Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

What a Week

I have to say that this was the best week in recent history. Work was good. I had a birthday. My Christmas gift gathering is complete.
At work today I received and email from my sis in law with several cartoons. A couple of them were very funny. I will share at least one them here today...
Happy Holidays : )

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Birthday Dinner

We had the kids over for my 50th birthday dinner today. Also for my younger sons 26th birthday. Nothing special, just a big pot of spaghetti, cake and ice cream. The kids had something to do at work so they could not stay long. The point is they made it over. I did manage to get a couple of nice photos of them. They were all dressed up and looked so nice. The restaurant where they work is having a prom for a young woman who is dying from ovarian cancer. She never went to prom in high school, so they are having a party-fundraiser for her. She is 27 years old and has three young children and no life insurance. I guess she doesn't have much time left as she just came out of hospice. I am glad the boys are working for a family who have good hearts. It is good for them to be involved in things like this. I am so proud of them. They have both come a long way. Christmas gift update: I did manage to spend some time on the spirit box today. I got the outside covered with fabric and the inside lined with striped paper. It actually looks quite nice. I am excited to get it finished and wrapped up. I need to include a card with some sentimental hoo ha on it : ) to put on the inside.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ah, The Holidays

I have been neglecting my blog, as well as my house work in favor of creating sentimental Christmas gifts for the members of my immediate family. I started with my son's girlfriend. I had a photo of them together, but it had a bad background, so I photoshopped it. I am a new user of photoshop and it was good practice. Anyway, I added a nice blue background and had it printed. Then I bought a plain wood frame and got to work. I bought some funky beads to go with the tiles I had already and got to work. It did not take long to glue the tile and beads. The next day I added the grout. After curing for a couple of days, I wrapped it up. I am very pleased with the final product. For my second son, I wrote the story of him. His birthday is December 17. He will be 26 years old, so the years of toys and 'in' clothing have passed. Taking into consideration the economic environment, I decided to do something more personal, hence the book. It is a letter to him. One that I should have written 26 years ago. I have to say that I am quite proud of the text as well as the binding. I covered some thin cardboard with faux leather and put his monogram on the cover with gold fabric paint, and added some ribbon to tie it all up. It looks very nice if I do say so myself. Of course, there was a check included : ) Moving on to the Christmas gifts, I started with TOM. He was in the Army for 20 years and continues to work for the Department of Defense. During his military career, he collected a number of commemorative coins. These coins were just hanging around the house gathering dust so I decided it would be nice to put them in a display case. Not being too handy with the tools in the man cave, I decided it would be best to purchase the display frame. I know that's a step away from 'making it myself'' but it was probably smarter to keep my digits in tact and purchase the frame. The local craft store had them on sale for 50% off, so that is still a an inexpensive gift. The hardest part with this particular project was getting it done with him haning around. He did get up and go hunting this a.m. so I got busy. It turned out very nice. I used velcro to attach the coins, so I hope they don't fall off. I did not want to use hot glue as I was afraid to damage the coins that have enamel on them. The Christmas gift for my oldest son was more challenging. He will be 30 on his next birthday. It just gets harder as they get older! Anyway, he's had a run of bad luck the last couple of years (three jobs, broken hip that had him out of work for 8 weeks) and I figured he could use some good luck. So, I got the idea to create a 'spirit box' for him. He is kind of 'new agey' and is into crystals and medicine bags and other stuff like that, so I think he will appreciate a special box to hold his talismans; happy thoughts, plans for the future, things that make him feel good. I purchased a simple cardboard box, items to make a dream catcher, and will use the rest of the faux leather fabric. I found directions online for a dreamcatcher and it was relatively easy to make. The next thing was to start on the box. Covering this would be more challenging. I started with the lid. Because I wanted the lid to be attached so I had to make some modifications. I am a big fan of spray adhesive so that's what I used to adhere the fabric to the box cover. No muss, no fuss, and no hot glue burns. However, spray adhesive won't work for attaching the lid to the bottom so I used hot glue for that. Covering the box bottom will be harder so I stopped for the day. I made good progress and will try to finish tomorrow. For son number two, I am going to mat and frame a newspaper article in which he was mentioned. A photograph was included. At the restaurant where he works, they prepared Thanksgiving dinner for the local Meals on Wheels charity. It is not so 'creative' on my part, but as I am working, I might think of something else. I think he will appreciate tho. I wish I had thought to take pictures of the construction process, of the book, the display case, the spirit box, and the mosaic frame. But I can really only focus on one artistic project at a time : } I will have to take photos of eveyone with their gifts. Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

Had good time in Vegas. Tried to do as many 'free' activities as possible because we never win. And we are not infatuated with designer names so shopping was not on the list. However, the Forum shops at Caesar's are amazing. Two of every three shops has a designer name on the door. I could not believe. Amazing. There really is a lot of money in this town. Monday, December 1: We arrived by 1030, bought our tw0-way hotel shuttle (24.00) and we were on our way. We were able to get into our room so we dropped our bags and hit the strip. We did a 'refresher' circle around Caesar's: Bellagio, Paris, Flamingo, Venetian, Treasure Island, and Mirage. The conservatory at the Bellagio was 'under construction' for Christmas so we missed that. You would think they would have completed that earlier than the first week in December. I really wanted to get some photos. We spent a little time in the Flamingo on the 'Wheel of Fortune'. TOM really likes that game. It did not like us. It was pretty tight and and not playing nice. At the Venetian, we went to MadamTaussaud's Wax Museum. We had a lot of fun taking pictures with the wax figures. I was disappointed that they did not have more! We were too early for the Pirate show at TI. Well, we were not too early, we just did not want to wait around in the casino for 20 minutes for the show. We have to pace ourselves you know, limited amounts of cash were set aside for gambling. I had $50 in gift cards for Hard Rock Cafe so after a short rest in our room we hiked to the Hard Rock for dinner. If you're a pin head and a fan of Hard Rock Cafe, they are not on the strip. It was about a two-mile walk from Caesar's. It was a good walk tho after spending 4 hours on an airplane. We had a really great salad and I had enough points on my All Access card to buy two pins. Tuesday, December 2: Today is Bette Midler day. But that wasn't until 7:30. We had a whole day to fill up. Our sleep and dining schedule was all screwed up because of the time change so when we got out of bed we were ready for lunch. There is a Denny's near the Venetian so we headed over there for breakfast. It was at least an hour line. In our quest for food, we decided to get away from the crowds and headed over to the Duece (bus stop, $5 for a 24-hour ticket, every 15 minutes, 24-hours a day). About mid-way to Fremont Street we spotted another Denny's and got off for breakfast. No lines, no waiting. The food was pretty good too. The Fremont Street Experience is pretty cool. OK, it was mid-day and we didn't get to see the lights. We planned to go back after Bette. We spent a couple of hours walking around and we hit a couple of the casinos. We were winning enough to keep playing so we spent a few hours there. On the way back to the bus, we passed a guy painting pictures with spray paint and paper towels. Pretty impressive. TOM bought the one that we watched being painted. We had headed back to the hotel to unload. After a short break, we headed back to the Duece. We had never been to the Luxor, so that was going to be our next stop. We could hang around for a couple of hours before we had to head back to see Bette Midler (the reason for this entire trip). TOM got lucky on the slots here so we played for couple of hours. At 4:30, I called it quits. I did not want to miss the opening act! I am so glad we left when we did. At that end of the strip the bus heads to the transfer station and we had to change buses. We were heading into rush hour which was also going to add precious minutes to our ride. I tell you, I was a little nervous. We finally made it back to the hotel with time to get dinner. The food at the Augustus Cafe was pricey, but that does not necessarily equate to good. We paid $40 for spaghetti and a taco salad. The service was slow, or maybe I was anxious. No, the service was slow. Bette was terrific. She was loud and bawdy and everything I expected. We had pretty good seats, rear orchestra, center stage. I wish I had captured her playlist. I know she sang: The Rose, In the Mood, When a Man Loves a Woman, I've Still Got My Health, Hello in There, The Glory of Love, Baby Mine, From a Distance, Boogie, Woogie Bugle Boy, Wind Beneath Your Wings, Cool Yule, Friends. We also found out after the show, that Bette would be signing her book after her show on Dec 3; The Legend of Baby Divine. I went right over to the shop and bought my copy. We did have the best slice of pie (pizza) at the snack bar across from the Coliseum. It really was terrific. We never made it back to Fremont Street, I had a blister and we were tired. Off to bed. Wednesday, December 3: What to do today? That was the big question. Get breakfast. Check. We had two-fer tickets for the Eiffel tower, so we headed over the Paris. This Eiffel Tower is exactly half the size of the original. The views were pretty spectacular. Vegas is surrounded by mountains. The slots at Paris weren't playing nice so we didn't stay long. We didn't sleep well so we went back to take a nap : ) When we got up, we headed over to the Mirage to see the Secret Garden. It made me feel bad to see the animals in such small enclosures. I don't think I will support those activities any longer. We did stop and have some ice cream, but it didn't compare to Bruster's (my favorite ice cream). And off to the casino. I guess we broke even. I had to be fresh for the book signing. Didn't know how long I would have to stand on line, so we went back to the room for a rest. At 9 I was headed back to the Coliseum. I was about number 50 or so. Pretty pleased. About 10, the Divine Ms M made her appearance. I requested a specific dedication and she did it. She really is terrific. She requested no photos when she was signing, but I did have my camera a took a few shots. Although, I had the film setting wrong, so they are dark and grainy. I am going to try and clean them up tho. Feeling lucky, we hit the slots for our last nite. I was winning steadily. but small amounts. My tolerance for gambling my hard-earned money is low. If I had made larger bets, I might have walked away in a better postion. However, I walked away with money in my pocket, a man by my side, and Bette's book in my hand. I couldn't have asked for a better evening. Oh, and by the way, a few things happened in Vegas, that will stay in Vegas : )

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I CAN

About18 months ago I decided to make some lifestyle changes. After a trip to the doc, I discovered that my blood sugar was elevated, I had high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. A family history of heart disease did not help matters. The results of these blood tests were the impetus to a healthier lifestyle. My first line of attack, looking for the easy way out, was to research gastric bypass surgery. Having gained alot of weight over the previous 10 years, I selected the Lap Band (I didn't want to disconnect anything and I wanted it to be reversable. Go figure.) My thinking was why diet and exercise when I can have surgery. I met with the bariatric surgeon and had the psycholigical testing. I was a good candidate for the surgery. I met all the surgical criteria with the exception of a 6 month supervised diet. Because of my elevated blood sugar, my insurance would pay for visits to a nutritionist in the form of diabetic diet counseling. I had quite an attitude on my first visit with her. This was just a formality for me, right? I planned to fail and have the surgery. What I didn't count on was my competivie nature. It would not let me fail. Somewhere along the line I figured out that I CAN LOSE WEIGHT ON MY OWN (with a little support from family and friends : )) I never had the surgery. I joined Weight Watchers for about 6 months. This particular program was not for me. I hated getting on the scale each week. It was very stressful. I felt like I was being lectured. And forced to buy the food. And the other products. I do like the WW website tho. It comes with an online food diary and oodles of really great recipes. And another thing, I discovered the JOY OF COOKING! Me, 48 years old, two sons and a husband and I never really cooked. I don't know how we all survived. There were times when I did not work and cooked more regularly, but for the most part everything we ate CAME OUT OF A BOX. Good food really is wonderful. And is good for you too. And good food doesn't need all day to cook. Some of my favorites can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes. Today, I am 40 lbs lighter. I eat right and exercise regularly. The weight loss has been relatively slow, but slow and steady wins the race, right? Which brings me to this treatise today. My weight loss has stalled. Negligible results for about 4 months now. I have a hard time motiviating myself to exercise. I am eating more junk food. I am slipping back into hold habits, and old habits die hard. I wanted to lose 50 lbs by my 50th b-day and I don't think I am going to make it. Now you might be thinking, "Hey, you've lost 40 pounds, that's great. Think where you would be if you hadn't started this journey". And you would be right. But each slip makes it harder and harder to get back on track. If you have ever struggled with your weight, you know what I am talking about. The ultimate goal of this post today is to pull me out of this slump. Take a look at the positive changes I have made in the last 18 months. This post is intended as positive reinforcement for ME! To remind myself that yes "I CAN DO THIS". I AM HEALTHIER. I LOOK BETTER. I FEEL BETTER. MY CONFIDENCE HAS SOARED. I AM LIVING MY BEST LIFE (to quote Oprah). And isn't that the point of all this? Where would I be if I hadn't made these changes? Heavier? Yes. Depressed? Yes. On medication? Yes. (Note: due to heredity, I have to control my cholesterol with meds, but my blood sugar is back to normal. At least I dodged that bullet.)
So, having laid it all on the line today, I will:

Exercise

Eat smart

Remember the dollop method for the holidays

Remember how far I've come, not how far I have to go

Not beat myself up if I cheat a little

Like myself, whatever the package, because I am worth it

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Of

I am so tired. Of dieting. Of exercise. Of working. Of taking care of business. Of worrying about my kids, my parents, and TOM. Of the financial crisis. Of politicians. Of AIG bigwigs. Of W. Of the mortgage crisis. Of Wall Street. Of American auto makers. Of global warming. Of Christmas coming before Thanksgiving. Of the insurance industry. Of the pharmaceutical companies. Of Americans that can't afford health care. Of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is there any good news out there?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Be Careful What You Ask For

Two short years ago I was lamenting the lack of services in our rural neighborhood. We had to drive to town for restaurants, grocery stores, and even gas. Since then, we've got McDonalds, numerous quick stops, and traffic, traffic, and more traffic. Of course, you can't have services unless you have people. Natural progression. But I miss the old days. A relaxing drive to work in the morning. An even more relaxing drive home in the evening. Now there is no relaxation involved...I just set the cruise control and get in the slow lane and let the rushing masses pass me by.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Divorced Barbie Doll

Feeling a tad cynical today ... A father on his way home from remembers that it is his daughters birthday. Passing a toy store, he sees several Barbie Dolls in the window. He pulls over and asks a sales person standing outside "how much for one of the dolls in the window?" The sales person replies "Which one are you referring to? We have: Work Out Barbie, Shopping Barbie, Beach Barbie, Disco Barbie, Ballerina Barbie, Astronaut Barbien, and Skater Barbie for $19.95. We also have Divorced Barbie for $265.95". The amazed father asks "What? Why is the Divorced Barbie $265.95 and the others only $19.95?" The annoyed salesperson rolls her eyes, sighs, and answers: "Sir..., Divorced Barbie comes with: Ken's Car, Ken's House, Ken's Boat, Ken's Furniture, Ken's Computer, one of Ken's Friends, and a key chain made with Ken's balls.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Normal as Life

Life is returning to a normal rhythm after the roller coaster ride of last week. Your kids are always your kids no matter how old they are and when they are hurt you just want to make it better. Midnight phone calls Fear Midnight streets Empty Midnight hospitals Cold Midnight sorrow Overwhelming

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lomography Example

Enhanced Photo: Before Photo:

I am a new user of photoshop and needless to say I have been frustrated in my quest to learn a new software. However, I found a blog, Photoshop Tutorials, that is a great help. If you are looking for Photoshop help, this is the place.

Happy Photography!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Yellow

When you start looking for items that are yellow, you find less in nature and more in man-made. I focused on the items that were man made. Bingo Sign: Exension Cord: Books: Yard Art: Lantern (yellow focus): Lantern (green focus):

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Down by the River

Beautiful day down by the river ... I wasn't the only one that thought so ...

Friday, September 19, 2008

A New Breakfast Favorite

I have recently discovered a quick, easy breakfast ... one slice of multi-grain toast ... (it's not actually toasted at this point) canadian bacon and swiss cheese ... warmed in the microwave while the toast is toasting ... put it all together ... and you've got meals ready to eat ...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Vertigo

Had a vertigo attack today, very unpleasant. It actually woke me at at 4:00 a.m. Luckily, I had some phenergan which helped lessen the symptoms considerably. I got back to sleep and had a day off work. I haven't had an attack for over two years. With my diagnosis, it was determined that my vertigo is a symptom of an inner ear condition. Treatment was a couple of physical therapy sessions. I have to admit I was skeptical, but it worked. Guess I need to make another appointment. The tests to determine the cause were worse than an actual attack. First, an MRI was performed to make sure I didn't have a tumor. I then went to a neurologist for the testing of the inner ear. They shoot high pressure pulses of cold and hot water into your ears to determine how the pressure affects you. I was more disturbed by the cold water and became extremely nauseaous. If you suffer attacks of vertigo, physical therapy might help you too. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of my condition. This is what an attack feels like ... ... but not quite. I get dizzy, nauseous, and have trouble walking. At one point I thought I would have to crawl back to bed. Thank God for TOM who woke up almost immediately to help.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy Feet or Not

Like most women, I love shoes. They always fit, but sometimes they are not so comfortable. Typically, I am not a slave to fashion, but sometimes you just have to wear heels with pointy toes. Today, these shoes made my feet sad: These made my feet happier: But these made my feet the happiest: I had to go for a walk to wear them, but that's ok. They felt so good. My feet said "Thank You'.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gone Fishin'

On our recent weekend in Mobile, I did a photo essay of the fishing pier. I was practicing/working with sepia tones. These are some of the best: The Pier:

The Bait: The Hook: The Bobber: The Net:

The Catch: None

Friday, September 12, 2008

Photo Composition

1. I am not necessarily worried about the light in these shots. Just trying to find the best shot. The first shot is not bad. Interesting how the reflection of the trees is seen in the glass of the building. 2. Not so good because the tower is dead center in the photo. 3. Not so good because the tower is off the page. Pulls your eye up and away. 4. This is better. The tower does not fall off the page. A triangle is created with the tower, the red building, and the trees that keeps your eye moving. Still not terrific. I like #1 best. Suggestions/comments?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

5th Anniversay

Ground Zero on September 11, 2006
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Love ...

Black Bean Salad
Posted by Picasa

the view from my desk

If I have to work, I might as well have a view. I love it when the trains go by each day.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Laugh until I Cry

Check this one off the list. As I was recounting the story of how TOM almost burned all the hair off his body yesterday, I began to laugh and could not stop, thus lauging till crying. Obviously, I wasn't laughing yesterday. He did look so funny running away from the inferno he started with gasoline. We had a pile of tree cuttings that needed to be disposed of and he decided to take care of it. I guess no one ever told him that you do not use gasoline to start a burn. Anyway, there was a mini-explosion, a ball of fire and TOM running in the opposite direction. In retrospect it was hiliarious. Yesterday, not so much.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Bowling

Went bowling today or rather TOM bowled and I practiced throwing gutter balls. Needless to say, I did not do very well. Did not even break 100, although I came close...96. Maybe I'll do better next time.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I Guess Biker's Can't Read, Updated

... or are they just rebellious. At least this biker can't ... or is... Security purposely put the sign next to the bike because riders continue to park in 'no parking' areas. I guess being rebellious does not apply only to bikers:

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Bucket List

This is the year of the BIG birthday [50] and like countless others before me I’ve started thinking about how I’ve spent my life. The bigger question is what to do with the rest of it. I’ve raised my children, I’m happily married, my assent up the corporate ladder has slowed (and not because of bad knees), and hopefully I’ve made a difference in some small way. I’ve decided that I will live to the middle of the century … 2050; that’s 42 more years so I better have something to do. First, because I am not independently wealthy, I have to keep working and my current employer is a good a place to be as any. I like my job, I like the people I work with, and for the most part the climate in southern United States is ok. I will work until working gets in the way of my other plans. Second, I want to travel and have adventures. I don’t want to look back on my life when I am 92 and say to myself “Why didn’t I take that train trip across Canada or why didn't I go skydiving”. If an opportunity presents itself I will be there. I recently missed an opportunity to sing karaoke. No big deal right? Now, for some strange reason I am obsessed with the idea and practice daily in my car. Go figure. If I had just done it when the opportunity presented itself I wouldn’t be in this situation. That's when I made the decision that if something won’t kill me, I need to go for it. In the movie "The Bucket List" with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, Morgan's character is dying from terminal cancer. He creates his bucket list ... a list of things he wants to do before he “kicks the bucket”. Well, I did this too, shortly after my last birthday, but I didn’t call it a bucket list. It was just a list of [50] things that I wanted to do before I reached [50]. Half way through the year I came to the conclusion that not even Superwoman could complete the list in 12 short months. But the point is, I’ve got the list and slowly but surely I’m ticking items off of it. And I keep adding to it. Chances are I will never do everything on “the list” but the point of the exercise is to live life to the fullest. Life lists are not just for adults. I recently read an article about a 17 year old girl, Liz Evett, who is working on completing her bucket list. She is a cancer patient and her leukemia is not responding to chemo therapy. She knows her days are numbered, but she is making the most of them. One of the items on her list is to see the sunrise, a lofty goal for a teenager :-) but something she freely admits, that most of us take for granted. And something I hope she accomplishes. And third, I am going to stop wishing my life away. I caught myself wishing for the end of the day; wishing it was Friday; or wishing I didn’t have to get up for work the next morning. No more. I realized that tomorrow will get here soon enough without any help from me. So if you are reading this, I would like to say to you: Keep working until something better comes along. You might need the money for something exciting. Start your life list or bucket list or whatever you want to call it. The list, like life itself is not static and needs to be updated occasionally. Keep life exciting. You deserve it. Stop wishing your life away. Live each day to the fullest.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tropic Thunder

Just got back from "Tropic Thunder". I alway enjoy Robert Downey Jr. and this is no exception. He's the dude playing the dude playing another dude. Got that? The "trailers' at the beginning of the movie was a good way to introduce the audience to the main characters. Totally surprised to find that Tom Cruise and Matthew Mc(spelling) were also in the movie. Cruise was especially surprising in his role as movie mogul/producer. I didn't think Scientologists could use the 'f' word. Anyway, totally worth the money. Good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Swingtown

I have heard rumors that CBS is going to cancel Swingtown. I hope not. The acting is stellar and the story line is interesting. I guess because I am a child of the 70's it strikes a chord with me, but it is about time that network TV had a smart, edgy drama on the tube. CBS stop worrying about the moral majority for a while and pay attention to your viewers.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sign of the Times

It occurred to me today that I am seeing more and more damaged vehicles on the road. You know the ones I am talking about, dented fenders, crushed bumpers, broken taillights. With the economy like it is, people aren't spending those hard earned dollars on car repairs...or car insurance...or the deductible...pretty scary proposition. And this isn't even the worst one I've seen on the road.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Walk and Chew Gum

I proved today that I can't walk and chew gum at the same time...I bit my tongue. I thought that was just an urban myth.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Facebook Flair

I am addicted to Flair on facebook. I may need an intervention.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lotsa Mozarella Omelet

2 eggbeaters, red pepper, portabella mushrooms, sweet onions, cilantro, black beans, and a handful of shredded fat free mozarella cheese. Hmmm, hmmm, good. Shoulda took a picture : )

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chocolate Milk Shake

Did you know that a chocolate milkshake from chik fil a has 760 calories????? Ugh, but good it was. With whipped cream and a cherry.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vegas or Bust

Purchased the airline tickets to Vegas today. Figured that they were not going to get any cheaper. We tried to use flier miles, seats were available, but the number of miles needed to get a ticket has increased. 47,500 for one round trip. It used to be 25,000. Anyway, we have airline tickets, primo seats to see Bette Midler and reservations at Ceasar's. Happy Birthday to me !!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Is Blue the New Brown

I have noticed recently that there are more blue M&Ms than brown. It used to be that a package consisted of about 55% brown (dark and light) M&Ms. Now that number seems to be decreasing. And what happened to the light brown M&Ms? When did they go away? You still get only a couple of the green, red, and orange. So is Blue the new brown?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hanging Bridges, Baldi Hot Springs, La Fortuna

We started the morning at the Hanging Bridges. It was $22 per person with approximately 2 miles of trails in primary and secondary rain forest. We did see some howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and a Mot Mot bringing food back to the nest.


I think this is a Mot Mot. The coloration did not match any on the short list we had, so I am making my best guess based on the very long tail feathers.

It took us about 2.5 hours to walk the trails. We did not take any of the alternate routes available, for example down to the waterfall. When you walk down, you have to be prepared to walk back up.

When we finished we headed back to La Fortuna to do some shopping and eat lunch. One thing that caught my eye and I did not purchase was feather paintings. You know bird feathers with paintings on them. They were actually quite lovely.

Lunch was really good. So far, we have not been disappointed in our mean choices. It must be the exercise.

After lunch we headed to Baldi Hot Springs ($22 a person with a discount from our hotel, otherwise $28). We locked our cameras in a locker so no pictures here. I believe that there is 25 separate pools, each a different temperature. Our first stop was one of the cooler ones, about 94 degrees, with a waterfall and if you enjoy such things a really big slide.

We moved on up to a couple of the hotter pools. I don't remember the temps but after sitting in the hottest one for about 5 minutes you need to move on. It really drains your energy, but feels so good on aching muscles. We tried a couple of the cooler ones before we left.

Other observations:
(1) Everyone does not speak English. You know when you are planning a trip and everyone that has been there says something like "you dont' need to know any Spanish phrases because everyone speaks English", so not true. Glad I took the time to learn a few phrases and the high school Spanish started to came back too : )
(2) Diet Coke = Coca Cola Light

Friday, June 06, 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008

Food and Fireworks

Alan had the ever popular spaghetti. Pretty hard to screw up pasta. I on the other hand had the special: chicken with mango salsa, rice, and veggies. I thought it sounded pretty good, but the chicken was tough. Must have been left overs from the day before. The veggies however are always wonderful. So fresh.

There were a few fireworks from the volcano, but with the overcast we could not see much. Overall, we had a good day.

For some reason, breakfast is always delicious. At Observatory Lodge, bfast is included with the price of the room. I never thought that I could be so satisfied eating black beans and rice. Go figure. We woke up early again and decided to walk the waterfall trail before breakfast.


It took about an hour and was a nice walk. Some of the birds we saw along the way: tanager, hummers, and the crested guan. We also head some howler monkeys but we did not see them. And don't forget the ever present squirrels. Just can't get away from those little buggers.

Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.


We walked another trail after bfast. We crossed another hanging bridge and the lodge farm. There is another waterfall at the base of Cerro Chato (another volcano), but it is still dry. Not enough rain yet. By this time I am getting tired and hungry and it was starting to get hot. We did about 6 miles.


We saw some wildlife,

beautiful scenery,



and gorgeous flowers.



I did not take any photos of our room, but it is very nice. Personal safe for possessions, two beds, plenty of room, and a balcony with a view of the volcano. No TV tho. They do have a TV in the bar if you just have to watch the tube.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Right Left Turn


About half way (7 km) down the volcano, we took a left turn to our first adventure. It was not on the schedule, but those are often the most memorable and exciting. We were headed to our first ever canopy tour.

As with everywhere else in Costa Rica, we had to get past the security guard. We had some time to burn, so we grabbed a drink and something to eat at the snack bar. Our tour time was scheduled for 2 p.m. Surprisingly, we did not have to pay when we first put our names on the list, they give you time to change your mind.

As our trip time gets closer, we pay and get harnassed up. Lockers are provided to secure your valuables; however if you lose the key it will cost you $5. We can take our cameras, but for safety reasons we are instructed not to use them on the zip-lines. That's OK by me, I am keeping both hands firmly on the cable apparatus.

The harness is actually quite comfortable and believe it or not I do not have any butterflies : ) I am ready to go. Our guides our friendly and helpful. We ascend using the tram way. At the top is a large observation platform. In one direction you can see Arenal Volcano, the other is Arenal Lake.


Before you get to the long, high cables you have an opportunity to practice on 2 short cables. You practice the proper form (knees pulled up, ankles crossed) and how to slow down (legs spread wide). If after the second cable you decide you don't want to go on, you can walk back to the observation deck and take the tram down to the bottom. Be aware that at this point you will not receive a refund (as of this writing $66 per person).

After the practice run you are ready to go to the longer cables. I forget the lengths and heights of the cables, but they can be a bit overwhelming. I do know that the last cable is roughly 1/2 mile long and can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

It was the most exhilarating experience of my life. Really amazing. I would like to do it again some day.