Exploring Puerto Rico

As I sit here, waiting to hopefully make our flight as standby passengers who missed their morning flight, I reminisce on all of my memories I made, all the new friends I bonded with, and all the lessons I learned.

Let me start out by saying it is so beautiful in San Juan Puerto Rico. My favorite part had to have been the art painted on the walls by the artists in the nearby school of art. I’m not known to be creative, in fact I am a very left brain person. However, I absolutely love colors and paintings. That’s why, if you were to run into me, I’m usually wearing some bright-colored or tie dyed shirt. The houses were all kinds of colors, bright pink, green, yellow, turquoise… and many of the businesses were painted with pictures. Just walking down the streets definitely made my heart happy.

     

  

For the most part, it was pretty easy to communicate. I would suggest refreshing your Spanish, because surprisingly, a lot of locals didn’t know English. Also, we got around with Uber, which is much cheaper than a cab.

  

There are some perilous parts of Puerto Rico, I guess that’s wherever you go really. I found myself roaming through the streets of La Perla, after being told it probably wasn’t the smartest idea, but I had to venture down to see this city for myself. This area is known for a lot of gangs and drug activities, so, if you find yourself venturing down to this city, make sure you leave all your valuables at the hotel. As you can see in the pictures, it’s a very poor, rundown city. Actually, the original video of Despacito was filmed down here and at the bar near by called La Factoria. I found this to be astonishing information and exciting to get to it with my own eyes.

  

   

Old San Juan Puerto Rico was beautiful. We spent a lot of time down here eating, shopping and sight-seeing. It’s very touristy, so it is more expensive  to eat and shop, but still very cheap compared to Seattle prices. The streets down here are astonishing, and they have kept most of the buildings the same. Apparently, if you own a building down here it’s actually illegal to change it. That’s what one of the locals told me. There is a very good restaurant down here called La Bombonara, not only good food but wonderful service and easy on the wallet.

    

Now, my favorite restaurant and a MUST was the chocolate restaurant called Casa Cortés. They have pretty much everything a chocolate lover could want, from grilled cheese with chocolate to chocolate alcohol and the best chocolate milkshake I have ever tasted. We had to go twice while exploring Puerto Rico. It was simply that amazing.

Castillo San Cristóbal was one of the sites we went to see. It was built-in 1783 by Spain to protect against land attacks. It had some breath-taking views and only cost $5.00 to visit. It has a lot of history behind it, but telling you would only spoil it, so go find out yourself.

We also visited The Catedral Metropolitana Basílica de San Juan Bautista, in English, Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Saint John the Baptist. Apparently this is one of the oldest and in my opinion most beautiful buildings in San Juan. It was stunning inside and I recommend venturing in, at no cost. They do still hold church services, so be respectful when entering.

We ventured to two different beaches, one was right out the back door of my brothers Condo we were staying at. It’s called Ashford beach and it’s located in Condado Puerto Rico. It’s a pretty relaxed quiet beach, not much activity. Perfect if you’re looking for a beach to just relax on.

  

The second beach was called Isle Verde located in Carolina, Puerto Rico. This was a pleasant beach to see if you plan to do more than just sunbathe. It is busier than the other beach we went to. They have a beach tennis court, you have to be a member of the tennis team to play, but because we went to this beach with one of the locals, we got to get a little competitive with the athletes, yes they kicked my ass. It was harder than regular tennis in my opinion. If you get hungry, located down the beach was a restaurant/ bar, unfortunately I have forgotten the name of it, but very good food but pricey.

La Placita de Santurce is a block party that they have every thursday to sunday (they can party) with music and of course lots of alcohol and food. This was a blast, although I may have drank too much. We met some other tourist there we chatted a bit and took a few shots with them before moving on. Of course Puerto Rico is full of beautiful women and it wouldn’t have been an awesome trip if I wouldn’t have met one. Right?  We left La Placita around 1 am and she took me to some local gay bars and ventured around San Juan in her jeep, the city was beautiful to see at night. If you like drinking and women, La Placita should be high on your to do list.

 

Unfortunately, we went during storm season and there was so much more planned we didn’t get to do. Like the El Yunque rainforest, the zipline tour, and crash boat beach. But I’ll be back to finish for sure.

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Vance Creek Bridge

Not dog friendly

Not kid friendly

Located in Shelton Wa

I’ll start out by saying this is an illegal hike so you’re going at your own risk. This can also be very dangerous, so I’m not encouraging you to go. Only 4 out of the 5 of us was daring enough to take on this adventure.20229572_10211086283850836_7145978064349214041_o

Vance Creek bridge was built in 1929, during the great depression, and left abandoned in the 1950’s. It stands over 300 ft in the air, making it the second tallest railroad in America. Because of social media the once hidden bridge became very popular and is now closed to the public. As you can see in the pictures, they have began to take down the bridge and place barbed wire around the entrance to keep people out. However, if you’re anything like me… that won’t stop you from walking across the slim beams 347 feet in the air, well I shouldn’t exaggerate, my pussy self crawled on my hands an knees yelling out to my friends “Who’s f***ing idea was this?!” You probably guessed it… mine. Honestly, I was doing fine until I made the mistake of looking down.

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Finally, after what seemed like eternity I made it safely to the wooden rail road ties. Be aware that there are loose boards and patches of the bridge have been burned. So watch your step. On clear days you can view the beautiful Mt Rainier in the distance.

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The view, absolutely amazing and something about the heart pounding and stomach dropping feeling made the adventure so much better. We sat at the edge of the bridge dangling our feet and yelling at each other not to touch us as we gazed out and admired yet another amazing view. The experience was great, and I had the best group of friends joining me, my homos. Just another great adventure in the books.

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The easiest way to get here, and how we got there, is to just google map Vance Creek Bridge. It will take you up logging roads for a while until you come to a yellow gate. This is where you can leave your car and take a 15 minute hike up to the bridge. Thanks to someone there before us stairs have been created to help you onto the concrete platform. Again this is an illegal hike and people have been caught there, so you’re going at your own risk.

 

Lava Canyon

Length: 5 miles round trip

Location: Cougar Washington

I’ll start by saying this hike gets pretty dangerous if you go into the lower level of the canyon. The upper portion is dog friendly but, unless your dog is well-behaved I wouldn’t recommend taking them to the lower canyon where you are walking on a path maybe a foot or 2 in width with about a 200-300 ft drop below.

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On the way back up the canyon we witnessed a rescue of a young man who fell, probably 100 ft, we asked about him and one of the rangers said that he was breathing and they were still trying to get to him. Make sure you are obeying the rules and sticking to the path, there have been several fatalities around this hike.

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Yes, I was one of those crazy adventurers who strapped my dog in and had him carried down a 30 foot ladder to get him into the lower level of the canyon where he stayed strapped to my bag along the cliff edges.  However, my dog has been hiking since I got him as a puppy. He is also very well-behaved and extremely calm. If I didn’t have 100% trust in my dog, I wouldn’t have taken him down there where he could easily pull me off the edge. He loves it and it was also his first time going over a suspension bridge. He did very well and crawled all the way across. If you have a fear of heights, I don’t recommend descending into the lower level of the canyon.

The first part of the hike is an easy paved path, ending at a beautiful view of one of the many waterfalls. This is a perfect hike for kids and dogs. If you wish, continue following the narrowing trail along the rushing river; not to long into the hike you will come to the suspension bridge. Here, anyone with a fear of heights should turn around. Its 125 ft long and about 150 ft above the river. Admire the awesome view and try not to focus too much on the swaying of the bridge holding you up by a few cables. After you have successfully crossed the bridge proceed on the narrow path for a while and you will then come to a 30 foot ladder that you will have to climb down. Shortly after the ladder the trail comes to a T, go to the right and you will come to another ladder (many people are unaware of this view point). This time you will have to climb up. This will take you to the most breath-taking view of the hike.

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Throughout the hike, there is many amazing views, we ended up finding a spot in the river that we were able to dip in and eat some food while allowing Marley to cool down with a swim. The hike isn’t to hard, I have done hikes that took much more energy, but I can’t say it enough, that these views are not something you want to miss.

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Happy hiking!

 

Oahu, Hawaii

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I jumped off the plane eager to find out what this new adventure on the island of Oahu had in store for me. This was where I was going to spend the next 2 weeks of my life and I was determined to make the most out of the time I had. 1924116_1141860344774_6760461_n

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Oahu had an abundance of activities to do, from surfing, to snorkiling, body surfing, tours of the 1936939_1153149546997_1247023_nislands, and of course, plenty of places to swim and admire sea life. One thing I will say about this island, is that it is very touristy. Beaches are crowded, especially the Waikiki beach and there are lines for just about anything and everything. We also decided to go there in August, for the same reasons many other people were there in that time frame, no school. Don’t let that discourage you from making a trip, it really was an experience of a life time.

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I spent most of my time on the Waikiki beach, where I did my fair share of body boarding, snorkeling, seeing wild life and getting my fill of vitamin D… and burning. There was a day that we decided to drive around the whole island and it was absolutely breathtaking. The water was beautiful,  clear in some places, and the scenic views of the mountains leave you in awww.

We took another day of our trip to see some wildlife upclose, not so easily seen at the beaches.  We went and swam with dolphins. If you have ever wondered what a dolphin feels like, it feels like a smooth rubber, almost like a rubber duck your kids play with in the bath. The dolphins were very friendly and seemed to enjoy the attention. They splashed and jumped out of the water puttin1936939_1153154547122_688667_ng on a remarkable show for us. That was a great experience and one that I won’t forget.

One of my favorite experiences was Turtle beach. “Honu” is the Hawaiian name for turtle, and this beach lived up to its name. You can find them sunbathing on the beach  or swimming 1936939_1153151147037_6763259_nnear you in water. Not only do these big green turtles snap at you if you try to touch them, they are prIMG_7094otected under the federal endangered species act and simply touching them, is a 10,000 dollar fine. So do yourself and the animals a favor and just admire them from a distance.

As a kid I remember watching Dog the Bounty hunter on tv with my dad, it was one of my favorite shows growing up. I was excited to find out that they had a bail bounds on this island as well as the big island . I actually got to go see the bail bonds place of Dog and his family. Although I was highly disappointed that they were not there at theIMG_7092 time we were. Such as life. We did wander into the souvenir shop and got ourselves some Dog gear. I couldnt resist.

Tips for your trip to Hawaii:

1. Even if you’re someone like myself who doesn’t burn, here you will burn. I made the mistake of thinking I didn’t need sunscreen. Just put the sunscreen on.

2. You can book some activities online before you arrive, this will reduce time spent standing in lines. Tripadvisor.com is a good website.

3. Everything in Hawaii is very expensive, so make sure you bring enough spending money, it will go fast.

4. Do some research of the best times of the year to go. Look up the beaches with the most tourists and avoid them if you can.

5. Have fun and if there is something you really want to do or see, don’t hesitate. You never know if you will get another chance.

I will definitely be back to Hawaii and experience another beautiful island, but for now, I am getting ready for my next adventure to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. August can’t come soon enough.

Ape Cave

Length: about 3.1 miles

Not dog friendly

Not for everyone

This was a really fun hike/crawl/climb through the lava tubes located at Mt St Helen’s.  Its one of the longest lava tubes in the world, reaching a length of about 12,800 ft. It’s really amazing, it should definitely become a priority on your bucket list. The cost was $5 dollars to park. There is 2 different caves you can hike through, I say do both. The easy one is right down the stair and it’s not a hard hike, more like a walk through. So it is great if you have little ones, they can get through this with no problem. You’re going to need head lamps, the caves are pitch black and without them you can’t see. You could bring flashlights, but you will want free hands, so I recommend the head lamps. At the very end there is a crawl space, you have to be a fairly small person, like myself, it doesn’t go anywhere but it leads to a little cave you can chill in. If you’re claustrophobic, I wouldn’t recommend crawling through, the space is very tight. I was crawling on my stomach and elbows.

The second cave is harder, if you have older kids they can do it, but not the little ones. When you go down the stairs you turn and walk under the staircase and it leads you to the hard cave. Now, when my bestie and I did this we did NOT see the sign to the hard cave. We are true blondes and sometimes we do not think with our noodles. Anyways, we ended up hiking up the trail looking for the cave in the heat. We eventually came to an opening (the ending of the cave, but we didn’t know that). We realized we where going the wrong way when a group of kids said “you guys are going the wrong way.” “Ya, we know what we are doing,” we actually had no idea, but I wasn’t about to let a bunch of middle school kids know that. It was really amazing inside, we had to climb over rocks almost the whole hike through. There was a part that we had to slide down on a rope ( you would be going up, but remember we went backwards) that was the hardest part only because the cave is pitch black and I couldn’t see where I needed to place my feet, or how far from the bottom I was. Its chilly and wet inside the cave, so you should bring a sweatshirt.  Also bring snacks, I was so hungry by the time we got done doing both hikes that we were turning into a hangry women, and hangry women are never good.

All in all it was really fun, I would recommend this for sure. I was sore the next day but it was so worth it. You can also head to the souvenir shop on the way out, located at the Ranger Station 🙂

Lost

IMG_6603So we were actually supposed to be hiking to the Vance Creek Bridge, however, the roads were flooded with water, welcome to Washington. We made it through most of the water but ended up at a spot the car  would get stuck and I would most likely drowned, because I can’t swim (yes, really). Now, that doesn’t stop me from pretending I can swim, but that’s another story for another day..  Don’t drink and swim.

Anyways, so we decided to take the logging roads and try and go up and around the flooded roads, didn’t go as planned. We called my friends neighbor, who knows the logging roads up there like the back of his hand to get directions to get around. Not only were we trying to follow horrible directions, directions like “You will drive under power lines” or “turn right on Eels road, but there is no Eels road sign, because I stole it” but the roads were horrible, filled with giant pot holes, luckily we didn’t take my car. (selfish I know)

We pulled over on the side of the logging roads, after driving for what seemed like hours, and got out of the car. I happened to see out of the corner of my eye what looked to be like a little trail that was a bit over grown. Me being the easily excited person I am, took off running through this trail yelling at my friend to “hurry up”, I came around a corner and came screeching to a halt, thank gosh because we were right on the cliffs edge. But damn, I had this awesome view of the valley below. It was amazing.

Now, I can’t tell you where I was because I really have no clue, but that’s the adventure. We never did get to the Vance Creek Bridge because we came out right were we had to originally turn around at because the water was to deep. This will be next weekends goal, if the weather will show me a little bit of grace.

“If you wish to be a warrior prepare to get broken, if you wish to be an explorer prepare to get lost and if you wish to be a lover prepare to be both” – Daniel Saint