The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions,
and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world.
My 3 Books
I write, self publish and sell
books about touring
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(How can I
India and Neighbors
May 2010 to present
/ Canada / USA
May 2008 to April 2010
Sept 2007 to May 2008
Sept 2006 to Sept 2007
SE Asia / China
Nov 2004 to Sept 2006
June 2003 to June 2004
AZ, Mexico, and
March 2002 to April 2003
How I started
The 5 years before I left
Support this Web Site and Continue My Travels.
Equipment Pages Index
How Much to Bring and Weight
Advice About Advice
A Note to Perspective Sponsors and Gear Suppliers
more about Sponsorship)
HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
Bicycle Touring Frames
Steel Repair Myth.
and Aluminum Derailleur Hanger Repair.
Bicycle Touring Wheels
Phil Wood: The Best Bicycle Hubs
Panniers / Bike Bags
Cargo Trailers Vs Panniers
Tires for Bike Tours..
Bicycle Touring Saddles.
Women's Specific Bike Touring Saddles
Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
Touring Handlebars, Bar Ends, Adjustable Stems, and Padded Grips.
Sealed Cartridge Headsets
How to prevent flat tires
Bike Route Trails and Maps
Buying Camping Equipment
Tent and Ground
Pots and Pans
Solar Power for Camp
Bike Touring Shorts
Bicycle touring lights
Pictures of Equipment Failures
all 3 book)
Costa Rica #2 Journal
Playa Jaco to Penas Casas, Costa
(March 15 - April 11, 2003)
||Jaco. We hired a taxi from
Rancho Mastatal to Jaco. It took an hour and half in a small toyota
truck. It is always an ordeal when we try and travel with our bikes.
When we arrived in Jaco we set up camp at Camp Hicaco. We sprung for the
private bathroom and shower. The first thing we did was go to the
pharmacist about James's eczema. The pharmacist took one look at James
and said he had a severe case and he should not go outside in the sun or
into the ocean for the next three days (this turned out to be the wrong
diagnosis). James said, "I can't go in the ocean", and her reply was,
"no". All of our hearts just sunk to the floor. What a terrible thing to
hear, we were all just heart broken. What do you mean, bring a kid to
the beach and then tell him he can not play in the ocean. We quickly
found another activity that occupied James. The internet cafe had a play
station room next door and James was more than happy to play Super Mario
or whatever for hours.
As we were walking back for our dinner at Pizza Hut, great pizza by
the way, we heard crabs running all over. It seemed like they all
hatched at once. Back at camp they were scurrying everywhere. Cher was
concerned that the crabs would come in the tent and crawl all over her.
I said, "I doubt it, just keep the tent zipped up". Well I was proven
wrong, I had fallen asleep on the big air mattress in Cher and James's
ten and in the middle of the night I felt, yes felt, a crab run across
the bed, through my hair and on to the floor. Normally, I would be
screaming my head off, but I did not want to wake up everyone in the
tent, including Tim in the other tent. So I tried to go back to sleep
with the thought of a crab in the tent. How in the world did he get in
there? I do not known.
||Jaco. It was a rainy blustery
day. We were not too sad, James could not go to the beach. However, the
rain chased Cherie to a hotel room. We searched and found a decent place
only a couple of blocks away. It had air-conditioning, cable TV, and a
hot shower all for $35 a night. Tim and I stayed in the camp ground but
took our showers at the room, thanks Cher. We decided to stay in Jaco a
couple of days because we wanted to go to Manual Antonio with Cher and
James, we thought is was well worth a return trip.
||Jaco. Manual Antonio is closed
on Mondays so we are waiting one more day to go to the park. Yet
another rainy day in Paradise.
||Manual Antonio. We set out for Manual
Antonio at 6:30 am, James was still asleep but managed to get on the bus
and sleep some more. The park was full of wildlife today, I think
everything was out because it has been raining for the past few days and
finally the sun was out. What a difference a week makes, it was
much cooler this time around. We saw all kinds of wildlife like
the Jesus Christ Basilisk, three-toed
sloth, iguana, white throated capuchin monkey, tropical crab,
long-nosed bat and hermit crab.
James played in the water for hours,
maybe a little too long, the sun got the better of him. However,
his eczema cleared up quickly, which was a relief to all of us. We
headed back to Jaco with plans to go to Santa Elena in the morning.
||Jaco-Puntarenas-Santa Elena. Travel
days are always an adventure, we awoke to rain in the middle of the
night so our belongings were soaked. It took hours to dry
everything out and pack it up. I am really tired of camping at
this point. We caught the 12:00 bus to Puntarenas with hopes of
catching the 2:15 bus to Santa Elena. On the way to Puntarenas
there was an accident that held up the bus for over an hour.
Consequently, we missed our bus out of Puntarenas. Now we were
stuck in Puntarenas, not a place we wanted to stay with Cher and James.
We bit the bullet and got a taxi ride $135 (Double Yikes) to Santa Elena, a very
expensive endeavor but it sure beet staying in Puntarenas. The taxi
was really a truck because our bikes would not fit in a normal car. Cher
and I volunteered to ride in the back. The trip was fun when we
hit the dirt roads but the fun ended when the sun went down and the road
went on forever. The truck was a slow mover, it took us 3
hours to get to Santa Elena while the bus only takes 2.5 hours. We
finally arrived at 7:00 pm and went to Pension Santa Elena.
Luckily they had a room left with three beds, Cher and James in one, Tim
and I in the others, it cost $15 for the night.
||Santa Elena. We walked to the today.
We had a great guide who first introduced us to all kinds of insects
such as tarantulas, scorpions, cockroaches, leaf katydid, and even the
asthma beetle. Locals are known to eat the asthma beetle because
it releases an antihistamine when it is eaten. Since I was feeling
a bit miserable with a head cold I thought why not. Much to Tim's
amazement, I tried one of these tinny beetles. The only thing that
was weird is that it ran across my tongue before I ate it.
We then moved on to the butterfly atriums. We first went to the lower
elevation eco zone and moved up through two more eco zones. We saw
a variety of butterfly's such as blue morpho, long wing, postman,
malachite. The atriums were filled with flowers that were specific
to each butterfly. I really enjoyed the butterfly farm and so did
James my nephew. This is a great place for a family outing.
It was a little expensive at $8 per adult and children over 12 are
$5 (I am not sure of this price).
||Santa Elena. We went for a hike at
the Finca Ecological only 1.5 kilometers from the center of Santa Elena.
It cost $7 per adult and children under 8 are free. As we were
hiking down one of the trails we all stopped to look at some birds and
suddenly we were all attacked by ants. It was like we all had hot
foot we were all jumping from foot to foot swatting the ants off of us.
We recovered and moved on to the look outs. We had stunning views
of the Nicoya Peninsula and the canyons that surround the Finca.
We were lucky enough to see keel-billed toucans,
squirrel cuckoo, rufous-tailed hummingbird, black guan, agouti, white
nosed coati, parakeets, and leaf-cutter ants.
||Santa Elena. Cherie and James did the
Sky Trek Canopy tour today. It cost $40 for and adult and $32 for
a child. A bit out of our budget so Tim and I passed. James
(8) was the youngest that they would take on the canopy tour. He
said, "It made my eyes water like crazy". Cher had a great time as
well. When they came back they were still pumped with adrenaline.
This evening we went to the Ranario also known as the frog pond, we
saw all kinds or frogs including the blue jeans frog (they are red with
blue legs), green jeans (red with green legs), the green and black poison
dart frog, and numerous other frogs. My favorite is the red-eyed
leaf frogs. They are extremely active at night and just a delight
to watch for hours.
||Santa Elena. We all wanted to go to
the Santa Elena but we decided to just take a walk around town because
it was too expensive and James was all hiked out. So we went to
the Monte Verde Lodge, pretended to be customers and walked around their
beautiful grounds. We then hiked over to Finca Ecologica and back
to Pension Santa Elena. Tomorrow Cherie, James and I go to
Alajuela which is near the airport so they can get the plane back to
Alaska the next day. It is amazing how fast their visit went.
I will truly miss them when they go.
||Santa Elena - Alajuela. Our bus left
at 6:30 am, we bought our tickets at the last minute and got the last
three seats. We sat in the back of the bus which was a lot higher
then the rest of the seats, I could look out the window and look
straight down into the ravines. The ride down was a lot quicker
than the ride up in the taxi. However, we did go over a few bumps
that threw us a foot into the air. We were under the impression
that the bus would stop in two locations in Alajuela, the airport and
downtown. It turned out that the bus only stopped at the airport
and we found ourselves on our way to San Jose. James was starting
to get motion sick, it is always a bad sign when he is holding a bag in
front of him, so we jumped off the bus at the very next stop. The
bus driver thought we were a bit crazy for getting off where we did.
James laid down on the bus bench and was feeling better by the time we
got a taxi. We stayed at Hotel Alajuela for $10 per person, we had
our own private bath and hot shower (so they said). Cherie had the
pleasure of turning on the water and getting shocked, at the same time
the water was cold. Of course, there was no one around to fix it
at 9:00 at night.
||Alajuela- Santa Elena. The McKays
were off to their plane at 8:00am and would not be arriving back in
Alaska until the morning of the 27th. Getting to Costa Rica and
back to Alaska is a journey unto itself. My journey back to Santa
Elena started at about 12:00 and I did not arrive in Santa Elena until
almost 8:00 at night.
||Santa Elena. After much discussion
and contemplation we have decided to stay in Santa Elena for the next
two weeks rather than try and ride to Panama City by bicycle. I
really wanted to ride the entire coast of Costa Rica and through the
flat lands of Panama. However, the heat and humidity are so high
that it would make a miserable trip. When we arrived in Santa
Elena from the coast we were all exhausted for the heat. The
weather is so much cooler here. Staying here for that long was
never in our plans, but then again a lot of things we have done were not
in our plans. The tricky thing will be getting to Panama City with
||Santa Elena Reserve. We took a mini
bus ($2.00) to Santa Elena Reserve at 6:45 and arrived at the park along
with the volunteers at 715 am. It was a beautifully day, clear and
sunny, a rare event in a cloud forest. Normally it costs $9.00 to
get in but with our student cards we paid $5.00 entrance fee. Our
first stop was the tower to get a view of Volcano Arenal. We
had a great view but the volcano was not very active at the time.
We continued our hike through dense cloud forest and marveled at the
size of the plants. Occasionally, we heard the rumbles of Arenal.
We heard birds everywhere but had difficulty spotting any. The
elusive quetzal was still elusive to us. We hike part of the Youth
Challenge trail, el bajo trail, and encanto trail. On our return
to the entrance/exit we stopped for one more view of Volcano Arenal,
amazingly it was still clear.
||Our one year anniversary. A hike in Finca
||The weather today started to turn for the
worst, the winds started blowing hard and the temperatures started to
drop. We have plans to go into Monte Verde tomorrow morning we
will have to see what the weather does. In the afternoon the
weather turned to hurricane type weather. The winds were so high
that it seemed that the roof was going to be blown off. Needless
to say, the weather is miserable.
||Santa Elena. The Monteverde Cloud
Forest Reserve was closed today due to high winds. A couple from
Montana with their daughter went to the park and were told that it was
closed. They were stranded there when the bus driver said he would
not return until 11:15 am. It was 8:00 in the morning so they
walked back to Santa Elena from Monteverde a good 6 km walk in the wind
At about 10:30 am the power went out. Everyone was confined to
the youth hostel for most of the day. At around 11:00 am a truck
came by with produce, they were selling mangos, cantaloupe and
watermelon. I asked the price of the produce and so did Daniel
from Argentina. I decided to buy some produce and he did not.
After I bought the produce he said that the price was too high. I
asked him why he did not tell me the price was too high before I bought
the produce and he said, You are a Gringa. Gringos (someone with
white skin) have money.
I replied that I did not have much money and he said yes I did.
Then I replied that I worked for my money and that it was not given to
me. I then proceeded to tell him that I did not think he was a
very good friend. I had been practicing my Spanish with Daniel for
the last two weeks, so I assumed that we were friends of some sort.
So it was quite a shock to me to have him think of me as a Gringo.
Which in my opinion is a racist way of looking a people. Since we
have been in Latin American countries, ever since Mexico. We have
been called a Gringo, sometimes in jest, sometimes in envy and sometimes
in disgust. In the past I have always tried not to take offense to
being called a Gringo. However, it deeply sadden me to realize
that for some people in Latin America, I am just a Gingo; a judgment
based on my skin color only which also includes the assumption that I have lots of
money, and will be nothing else. Needless to say, this fact
disturbed for the remainder of the day. It was difficult for me
not be judgmental in return, I wonder if every Latin American person
thinks this way or it just some. Racism in any direction is a very
||Santa Elena. The weather is still
windy and wet. I am starting to get cabin fever. We mostly
worked on the web page and visited with people in the hostel. The
staff her is great, Shannon, Samantha, and Patricia do a great job
introducing people to the area and explaining the many attractions in
the area. We have become quite fond of them. I have found
that after traveling for a year that I really crave the routine things
like getting up the same time every morning and having a cup of coffee
(I started drinking coffee while here in Costa Rica), cooking dinner
instead of going out and sitting and reading a newspaper front to back.
Simple but pleasant activities.
||Santa Elena. We took a walk towards the
cheese factory where we heard that we may see some Quetzals. We
sat where we thought we could see the wild avocado tree. We waited
and watched for about an hour and a half and did not see the elusive
quetzal. It was still a bit windy so we made plans to come back
again another time. Just as we were about to leave I looked up
behind me a saw a female quetzal (a shorter tail), land in a tree behind
us. It turns out that we were sitting below the wild avocado tree.
Next time will
||Santa Elena. We met Samantha at the
bull ring this evening for the running of the bulls. A similar
event as what we saw in Liberia. The running of the bulls is not
like a bull fight. It is more like a rodeo where a rider comes out
of the gate riding a bull and then the bull has the opportunity to chase
anyone in the ring that is nearby. It is a tradition to tease the
bull and have them chase you. A very dangerous activity for any
man. The running of the bulls was suppose to start at 5:30 pm and
really did not get going until around 7:00 pm, a typical delay in Latin
America. The bull ring was small and the bulls seemed more mellow
than I expected. Still it was entertaining. Only one person
was slightly injured when he got tangled up in the legs of the steer
when he tried to dismount. Tomorrow there will be a parade of
horses in the town of Santa Elena.
||Santa Elena. Walked to Monteverde in
search of a quetzal again. I briefly saw one, however, while
waiting we saw a deer come out into the pasture. This is the first
deer we have seen since Arizona. Amazing how little wildlife we
have seen in other countries besides Costa Rica.
Shannon, Samantha and
I made a Carbonara Sauce for spaghetti. It was absolutely
wonderful. I am having a blast learning how to cook here at the
Pension Santa Elena.
||Santa Elena. We went to SkyTrek/SkyWalk
today. We did the Sky Walk this morning at 7:30 am. It was a
beautiful walk through the canopy of the rain forest. We crossed 6
suspension bridges in 3.5 kilometers. The cost was $15.00.
If you plan to do the Sky Walk only I recommend that you go early.
Otherwise the noise from the Sky Trek will scare away all the wildlife
and birds. It was an enjoyable walk early in the morning.
||Santa Elena. We finally made it to
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. We took the 6:15 am
bus from Santa Elena to Monteverde. There were only three gringos
on the bus and we were the only ones required to get a ticket, the cost
for one way was $1.00. We arrived at the park just before 7:00 am.
We used our student cards so it was half price at $6.00. The cost
to get into the reserve is divided into two different price structures,
one for foreigners and the other for Costa Ricans.
We hiked down the Sendero Nuboso (Cloud Trail) first. We were
looking for anything kind of bird but we were really hoping to see a
Quetzal. At about 8:00 am we saw a Quetzal, we watched him in one
tree and then fly into another tree near by. We did get a photo or
two however, the video was much better. They are truly an amazing
bird, an emerald green back and head, red stomach and long green with
white tail feathers. We search the rest of the day for another
Quetzal and never saw one. We did see a highland tinamou and other
bird life. The forest was a deep green and the different types of
Back at Pension Santa Elena, we ran into Ruth and Nick from Leeds,
England again. We met them when we were in Omoa, Honduras,
something like three months ago.
||Santa Elena. Worked on the web page
for most of the day. We have stayed in Pension Santa Elena for
three weeks. A lot of travelers have come and gone in that time.
Most of the travelers are from North America and Europe and a few have
been from Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and South America.
We also were here the day the war started in Iraq. Protests
immediately followed in the Costa Rica capital of San Jose. We did
not discuss the war to much in those first days. However, as time
went on we had many discussions with many travelers. Rather than
write a he said she said account of our discussions I have decided
to write a summary of everything I have heard. So these remarks
have come from one or more people.
After telling some people that we were American they told us that
they were completely against the war in Iraq. They held Tim and I
responsible for the war that was going on in Iraq. You are an
American, you are responsible for this, you should do something about it
(they wanted us to stop the war). Many people held us personally
responsible for the war in Iraq. They also thought that the United
States was basically an environmental cesspool because we (The United
States) did not sign the Kyoto treaty. There was no way of
discussing either subject, hatred for the Americans was much too strong
Some people could separate the difference between the actions of the
United States Government and the people of the United States, some could
not. The people who could distinguish the difference were friendly
to us, even though they may have been against the war. Others were
rude to us just because we were Americans and our country was fighting a
war. Many people believed that the only reason the Americans went to war
in Iraq is for their oil. Americans are arrogant and money hungry
capitalists. Americans only care about themselves and not what
happens in the rest of the world. The overwhelming majority of
travelers and locals (in many countries) who we talked to hated George
Bush. Some thought that America was like the Roman Empire and is
ready to fall.
A few people felt that the United States was the only country with
the military to fight Iraq or any other terrorist and that the military
action must be done. Again these people were a select few.
After three weeks of discussions I have to say I have come away
feeling beat up. Traveling as an American these days is not always
||Santa Elena - San Jose. Caught the
bus from Santa Elena to San Jose, it cost 1400 colones. We packed
our bike panniers (bags) away in boxes so we had 5 boxes, two carry ons,
and our two bikes. We were nervous that our belongings would not
fit on the bus. It all fit and we were on our way. We
arrived in San Jose at 8:00 pm. As we were getting our boxes and
bikes off the bus the bus driver would not let us remove our belongings.
I asked him what he wanted and he hesitated and then asked for 1000
colones ($2.50). We were not surprised, we acted like we did not
understand him and then I took my time getting him the money, he got
distracted and walked away with out taking any money. We loaded
our belongings in a very small taxi and were off to the next bus
terminal. We landed at the Tica bus terminal at around 8:30.
We had to watch our stuff like a hawk. Tim pointed out a guy who
was scoping out our luggage. This kept Tim on guard for the next
1.5 hours. Again, we knew we were going to have a hard time
getting our belongings on the bus. Everyone had loaded their
luggage on the bus, they shut the doors and still all our stuff was
sitting outside the bus. The baggage handler said he wanted $15.00
to put our luggage and bikes on the bus. Tim asked for a receipt
first. The baggage handler came back with an adding machine print
out for 4,000 colones ($10.20), the price had dropped. He showed
it to Tim first, and Tim said he would pay in the office. In the
mean time I asked the bus driver if we could put our bikes on the bus,
he said sure no problem. Hmm, he did not ask for any money.
So I did not give him any money. Our bikes and luggage were put on
the bus and we were on our way to Panama City. So twice we were
asked to pay for our bikes and twice we did not have to pay for the
bikes. I now know that there is no extra charge for bikes, I
would gladly pay it if it was officially required, but in both cases it
was not, it appeared to be yet another gringo tax.
||Costa Rica. We arrived at the Penas
Casas, border at 4:30 am. It took us 3 hours to get through the
border. One person processed over one hundred people. This
is when the bicycle is much faster, we usually show up after the buses
go through. We arrived in Panama City at 5:00 pm. The bus
station was more like an airport terminal. We took a taxi to our
hotel Pension Volcan. Since we are staying for six nights Tim
negotiated a cheaper rate of $12 per night for a room with a private
bath and air conditioning.
Cindie crossing the border into Costa Rica.
Our camp at Playa Tamarindo.
Young cowboy in the parade.
The bull singles out one person
Female three-toed sloth, Manual Antonio.
White faced monkey, Manual Antonio.
Green and Black Poison Dart Frog held by our guide, Chepo.
Cindie, Cherie, James and Chepo at the swimming hole.
Sunrise at Playa Nosara.
Sunset at Playa Nosara.
North and Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03
(July 18 - Aug 22, 2002)
The State of
Guanajuato to Toluca, Mexico
Other essays by Tim
Into the Mist State
of Michoacan, Mexico
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Michoacan,
Full size Picture
- Guanajuato to
Penjamillo to Patzcuaro, Mexico
Patzcuaro to Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan,
Into the Mist Mexican highway 15
Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan, to Toluca, Mexico
The Velodrome in Toluca, Mexico
(Oct. 12 - Nov. 8, 2002)
The States of Tabasco and Chiapas,
Villahermosa, Tabasco to Cuauhtemoc Chiapas, Mexico
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Tabasco and
Chiapas, Mexico Pictures
Full size Picture
- Museum La Venta and the
Olmec Heads Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico
Villahermosa, Tabasco to Ocosingo,
Palenque #1 Photo Picture Page
Palenque #2 Photo Picture Page
Misol-Ha Waterfall Chiapas, Mexico
Agua Azul Chiapas, Mexico
Tonina Mayan Ruins Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico
Mexico's Day of the Dead Ocosingo, Chiapas,
Ocosingo to Cuauhtemoc Chiapas, Mexico
(March 15 - April 10, 2003)
Costa Rica #2
Manual Antonio to Monteverde
Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Tim's Emailed Newsletters
Costa Rica #2 (incomplete)
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Costa Rica #2 Pictures
Full size Picture
Parque National Manuel Antonio, #2
City of Santa Elena
Santa Elena, Monteverde
Frog Pond (Ranario), Santa
Santa Elena, Cloud
Forest, National Park
Sky Walk, Suspension
Bridge, Canopy Tour
Sky Trek Zip Line,
Tips & Advice
Tools and Spares
Pots and Pans
Preventing Flat Tires
Bike Touring Shorts
Have Learned On The Road
Injustice of Poverty
Much MORE Gear Here!
Cycle Touring Racks
Tents and ground