bomb. He was a little disappointed it wasn’t more obvious.

Then in the evening we did a riverboat dinner cruise. Salad, steak, and chocolate cake for dessert surrounded by Emerald Bay scenery.

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We saw the “super moon” rise above the mountains. Believe me, it was more majestic than my crappy, grainy iPhone picture.

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Sunday morning was an all-you-can-eat buffet. All the food. I didn’t want to be tempted by all the desserts, so I ate a couple chocolate-covered strawberries and took pictures of the rest. Mmm, pie.

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Then Hulk and I went for a quick hike up at Eagle Falls before heading back to the city.

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Not a bad weekend. Now it’s back to “normal,” whatever that is. I don’t have any travel scheduled in the near future (yay!), just maybe one more trip in August. Then I go have a baby and come back next year to a new project (hopefully!).

So that’s all why I’ve been all MIA lately. Hopefully if you follow me on Instagram¬†(emilyrocksroad is my handle) you’ve been seeing my check-ins. I’m a bit more reliable on Instagram.

Are you much of a gambler?

When was your last weekend away?

Okay, time to catch my train. Go make it a great day!

 

Even More Catching Up

Hey, kids! What’s happening? I suppose it’s time for my monthly check-in, don’t you think?

First, a piece of random coolness. Apple’s developer conference (WWDC) is going on this week across the street, and they always have really cool entertainment that we can see from our living room. Last night, Bastille was playing! I didn’t realize it was them until they started playing “Pompeii”, and I about had a stroke. I grabbed the binoculars and jumped around like an idiot. OMG, I love this city.

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I know it’s kind of a crummy picture. I have a lousy camera and dirty windows. But that big bright spot in the park is THEM!

Anyway, Squish and I just got back from a deliciously long weekend up at Lake Tahoe. My folks decided to host a family reunion of sorts up in the mountains for the whole family. View from our back porch:

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It was horrible, I tell you. We did lots of beach bumming, hiking, and a little stand up paddle boarding, my new favorite. Finally, a board sport I don’t feel entirely incompetent at!

The cool part was Squish and I took the train from SF to Tahoe. Amtrak has a stop in Truckee, about a half hour from where we were staying. Squish was going nuts about riding a train “just like Thomas [the Train cartoon]!”

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I tell you, if I could always take the train when traveling with small children, I would. It is so much more freeing than riding in a plane or a car.¬†Squish and I could wander the train cars as much as we pleased so we weren’t forced to sit in our seats the whole time, which is key when you have a very busy toddler. There was a lounge car with huge windows and chairs to view the beautiful scenery as we rolled along. And hot dogs.

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And as we traveled up the mountains they would announce historic facts and point out significant geographical features of interest. I got my nerd on, too!

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Apparently when Squish was playing with my phone he changed the filter on my camera. I didn’t notice for most of the train ride, I just thought the train made all my pictures turn out yellow. I am not a photographer.

And now it’s back to real life. I have some work travel coming up, we have some guests visiting, and baby #2 is cruising along and doing its thing. I have my 20 week ultrasound in a few weeks where we find out the sex. Hulk’s still hoping for a girl, and I don’t really care either way. I’ve finally stopped the daily puking and feeling like I’ve been hit by a fatigue truck all the time, so I’ve been able to resume some of my normal activities, like cooking and being around other people. I might even meal prep this weekend! Great heavens! Someday I might go back to the gym. Someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later, because after trying to hike around the mountains last weekend I found I am woefully out of shape and it’s going to be a major battle getting back to where I want to be. But the beauty is I have all the time in the world to get that done, if and when I choose to.

Okay, that’s it for now. Make it a great day, a great weekend, and I hope to check in next week!