Roadtrip

The Black Hills of South Dakota

The Black Hills includes everything you’ve read so far, and because there’s so much there, I wanted to break it up into a few separate posts.  There is simply no way to explain everything in one.  For a place you might never have heard of, there sure is a lot to do!

Although our recent trip doesn’t quite match this post, I thought it might be fun to condense things into a shorter adventurer.  Some of the things in this post we did on the trip, and other items we didn’t have time for.

Let’s say you have 4 days (3 nights), and you fly into Rapid City.  Well, what should you do?

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National Parks, Monuments, and Places to Explore in the Black Hills

One of the great aspects of this area of the country is the land.  Luckily, much of it is protected in some form by the National Park system, and you’d regret not seeing at least some of it.  If you’re in the area, be sure to explore some of the great parks and monuments South Dakota has to offer.  If you have the time, you can even head over to Wyoming for Devil’s Tower or Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons farther west.

We didn’t stop at all of the places I’ll mention, but we managed to see most of them during our week-long trip!

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South Dakota: The Badlands

Returning from South Dakota, I got the typical response at work.  After a number of years with family out in the midwest, I’m used to the typical response:

“South Dakota??  Why’d you go there?”

The obvious answer for me, is that I’m visiting family.  But, if I had to pick two words to convince you to go…

Natural beauty.

The depth of the Black Hills landscape is really something to admire, and you have to be there in person to truly appreciate it.  Unique even for South Dakota’s varied landscape, Badlands National Park offers incredible scenery and a great look at some of the geological factors at play on earth.  This was one of the first places we explored on this trip!

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Costa Rica: Santa Elena

Our final stop in Costa Rica was two days in the Santa Elena and Monteverde area of the country.  Known for its rolling hills leading up to cloud forests, the beautiful Central American country continued to impress me with every bend in the road.

As I hinted in my post last week, the road to Santa Elena can be a bit rough.  Coming from La Fortuna, around the north shore of Lago Arenal, the road is paved for only about two thirds of the journey.  The other third?  A bumpy, rough ride that takes about the same amount of time as the first two thirds of the drive combine.  I couldn’t go above 20 kilometers/hour, because we were getting nervous that the wheels would shake right off the rental car!

Once we pulled into town, the rest of the day was smooth sailing.

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Costa Rica: La Fortuna

After 2 hours of winding mountain roads through the thickest fog I’ve ever seen, we made it to La Fortuna.  The town’s claim to fame is the nearby Parque Nacional Volcan Arenal.  Looming over town to the east, the volcano separates the town from the man-made Lago Arenal – an important source of hydroelectric and wind power for the country.

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Costa Rica: Sarchi & the Road to La Fortuna

Man plans and god laughs, right?

We had planned to visit the Poas Volcano on our first morning in Costa Rica.  Only half an hour north of our hotel in Alajuela, we were going to get up early, drive to the National Park, and hike to the summit.  On a clear day from the top of Poas, you’re able to see both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.  There’s not many places in the world you can see both of those oceans at once, and we were really looking forward to the hike!

As luck would have it, the park was shut down due to a recent eruption!  (Check out some of these articles for some information and neat pictures – 1, 23)  It was very cool to see the news stories, and talk with a few ticos (local Costa Ricans) about it, but we obviously couldn’t go hiking with the park closed.  The government had even ordered the closest portions of Alajuela province to evacuate!

With Poas out of the picture, we changed up our road trip, and drove northeast out of Alajuela!

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World Elite MasterCard Benefits: Wheels

So, what’s this World Elite logo on my credit card?

Well, I have two cards with the World Elite benefits, so I decided to find out.  Let’s start with some of the benefits that can you get you behind the wheel, or into a fresh set of wheels, depending on how you roll.

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Ice Castles, Lincoln NH

Alright with all these posts about credit cards, travel hacking, and finance, I was itching to do some real traveling.  (I have a week long trip visiting some family coming up so you’ll see those posts soon!)  In the meantime, I had to tide myself over with something…so we went on a little day trip over President’s Day weekend!  Work’s been keeping me awfully busy, and I needed to get out of the daily grind for a bit.  The ultimate destination was Lincoln, New Hampshire, to check out the Ice Castles there.  Not a long journey by any means, but I was itching to go on an adventure, and wanted to update the blog about it.

A short update to match the short trip:

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Peru: Peru Hop

One of the best decisions we made during our trip to Peru, was to ride with a bus company called Peru Hop.

Peru Hop operates a few different options along two routes in Southern Peru.  The first route is Lima-Cusco, and the second is the reverse, Cusco-Lima.  Your next option is where you want to stop along the way.  You can stop and spend a few weeks in one spot, or you can go straight through if you’re short on time.

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