Spring 2017 trips are for the birds (and other animals)

We recently returned from the second of two spring trips. In April, we visited friends and relatives in Florida and Georgia, and in May, we visited friends in Costa Rica. It was great to see all the friends and relatives that we don’t see all that often (plus Zach’s new nephew Bo!). And we also were able to do some walking and hiking with our friends and relatives, where we saw many types of wildlife, including:

  • Lots of birds! In Florida and Georgia, we saw a lot of water-and-swamp dwellers, such as cranes, egrets, anhingas (kind of like cormorants), and ibis. We also saw other types of birds (woodpeckers, songbirds), and Jennifer enjoyed looking up all the birds in the new bird app she got for her phone (much lighter weight than carrying a bird book!). In Costa Rica, the bird highlight was definitely the toucans (several species), which seem to fly just fine in spite of their over-sized beaks. We also saw toucanets, oropendula, humminbgirds, and many songbirds, and we heard many more than we ever saw (thick jungle). Grackles were a common theme in both Florida and Costa Rica.
  • Reptiles: In Florida, we saw many alligators lounging around in the swamps, and a tortoise. In Costa Rica, there were countless lizards and geckos, a basilisk or two, and a few iguanas.
  • Mammals: Dolphins In Florida. In Costa Rica: monkeys, coati, agouti, sloths. I’m not really counting the squirrels we saw in both locations.
  • Amphibians: In Costa Rica, we saw a few brightly-colored poison dart frogs, and even had a frog in our room one time!
  • Fish: We did some snorkeling in Costa Rica, and saw some pretty fish. It wasn’t the best snorkeling location, and technically we had masks but not snorkels (traveling light!), but it still added some interest to the swimming.

Here are some photos from our trips, in chronological order… Alas, we’re not great wildlife photographers (nor do we lug huge telephoto lenses along with us)! So, mostly photos of places and/or friends and relatives.

Our April trip started with a Wednesday flight to Gainesville, Florida. We got rerouted to Huntsville, Alabama and delayed by 12 hours due to storms in Atlanta along the way, but eventually made it there, and met up with Jennifer’s cousins Sheila and Christian for a walk in a park (Jennifer forgot to take any photos, silly her!). Then…


We drove down to Sarasota, Florida, to meet up with Jennifer’s aunt Molly and uncle Milt for lunch

Alligator in Florida

Over the weekend, we went hiking near Gainesville, Florida with Jennifer’s friend Melissa. Here, Melissa and Zach are making sure the alligator is not moving towards us!

Tortoise, near Cedar Key Florida

We drove down to Cedar Key with Zach’s uncle Malcolm, and saw dolphins in the bay, and this dry-land tortoise

Hiking in the rain

We then drove up to Georgia. After a brief stop in Atlanta for Zach’s cousin Rosemary’s birthday party, we headed up to the Clarksville area to visit Zach’s sister Emily and his mom. There, we went on several hikes, and ran into some unplanned rain at Anna Ruby Falls.

baby on bike

Zach tries to teach his new nephew James Robert (Bo) to ride a bike… he might have to wait a while

Jennifer and Bo having a good time!

Jennifer and Bo having a good time!

Tallulah Gorge

Hiking with JimBo, Emily, Zach’s mom, and new nephew Bo in Tallulah Gorge (less rain this time)

After returning from our Florida and Georgia trip, we had about a week and a half at home before we headed off for Costa Rica (which luckily didn’t involve any flight diversions!). Jennifer’s old friends Juvenal and Maro met us at the airport, and we spent the next two weeks with them and their daughter Emilia, seeing some of the sights of Costa Rica.


Zach and I visited the “Zoo Ave”, originally a bird rescue facility, and now expanded to other animals. This huge iguana was wandering around the grounds, and we almost stepped on it!

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Zach and I went up to the Monteverde Cloud Forest reserve for a few days, and did some hiking

Retreat house

Juvenal is building a little weekend retreat house up in the hills. We went up there on Juvenal’s birthday, along with some friends and relatives of Juvenal and Maro’s.

Maro and Emilia (and Galia the dog) at the party.

Maro and Emilia (and Galia the dog) at the party.

Walking in fog

Walking in the fog and rain near the weekend house. May is part of the “invierno” (winter, or rainy season) in Costa Rica, so it rained on most of the days we were there. This wasn’t much of a problem, since it was also warm and we had rain gear.

Sting concert in the rain

Sting happened to be on tour while we were in Costa Rica, so we all went — in the National Stadium in the rain! Lots of fun.


We all went out to the Caribbean coast for a few days. This sloth was living in a tree right where we stayed. Emilia, Zach, and I also visited a sloth sanctuary, where we learned all about the habits of sloths.

Paul of Carri-beans and raw cacao

We also went on a very informative start-to-finish chocolate tour with Paul, co-owner of Carri-beans. Here, we got to sample raw cacao beans.

Guayabo National Monument

On the way back from the Caribbean, Emilia, Maro, Zach, and I stopped at the Guayabo National Monument, Costa Rica’s best archaeological site

Ancient steps leading into the City.

Ancient steps leading into the City.

Guayabo National Monument

Maro at Guayabo National Monument

Map (note: not exact). The green marker shows the beginning of the route. If you click on other markers, you will see a note or information about that spot.

One Comment

  1. Maro
    Posted May 28, 2017 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Dear friends looking the pictures show me how fast is the time goes, as well as how thankful should we be for our long long friendship, and why not Costa Rica is a beautiful place, love you, see you soon.