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Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

  Many people think that the Pacific side of Costa Rica is the better coast to visit. The remote Osa peninsula, the monkey-filled area of Manuel Antonio, and the touristy Nicoya coast all beat the Caribbean, which has more rain, less wildlife, fewer “modern” conveniences,…

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Many people think that the Pacific side of Costa Rica is the better coast to visit. The remote Osa peninsula, the monkey-filled area of Manuel Antonio, and the touristy Nicoya coast all beat the Caribbean, which has more rain, less wildlife, fewer “modern” conveniences, and uglier beaches. No matter where you go, the Caribbean side just won’t be as nice. Having now been to both coasts, I’m not sure what these people are talking about. Traveling down the Caribbean side, I did find it to be rainier, but it was no less beautiful and had many wonderful places to explore.

 

 

Tortuguero, the Costa Rican version of the Amazon rainforest, dominates the northern coast. This massive area is a series of rivers and canals that crisscross the jungle. It rains all the time, and although the beaches are beautiful, a full day of sunny beach weather is rare. To top it off, the currents are strong, and toothy barracudas and sharks roam the waters. Despite all that, there are many reasons to come here. The biggest draw is the large numbers of turtles that come to nest along the shoreline. The best time to see them nesting is in April and May. But even during the off-season, Tortuguero offers a few places to go hiking, lots of canal cruises, and an abundance of wildlife, this area is known for its birds. Tortuguero is not easy to get to nor is it cheap. It takes five hours to get there from San José and supplies are brought in by boat. It’s not a budget destination. But if it’s something remote and off the typical backpacker trail you’re looking for in Central America, Tortuguero is the place to go.

 

 

You’ll find great surf sites, deep sea diving, lots of people, and parties galore down the coast toward Panama. This part of the coast is a lot easier to get to and much cheaper than Tortuguero. Most travelers head for Puerto Viejo, the region’s main hub. This is backpacker central, and it’s easy to get sucked into the surfer/party life here. Puerto Viejo is a rocking seaside town with a strong Caribbean feel. The town is small, it’s easy to get around, there are beaches everywhere, and there are a ton of good restaurants, ranging from local “sodas” where you can buy cheap food, to amazing Western places with delicious baked bread or good sushi. You’ll be rocking to reggae as you wander along streets, as there are more Caribbeans than Spaniards in Puerto Viejo.

Near Puerto Viejo are two other towns worth seeing: Cahuita and Manzanillo. Cahuita, a tiny town situated right next to a stunning national park with the same name, is about an hour north of Puerto Viejo. Like Tortuguero, this is a place to relax. There’s one bar that gets lively on some nights, but for the most part, after a day of hiking, swimming, or surfing, most people just sit and read.

Manzanillo is only 12 kilometers from Puerto Viejo, which makes for an easy day trip. In fact, you can walk here from Puerto Viejo in about two hours, just follow the beach. The town is even smaller than Cahuita, and no one ever really visits. The reef system there is close to the shore, and this is the area’s main diving spot. Most of the people who come here are older couples, families, or retirees. Come here to dive and relax after all the partying and noise of Puerto Viejo.

 

 

After visiting Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, I can say that it’s just as beautiful, interesting, and majestic as the Pacific coastline. And since it rains more on the Caribbean coast, you’ll find far fewer people on this side. The huge resorts, overpriced meals and tours, and thousands of expats that flood all parts of the Pacific, especially the Nicoya Peninsula, are hardly anywhere to be found. So let them do what they want while you enjoy fairly empty beaches, cheap seafood, and lots of wildlife.

 

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Skiing vs Snowboarding: How to choose

Skiing versus snowboarding is an age-old discussion or at least a few decades old. It’s winter, the snow is falling all around and you can’t decide which winter sport you want to try. Sure, you have friends who have done both and they all give you differing opinions as to which sport you should give […]

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Skiing versus snowboarding is an age-old discussion or at least a few decades old. It’s winter, the snow is falling all around and you can’t decide which winter sport you want to try. Sure, you have friends who have done both and they all give you differing opinions as to which sport you should give a try. Skiers will tell you that snowboarding is for kids and snowboarders will tell you that skiing is lame. Who do you listen to and how do you choose?

 

I’ll be your impartial observer who gives you both sides of the story and you can decide your own fate. I’ll dictate some good talking points and some funny observations I’ve made in my over 20 plus years of winter sports participation. That’s all I’ll classify my activity as, I’m not an Olympic athlete nor am I completely uncoordinated. I am however a decent athlete and more than competent at both sports.

 

Snowboard

Style:

When discussing snowboarding, fashion is number one. Snowboarding culture is closely related to skateboarding, including their style and general demeanor. Snowboarders wear baggier clothing, the funkier the better with multiple clashing patterns. Snowboarders think they are cooler than they are and that attitude to important if you wish to emulate their style. Baggy pants and loose fitting jackets are the norm and you’d benefit from a cool beanie, like the hipster wear.

Vernacular:

The way one speaks is definitive to their culture and snowboarders definitely have their own traditions. Get ready to drop more “Dudes” and “Bros” than you are accustomed to. A snowboarders’ verbiage is similar to surfers and skaters. Also, break out your high fiving hand and be prepared to slap a few.

Boots:

The boots may be the classic difference between the two sports. Snowboarding boots are softer and cooler than ski boots. Snowboard boots are also much easier to walk around in, which makes a huge difference. These boots resemble normal winter boots except they are generally thicker and stiffer.

 

 

Ski

Style:

Skier style is more focused on speed and function than form. Skiers normally travel at a higher velocity than snowboarders so their outfits are tighter and more aerodynamic. You’ll notice bright colors and smoother fabrics, which help with speed and control.  

Also a huge difference between the two is skiers have poles. Poles help with balance and increase in the ease of moving on flat ground, which is a huge disadvantage to snowboarders.

Vernacular:

Skiers will speak of moguls and black diamonds, which will hardly be spoken by a snowboarder. Moguls are the bumpy sections of harder slopes and black diamonds reference the hardest and steepest courses. Snowboarders tend to stay away from black diamonds and tend to hang in the snowboard park. Skiers tend to speak in perfect sentences and mention lattes often.

Boots:

Once again the biggest divide between the two are the boots used. Ski boots are extremely stiff and almost impossible to walk around. Snowboarders will habitually make fun of the duck like walks of skiers. Ski boots are stiff to give the rider much more control at high speeds.

 

These are just a few of the differences between skiing and snowboarding, now it’s up to you to chose your poison. Skiing or snowboarding, it’s a tough decision, why not try both, and see what fits your style better.

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Glamping (Glamorous Camping): Pick your Shelter

Shelter Camping is a wonderful way to connect with nature and clear out all the stress that a modern world creates. This is true unless the idea of being dirty in the woods is a nightmare scenario, for these people I introduce GLAMPING. Glamping is glamorous camping, or camping with more modern conveniences and amenities. […]

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Shelter

Camping is a wonderful way to connect with nature and clear out all the stress that a modern world creates. This is true unless the idea of being dirty in the woods is a nightmare scenario, for these people I introduce GLAMPING. Glamping is glamorous camping, or camping with more modern conveniences and amenities. It is possible to camp and not get dirty, I know it’s blasphemous to many, but so is not being clean to others. It’s time to open up your mind and accept that some people enjoy being clean, so here are my tips to Glamping shelters and picking what is best for you.

Glamping all begins with choosing which type of shelter fits your needs best.

 http://www.rainier.com/

Yurt:

Yurts are an interesting option and not just because they are fun to say. Yurts are basically permanent tents and possibly the most rustic many glampers will go. You will soon find out that a yurt is usually canvas covering wrapped around a wooden frame. Seems pretty basic and that’s exactly what it is. There will be zero insulation for warmth but these are waterproof so you will stay dry but not cozy.  

Comfort level: 4 out of 10

 

Luxury Tent:

This is the baseline for glamping and anything below this is just camping. A luxury tent usually is made up of multiple rooms, zipper less doors and as little modern conveniences as possible. Don’t be fooled by their false claims of luxury, these tents are just bigger and more difficult to set up. These are basically made as an introduction to normal camping or glamping, dependant on where you are coming from.

Comfort Level: 2 out of 10

 http://www.momondo.com/

Tree House:

Now we are getting into some interesting choices for glamping shelters. Tree houses are becoming more and more popular because of popular television shows about tree house builders. Gone are the days of tree houses just being for children, now adults are enjoying their functionality. Tree houses give users an out of the ordinary perspective on nature and help increase the overall enjoyment of outdoors living. Many will have some power but few have running water. Expect a pretty primitive experience.

Comfort Level: 5 out of 10

 http://www.stardust.com/tipigigante.html

Teepee:

Bringing it back to the native’s preferred mode of shelter, the tipi is a favorite among the spiritual travelers. Teepees bring out a real primal sense and create a mystical meeting place for glampers of all levels. You must remember that teepees are basically yurts or a tent, so your luxury lies solely with the coverings used. Many times animal pelts are used to cover the teepee.

Comfort Level: 2 out of 10

 http://www.countryliving.com/

RV/Tiny House:

The most luxurious way to glamp of course is to stay in a RV or a tiny home. RV’s have always been a favorite of the glampers whether they are at Coachella or the Kentucky Derby. Tiny homes are relatively new to the glamping world but are also popular due to many new reality shows. These little guys have all the conveniences of a larger home but on a miniature scale. Running water and electricity are almost always included. RVs and Tiny homes are the ultimate tool to any glamper.

Comfort Level: 9 out of 10

 

 

Cabin/Cottage:

Glamping at its finest and truest form, a cabin has all the amenities of a normal home. Renting a cabin will be the easiest way to ease someone into the outdoors lifestyle while still maintaining his or her level of luxury. Cabins usually have electricity and running water, but don’t expect it, that is something I recommend checking on before booking. Bugs and vermin may be an issue since many cabins and cottages go empty for long periods of time

Comfort Level: 7 out of 10

 

Enjoy these choices for glamping and get your hands an acceptable level of dirty.

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Don’t go to the snow without packing these!

Winter is in full swing as snow is falling and temperatures are dropping. The snowfall this season has been extraordinary and outdoor enthusiasts are in freshie powder heaven. The snow has reached record levels in parts of California, Colorado and Utah so if you are a winter sport adventurer then the season is upon you. […]

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Winter is in full swing as snow is falling and temperatures are dropping. The snowfall this season has been extraordinary and outdoor enthusiasts are in freshie powder heaven. The snow has reached record levels in parts of California, Colorado and Utah so if you are a winter sport adventurer then the season is upon you. If you’re planning a trip to a mountain resort then you can’t forget to pack these must have items.

Ski pants, jacket, gloves and a warm hat go without explanation, because if you need to be told to bring these then maybe you shouldn’t be going in the first place.
Here are some items that are often forgotten.

Warm socks
A good pair of ski socks are so crucial to your comfort and often overlooked. Many people just toss their old gym socks in their ski bag and call it a day. Boo to you I say. Any skier or boarder worth their weight will tell you that cotton is not the way to go. A wool blend or synthetic sock is the best way to go. I advise a trip to your local sports store or ski shop to find the perfect pair. When shopping for socks, make sure they are not too tight because proper circulation is key to keeping your extremities nice and toasty.

Long johns or Thermals
Fashion be damned when skiing or snowboarding is all about keeping warm and dry. Layering is your best friend and it’s always smart to start off with a quality pair of thermal long underwear.  Steer clear of the cheap stuff and invest in a nice pair, this time I recommend cotton or a blend. Synthetic fabric doesn’t breathe as well and you want sole of the heat to escape so you don’t sweat too much.

Hand and feet warmers
These little buggers are a lifesaver. What many people don’t understand is that skiing and snowboarding is actually about 60% sitting in the ski lift, so hand and foot warmers come in handy. See what I did there, pun time!  These guys can be found at almost any store in a colder climate, usually by the checkout register. If no luck there, I guarantee them to be at ski shops or a sporting goods store. They cost less than a few dollars and last up to 8 hours.

Adventure pack
A good quality adventure backpack or waist pack are key to any good ski trip. When buying one, look for a secondary securing apparatus like a waist or chest strap. This will help with all the vigorous activity you are about to do.
A good pack can hold all your stuff and so much needed water. Staying hydrated is important and often over looked because you are in cold weather. I like a pack that also has a hydration system, like a Camelback.

Goggles/sunglasses
It’s so bright in the mountain during the day it’s crazy. My first time skiing I was amazed at how blinded I was from the sun reflecting off the snow. Grab a cheap pair of shades that you don’t mind breaking or losing.
Nighttime skiing can be dangerous without a good pair or goggles. The wind is whipping around and snow can be blinding, so quality goggles can save the night.

Sunscreen
Everyone always forgets the sunscreen. I understand, you figure it’s cold and you are all bundled up, but you don’t know want to look like a raccoon when you return home.  I recommend a strong sun block, SPF 50 or above and get a waterproof or sweatproof one. You’d be surprised at how much you actually sweat when skiing or snowboarding.

Helmet
We aren’t all professional snowboarders or skiers so grab a helmet and wear it. They serve multiple purposes; a) to keep your noggin safe and b) to keep that same noggin warm. Most of your body heat escapes through the head and a stocking cap doesn’t always work best. You can rent a helmet at every reputable ski resort and most ski rental shops. They want you to come back so they always offer helmets for safety reasons.

Comfy sweats
When you get off the slopes and take a long hot shower or jacuzzi you are going to want some comfortable sweats to lounge in, believe me. The warmer and softer the better, your sore body will thank you.

Flask
I’m not advocating skiing or snowboarding drunk but a little nip of an old flask always warms you up from the inside out. Maybe save this for after your skiing is done for the day or maybe not, I’m not your parent or guardian.

GoPro
These little guys are awesome and getting increasingly more affordable. They are impact and water resistant so throw them into your adventure pack and capture all the amazing memories. Just make sure the battery is charged and memory card is empty so you don’t accidentally tape over your kid’s recital.

Good luck out there and remember to have fun, life is too short.

 

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