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.

Advertisements

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.

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!!

  

What’s behind the Door…County?

Have you ever been to Door County in Wisconsin?  It seems like every time we go there we create so many fond memories.

If you have never thought of Wisconsin as a travel destination, I hope this post will make you reconsider. 😀

 Do you enjoy fishing? Try catching some small mouth bass!

  
Do you like hiking?  Try out the trails in Peninsula State Park. Stop by the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse for a good view of the water and the 1000 lb anchor!

   
 
  
  
Do you enjoy beaches and water activities? Stop by Nicolet Beach.

  

Do geological formations fascinate you?  Check out Cavepoint County park.

   
    
  

   

Do you like quaint towns? It doesn’t get quainter than Door County!  The shops and restaurants have a ‘mom and pop’ feel to them. From gelato to popcorn to cherries and wine…Door county has special offerings.
  

Do you enjoy nature?  Then what are   you waiting for…check out Door county! 😀

  
A.K.

While you are in Door County, also check out Washington Island, the Swedish restaurant (Al Johnson’s) where goats graze on the roof, the cherry jams and juices and, if you enjoy this, the wineries and distilleries.

Canoeing can improve your marriage!

I am not kidding…not entirely anyway. 😀

This weekend, my family travelled to the Kickapoo Nature Reserve area for some fun and recreation time.


It is always funny how teens react when you tell them that you have planned a nature vacation.  At first, they react as though it is the worst possible thing that could happen! Once you get them there though, away from the Netflix videos and video games, they actually enjoy themselves!  Getting that Vitamin D from the sun, getting off their ‘seats’ are all positive things for sure!

Other than hiking, fishing, seeing Amish communities and farmlands, we went canoeing.  Which brings me to the focus of this post.


My husband and son paired up and me and my daughter went together.

It took a few minutes to orient ourselves and figure out how to work with the river, when to turn, how to turn, how to synchronize and be most efficient.  This is very similar to the first year or two of marriage.  When you start living with someone, you have to figure out how they work (some aspects are more apparent than others). ‘Does he squeeze the toothpaste from the top or the bottom?’ ‘Does he believe in making the bed in the morning?’ 😀

When you encounter inefficiencies during canoeing such as one partner does not listen to instruction or decides that they are too tired to paddle, you have a few  choices:

  • Give up and stay stuck in the river
  • Yell at your partner and waste your energy
  • Let the other have their non cooperative moment. Sit back and save your arm strength until they realize you have to work as a team to get to the other end of the river
  • Acknowledge that they may just be tired.  Relax and enjoy the river and its surroundings with them!

The last two choices would probably yield the best results. Just as in a marriage, we have to take a step back once in a while to acknowledge that the other might be going through some pain.  That pain sometimes prevents them from being on the same page as you.  We all know that this ‘pain’ comes in many forms, shapes and sizes. 😀 So rather than being ‘up in arms’,  save your arm strength until they cool off. Then, give them a BIG hug and move right along on the path of life.  They will both appreciate you for understanding and perhaps realize that you are a good team player! 

When I had a rhythm with my canoeing partner, we had fun and we could enjoy the scenary around us.  In marriage too, when your partnership has been (loosely) defined, you can focus more on enjoying life’s happy moments and dealing with issues or adversities in a calm manner (knowing and trusting that your combined strength will take you through).

It was definitely interesting how after almost 20 years of being married, an activity like canoeing reminded me of the basic principles behind a building (and re-building) a stronger relationship.

I respect the power of Nature!!

 -A.K