Death in the Grand Canyon

***Beings DIY projects take us 17 times longer in our 30’s than they did in our 20’s, you all are stuck with more vacation photos today.  Mwah ha ha.***

Our last stop in Arizona was the Grand Canyon.  (You can read about our stop in Sedona here and here.)

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It’s grand.  I think these photos are great but photos really can’t do this place justice.  My brain couldn’t wrap around the massiveness of the Canyon.

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It was almost like I was in a dream.  Except Nate had one of his dumb shirts on which helped me remember that it was in no dream.  In my dreams, there are no Reese’s or Woot shirts.

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We spent 3 nights and two days in the Grand Canyon.  More than plenty.  The place is massive but it looks about the same no matter where you go.  If you’re not big into hiking, I wouldn’t suggest more than one day or you’ll end up spending some of your time on Instagram and driving your brother nuts.  Actually, it was nice having some time just to sit and relax and take in nature.  I’m no help.

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Tips for those looking to go to the Grand Canyon…Right after Labor Day turned out to be a great time to go.  There are less people.  The number of buses running decreased during our two days there.  Less people is always a win with us.  The weather was actually great too.  Low 80’s at the rim during the day and 60’s at night.

We stayed in Tusayan which is right outside of the Canyon.  There is very little in the town and hotels are expensive (but less expensive than in the park).  It was really nice to be so close to the park…but I didn’t want to eat fast food (only food option) for many weeks after.

We “hiked” around the rim.  There are quite a few miles of paved and unpaved trails that go along the rim.  We were all surprised at the lack of guard rails in the park.  And the lack of brain cells of people running and hanging on the edge.  Not this girl. 

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There’s a big giant hole over that edge.  A giant beautiful hole.

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We headed out early our first morning for a hike in the canyon.  Nate and my brother assured me that the “difficult” trail rating was only to scare away people that don’t exercise. It didn’t really mean difficult hiking.  I surround myself with geniuses.  I knew they were full of crap but decided that I needed to try anyways.  How often does this Iowa girl get to the Grand Canyon?

We started out on the South Kaibob trail. 

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Oh hello trail that I thought would be the cause of my death.  Did you know that only one person per year dies from falling in the Grand Canyon? Yes, I did Google that after this hike.

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Oh man, my heart is racing just looking at this photo.  My fear of heights got me big time at the Grand Canyon. I honestly hadn’t expected to be so nervous the entire time. My knees were shaking uncontrollably going down this trail. 

All of the signs in the park state it will take you double the time to get back up as it does for you to get down.  It took us 2 1/2 hours to get down and 45 minutes to get back up. I struggled big time going down and I wanted out of that hole on the way up.

I don’t want to scare others from hiking the trail.  Just be prepared if you have a fear of heights.  Elderly people were booking it past me.  This nice couple (approximately older than the Grand Canyon) passed us on the way down and then were cheering me on as they were on their way back up. 

The views were incredible and I’m very glad I did it.  I just might get myself a nice prescription for some Xanax for my rim to rim hike.

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We made it to the first stop on the trail.  I really didn’t want to go any farther.  This smile is fake.  I promise you.

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Nate and my brother really wanted to make it to the second stop on the trail.  With the encouragement of our ancient friends, I grabbed on to my brother’s backpack and hit the trail.  I still owe him for a chiro visit.

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The views at the second stop were worth the year that I lost due to extreme stress.

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Overall, we enjoyed our trip the Grand Canyon.  Lots of great views of a giant hole…and elk.

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How’s that for a random ending of a post.  I was boring myself.  I might get around to putting the photos up on Flickr.  Maybe.

Have you been to the Grand Canyon?  Any plans to go there?  Where should Nate and I head on our next adventure? 

Hiking in Sedona

Alternate title:  I shouldn’t post some of these photos on the interweb.

On Tuesday I mentioned that most of our time in Sedona was spent hiking.  We’re wild and crazy kids.

Our first stop was the Boynton Canyon trail.  We were greeted with a bear warning.  My brother and I were fully prepared to take on any wild animals that we might encounter.

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No, we didn’t encounter any wild animals.  Yes, I wore lots of sunscreen.  Yes, my nickname was bear meat. No Mom, we will never grow up.

This hike was a 6 mile round trip hike through the canyon.  It was a fairly easy hike.  Most of it was shaded which was an added benefit.

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This hike was pretty uneventful.  Some nice Austrian man took our photo at the end of the trail.  We gave my brother lessons in composition while on this trip.  Looks like we should have also offered them to our new friend.

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Nate took pretty photos.  My brother and I were obnoxious. The usual. The following pose is still in, right?

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My brother wants everyone to know that he took the following photo. Not Nate.  Just to clear that up.

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Our next trail was Devil’s Bridge. A 3 mile round trip trail. My brother and Nate enjoyed this trail.  I did not.  This is the time that I tell you all about my fear of heights.  I like to hike flat trails.  Not trails where I can fall to my death…like this trail.  Here is the bridge.  My brother and Nate walked out on that thing.  I did not.  No way.  No how.

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The views on the way up were quite awesome.

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The trail itself.  Eh.   This was a good part.

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The following photo sums up this hike.  Me baby stepping up the trail.  Nate taking photos of my rear (which I cropped out to save us all).  My brother resting and taunting me.  I hate my brother.  And my husband.

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We eventually made it to the top.  Where I sat firmly planted in a safe location. 

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My brother and Nate walked on out on that thing.  Dumb. Some doctor kept trying to get me to go out there.  I forgave him after he saved us a 1.5 mile hike back from the trailhead to our car.

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Our last hike was the West Fork Oak Creek trail.  This hike was 6 miles round trip.  This trail had 12 creek crossings which was kind of fun.

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The only thing we disliked about this trail was that the end was pretty uneventful.  We were hoping for some big pool or awesome view. This was it.  Still pretty but eh.

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This concludes our hiking tour of Sedona.  Are you still awake?  Anyone?

Do you like to hike?  Anyone else with a major fear of heights?  (Just wait for the Grand Canyon post!)


Do you all remember when I told you that we went on vacation?…a month ago.  I finally have photos to prove it.  For real.  And who doesn’t love blogger vacation photos?

Our first stop in Arizona was Sedona. 

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Photos can not capture how amazing this place is.  I felt like I was in movie set the whole time we were there. Hence my movie star hipster pose.

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Where We Stayed:  We stayed in this condo. We like using VRBO for our vacations.  This 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo was $110/night which is cheaper than most hotels.  It was pretty horribly decorated but was clean and quiet.  We like the extra space that a condo offers.  It also allows us to eat in breakfast and lunch to help save a little extra cash. The condo also had a salt water pool.  We had the pool to ourselves most of the afternoon.  The owners were super easy to work with.  Thumbs up.

Where We Ate: We enjoyed suppers at Picazzos, Oak Creek Brew Co., and Plaza Bonita.  The food was delicious at all of them.  They all get great recommendations from us.  For whatever that is worth.

What We Did:  We hiked every morning.  We got up early to beat the heat.  We would hike until lunch time.  We would eat lunch in the condo.  Nap.  Swim in the pool.  Go out for supper.  Watch the sunset.  Sleep.  Repeat times 3 days.  Man, I miss vacation.  I’ll share more photos of our hikes in the next week or so.

We were warned that Sedona at the end of August/beginning of September would be extremely hot.  It was hot but not enough to limit us from doing the activities that we wanted.  We woke up early to hike and swam in the afternoon.  Take that heat.  We were also there during the beginning of a rainy season.  It rained each afternoon but we used that time to nap.  Take that rain.  The rain also lent itself to some fun photos.

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This last photo reminds me.  The next time my brother joins us on vacation, he’s going to need to bring a girl.  Just saying. I can no longer spend a week as the third wheel. I’ll even host a blog giveaway for the position if needed.  You think I’m joking.

Have you been to Sedona?  Who’s up for being my brother’s next vacation date?

Travel Lingerie {Undies} Bag

I’m back!  We enjoyed our trip to Arizona but it’s definitely good to be home. I’m also excited to spend time with females.  If I never hear another Super Troopers quote, fart joke, or Fantasty Football stat again, it will be too soon.  We’ll share some of our vacation favorites with you later this week or next.

Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite recent creations…a travel undies bag.


My brother asked me what I was making.  I told him I needed a bag to hold my underwear in my suitcase.  I hate when they get all mixed up.  I can never remember if they are clean or not.  They never stay in the pocket I put them in.  He didn’t understand. Nate didn’t understand either. (This is why I need more estrogen in my life.)  Am I the only one with this underwear problem? 

I can’t be.  Today I’m here to help.  This bag was super helpful on our trip.  We lived out of a suitcase and my suitcase ended up being a hot mess.  My underwear, however, were neatly confined to their cute little bag.

This bag contains a zipper but don’t let that scare you.  Zippers really aren’t a big deal.  I promise.  I think this bag took me about 45 minutes to make..and that was after I sewed something the wrong way.

You will need:

  • 1 zipper.  Any length.  See below.
  • 4 rectangles.  You can make them any size…probably depending on the size of your zipper.  My zipper was 18 inches so I went with four rectangles that measured 10”x20”.
    • The fabric I used is from the Salvation Army.  The grey stripes were a sheet and the coral floral was a torn table cloth.
    • Heat N’Bond
    • Fabric scraps for the “C” (clean) and “D” (dirty)

Your first steps depends on if you want to sew on your “C” and “D” or if you want to just iron them on (my choice).  If you want to sew them on, this would be the time to do that.

Place 1 rectangle of lining fabric right side up.  Place the zipper on top of that followed by a rectangle of outside fabric (right side down).


Sew along the top edge.  I’m horrible with seam allowances but just make sure you are sewing through the three layers. 

Place these two rectangles wrong sides together.


Next layer your fabric as you did previously (lining right side up, zipper, outside right side down).  Pay special attention to how I have the zipper placed.  If you turn the zipper, you will have liner on the outside.  Not that I would know.  Sew along the top edge.


Now it’s time to open the zipper a little.  This is an important step.  Don’t forget it or you won’t be able to flip your bag right side out and that would be sad.


Next place your outside fabric right sides together and your lining fabric right sides together…as shown below.


Sew around the perimeter of the bag leaving a small opening on one of the lining short sides.  You will use this opening to turn the bag right side out.  Turn bag right side out. 


Close the opening in the lining either by secret stitching or just sewing over the top.  I sewed over the top because it’s an underwear bag for myself.  I’m okay a few stitches showing on the inside.

Ooo, look.  It’s a bag.


Turn the bag right side out.  Find the center of your bag and sew to divide your bag into two halves.  I sewed over the same line 3 times.


This line will keep the dirty undies from the clean.  Very important.  I also sewed a small (about an inch) line at the top along the zipper.


Iron on your letters (I traced letters that I printed out and the used Heat N’Bond applied to my fabric.) and enjoy your fancy lingerie bag!

Make Your Own Travel Lingerie Bag!

Anyone else struggle with stray underwear?  Have you traveled recently? Any plans to travel soon? 

Chicago in Black & White

Nate and I set out early the morning we left Chicago.  The morning was gloomy and damp from the rain the night before.  The city was quiet. 

The photos Nate took that morning lent themselves to being edited in black and white. Black and white photos always speak to me.  Very moody.  Very city.  Very I want to move to downtown Chicago.  Yesterday.

Nate and I keep day dreaming about a studio downtown as a vacation home.  We talk like it could happen.  You know, after we both get second jobs or win the lotto.  Doable, right?

Guess we’ll keep day dreaming…

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I’m not sure why this city has sucked me in.  But it has. Big time. We’re already pondering our next trip!

Anyone else dreaming of a vacation home?  If so, where?  Any black and white photo fans out there or do you prefer the color photos?

Eating Our Way Through Chicago

I tried to get a post together for yesterday but my stomach was too large to hold my laptop.  Don’t worry.  I’m not preggo.  I just ate my way through Chicago this past week-end. I was telling one of my co-workers about our trip and she asked if we did anything besides eat. The answer was “not really.”

Nate and I headed to the Windy City with one of my best friends from childhood and her husband. 

We’ll call them Mr. and Mrs. A to protect their identities.   Mr. A had never been to Chicago and it had been awhile for Mrs. A.  Nate and I go about once a year but we usually strike out on food.  You all’s recommendations came in very handy and you most definitely didn’t let us down.

Two warnings:  1. Don’t read this if you’re hungry.  2. Our food photography is atrocious.

We arrived in Chicago around lunchtime on Friday.  Our first food destination was Portillo’s.  Nate did a much better job of photographing the food he consumed.  I did not.  Neither of us used the DSLR that I lugged around.  Blogger fail.

Portillo’s was delicious.  I had a chili cheese dog and Nate had Italian beef.  So very good.


After walking off Portillo’s, we headed for some Chicago style pizza.  Giordano’s is Nate and I’s Chicago style place of choice.  We love the buttery crust and massive amount of cheese.


Mrs. A and I were doing our part to keep Chicago classy.  Those pieces are deceiving.  We were all disgustingly full after two pieces.  I swore I would never eat food ever again after this stop.

And then Saturday morning rolled around and our first stop was Yolk.  I am thinking about selling my 2800 square foot home and using that money to buy a 300 square foot studio in downtown Chicago just so I can eat at Yolk every morning.  I could write and entire post on my love of Yolk.


I had the Cinnamon Roll French toast.  Life changing.  I am still having dreams about this French toast.  I am thinking about framing this photo and hanging it on the wall just for the happy memories.




We then waddled our way around the city.  I’ll share the waddling stops tomorrow.

For supper on Saturday night we stopped at Rock Bottom Brewery.  We left miserable once again.  Such good food.  Nate and Mrs. A were big fans of the fish tacos.  My Hickory Bacon BBQ burger was also quite delicious.  Like you know you should stop eating but you can’t delicious. (All of you on bump watch, please note my Lemon Drop Martini.)


Beings that we are gluttons for punishment, we headed to Ghirardelli’s Ice Cream.  I can’t go to Chicago without a stop at Ghirardelli’s…and we were running out of time.

You can see my pores leaking grease and sugar.

Nate swears that the hot fudge sundae was the best he’s ever eaten.  I still don’t think I can pass up my chocolate ice cream in a chocolate dipped waffle cone.


Who’s hungry?  Any fans of the above places?  Do you want to frame that Cinnamon Roll French toast also? 

Chicago and Grand Canyon Trip Advice

One of my favorite parts of blogging is interacting with all of you.  It’s fun sharing knowledge (or lack there of).
Nate and I are currently planning two trips.  We are going to Chicago for a long week-end with some dear friends of ours.  We are also looking at heading to the Grand Canyon in August-ish.
Here’s where we need you…
What are Chicago favorites?  Favorite restaurants? Places? Shopping? etc.  Nate and I have been to Chicago a handful of times but our friends haven’t.  Nate and I have have done a lot of the touristy stuff but feel free to share all of our wisdom.  Who knows what we’ve missed!  I’d also love recommendations of thrift stores/unique shops. 
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Next up: the Grand Canyon.  Flights to Phoenix from our local airport are ridiculously cheap right now.  Our plan is to fly into Phoenix and start our adventure from there.  We would like to spend a few days hiking in the Grand Canyon.  What are your favorite things to do in Arizona? Restaurants?  Suggestions on where to stay to fully enjoy the Grand Canyon?  Any other awesome things to do/see in Arizona?
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Thanks in advance for your help! Bring on those suggestions!

I Want to Go To Riu

I mentioned on Monday that Nate and I stayed at the Riu Guanacaste in Costa Rica.

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The reviews on Trip Advisor for this resort are very….interesting.  It must be one of those love or hate it kind of places.  Also, the things some people complain about make me laugh.

Nate and I enjoyed our stay at the Riu.  It’s not a five star resort….but we also did not pay a five star price.

Our room was nice. A little smaller than most American hotel rooms but definitely big enough.  It was clean.  The fridge was fully stocked with various beverages.  The air conditioning worked.  No complaints from us.

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They are building a new hotel next door.  I had read reviews about how awful the construction noise is and you should request to be moved right away.  We always travel with a small fan for noise. Nate slept until 9:30-10:00am most mornings (as I bonded with my Kindle). The noise wasn’t really a problem for us.  It was more the construction workers who spent the majority of their day scanning the balconies for tourists.  We could have asked to move but actually enjoyed the ocean view…and we were only in our room to sleep so it wasn’t a problem.

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The grounds at the hotel are beautiful.  All of the spaces were very clean and well cared for.

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There were reviews about people complaining about the lack of air conditioning in common spaces.  It’s called open air people.  And it’s fabulous.  No cardigans on this vacation!

On Monday, we mentioned that the beach totally received our approval.

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The pool at the Riu is also beautiful.  And giant. And we didn’t take photos of it.  Oops. We are more beach people than pool people.  (We can enjoy pools in Iowa.  Beaches are a little harder to come by.)  We did enjoy the pool at the Riu and would end our day with a swim in the pool because it was usually shaded in the later afternoon.  Our poor pale skin loved the break.  There were a lot of complaints about not being able to find beach chairs and pool chairs.  We had no problems the entire week we were there.

So far I’ve given this place a glowing review.  We both had one complaint about the place….the food.  Bleh.  It was buffet three times per day.  We both enjoyed the breakfast buffet (it’s really hard to screw up bacon and eggs).  The lunch and evening buffets weren’t so hot.  I ate a lot of fresh fruit and ice cream.  The following photo sums up my food experience at the Riu.  Ice cream and Coca Cola Light.  I should Photoshop in a plate of pineapple and watermelon.


Eh, ice cream and Diet Coke aren’t all bad, right?

Would we stay at the Riu again?  Yes and no.  Yes, if I had a money tree. I would totally go back for a nice and relaxing getaway.  It was perfect for enjoying the beach and the pool.  No, because we would like to explore other parts of Costa Rica.  The Riu’s location is farther away from some of Costa Rica’s more popular destinations.

Have you stayed at a Riu?  Are you one of those annoying reviewers on TripAdvisor that complains because the combo hair/body soap in the shower isn’t very good? Wait, don’t tell me. I don’t want to dislike you.  Are you a beach or a pool person?

Crocodiles, Iguanas, and Monkeys

Warning.  This post contains photos of monkeys. Super cute ones at that.  Consider yourself warned.

Nate and I weren’t super adventurous travelers in Costa Rica.  Weak, I know.  We were more into getting a little R&R on this vacation.  We did go on a half day “Jungle River Cruise.”  It was a totally good use of our time.

The excursion included an hour bus ride.   The tour guide filled us in on some local Costa Rican info.  Home prices, flooding, festivals.  The good stuff.

We stopped and had a photo op at this tree.  Some type of fig tree.  I’m bad at paying attention…unless there were monkeys involved.  (The tour guide obviously needs to improve his photo taking skills…or crocodiles got our feet.  I’ll let you decide.)

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Across from the giant tree was a sugar cane field.  This is what most of the hour long bus ride looked like.  I didn’t complain!

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We then boarded a covered boat on the Tempisque river. 

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A good blogger would have a picture of the boat.  A good blogger wouldn’t rely on her husband to take photos.  A good blogger’s husband, however, should keep her blog posts in mind.  So just envision a small covered boat, mkay?  We were told to keep all body parts in the boat.  The river was supposedly full of crocodiles.  I was picturing them circling the boat.  That never happened but I wasn’t really into proving points that day so I kept all body parts well within safe limits. 

The blogger’s husband did get some great animal shots though so we’ll forgive him for the lack of boat photo, mkay?  I don’t remember the names of any of the following other than bird or iguana or crocodile.  I really only paid attention to the monkey talk.

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I’m still not sure this crocodile was real.  I think it was a prop.  Again, I wasn’t into proving points that day so I let it be and played along.  (Crocodiles open their mouths like this to let heat escape.  I did listen…a little.)

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And now what you have all been waiting for…..monkeys!!

We saw two types of monkeys while in Costa Rica.  The first type was the Howler monkey.  They are big ol’ lazy monkeys that hang out in one spot and protect their territory.  They have the coolest howl. 

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The second type of monkey we saw were the White-faced Capuchin monkeys.  The tour guide whistled as we floated down the river and before long, monkeys were on our boat.  Hanging out.  Wanting banana.

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Nate is smarter than I am.  He was a little startled at a wild animal crawling all over him.  He thought at one point the monkey’s tail was trying to choke him.  An assassin monkey.

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We were instructed to only give them tiny amounts of banana.  The monkeys obviously know the tour boats and know there is food involved. The people of Costa Rica, obviously, don’t want the monkeys to become reliant on tourists for their food.  Once the banana was gone, the monkeys were gone.

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After seeing this picture, I should have maybe been a little more cautious but I’m totally living on the wild side lately.

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They stack on top of one another to appear bigger to predators.  Look at my knowledge.  I’ll be writing for National Geographic in no time.

Who wants to see another picture of me and a cute monkey?  I thought so.

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Any other monkey fans out there?  Totally worth the risk of rabies vaccinations, right?  Right?

Zip Lining in Costa Rica

I did it.  I survived zip lining in Costa Rica.  I originally thought it was Nate’s way of cashing in on my life insurance policy.  Not so lucky this time dear husband.

Let me start with the fact that I am a very cautious person and I’m also afraid of heights.  Two steps on a step ladder and I start to get all nervous.  So how’s about I go flying through the jungle on some death trap?  Yeah, how’s about no.


I posted on my personal facebook page that I was certain Nate was trying to end my life and make it look like an accident.  My dear friends kindly informed me that I can’t go to Costa Rica and not zip line.  What did I gather from this?  That my friends wanted me dead too. 

Somehow Nate convinced me I would survive.  Also the brochure that included a kid in a wheelchair zip lining helped seal the deal.

We took a 15 minute bus ride to the zip lining place of death (The Congo Trail Canopy Tour).  The guides get you set up in your gear…a helmet, stinky gloves and a harness apparatus that gives you a giant wedgie.


(Please ignore the look of fear in my eyes.  The fear was from dying and being groped by a Costa Rican man.)

Helmets on and we’re ready to go…


Wait.  Are we?


I change my mind.  Oh, too late now? Fine.  Whatever.


Holy crap. I really change my mind now.  Nate assures me I’ll be fine.  I made him promise me that he’d show this picture to his next wife.


I made it to the first death release point.  I was really close to chickening out.  The guide hooked me up and set me free.  **Be sure to notice my huge biceps.**


And you know what?  It was a ton of fun.  I loved it.  The tour had 11 lines.  That first leap was awful but then it turned into complete awesomeness.

After the first few lines, I decided that maybe Nate just wanted to have fun in Costa Rica.  I kept a close eye on him though…and made him take a bunch of touristy pictures with me.



More proof that we did, in fact, go zip lining.  I really was having fun.  I was just concentrating on not running into a tree.




The views throughout the tour were gorgeous. The mist of water along the upward trail was awesome too.  All parks should have those.





If you get the chance to zip line, you must do it. This is coming from a he-giant chicken girl.  I will go again in a heart beat.  If I can survive it, you totally can!


Have you been zip lining?  Any desire to go or are you a big chicken?  Bock bock.