Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Trot to DC

We made it up to DC with a short stop in Cary for the 8K (5 mile) turkey trot. I did the one at Inside Out because I also needed to buy a new pair of running shoes-so it was a multipurpose trip!

I didn't really have a goal but would be happy breaking 40:00, and I did-38:27, just over 7:40 pace. I wasn't running really hard until the last mile, just a bit faster than comfortable. It was a somewhat hilly course-lots of short hills until the last mile, which seemed all up hill! But I think the half marathon will go alright next weekend.

I was pretty happy with the race until about half way through when Rebecca passed me pushing her baby jogger. I did keep her in sight though the whole rest of the race-but who knows how far behind me she started! Still, makes me feel like running is just not ever going to happen for me.

After the race, we kept on driving up north and now we are chillin in the Hyatt until the in-laws arrive and we head out for some Thanksgiving dinner prepared by some restaurant!

Happy Turkey Day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's About Time!

One more class to go and then the luxury of being a teacher pays off! Off tomorrow with nothing but grading to do (yeah) and maybe put the bathroom back together. We managed to paint the last bathroom in the house (what we call the kitty bathroom). Eric picked a darker blue than I had originally picked and it looks very Carolina Blue (maybe that was goal all along). I think if we put the right accessories in their, all will be calm in the Tarheel bathroom.

The dining room molding has also been painted, now we have to touch up the red paint that we had put up before the molding! :) The goal is still the have the downstairs painted by Christmas, which means Eric will be busy putting up more molding the next couple weeks too.

We leave Thursday morning for DC, but first stop will be Cary for a 8K Turkey Trot. I am not looking for much-but the half marathon is next weekend (Dec 7), so I am hoping that I can run a little faster than my secret half marathon pace for the 8K.

We also have decided to order the matching loveseat and another chair for our bedroom. We finally agreed on a coffee table too, which will arrive in a couple weeks. There are lots of odds and ends we still have to do, but we did get our Christmas cards ordered and they will be in next week.

Alright, it is time to get a little work done before the last class of the week!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blog Tag

I have been "tagged" by miss Corey, and I am suppose to come up with a list of interesting/unknown facts. Corey's list was interesting, so I will try my best to come up with some things that most of you (like there are a lot of you reading this) don't know...

1. I use to have a huge shoe fetish. But over the past more than few years, my lifestyle has slowly change to be more frugal (I thank EZ for this-if this is really a good thing). I now only buy maybe 1 or two new pairs of shoes every year or so (of course this does not include running shoes).

2. I have always loved math. Always. When people use to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said math teacher. Although, I use to want to be a high school math teacher until the summer before I graduated from Arkansas. I did an internship teaching math at a boarding school and hated it. I didn't know what I was going to do with myself that last year at school. So I decided I would go ahead on to grad school in math and teach in college. One of the best decisions I ever made.

3. I was the senior class president of my high school (of 3000 students-more than are at High Point U). But my running mate (VP) didn't get elected, so it was not as fun of a year as I would have liked. And no one told me that part of the job of the prez was to plan reunions. I kind of bailed on this one as I got an email from someone (who I didn't even know from HS-there is no way I could know all 800 people in my class, right) who wanted to pretty much plan it.

4. I moved around (semi) a lot growing up-Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, then California, before going to Arkansas for college. People always asked if my dad was in the military. No, he wasn't. Even now, when people ask where I am from, sometimes I don't know what to answer. Most of the time I say California-even though I lived there for only 5 years before going to college.

5. By the time I went to college, I despised swimming. I would have quit had it not been paying for my education. But most of my best friends I have met through swimming-so it did have some good benefits. Oh and did I mention that it is probably the reason I met EZ...just so happened that the swim team hung out with the men's track team at Arkansas. :)

6. I wish I traveled more out of the country in the past 10 years. Because of swimming, or course I never went anywhere, and then Eric and I were poor grad students. Now that we have been to Peru and Costa Rica, I find that I am missing a whole aspect of real world culture in my life. This or course means we are planning a few more trips before we ever have kids.

Alright, Krista and Becka K, you're it. And happy birthday to the little one!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Almost Thanksgiving...

Just a few odds and ends things going on. Work has been busy, who would of thought that teaching this extra class this semester was going to get to me. Why again did I choose to change how I was teaching...assigning more work, more projects, more hands on activities to grade...what was I thinking! Oh I can't wait till our mini break for Thanksgiving next week.

We have been working away at random stuff in the house. I say "we" like I have been doing things. :) EZ has put up crown moulding and then taken part of it down then yelled some more at how not straight our walls and ceilings are, and put the molding back up. Last night was putty to fill in nail holes, tonight will be sanding, tomorrow will be caulking and by the weekend I will finally contribute and paint it. :) Such a wonderful handyman.

I want to paint our downstairs next, but we need a free weekend and just don't have one. My goal though is to get it done before everyone comes for Christmas. We'll see.

We had a dinner party last weekend and then went furniture shopping for odds and ends. Didn't buy anything but maybe settled on buying a loveseat (that matches the couch we bought back in March). This weekend is a fun date with the husband and another dinner party. Then off to DC and Baltimore next Thursday for Thanksgiving.

Oh and did I mention I am still trying to do a 1/2 marathon...that would be the weekend after Thanksgiving but the weekend before final exams start and the HPU Christmas dinner which is the weekend before the Scott family arrives for Christmas....

So do you think I will paint the downstairs by then? :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

South Carolina

Last weekend, EZ and I headed down to Columbia, SC for the Arkansas vs USC football game. We were suppose to meet our friends from college who now live in Atlanta, but they ended up not being able to go.

Friday night we stayed with some friends in Charlotte, where EZ was able to break all of Nick's records on wii fit and guitar hero before we left and Saturday morning after some awesome french toast, we drove down to Columbia.

We were in the second to last row up in the clouds, but since it was their homecoming they had a fly over by some fighter jets, who happen to fly right over our heads.

Here they are (even though they still look far away):


Here is the view of the stadium from our seats:


And for some reason, Michael Phelphs was there...why, I have no idea. He doesn't have ties to South Carolina, I don't think...I think this is a great picture from our seats-He is in the white shirt, hat on backwards with his arms crossed on the sideline (my camera's got great zooming capabilities!):


On the way back, we stopped and got gas for the car and I couldn't believe what I saw (this was in SC, not NC):


After the terrible loss, we drove home and stopped to eat at Stamey's BBQ in Greensboro. I have been told about this place by my NCSU office mates and we finally ate some damn good NC BBQ and homemade strawberry cobbler!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Costa Rica-Part 3-Manuel Antonio

Here it is...the last part of of our trip!

We made the four hour van ride to Manuel Antonio with one forty minute stop when we found ourselves at a rather long line of parked vehicles. This was apparently the main dirt thoroughfare and only way across the river we had been following. When our driver put it in park we all got out and marched forward interested to see what lie at the end of the line. A half mile of windy dirt road later and I started to hear some moaning that sounded to me like some unhappy cow or large pig that must be causing the hold up. I had visions of some horrific accident ahead, but was quite pleased to find out that it was a bunch of howler monkeys in the trees above the river. As I rounded the last corner where monkeys were I saw that there was a road crew working on regrading the road on the other side of the bridge. Someone said there had been a landslide.

Manuel Antonio is the name of the small "town" adjacent to the National Park with the same name. En route to one of our adventures, one of our guides pointed out a town and then explained that there were four essentials which make up a town; a church, school, bar, and a futbol field. Manuel Antonio consists of a short strip of road along the beach with a couple small restaurants and shops and a ton of small hotels. There was a bar and I guess the beach served as the futbol field since we saw a group of guys playing there every low tide, but we never saw the church or school.

The main beach outside the part (low tide):


We had three hours to kill so we explored the "town" and walked the entire length of beach that we could access between the giant rocks and spent two and a half hours relaxing in our room. We ate in that night since it happened to be dinner and a movie night at our hotel. They put on a great spread for a good price. They had a massive selection of bootlegged movies, but chose Beverly Hills Chihuahua as the feature of the evening. It was probably for the better since no one was really interested and we got to chat with the three other young couples there. Two american couples on their honeymoon and an Israeli couple. It was the third Israeli couple we had encountered. They said Israel is such a small place that they have no choice but to travel outside the country.

The next day we spent in the park. It wasn't a very big place so we covered every foot of trail in the morning and spent the afternoon at the beach within the park. We saw a few three toed sloths and a bunch of white faced monkeys, among other things.

Mama and baby Bambi (they didn't have tails):


Three toed Sloth hanging out in the tree:


Iguana sunbathing:


Lime Green Frog chillin on a palm leaf:


My ultimate favorite-the Monkeys:
video
The raccoons may have stolen the show that day as they stole part of our lunch. At one point in the morning we stopped at a picnic table to retrieve the water bottle from our bag. Eric pulled out the bag of food and set it on the table so he could get to the water in the bottom of our backpack. A moment later this raccoon started towards us. He instinctively turned the camera on to get a picture of the little guy. Before he could get a picture off, the raccoon was right up to our feet. Realizing he may be after our food, Eric started yelling at him. I swear I heard him laughing as he snatched the bag of food. Fortunately, Eric was able to get hold of the other handle to the plastic grocery bag and ran behind him as he tried to escape with our food for the day. Eric tried to pull the bag back causing it to tear in two, spilling its contents. The little guy could only carry one of our pastries so he left the rest. The raccoon sat in the woods, fifteen feet away, staring at us as he chomped down every bit of that tasty treat.

Raccoon running away on the beach:


The beach inside the park:


At one of the viewpoints inside the park:


I thought the Israeli guy was exaggerating when he said he had a five minute tug-of-war with a raccoon insistent upon taking his sandwich right out of his hands. We had lunch on the beach and settled in for a relaxing afternoon enjoying the picturesque surroundings. After what I considered to be a draw at best with that ONE raccoon in the morning, I thought I was done for when I turned around to see four of them coming at me on the beach. I managed to chase them all off empty handed, but my pride felt like it was a loss since it took running around screaming like a little girl to get them to retreat. We spent the rest of the afternoon watching the raccoons going from towel to towel terrorizing the tourists.

For the first time on our trip it didn't rain at the end of the day so we found a nice place to have dinner and watch the sun set.



The rain really hadn't been too much of a burden on our trip. It rained late in the afternoon everyday, but we were usually done with our activities for the day so it wasn't a problem. On our last day we decided to take advantage of the rainy season and go white water rafting. The rapids were pretty rough at some points, but of the ten people in our two boats, I was the only one to fall out. But according to Eric, I shouldn't be ashamed though as he got thrown across our boat twice and would have flown out the other side if the guy across from him hadn't gotten in the way.

We were back at our hotel in time to have them make us a great pizza and watch a little college football. Seriously, they had a pizza oven at this little hotel in Costa Rica, who knew. We spent the rest of the day at the beach. Eric enjoyed the surf while I read her book and we took advantage of the second rain free day and watched the sun set from the beach.

Sunset: (through Eric's orange sunglasses):


Sunset: what we actually were seeing :)


Last but not least: Here we are having fun at the beach:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Costa Rica-Part 2-Monte Verde

Although not all that far as the crow flies, Monte Verde is a four hour drive around Arenal Lake from La Fortuna. We opted for the alternative transport via taxi-boat-horse-taxi. The last taxi segment proved to be the most exciting as we bounced around the back of the van with no seat belts through two hours of dirt roads. We only had to take one detour around an impassable section of road that looked to be a foot deep in mud.

On the lake:


On the horse on the way to Monte Verde:



We arrived in Santa Elena which is the town that everyone refers to as Monte Verde because that is the name of the biological reserve and the mountain itself. The locals are apparently a little miffed about that though. We checked into our hotel where we think we were the only guests. It was a small place with only seven rooms, all of which were off the main lobby/sitting/dining/kitchen area. Through the front door you were greeted by a proper reception desk with a hundred tourist brochures to the right. To the left was the TV with a couple rockers where the 13 year old son of the manager (so we presume) spent much of his free time watching futbol. Behind that were couple tables and then a kitchen area which was a cross between a typical american kitchen and something we might have rigged up under the canopy outside the camper. It appeared to be a one woman operation. She spoke the least english of anyone we encountered, but she was very nice and helped with our bus arrangements and cooked breakfast to order every morning when we emerged from our room.


Santa Elena seemed to be more of a city since it had some two and maybe three story buildings, but it was only a few blocks in total. Just a bunch of small hotels and restaurants to serve the crowds of tourists which appear every dry season to walk through the rain forest. There was a cool hotel/restaurant called the Tree House Hotel which had a giant tree going through the main entry-it is kind of hard to see in the pic, but we were sitting up on the second level and the tree hangs over you and the tables (that looked like trees):


We had nothing planned for that day so we looked through the brochures and thought the night walk through the jungle might be interesting. By the way, the sun set early there and it was DARK at 5:30. We joined a group of 5 other people and met our guide Javier who took us into the darkness. Not a minute into the forest did we come across a group of racoon type critters (I forget the name) who were not at all afraid of humans armed with flashlights and cameras. We also saw a tarantula and a couple frogs and small critters. It was a very interesting experience and perhaps our favorite of the trip.

Some popular animal that started with a Q that we came across on the night walk:


Here is a trantula we saw on the night tour:
video

The next day we did a canopy tour which wasn't much of a tour, but a heck of a good time traversing the forest by zip-line. That afternoon, we returned to the biological reserve to explore the cloud forest in the daylight. I was a little disappointed when we met our guide Ricardo, a white guy who spoke perfect american english. I felt better once I learned that he was the son of one of the 11 quaker families that settled in the Monte Verde area in 1951 to flea the war hungry states. His father just published the book that I saw on the shelf in the gift shop on the way in. They claim to be responsible for establishing the biological reserve (after they chopped down most of the trees to make room for their cheese farms).

Here is Eric and I on the zip lines:


Here is a video of me and the crazy tarzan swing we did as part of the zip-line tour-we got to do it twice since we were the only two in the tour. The second time we did it the had us go backwards where we just fell back off the platform: (the video starts off sideways)
video

Hiking in the forest (it was so green!):


Then the clouds rolled in (well it is the cloud forest):


We made it all the way to the Continental Divide and then it started to rain (the only day that we got soaking wet). We were maybe 45min to and hour back to the entrance to the park, but you know we had to see the great view from the continental divide:


Alright, give me a few more days and I will post our last stop...the beautiful beach!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Costa Rica-Part 1

Alrighty, this might be long for those of you who are not family...but this is what Eric sent his family (and then I forward to mine) about our trip. The pictures might be a little different and I will hopefully upload some videos... I decided to post our trip in three parts, according to our three places we went.

First stop: La Fortuna, Costa Rica (aka Arenal Volcano)


Our flight to San Jose was delayed a little bit for no apparent reason, but we still made it to the Green Turtle souvenir shop a half hour before our bus was scheduled to depart. Our bus turned out to be a little bit more than a mini van where we would spend the next three hours with one other passenger (a woman from California beginning her week long Yoga retreat) as we weaved our way from San Jose to La Fortuna, our home for the next three nights.

La Fortuna is the small town that sits in the shadow of Arenal Volcano. Its a small place which only extends a few blocks in each direction away from the lovely park in the center of town. There is really nothing to see there except for fair number of restaurants that obviously cater to tourist. Our hotel was about a mile down the road towards the Volcano.

On our first full day in La Fortuna, we hiked to the local waterfall and played in the water for a while. In the afternoon we enjoyed our first adventure (not counting the van ride) as we trekked through a canyon in the rain forest, repelling down the cliffs and waterfalls. (sorry the video is sideways, I couldn't figure out how to turn it the right way).





video

The next day, we checked out the active side of the volcano. You couldn't see the lava flowing during the day, but every minute or so a couple rocks would tumble down the side throwing up poofs of dust or smoke as they bounced down the volcano. We climbed around the old lava flow (1992) for a while and watched the rocks tumble down. At night you can see red/orange lava and the rocks that tumble down are red hot as well. We didn't learn this until the second day there and the next two nights were very cloudy so we chose not to take the rather expensive taxi ride to the active side of the volcano when it was unlikely that we would be able to see anything through the low clouds.





Here is a video of some crazy bugs we came across-they were moving across our path by crawling on top of each other (the one from the back just crawled on top to the front...)

video

Here is a picture of our "porch" at our hotel and then the view of the volcano from the hotel pool:





Alright, next stop: MonteVerde....