Saturday, July 25, 2015

ATX & H-Town

Well, I didn't mean to let a week go by without updating, but it has been an incredibly busy few days.

On Sunday, we flew from Costa Rica to Austin. Everything was uneventful, except that our bags (which we were forced to check, though at least it was free to do so) were stranded in Dallas. They were delivered to my mom's house the next morning. We were reunited (temporarily) with Lola and Zoe. They seemed happy to see us, and I was so happy to have my foot warmers back!

On Monday, we met up with Graham and Erynn for breakfast at Kerbey Lane. Graham has accepted his position at Fraenkel Gallery and will be moving to San Francisco this coming Monday. Erynn is a photographer and filmmaker and will be joining Graham in San Francisco next month, as she is able to do her work from there as well. We had a lot of catching up to do, as we talked about what is next for them...very exciting! We also grabbed dinner with my mom Monday night.

On Tuesday, we left for La Marque, TX (near Galveston) to spend two days and two nights with Mimi. We had an amazing time staying up late talking, going out to lunch, doing crosswords, playing cards, and updating her digital picture frame with more family photos. We also got to see my aunt Sally. Mimi isn't a big fan of photos, but she let me snap this one before we left, and I love it. She is probably the blog's current biggest fan. Love you, Mimi!

On Thursday afternoon, we left Mimi's and checked in to our Houston hotel. It was finally time for the Red Sox vs. the Astros game that was Brendan's Christmas present from me! We left for a dinner at Ninfa's...they had delicious margaritas, vegetarian fajitas, and chocolate cake...we ate WAY too much, and I was so full. It was delicious though, and they provided us with a free roundtrip shuttle to and from Minute Maid Park, so it worked out great.

We were seated on row 14, directly behind the third base line. They were amazing seats (I researched a lot to find them).

It was a great game, even though the Red Sox ended up losing when the Astros scored a home-run in the bottom of the 9th. I was sad about that, but happy that it was such an interesting game.

Obviously, Brendan was really happy too. This man was in his element! It was truly his "Christmas in July."

I ended up being on TV somewhere (a person behind me showed me on his phone), but I don't know where to find it!

We got back to the hotel around midnight. On Friday morning, we needed to get on the road in order to make a 2:00pm windshield replacement appointment in Austin (it cracked when a rock hit it on the way to Mimi's house). On the road, I found out that my dad was in the hospital with abdominal pain. We were at Auto Glass Solutions at about 2:07pm, and they were finished by 3:00pm. It was reasonably priced and fast...we highly recommend them.

We drove straight to the house to await news on Dad (my brother was at the hospital with him). Dad texted us and told us that his appendix would have to be surgically removed. We all drove to the hospital to meet him before the surgery. I wasn't worried at all until I actually saw my dad prepped for surgery. Then I felt a bit anxious, but my brother reassured me that, statistically, the surgery was very, very safe. My mom waited in the waiting room while the three of us went next door to get some food. As soon as Brendan and I came back (great timing), the doctor came out with news: the surgery had gone well, and my dad was in recovery. We waited about two more hours to see him, and we visited a little before leaving him to get some rest (they kept him overnight for observation). Luckily, Dad got to come home at 11:00am this morning. He is up and walking around, and I am impressed at the speed of his recovery!

I had a hair appointment booked for this morning, and I enjoyed seeing Peyton at Bob Salon once again. She does a great job on the color and cut, and I love it every time.

We are looking forward to cousin time tonight with Amanda and Matt (and Amanda and I plan on it involving sushi--which I'm pretty much always thinking about). We hope your weekend is less eventful than ours so far (in a good way). May you keep your appendixes and your windshields!


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Costa Rica: Last Fortuna Day, Last Volcano

Hello from our 5th and final hotel! We have had an epic time in Costa Rica, and we head back to the states tomorrow. Here's how we spent our last two days. 

Yesterday was a drizzly day in la fortuna, plus we were tired from nearly constant activities. The perfect solution was more hot springs! We tried Eco thermales...about half the price of fancy tabocan (from the beginning of the week) and a lot smaller, but just as relaxing if not as over the top visually. 

Plus, the nature walk provided some excellent finds!
Frogs actually this tiny. Brendan was impressed I spotted them! 

We saw a crocodile, hummingbirds, and some lizards, and curassows too! We spent four hours in the hot springs, and it was a pretty perfect way to unwind from all the hikes! We played rummy last night, and I won (much to Brendan's general dislike). We finished wine we bought awhile ago (and still have another bottle for tonight). 

This morning, we checked out of our hotel around 8 and set the GPS for Poas volcano national park. We said bye to our volcano view: 

GPS knew the way (for once)! We arrived about 11:00am and spent two hours checking out the huge smoking craters and the lakes that formed in them in Poas:

It was pretty darn cool and also on the way back to San Jose. We were thrilled to fit in a final national park on our last day. We bought some delicious strawberries in condensed milk on our way down the mountain. It was a gorgeous drive too! Check out my from the window photos: 

We got a lot of rain on the tail end of the drive...but at least we were not at the park still because it poured! 

Our rental car return went so smoothly. A.) fast b.) they refunded us for returning it a day early (we wanted it done before tomorrow since our flight is early--and our hotel has an airport shuttle) and c.) they gave us a ride back to our hotel. Nice! We drove about 1200 miles and had no car damage or flat tires. I'm ready to throw a parade! 

But instead, we settled for gambling away our last $20.00 worth of big wins, but our parents would have approved! 

And that's all rats all folks! Fingers crossed for an uneventful flying day tomorrow and a safe return to the USA. I am looking forward to seeing my family, being reunited with Lola and Zoe, and to celebrating my brother's new job in San Francisco at the Fraenkel Art Gallery. We are so happy for him. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Costa Rica: Back to Back Hiking Days

Greetings from Costa Rica! After our white water rafting adventure on Tuesday, we decided to take things easier on Wednesday and do a mostly downhill hike. We took a sky tram (like a gondola) to the top of a mountain and hiked down. 
Views of the lake from above were breathtaking. 

Seeing two waterfalls was the only up and down part of the hike. 

We saw howler monkeys, coatis, butterflies, colorful beetles, hummingbirds, and a tayra! 
Another big attraction was the hanging bridges
470 feet across, 230 feet high and above the tree tops. These things sway and shake (especially when Brendan jumped on them).

On the way home, more coatis and 100s of yellow butterflies clustered together. 
That night, we went out for a nice dinner at tifakara and Brendan finally saw a tree frog: 

The next day, we were up early for a 1.5 hour drive to hike rio Celeste (the blue river). We picked up sandwiches along the way for a picnic. The water was bright brilliant blue, but it looks a little greenish in the photos. 

It was a very muddy hike, but very worth it to see a wonder of nature!

Smelled like sulfur in some places due to the volcano pressure vents under water. 

The "bridges" were of the hold on and pray variety. 
Here is the point where the two rivers mix (each carries natural chemicals that mix to cause the blue).
We saw a sloth and lots of butterflies. 

Afterwards, we went to the hot tub and enjoyed both happy hours at our hotel. Today: more hot springs! 

Happy Friday everyone! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Costa Rica: White Water Rafting

Today was perhaps the most fun and thrilling day of my life (except for our wedding day). We went white water rafting on the Balsa river. I was so scared when I signed us up this morning (last minute, so I wouldn't think about it too much), but I also thought I would regret it if I kept fear from letting me try something new...and I'm so glad we did this! Our group (two other couples honeymooning) was so awesome. We executed our guide's commands of forward, back, down, left and right together in as much sync as possible with rapids coming at us and water filling our boat! I love teamwork activities (so much more than competitions). The class 3 Rapids provided a huge adrenaline rush. I was having fun the whole time and felt very safe (moms: note our life jackets and helmets!) One guy fell off, but we rescued him in about 20 seconds. It was a challenge and so tiring, but it also was amazing and beautiful. We saw toucans, iguanas, and sloths. The river was gorgeous! I cannot get enough of Costa Rica's scenery. Seriously, Brendan and I were just saying "I'm so glad we did this" over and over. 

I definitely would do rafting again!
What a great day! I'm off for some much needed sleep. Night night! 
<3 s&b 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Costa Rica: A Beautiful Drive, Hot Springs, and Arenal National Park

Yesterday morning, we enjoyed a final sighting of the 3 foot iguana in the jungle around our old hotel, ate breakfast, and packed up the car. We were headed for la fortuna. It was a gorgeous drive, and we listened to two more episodes of serial. We stopped along the way to hang out with coatis: 

Cute, right? 
We also had lunch along the way and hung out with scarlet macaws. 
It's hard to capture the beauty of a drive in photos! 
Once at our hotel, our original room wasn't ready yet, so we were moved to the top floor and now have an unobstructed volcano view. We love the pool and the breakfast here. There are two happy hours a day and opportunities to meet people from all over the world. 

Last night, after dinner downtown, we did my favorite thing of the trip. We visited tabacon hot springs. This place was over the top romantic and had about 15 different natural hot springs of varying temperatures. I left my phone in the locker, and it was dark anyways, so image search on Google to find pictures if you are curious. There are about a dozen choices for hot springs here, but I was glad we splurged on the fanciest one. I will never forget it! 
Today, we were out the door at 9:00am and drove to the Arenal volcano national park. We hiked for 3 hours: 

This tree is 400 years old: 

We saw tons of magpie jays and peccaries. Not the best photos! 

We hiked the 1992 lava flow for volcano and lake Arenal views: 

We napped this afternoon (much needed) and went to happy hour. We are entertaining the idea of a late sushi dinner. A better than average Monday! We hope yours was good too! 
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