Friday, May 31, 2013

Costa Rica

Costa Rica was incredible... and, not just because we were finally relaxing in one place after a week of backpacking, hiking a crazy tall volcano, rushing to catch buses, crossing borders, etc. After an amazing, but crazy, time in Nicaragua... Costa Rica couldn't have been more welcoming! Costa Rica has the best of everything! Incredible beaches, lush, green jungles, lots and lots of wildlife, great food... the list goes on. 

Beautiful beach and a view of Manuel Antonio National Park

We spent hours and hours boogie boarding!

Building our sand volcano (exact replica of the one we climbed in Nicaragua)... haha

Soaking up the sun!

The seafood was unreal! So fresh and so delicious!

We were SO incredibly lucky to find the condo that we stayed at. We booked it the day of... and we were extremely surprised to realize what a gem it was. We had a huge kitchen, living area with couches and a tv, two HUGE and very nice rooms (so each couple got their own room), a tall tower you could climb up to overlook the ocean, outdoor seating area with grills and hammocks, a beautiful pool (that we had all to ourselves), etc. It was seriously amazing. And, still way cheaper than any average hotel room in America. We were so happy!

Our condo was above and beyond the places we are used to staying in! 

We had a private pool ALL to ourselves! Seriously! Pretty cool, huh?

Beautiful outdoor eating area with grills, and hammocks, etc.

On one of our days in Costa Rica we explored Manuel Antonio National Park. We hiked all around it and saw so much wildlife! We saw massive iguanas, dozens of monkeys, a few raccoons, lots of birds, etc. Austin and I love nature and animals. So, this was one of our favorite experiences from the trip.

Exploring Manuel Antonio National Park!

We saw dozens of monkeys so close we could have touched them!

Monkeys everywhere...

The crazy little things...

Standing under a little monkey

After we exited the National Park there was an area where a bunch of Costa Rican men in little boats were waiting in the mangroves. They didn't speak any english but they kept saying the word "crocodile", which piqued my interest! Anyone who knows me should know how obsessed I am with animals... but mostly large predators like sharks, crocodiles, etc. They scare me to death but I'm also obsessed for some reason. I love the thrill of danger! haha.

 Anyway, we paid a guy to take us through the mangroves and we were SO glad we did! As soon as we started paddling through we realized they were all around us!!! The guide (in his broken english) told us that the crocodiles were over 3 meters long... that's over 10 feet long!!!

The crocodiles came up to the surface of the water and just stared at us with their big, dark eyes. So creepy! It was the coolest feeling ever. THIS was my favorite experience from our entire trip! That's how much I loved it.

Our crazy guide even put his foot in the water to get the crocodile to charge, open-mouthed at our boat! He almost got his foot, too! It was crazy. haha.

Paddling through crocodile infested waters!

This crocodile was literally RIGHT next to me. We didn't use zoom on our camera.

So cool!

On our last night in Costa Rica we all went on a sailboat dinner cruise. We had unlimited drinks, a really yummy seafood dinner, we spotted some dolphins, we saw a flying fish and we just relaxed as the boat cruised all around! It was a really nice evening to end the whole trip on a good note. 


Kim and I watching for dolphins!

Me, Austin, Jesse and Kim! Travel buddies for life!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ometepe, Nicaragua

Our first day in our swim suits so we were still very white! haha.

The Beginning of the trip: We flew into San Jose, Costa Rica caught a bus to the city center, then caught a bus to Liberia to meet up with our friends, Kim and Jesse, where we all spent the night in a really cute house in Liberia (covered in flying ants I might add. haha!). The next morning we took a bus to the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, walked across the border, took a taxi to Lake Nicaragua, hopped on a ferry across the lake and finally reached Ometepe Island!!! Thanks to all of our past traveling and Jesse's spanish skills we were able to barter for cheap bus and taxi fares and get to the island in only half a day. Pretty impressive, huh?

Isla de Ometepe:

As soon as we hopped off the ferry we found a place to rent scooters for cheaper than the cost of getting a taxi ride across the island! So, of course we did it!!! We grabbed a few scooters and cruised around the island for a few hours... not a simple task due to the road hazards (cows, horses, pigs, goats... YES. All of these animals chilled in the middle of the road). Nevertheless, it was SO much fun! There's something about riding a scooter on an island in a foreign country that just feels so good. :)

We found a really unique little place to stay a few nights and we ended up loving it! This trip wasn't for wasting time so the very next morning we were up at the crack of dawn to get started on our volcano hike. There are 2 volcanoes on Isla de Ometepe: Maderas and Concepcion. They are both HUGE and pretty difficult hikes. But, since we were closer to the base of Maderas we ended up hiking that one. 

I'm not gonna lie, for a relatively short hike it was intense! Maderas is 4,500 ft. and it was so steep at times that it was pretty much like using a stair stepping machine for a few hours straight. haha. Our bodies definitely felt it for the next few days after that hike. But, all in all... it was VERY much worth it! Hiking through the jungle, seeing lots of wildlife (monkeys, a porcupine, etc.), made it all very cool!

After the hike we were headed back to our hotel when we came across a NICARAGUAN RODEO! We were so excited that we just had to stop and enjoy it for an hour! It was pretty much a mix between a rodeo and bull fighting. The people brought these massive bulls into their home made arena and taunted them until they became aggressive and then they threw someone on it's back to see how long they could stay on. haha. It was pretty cool to see! And, the food! Oh man, was it good! I had the most delicious spicy shredded chicken over a pile of fried plantain chips. It was SO. GOOD. 

Anyway, we loved Nicaragua. It was a little more chill and the people were more friendly than in Costa Rica. But, after our stay we headed back to Costa Rica, made our way down the coast and made it to our next destination which was Quepos (a small town right next to Manuel Antonio). 

Leaving port and heading to Ometepe

On the ferry

Riding our scooters all over Ometepe

Finding cool bugs on the volcano Maderas.

Hiking Maderas

The jungle on Maderas was just incredible!

Crashing a Nicaraguan Rodeo

Our hotel

Our hotel was RIGHT on the beach

The local fisherman pulling in a huge catch

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ward Campout

Our ward had a campout and we're not ones to miss an opportunity to camp. We love camping! Besides, it's been way too cold to camp up until now and we really wanted to get Oliver accustomed to camping. If he's gonna fit in to our little family he'd better learn to love camping! haha. 

We were a little nervous to see how he'd do on his first camping trip and we NEVER should have worried. He is a natural. He seriously had a constant smile on his face from the second we got there until we left. He was one happy kid! He even slept and ate wonderfully! He took all his normal naps, slept all night long in the tent without interruption... it was amazing. The funniest thing was seeing his face light up when he woke up in the morning and realized we were sleeping next to him. He was SO happy! haha. We've never slept with him before so it was a big deal for him.

We had a really good time with the other families that were there: the Sontags, Quinns, Teicherts, Porters and the Lichtenberg boys were there too! It was really fun. We all shared a campfire and some of us went hiking together the next morning before the ward picnic. 

We can't wait to go again. Austin and I are going to try to go at least twice a month this summer. We really want to get Ollie completely used to camping because we're planning a pretty cool trip for next year and we'll probably be doing a lot of camping on it. I don't want to spoil the surprise by saying where we're going... But, details will be more solidified this fall and I'll have more to say. :)

He's a little fish. All he wants to do is be in water. haha

Loving the camp fire

We're so happy when we're outdoors!


Oliver, Elliot Quinn, and Emmy Sontag. Little camping buddies!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oliver is 10 Months!

Our little man made some big strides in these past few weeks. The day before we left for Costa Rica he said "Mama" several times. I like to think it was a going away present for me. :) So now he has "Dada", "Mama", and "No" in his vocabulary. Pretty stinkin' cute to hear this little boy talking a bit. 

On Mothers day he started crawling. He's been crawling backwards a little for a while. But, now he is zooming all around the house on those knees of his. It's so cute! I can't even play the piano anymore without him crawling under the piano bench or grabbing at my feet on the pedals. It's hilarious! 

He is transforming into the little adventure buddy that I've been waiting for! And now that the weather is nice we have been having so much fun. We swim at the pool, feed the ducks, hike through the woods, find bugs (yes... he already likes bugs), etc.! I'm seriously loving this motherhood thing. I can't even believe how happy he makes me. 

Oh! Also, he cut one more tooth... that's 7 TEETH NOW! I can't believe it. They cut in pairs so the 8th should be coming soon!

My handsome boys after a nice swim

Our crawling machine!