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Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Cocktail Hour: Beale Street Pub Crawl

It's time The World on Wheels hit the bluesiest street on earth, Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.

Three blocks of wall-to-wall bars and nightclubs with only the occasional souvenir store to break it up.

Watch the Video!

On this crawl, we hit three of them, starting with the Beale Street Taproom. Upon entering, it becomes immediately obvious that smoking is still allowed in Tennessee bars. As we're just in the beginning stages of a cold, the smoky air grabs at our throats and makes breathing a bit labored.

The taproom boasts 60 taps on the wall and we take advantage of them to try a Schafly Kolsch. Schafly is a St. Louis brewery working in the shadow of the giant Anheiser Busch there.  They are making some inroads, though, as the owner told me in an e-mail that they're available on tap in Busch Stadium there.

It tastes like a good light beer but is still better than the King of Beers that in competes against.

The Beale Street Taproom is also remembered as the place that Letty started her love affair with Fireball Whiskey, a Canadian cinnamon flavored version.

Next was Alfred's on Beale where a nice, rock due serenaded us as we tried the Ghost River Ale, which turned out to have a bit of a sour taste that Letty really liked.  We also tried the Yazoo Dos Beeros which had a hint of sweetness. Yes, that's right, sweet 'n sour at Alfreds.

Yuengling is also on tap all over Memphis so we tried America's oldest beer here too. Pretty good.

Last was Rum Boogie where Darren Jay and the Delta Souls pumped out some great blues while we tried Sam Adams...a decent lager we've had many times before...and Batch 19, a pre-prohibition style lager made by Coors that is actually pretty darn decent, better than the Sam Adams that we're drinking against it.

Watch the video for the complete story and come along to one of the most musical places you'll ever see.



Friday, January 29, 2016

Tennessee Touring: Dining and Drinking in Memphis

Now that we're properly settled in to our comfy room at the Springhill Suites in downtown Memphis, it's time to do a little exploring.

Tonight, we're catching the old, wheelchair accessible trolley from the front of our hotel and heading to Beale Street.

Watch the Video!

Actually, we could have walked. It's only six blocks but being after dark in a strange city, it seemed prudent to take transportation instead.

Beale Street is justifiably world famous for all the bars and nightclubs lining a three-block stretch in downtown.  Live music is the norm here and each club has speakers out front so you can hear what the band sounds like before you go in. It's like auditioning each club before you commit.

First, we need to eat. Tim had heard about Dyer's and stipulated we must eat at least one meal there.

Dyer's is your basic diner. Although they sell balogna sandwiches, hot dogs, salads, and more, it's the burgers that are their claim to fame.

Actually, strike's their grease that is their claim to fame.

Open 101 years at the time of this visit in 2013, they have never thrown away the grease and continue to use it each day. At the end of the evening, the grease is filtered, put in a metal can, and locked in a safe. The next day, it is taken out, put in a large frying pan, and put to use frying the different meats here.

The burgers are deep fried in that grease.  Yes, its sounds gross and is not the healthiest thing you can put in your body but this will be a once-in-a-lifetime event for us.  

The patties are small so Tim and I double up and get double cheeseburgers. I opt for some deep-fried onions on mine also.

They are very juicy or greasy, depending on your view, but they are also very delicious.  We have some fries on the side, which are not cooked in the old grease, and they were just mediocre.

Two doors down is Alfred's on Beale where we drink a few brews and listen to some great, classic rock and roll from a duo that is part of a larger group, Freeworld.  I throw some requests and tips their way which they handle with great musical aplomb.

Between sets, one of the musicians...his name is Andy...comes over and sits at our table. We talk Memphis and Los Angeles music with him for the entire break before he goes up for the next set.

Leaving Alfred's and Freeworld, we cross the corner and end up at Rum Boogie, which has hosted the likes of Billy Joel, AC/DC, Kenny Loggins, Marty Stuart, and many more. Tonight, it's Darren Jay and the Delta Souls pumping out some great blues while we sip some more of Beale's finest.

As we watch til the end of the set, it's a great night of greasy burgers, rock 'n roll, and some great Delta blues.

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 25, 2016

On the Elvis Trail: A Day Trip to Tupelo

It’s an easy, almost 4 hour flight on Southwest nonstop from LAX to Nashville. Baggage is waiting at the carousel and we actually got the minivan we reserved from Dollar Rent a Car. Tim says it’s one of the easiest travel days we’ve ever had.

He’s right.

It’s a pleasant, 3 hour or so drive from there to Memphis, the first leg of this trip. Downtown is easy to find, as is our hotel…the Springhill Suites…located in the heart of this city.

By the time we unpack, it’s a bit late for dinner as a Justin Timberlake concert has overwhelmed most of the restaurants in the area. We get some serviceable food at the snack bar of the Courtyard hotel next door.
Watch the Video!

In the morning, it’s time for our first adventure. Among other things we want to accomplish during this trip, we want to take the Elvis Trail. Into the van and 100 miles later, we’re in the very pretty town of Tupelo, Mississippi.

First things first…we want to eat.

In downtown, we smell some good smoke and spy a handicapped parking spot in front of an open restaurant.

This building used to be Kermit’s Bakery and in its day, the Presley family would buy birthday cakes here for their not-yet-famous son. Today, it’s Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen.

We grab a table in the middle of the room and the cook comes over to tell us about his braised pork, persimmon burrito and explains that everything they serve comes from local farmers.

Looking at the menu, nothing inspires us as much as the special, so we order two burritos to split between the three of us.

It is very good, with the sweetness of the persimmon setting off the smoky flavor of the pork just so. The owner chats with us, asking us where we’re from. We see the bottles of Sriracha on the shelf and tell him that we live about a mile from that factory.

(Come along on our tour of the Sriracha factory here)

This leads to a chat about the factory’s recent problems with local residents complaining about the smell. Others in the restaurant come up and introduce themselves and start talking. Pretty soon, we’ve met just about everybody in the place.

Tupelo is a very friendly town.

Asked why we’re there, we tell them about the Elvis Trail theme. We’re told to check out the adjacent hardware store, where Gladys Presley bought her son his first guitar, and the Lyric theater around the corner where he played his first show.

Visiting the hardware store and taking a little tour around downtown gets us ready for our next stop, Elvis’ birthplace located in a park on the other side of town.

The chapel, visitor’s center, a church, and a large visitor’s center surround the tiny little house…maybe 500 square feet…that launched Elvis into our world.

We visit the trail markers…Elvis is on both the Country and Blues trails…and even see the outhouse where the future king had his throne.

It’s a neat stop to see where this history took place but I’ll also remember the friendly locals and good food in the pretty town of Elvis’ birth. We’ll also remember the cold that one of those locals passed onto us that would haunt us for the rest of this trip.

Our day trip to Tupelo over, we head back to Memphis to see what we can find there.

Copyright 2013 – Darryl Musick

All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 24, 2016

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: My Golden Valentine

St. Valentine's Day is coming soon. We don't do much about it here at the Musick compound because 6 days later is our day for love, our wedding anniversary.  I do like romance but like to celebrate it every day, not just occasionally.

Watch the Video!

Still, that gives me some inspiration for a new cocktail.  I call it My Golden Valentine because of the dark rum and amaretto that gives it a golden hue before shaking.

Here's the recipe:

INGREDIENTS (two drinks):
2 oz. dark rum
1 oz. amaretto
1/2 oz. lime juice
splash of bitters
splash of grenadine
3 oz. cranberry cocktail

Put all ingredients into a shaker 1/3 full of ice, shake and strain over ice into highball or pint glasses.



Friday, January 22, 2016

Leaving Liberia

On arrival to Daniel Ober airport on Thanksgiving, after the melodious tones of the flight attendants noting that we have many options that they appreciate us for flying Alaska Airlines, a more jarring , male and official voice comes on over the plane's PA system with a local accent.

"Be advised that before leaving Costa Rica, there is a mandatory twenty eight dollar exit fee that you must pay before checking in, therefore it is necessary that you arrive at the airport no later than three hours before your flight time to allow time to pay this fee."


It's been a week of adventure, ripoffs, exploring, meeting people, and enjoying the unspoiled beauty of Costa Rica. Now we have to leave early to get to the airport. Also, because we had such a hassle at the rental counter when we arrived, I'm allowing two hours to allow for any necessary arguing or fighting at the rental agency when we return the car.

I'm kind of dreading that part the most.

We also notice that we haven't bought anything in the way of souvenirs.  Not that we really want too much from here, Tim and I already have our t-shirts from the zip lining park, but we would like to take home some of that great Costa Rican coffee.

Driving around our hotel, we've noticed signs for Sun Burst Coffee with tours and store in the "doit" center. We decide to stop there on the way back to buy some.  Following the signs, we come to realize the the "doit" center is actually the Do It Hardware store center and the tour is just a slide show and some exhibits on the counter there.

There is a roaster and many coffees available for sampling and sale. I particularly like the dark roast but they don't have any in stock and are unloading the raw beans from a truck as I'm there so I settle on some French roast to take home.

It's good but not as good as the Trader Joe's French roast I have back home as a later taste comparison test will reveal.

At the Alamo rental agency, the turn in of the car goes smoothly. I find the agent that I dealt with at the beginning and he comped the GPS unit rental in the car, which came withing eight dollars of negating the $120 of insurance I was forced to buy and had no need for, so I'm letting that issue drop.

Now, it's four hours til flight time, we're at the airport, and we're told that Alaska Airlines won't open their counter for at least another hour and a half. It takes all of two minutes to pay the exit fee and now were stuck in the non-airconditioned ticketing hall until the Alaska crew shows up.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Bernal Saborio under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Eventually they do and two of them even recognize us from our arrival last week and make sure everything goes swimmingly from there.  We make it through the easier-than-TSA security, have a nice lunch in the air-conditioned gate area, buy some duty-free Nicaraguan rum (better than the Costa Rican stuff, in my opinion), and take an easy flight home.

Now that that's over, please use the links below to catch up on our complete Costa Rican adventure:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Cocktail Hours:
The Matapalo
Lounge 24

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 18, 2016

More Fun Than a Barrel Full of Monkeys: The Capuchins of Costa Rica

Catch up on our previous chapters here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

One more item on the agenda for our Costa Rican adventure. We want to see some monkeys.

Down the beach from our hotel, the Riu Palace, there's a little jungle bar called the Monkey Bar.  The local monkeys come down from the trees at sunset to beg from the tourists gathered there.

We tried to get down the beach to it but, at a certain point, the sand just gets too deep and soft for the wheelchair.

Letty talks to a security guard at the hotel and he tells her not to bother...just go to the trees along the south side of the hotel and you can see monkeys there too. It's also hard-packed enough that we can get Tim and his wheelchair to.

Watch the Video!

Armed with a couple of bananas from the buffet, we head over in the late afternoon to see what we can find.

Beyond the entrepreneurial massage tables, trinket stands, and enterprising banana salesmen that congregate right on the other side of the Riu property line, it's a short walk into the trees and jungle. We notice that the 100 feet or so from the beach into the forest also means a temperature spike of another 20 degrees.

It's hot in here.

A few people have come before us so we join them in admiring and tempting the little capuchins that scamper among the branches.

Some are timid, some are a little more brave and will guardedly snatch a banana out of your hand, and one was downright mean.  He took the banana offered but growled at me and slapped my hand as hard as he could when taking the free food.

And there we have it, we've completed our goals of coming to Costa Rica...lazing in the pool and on the beach, wandering out into the countryside to experience regular Tican life, adventure touring (zip lining on a volcano), and now interacting with the local wildlife.

It's been a grand time, we'll spend the rest of our time with the drunk Canadians ("we was hammered, eh!") we've made friends with in the pool before heading out to the airport in the morning. 

We'll update you on that in our final post.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 17, 2016

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Lounge 24, Riu's Do-It-Yourself Bar in Costa Rica

I think I count six bars at the Riu Palace in Costa Rica. There may be a couple more but there's definitely not any less. Plus, guests of the Palace also have full bar privileges at the Riu Guanacaste next door. 

You don't have to walk far to get your buzz on, that's for sure.

Watch the Video!

One of the unique bars is Lounge 24, at the back of the lobby behind the coffee and pastry bar.  It gets its name by being open and available to guests 24 hours a day. Feel like a nacho and beer craving at 3 in the morning? This is your place.

A fairly good selection of quality snacks and bar food line the back wall. It's definitely a step up from the all-night offerings of the last Riu we stayed at in the Dominican Republic. For drinks though? You're on your own.

That's not a bad thing, it's just what makes Lounge 24 unique...all the liquor and fixings are there for you to make whatever you want.

Think the lobby bartender is making your mai tai too weak? Make it as strong as you want here.  It's a nice break and even makes a good arts 'n crafts activity for those who want to play with a little mixology.

Watch in the video above as Tim and I demonstrate how to make a mai tai in this little DIY bar off the lobby of the Riu Palace in Costa Rica.  As an aside, after we finished, the other people in the bar watching us film the video, had me make mai tais for the whole group.  For the rest of the week, wherever we went in the resort, when one of those guests would see me, I'd get a greeting "hey, Mai Tai Man!"

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 15, 2016

Tim of the Jungle...Watch Out For That Tree! (Accessible Zip Lining in Costa Rica)

Need to catch up? Read our previous Costa Rica posts...part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Our hotel is on the beach. This is a beach vacation. All our activities were supposed to take place on or near the ocean.

This was the task at hand when planning our trip and I was researching things we could do on the water.

Watch the Video!

While looking in vain for a boat that could take us on the ocean,  and maybe even go snorkeling, I came across a video on Youtube of a guy in a wheelchair zip lining in Costa Rica.

I knew my timid son would never go for that but, just for kicks, I went over to the living room.

"Hey Tim, guess what?"


"I found a video on Youtube that shows a guy in a wheelchair zip lining."

Before I could say anything more, the reply came back immediately "Sign me up!"

A few e-mails back and forth to Erick Zalaya, owner of Volcano Lake Adventures in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, and we'd set a date.

Twenty years ago, the three of us went to Maui and drove the road to Hana. Today, this three hour drive over mountains covered with thick jungles reminds of of that trip with its narrow roads and dozens of one-lane bridges.

Finally, we break through to see Lake Arenal.  Once across the dam, it's just a few more miles to the busy but little town of La Fortuna.

Volcano Lake Adventures is located off the lobby of the Hotel Central Lofts in the middle of town. The parking lot is being repaved today so I park around the corner and leave Letty and Tim in the car while I go check in.

I meet Erick and he tells me he'll call the zip line park. At first, it's 1:30 then it's a no-go. 

"They're booked."

"I though you booked us when I e-mailed you six weeks ago and confirmed it last week?"

"Let me call another place that does it, is there anything else you'd like to do if you can't go zip lining?"

"No, I emailed you six weeks ago before we flew the 3,000 miles here and drove the three hours this morning to get here. I thought we had an iron-clad reservation to go zip lining. That was the only thing it seemed we could do."

Luckily, his plan B came through and, with voucher in hand, we drove over to Ecoglide Adventure Park just outside of town.

We arrive at the office about a half hour before our new appointed time of 12:30. The guy in the office tells us it's 3:00. I tell him what Mr. Zalaya said.  

"My guys are out to lunch, you'll have to wait until they're through."

No problem, we brought a lunch and the gardens at Ecoglide are a pleasant place to have a picnic.

1:00, the tour guides show up. There's Armando, Eduardo, Alfredo and Warren. We make introductions and they proceed to gear-up my wife and I with all the safety equipment we would need. It is cinched up very tight all around, let's just say it's a good thing my child producing years are behind me or this would put a big crimp in that plan.

In a nearby clearing, there's a zip line strung up between two poles where we learn the pun intended...of zip lining.  We're shown how to regulate our speed with the thick, padded glove on one hand and how to hold on to the ropes on the other hand.  Once that's done, we take a test glide on the training line in the clearing.

Next, they put Tim into the front seat of a large, four wheel drive truck while the rest of us ride in the bed. We're driven up a rough, jungle road up to 2500 feet on the Arenal Volacano and hike the last couple of hundred feet up to the first platform.

And Tim? How does he get up here? Well, notice I said "handicapped accessible" not wheelchair accessible. One of the crew, Warren, is called "la mula" by his mates.  He's a big, strong man and carries Tim on his back, piggy back style, to the first platform. A plastic patio chair is brought along to set Tim on between platforms to give him and Warren a little break.

It's quite a bit of hooking up, clipping onto lines, and making sure we're ready. Warren is not only Tim's mule but his zip lining companion, too, and helps Tim fly through the trees with the greatest of ease.

Soon, him and Warren are a couple of lines ahead of us on this 12 line, approximately 2 miles course down the volcano.

Letty and I follow behind, on our own with no companions, and it's a glorious sight, skimming the treetops through the jungle, with miles of views across the Arenal valley.

About halfway through, we take a break and are given an opportunity to take a ride on the Tarzan Swing, which is kind of like a bungie jump but is instead a giant rope swing where you jump off a cliff and trust the the rope will hold and swing you high into the trees safely.

Of course I'm doing it. Scared the crap out of me, too.

Letty passes and, since he'd have to go on unaided, I advise that Tim take a pass on it too. Wisely and with rarity, he takes my advice.

The last few lines take us to a platform very high into a ceiba tree and on to another line that's half a kilometer long.

Finally, a rather tame last line takes us back to the visitor's center.

It's a blast and Tim has said this was his biggest highlight of the trip. It's a fantastic day that, unfortunately, does not leave us any time to do any other adventures while we're in the area.

It's a long, windy road back so we stop to get a couple of strong cups of Costa Rican coffee for the ride home.

Click on the links, above, if you'd like to take advantage of this very unique opportunity while you're in Costa Rica. You'll thank me later.

Ecoglide  -
Volcano Lake Adventures

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick - Copyriht 2016
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

From the Desert to the Sea to All of Southern California: Winter Sports in the L.A. Area

It's been said of the Los Angeles area that you can go surfing in the morning and skiing in the afternoon. It is very possible to do but, unless you're a very hard core surfer with an excellent wet suit, the winter water in our ocean will chill you to the bone.

But, if you were really adventurous, absolutely.  It wouldn't be a stretch to surf Huntington or Newport and zip up to our local mountains for a few hours on the snow.

Especially this winter when the long promised El Niño has arrived and is dumping record amounts of snow in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountain ranges.

I'll let someone else tell you about the joys of winter surfing on our local beaches but I do have quite a bit of experience in our local mountains...but fair warning: I haven't skied here for several years.

At one point, I can remember 15 separate ski areas in our area. Now, due to mergers and closures, we're down to 6.  Here are my thoughts on the areas I've skied over the years.

Big Bear Lake - The eastern most portion of our local mountains contains our biggest areas, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, which are now owned by Mammoth Mountain (the giant ski area up north). 

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia under CC BY-SA 3.0 license
Bear Mountain (formerly Goldmine and formerly Moonridge before that) is my favorite of the two...longer trails, more vertical drop, higher summits, and better snow. But Snow Summit bought them out a few years ago and the area kind of turned into a step sister to it's new owner, which got most of the money and upgrades over the years.  Still, a great mountain for our area and one of the oldest and more established adaptive ski programs in the west.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia kallahar under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Snow Summit is a smaller, more cozy place to ski.  Not as challening as Bear Mountain and tends to draw most of the crowds.  It's plusses are that it has complete coverage for snowmaking and you can also do some night skiing here.

Rebel Ridge is a defunct ski area that had some really nice, challenging terrain at bargain prices but that is all just history now. You can now go tubing and sledding there and it's called Big Bear Snow Play.

There was also another, small challenging hill there called Snow Forest.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia me under CC BY-SA 3.0 license
Running Springs - Lake Arrowhead is a big, beautiful and private lake up in the San Bernardino Mountains...a little closer to civilization than Big Bear (about a half hour closer)...and creator of their own ski area, too.  It's changed owners a few times over the years but Snow Valley remains a key player in the Southern California ski scene in nearby Running Springs.  

It's a huge area (by local standardss) serviced by an equally impressive array of lifts with a very large snow making operation. Night skiing is also available here, giving Inland Empire students a place to come up and burn off some of those calories after school at reduced rates.  While the bottom is mostly bunny hill, there is plenty of terrain up above for those of higher skills.

Green Valley Ski Area is another defunct ski hill in the area that couldn't keep up, especially after its facilities burned down in a fire.

Wrightwood - Formerly home to three separate areas that merged into one. Holiday Hill and Ski Sunrise (formerly Table Mountain) became part of the umbrella of the Mountain High (formerly Blue Ridge) Ski Area. It's biggest plus is that there is no windy, mountain driving required to get there and is the easiest resort to drive to from the cities down below.

In my opinion, Holiday Hill (now Mountain High East) is the best of the bunch here but is now mostly used as an overflow hill for the main Mountain High area (called Mountain High West).  It has nice, long trails. Some are very challenging, such as the two very steep faces you see from the parking lot. An intermediate trail winds down from the east side in the trees and beginners catch the lift back down at the top of those steep runs.

Mountain High West holds a lot of memories for me too, as it was the closest night skiing venue to my college and found me coming up a lot for some midweek, after dark thrills.  One time, finding it closed when we arrived, my friend Donnie and me hiked up to the top with our equipment just to get a ride in and not have a wasted trip.

The former Ski Sunrise is mostly used as a snow play area now.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Eric T. Gunther under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Mt. Baldy - For most people in the eastern part of the L.A. Basin, this is the closest ski area to get to, although the last couple of miles are probably the hairiest bit of driving you can find to get to any of our local slopes.

Technically, it's our biggest ski area but in reality, only the upper portion is dependable for skiing. The lift out of the parking lot takes you up to the base lodge and the run underneath is extremely steep and usually doesn't have enough snow to ski on even if you're expert enough to handle it. 

About half of the slopes on top face south so the snow readily turns to slush in the sun and sometimes melts completely. It doesn't have the financial resources of the bigger areas to the east so it aways seems to be hanging by a thread.  It does attract a good, local crowd, though, and is a great place to ski with fresh snow.

It does not offer any accessiblity at all for wheelchair users.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Eekster under CC BY-SA 3.0 license
Angeles Crest Highway - Talk about hanging on by a thread. Mt. Waterman didn't open at all for 7 years and is still waiting to open this year, although their website says they'll be opening in a few days as of this writing.  Mt. Waterman...and it's long gone sister area, Kratka Ridge...are the closest areas to central L.A., the Westside, and the Valley, sitting just above La Cañada on Angeles Crest Highway between Mt. Wilson and Wrightwood.

They also have a problem that no other local area has, a complete lack of snowmaking capability. In a warm climate, prone to drought, it's not a good recipe for financial success to rely on natural snow only.

From the bottom, at it's tiny parking lot (really just a wide spot on the road), all you see are the steepest runs you can imagine ending abruptly at the pavement with nary any slow down area at all. The easier slopes are up at the top prompting most people here to take the chair back down.

I've only skied at Kratka Ridge which was a fabulous place to ski when there was good snow and run by some of the friendliest folks you'll find. The owner once saved my butt when my motorcycle broke down nearby, offering me cocoa and a seat by the fireplace until I could be rescued, so I do have a bit of a soft spot for this defunct area.

The Mt. Waterman side of things could sure use some good breaks during this El Niño year to get back on track financially, it will be interesting to see if they can hang on.

Nearby, Buckhorn Ski Club operates their own little rope-tow serviced hill and lodge. It's a private ski club but you can get a 'tryout' on their hill for only $10. I've never tried this place so have nothing to report on it.

So, active ski areas are
Big Bear Mountain Resorts (Snow Summit and Bear Mountain)
Snow Valley
Mountain High (Mountain High, Mountain High East, and Mountain High North)
Mt. Baldy
Mt. Waterman
Buckhorn Ski Club

Defunct areas are
Rebel Ridge
Green Valley
Krakta Ridge

Snow Forest

There you have it, the Alpine skiing options for those of you who want to get a little time on the slopes in while you're here in sunny, Southern California.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 11, 2016

Costa Rica Touring - Liberia, Guanacaste

Missed a post on Costa Rica? Click on these links to catch up, part 1 and part 2.

Even though we were ripped off a bit and had quite a row at the rental agency, we still ended up with a car so let’s get in and go for a drive. The big city here in Guanacaste is Liberia, where we flew into, so we head in that direction.

Watch the Video!

Driving in this country is quite an adventure as we find out. A good portion of the drivers will pass you at any moment and in any traffic condition. Another large portion will drive exceedingly slow and will never, ever pull over. You soon learn that passing is a very necessary part of driving here in Costa Rica and passing lanes are pretty much nonexistent.

Add to that all the pedestrians, bicyclists, and animals that can be in the middle of the road at any given time, and you have your work cut out for you. In cities and towns, all the above turns into a free-for-all.

We make it into Liberia and find a place to park near the town’s plaza. The local church presides over it all…an ugly one, according to my wife…and it’s fiesta weekend.

Not much too festive in the daytime though. A few booths are open selling chicken and rice or dessert. We opt for dessert with some fritters covered in caramel and condensed milk and some churros.

It’s hot, quiet, and a few kids hit us up to buy a t-shirt or just to beg for money.

Walking around the perimeter of the park, I notice about 1 out of every 5 taxis are wheelchair accessible. One driver lets me take a picture of his for posterity.

We also notice that every public transit bus we see has a wheelchair lift and a spot to tie down a wheelchair making this the most accessible Latin American country we’ve seen for transportation.

The town’s a bit down in the mouth and sleepy in this humid heat so we move on.  We program the GPS unit in our rental car to take us to the nearby Rincon Vieja volcano but soon the pavement runs out and we’re on a very bumpy dirt road. When the Garmin says “drive 22 kilometers on this road,” we give up and look for a new plan.

On the map, it says there’s a zoo in nearby Salto. We head that direction.

In Liberia, we switch to Ruta 1, which turns out to be a modern freeway except it’s not quite finished. Instead, only one side is open and it’s on the honor system to be one lane in each direction. Again, we run into the problem of 25 kilometer per hour drivers on a 90 kph road.  One truck had over 50 vehicles behind him but, despite an abundance of space to pull over, he obliviously soldiered on.

We find the zoo, called the Adventure Park, and pull into the empty parking lot. A lady greets us at the entrance, offers us a cool drink, and wants to explain their “packages,” the cheapest being a basic zoo entrance fee of $100 per person.

That explains the empty parking lot which is empty once more as we hightail it out of there.

For today, we figure we’ll have more fun back at the Riu pool on the beach and spend the rest of the afternoon there.

Dinner will be at Papagayo, the steakhouse on the beach where Tim has this great looking burger…

…and Letty and I have steak, hers with the surf ‘n turf option.

It’s fine and delicious but down on the beach, the mosquitos know where dinner is also. Luckily, we put repellent on before dinner. Not many of our fellow diners were such forward thinkers, unfortunately.

Tomorrow, we have grander plans but until then, it’s chill in the room while listening to the floor show below and resting up for a very long drive and a big adventure.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved