Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Costa Rica Trip

Add Image

After leaving Arizona we continued on down to Costa Rica. First we flew to Dallas/Ft. Worth airport and spent the night sleeping in the airport in some chairs. Next we flew to Miami early the next morning and then to Liberia in Costa Rica.

Finally we got to Costa Rica. It was absolutely beautiful. A real jungle environment.

This is our hotel. The Hilton at Paya del Papagoya. It was right on the beach and right in the middle of the jungle. It had several pools and restaurants. We were doing a free stay and it was all inclusive so all the meals were included. We used points from our Hilton Credit Card to get the free visit to this resort.
We really liked it there. The rooms were scattered all around and this is a view off our little balcony.

It was very hot there. Costa Rica is right on the equator. They have two seasons, both hot, called the dry season and the wet season. We were in the wet season so it rained a lot but that kept the temperature down so that it was actually quite pleasant. We spent a lot of time lounging around between sight seeing and snorkling. That is my foot.

We made a day trip to Nicaragua. It was fun except for the long wait at the border crossing. This is one of their buildings in Grenada that we got to see. They're not as built up for tourism as Costa Rica because of all the past political turmoil.

Some artwork on the walls inside.

Some statues by the ancient Mayans.

We got to see a huge volcano that is still active and got to look right down inside. The sulfur smell was almost overpowering.
Justify Full

We went Zip lining in the jungle. This was the best part of the trip. We also saw some Howler monkeys while zip lining.

This is a giant iguana that would hang out by one the restaurants and pool at the resort during the day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Arizona Vacation to San Tan Valley, Apache Junction and Sedona

We went on a vacation to Arizona and then later to Costa Rica. Both our parents live in Arizona plus some more of Jacquelyn's family.

Caleb stayed with Talitha and John while we were gone. It was about 2 weeks in all.

This is Superstition Mountain. It's the most renowned landmark of that area, sort of like Mt. Rainier is in Washington. This shot is from within a few hundred yards of where Jacquelyn's parents live. They have the most awesome view.

Here's a picture of Jacquelyn's parents - Ralph and Genevieve. They seem to really be enjoying their retirement in Arizona. A lot different from the cold of Minnesota.

Here's the front of their home with Jacquelyn and Connie on the front porch. Notice the big R on the front for Rucker. Also notice the spectacular view of the mountains just past the roof of their home. Arizona is an incredible place to live. The weather is very hot in the summer, but wonderful the rest of the year. And it is so beautiful.

Here's a picture on the inside in their living room - Jacquelyn, Connie, and their parents.

Jacquelyn's youngest sister Connie lives in San Tan Valley a little south of their parents in Apache Junction. This is Connie with her husband Layne and a foster child they are taking care of named Quinton. We stayed in their house during the first part of our visit. Jacquelyn especially liked their private swimming pool right in the backyard. She didn't mind the heat at all as long as she could go for a refreshing swim. Good thing too, several days it got over 110 decrees while we were there. We also got to see Jacquelyn's brother Duane and his wife Patti who also live down near Phoenix.

We also visited one of Jacquelyn's aunts, Aunt Marion, who also lives just north of Phoenix. Her home is right in the middle of a jumble of boulders on a desert mountain.

This is the house Jacquelyn and I have been trying to buy. It's in San Tan Valley just a few blocks away from Connie and Layne. We had an offer of $131K accepted last summer. But it's in short sale and Bank of America is still processing paper work on it and getting approvals. Can you believe over a year and it's just been setting empty. It may have gone down in value a little during the year and our realtor said when they finally approve the paperwork it gets re-appraised and the price might lower.

For the second phase of our trip we went out to Sedona to celebrate my Mom's 82nd birthday. Here a picture of the birthday girl out on the porch of the resort we were staying at Sycamore Springs just outside of Sedona. We had Mom and Dad and all their children, which is Mark and I, and our wives, Angela and Jacquelyn.

Angela had found the place on the Internet. She's the one that had the idea to go and organized the whole thing. The interior was very very nice, much better than we had even expected. Sometimes it's hard to get someplace good just from the internet but in this case she found a real gem.

Out back were some ponds and streams and gardens and walkways and it was incredibly beautiful and peaceful. We had a great time there.

Sedona is quite an interesting place. It's in a valley that is surrounded by red rock formations on all sides. It's unbelievably beautiful but kind of strange, like being on an alien planet.

We took several excursions up to different lookout points to see the scenery. On one trip we even found a geo-cache that had a travelling bug. At this point here we were in one of the earth's magnetic vortexes. These are places where the earth's magnetic field converges either up or down and the new age people claim these spots have magical properties.

See how the trees here are completely twisted around because of the magnetic vortex. At other nearby areas these same type of trees had straight trunks. There are more of these magnetic vortexes in the Sedona valley area than anywhere in the world. In one of the vortexes on a red rock bluff we started spinning around just for fun and one of the people in our party, I won't say who, said she was starting to levitate. Good thing we stopped and kept our feet on the ground.

At one canyon they had a natural rock water slide. It went for over 300 yards

This is the start of the slide. See Angela and Mark just getting in. It was extremely hot that day and the rocks got hot but the water was icy cold. It was an amazing ride. We weren't sure we were going to do it until Jacquelyn jumped in and went down first. Then of course Mark, Angela and I had to do it too. It was fun.

Jacquelyn is so adventuresome. The next thing we knew we found her jumping off the cliffs with all the young people at this place where the water slide widens.

Of course now I had to do that too. It was kind of treacherous because you had to jump out or you would land on rock ledges and also the footing as you came to the edge was sloping which made it seem risky.

We did some window shopping too and saw some interesting galleries and shops. Here is Mom and Dad with Mark and I.

I found this one place where you could hold up bits of food and the hawks would swoop down and take it right out of you hand.

With all the new age people and mystics walking all around, there were also alien enthusiasts. This Sedona area has had many a UFO sighting over the years. We ate in the "Red Planet" dinner that is rated one of the best in Arizona.

Here's the whole party at a Mexican Restaurant. We had a great time together. Happy Birthday Mom.