From the rocky coast of Maine, through bare early spring hardwood forests, into the kitchens of great friends, across grassy plains to the rising mountains of Wyoming, we traversed more than 2,000 miles in April. Wonderful as our time has been exploring the East and Midwest, and as many hugs as we’ve been able to exchange with loved ones, high-fives were exchanged when we crossed into Mountain time zone. We’ve missed the West and it’s majestic, sparsely populated places.
Howling winds, part of Tropical Storm Arlene, whipped down the streets in Santa Elena, a little touristy town perched in the mountains in Costa Rica. Clouds of fog and rain thrashed around like ghosts. “Not a good day to go to the Reserve,” said the man at the cafe where we stopped for coffee. “You won’t see anything.” The cold gusts blew us into the hotel to pout.
We’d planned to visit Monteverde Reserve, a park protecting a swath of cloud forest and home to the Resplendent Quetzal, a flamboyantly plumaged bird which was number one on my “hope to see” list for this trip. Early afternoon the storm seemed to lighten; though it was still blustery we donned our rain gear and hailed a cab. By 2pm we were on a muddy trail plastered with fallen leaves. The forest looked beaten. Broken limbs littered the undergrowth and the wind tossed the trees as if it wanted to bring them all down. Drips and drops were all around us but there were hardly any other noises. We saw few smallish birds, a huge tree fern, a fungus.
Then my eyes focused on a striking green bird – could it be? We watched as the bird flew for a few yards and perched on a mossy, plant-covered branch. I immediately thought, quetzal!, but wasn’t completely sure. We ran into a guide who confirmed it was female quetzal, and told us she’d seen the male farther back on the trail. We retraced our steps and spotted him a few minutes later, his long tail unmistakable. Later we heard this was the first time they’d been seen in three months! We watched until a blast of wind sent the pair flying out of sight deeper in the forest. (Pic is through the binos…not the best photo but proof we saw him.)
On the long, wet walk back to our simple hotel we saw a watercolor-perfect sunset. The day was capped off by a fantastic meal at Trio, a little cafe with the freshest, most imaginative dishes we’ve sampled yet, then a shower that was tolerably warm but ten degrees shy of “hot”.
Incredibly satisfied with our day, we crawled into bed, drifting off to sleep with the raucous sounds of the bar next door filtering into our dreams.
…when you agree not to exchange Christmas gifts, but still want to get your sweetheart a little holiday present.
…when you want to give something small, something practical and something you’ll both be able to enjoy.
…when you were pretty similar to begin with, and then you spend every day together for five straight months living in 160 square feet of space.
You give each other the exact same gift.
Before we embarked on this trip, our “real lives” were filled with dozens and dozens of people – colleagues, best pals, landlords, casual acquaintances, favorite waitresses, job contacts, regular baristas, you get the idea. Now it’s just us. Always. And though we like each other about as much as two people can, sometimes we don’t have anything new or witty to say to each other anymore. If you’ve been following us here, you know we’ve had an incredible few months filled with exploring, snapping photos, making great meals. What we haven’t done a lot of is chatting with other people. Because we tend to boondock on public land and spend our time out on hiking trails, we go days without running into anyone besides a camp host or park ranger. It’s been six weeks since we last saw any family or friends.
This is a long way of saying we’re itchy for conversation.