Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Exiting Costa Rica


Ville and I met up with our friends, Ville 2 and Katri from Finland, right off the plane in San Jose and after many hours on 2 planes and chaos in the airport, we made it to San Jose. FYI for all those traveling down here from anywhere other than the U.S, these countries require that you buy a return ticket to your country before even entering. I was o.k. because we spend so much $$$ down here, but Ville was not allowed on the plane in until we bought tickets back into the U.S. which ended up working out, but a tad bit stressful. And lame.

We met the friends, who scoped out San Jose a couple days and wanted to move on and jumped straight on a 4 in a half hour bus to Quepos near the beach. We stayed at a great hotel with a pool and made a side trip to Manual Antonio Park where we saw a bunch of sloths, monkeys, racoons, crabs, lizards, and bugs. It was just like a nature show. We found a secluded beach that was awesome and swam in the water. Walked the peninsula and headed back to Quepos. Took 2 very long, dusty, and bumpy buses to Monte Verde where there was a big rainforest on the top of a mountain. There we got a great room with a balcanoy to see the mountains and spent a day out on Extremo Canopy Tours (was very extremo thats for sure). It was amazing! We got to do 14 different ziplines over and through the rainforest. Got pics and video I will upload when possible. Don´t worry mom, it was very safe. Safer than traveling in Mexico right now, at least. Speaking of, our flight back to D.C. is at the end of May and we hope flights have resumed by then.

This morning we hopped another 3 buses to Liberia, Costa Rica which is a big city close to the border of Nicaragua. We are staying here a night and then heading over the border to the beach and then to Lake Nicaragua. If you look on a map, it is a HUGE lake with islands in the middle and suppose to be really beautiful. This town reminds me a lot of Mexico it´s pretty cool. Costa Rica is expensive though and I am pretty excited to get to Nicaragua where it is at least half the cost. We are all really good. Travels have been amazing and we are taking a bunch of pictures. Enjoying every minute of it. The people down here are so friendly and thanks to my bilingual boyfriend, we are able to get by. My Spanish is very slowly coming back, but workingon it. Trying to learn Finish on the side as well. I might be fluent by 2030. But no worries down here and life is good. Hope all are well. Stay in touch, I can still read, feel free to write.


Kristen and Ville

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Costa Rica

Just wanted to let you all know we made it here safely. We left so early yesterday from DC and flew into San Jose in Costa Rica and our friends Ville and Katri met us at the airport. They were over the big city and we didn't hear great things (mainly theft from locals on the plane) so we took a taxi from the airport right to the bus station and took a very slow 4 hour ride to Quepos, which is on the coast. We found a great hostel with a pool (it is hotter and more humid than the face of the sun) and are relaxing. The plan is to make it to Manuel Antonio's Natural Park tomorrow which we hear is amazing for seeing all kinds of crazy animals. Will keep you updated often and I have free internet for the next couple days so let me know how all of you are as well.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Mexico and beyond

Hello again,
And so the journey continues. After leaving Durnago, Colorado, Ville and I headed south through New Mexico and tried to camp at Santa Rosa State Park on a lake there, but it turned out to be the setting of a horror film and so we checked into a motel in town instead. After leaving there, we drove straight through the northern part of Texas (Amarillo) and into Oklahoma City where I got to stay with my cousin Jason who I hadn't seen since I was 16. Probably haven't matured much since then. Great to spend time with his family and kids. In Oklahoma City, Ville and I checked out the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum there and know all there is to know about cowboys, indians, and heritage. Actually, this museum is pretty cool if you have the time to check it out. After leaving we drove on east and into Arkansas where we were pleasantly shocked at how pretty it was. We headed off the interstate and onto some country roads into a town we picked off the map called Buckville which appeared to be on a lake (Lake Ouachita). We were getting worried as the sun went down and we hadn't seen a drop of water, but the lake finally appeared and it was a beautiful camping area right on the water of a huge lake. We ended up spending a full day here soaking in the sun, relaxing, reading, and Ville tried his hand at fishing (no, he didn't catch anything, but we saw a bunch of turtles.) Ville and I were pretty popular in those parts and we had a couple come down to see us with some Miller Light to just hear Ville talk. They owned the local fishing store and gave Ville a new fishing pole to help him out a bit (he was using a stick because we forgot our poles). It was really fun and a much needed break from the road.
From Arkansas we drove northeast to Memphis which is a huge, happenin' city and headed straight to Graceland. After realizing it cost about $40 to find Elvis, we walked down to his house, snapped a couple pictures for free and called it good. Back on the road we headed through Mississippi (which is really green with medium sized trees everywhere) and into Alabama where we, again, picked out a spot in a forest on a map. We stopped on the Lewis Smith Lake and the camping was not our favorite, but a spot. The lake was murkey and a ways down the hill, but it was a lake. The next day we drove out and stopped at a one-room Post Office and got to hear the history of the nearby jail that is the only one the is wood with about a million hand-made and hammered nails spaced an inch or so apart throughout the entire thing. Some man saw us checking the place out, and pulled over to introduce himself, and suggested a local place to eat some lunch. We headed to Arly's Coffee Shop and it was so awesome. A bunch of older locals and everyone in town there eating (must have been the most popular place in town) and had the lunch special of chicken and gravy, corn, green beans, yams, rolls, and even a brownie for desert. The conversation there was the best. Back to the road and found one of the craziest places I had actually seen on t.v., by accident. In Scottsboro, Alabama there is a huge building called Unclaimed Baggage where all of the unclaimed luggage and stuff goes the airlines loses and they sell it. I was on a mission to find my stuff from my life in Thailand and southeast Asia travel that they lost, but no luck. The woman said they have a high turnover rate of the stuff there and so if it was there, it would be gone now. Ville found an Obama shirt and a What Would Rambo Do? t-shirt. On to Chattanooga, Tennessee where we finally stopped for the most amazing bar-b-que we had ever had! And our last stop was at a hotel in Sweatwater to shower and recharge before we head into the Smokey Mountains today.
Thanks for all the love family and friends along our route, that has been the best part of the trip so far. Keep in touch. We will as well. Some words from Marty Stoufford, Until next time, enjoy our wild America!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

National Parks Tour

Hello again family and friends,

It hasn't been long, but Ville and I have packed in a lot in just a few days. Last update, we left Lisa in Vegas (where I forgot to mention Ville saw his first movie star at the Cirque De Soliel show, Matthew McConisomething) and headedto the Hoover Dam and to Sedona where we camped for a night with all the magic crystals there (these shops are everywhere, including even a who shop dedicated to U.F.O.s). After Sedona, we drove up through Flagstaff and to the East Overlook and Plains View of the Grand Canyon which blew both of us away on how giant a crack in the ground can be (almost literally blew us away because we found a sweet overlook of our own with no tourists on a very windy day and almost flew the 7,000 feet down to the bottom (it's also 10 miles across)). The drive out of the Grand Canyon was through very windy and dusty wide open planes of Native Americans living on their reservtion in trailers. We made our stop at Lone Rock Beach on Lake Powell just as the sun went down and the full moon came up. Camped on the beach and realized the water was a bit colder than we thought, but Ville talked me into a late night swim anyway. The next day we drove to Zion National Park (which we both agree was our favorite N.P.of the trip so far) and walked a trail on cliff rocks (safety first) to an incredible lookout of the valley and drove through a tunnel cut out of the rock that was the longest I'd ever driven through and would have passed out trying to hold my breath through the whole thing ( not good considering I was the driver). After Zion we camped near a creek in the snowy mountains with cow patties. We are cooking on a cookstove and sleeping in the truck or tent if anyone wants to be really jealous. I love it.

The next day we drove through Bryce Canyon N.P. and that was a spectacular drive into and through the park. Lots of amazing red rock. Pics never do these places justice because you can't get a big enough lens to get it all in. But, it was beautiful to see and we drove on through some very small towns that look bigger on a map and through Capitol Reef N.P. that was huge boulders (see pics) and on at 75 m.p.h. through miles of straight road and camped off a road in the sandy hills with a bunch of huge trailers and motocross boys. The next morning (yesterday) we woke up early and drove through Arches N.P. (we both agreed by this last one it was not as impressive as Zion or Bryce, but it could be that we have seen so much in such a little amout of time we are getting use to the shocking scenery), but the arches were cool and we drove to Moab where we had a great brekfast and watched a million (not even exaggerating) (o.k. maybe a little, but not by much) jeeps and offroading rigs head to the sandy plains north for an annual Offroading Jeep Convention all around Moab. Very sorry we missed it, but our sweet rice rocket might not hang with those big boys (maybe I need bigger tires?) Drove south out of Utah and into Colorado where the stunning scenery changed to farms and snowcapped mountains and drove in a blizzerd to Mesa Verde N.P. where the sun came out and we got to see a bunch of cool cliff dwellings. We are thinking of moving here, but we're on a waiting list. On to Durango and spent the night last night in an Econo Lodge with a hot shower (we were bathing in lakes and rivers, but I was getting sick of being with myself, so it was time), a way to charge our batteries on cameras and phones (random food joints were looking at us funny bringing in all our chargers while we ate), and a real bed (no offense mat in the bed of my truck).

Today the plan is to head south into New Mexico and then head east through Texas. Not a set plan, but a rough one and will keep you posted. I am posting pictures, because I can't describe places, and if you want to get in touch with me or Ville, my cell 541.610.6978 and e-mails are (me) (Ville) Hope all are well and pester us often!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

California & Vegas

Hello Family and Friends!!

I know, i know. It has been a bit tough to stop and take the time to sit at a computer monitor and write, but Ville and I are alive and doing awesome!

For those do not know, my boyfriend, Ville, and I are on the road across the country. Ville is a Scandinavian stallion from Finland and flew to Bend for 6 weeks after he finished his International Business Degree and waited on me graduating. I FINALLY finished up my degree in Liberal Studies on the 17th of March and we headed off in my sweet Toyota for a road trip across America. We have to be in Washington D.C. by the 24th of April for a flight to Costa Rica for some more travels.

So far...we have stopped at Crater Lake, stayed in Medford a couple days to stay with friends and fam (thanks so much for the warm bed/food and fun times) and made our way down the Hwy 1 to the Redwoods. We camped in rain (where we realized my old camper shell is not quite as air tight as we thought, but we both can swim and were back on the road). From there we made it to San Francisco for a few days to stay with friends I use to live with and I gave Ville the whirlwind tour of his life ("Kristen, can we please sit for a minute in the park?" "NO!, there is NO time. Must...keep...going!") and after some hiking, freak watching, and cable car riding, we were back on the road to Big Sur where we camped for a night, hiked, and ate an amazing breakfast at Neptune (Must See, this place was amazing) and drove the 1 to San Louis Obispo to stay with my aunt.

After a great breakfast with my aunt and uncle and a jam sesh on the guitar for Ville and my uncle, we hit the road and continued to Aguira Hills in L.A. to pick up race stuff and camp out roadside in the back of the trusty Toyota. Woke early for our first Half Marathon that went swell and spent a week visiting bunches of family, friends, Disneyland, Cal Adventure Park, Laguna Beach, and L.A. freeways (YAH!). On to Las Vegas and had the best time for the last 4 days with Lisa (my sister) staying at Mandalay Bay poolside, sightseeing, people watching, and watched a Cirque De Soleil show (again a MUST SEE). Yesterday we left Vegas to stop for pics at the Hoover Dam, and on to Sedona, Arizona where we camped last night. Today, we are off to the Grand Canyon and as far as we can get to camp for a few days in Utah.

Miss and love you all. Write when you can and don't expect a super quick response, but know that I miss you guys! Thanks to all we have see so far and letting us stay and spoiling us rotten. Keep in touch, i will do my best!

Back to the road...

Kristen Grund and Ville Jokinen