Costa Rica – The Wild Edition.

Costa Rica is known for its beautiful beaches, lush vegetation and a variety of tropical fruit. These aspects in themselves make Costa Rica a great destination stop.

In addition, the diversity of wildlife is not only impressive but unbelievable!

Starting with insects – Butterflies


Such bright colors and designs!

Not completely captured but worth a mention were the innumerable types of insects and bugs…an entomologist heaven!


Birds

The king fisher.  Beautiful colors and a signature beak.

Tiger heron…with its feathers resembling the stripes of, yes, a tiger!

A humming bird at rest.

Pelicans waiting next to the fishing charter boat…hoping for some scraps. 

The yellow chested bird that woke us up every morning with its musical calls.



Ssssssnake
!  

Better on a tree than anywhere close to me!


Lizards

In addition to the house lizards (cringe), there are other lizards of different shapes and sizes.

Iguanas.  


Lizard with spines (resembles a Spinosaur)


Crocodiles!


Monkeys

We saw sloths but they were so camouflaged in the trees that they were hard to capture. 


White faced capuchin monkeys.  These were so cute and their behavior closely resembled that of humans.

Baby hitching a ride on mom!

Pondering his next move!


Deer – White tailed

Deer roam free back in Wisconsin, but it is still interesting to see how the species adapts to different environmental settings.


Frogs

We were fortunate enough to see a few poison dart frogs (but could not quite get a photo).  Some were black with bright yellow spots. Others had neon green spots.  They were so small and jumped around like a little cricket.

Interesting fact – The poison they use to deter predators is sourced from a plant that they eat (it is not genated internally).

This little frog hopped into our house…yikes!  My husband was quick to grab the camera.  I would have just ran the other way…or stood on a table! 😀


Turtles

We saw turtles on our mangrove tour.

Fish

“There are plenty of fish in the sea” but my son and husband were able to capture (and release) a barracuda!


There is something special about seeing animals in their natural setting.  It is impressive, educational and just fascinating!!

A.K.

I left my heart in Utah!

A couple of years ago, my family and I went on road trip that started at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and ended at Arches National in Utah.  

I am sure you can imagine what a calming and out-of-this-world experience it would have been; the scenic route changed from coniferous trees and streams to mountains and farmland and ultimately ended in the impactful RED rock of Moab, Utah!  

We spent four days in the Arches National Park…I could not get enough of it!  I knew that I had to come back to Utah soon to experience more of its natural beauty!

Getting back to the present…we just got back from a roadtrip to Bryce National Park and Zion National Park!  I could say that the experience left me speechless…but that would probably contradict the purpose of this blog. 😀

Bryce Canyon National Park

This park is known for its formations referred to as ‘hoodoos’ (also known as tent rock).

A bird’s-eye view of the Canyon.

The “Queen’s Garden”

White-tipped Hoodoos

These unique formations absolutely define this park.  After we took a walk down the canyon, we truly had an appreciation of how tall these structures stand.  A little ironic considering their beauty is as a result of years of erosion by water!!


Zion National Park

Although it is very hard to compare Bryce Canyon to Zion, I would have to say that Zion had a larger “Wow” factor for me.

When we drove in, the moon was out and the rocks almost seemed like divine beings!


It is amazing how water can help plants grow and at the same time carve out a path through huge rocks!

The rocks make a shuttle bus look like a little ant!  It truly reminds me of the superiority of nature!

I honestly could have just set up camp there and stared out of the “Weeping Rock” lookout.  So serene!  It provides an escape from worldly thoughts.  It gives one a chance to remember who they are on the inside…outside of their usual title and labels.


In conclusion, I can honestly say,”I left my heart in Utah!”

😀

A.K.

Fall…the start of a new beginning

My favorite season is fall!  Being from Milwaukee, I hear a lot of people say,”Oh no, it’s Fall…winter is around the corner!”

How can you short change such a beautiful season?!  The color palette resembles that of a rainbow at times.  


Who knew that a simple halt in the production of chlorophyll could create such a transformation?  


From a blast of color to a blast of bareness.  From a blast of bareness to a blast of the white stuff. From a blast of the white stuff to signs of new life. Finally, little shows of green as the trees slowly come back to life and eventually stand in their full glory!


So fall is just the start of a new beginning!


A.K.

India today

This summer we visited India.  It had been about six years since our last visit. While some things remained the same, there were also quite a few changes.

The biggest change I noticed was the amount of traffic. I honestly don’t know how people commute under such conditions.  I guess there are just a set of unwritten rules that the locals have developed over the years.  Even as a passenger,my heart skipped a beat a few times!

Traffic in front of the Chennai High Court


Can you imagine crossing the road?!

Strangely enough,it seems like there are fewer fender bender cases.  Perhaps it is the constant honking that keeps all drivers on alert! 😄

There were so many varieties of restaurants. There were a lot of western options (which my kids appreciated for a change) but what was more impressive was the innovative ways they served Indian food! Barbecue, dim sum style, classic banana leaf style.

I definitely put on a few pounds during the vacation!

I was most interested in showing my kids the cultural,natural and historical aspects of India. In the words of my kids, “Of course you would Mom!” 

I myself did not grow up in India so I can certainly relate to their experiences.  But as a child, I enjoyed the simplicity of life in India.  The sonpapdi (Indian dessert that I can’t resist) vendor would ring his bell as he pushed his cart down the street (Much like the ice cream truck minus the creepy music).  Veges, fruit and fresh flowers were all sold by street vendors. It had that more “Support your local farmers” feel.

I found some of that still hidden away in all the clutter of shops and cars.


You can even get ‘Henna’done on the street!


We visited a place called Kanchipuram (two hour drive from Chennai) which is known for its historical temples.  I was honestly in awe!  

These temples are over a thousand years old! Half the time I stood there just wondering how they built them.  The precision of the sculptures, the height of the arches, the smooth rounded pillars. All this without the technology of today.  Technology can sometimes be overrated…seriously!

Varadharaja temple entrance

Sculptures within the temple 


Ekambaresan temple – amazing symmetry and detail 

Kailasanath temple – made of sandstone


Chennai itself has many impressive temples.

Kabaleeshwar temple

Marundeshwar temple tank


My temple experiences involved reflection of some sort you could say.  It was meditation through observation or mindfulness. Atleast it wasn’t about, “Please give me this” or “Please make this happen”.  Personally, I think that misses the point altogether.  To each his own on that one!

With more development, the Information Technology boom and more people building houses where they shouldn’t, it is so hard to move around. Pedestrians can barely walk on the streets. Even cows are feeling this. 

Cows hanging out at the beach


I have seen cows on the streets, but this was a first!  

There is so much talent, skill and beauty (material and natural) that India has to offer.  I only wish there was better infrastructure (and some amount of regulation) to help it grow successfully.  It’s sadly a dog eat dog world in many cases.

A.K.

Vegas…beyond the Strip (Part 2)

In case you missed the previous post, you can click on this hyperlink:  Part 1

Death Valley…sounds scary doesn’t it?  Let me assure you that this place is absolutely AMAZING!!

Many times I felt as though I was on the sets of “Star Wars”.  The openness, the terrain, the unusual colors!

Here are the highlights:

Me and my kids running up and down the sand dunes…great workout!  
 The terrain at Zabriski point
 A large stretch of Sand Dunes  Sunset at the Ubehebe Crater

A view from the top of the Golden Canyon with the Salt Flats in the distance

 
A Natural Bridge  
Below Sea level!! 
 Artist’s Palette – gold, green, brown… 
A closer look at the green deposits   

 The white stuff is not snow…it is SALT!! 
 Texture on the Golden Canyon   
Dried up!

 Well, that’s it in a nutshell.  We would have liked to have spent one more day there since we couldn’t get to all the spots.

So the next time you are in Vegas, this is a stop (a two hour drive) that you could consider. 😀

What can I say…I love nature!

A.K.

Vegas…beyond the Strip (Part 1)

What do you think about when I say Vegas?  Glitz, glamour and gambling?  That’s the more publized side of Las Vegas for sure.

Did you know that there are a few National parks and State parks within hours of Vegas?

  • Red Rock Canyon
  • Great Basin
  • Valley of Fire 
  • Death Valley
  • Zion
  • Bryce

We managed to visit two of these locations last week – Valley of Fire and Death Valley.

Valley of Fire State Park is just an hour away from Vegas by car.

Here are just a few highlights of the beauty within the park…

Scene from a natural “cubby”

  

Petroglyph (rock carving) over 3000 years old!

 “Beehive” shaped red rock with little windows and “cubbies”

  Slot Canyon

  
 

Yucca Plant on a trail

  

Arch Rock

 

Balancing Rock    

Massive  red rock!
  

Which way did the river flow?
 

Climbing fun!

 

Chilling in a cubby! 😀

 

We originally thought we would be in and out in two hours but we spent five hours there!  What a fun way to spend time with  the family!

So the next time you are in Vegas, check it out!

A.K.

Stay tuned for photos from Death Valley…it was out of this world!!

  

It’s a beautiful day

In the voice of Bono from U2, “Don’t let it slip away…”

I guess my interpretation of Bono’s words would be that the good moments should be acknowledged (in your head) before that momentary joy passes.  

Sometimes we hang on to those moments as a way of defining who we are…but in reality it is nothing more than a moment in our life.  Who we are is defined by what we do every day.  Some days, we will miss the mark but we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if we have the intent to reel ourselves back in. Some days, we will exceed our own expectations of ourselves but that doesn’t mean we have graduated to sainthood…we are just taking a step in the right direction.  Staying grounded is key.

So why was it a beautiful day?

  • I finally had a chance to go on a Nature walk and take some Fall photos.

  

   
    
 

  •   I finally met the goal my son set for me when I was training for a half marathon i.e. A sub-10 minute mile!!! I never thought I could do this.

  

  • I enjoyed every bite of my lunch…Ethiopian food. Hits the spot for sure!

  

It filled me with joy. It filled me with happiness.  It was a beautiful day.

A.K.