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.

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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.

Marriage is akin to a mountain

The older I get, the more I realize that I have always been more of a realist.  

While growing up, there was so much talk about soul mates, perfect mates or love at first sight.  I somehow never really thought that made sense.  Personally, I felt that such labels set most relationships up for disappointment and failure. 

If you are in a relationship that is perfect, consider yourself one of the lucky few!

I wanted to use my experiences, and those of others I’ve seen, to make an analogy with nature…specifically mountains and rock formations.

***

Marriage is like a mountain

That can be eroded by rains

But this merely symbolizes a new phase

Adjustments are made to avoid further deterioration

Marriage is like a mountain

That can develop cracks due to wind and water

But if we take a closer look at these weak spots

They provide us a window into where the true strenghs lie

Marriage is akin to a mountain

Strong shifts in the earth can either cause destruction

Or can result in the mountain standing taller

This all depends on the amount of support around

Marriage is akin to a mountain

Every layer represents a phase with lessons

With time, it grows taller and stronger

And also becomes home for other living beings

***

Marriage teaches each of us to be better people.  It makes us a little less selfish.  It provides us a opportunity for self growth, self reflection and selflessness.

That being said…it takes an effort, from both parties involved, to maintain a state of equilibrium.  Goodness doesn’t always come easy right?

😀

A.K.

If we were more like our animal friends…

I have a confession to make.

“I am a documentary junkie!”

I haven’t always been into these knowledge packed nuggets, but as I grew older and tv show standards started declining sharply, I craved more intellectual material. I can honestly watch marathons of these shows!

It is truly amazing how much you can learn from such nature and science shows.  It really gives you a perspective that you probably would never have considered.  Truly eye opening!

I recently finished a series on “Nature”(PBS) called ‘Natural Born Hustlers’.  It really made me realize how smart and cunning these animals, big or small, truly are.  When I saw how deceitful  they could be when they wanted their way with the girls, I realized that these animals are not as innocent and helpless (atleast amongst their own species) as we make them out to be.  I joked with my husband, “Hmmm…these shows are starting to make these animals seem not-so-cute!”

Obviously when you DVR a variety of nature shows, some themes come to light.  No matter what species, they follow eerily similar patterns when it comes to furthering their lineage and existence.  But humans seem to follow a different path (well duh…right?).  

But I wonder if we would have grown to be a ‘stronger’ species if we had followed protocols similar to our animal friends. 

Disclaimer: The content of this post is meant to be tongue in cheek and humorous. 😀

  1. Females choose the strongest male after some crazy goring fights! –  If we did this, each generation would be guaranteed to get stronger and smarter.  Admit it, don’t you ever find yourself in a situation where you say, “This is a case of Charles Darwin’s theory gone gravely wrong!”
  2. Life is not weighed down by emotions – Although some studies imply that animals do experience emotions, we take emotions to a whole other level.  So much so, that it gets in the way of us making good decisions in life. It gets in the way of a plain and simple ‘Happy’ life..  Blame it on that pesky concept of ‘Attachment’!
  3. Understand the elements and adapt – We don’t always have to be on the lookout for predators.  We don’t always have to worry about the availability of food or the lack thereof.  Animals know this is part of life and roll with the punches.  Yet we worry about the most trivial things sometimes…we miss the fact that we are alive. I know that is oversimplified, but maybe it’s a good approach to life.  Be thankful for every sunrise or sunset that you are blessed enough to witness!
  4. Creativity and evolution – they may have small brains but they use them to the fullest, therefore giving each new generation an advantage.  Can we say the same for ourselves? Hmmm…

The next time I see a bird, deer or lizard I will look at them with a lot more respect. It is a crazy world out there and, if they survive, it is an indication of their  smarts!

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!!