Road Scholar – one of my favorite things

A recent Huffington Post by Doris Gallan described what us oldies but goodies look for in a travel experience:  “The chance to learn something new, have genuine experiences with locals, and get value for money”.  That’s exactly why we travel with Road Scholar.  Our upcoming trip to Ecuador will be our fourth trip with them.  And yes, this post is yet another attempt for me to hone my word press blogging skills, before I hit the road.

Our first trip, to Costa Rica in 2007, definitely gave us value for our money.  All Road Scholars trips include lectures about the country, supplemented with visits to points of interest that we might have missed had we been traveling on our own.  At Cafe Britt, we learned about the history of coffee, its cultivation, harvesting and roasting.  The gift shop shipped our purchases home for us, which was greatly appreciated.

At our visit to the Dole plantation, we learned that banana plants are actually herbs.  That was only one of a multitude of interesting facts.  Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the rest of them.   Hey, it’s been 5 years!

Costa Rica has no military force.  Instead, they spend their resources on education and on preserving the beauty of their country.  As they say in Costa Rica, “Pura Vida”.
INBio Park’s exhibit pinpointed the locations of Costa Rica’s abundant national parks.

Our trip also had an active component.  That’s me, front left seat,  with Mike right behind me (although it is hard to tell) white water rafting on the Sarapiqui River.

Our school visit qualified as a  “genuine experiences with the locals”.    The children were so cute. They performed for us, then practiced speaking English while they gave us a tour of the school.

We visited TWO of Costa Rica’s active volcanoes.  Poaz Volcano is just outside of San Jose.  That is not a reflection of the sky; it is actual steam rising up from the center of the crater.

Our hotel was close enough to  Volcan Arenal to allow us to see it erupting at night.  This obviously isn’t a great shot, but you get the idea.  Trust me, it was much more impressive in person!

Here’s the afternoon view, from our hotel.

One of the nice things about Road Scholars is you are not visiting sites with hoards of others.  Frequently we were all by ourselves, enjoying the view.

We hiked to the top of a neighboring peak, and were rewarded with a wonderful view of Lake Arenal.

This Capuchin monkey’s job was to distract us so that his confederates could get into our backpacks.  We were supposed to leave them unattended while we photographed him!

He was one of the main attractions at Manuel Antonio Park.  The other attraction was the beautiful beach, with the comfortably, warm water.

Costa Rica is justifiably renown for its diversity of plant and animal life.  Take a look at just a smidgen of what we saw during our trip.

2011, a long goodbye

I’m still getting the hang of posting from my “i” stuff. Posting from an iPhone is different from an iPad, and both are different from posting from a desktop. So, my 2011 goodbye got published before I was finished with my fond farewell.

Here are more Antarctica shots
Lunch time


Following the penguin trail to the top of the hill


Our ship looked like a toy when viewed from the top of the hill.  Maybe it was a little higher than it looked.  We slid all the way back to the bottom on our bottoms


My traveling companions, Greg


and Mike

Disembarking at dawn in Ushuaia, Argentina, the end of the earth.


Back home by way of Santiago, Chile


And Lima, Peru


Dinner at La Rosa Nautica, on the Pacific Ocean, before heading to the airport

Goodbye, 2011

Only one more day in 2011. For me, 2011 was a wonderful year. Our extended family grew through marriage and the arrival of a baby, our son started his MBA at the University of Virginia, we achieved a level of financial independence that allowed me to join Mike in retirement, and we were able to spend time with people that are important to us.

We started the year traveling to Antarctica with Lindblad and National Geographic. We boarded the ship in Ushuaia, Argentina, after a short cruise on a catamaran through the Beagle Channel.


Here is the Antarctica welcoming committee.