Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Weekend in Nevada

Jon and I worked half-days last Friday so that we could head to the old-fashioned, western town of Ely, Nevada for a bike race. Despite the Liberty getting broken into the night before (yep) and the check engine light coming on (which happened the last time we were leaving for a long driving trip, too) we were in fairly good spirits.

After stopping to see the Bonneville Salt Flats along the way, we arrived in Ely around 5 p.m. The town is truly a western-looking place; most of the buildings are very old and you can't really tell which businesses are actually in operation. We considered going out to explore a nearby state park or an area for mining your own garnets, but ultimately decided we were tired and hungry and those needs came first. We were staying at the Jailhouse Motel & Casino and decided to try out its restaurant for dinner -- the Cell Block Steakhouse. They really took the whole jailhouse thing and ran with it; our booth was behind bars.

Dining behind bars
We were actually pretty impressed with the food. After dinner, we walked up to the casino where I gambled $5 playing a Keno machine and doubled my money! Then I lost it all playing poker. Jon signed in for his race and after piddling away a few more dollars in the casino, we called it a night.

Saturday, Jon rode in the Fears, Tears & Beers mountain bike enduro race. He decided to race in the expert class and he might never do that again, but hey -- he finished. The race began at 9 a.m. and started with all the racers riding right through the Jailhouse Casino. I went down so I could snap a picture of my hubby coming through.

Isn't my hubby cute?
After that, I didn't see him again until 5 p.m.! He was racing for almost eight hours! An enduro race totals your race time from a number of specific stages rather than your time start to finish. The expert class had to complete six total stages and at the end of the day, Jon had ridden 31 miles and climbed over FIVE THOUSAND FEET. Yikes. Needless to say, he was a bit tired after all that. I waited for him to finish at the park, blankly staring at this hill where he would come down and silently praying that he wouldn't fall to his death like I would if I tried the same.

Mtn Bikers got balls, y'all.
The race organizers provided a nice cookout with dinner, beer and music in the park following the race. We sat in the grass and enjoyed the weather and free beer while they raffled off prizes and announced the winners in the different classes for men and women. Jon even won a raffle prize! Jon wound up getting 11th place out of 15 individuals that completed the expert class stages. If we go back next year, he thinks he'll stick to sport class which only completes four stages so that he can really crush it! :) AND, if we go back next year, I just might participate in the Fun Run that they hold in conjunction with the bike race because only two women did it this year, so this might be my only chance to place in a running event, ever.

On Sunday, we got up early and ate a big breakfast at the Jailhouse's other restaurant then headed off to Great Basin National Park. We stopped by the park's main visitor center (no pencils), then continued to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center to check in for our cave tour. (I found pencils there.) We did a 90-minute tour of the caves that was really cool! The cave has some really interesting formations and Jon said it was the best cave tour he's ever had -- and that is a high compliment coming from a geologist! :) We'll see if that still holds true after we tour Timpanogos Cave in American Fork, UT in a few weeks.

Inside Lehman Caves
After the cave tour, we made a little lunch and then hiked the Bristlecone & Glacier trails. Together, the trails totaled about a 5-mile hike. The Bristlecone trail led to a grove of bristlecone pines with interpretive signs explaining these AMAZING trees. Seriously, these trees are some of the oldest things on EARTH; some are almost 5,000 years old! And they look really cool, too.

Bristlecone Pine
At the end of the Bristlecone trail, we continued on the Glacier trail which led up to Rock Glacier, the only glacier in Nevada.

Jon approaching the base of Rock Glacier
Now, I know what you're thinking; this doesn't really look like a glacier. I thought the same thing. But, it actually still is a form of a glacier. We didn't quite understand the science behind it when we were there, but here is what the National Park System says about it: A rock glacier is a lobe of angular boulders and cobbles that resembles an alpine glacier in outline and in its slow downslope movement. Inside a rock glacier, ice fills the spaces between the blocks. By freezing, thawing and sagging, the ice works with gravity to provide the force that moves the rock glacier.

So, we were standing underneath some rocks that are constantly shifting downward. Cool, huh? ;) Until next time; more adventures to come!

Xoxo, The Zerbes

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Honeymoon Part Two

Day Four
It was Thanksgiving. We woke up early and headed to the beach right after breakfast, taking nothing with us so that we could actually swim together instead of one person swimming, one person guarding camp. We came back to the hotel after a while to pack up our bags and have lunch in the bar before our ride was to arrive at noon.

Anyone who’s been to Costa Rica will probably tell you that getting somewhere is half the battle and we learned that lesson, too. Our shuttle didn’t arrive at noon, even though we’d coordinated it months in advance, so we had to use the bartender’s cell phone to call the hotel and get a replacement that arrived a couple hours later. We knew the ride would be long. We were headed from the Pacific Coast to a more northern and central part of the island – the Tenorio National Forest. It was quite interesting that our transportation was a little roller skate of a car because I knew the last few miles before getting to our next hotel were pretty much 4WD necessary. But off we went.

We finally got close, after the driver had to stop and get directions, and those last few miles on 4WD terrain took at least an hour and were absolutely terrifying! I am not exaggerating when I say I was praying the rosary in the backseat. It was just dark and foggy and in this small car, I thought for sure our driver might say F it and take us back down. But we finally made it to the beautiful Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel and were greeted with some amazing juice and led to our little bungalow house nestled in the rainforest. The digs at this place were all amazing, everything was beautiful and eco-conscious and the scenery couldn’t be beat. Our balcony faced right out into the rainforest. We got some dinner in the resort restaurant that night and went to bed.

Gorgeous bungalow at Rio Celeste Hideaway

Our deck facing the rainforest

Day Five
We had breakfast at the resort before heading off on an adventure to raft the Tenorio River! Our guides picked us up and we drove for about an hour or so to a little restaurant area where we met with other groups and then took one car together out to the drop-in spot.

The guides were so nice and funny, the rafting was definitely a trip highlight. We had read the rapids would be Class III and IV, which to me was a little scary but it turned out to be perfect. It was an absolutely beautiful day with the sun shining, we saw some wildlife and shouted Pura Vida after getting through big rapids. So much fun.

One of the guides has been talking about a 12-foot drop at the end of our route since the morning, but I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not and Jon said there was no way. But he wasn’t joking! At the very end, there was a big 12-foot waterfall. They pulled us all off to the side before we went in and gave us all the tips for what to do if we flipped (we later learned that about 99% of boats flip…), etc. Our boat went first in our group and… we flipped. Haha. It was not as scary as I thought it would be, though. I think it’s like you have to fall out once to know it’s not so bad. I came up and there were ropes to grab onto so I held onto one tightly until a guide pulled me out (the water is super strong). Then we watched the other groups come down and one actually made it without flipping.

After the rafting, we had a little snack riverside and headed back. We had dinner in the hotel and relaxed for the night. (I don't have any actual pictures of rafting to share; we did take a few photos and of course video on the GoPro but Jon has them.)

Day Six
After another breakfast at the resort, we met our guide for the morning who would be taking us on a guided hike in the Tenorio National Forest. We walked a kilometer or so from the hotel to the park entrance.

The hike was really nice. We saw lots of interesting plants and wildlife and the Rio Celeste. This river runs through the forest and at one point, it completely changes to a bright blue color. We were able to hike right past the point in the river where it changes which was super neat. We also got to see a huge waterfall (always cool) and it was a great hike all around.

Prehistoric ferns in the Tenorio Nat'l Forest

Where the water turns blue in Rio Celeste

Rio Celeste Waterfall (forget the height)

When we got back to the hotel, we relaxed for a while then got a couples massage. That evening we hung out in the bar using Google Translate to translate a few issues we had with the hotel into Spanish so that we could mention them during check-out the next day. We enjoyed our last dinner in the restaurant, a night cap in the bar and then headed back to our little bungalow.

My favorite drink at the resort, "Blue Lagoon"

Day Seven & Eight
Sunday morning, we checked out of the hotel and after doing my best to read our translated-to-Spanish concerns, we actually got a really good discount (nice!). Our shuttle picked us up and drove us back to San Jose where we’d stay one night until our flight left the next morning. San Jose was busy when we arrived. We walked around for a little while, ducking into a grocery store for some snacks and Costa Rican goodies (aka coffee) to bring back home. That night we just got a pizza and watched the Redskins game. On Monday, we left early in the morning for the airport and headed back state-side.  

The honeymoon was a great trip. Costa Rica is a beautiful place with many friendly people, but I will say the transportation/getting around is the worst. We really enjoyed the relaxing, eating, drinking and exploring that we were able to do as husband and wife after a long year of wedding planning. There is a lot we weren’t able to see just having a week there, so I would definitely go back again.