Princess and The Toad - A Live (sorta) Ride Report from Costa Rica

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by The Toad, Jan 16, 2010.

  1. The Toad

    The Toad Let There Be Light

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    Costa Rica here we come !!!

    Well after about 5 minutes discussion and a 3 month wait. We packed our gear last night and head out this morning via Spirit Airlines to do some riding in Costa Rica.

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    Fully utilizing the "carry on" approach

    Day 1 - "Gettin There"

    Saturday, Jan 16 2010

    Being knee deep in snow and only having 10 days off work, we opted to use the airport as our gateway to Latin America

    We left Detroit this morning at "0 dark thirty" and after a plane change in Ft Lauderdale we arrived this afternoon in San Jose, Costa Rica. After an easy pass thru customs we jumped in a cab and headed off to our hotel for the night.

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    Princess enjoying the view from the cab

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    View from the cab (tomorrow we head into those mountains)

    We had a little time to kill before picking up our bikes tomorrow from "Wild Rider" so we took a little walk around SJ... crossing the Pan American for the first time.. by foot.. not exactly as I imagined it.. but challenging to say the least.

    We decided to head over to Wild Rider (cuz we is getting anxoius)

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    The obligitory "Here we are at Wild Rider" photo

    Then it was time for some refreshments and substanace

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    A few local brews
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    A couple local culinary platters

    and then we get the bill :eek1
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    HOLY NACHOS BELLGRANDE BATMAN !!! $10,225.00 !!

    The good new is that included the tip :evil

    The better news is that came to like $20 USD :1drink

    So its been a few Cervezas and a few more Cervezas and we are looking forward to tomorrow morning when we meet up with Thorsten from Wild Rider and pickup our bikes :D

    Thats all for tonite from somewhere in San Jose, Costa Rica....

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    We'll try to keep up with the report as much as possible. Internet access and time permitting. So check back daily for updates from the road .

    Buenos Noches Amigos
    #1
  2. zadok

    zadok Been here awhile

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    Looking good.:lurk
    #2
  3. danceswithcages

    danceswithcages Been here awhile

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    :lurk :lurk :lurk
    #3
  4. The Toad

    The Toad Let There Be Light

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    Great day of riding ... twisties into the mountains and beyond...but no internet in room :(:

    Using PC in lobby right now... and I cant drink here (in the lobby)... sooooooooooo

    So we hope to continue with the post soon.....

    stay tuned
    #4
  5. The Toad

    The Toad Let There Be Light

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    Well after a day or two of no internet.. or no power or... too tired...

    We are back to update this post... so.... lets start.

    Day 2 - "A funny thing happened on the way to La Fortuna" - or - "How to not have the fainest f*cking idea where you are, or how you got there, or where youre actually going? But, still somehow manage to get there." La Fortuna, that is.

    Jan. 17, 2010

    Today is the day !!! For today, we ride !!
    After a mostly restful nights sleep and a quaint breakfast of rice, beans, eggs, potato’s and a banana (today, we will be quite thankful for the banana.. Potassium is your friend). We packed up and waited outside our motel to be picked up by Wild Rider (bike rentals) and enjoyed the bright, sunny morning that greeted us in San Jose.

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    Where are the bikes ????

    Upon our arrival at Wild Rider we found Thorsten had our bikes and paperwork ready to go. We discussed our plans and he drew out a few possible routes for our week long journey into Latin America’s heartland. Little did we know then… what we know now…. And little still do we know now… what we didn’t know then.. When we knew nothing at all…. Know what I mean ????

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    Naive as Newborns

    Confused? Good… now youre really along for the ride.
    So, where to begin??? We’ve read a few RR on Costa Rica.. And in part, those reports are what brought us here. So, instead of rehashing those tails… its been decided that along with the usual “fun photos” of our adventures.. We will include some, what we’ll call… “Fun facts for the first time Costa Rican traveler”.

    Fact Uno. When traveling outside of your home country, be prepared. For example; a big part of being prepared for travel in Costa Rica.. Is to LEARN SOME SPANISH !! Well we did some of that. But, just learning some key phrases, only gets you so far. In simple terms.. Just being able to ask a question, doesn’t necessarily mean you will understand the answer,. HA HA.. Stupid Americans :D .

    Learning the native tongue will help greatly when traveling outside of larger cities, where you can expect to get lost. Remember, you're not lost in Ohio or even The Ozarks, you my friend are lost in Central America.

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    Which way to go ????

    Our Day 1 journey that was to take us North from San Jose to the Arenal area proved to be quite an adventure in not only map reading and navigation, but learning to ask for help even when you don’t REALLY know how?

    We opted not to bring along a GPS as we assumed that the very detailed map of this small country, would more than suffice. Luckily we did however bring a compass.
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    Ummm.... hummm... lets see North is...... that a way...

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    Habla Engles ????

    The little compass came in quite handy on more than one occasion. As did the locals, when we did our best to ask for directions (the cow however, wasnt so helpful). They did their very best to help us get to where we were going…. and eventually we did. However, we missed out on the more remote routes we were hoping to travel. Nonetheless, we did have a great ride into the mountains. Twisties and twisties and did I say twisties ???? The road surface was actually quite good, far better than Michigan roads. We did find a few unpaved sections that we were looking for and the little Honda Tornados proved themselves and then some.

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    This is not a trail.. it IS a road... and as it would later prove to be, QUITE a good road.

    Fact Dos. When traveling between small towns, don’t really anticipate the map to be much more than something to occasionally reference. As it is there are very few road signs indicating the road you are on or the direction you are traveling. Locals use landmarks as refernece points for navigation. For example. “Turn right at the Church”. Well, as you might expect there are more than a few churches in this very Catholic country. Trees, Stones and “Sodas” (Tico Café’s) are some other examples of landmarks used in navigation. These also exsist in great quantity in Costa Rica.

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    Lunch stop - Tico Style

    Many “on the spot” decisions are needed when you find yourself at an unmarked intersection and your only options are to go “left” or “right”… and you were expecting to go straight.

    But its not all bad. Far from it. The Tico's did their very best to help us along our way , we enjoyed some great scenery and food in a beautiful country…. And we did get where we were going.

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    AHHH .. we found it !!

    We hope to use todays lessons, tomorrow to find our way towards our next destination.

    And now some pics of from the days ride

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    sorry about the poor quality... the bridge just came outta no where and well... I had the camera in my hand
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    Arriving at our home for the evening - Aernal Green.
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    German, the proprietor of Aernal Green was more than accomodating to those on 2 wheels. Allowing us to park the bikes in the Hotel lobby for the evening.
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    Our Cabina for the night

    Day 3... after this brief intermission :freaky
    #5
  6. tx246

    tx246 Adventurer

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    I visited CR two years ago and downloaded a free basic map to my handheld. We rented a vehicle and boy as you are finding out navigation is a challenge.

    1. Even in a developed nation like CR there are NO ROAD SIGNS. In the country, the paved roads are the major routes but as it comes into a town of any size, it gets lost as it looks just like all the other surface streets. I learned to follow buses and big trucks. In Hereria, I spent two hours trying to get to the other side of town.

    2. When out on the major paved routes, be prepared for the peer pressure to pass when sane people wouldnt even think about it. The locals jump across a double yellow going uphill in a blind corner to pass. When it comes your turn to pass the slow going logging truck, you will hear horns urging you on from those behind you.

    3. I was amazed at how little locals knew about their surroundings. My wife is fluent in Spanish so we didnt hesitate to ask for directions. Problem was, it seemed people only knew of what was immediately around them. Bus drivers and truckers are a great source of info and we used them at the gas stations.

    Finally, none of the houses or businesses had addresses. I always wondered how the mail service worked at all.

    Have fun as it is an incredible place. I want to go back and travel by bike as you are. Toss the Lonely Planet and use your head and you will find some gems as far as places to stay for little in the way of money.
    #6
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Now that's my kind of couples vacation!! :clap Lucky couple!

    Keep it comin'... please and thank you :lurk
    #7
  8. The Toad

    The Toad Let There Be Light

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    Day 3 - "The Long, Wrong Road to Samara"


    Monday, Jan 18 2010

    Im getting a day or two behind.... trying to catch up.... so lets see...

    Monday started out great after a good nights sleep and a great breakfast... we loaded up the bikes and started out on the road to the Pacific coast.. Samara to be exact.

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    Typical Tico breakfast..... I added a Coke for some Americano flare

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    Arenal Green - great rooms, host and ... "typical(ly)" great food

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    Loaded up and ready to roll

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    Downtown La Fortuna - on the way out

    The Road out of La Fortuna took us north around Lake Arenal. It was an awesome ride.. with mostly great road surfaces, scenery and yes... LOTS of twisties into the clouds of the Rain Forest. Along the way we saw few cars and this little fella that came out of the jungle to greet us

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    Perhaps he was trying to warn us of what was too come :evil

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    Looking across Lake Arenal
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    Another warning from the animal kingdom ??

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    Did I mention Twisties ???

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    Princess cuts a rug on the ultra smooth pavement around Lake Arenal

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    There is the occasional place where the road opens up.... so ya gotta watch for those :eek1

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    Every so often you come across someone walking... but where did they come from??? where are they going to??? Near the middle of nowhere ??

    Heading west away from Arenal we made a stop for lunch.... what lied ahead was... well.... quite an ADVenture...

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    "Friends" provided what was nearly our "Last Meal"

    We left Tilliron (spelling?) and head south towards the dirt "road" that was to take us south towards Monteverde then west towards the coast. Well... ya got your dirt roads... and then ya got your dirt F@#KING roads !!!

    First I should say that neither of us are what anyone would call experienced dirt riders... we have done some off road stuff... but nothing.. I repeat NOTHING like what lied ahead...

    Using our map, compass and questionable judgement we saw what started out as a relatively reasonable dirt road... so we check our map, compass and nerve and headed off....

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    This is how it begins.... and nearly ends

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    The views were like something between Africa and Southern Ohio... if ya know what I mean... quite AWESOME !!!

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    The road behind

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    The road ahead... so far.. so good...

    As we pressed on the hills.. became steeper and the road... less "road" and more path... Less Ohio and more Africa (Costa Rica) as we climbed and dove into the heart of it all

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    Up, Up and Away !!

    Its hard to say EXACTLY when things became a bit more than we bargained for.. but... they did... but we pressed on... knowing the only other choice was to turn around.

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    Welcome to Costa Rica.. BITCH !!!

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    Did I mention the rocks ???

    Every imaginable obsticle to staying vertical was in our path. Rocks small and LARGE.. holes small and crater like.. not too mention the very steep inclines.. oh and declines... I Princess lead the way... cuz im an idiot :norton ... thinking that I didnt want to get to far out front in the event she had some troubles... Not thinking that if I took the lead I could warn her of potential problems and/or set the path.

    But as things go... Princess being the hardcore.. "never say never" rider she is.. she jumped ahead... and took the lead... we fought a good fight for several Kilometers but the rocky, jutted, declining path proved to be too much for Princess and her mighty Tornado.

    As I came over one of many hils I could see her and the bike on the ground... not something you really wanna see... :cry . I could tell she was alright.. but not very happy. When I got to where she lied she had managed to get out from under the bike and shut the fuel off. We did a once over to make sure she really was OK... a few battle scars and a burn.. but mostly a bruised ego... she sure is one tough cookie !!!

    The decision was made... this road beat us... if it was in fact the road we were supposed to be on and people in fact travel it... then my hats off to them... cuz it was more than either of us could take any more of...

    We got the bike back up and spent the next hour or so turning it around.. which was quite a chore on a rocky, narrow incline.. but we did it... wait... we gotta turn mine around too.... GOOD TIMES !!!!

    Wait.. I forgot to mention.. this is Costa Rica.. and its summer here.. and its HOTTER and more HUMID than anything either of us have ever experienced... so that added to the fun....

    Riding out of this place that nearly brought us to an end... was a wake up call we needed... (but wait... are we listening :ear )

    When we made it back to town to find the paved route to Samara we did a quick review of the damages.

    1 Bruised Thigh
    1 Burned Calf
    1 Pair of burned and torn riding pants
    1 Busted mirror (sorry Thorsten)
    1 Broken handguard (sorry Thorsten)

    We sat for awhile and drank about a gallon of water and after a few minutes we looked at each other and said... "That was awesome!!!" and laughed...

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    Nothing time and a patch wont heal
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    Sorry Thorsten

    Really, I cant emphasize enough how this was a very real life and death experience.. at least it sure felt like it at the time.... between the heat and humidity and the struggle to get the bikes up and out of there... I gotta say there aint no woman like my woman... she held it together in the remote mountains where we found ourselves beaten and busted... she really is HARDCORE... we rode on to Samara where we held up the rest of the evening counting our blessings.

    Thats it for Day 3... more to come
    #8
  9. High Side

    High Side Squidventurer

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    Sorry to hear about your scrapes Toad. I'm glad your posting how it is down there on the "secondary" roads.

    My girlfriend and I are taking the same trip in March to Costa Rica for a ten day bike trip. I have been on bikes and raced all my life. My girlfriend is relatively new to the scene with three Canadian seasons of riding. Zero off road !!! I would like to find the more remote roads, but seeing what that has done to your better 1/2 has served as a wake up call to me.

    I will be following your thread here. Be safe, party on !!!
    #9
  10. The Toad

    The Toad Let There Be Light

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    Secondary roads... vary greatly.... most of what they call... "all season" roads.. are gravel and fairly well mainted... the others... well... they are most def for the well seasoned and rehearshed dirt rider... the paved roads away from the major cities can be very good with little traffic... hope that helps
    #10
  11. GSdiablo

    GSdiablo cubical farmer

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    On the wrong side of the river
    We decided to do the same trip. The more details the better:evil

    Thanks
    #11
  12. The Toad

    The Toad Let There Be Light

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    Day 4 - "Time for a little rest... well not entirely"

    Tuesday, Jan 19 2010

    After the adventure and long ride of the previous day, we opted to stay in the Samara area and just do a little Jungle riding.. just a little... at least thats what I told Princess :D

    We started the day with a walk on the beach and then Princess relaxed by the pool while I went into town to get some cash.
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    Another beautiful morning in Costa Rica.. on the beach in Samara

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    Princess takes a well deserved break poolside

    After some rest we decided to go out to try our hand at some off road riding... wait.. didnt that end badly just the day before ????
    We took the "road" out of Carillio towards Montezuma... but as usual we somehow managed to get a little lost.. in the jungle in Costa Rica...
    Fun at first... several river crossings.. and large Lizards along the way...

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    My first "Official" river crossing... did quite well thank you :D

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    Princess takes the plunge and proves she too can cross rivers

    After crossing the first of what would be 4 rivers we were on our way into the jungle :D . We had the trail/road to ourselves.. excepting a couple Howlers that made there presence known as we road by.

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    Oh and this cow (Bull?) that greeted us alond the trail

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    Princess giving it her all

    We continued on the trail for several kilometers... lots of off road challenges and lots of fun. This time we were not in the mountains so the inclines were not so steep..... until.... we came to what would be our turning point.

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    Where we decided to call it a day - the trail got steeper and narrow and the ruts large enough to swallow a small car....

    We spent about 3 hours going into and coming out of the Costa Rican jungle and when we got back to civilization we decided it was time for some food.

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    I had a great time riding in this very remote part of the Nicoya Penninsula

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    Princess felt a little differently about it :eek1

    We decided after todays fun... to take a little break from riding and find a nice place to cool off and rest up. Hotel Esperanza just north of Carrillio proved to be the perfect place.

    And now some pics...

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    One for the Ladies :huh

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    and one for the Fella's :evil

    After relaxing poolside for awhile, we rode down to the beach in Carillio to enjoy the sunset.


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    Thats it for Day 4 here in Costa Rica.... more to come



    #12
  13. The Toad

    The Toad Let There Be Light

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    Day 5 - "The race to the Ferry - or - Hey wait, we got a much better map"
    Wednesday, Jan 20 2010

    After a very relaxing day we found ourselves (what we thought) 4 or more hours from the Ferry to Punteranas. Having partaken in a little much Cerveza the previous evening with some locals... an early morning was not on the adgenda. So the plan was to circle back around the top of the Nicoya peninsula and ride the Pan American down towards Jaco. Luckily as we checked out of the hotel we had a little talk with the owner and he informed us of a route that we werent aware of..... basically because as we were to discover the map we were given proved to be.. well.. a little out of date. I then remembered.. "Hey.. I got this other map.. lets look at it"... It in fact showed a mostly paved route west and south that would take us to the Ferry in about 2 hours... that was GREAT news.... except the ferry left at 12:30... it was now nearly 11:00.... BTW - the map that proved most accurate was the National Geographic 2010 edition.. that I had been carrying in the back pouch of my jacket the whole time... STUPID AMERICANO !!!!
    So... the race was on... we quickly loaded up the bikes and road north into the mountains towards the bay and what would be our passage across... The road north from Carrilio to Hojancha is a recently (mostly) paved route that had little traffic. Even the unpaved sections were well cared for.

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    The road to Hojancha (about 17K of smooth gravel)

    We quickly found our way to (Route?) 21 where we headed south towards Playa Naranjo... it was a tight race.. but we did make it.. and we were the last to board for the hour thirty crossing to Puntarenas.

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    Last in line to board

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    On board

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    The last section of Gravel road in proved to be fast and dusty... she's "fast.. im "dusty"

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    Relaxing after the mad dash to the ferry

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    Approaching Puntarenas

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    Off the boat and on dry land... getting our bearings

    We head south and west ending up on 34 towards Manuel Antonio (our next days destination). We rode until dusk.. Which comes and goes very quickly .. Getting as far as Playa Estrillios Estes. Making Encantada, a small hotel of Cabina’s our home for the night.

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    Our Cabina @ Encantada

    Great location right on the pacific and about 30 minute ride south to Manuel Antonio. But that’s tomorrow.

    That’s it for Day 5 … more to come.
    #13
  14. The Toad

    The Toad Let There Be Light

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    Day 6 - "Manuel Antonio" - or - "Lifes a beach and you never know who you might run into"

    Thursday, Jan 20 2010

    Today started out with a short ride down the coast to Manuel Antonio National Park. Not much riding or tales of daring adventure... but a great day never the less... We saw lots of animals and spent some time cooling off in the ocean.

    We arrived around 9:30 and had no trouble finding secure parking for the bikes. We packed our riding gear into of bags, which double as backpacks... (pack lightly)... and headed into the park

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    Entering Manuel Antonio

    The park is well worth the $20ish dollars (for two) and took about 4 hours... with time spent at the beach.. and time spent hiking the trail which circled the park.... and now... Monkeys (and stuff)

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    Monkey !!!
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    Confused Monkey = possibly spent the week interpreting maps of Costa Rica ??

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    Not a Monkey

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    Even a Great Pale Manatee

    After a great day at the park we stopped on the way out to grab a bite to eat.. when I saw a somewhat familar face in the distance... Oddly enough we ran into a fellow Michigan based ADVrider (Btome)... proving that it is indeed a small world.. he and a few friends were doing some riding in the area as well...

    We rode back to our base camp @ Encantada, arriving just in time to catch the sunset... and spend what would be our last night Oceanside. :cry

    Here' some pics...

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    Princess arriving back

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    Relazing a little prior to celebrating a great week in Costa Rica

    And now..... peaceful images of the sunset over the pacific

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    Today is the unofficial end to our Costa Rican ADVenture... but we got one more day riding back to San Jose... and that is still to come... but for now.. Adios
    #14
  15. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

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    Great RR............
    #15
  16. BigFatHead

    BigFatHead Outerspace Hillbilly

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    :thumbup :thumbup :thumbup
    #16
  17. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

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    My address where I lived in Costa Rica was something like:

    Sierpes street
    500 meters east of the railroad
    Across from the Paco Cruz apartments
    25 meters south
    Montes de Oca, San Pedro

    That's what my parents had to write on the evelop to send me letters (pre email, 1988). All their letters arrived.

    Very nice job on the write-up. Great photos, and you've got a puravida riding buddy.
    #17
  18. Kafeman

    Kafeman n00b

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    Your "Princess" is a trooper and you are lucky to have her. ENJOY!!:clap
    #18
  19. whizzerwheel

    whizzerwheel Using Occam's Razor

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    Nice work on the report and thanks for posting it up. Looks like you guys really got off the beaten path.
    #19
  20. NickiGS

    NickiGS 09 F650

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    Great fun :thumb :thumb
    #20