The Great Escape: Camping and Rock Climbing in Big Bear

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You ever get that urge to get away and disconnect? There is only so much typing on a computer, texting with miniature buttons on a miniature screen and being reachable 24/7 that one can take before going mad – at least that how we felt this past weekend. So, in an attempt to disconnect from technology and reconnect to ourselves and nature, we decided to go camping and rock climbing in Big Bear - ah the great outdoors. I can already breathe more easily just thinking about it.

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After taking care of a few last minute things on our “to do” list, we drove over Saturday afternoon and finally arrived to Big Bear around 5:30 pm. Once at the lake we had about 30 more minutes to go until we were at our destination for the evening, Holcomb Valley’s South Lot Campground (google maps here and extremely detailed and helpful directions here).

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Photo Credit: SoCal Climbers MeetUp

As we drove along the bumpy dirt road, we passed Wilbur’s Grave on our left (mentioned in the driving directions linked above). Wilbur was apparently one of the early miners in the area, but nothing else about his life is known (random right?). His grave always seems to be decorated with one or more American flags and it’s a tradition to add random trinkets and decorations to it whenever passing by:

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While there is a number of campgrounds in Big Bear, the Holcomb Valley South Lot is our favorite. Not only is camping here completely FREE, but you can pitch your tent wherever your heart desires and you don’t need an adventure pass to park! The only downer is that you can’t have a campfire, but we had our portable propane powered grill and JetBoil so we were set. After scoping out the area, we settled upon a cozy little nook situated between some rocks and pine trees, providing us with our own little outdoor getaway – check out Drew looking so satisfied:

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It was now time to sit back, relax and watch the golden, summer sun slowly sink below the pine tree caked mountains, and as the night came upon us, the absence of our computers, television and phones became evident in the most peaceful and present sort of ways. With nothing to update, nothing to post, no one to answer to, we enjoyed each other’s company and began our slow evening of grilling, laughing and snuggling under the stars.

holcomb valley campground, best campsites in big bear, big bear camping, rock climbing in big bear, holcomb valley pinnacles, free camping big bear, campfire, cookout, mrs adventureThe weather in Big Bear during the summer is absolutely incredible. Mid-80′s during the day with a cool mountain breeze, and low-60′s at night. If you have the right gear, it’s just warm enough to leave the cover off the tent. There’s something so right about sleeping under the glow of the moon and waking up warm under the rays of the fresh, new sun.

With sleeping bag hair and squinty eyes, we rolled out of our cozy tent and prepared breakfast tea and morning oats – fueling up for the day’s adventure of climbing rocks :)

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The Holcomb Valley Pinnacles is a moderate mecca with 75% of its 300+ sport climbing routes being 5.10 and under in difficulty (helpful scale explanation here). With classics like Gold StandardBye Crackie and Coyotes at Sunset, to name a few, there is no lack of epic routes to scale.

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We spent the majority of the morning brushing up on our lead climbing skills and luckily found the perfect shady spot to do so – Lizard’s Head, located on Motherlode‘s North face, is a playfully long 10-bolt climb which earned its name for obvious reasons:

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As you can see, I was seriously into it:

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lizards head, motherlode holcomb valley pinnacles, best rock climbing holcomb valley pinnacles

About 5 hours in and our arms had turned to jello. It was time to throw that hammock up and enjoy a signature triple-decker PBJ:

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Transitioning from a morning of climbing to a hammock induced siesta, we decided to spend the rest of our afternoon relaxing by breezy Big Bear Lake:

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Sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, ferry riding, sport fishing, mountain biking, etc. – there are an absolute ton of activities to choose from when visiting Big Bear in the summer. For once in our lives, we opted to relax and parked along side the lake where we were able to take a small path down to the serene beach:

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It was beautiful. The sun was shining, the ducks were bathing, the pirates were sailing… wait, what??

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A few years ago, the mock pirate ship shown below, named the Timed Bandit, sank to the bottom of Big Bear Lake in a storm. Today, she is fully restored and back in business, offering 90-minute tours to visitors each summer ($19 for adults and $12 for children).

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I’m not sure if it was the pirates or the shimmering crystal blue waters, but soon enough Drew was inspired to jump into chilly Big Bear Lake. I on the other hand, opted to stay on land for survival purposes ;)

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big bear lake, big bear in the summer, things to do in big bear, camping big bear, rock climbing big bear

Fulfilled by our weekend of disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with each other, we drove back home grateful for the much needed escape. Next weekend? Camping in Malibu!

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We Won a Liebster Award!!

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Wait… what does that mean?? While we were extremely stoked to have received this honor, at the same time we had no idea what it was! Thankfully, our new blogging friends over at Nerd Nomads, who nominated us, also explained what exactly this award meant.

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The Liebster Award has been around for several decades now and originated in Germany, directly translated it means The “Dearest” Award. While there is no actual committee that nominates you and there is no prize associated with it (no million dollar checks or around the world tickets yet!), it acts as a kind gesture, given by bloggers to other bloggers they admire and find interesting. Pretty nice idea right!

Upon accepting/ winning the award, there are a few rules to follow, and while there are many different versions of the Liebster Award rules, we decided to follow the ones given by Maria and Espen of Nerd Nomads, the fellow adventurous couple who nominated us :)

  1. Thank the blogger who gave it to you (Thank you!!!)
  2. Answer the 11 questions they ask you.
  3. Nominate 5 other bloggers with less than 5,000 followers.
  4. Ask those bloggers 11 unique questions.
  5. Let the bloggers know they’ve been nominated so they can continue the chain!

nerd nomads, travel quote, saint augustine, books, limber award, mr and mrs adventureThough we are generally not ones to follow the rules, we are always willing to make an exception for a worthy cause. So, here it goes:

Our answers to the 11 questions from Maria and Espen:

1. What made you start your blog, and what makes your blog different?

We originally started our blog as a way to keep in touch with our friends and family members who are scattered across the globe – Brazil, Michigan, Florida, France, Pittsburgh, Germany – we wanted everyone to feel that they were a part of our lives no matter how far they (or we) were.

What makes our blog different is that it isn’t just a resource for those seeking adventure, it’s a true story about how 2 people can explore this incredible world, do what they love with who they love, and learn more about the definition of freedom every step of the way.

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2. What do you most enjoy writing about?

While we spend the majority of our time writing stories and guides about our various excursions to newly discovered lands, we are really looking forward to developing our Q & A category, which will allow us to share more about the insights on life and our relationship that we gain along the way. Our most popular post to date, which was also the most fun to write, is “How are you guys always so happy?

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3.What is your favorite destination, and why?

Our favorite destination is always somewhere we have never been because there is no much opportunity for growth and exploration! We also love places where we can visit old friends or family, nothing beats those kind of hugs.

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4. If you were to give one piece of advice to someone thinking about traveling, what would it be?

Go with an open mind and go now:

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5.What kind of transport do you prefer when traveling?

It depends really. We love exploring intricate cities, like Paris, on foot but we also loved having a rental car in Costa Rica because we could go wherever we wanted whenever we wanted. The train is also a great option when traveling slow between countries or states, but nothing beats the plane when time is of the essence. It really all comes down to choosing the best option for the kind of adventure you are hoping for… but if we had to choose one, we would have to say by bike - we absolutely love getting to wave at the various people we pass by and there is no better way to get to know the layout of the land, plus we are always up for a good challenge! Check out our post on Biking from Paris to Versailles!

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6.How do you promote your blog, and what works best for you?

We are still trying to find the secret formula, but for now we are mostly enjoying the grassroots kind of thing. Whenever we go out on an adventure we are always sure to bring our Mr and Mrs Adventure caribbiners along with, they are way more fun than a business card and people can take them with on all their adventures – hopefully sharing our blog with other adventurous souls they meet along the way!

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7. Is there any place in the world you never wish to visit?

Without experiencing the world for ourselves it’s easy to rely on cheap stereotypes to guide our thinking about certain places. Travel reminds us that we are more bound by similarities, than separated through differences. And while it’s important to read up on current travel warnings before deciding on a destination, you can bet that we will be doing twice as much research to find out if we should heed those warnings and if so, when it will be safe to return. So, to answer the question, no :)

mr and mrs adventure, full moon, inspiring quotes, kayaking, costa rica, drew neumann8. What does traveling mean to you, how has it affected you as a person?

Oh wow. We could write an entire post about this one. Travel (V.)- to make a journey, typically of some length or abroad.

To us travel is not segmented to define a two week period each year… to us travel is a way of life. It challenges us to be open to change, it dares us to triumph when the unexpected occurs, it realigns us with what is most important in life and it encourages us to keep exploring, to keep learning and to support each other each and every day. Travel has made us very different from the majority, it has turned us into chronic adventurers and has allowed us to discover our true passion. Travel continues to fill our hearts with endless possibilities and guide us towards a life filled with the unknown. So let’s try this again:

Travel (V.)- an act of courage that urges one to leave “their box” and adventure into the unknown, allowing new people, sites, tastes and sounds to change them for the better.

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9. What country has the best food in your opinion?

We absolutely love Indian, Ethiopian, Mediterranean, Japanese, Mexican and Californian cuisine… Wow, that does not narrow it down at all, haha. But again, back to the question… we haven’t been to every country yet, so this won’t be a fair assessment, but so far, we’d have to say France. I grew up going to France every summer when I was a child and every morning we would wake up to fresh “brioche” and “pain au chocolat” baked at the “patisserie” right under my great-grandmother’s apartment in Brittany, France. My grandma would heat milk over the stove and my family would start the day together at the table before walking to the outdoor markets to get fresh ingredients for the rest of the day’s meals. Last summer Drew had the chance to go to France together for the first time! I made sure he sampled all of my childhood favorites and watched as he fell in love with my heritage. La vie et belle et delicieux!

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10. If you could choose any country in the world to live, where would it be and why?

We feel that it would be an incredible learning experience to live somewhere with such different… everything! With that being said we are intrigued with South East Asia, after that we’d have to say Australia or Chile.

11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Somewhere wonderful.

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Now we get to nominate 5 other bloggers that we find wildly interesting and endlessly inspiring! The nominees are:

1. Alex in Wanderland: Alex has been traveling the world for 3 years and counting! Her site is full of awe inspiring photos and priceless wisdom on how you can live your life abroad too :)

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2. Adventurous Kate: Kate quit her job in 2010 to travel Southeast Asia for six months. Six months turned into three years across more than 45 countries and there is no end in site. Check out her great posts for travel insight and inspiration!

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3. California Through My Lens: Josh has created a great site with stunning photos and easy to follow guides for some of the best hikes in SoCal, along with insight into some of the most stunning and bizarre places as well!

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4. K8_N_N8: Meet Kate and Nate! An adventure couple that is road tripping their way across America taking awesomely creative photos, they even have a crystal ball that captures sites in some beautiful, one of a kind ways!

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5. Pura Vida! Eh?: Ricky and Nikki are an amazing resource for any and all of your Costa Rica adventuring needs! They have great articles and discounts on their site and are amazing at answering any questions you might have, they were a great resource for our trip to Costa Rica :)

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And now, here are our 11 questions to the nominees:

  1. What made you start your blog, and what makes your blog different?
  2. What do you most enjoy writing about?
  3. What is your favorite spot so far and why?
  4. If you were to give one piece of advice to someone thinking about traveling, what would it be?
  5. What the most interesting job you have taken on to support your travels?
  6. How do you promote your blog, and what works best for you?
  7. Is there any place in the world you never wish to visit?
  8. What does traveling mean to you, how has it affected you as a person?
  9. What’s your most memorable travel moment thus far?
  10. If you could choose any country in the world to live, where would it be and why?
  11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

 Looking forward to hearing everyone`s answers! And thank you again Nerd Nomads for nominating us :) 

The Best Way to Summit Mount Baldy!

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You’d think that out of all the hikes we’ve done in Southern California we’d come to a place where we could say we’ve done it all… not a chance – there is so much to do out here! We are constantly discovering more and more epic adventures to add to our bucket list, one thing we were able to check off our list this week was summiting Mount Baldy!

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Mount Baldy, which is the highest point in the San Gabriel Mountains, serves as a ski resort in the winter months and is located just an hour east of LA (map here). Before embarking on this trek, we read many articles and heard many stories about how to hike this 10,064 foot summit and in the end, we concluded that ascending via Baldy Bowl and descending along The Devil’s Backbone, making for an 11.3 mile hike, was the best route – we stand by this decision :) (Great post about the various trail options here.)

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Parking for the trailhead is pretty easy. After driving on Mount Baldy Road for a little ways, we reached Manker Flats, made our first left turn and parked here, if you reach the ski lift parking area then you have traveled too far. There are two blue outhouses and a road gate, the trailhead starts at this white gate (pictured below). This is a popular route so you will likely see many other cars here, a late start will result in parking further down the road. Many recommend hitting the trail at 7am but we were honestly quite happy with our 8:30 start time because we were able to hike sans crowd.

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With the bright morning sun on our faces and the cool pine-scented breeze whirling all around, the trail started on a luxuriously wide fire road, lush with flowers and trees providing a stark contrast from the site of Mount BALDy above:

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Not too long after getting started, we took the second trail that branched left, taking us off the fire road – we would have totally missed this if it wasn’t for the group ahead of us, as there are no signs for it. (Be sure not to take the first side trail on the left, this one is located by a stone wall and has a trail sign, it will lead you up a completely different path.) This marked the beginning of Baldy Bowl ‘s 4.5 mile, 3,900 foot ascent… basically 1,000 feet per mile! It is absolutely crucial to bring enough water, as there is nowhere to refill until you reach the Top of the Notch restaurant.

Summiting mount baldy, best southern california hikes, hiking california, ski resort hikes, summer hikes in california, best way to hike mount baldy, how to hike mount baldy, baldy bowl Halfway up the mountain and 2 hours in, we found ourselves at the Sierra Club Ski Hut, a perfect place to rest, drink plenty of water and enjoy the shade:

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You can actually reserve a bed in this awesome 16-person hut, fully equipt with a kitchen, running water, cookware, solar lighting and best of all, board games!

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Giant log benches, perfect for a little “r & r”:

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And there’s even an adorable little outhouse – just don’t breathe if you plan on using it…

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Some dried mango and a homemade rice crispy treat later, Drew and I were up and at it again. This aggressive climb is, thankfully, also the shortest route to the top of Mount Baldy. A total of 4 hours, 4,000 feet and 4.5 miles later, we had finally arrived to the top of Baldy!

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With Mount Jacinto at 10,833 feet and San Gorgonio at 11,503 feet in the backdrop, the views were absolutely remarkable:

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It was the most crowded summit we had yet to experience! There were people, lady bugs and butterflies everywhere!

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With no shade to be found, we decided to make ourselves comfortable as we soaked in some rays and enjoyed a long and slow lunch break before taking the switchbacks of Devil’s Backbone Trail that would guide us down to the notch.

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Check out the amazingly white “moon rocks” that cover the peak:

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They don’t call it the Devil’s Backbone for nothing – the single track trail crosses the spine of a skinny ridge with steep drops to the north and south, providing immensely sweeping views. You would not want to hike this in the winter, but during summer, under normal weather conditions, the trail is devilishly exciting!

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IMG_8495

As we approached the ski lodge we come across an inoperable ski lift providing us with an excuse to sit, rest and snap some awesome photos- there’s something so memorable about sitting on a ski lift in 90 degree weather and reading the signs for the ski runs as people hike up and down the dirt covered slopes:

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Summiting mount baldy, best southern california hikes, hiking california, ski resort hikes, summer hikes in california, best way to hike mount baldy, how to hike mount baldy, ski lift

Avalanches… ice… we wish!

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An hour after departing the summit of Baldy we had finally arrived to the Top of the Notch where we were able to order an ice cold drink and watch the World Cup soccer game. There was a DJ playing reggae outside and a cool breeze blowing in through the windows of the ski lodge, it was turning out to be a pretty epic day. After watching Costa Rica advance to the quarter finals we laced back up and headed out to finish the final leg of our journey… but not before hopping on a snow mobile!

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The trail back down is located just to the right of the Mount Baldy Ski School (pictured below).  It was a nice and easy descent along the same fire road on which we started. We had to be sure not to take the first trail off to the left again, as this would have taken us to the ski lift parking lot.

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Summiting mount baldy, best southern california hikes, hiking california, ski resort hikes, summer hikes in california, best way to hike mount baldy, how to hike mount baldy, summer ski resort

11.3 miles and, if we’re counting hiking time only – 6 hours later, our Mount Baldy adventure was complete. One of the most balanced and enjoyable hikes we have yet to do, we both finished this hike satisfied and extremely grateful for the experience… and each other.

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Things to know:

- You need an Adventure Pass, you can pick one of for $5 at the Visitors Center (map here) before parking

- Bring a lot of water, Drew and I each had our camel baks with 3 liters of water, which we finished by the time we got to the Top of the Notch

- You can refill for the hike down at the Top of the Notch; there is a water fountain near the restrooms

- You can opt to take the ski lift to or from the Top of the Notch, it’s $15 up, $12 down or $25 roundtrip. We of course recommend hiking both ways but if you really only want to do a one-way hike, we recommend hiking up Baldy Bowl and then taking the lift down. Another option is taking the lift up, hiking to Mount Baldy’s summit, and then hiking back to the lift and taking it down.

- Bring a hat, sunglasses, camera, chap stick (the air is dry), hiking poles (we forgot ours and really wish we had them) and plenty of sunscreen (we wore SPF 50 and still got rosy!)

- Stop at the Top of the Notch for an ice cold drink, they have a full bar and food available too! It’s open Friday – Sunday, 8am – 6pm

How did we make it to SoCal in the first place?

mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, santa monica pier Way back in 2011, before Mr and Mrs Adventure, there was still Mr and Mrs Adventure… we just didn’t know it yet! Bright eyed and bushy tailed, we graduated from The University of Florida, and after living in the college bubble for 5 years, we were ready for a real adventure. mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, gator grads, go gators, college graduates After contemplating a few different ideas for places to move, it all came down to Colorado and California. We we looking for a place that would provide us with endless opportunities to get outside, an infectiously young and motivating energy and abundant opportunities for us to create an incredible future. We also wanted to build faith in challenging ourselves to learn that we could make it on our own no matter where we were. After not much hesitation at all, our hearts both settled on Los Angeles, California! We soon got to work on mapping out our trans-america road trip. We were going to see as much of the US as we could, including all the various friends and family members scattered along the way. At this time I had only ever been to 4 states, we didn’t do too many road trips when I was a kid, but Drew on the other hand, had been to 38 states – I had some serious catching up to do. Cali Roadtrip, mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college

mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college On the morning of August 8th, 2011: with all our belongings stuffed into my 2-door Ford Focus, our mountain bikes strapped onto the back and our hearts overflowing with courage and excitement, we turned up our California playlist and began the trip that would ultimately lead us to our true selves and change the path of our lives forever. mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college

mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, bikes on car With places to go, things to do and people to see, we stuck Rodney, our hula dancing monkey, on the dashboard, and off we went. For the next 2 weeks, we had no plan, just a vision of making great things happen. mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, bobble head, hula monkey We stopped at a few epic landmarks, including: Graceland, home of Elvis Presley, aka. The King: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, graceland, elvis

mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, graceland, elvis, elvis' grave The Historic Route 66 for a cheap hotel, the best carrot cake of life and a few of those really odd nicnac shops: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, route 66 I wish this one wasn’t so blurry – doesn’t do the cake justice (all of these photos were taken before we graduated to our precious SLR). mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, route 66, carrot cake

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mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, route 66, 6 states at once And we can’t forget the National Parks! We hit up Mesa Verde NP in Colorado: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, mesa verde

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P1050088 Arches NP in Utah: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, arches national park

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mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, arches national park And we will never forget the Grand Canyon, one of the most difficult hikes we have yet to do, second only to Mount Whitney (so far). We hiked down on the South Kaibab Trail – 7.1 miles long, with over 5,000 feet in elevation loss… which we would be paying for on our way out. mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, grand canyon

mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, grand canyon map We originally hadn’t planned on hiking the Grand Canyon but after talking to some people who had done it and learning about Phantom Ranch, the little cabin community at the bottom which books a year in advance, we decided to call and ask about availability – why not right!? Amazingly enough, 2 people had just cancelled, leaving 1 spot in both the male and female cabins available – we were in! mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, grand canyon

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mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, grand canyon The next day most people were up and at it by 5am. We apparently had missed that alarm and didn’t get started until about 8:30am. We hiked out and up on the Bright Angel Trail, which was 9.9 miles with about 5,000 feet elevation gain… ouch. It was also 103 degrees! mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, grand canyon By 1pm we had made it out in time to enjoy a hardy lunch and some incredible views. I don’t think we willingly stood up again for the rest of the day: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, grand canyon With the Grand Canyon being one of the most memorable experiences of the trip, something else to mention are the unbelievable sunsets that guided us along the way. It was night after night of glowing rays, vibrant colors and awe inspiring skies telling us that we were on the right path: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, amazing sunset

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mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, amazing sunset Another highlight of our trip was visiting Skip and Winnie Yowell. Skip, the founder of JanSport, is basically the entire reason Drew and I met (you can read more about this on our about page), so needless to say, visiting him was very important to us. We drove miles and miles on an old dirt road and arrived to a tiny town where there were definitely way more sunflowers than people: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, skip yowell, jansport, jansport founder, jansport story, jansport models, sunflowers, field of sunflowersmr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, skip yowell, jansport, jansport founder, jansport story, jansport models, sunflowers mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, skip yowell, jansport, jansport founder, jansport story, jansport models One morning while we were there, we decided to go for a bike ride – these cows stared at us like they had never seen a bicycle before in their lives! mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, herd of cowsSome other things that happened - we biked the 17-mile loop around the Arkansas River over the famous Big Dam Bridge: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, biking the big dam bridge, big dam bridge little rock, things to do in arkansas We camped in Colorado where Drew ate the most ginormously wonderful marshmallows of life!: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, camping, colorado

mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, camping, colorado, giant marshmallow, giant smores I mistook this black angus cow for a friendly cow… apparently these ones are far more aggressive. After this photo was taken, Drew knew something was up and told me to slowly get back into the car… seconds later I was literally chased back into the car! I won’t ever be doing that again. mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, camping, colorado, black angus, mad cow, black angus We camped next to our car/ the highway and were woken up by a tribe of Indians chanting around our tent! Guess we didn’t realize when we pulled over at 2am that we were on an Indian reservation: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, camping, roadside camping We mountain biked Moab‘s Klondike Bluffs Trail, famous for its Jurassic Period dinosaur footprints! This 9.6 mile roundtrip loop is perfect for advanced beginners – with over 800 feet in elevation gain in 4 miles, we definitely wouldn’t classify it as easy. mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, camping, colorado, klondike hike trail moab, mountain biking moab

P1050142 The last .5 miles of this trail could only be accessed by foot, so we put our bikes aside and hiked to an incredible view of the Klondike Bluffs: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, camping, colorado, klondike hike trail moab, mountain biking moab This was before I got the headstand thing down: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, camping, colorado, klondike hike trail moab, mountain biking moab After 14 days, 4,000 miles and 781 photos, we finally found ourselves in The Golden State – first stop? THE BEACH: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, santa monica california, santa monica pier, famous piers We found the last stop on Route 66 on the Santa Monica Pier! mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, santa monica california, santa monica pier, famous piers, end of route 66 Then what? So, we made it to California but how were we going to stay here? At this point we had no choice but to be optimistic. We stayed with my dad’s best friend in Beverly Hills for the first month while we looked for jobs and an apartment. We soon found a place we could call our own and slept in our sleeping bags on our first night – we wouldn’t have had it any other way: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, first apartment With 18 million people living in Los Angeles, getting started was not easy – jobs were few and far between. We worked odd hours, hard jobs and got paid way below what we deserved, but what mattered was that we approached each day with a yes mentality, courage and humility. In time we eventually discovered what we were truly capable of, and more importantly, we soon found what everyone else was already pursuing – our very own dream: mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, first apartment It’s easy to feel lost in such a huge city. Everyone has an agenda, a talent, an agent, a label… but no matter where you are, as long as you know who you are and believe in where you are going, you will always be able to find your place and live from your heart. Cali Roadtrip, mr and mrs adventure, road trip across america, how to move to california, driving from florida to california, road trip map, best road trips in america, what to do after college, giant heart, los angeles heart, la love

Our FAVORITE SoCal Hike: Sandstone Peak

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Rising high above the city smog, surrounded by green, rolling hills and framed by the famous, endless summer waves of Malibu, rests Sandstone Peak, aka Mount Allen - the tallest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. At 3,111 feet, this peak can be reached via a 6.25-mile loop with a 1,075 elevation gain, granting you major bragging rights, as well as stellar views.

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Our favorite way to start this hike is a with a cook out! – yep that’s right – we pack a picnic, bring our mini grill along and head towards Malibu until we find just the right spot. Some days we opt for a seaside view, while other days we go for a heightened sense of perspective up in the canyons:

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For so many reasons we tend to take every single LA visitor we get on this hike – from mom and dad to cousins and friends, and it’s even dog friendly! This hike just packs all the things that we love about LA into 1 pretty little package:

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Getting to the trailhead is simple, we drive up Yerba Buena road until reaching a dirt parking lot (map here). There’s a restroom available for one last pit spot before hitting the trail, which starts at the North end of the lot. Here’s a view of the lot from above:

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The first part of the journey starts on the Backbone Trail – and let me and all our visitors tell you, this baby is steep. Luckily, after .3 miles, you’ll make a left onto the Mishe Mokwa Trail, which is a wide dirt and rock path with a much more gradual ascent, offering some unforgettable views early on:

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As the trail continues, the views only get better and vaster. The deep and lush ravines, the sandstone Echo Cliffs lined with rock climbers, and the wildflowers and colorful critters that greet you along the way! There is never a dull moment on the journey to the top:

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How beautiful is this little guy?!

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And this stunning blue bird!:

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Just before reaching the top there is an sign letting you know that you are almost there! This is then followed by a set of steep stairs, making you realize… you are still not there yet… but keep on keeping on! - it’s totally worth it.

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After this final set of stair steppers, it’s just a few more feet of steep rock scrambling before reaching the summit! Once you see the plaque at the top of the mountain, you know you have arrived – it’s  now time to relax and enjoy the view:

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Check out the full moon:

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Oh and you have to be sure to write a little something in the adventure book at the top! It’s in the slot under the Mount Allen plaque – you can’t miss it:

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Thanks to the amazing California weather patterns, we have been blessed with some of the most beautiful of days – nothing but clear, blue skies for miles:

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Then, there have been those other days… those days with fog so thick it’s as if we have to push it out of our way to get through:

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Regardless of the weather, time of day, or season, every time we do this hike we experience something uniquely special… but we do have to admit – we are total suckers for that hour right before sunset where the entire California coast turns to gold, they don’t call it LA la land for nothing:

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And how do we make an already incredible hike even more memorable? We drive back to Malibu, park at Neptune’s Net and walk down to the beach to watch the sunset over the Pacific – which is of course followed by a d’lish meal at Neptune’s, one of our favorite SoCal spots:

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No wonder we keep coming back for more, can you blame us?! I can’t wait until the next repeat… more like eight-peat ;)

 

 

Summiting Alta Peak in Sequoia National Park + Seeing the LARGEST Trees in the World!

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You never forget those days when you summit a mountain, and we mean that both literally and figuratively. The experience of overcoming that physical and mental struggle that tries to weigh you down as you persist and push forward is a powerful experience, one that keeps you hungry for more mountains and moments that allow you to realize your true strength.

This past weekend we were craving a mountain, so we headed to Sequoia National Park to meet our match.

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One thing we didn’t realize about our journey to Sequoia was that once we got to the park, there would be another hour drive to factor in before reaching the main Visitor Centers and all the various trail heads and attractions.

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While the drive was a bit longer than expected, it was also absolutely stunning. The road passed through some of the largest trees we had ever seen, we had to pull over a couple of times to take it all in. Can you spot me standing in front of the giant sequoia below?:

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We finally arrived to the Lodgepole Visitor Center around 11:30 to purchase our overnight hiking permit. Permits are only needed during the quota period (late May – late September), you can read more about when and how to obtain permits here.

sequoia national park, sequoia, sequoia sign, visitors center, drive to sequoia, lodgepole visitor centerWe soon found out that the hike we had our hearts set on, Lakes Trail, had reached its max quota for the day, so we decided to speak with the Ranger about which alternate hike would  best suit our needs. He showed us this extremely helpful chart (photographed below) comparing the distance, elevation gain and amenities available along each of the trails:

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After weighing our options, we settled upon the infamous trail to Alta Peak:

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With 35 pound packs on our backs, hiking poles in hand, the awesome ring cozy on my finger and our absolute favorite travel accessory by our sides, each other, we made our moves at the Wolverton Trailhead towards our home for the night, Alta Meadow:

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A few steps on the trail and we were already surrounded by rich colors and lush woods known to be the most scenic in the entire park. Towering over us where ginormous trees covered in a bright lime-green moss, looking like something straight out of Avatar. Though we knew the journey ahead would be long and hard, we couldn’t help but focus on the many rewards we would encounter along the way:

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One of our favorite rewards? The crystal-clear streams flowing with extremely COLD and refreshing water that somehow knew exactly when to appear:

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What distinguishes the trail to Alta Peak from so many others is the fact that there are grand panoramic vistas leaving you mesmerized and motivated the entire way – not to mention the fact that there was always a great excuse to take a break and admire the view:

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3 miles in and we had already climbed almost 2,000 feet in elevation. With 3 more miles left to go until arriving to our campsite (the side trail to Alta Meadows added 1.2 miles to the journey one-way) we were definitely feeling it – to say the least. After a quick kiss, where I nearly knocked Drew off his feet (timer photos can capture some of the funniest moments), we were recharged and ready to continue putting one foot in front of the other – we had no choice at this point ;)

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As the golden hour approached, our prayers were answered, we had finally made it to Alta Meadows. One of the best parts about this spot was not only the snow…! but we had Mount Whitney staring right at us so we could reminisce about our journey to her 14k summit less than a year ago.

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Yes, that’s real snow!

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After our celebratory photo shoot we were then greeted by our very own welcoming committee:

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We must have passed the test because after our dear friends sniffed us and observed our tent pitching skills they hung around for a while before frolicking off into the woods:

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We changed into a fresh set of clothes, bundled up for sundown and began to prepare dinner:

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I clearly was not aware that a photo was being taken here..

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Who needs a television when you can look at this:

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And meet the newest member of our adventure gear family, the LifeStraw – a super easy-to-use and convenient way to filter water that works as simply as a straw!:
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Hydrated, full and ready for a siesta we hoisted our bear bag into a tree and headed off to bed/ sleeping bag. There is something so free about sleeping in the outdoors - with nobody to impress, no agenda, no phone, no sense of time, just the present moment, each other and the incredible earth beneath us… it’s no wonder we can’t get enough of it.the trail to alta peak, alta peak trail in sequoia, best hike in sequoia national park, wolverton trailhead, sequoia park sign, mr and mrs adventure, adventurous couple, hiking couple, drew neumann, brittany rouille, alta meadow, sunset, mountain sunset

It was 7:30am, we awoke after a solid 10 hours of sleep, rolled out of the tent, brushed our teeth, made some oatmeal with our JetBoil and sipped on a cup of steaming hot chai tea as the sun made her glorious debut.

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We continued on our way to make it to the summit in time for an epic picnic lunch spot. After a mile we arrived at Alta Peak Junction and hung our packs in the trees so we didn’t have to lug them to the top and more so, to keep the marmots from getting to them – they will eat anything rubber to get their salt fix!

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The next 2 miles were the steepest of the entire trip, with a 2,000 foot elevation gain it was as if we could feel the air thinning with every step. The trail spiraled around the mountain so the striking views changed constantly. First we were looking back to the San Joaquin Valley, then we were gazing over Alta Meadow – where we had spent the previous night – the unmistakable Great Western Divide and the summit of Mount Whitney were a constant theme and the thought of the view from Alta Peak kept us wanting more.

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The terrain became much less vegetated as we made our way past the tree line – it was difficult to tell where the actual peak was in this moonscape, surrounded by giant rocks on all sides. We did our best to stay on the trail and 2 hours later, we found ourselves atop the glorious ALTA PEAK:

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The stunning view of Mount Whitney (14, 505) from Alta:

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Talk about a killer spot for PBJ break:

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Drew got Mrs. Adventure’s secret recipe, triple layer stack!
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This little marmot wanted in on all the magic:

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We spent an uninterrupted hour on top of Alta – it was hard to ever want to leave! The weather was perfect – the sun was shining and warm, the breeze was constant and cool – we were happy campers!

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Sequoia national park, alta peak, sequoia hikes, southern california summits, best hikes in california, mount whitney hike

Soon enough we had to peace out and make our way back down the trail. At least at this point we knew it was all downhill:

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Something we did not expect to see along our trek back… a b-b-BEAR!

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Luckily he was more interested in his search for honey than in us, but he totally had a moment with Drew – Drew had left his pack along the trail during our water break and as he slowly made his way back to get it before the bear did, they locked eyes, but that was it – Mr. Bear continued on his jolly bear way, right up the trail- PHEW! Our first bear in the wild, check!

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After all that excitement, a total of 17 miles later and 4,000 feet of elevation gain under our belts, we were wiped out. As much as we wanted to call it a day right then and there, we just had to meet the General, General Sherman that is:

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We drove over to the Giant Tree Forest and used whatever energy we had left to make our way to the General. With a height of 275 ft, a diameter of 25 ft and an estimated age of 2,300–2,700 years, General Sherman is the largest tree on earth by volume.

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After a weekend of constant moving and exploring, we wrapped up our Sequoia adventure with this gentle giant – making for the perfect ending :)

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Things to know:

  • Entry to the park is $20 per vehicle.
  • Best time of year to visit Sequoia to avoid the crowds: May & June, September & October
  • Bring bug spray! Once the snow melts, there are lots of mosquitos.
  • Tons of primitive camping on a first come first serve basis.
  • On weekends, be sure to get to the visitor centers early to get your first choice wilderness/backcountry permits.
  • Visit General Sherman in the afternoon to avoid the morning rush of site seers.
  • Pack a picnic, there is no shortage of incredible picnic spots.

 

Disclosure: The LifeStraw® product and information have been provided by Vestergaard.

The long awaited “Adventures in Costa Rica” video is here!

You’ve read the stories, you’ve seen the photos, now it’s time for the grand finale…THE VIDEO. So sit back and relax, kick off your shoes, grab a nice fruity drink and get excited as we take you along for the ride. But be sure to watch till the very end, you don’t want to miss a thing:

So what did you think? Liked it, loved it? Let us know! And as always, feel free to share the adventure with others – the more the merrier :)

Relaxing Hardcore at Paradise Hot Springs

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It was 7am, the rain was trickling on the roof of our treehouse, the birds were chirping as they ate the fresh banana that was placed on our porch and we were just waking up to our last morning in Costa Rica – where we would have gladly stayed forever:

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After eating the cutest fruit ever (see below), we were accompanied by a family of hummingbirds as we went for a hike in the surrounding rain forest and decided that we would spend our last afternoon in CR resting and enjoying every last drop.

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With no lack of resorts to choose from, we decided to go with a local recommendation: Paradise Hot Springs. Located just outside the hustle and bustle of downtown La Fortuna, this beautiful little oasis is much less touristy than the rest and way more affordable.

When we arrived in the late afternoon there were just a few other people there so we were able to relax in whatever pool or jacuzzi our hearts desired:

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The Paradise pools and jacuzzis here are all filled with steamingly refreshing thermal water that comes from deep with in the layers of the earth. This water is naturally heated when it comes in contact with molten rock or magma and is very rich in minerals that are known to help cleanse the skin, eliminate stress and induce muscle relaxation… we can truthfully say that we definitely experienced all of the above.

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There are also a number of waterfalls which provide incredibly relaxing hydro-massages, as well as an undeniable hint of romance:

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Many people don’t realize that going to the hot springs on a rainy day is actually the perfect activity - as the cold rain drops landed on our hot, 100 degree skin, we were able to withstand the heat of the hot springs much longer than we would have been able to otherwise.

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Paradise also serves a simple dinner menu; we requested our meals to be served at the swim up bar in one of the hot springs so we could stay warm and enjoy the water as long as possible. The staff was more than happy to do this for us, and while the food was pretty basic, the experience made it one of our most enjoyable meals of the trip:

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With happy bellies, full hearts and relaxed everything, we couldn’t have chosen a better place to end our trip other than total Paradise.

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Things to know:

  • Hours are 11am – 9pm everyday
  • Great rates
  • They provide towels, lockers and beautiful, clean showers with soap
  • This place has a much more intimate feel than the other hot spring resorts, something that we really appreciated

We had an absolutely incredible time in Costa Rica – if you need any help planning your trip let us know!

And be sure to check out all our other Costa Rica posts from this unforgettable trip :)

Volunteering with Wild Animals at Proyecto Asis

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There’s also an option to do the afternoon tour, but especially if you are visiting during the rainy season, we highly recommend the morning tour as it rains most often in the afternoons. Here’s a photo of Alvaro and Michelle, now that’s what we call monkey love.proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, monkey, monkey hug, monkey love She let me hold her hand too, as long as Alvaro was by her side: proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, monkey, monkey hug, monkey love Our tour began with learning about some of the local plants and flowers. The photo below shows a cashew fruit, each one of these fruits bears one cashew nut – just  one. This may help explain why cashews are one of the most expensive nuts available! proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, costa rica flowers, cashews, cashews tree, cashew fruit Here we have a red passionfruit flower, which is not only stunning but, if you are a hummingbird, it also absolutely delicious! proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, costa rica flowers, We also learned that most of the wild animals on the property had been rescued from homes where people tried to keep them as pets.  Once these “pets” grew into adults, they naturally became too aggressive – they are wild animals! – and so the families no longer wanted them. Perla, for example, a wild Paccary, slept in bed with the children and was fed rice beans, spaghetti and bubble gum: proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, peccary, costa rica pig Many of the birds on the property had had their wings clipped by their owners, leaving them unable to fly. Some of them now suffer from anxiety and are constantly pulling out their own feathers as a form of distraction. It made us so sad to see such beautiful animals unable to enjoy life as they were made to. At Proyecto Asis they are committed to nursing these animals back to health and releasing them once their feathers are long enough for them to fly and they are strong enough to survive in their natural habitats: proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, green parrot, costa rica birds proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, green parrot, costa rica birds, toucan, costa rica toucan proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, green parrot, costa rica birds, maccaw, costa rica maccaw proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, green parrot, costa rica birds, maccaw, costa rica maccaw Once our tour was complete, we got ready to volunteer. We prepared pounds and pounds of bananas, watermelon, pineapple, papaya, corn and lettuce for our, I mean the animals’ lunch time ;) proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescueWe never knew how much parrots loved bananas! proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, parrots, green parrot And the monkeys were the most incredible to watch! They ate so fast and were definitely not fans of sharing: proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, monkey, monkey hug, monkey love, monkey eating, eating watermelon, watermelon white face monkeys Look at this amazing little face: proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, monkey, monkey hug, monkey love, monkey eating, eating watermelon, watermelon white face monkeys proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, monkey, monkey hug, monkey love, monkey eating, eating watermelon, watermelon white face monkeys Hercules, the spider monkey pictured below, was all about his greens: proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, monkey, monkey hug, monkey love, monkey eating, eating watermelon, spider monkey, monkey eating lettuceAfter lunch was served, this little monkey pressed her face up against her cage and gave us some of the best monkey faces we had ever seen: proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, monkey, monkey hug, monkey love, monkey eating, eating watermelon, spider monkey, monkey face, funny animals, funny animal face proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, monkey, monkey hug, monkey love, monkey eating, eating watermelon, spider monkey, monkey face, funny animals, funny animal face “What are you looking at?” proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, monkey, monkey hug, monkey love, monkey eating, eating watermelon, spider monkey, monkey face, funny animals, funny animal face “Wasssuuup.” proyecto asis, volunteer with animals costa rica, costa rica monkeys, costa rica zoo, animal rescue costa rica, arenal animal rescue, monkey, monkey hug, monkey love, monkey eating, eating watermelon, spider monkey, monkey face, funny animals, funny animal faceSo classic.  Needless to say, we had an incredible experience sharing our time with the animals and learning about all the good that Proyecto Asis does for these precious creatures. If you are looking to make a difference and meet some new furry and feathery friends, this is a must do for your Costa Rican adventure!

Be sure to check out our other posts from our time in Costa Rica: Exploring Manuel AntonioWhitewater Rafting on the Rio SavegreCelebrating my Birthday with Kayak JacoGetting Engaged on Isla Tortuga with Calypso Cruises and Surviving Montezuma’s Revenge and Hiking Cerro Chato from the Arenal Observatory Lodge!

Surviving “Montezuma’s Revenge” and Hiking Cerro Chato from the Arenal Observatory Lodge

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Unable to walk, Drew carried me to the nearest “Farmacia” and luckily the doctor knew exactly what I needed – I still don’t know what he gave me, and quite frankly I don’t care, I’m just grateful that it worked and I lived to tell the tale. A few miraculous hours later we were back on track and on our way to the beautiful Arenal Observatory Lodge to hike Cerro Chato – we had been looking forward to this the entire trip and nothing was going to hold us back.

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Cerro Chato is an extinct volcano that has been inactive for some 3,500 years and rests on the southeast side of the Arenal Volcano reaching an elevation of 3,740 feet.  There is now an emerald pool (photo below) that fills Chato’s hollowed crater where the lava once boiled, and while you are allowed to go swimming in it, there are certain minerals present in the water that make swimming inadvisable.

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We had originally planned to start the 6ish mile hike at 8am and finish in time to enjoy lunch at the Observatory restaurant, but due to unforeseen circumstances, we didn’t get to the lodge until about 1:30pm. The friendly people at the reservations desk let us know that the absolute latest one should start the hike is at 2pm because it takes 4 hours round trip and the sun goes down by 6pm in Costa Rica. So, they gave us a map and off we went!

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The trail started off on the lodge’s property – we crossed over an awesome suspended bridge and passed by some of the most incredible tropical flowers we had ever seen:

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10 minutes later we made it off the beaten path and found ourselves on a long and winding road with Cerro Chato staring right at us beyond the clouds:

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The different colored trails, labeled on the map featured earlier, were clearly marked with colored blocks the entire way. Below you can see the blue trail marker on the beautiful Rainbow Eucalyptus, known to have the most beautiful bark in the world. These markers made it easy to stay on track, despite the many unique distractions:

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Not many hikers passed us at this time of day, maybe 3 sets of people the entire time. It’s definitely more popular as a morning adventure, but for us it was nice to feel like we had the place all to ourselves… all to ourselves plus these two odd and unforgettable birds! Known as the Great Curassow, it is apparently extremely rare to encounter one, let alone two!:

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After admiring our new friends as long as they would allow us, we hiked a few more meters until we found ourselves at the base of Arenal’s older brother, Cerro Chato. This is definitely not a beginner’s hike – they even have a sign at the trailhead to warn people one last time – though Drew and I both believe that as long as you go at your own pace and have enough water, anyone can do it:

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Roots and mud were definitely the defining elements of this unforgettable hike. After nearly an hour of huffing and puffing, we found ourselves at the glittering emerald green mouth of Cerro Chato:

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After enjoying the view and a much needed rest, Drew decided that it was time to hike down to the lagoon. After some hesitation on my end, he finally convinced me and as usual, I was definitely glad he did. We were basically crawling up and down muddy foot wedges made by the many whom had gone before us. Because the top of Cerro Chato rests in a cloud forest, nothing ever really dries out – it was quite the experience:

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15 minutes of mud crawling later, we made it to the emerald lagoon and boy was it worth it. With not a soul around, we took in the wild sounds of the rain forest and watched as the clouds rushed over us and the glimmering green waters:

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Up and at it again, we made our way back down to the Observatory Lodge in about an hour, just in time to be guided back by the setting sun and the glowing neon lights of the fireflies:

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Completely satisfied with our journey, grateful for our health and extremely hungry from the trek, we took a seat at the Observatory restaurant to enjoy a beautiful meal, complete with deliciously refreshing mango and blackberry juice:

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It’s hard to believe that Montezuma’s Revenge and our epic hike up Cerro Chato happened on the same day! All we can say is that where there’s a will (and a pharmacy!) there’s a way :)

Things to know:

If you are only going to be in Costa Rica for a week or so, be safe and just buy your water. We were told especially NOT to drink the water in the beach towns… Jaco did it for us.

You do not need a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get to the Lodge

You can start the hike from Arenal Observatory Lodge as early as 6am

Latest to start the hike is 2pm

Entrance fee to AOL is $8 per person

Give yourself at least 4 hours to do the hike no matter what your fitness level, especially if you decide to add the side hike to  the lagoon (which you totally should)

Bring a lot of water, there is no where to refill along the way

Stop at the Observatory restaurant for lunch, dinner or a sunset drink – this spot offers one of the best and closest views of Arenal

Be sure to check out our posts from earlier on our trip! There was Exploring Manuel AntonioWhitewater Rafting on the Rio SavegreCelebrating my Birthday with Kayak Jaco, and Getting Engaged on Isla Tortuga with Calypso Cruises !

And check out our awesome Costa Rica blogging friends at Pura Vida eh? who got engaged at Cerro Chato!