Thursday, May 9, 2013

The View From My Window

View from my window.I often like taking photographs out of my window. Today is one such day. The day seems to be gloomy, rainy and dark, but somehow I lately tend to like days like that. I think that is because I’ve been at a lot of amazing places during days like this — Sequoia National Park and Yosemite in California, Arental Volcano in Costa Rica. Instead of gloomy and dark I see fresh and serene.

Plus the scene itself is very colorful. New-born leaves of such pleasing green color. Bright yellow school buses freshly washed by rain. People going about their business and bright pavement reflecting everything around in the crystal clear puddles.

P.S. Technical details — single shot capture with 3 stop GND filter to keep the sky from blowing out.
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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Exploring Costa Rica

Our Toyoto RAV4 at Santa Rosa National Park.As I noted in my previous post, not being confined to the extents of our resort by virtue of having a rented car and going out to actually explore some nearby parts of Costa Rica was the most fun part of this vocation for me. We made two such excursions, since it’s still hard for Arosha to spend so much time sitting in the car.

Scenic view stop.Luckily for us two places that we picked out to visit turned out to be vastly different from each other. The whole ecosystem reminded me of our trip to Big Island of Hawaii. On one side of the island there is an eternal summer with very high temperatures and dry climate and only 60 miles away there is an non-stop rain with lush green forests. Costa Rica is very similar in this regard and we got to see both sides of the so-called coin here.

Santa Rosa National Park


Trails of Santa Rosa National Park.In the morning of our second full day in Costa Rica we got into our car, turned on our GPS and headed North in the direction of Santa Rosa National park — the closest destination we could find. Right across the road from Santa Rosa there was another park — Guanacaste National Park, but as we later found out the park was closed to visitors.

Arosha in a hole of a volcanic stone.Soon after we were at the park entrance. It was very easy to find and especially so with GPS’s assistance. At the entrance we were given a map and a nice explanation of what’s worth seeing in the park by a nice and very polite young guy with very good English. The entrance to the park was $10 per person.

Dry tropical forest of Santa Rosa.Soon after we came to appreciate the fact that we rented a 4×4, because there is no way we would’ve gotten through to any of our destinations by the so-called road on any other car. It was not paved and it was covered in rocks and in certain places with deep muddy puddles. The ride that was only 12 kilometers long took us not less than an hour.

Creepy tree at Santa Rosa.We did 3 hikes. One fairly long one — 1.6km each way and two shorter ones. The park was not at all what we expected Costa Rica to look like. It was a dry tropical forest and March being the peak of a dry season made the forest look pretty much dead. The temperature was in the 90s so the hikes themselves were quite exhausting, especially with the fact that Arosha expired very quickly and one of us had to carry him as he didn’t want to walk by himself anymore.

Santa Rosa hiking trail.We did get to see the canyons at the end of the hike and later on — our third hike — even got onto the shores of open Pacific Ocean. And even though it is called Pacific it was anything but. The waves were just humongous. The beach was deserted and nobody wanted to risk getting into that water, but it was beautiful.

Iguana.We also saw a whole lot of iguanas. Arosha even tried to catch one — and hit it on the head with the stick as he claims, but luckily for that iguana it was a lot faster than Arosha was. But now every time we mention an iguana he points out he wanted to hit it on the head with a stick, but was unable.

Open Pacific Ocean. Naranjo Beach.At the end of the day we were quite exhausted. The unpaved road back took a long while, and we were extremely pleased to finally get onto the highway and drive back to our hotel. The only thing is that for some reason our rental car came with no cruise control and it’s really hard to go long distances without it once you get used to such a convenience. My foot was ready to fall off by the time we got back.

Second Excursion Planning


Naranjo Beach.At this point we really wanted to see the Costa Rica that we imagined before the trip — lush green rain forests. However research proved to be very difficult. The information that comes up is often that on various tourist agency sites and lacks any kind of useful information for touring without a guide. There was a number of parks not too far from us, but from what we read they would either be very similar to Santa Rosa and all of them had long hikes that we would need to take to see anything. As we understood it was not really a great option for us with a 2 year old.

Unpaved road at Santa Rosa.One place that was often mentioned was Monteverde cloud forests. But from what I could find online it really is more of an area than a park and the same thing — long hikes. It took us several days to finally come up with a plan for our second, and last trip.

Arenal Volcano National Park


Green forests.A place that we were aware of before we got to Costa Rica was Arenal Volcano which in fact was located inside the national park. And even though we again couldn’t really find any good information we looked at the map of the route there and seeing as it goes along the coast of a large lake we figured it was worth a drive. We were hoping that maybe if we don’t even get to do a hike in the park we’ll catch some good views along the way. And right we were.

Lake Arenal.Remembering Hawaii I advised everyone to take sweaters because the temperature could change dramatically with higher elevation. And as once years ago during our trip to Yosemite Alena took the sweaters for us and my parents decided it was too hot for sweaters. And were they wrong or what. As we were gaining altitude we ended up literally driving into a cloud. The mist started to set down on the windows and when we got out on a first scenic view everyone completely froze.

Monkeys in the trees.The views were magnificent and they were getting better. The fog was hugging everything around, the forest was getting greener and trees were getting taller. Near one such tree we saw a stopped car and a pair of tourists looking up. From our experience in Yellowstone it was a sure sign of wildlife. We pulled over as well and saw a whole bunch of real wild capuchin monkeys sitting in the tree, eating some exotic fruit. We we already excited — even if we don’t get to see anything else the trip was already worth it.

Coatis.We kept driving and suddenly we were surrounded by funny furry animals with long noses — about 30 of them. They were all very wet because of the rain, and they were also very hungry. Sadly Arosha has finally decided to take a nap, which didn’t last long, but he did miss all the fun. As we later learned these animals were called coatis.

Rain forest.We drove a little while longer and the forest just became irresistibly photogenic. We passed a small one lane bridge and I pulled over onto the shoulder. We got out and went back to the bridge. This was probably the most beautiful thing I’ve seen during our trip. Bright brown water of a mountain river under the bridge was surrounded by lush green forest that was in turn covered by fog, or the cloud that we’ve never left after driving into it. Such a serene place.

Dad on the one lane bridge in the middle of a cloud forest.Right while we were walking around a car with some American tourists going in the opposite direction stopped and they informed us that a couple of miles down the road there are 30 lemurs running around. And sure enough, there was another large pack of “lemurs”.

Inside a cloud.Soon after we arrived to the entrance of Arenal Volcano National Park via a relatively short unpaved road. To our surprise the park was closed for some administrative restructuring, but they were letting anyone in anyhow. On the plus side the admission fee was not collected, but on the down side there were no maps or any explanation of what we were supposed to see. However we ran into a couple of tourists and an information board with a map and it turned out that park itself wasn’t very big and all the trails were pretty self explanatory.

More coatis.First we drove all the way down to an observation area and observed a volcano which was absolutely not visible because of the earlier mentioned fog. Not even a hint of it. So we decided to take a hike to the lava fields, which we actually have seen a lot of in Hawaii. It was also lightly raining, but better rain then 90 degree heat. I gave my sweater to my mom, my dad grabbed a towel and I was pretty well covered by my hiking hat.

Trail inside Arenal Volcano National Park.The trail itself was very different from the view that we saw on the bridge along the way. The path was surrounded mostly by tall bamboo sticks which look a lot like oversized grass. I was getting a feeling that I have been shrunk by some magical device and I was walking through grass which now appeared to be gigantic. Arosha was running around trying to find the biggest leaf of fern (paporotnik in Russian) and trying to pronounce this complicated word. He came up with a number of rather funny versions.

On a rainy trail.We kept walking and walking and kept getting wetter and wetter and we suddenly decided that we’ve seen what lava fields look like before and we can live without seeing them today and just turned around. It was still a fun hike, but we didn’t get to our destination. Also all around us were signs saying something along the lines of if you melt because of lava, it’s your own damn fault, and don’t blame us. Although we heard that Arenal was actually not active right now, so there was a little chance of that happening I guess.

Arosha and coatis.We got back into our car and started driving back with numerous stops along the way. We ran into a pack of “lemurs” again on the way back and Arosha got to see them. He liked them so much that he decided to generously donate an orange he was eating at the time. And then asked for some banana and did the same.

On the road.And then we got hungry and after driving and driving decided to stop at a strange German place of all things. Everyone ate some tasty goulash that goes well with cold rainy weather and I ate some bratwurst which tasted pretty well too. Although they do some really funny math when they give you a check, but we decided not to argue too much and pay.

Arenal Volcano National Park.That’s pretty much all the events from this day that I remember. We got back to the hotel after dark, so it was a full day road trip that Arosha handled very well. We’ve seen a lot of unusual things and some amazing beautify that Costa Rica’s nature has to offer.

Conclusion


Papa at Santa Rosa.So all in all, even though we only did two trips I was very glad that we rented a car. We got to see two very different sides of Costa Rica’s natural beauty and it made the vacation much more fun than it would’ve been otherwise. It was a worthy investment without a question. Thus concludes my reporting on yet another one of our great vacations.

Fog.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hurricane

Huge tree has fallen over the road. Poor car owner.Yesterday we had some of the craziest weather in a long while. First of all the was a lot of rain. But that wasn’t the bad part. The bad part was an incredibly strong wind.

My mom called me all panicked in the middle of the day. She was home alone and needed help. You see, they have wall mounted AC units. One of those got blown out by wind into the middle of the living room. I know it sounds crazy and speaks volumes of the installation job, but still. I almost killed myself lifting that thing back into its place. Blown out by wind?

Roots of the tree sticking out from the destroyed sidewalk.The waves where incredibly high in the canal along the Emmons avenue. And it’s an enclosed space. What was going on in the open ocean? Many thanks to Misha for picking us up and driving us back home from his own birthday party. And today I took some photos of a fallen tree on the nearby block.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rain, Rain, Rain

Rain, rain, rain.The start of this summer has been “amazing”. It’s been raining for weeks now and it just keeps going. Next week weather forecast looks even worse. This is really strange and really atypical for New York.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer Sunshower

Sunshower — Слепой ДождикIt was a nice, cool and sunny day. Than it decided to rain. Hard. However the sun didn’t disappear.

There is a term in Russian for it — “слепой дождик” which literally means “blind rain”. Turns out there is a term for it in English too — “sunshower”. I never heard it before. Also turns out there is a whole article on Wikipedia about it.
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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Random Ramblings

Get out of my way, I do not care where my brake pedal is.Yesterday we drove out to Floyd Bennett Field to give Alena some driving lessons. She’s got her Learner’s Permit this Monday.

Get out of my way, I do not know where my brake pedal is.Just two random photos from the series. “Get out of my way, I don’t care to know where my brake pedal is.” And “Get out of my way, I don’t know where my brake pedal is.”

Then it started raining. And it keeps taking breaks and then resuming again. And it keeps going still. I want to publish a photo, but there is already one posted that represents the mood just right.

New York for Obama t-shirt.And on a different topic we ordered a pair of Obama t-shirts with Alena. The site advised to get one size bigger then you normally get and while that works fine for me it was a mistake for Alena. We’ll see if it shrinks after a wash.

P.S. Yes, I know. Car wash. Must take car to.
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Friday, May 9, 2008

Rainy Day

Rainy spring day.Here’s another photograph from my favorite series it seems.

It’s been a rainy day, but unlike usually rainy days this one doesn’t seem too depressing. I guess it’s because all the trees are finally turning green and there is spring in the air after a long gray winter.

The photo is an HDR composed of 3 images. The bright white circles that are visible in some portions of the picture are drops of rain.
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Raining

Rainy NightIt’s been raining all evening yesterday, then it rained all night, and it’s still raining today. The streets look so unwelcoming today that you just want to stay inside and only glance at it from behind the closed windows covered in rain drops.

But then again, in order to appreciate the sun and blue skies you probably do need to have days like these.

The picture to the left is another HDR completed from a single shot taken in RAW format.
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