Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Monday, March 26, 2018

Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Games

In previous years we have spent the month of March at an RV park in the Phoenix area so we could attend some spring training baseball games. Now that we have purchased a home in Yuma, we will no longer be spending the entire month in Phoenix.

However, we are still baseball fans; so we drove up to Phoenix last Wednesday to attend a game on Wednesday. We spent the night at a hotel and attended the last home game of the spring training season for the Brewers on Thursday.

These beautiful roses were blooming outside the main gate.

The Brewers have been playing their spring training games at Maryvale Park in Phoenix for many years. It is one of the oldest ball parks in the Cactus League. In recent years, many teams have opened new state of the art facilities. The Brewers have committed to spending nearly $60 million dollars during this next off season to do a complete overhaul of the Maryvale Park. The city of Phoenix is contributing $10 million. The work is promised to be complete by the end of next February when spring training 2019 starts.

We'll be very interested to see what the improved facility will look like. We really enjoy games at the Brewers stadium. There is a very family friendly feel to the place. Some of the newer parks have a bigger feel to them, not nearly as fan friendly. We hope the Brewers can put together a more modern facility, but keep the fan and family friendly aspects of the current park.

On Wednesday evening we were invited to dinner at friends Jim and Jane's place in Cave Creek, north of Phoenix. Kevin, Jim and Jane all grew up in the same neighborhood. Kevin and Jim attended the local Catholic grade school together and then both went on to attend Boy's Tech High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

They lost touch after high school, but through the magic of the internet and Facebook, we reconnected with them in the last few years. Jim and Jane moved to Arizona several years ago. They have a beautiful home on the outskirts of the Phoenix area. We arrived just in time to see some wild javelinas behind the back fence of their property. They look kind of like pigs, but are actually members of the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America. We've seen them in captivity and at a distance, but this was the first time we saw them up close.

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner that Jim and Jane prepared for us and a great visit. Thanks so much for inviting us. We're hoping they can visit us this summer in Beaver Dam when they return to Wisconsin to visit friends and family. Thanks to Jane for taking the picture.

This afternoon we will finally take possession of our new home. We've owned it for about two months, but had agreed to let the previous owners stay until the end of the season. We're leaving on April 4th, so will not have much time to really do anything with it. A new mattress is being delivered and the termite people are coming to spray this week. We'll check everything out, close it up for the summer, and start fresh next fall. I'll post some pictures in my next entry.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Costa Rica Part Six

On our second day in Monteverde, we went on an excursion to the hanging bridges hike in the cloud forest. The platform in the distance is for the ziplining.

There were five bridges in the canopy of the forest. The largest bridge is number 5 which is 774 feet long and 164 feet high.

This wasp was about the size of a half dollar. Our guide told us an interesting story of how these wasps will sting a tarantula which paralyzes it for days. The wasp then lays its eggs in the tarantula and the larvae eat the tarantula alive. Gross!

This was another pitviper like the one we saw on the night hike. They eat hummingbirds. They can strike faster than the hummingbird flies. It takes about a month for the bird to digest inside the snake, so the snakes often stay in one spot for about a month.

Here's a millipede. It's secretion is poisonous.

This plant is called blue indigo. It sure doesn't look like it, but the roots used to be ground up to make blue dye.

As we were waiting for our return transportation, we watched the zip liners coming down the cable from up in the forest. We've zip lined before, and weren't interested in doing it on this trip.

And this Coati was sitting in the parking lot.

In the afternoon we toured the Don Juan coffee plantation. There are 50,000 coffee producers in Costa Rica. Most are small family operations. Seventy percent of them belong to a coop to help get their coffee beans to market.

At Don Juan's they grow mainly coffee plants, but also bananas, cocoa beans and sugar cane. The tour was very interesting. We saw how the coffee beans are processed, how sugar cane is pressed, and how chocolate is made from the cocoa beans.  Here are some coffee plants with banana trees mixed in.

We got a phone call that night saying there was a rock slide on the road we were supposed to take out the next morning. Therefore, our pick up time would be at 6:40 am instead of 8 am. The ride down was even more jarring than on the way up. There was much construction on these mountainous roads.
The cloud forest was beautiful in the morning light.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Costa Rica. We did not get to the Pacific side which I believe is the more touristy part where the expensive homes are located. We hope to someday do a Panama Canal cruise which has a stop on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. So, we may get there one day.

We are going back to Phoenix on Wednesday and Thursday to take in two Milwaukee Brewers spring training games and have dinner with some friends Kevin grew up with. A week from today we take possession of our park model home!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Costa Rica Part Five

On Sunday, we moved to our final destination in our Costa Rica adventure. We were headed to Monteverde in the mountainous cloud forest; home to over 3,000 plant species, 120 mammal species, 400 bird species, and 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles. Our trip began with another boat ride across Arenal Lake.

There were many egrets along the shore.

These black birds were very noisy.

A howler monkey watching us go by.

This Green Heron was hiding in the weeds. Another beautiful bird.

We transferred from the boat to a van for a very interesting trip to Monteverde. The scenery as we headed up into the mountains was breathtaking. About two hours of the drive was on a gravel road with lots of rocks and potholes. The van was rattling so much, I was amazed it was still running. As our driver said, a free two hour massage.

We finally arrived in Monteverde and checked into our very nice hotel and spa. Much of what we saw in Costa Rica was very third world like, but some very nice hotels are scattered throughout some of the cities. Here's a look at the city of Monteverde. This was very typical of the housing we saw everywhere we went. Mostly tin and wood shacks. Some buildings are made with concrete block. As remote as most villages are, its surprising they are able to obtain any building materials.

There were lots of birds in the trees outside our hotel room. This is a Blue-crowned Motmot. It was absolutely beautiful!!!

This Emerald Toucanet had a nest in a hole in a huge tree outside of our room. I saw both of the adults, but did not see the babies.

There were also lots of hummingbirds flitting about in the flowering bushes outside of our room. It sure is hard to get a picture of one of them. There are fifty species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica, so I have no idea what type these were.

We went on a night hike at a nature preserve. The guide was masterful in finding wildlife for us to see. Up in the trees we saw a sloth, an anteater (this is very rare to see and the guides were super excited about it), a sleeping bird, and an olingo. I did not get pictures of any of them. After all, it was dark. The guide had a scope and flashlight, so we were able to see the animals quite well.

We saw this orange-kneed tarantula. I was happy to view it from a safe distance.

This is a poisonous side-striped palm pitviper. It blended in so well, but our guide found him for us to see.

We were already in the parking lot with our van waiting to take us back to the hotel. Our guide was saying goodbye to us when he heard a sound nearby. He said it was just too close to pass up, so we trekked down a nearby path until he found this mottled owl for us to see. The night hike was very cool.

Tomorrow I'll wrap up with our final day in Monteverde.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Costa Rica Part Four

We traveled from Tortuguero by boat, bus and van to Arenal, a volcano in the rain forest. Along the way we saw many pineapple fields.

 Unfortunately, the three days we were there were rainy, cloudy and foggy; so we never actually got to see the volcano. That doesn't mean we didn't have some fun adventures there. The first night we went to Tabacon Hot Springs Resort and Spa, where natural springs and pools of mineral waters run through the tropical forest. The hot springs river runs right through the resort. It was a very nice place.

The next morning we took a boat ride on Lake Arenal, a man made lake created by a dam which provides about 20 percent of the electricity for the country. Our destination was the Arenal Volcano National Park where we participated in a two hour guided hike. The scenery was beautiful even though it was quite cloudy. The rain held off until we were done with the hike.

We learned that most of the trees in the rain forest have plants growing on them. These plants don't harm or help the tree, they coexist. Here is a tree with many bromeliad plants growing on it.

Massive cane plants were growing along the side of part of the path.

At the end of the path, we were supposed to see the volcano. This day, we were only able to see about one-third of the bottom of it. Arenal Volcano is active, and has erupted as recently as 2010.  There are 112 volcanos in Costa Rica.

Here's what it looks like on a sunny day. Too bad we didn't get to see it in all its glory!

There were orchids growing throughout the rain forest. So beautiful.

On the boat ride back, we saw this group of black vultures hanging out on the rocks.

Back at the resort, we went for a swim and enjoyed the hot tubs and the pool bar. Here's the view from our balcony. On a clear day, the volcano is in the background.

This tree is called a traveler's palm. The fronds turn with the sun, helping travelers with direction. It looks like a giant fan.

There were so many birds in the trees on the grounds. I think this is a black-cowled oriole.

And this might be a yellow warbler. I really need a bird expert with me on these trips.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Costa Rica Part Three

On our last day in Tortuguero we traveled by boat to a sister resort and took a walk through the gardens and the rain forest. There were lots of howler monkeys climbing in the trees and on the roofs right in the resort. The hanging one had a baby on its back. They are the largest monkey species in America, and their sound can be heard for up to three miles away.

We saw many beautiful plants on our trip. Here are just a few.

This chameleon would have been pretty hard to find without the guide pointing it out.

There were a bunch of these spiders on the side of the porch of our cabin. Yikes!

Wooden carved benches with animals of the rain forest were all over the resort. They were absolutely beautiful.

The Capuchin monkeys are quite the pests at the resort. The bartender told us they steal the pineapple for drinks right off the bar top. These guys were enjoying their stolen pineapple in the bushes next to the bar.

And this fellow was looking for some loot in the garbage bin at the boat dock.

In the afternoon we took another boat to the small village of Tortuguero. It's hard to imagine how these people live in such a remote area. This was the hello at the boat dock.

This is the beach at the Caribbean Sea in Tortuguero, the Atlantic side of Costa Rica. Sea turtles come here to lay their eggs, but it was not the right season. It was pretty misty while we were in town, typical for this area.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!