Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bonnaroo 2008

Bonnaroo 2008 Album
First off, Bonnaroo was amazing! This was my first music festival in a couple of years and I could not have gotten the opportunity to attend a better one. Seth, Matty, and I were fortunate enough to have VIP passes for the event, which created a very different experience for us. Having access to an air-conditioned tent, free booze, and side-stage seating was only a few of the perks. It certainly made camping out in southern TN in the month of June much easier. A quick list of some of the bands I got to see:

1. Yonder Mountain String Band (YMSB)
2. Widespread Panic
3. Phil Lesh and Friends
4. Robert Plant and Alison Kraus
5. Israel Vibrations
6. Pearl Jam
7. Metallica
8. Tiesto
9. Robert Randolph
10. Ozomatli
11. Chris Rock (the comedian) and many more performers.

I am looking forward to some more music now that I am in Asheville. However, I am resisting a little bit, while I am out looking for a job. As for the job front, I am making headway. Certainly, if you have any contacts or friends that I could hang out with in the Asheville area, please pass them along.

Post Grad School

Family, friends, & a tractor pull
After Costa Rica, Natalie and I returned to Columbia to move our things to Asheville. We used a U-haul to get the job done in one long day. The rest of the week I helped a friend and classmate move to his new place a couple of hours from town. By the end of the week I took the last load of stuff in my car to Asheville and drove to Rolla, MO to see some friends.

Barry, Tara, Katrina, and I got to catch up over the weekend. I met some of their friends in the area and just had a fun and relaxing time. Then it was off to Memphis for several days. Getting to spend time with my nephew has become a real highlight for me. He has so much energy it makes me jealous.

Next on the agenda was heading down to Athens, AL to see my dad and Carol. I showed up in time to shave ice for a tractor pull. Even Natalie came down from Kentucky to join in the fun. After resting up from the long weekend, the rest of the week was nice and relaxing, as it always is when I am there. However, it is hard to keep me anywhere for more than a few days and soon it was time for me to head out again. Find out where I went in my next posting!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Canopy Tour and the Beach

Monteverde & Manuel Antonio
This is the last installment of my Costa Rica trip.

After the Arenal Volcano, we were supposed to meet up with a friend in Monteverde's cloud forest for a canopy tour. This meant that we had to leave our lodge before 6am to make it to the 11am tour. The roads leading to Monteverde are hardly roads. Instead, we spent over three hours off-roading through the mountains. This is the only way to get there, unless you have a boat. We bounced, laughed, and stayed in a general mood of disbelief as we winded our way to the city. We were later told that the people of the area do not want the roads paved, since it will mean more tourist would be coming. I am not sure how true this is...we saw several tour buses navigating the same roads as us which was a reassurance that we actually could make it through these roads and that we were going the right direction, since signs were lacking.

Nevertheless, we made it to town and met up with our friend whom had arrived the night before. He is working for the Original Canopy Tour and provided us with a private tour for the three of us. The next two hours made all the driving worth it. We flew through the tree tops with big smiles as we glided across more than a dozen lines, rappelled down two platforms, and climbed inside a ficus tree.

After the tour, we grabbed some lunch and said good-bye to our friend. We had spent enough time in the jungle and were ready for some sand and waves. From the southern end of town, we only had a couple of hours of off-roading to do before we reached pavement. Boy did it feel good! The rest of the drive was filled with an hour delay for construction, a crocodile bridge, rain that often slowed us to a crawl, and finally darkness that made it difficult to see where the road was.

Luckily, we made it to Manuel Antonio. It was still drizzling, but people were out everywhere. This town was not filled with locals, but was filled with foreigners acting like they were on spring break. After checking out a few hotels, we checked into a spot and collapsed. The driving for the day had wiped us out.

We spent the last two days laying on the beach, playing in the water, seeing lots of wildlife, and relaxing at the hotel with a few people we met. This was a great way to end our Costa Rica vacation. Make sure you check out the album of pictures at the top of the post.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Termales de Bosque & Arenal Volcano

Termales de Bosque & Arenal Volcano Album
When we left the waterfalls, we had a couple hours of driving to get to our next destination. We stopped along the way for pictures, lunch, and coffee. The resort, Termales de Bosque, turned out to be one of the biggest highlights of the trip. The accommodations were very comfortable, the food excellent, and the hot springs were awesome. We liked it enough that we stayed an extra day to enjoy it some more. We had nine pools to choose from and they all cascaded into one another with varying temperatures. Relaxing in the pools, while drinks from the bar were delivered to you was pretty awesome.

Now that we were rested, we got an early start to a long day at the Arenal Volcano. This is advertised as the second most active volcano in the world, but my brief research puts it in the top five or ten most active. Either way, it was awesome to hear the rumbling and watch rocks roll down the side of the volcano. We took a hike around the 1982 lava flows, which was filled with lizards, frogs, a snake, and some cool plants.

The rest of the day was rough...swimming back at the lodge, while sipping on pina coladas (made with fresh pineapple) which offered an amazing view of the volcano and surrounding countryside. The evening was finished off with dinner filled with a view of the volcano spewing out red hot lava. Very cool stuff.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More on Costa Rica

After a wonderful trip down the Pacaure River, we spent the next day going on the Cafe Britt coffee tour. The tour took us through the organic coffee farm, the milling process, the roastery, and packaging. The tour included the best meal we had in all of Costa Rica and we got to learn to make espresso's, mocha's, and cappuccino's. Definitely a worth while visit.

After the coffee tour, we started heading towards our first volcano, which we were going to check out the next day. The Poas Volcano was pretty cool. Steam was coming off the emerald lake inside the crater. Also, the nearby lagoon, which has a great view, is well worth the hike. During a clear day, you can see the Caribbean Ocean from the volcano.

After this, we traveled to La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This included a zoo of birds, snakes, butterflies, hummingbirds, frogs, and other animals. Once past the animals you walk down a path till you get to the first of a series of waterfalls. Each waterfall is quite spectacular.

At this point, we were tired and decided to head to our next hotel. This is where the next post will begin.