Monday, June 22, 2015

Epic Trip: Puerto Rico

 Nathan and I were able to take an epic trip with friends Aubreigh and Matt on a cruise to the Caribbean in May.  It happened to fall over our anniversary and Aubreigh's 30th birthday, so what a way to celebrate.  We were gone 10 days, so I'll start out by highlighting each day by location. First day was really travel all day to get to Puerto Rico where we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott thanks to travel points.  We enjoyed a dinner at the beach-side dining area and awaited Aubreigh and Matt to get there.  The next morning we had to be at a park to catch the tour "Aventuras", an amazing trip to the Rio Camuy caves.  It started with the bus pulling up at 5:45am, blaring the theme to Indiana Jones, and literally rolling out a red carpet.

From there we head to a bakery (yep), to order a sandwich for lunch that we double zip-lock baggie, as well as pack our bag for the adventure.  Then we are off.  They've got a script sort of, and they are very entertaining while still being informative about safety concerning the gear that we'll be using.  Then we get the caves in the rainforest after an hour bus ride.  We go through another hour or so of equipment demonstration and practice, and then it is time! 
 Getting all ready, and that is one of the guides in the back doing a great photo bomb!

 We head down the trail, and you can see the "iron trail", seriously like an iron rod, that you would move your two carabiners along.  You also moved them along yourself, the guides weren't there holding your hand. If you tripped without being clipped in, it's a long way down.
 Some places on the trail had a wire below for your feet, and one above to hold, while you were of course clipped on with your carabiners.  But even that is a little scary.  Then we got to the zip lines...

 Nathan is clipping in here.  Guides did do that part which I was grateful for.  We had to zipline down three times on our way to the forest floor and the entrance to the cave.

 Then the last part (before actually going into the cave) was rappelling.  However, the last 100+ feet are free from the wall.  So just going down towards the entrance, suspended in space, and really you need to go because if you get stuck, it is hard to get you down.  Everyone in our group did great.  It was a tour though for those not faint of heart.
 A view of what it was like headed to the entrance, and an entrance in the bottom background

Check out this rappelling 

 We made it down!

Right before heading into the cave

So you head about 20 feet or so, and then it's "okay, jump into the water".  There was a river that flowed through that we floated on for a lot of it.  You could try to walk through but when it's waist high, it's easier and safer to float to try to avoid the rocks and debris that is brought from the river.  The cave was amazing.  There was a part where they had us all turn out our lights, then a minute later turn them on, and thousands of bats were flying deeper into the cave. 
 Here are a few bats on a wall 

The skin of a cave spider.  I put it on my arm to show a size reference

 Spectacular formations. And this gives you an idea of the water, this was a shallow part.

Now we have to climb out of here by climbing the exposed via ferrata section.  Literally climbing narrow to nothing trails, sometimes just the via ferrata (iron trail) and a rope, while you are again using the two carabiner system.  It was awesome!  Nathan carried our guides pack, while the guide carried a girl who had sprained her ankle in the cave on his back.  That guy was a champion climber.

This adventure was amazing, and it was only the first day!  Mud so deep it could suck your shoes off, big cave spiders, bats, floating an underground river, enjoying a sandwich 3 miles into a cave, oh and a 20 foot jump into the river below in the complete blackness (everyone turned off their lights, then you jumped!).  At one part we did both think, and separately, that we probably shouldn't do anything more dangerous than this as we do have three adorable boys at home.
A golden orb weaver spider.
Our boys love the show Wild Kratts, and one of the featured creatures is this spider.  I loved that we got to see it then in real life, it's pretty big too. 
Later that night we had an amazing dinner in San Juan at a place called Jose Enrique. 
I had the red snapper, and it was amazing.
This was just the first day! If we had gone home the next day, it totally would have been worth it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Zoo Field Trip

Right before leaving on our trip, I got to be a parent on the kindergarten zoo field trip!  It was great!  I got popcorn and as we'd learn something about an animal I would have the kids keep giving me the few facts we'd learned.  Then I'd give them some popcorn.  A right answer would get more popcorn again.  It was like little puppies learning how to sit :)  And the kids in my group learned things, we still talk about how a Bald Eagle's eye is as big as a human eye!

Me an my little one, I loved going to the zoo!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Grammies and Boompa visit!

Grammies and Boompa got to come out for a visit in April!  Grammies was here for Nathan's East Canyon Race, and Boompa came in a few days later.  He almost didn't make it, weather was so bad through Wyoming, that on the way here, after him, was an accident that closed I-80 for 2 days!  That is huge!  But he made it and we got to play for a little bit. 

 Kirstin came up too and spent the night so we could all be together.  
I love my family.  We might be a little crazy, sometimes weird, but they will always be there for me.

Boompa also gives us cocoons each year and we get to watch them hatch.  Well, we've had this one for months, and THE DAY Boompa gets here, it hatches!  A beautiful male cecropia, he stayed on my flowers for the night, then took off the next day, a very strong flier.  What timing!

James and the moth that just hatched, he was a very deep red.

This is one of my favorite pictures ever!  I didn't even realize Jack's face until I was going through my pictures.  Priceless.

Yeah, the moth is here!

Here's a good ending story. On their way home, we assured them that the accident on I-80 was pretty rare, we've never traveled it and had problems.  And it's the easiest to get to Denver from our house.  So away they start, all looks okay...and then there was an accident, about 20 miles from where there is a turn off to get to Laramie and then they could have gotten home.  But they couldn't get there.  The highway was closed again, for hours.  They waited and waited.  After turning back and getting to the last town, everyone was trying to figure out how to get to Denver.  Some suggested going up to Casper and then taking I-25 south.  That was 250+ more miles to their trip!  Or spend the night was maybe the other option (in a town that has one gas station and no hotels, or they could go back farther...).  Anyway, they also do not have a smart phone so no access to GoogleMaps.  So they call me, and I find a way through the mountains south to I-70.  But they were literally taking dirt roads and country roads.  I was afraid of sending them on their way, but they were adamant about going.  Well they ended up having two other vehicles follow them to I-70 also.  Then I was hoping I was reading maps correctly or I would be sending three families on a wild goose chase.  Needless to say, it took them almost 15 hours to get home, and the I-80 way can take 8-9 hours with short stops, 10 with long stops (with kids).  They announced they will never be taking that way again unless it's the middle of summer.  Sorry guys! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Echo/East Canyon Road Race

 In April Nathan raced in the Echo-East Canyon Road Race (and it's got some crazy climbing in this race).  This is one where he wanted to do well in.  It is his home turf really.  A ride to East Canyon happens weekly for him in the summer, and he knows the course, so he knows when to attack or when to hold off.  Well, his hard work did pay off, and in a field of 70+ riders over 60 miles, he took 3rd place in his category!

Waiting at the finish

 Headed up the hill

James waiting too

 He's coming!

Almost there, the finish was at the top of a hill

 Jonathan and Mommy waiting to see him come

 He's there!

 Made it!
My mom was visiting, and Nathan's mom and dad came too.
And to top it all off, Nathan got third place!!!
Jack wore his shooter shirt, (it's a tie die shirt he made 
and it looks just like the pattern in his dad's riding shoes, so cute)