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Archive for "Travel"

Our Final Day in Costa Rica

Posted on May 18, 2019 by under Travel.    

The day after Jay’s birthday was our final full day in Costa Rica. We originally talked about going ziplining at the adventure park next door but we were all too tired from the previous day’s festivities. We ended up taking the day as another recovery day.

Brian took the whole recovery day idea seriously. He barely left our room. He spent the day catching up on Star Trek episodes.

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Justin, Tina, Alicia, and Kirk went scuba diving. Jay is a pouty in this photo because he was supposed to go with them (it was actually his idea to do it) but then he got sick at the last minute.

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Here they all are being such good students and listening intently to the dive instructor. The rest of group (plus Jay because now he couldn’t dive with the others) decided to go shopping for souvenirs at Coco Beach.

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I didn’t get a ton of pics because I was busy looking for deals. I did buy Brian a nice straw baseball cap. I was pretty proud of myself for negotiating it down from $15 to $12 until I found it another store for $12 because then I was thinking I might have been able to negotiate it down to $10. I also did not get that good of a deal on the shot glasses I bought for one of my Aqua Zumba students at VASA. I got a set of three cute little shot glasses for $9 but then at another store I found even better ones that come in a neat box for the same price.

My negotiation skills weren’t bad for someone whose Spanish is quite rusty. My mistake was breaking the first rule of souvenir shopping. You’re not supposed to buy from the first store you stop at. While I didn’t buy from the first store, I bought from one of the first few stores we visited. Had I been more patient and waited until we were more inland, I would have gotten better prices.

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Anyway, after shopping around a bit, the guys got hungry and decided to be adventurous. Jay and Marc decided to try some Costa Rican street food.

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Here they are with their meat sticks.

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After our shopping excursion, we went back to the resort for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at the pool.

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This is pretty much what we do to reserve our lounge chairs.

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My Wichita flag came in quite handy.

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It wasn’t just a unique way to personalize our area but it also made our lounge chairs easier to find. There was no way you could miss us.

This is pretty much where we spent most of our time at the pool.

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In between pool time and dinner, we decided that we would have a group sunset photo shoot at the beach.

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This is us taking a few selfies while waiting for everyone to show up.

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Here’s our super awesome group photo.

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Here’s a pic that Jay took with his phone on the way to dinner.

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Speaking of dinner, here are a few pics I took at the buffet.

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We had such a fun week celebrating this guy’s big 40th birthday. We didn’t want it to end so after dinner we decided to have a night cap at Marc and Reniece’s suite.

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This is the view from Marc and Reniece’s terrace.

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A few of us hanging out in their outdoor hot tub.

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The next morning… here’s one final group pic at the airport on departure day. Jay was pouty that his birthday trip was coming to and end.

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What a fun trip it was, though! As a recap, here are some of our favorite group pictures…

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This is the Wichita group at the Wichita airport at the start of our adventure.

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A picture of our group on our way to Lake Arenal. Whee!

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At the end of our boat tour around Lake Arenal.

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At the hot springs…

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At the pool bar…

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At the pool…

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We had such a great time on this trip that we’re already talking about taking another trip with the same group.

That’s our 2019 Costa Rica trip in a nutshell. #VacayWithJayJay #PuraVida

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The Day Brian Almost Died

Posted on May 17, 2019 by under Travel.    

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Brian and I went on a two-hour jet ski tour after our monkey-feeding adventure. Our morning jet ski adventure took us to several beaches including Huevo, Penca, Ocotal, and Coco Beach.

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We started from our beach Playa Matapalo.

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It was a beautiful morning for riding jet skis.

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Here we are, waiting for our tandem jet ski.

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We got to hang out at Playa Huevo where there are a couple of caves you can walk into during low tide. Here are a few pics.

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Here’s another stop on the tour.

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This is the beach where we got to hike up to a cliff to see this amazing view.

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We paused at a couple of spots to admire some rock formations. One looked like a facial profile and another looked like a gorilla. And then when we were at Coco Beach, these two small islands came together to form what looked like a giant turtle. Pretty cool stuff. I didn’t get to take a lot of pics because I was afraid to pull out my phone while we were riding on the jet ski. I didn’t want to drop my phone and lose it. Plus, the water was really bumpy and I could barely hang on.

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After the jet ski tour, we went back to the resort for a quick lunch and to change into fresh swimsuits. Then we walked down to the beach for Jay’s birthday surprise.

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This is us waiting for the surprise. I think Jay was on to us.

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Jay’s birthday surprise was a private catamaran sunset booze cruise.

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Here’s a pic of Marc and Reniece (above) and our tour guide Ricardo (below).

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I didn’t get a ton of pics but here are a few videos for you.

It was a ton of fun but this was the adventure where Brian almost drowned. We anchored the catamaran at a private beach were we could hang out and have fun. Everyone jumped off the boat and swam to the beach. Brian jumped last. The music was blaring and everyone was pretty inebriated so we didn’t hear Brian as he was calling for help. Thank heavens our captain, who had been showering on the side of the boat, saw Brian. He and our tour guide Ricardo came to his rescue.

I can’t really describe Brian’s experience for him because I don’t know how it felt. He did say that he was probably exhausted from the heat and riding the jet ski in the morning and had a bit of a panic attack. Brian is normally a pretty good swimmer but he couldn’t get any air in his lungs this time and it freaked him out and caused him to almost drown. Needless to say, we tipped the guys pretty good not only for Jay’s birthday but for also saving Brian’s life!

After we got back to the resort, we all got cleaned up and met for a late dinner at the buffet. I think we were all pretty tired because this was the one night we didn’t get a group dinner selfie.

To be continued…

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Costa Rica Trip Recap Continued

Posted on May 15, 2019 by under Travel.    

The day after our all day excursion was our recovery day. We pretty much spent the whole day relaxing at the resort pool. On the bus ride home, our group talked about getting up early in the morning to feed the monkeys. Well, it wasn’t firmed up so I didn’t know it was happening. Anyway, a bunch of them went and I didn’t know about it so I missed out.

I was more disappointed because I was up anyway and could have gone with them had I known. I just couldn’t go by myself because Brian was dead to the world, which I thought was how everyone else would be considering how late we got back the night before.

We pretty much just spent the whole day hanging out at the resort and drinking at the pool. The pool bar doesn’t really get you drunk because their drinks are pretty weak. Brian once asked me how the drinks are. I was like, “They all taste the same except in different colors!” LOL.

We volunteered to hold the line for dinner that night. That’s something else that is a bit different with this resort. They don’t take dinner reservations. The restaurants open at a certain time and if you want want to eat there, then you just get there a few minutes early to be in the line. They take so many people at a given time so there are dinner waves. If you get there late, then you’re pretty much not eating dinner there. Your options are the main buffet, which is usually not bad, and the sport bar (yes, sport bar with no “S” at the end). Basically, if you want to try the restaurants you have to get in line and, preferably, early so you eat at a decent time.

Brian and I decided to go back to our room early that night so we could clean up and come back down early to line up for dinner. We came back down as the wild pool party was wrapping up but ended up missing most of it. It was no skin off our backs, though. Neither Brian and I are party animal types and I heard it was pretty wild (as in, women were taking their tops off and everything).

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Here are a couple of pics of the pool party. It was winding down at this point.

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Some of our friends hadn’t gone up to their rooms to change yet so we hung out for a bit. I ended up double-fisting mojitos before dinner.

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Pre-dinner selfies at the pool bar…

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We got a nice table by the beach.

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I wish we could have gotten more pics when it was still light out. The sun sets really early in Costa Rica. It sets so early that they actually close the pool at six o’clock at night. That seemed really crazy to me at first. But it’s dark at six so I get it. It’s probably not safe for people to be swimming around in the dark.

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So this restaurant is actually the buffet close to the pool that we’ve been eating lunch at almost daily. It turns into a steakhouse in the evening.

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Here’s a pic of the menu.

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Here are some pics of food.

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Jay had to rush off to a poker tournament at the casino so I couldn’t get a pic of this quickly enough before he took a bite and had to skedaddle.

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At least we had time for a group selfie at dinner. You’ll see several of these throughout the course of our trip.

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Here are pics of the schedule at the lobby, which tells you what activities are happening at a given point in time.

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After dinner we decided to go to the casino to heckle the guys. Some of the group changed into more comfy clothes. I didn’t change because I was already comfy. Tina and Brian showed up in the same shirt completely unplanned.

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The crummy thing about the casino is that, although it’s on resort property, it’s not technically run by the resort so you had to pay for your drinks.

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Another group selfie just ’cause.

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Just me and Brian this time.

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Brian and I called it an early night because we were still recovering from the day before and I was determined to get up early the next day to feed the monkeys. The guys were up late, though. Marc, Kirk, and Jay made it all the way to the final five. I’m not sure how Marc and Jay fared but Kirk took second. I thought it was impressive that all three of them did so well.

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These are pics of the Monkey Bar that I took the next morning. It’s one of the landmarks on the monkey trail.

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Here are some pics of the cute Capuchin monkeys.

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…and me feeding them.

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They really like hard-boiled eggs and grapes.

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Here are some better up close pics that Jay took with his phone.

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Here’s a pic of our monkey-feeding crew.

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Except for Kirk and Alicia who were still in bed and Jay who is behind the camera. The next post will feature the jet ski tour that Brian and I went on later that morning. Stay tuned!

To be continued…

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Costa Rica Trip Recap

Posted on May 13, 2019 by under Travel.    

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Woke up to this amazing view on our first morning in Costa Rica.

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Besides the view, I was also greeted by a giant dragonfly. This thing was as big as my foot. I was scared to go out on the balcony at first. This would be the first of many creatures we’d encounter during our vacation.

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Speaking of creatures, the housekeeper also left us a few surprises in the form of adorable towel animals.

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As far as surprises go, this was my favorite one.

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It’s a delicious concoction consisting of ice cream, Kahlua, and coffee.

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I looked for this lady and the special coffee treat every single morning of our stay. Alas, I guess it was just a Monday morning thing.

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I had I think two or three glasses. They were yummy!

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Here are a few pics of the resort property.

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A few pics of our photogenic group.

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Brian and me, at the pool.

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This black and white one is one of our faves.

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Here’s a selfie we took before dinner that night.

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We took multiple dinner selfies. I liked that we got together for dinner every night.

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Although, I think we forgot to take one at the Japanese restaurant on our first night. It was a favorite of several people in our group but Brian was not a fan. We actually hit the buffet on our way back to our room so Brian could eat something.

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We liked the Italian restaurant much better.

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The first table selfie we took was without Reniece and Marc (at the end of the table). This one has our entire group.

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This is the first of many food pictures you’re about to see.

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The next morning was the day of our Arenal boat tour, hanging bridges, and hot springs adventure. We woke up super early.

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Here’s Brian getting his coffee fix. You know he can’t function without it.

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The breakfast buffet opened a bit before seven so we were able to grab a quick breakfast before getting on our tour bus.

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Brian packed some bread to go — because you never know. We didn’t expect to return to the resort until eight o’clock that evening and we wanted to be prepared. The tour included lunch and dinner but we wanted to be prepared for anything. We didn’t want to go hungry.

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Here’s a selfie we took aboard the nice tour bus with a nice photo-bomb courtesy of Marc. A much better one follows.

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This next one has Jay, Marc, and Reniece behind us, with Justin and Tina taking their own selfie in the back row.

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Here’s one with Becca in it too, and with Justin and Tina looking at the camera this time. We are missing Kirk and Alicia because they wanted to sit up front instead of at the back of the bus with the cool kids.

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This was a very nice tour bus. It was fully air-conditioned with big picture windows and its own bathroom.

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Brian at the Swiss Travel office where we picked up two more couples who were staying at other resorts. It was also a bathroom break before we embarked on our long ride to Lake Arenal.

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Quick selfie at the wind farm on the way to Lake Arenal.

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We made another pit stop at this lakeside restaurant along the way because the bus ended up getting a flat tire.

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We got to enjoy this beautiful view as we waited for them to replace the tire. I never would have guessed this was in store for us from looking at the restaurant’s facade.

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Besides the fabulous view (see the two selfies above), I really liked how authentic this restaurant felt.

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After the tire was replaced, it was time to go to the actual restaurant where we were scheduled to have our lunch. The food was delicious but the atmosphere was not nearly as cool as the first restaurant.

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Pictures of our lunch follow.

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I’m not sure what this dessert is called but it was amazing. It was, hands down, my favorite part of our meal.

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Tina and I took some fun pics across the street after lunch.

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Then it was time for our boat tour.

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Here’s another creature we encountered. They called them caimans.

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Here’s a picture of us trying to get a selfie with one of the caimans in the background. The next one is just a regular selfie.

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We lucked out that it wasn’t too cloudy that day. Our tour guy told us that there are some days that it’s so cloudy you can’t see the volcano, which is sad because it’s kind of the whole point of the boat tour.

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Here’s a pic of me and Brian with Arenal Volcano in the background.

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Here’s a selfie of me with Jay in the background.

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And a final one that we took after our boat tour.

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Our next stop was Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, which also offered great views of Arenal Volcano from high up in the jungle canopy.

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We hiked about two miles and walked across 16 hanging bridges.

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Taking a few selfies along the way.

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Our final adventure of the day was Titoku hot springs.

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It was a nice, relaxing finish to a full day.

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After lounging at the hot springs, our tour guide took us to Heliconias Restaurant at Kioro Suites and Spa for a buffet dinner. It was already dark by the time we got there. I wish we could have gotten there when it was still light out because the restaurant has great views of the volcano. The resort property looked nice also but we couldn’t fully appreciate it since it was dark out.

After dinner we still had a 3 hour ride back to our hotel. It was past eleven o’clock at night when we got back. It was a 16-hour day altogether. At dinner we talked about having some drinks when we got back to the resort but we were all so beat when we got back we all just retired to our rooms. There was plenty more drinking and adventuring to be had the next day and the rest of the week.

To be continued…

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Travel and Arrival Day

Posted on May 8, 2019 by under Travel.    

We were so excited when it was finally time to depart for Costa Rica. I think Brian and I hardly slept that night, with all of the pent up energy from the Jo Koy show and everything. We both woke up early the next morning and, despite the sun not being up, we were both eager to head to the airport.

We had originally planned to take an Uber or Lyft ride to the airport to save money on parking. Brian checked around 3:30 AM while I was getting ready and there were plenty of cars around. However, by the time 4:30 AM rolled around and it was time for us to head to the airport, they were nowhere to be found. I think we hit the dead spot where people are transitioning from the late shift to the morning shift. Those who have been up late, driving all night had finally turned in, and the morning shift hadn’t gotten on yet. I think had we waited until 5:00 AM, we could have gotten a car, but Brian, the nerd that he is, has to be at the airport several hours early. We ended up having to drive ourselves.

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I took a picture of our luggage while we were waiting in line to check in our big suitcase. I was amused that our bags made it seem like we were going to ZINCON.

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Here we are at the gate with our new friends Justin and Tina Huntington and Kirk and Alicia Short. We’d known Kirk and Alicia for some time, though we hadn’t really hung out much. We met Justin and Tina for the first time at the pre-Costa-Rica-trip meet-and-greet at Chicken N Pickle the week before.

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There were ten of us who went on the Costa Rica trip. Marc and Reniece (upper left corner in the pic above) traveled to Costa Rica from Tulsa with Jay and Becca. The rest of us (Justin, Tina, Kirk, Alicia, Brian, and I) traveled from Wichita.

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Anyway, that’s the reason there’s only six of us in these enroute-to-Costa-Rica airport selfies. Here we are finally making it to the resort.

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We found refreshments!

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After we all got checked in, we went to grab a quick lunch from the buffet (while they got our rooms ready) and then we got changed and hit the pool and beach.

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Food, drinks, pool, beach — pretty much in that order.

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Here are some pics of the beach.

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Here’s the view from our room.

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Here’s a selfie we took at dinner that first night.

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The first of several group dinner selfies.

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To be continued…

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