You are currently browsing the Trips and Fun! category.
Everyone knows it– the Tulum and Akumal areas of Mexico are a cave diver’s dream. I’ve wanted to go to dive in the cenotes since I first got intro certified back in 2007, but for whatever reason never managed the trip. For convenience, we stayed at Villas De Rosa, which is privately owned by Tony out of Utah, and has had a reputation for being a great place to base a cave trip out of. Villas De Rosa is located in Akumal, which is close to a lot of the caves. They also rent out doubles, side mount tanks and stage bottles for a fairly reasonable fee. While they don’t have a compressor on site, they get all their rental tanks filled nightly, and allow you to swap the tanks out during the day which is much faster than waiting for fills anyways.
Day 1 - Sistema Nohoch Nah Chich
Limited on time after landing, getting the rental car and checking in, we decided to do a cave which Phil had dove on a previous trip. Nohoch is one of the best known “tourist” caves in Mexico. It’s fairly far down a teeth grinding dirt road which will do a number on any rental car, but the road is well marked. Upon arriving, there’s diver only parking, and someone standing by to take your money for diving. The mainline is easily found, and since we were low on time, we just followed that until another small cenote. These caves were so much more decorated than anything I had ever seen before that I didn’t really mind.
Day 2 – Pet Cemetery and Gran Cenote
This morning we decided to head to Pet Cemetery, which was absolutely mind blowing. The entry fee is $250 pesos, so it’s on the expensive side, but “Oh my!” it was quite amazing! I think this is my favorite cave to date. We did the “Dark Side of the Moon” passage, and a little bit of the iHop passage. This cave is white, highly decorated, warm, and fresh water.
After the dive, we headed back to Villas De Rosa where we had the Pollo (chicken) tacos from the beach bar. These were the best tacos I’ve had, much healthier than what you have here in the US, relying heavily on cilantro for their flavor. With full tummys, we grabbed a fresh set of tanks and headed to Grand Cenote due to its close proximity and running out of time. The main line here is slightly harder to find than what you would encounter in the US, but if you look to the far left side of the cenote (from where you enter) and look out for the cave warning sign, you’ll have no issues finding it. This site supposedly has some amazing passage, but since we were on mainline because we didn’t have any specific directions, we didn’t see anything that spectacular compared to Pet Cemetery.
Day 3 – Chan Hol
John Sampson was kind enough to offer to guide us in Chan Hol, so we met up with him at 10am just south of Tulum. This cave is slightly darker than what we had been seeing, but was beautiful. The entrance fee is $150 pesos (around $15 USD at the time) and paid to the property owners. You head down a slope into a small pool, which has been dug out for easier entry. Upon entering, you head down a narrow slope which quickly opens into a large room and a T. We headed left as this was the easier passage, but the right side also connects back around we were told.
Photos Copyright Philip Craiger
Posted 3 months, 1 week ago. Add a comment
This weekend Kaitlin and decided to use a Groupon for the Travelodge Niagara Falls Bonaventure that a friend gave her before it expired. We hopped on a 2:05pm JetBlue flight out of MCO and arrived on time just 2 hours later into BUF International Airport, then picked up our rental car from Avis. This was my first time using Avis, who doesn’t charge an under 25 fee if you use a corporate rental code. We grabbed our rental car and within about 15 minutes of landing were heading out of the airport.
The drive to the border was quick, with light traffic the whole way and took around 30 minutes because of the traffic. Getting across was very fast (3-4 cars ahead of us) compared to what I was used to at airports, and we were asked the typical questions that are on your customs form, where are you going, why, how long, etc. After that, we headed to the hotel to check in, and then went to Mick & Angelo’s for dinner. Mick & Angelo’s was very reasonably priced and had decent food. We then headed towards the falls.
Tonight was the last night of the summer fireworks, and it was cold and rainy so attendance was less than stellar. Because of the rain, I couldn’t quite get the angle I wanted for the photos, so some of the fireworks images you’ll see are cut off.
Posted 8 months, 1 week ago. Add a comment
Finally, a vacation which doesn’t consist of two days of traveling and one day of sight seeing! I had two round trip buddy passes on Southwest, so I decided to use them to get out to Denver, Co, since JetBlue’s schedule from Orlando to Colorado isn’t the most convenient. We left on the Orlando to Knoxville flight, where there were a total of 21 people on the flight, the easiest non rev trip I’ve ever done! The Knoxville to Denver flight wasn’t much more booked, but at least full enough to justify the flight.
After a short wait for luggage we headed to Hertz and picked up our rental car, which was ready and only had 8 miles on it. We headed towards Estes Park, CO, which was less than a 2 hour drive, and with the new toll roads, very easy driving at that. Along the way we stopped at Pepper Jacks, a fast food diner that we don’t have in FL, but it was very good, especially for the price. Once we got off the interstate, we stopped at Walmart for some hiking snacks, bottled water and other misc items, and then headed to the Rocky Mountain Park Inn, which allowed us to check in early. While the property isn’t what you expect of a resort, the staff there was extremely helpful the entire time we’re there, and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again. That afternoon we did a quick drive through Rocky Mountain National Park and then headed back to the hotel to shower, grab dinner, and go to bed early so we could wake up for a morning hike.
Since we spent a few days in the park, I won’t list each day by day account, but we did the following trails, with Emerald Lake being my favorite by far.
- Chasm Falls
- Continental Divide
- Bear Lake
- Emerald Lake
- Bierstadt Lake
- Sprague Lake
After leaving Estes Park, we went back to Denver and met with Kaitlin’s Aunt who works at the Denver Zoo and gave us a tour, then we met up with her Uncle and went downtown for dinner and a tour of the downtown district. The following day we woke up early to go whitewater rafting, which was a ton of fun, and the rafting company we chose was excellent. The following day we went to Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, and Cave of the Winds. The lantern tour at Cave of the Winds was VERY cool!
This weekend we decided to head to Manuel Antonio National Park for our one year. We caught a morning flight Thursday morning out of Orlando direct on JetBlue and arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica around noon. Unfortunately we weren’t prepared for driving in Costa Rica, and spent nearly 5 hours getting to the La Colina hotel. The drive was beautiful, but when you’re on a dirt road and the sun is setting, you get nervous and it’s hard to enjoy it. On the way back, we had GPS working, thanks to this website’s free Garmin GPS format maps, and the drive took less than 2 hours. Upon arriving at the hotel, we unloaded bags and grabbed snacks at the poolside restaurant.
The following day we took the time to explore Manuel Antonio National Park. There are guides all around the park entrance, trying to sell walking tours. Unless you’re completely new to wildlife spotting I wouldn’t recommend paying anyone, as there are so many guides in the park that you can easily see what they’re directing people to, plus most of the larger wildlife is easy to spot on your own anyways. We had time to hike almost all the trails in around 4 hours, and ended up seeing monkeys, a distant sloth, and a toucan. The views are amazing, and the beaches aren’t all that crowded as long as you don’t go to the main beach where all the guides take everyone to.
Saturday morning we woke up early for ziplining, which Kaitlin had done and I had not. Tons of fun! We booked the later morning trip since the first one was full and had the entire trip to ourselves. The drive was over an hour, down a palm tree farm which consisted of driving through several small streams without a bridge, a “sweet baby Jesus” bridge which, as you can tell by the name, was a little scary. We spent the rest of the day finding a place for dinner with the best view and then packing for the trip home.
Posted 1 year, 2 months ago. Add a comment
This weekend Kaitlin and I decided to take the later flight from MCO (Orlando, FL) to BVT (Burlington, VT). The weather was incredibly bumpy, and I think this might have been the first jet I’ve been on where passengers have gotten sick. Upon arrival, we rented a car from Hertz and headed to the Holiday Inn Express, which had a great rate, was very clean, and the location was convenient. We dropped our stuff off and headed downtown, which was a neat experience, mostly college students.
The following day we woke up to SNOW! It wasn’t much, but being from Florida, seeing snow is still fun no matter how much it is. We had a quick snowball fight and then headed towards Stowe, VT, where we walked around the city, and then ate at The Blue Donkey, which was a very good local burger shack. After lunch, we headed over to Gentle Giants, not far away, for a sleigh ride. I don’t know if people from Vermont would care much for this, but since we’re new to snow and the winter scene, it was a ton of fun. The driver was very friendly and told us lots about the horses, local area, traditions, etc.
After this, we started heading home, stopping at a local Apple Mill, where they had delicious fresh Apple Cider. As a last stop for the day, we headed to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory tour, which was neat, and focused a lot on the history of the company, their support for fair wage, and how they develop new flavors.
Posted 1 year, 4 months ago. Add a comment
This weekend one of my coworkers who’s a private pilot instructor invited me to go flying with him in a single engine aircraft. We met up at Kissimmee Airport around 8am, where Brian showed me the facility as well as the plane and how to go over the check list before flight. He wanted to see a testing facility that Mercury had, and I wanted to see UCF from the air, so that was our flight plan. Total flight time was around 1hr 15minutes.
Posted 1 year, 6 months ago. Add a comment
Tonight we went to Gayord Palms for their annual ICE! exhibit in Orlando, FL with Kaitlin, my roommate, and his gf for . The experience starts with a short video clip about how they bring in ice sculpting artists from china who are passionate about their work, the massive refrigeration units, and numerous tons of ice to be sculpted. After that, there is a short video clip about Shrek, since the sculptures are based on the Shrek Christmas. After watching the videos, you get parkas, which are necessary as the ICE! exhibit is less than 20 degrees inside. I didn’t bring gloves, but I would highly recommend them.
Posted 1 year, 6 months ago. Add a comment
This weekend we decided to head to NYC. After my parents drove down to Orlando, we got them in the inflight simulator as well as flight simulator. The inflight simulator demonstrates the safety equipment on the Airbus A320, and does limited motion, such as a failed take off or a water landing. The flight simulator is a CAE flight simulator for the Airbus A320, which does full motion and graphics.
Because of the flight loads to JFK, I had to send my parents to New York’s JFK airport on an earlier flight, and then Kaitlin and I would follow on the 3pm flight to LGA, as flight loads were lower to that airport. Once we got there, we took the express bus to Penn Station and then walked to our hotel where my parents were waiting. Since it was late, we walked to grab dinner and my parents went back to the room. Kaitlin and I walked around times square and 5th Ave to take photos of all the amazing Christmas decorations this time of year.
The following morning we ate breakfast at a local cafe, and then my parents went to a museum while Kaitlin and I took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. The ferry wait was almost an hour, and it was freezing! We took lots of photos, and after we were each done, we met up for dinner and more walking around times square. This time we went to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. We wanted to ice skate, but the line was so long there was just no way that was going to happen.
Posted 1 year, 6 months ago. Add a comment
For Kaitlin’s Birthday we decided to head to Cancun, MX and spend the weekend at the Grand Parnassuss All Inclusive Resort and Spa. The resort was excellent, as was the service. The only complaint I can think of would be that the buffet food for lunch wasn’t amazing, and the mini golf was closed at an early hour.
The dinner each night was excellent, the beach was excellent, and we went later in the year so the weather was great for laying out on the beach!
Posted 1 year, 7 months ago. Add a comment
Today we (my parents, Kaitlin, and myself) had the chance to visit the Jacksonville Navy Base and watch the Blue Angels at the Jacksonville Air Show. It was very cold, so attendance was low, which made getting out easy, but also made it darn miserable to stand there taking photos!
Posted 1 year, 7 months ago. Add a comment