142. A New Year Begins

New Years GIF from New GIFs Monday 1/1- Being a holiday I had the day off but even so, we didn’t have any plans. Ramie decided early in the day that we should go for a Dusti ride and he wanted to take Skye with us. She has only been for one ride before, and we realized that the set up in the back seat wasn’t ideal for her, so Ramie has made a nice modification to hopefully make it easier for Skye to ride. Part of the problems that Skye was running into are that Dusti doesn't have easily removable rear seats, and that the floor is slippery plastic and has ribs, which makes it hard for Skye to stand on and hold herself in place. We brainstormed for a while and thought about what we could do to make the ride easier for her and came up with a few ideas. Ramie has found a way to make the flip up seats easier to remove and he cut a piece of plywood to fit the space where a person’s feet would go when you’re sitting on the seat, and finally we attached a rubber floor mat to the plywood

122. Back in Costa Rica


Saturday 6/10- Ooh boy the weather back here in Uvita is different than it was in MN! The humidity hit us like a ton of bricks yesterday when we got back to the Southern Zone, but we’re definitely not complaining after spending some very chilly (to us) days back up north.

Because we are who we are, we were up early like we always are. We started out the morning with some Costa Rican coffee and unpacking our suitcases that were so meticulously packed just a few days ago. It appeared that nothing got broken (but Ramie's chocolate did melt, fortunately it didn't make a mess) and only one of our suitcases had been opened by the luggage inspector people. That suitcase just happened to have a lot of electronic items & some extra spools of wire in it, so I can see how it may have looked suspicious on the x-ray machine. As we were taking things out of the suitcases we sorted it all out… house stuff, truck and Dusti stuff, clothes, food, etc… Some of it may not get “put away” right away, we will work on that later, right now the goal was to organize and put away the easy stuff, we’re not in any rush.

After everything was unpacked and sorted, the next order of business was yard work. It had started raining for the season shortly after we left, which meant that all of the plants that slowed their growth during the hot, dry season now woke up and started growing again. We had originally intended to have the landscaper who takes care of Adam & Katie’s property mow our yard about halfway through our trip, but we completely forgot to call and schedule him, so our yard looked like a hay field. Ramie ended up having to rake up the huge pile of grass since it was just way to much to decay naturally.

With the two “at home” chores done, now we had to go to the grocery store. I don’t typically like shopping for too much here in town, but we really needed some basics since we had used up everything before we left. Fresh veggies, eggs, bread, and a few other things were all that were on the list so it didn’t take too long. We also got Dusti back from Loren who had been babysitting her while we were gone (remember from the last blog post, Dusti is our ATV). Even though it was only our first day back, Ramie already got started putting on parts that we brought back for Dusti. Since we didn’t organize everything that we brought back down with us and much of Ramie’s stuff just got thrown into the dry room closet Ramie made it difficult for himself to get to most of his tools, but even with the disorganized chaos he was able to find everything he needed to install the new side mirrors so that they didn’t get broken in the shuffle. He started playing with a few other accessories that he brought back too, but didn’t dig into installing those yet.

We finished with all of must-do chores and still had enough time this afternoon to enjoy the pool for about an hour before it was time to start making dinner. Tomorrow will be back to work for me, so it was early to bed to beat just a little bit more of this exhaustion. Oh, did I mention, while we were back in MN I worked more hours per week than I used vacation time. One of these days I’ll take a true break from all of this work, but this week won’t be it.

Monday 6/12- With all of the new gizmos and gadgets that we brought back for Dusti, Ramie wanted to get to work right away with installing them. Here he’ll tell you more about what he did.

Yep, gotta deck out the new ride! Well, sort of. Some of what I’m doing is to make it look cool, but all of what I brought back were functional accessories. Did we need them? Nope, not really, but since I don't have a classic car to spend my money on this will be it for now. The first thing I did yesterday was installed the new side mirrors. When we bought it, it only came with one motorcycle mirror for the driver’s side on a cheap bracket, a minimum requirement to make it “street legal”. The bracket kept loosening up and it vibrated so bad you couldn't even see through it, hence why I bought a good set of mirrors, and now we even have one for each side.

It also had some very poorly wired and installed turn signals, switches, and horn. Before we went back to MN, I did some research and found a way to use the factory lights and convert them to a combination of headlights & turn signals. I brought back all of the electrical parts that I would need for that conversion, new switches to control the turn signal, extra lights, a new louder horn, a USB charging port, some supplies to make a new license plate mounting bracket, and tow hooks (for the off chance I get stuck and need to be pulled out). We don't do a lot of night driving here but the one time we were out, I decided that having some extra, bigger, brighter lights to see would be nice. Since this is a street legal vehicle (and much of our use will be driving on streets) I also have to run a front and rear license plate. The rear one was easy to mount for but the front there really is no good way to mount it so I had to get creative when I was back home and find something that would work.

Today I started taking her apart so I could properly install the after-market accessories that I’m putting on. I am meticulous about doing things correctly so in order to route all of the electrical wiring I had to take off body panels, remove all of the poor wiring that they installed for the after market “patches” to make it street legal, and start from scratch. I have no other crucial plans this week so this is what I will spend most of my time doing.

Wednesday 6/14 - Friday 6/16- One other thing that has started here in Costa Rica is turtle season. That means the beach walks to look for turtles & their nests are being scheduled. Last year I joined mid- to late- in the season and I just joined random walks whenever I could. It really messed with my sleep schedule so this year I asked for a scheduled day(s) instead. I volunteered for overnight/morning walks 2 days per week. Even though we just got back and are still trying to catch up on our rest, I was scheduled to walk at 6am on the days that I had volunteered for. Since I'm up early anyway I did my 2 walks this week. Only one nest was found this week and the other two people I walked with took care of that one.

I was reminded this week that we are not the only ones walking on the beach early in the morning. There was also the animal that left these tracks that wandered out of the water, part way up onto the beach, and then decided to turn around and go back in. Any guesses as to what it was?


The answer will be at the end of the blog

As mentioned, the season has just started and there will be plenty more nests to find.

For the rest of the day and every day this week while Dana was working I have been working on Dusti. I managed to get all of the electrical done and now I’m just trying to figure out how to get the bracket installed for the front license plate. I ended up buying a large hinge with a bolt pattern that is close enough to mount on my winch. The way I have to install it will hide the winch hook but with this set up, if I need to use it, I can flip the license plate up and use the winch. Kinda ingenious if I do say so myself. 😎

Saturday 6/17- We’ve been back home in Costa Rica for a week and we’re still not quite recovered from our trip to MN. We decided that in order to recharge our batteries we were going to go to the beach. A long beach walk, some sun, sand & salt water would hopefully do the trick for us! The long walk in the heat felt great to me (Ramie’s been doing it for his turtle walks already), but when we were done with that, we knew we needed to spend some time playing in the waves. We forgot to bring the boogie boards with us, but it was fun to just play in the waves as we recharged our magnesium levels. After the beach we went to visit Tracy for a bit (Geoff was still back in Canada) and to bring her the US goodies that we brought back for her.
 
Checking out the river to see what fish or animals he can spot in the mangroves on the other side
The tide is low so the river bed is free to explore for fun treasures
When we got home from the beach we discovered a visitor- a very large slug who left a "snail trail" on our screen door.
 
It was close to the size of your pointer finger
Ramie here again. Now that I’ve finished working on and installing all the fun stuff on Dusti and she is all put back together, Randal had a project that he needed help with. Early this week while out running an errand I had to stop at Randal’s shop and drop off the zip ties that he requested as payment for that Styrofoam we used in our roof (remember that blog post from before we went back to MN?) While I was catching up with him, he mentioned that the truck he just bought was broken. He asked me to follow him to the storage area, he opened the door, and on the table was a transmission. He asked if I knew anything about them, and it turned out that I actually do! I’ve rebuilt at least a dozen transmissions over the years and should be able to help him out. He said that he wouldn’t be able to work on it until the evenings after work but would let me know when he was going to work on it. Today was the first day I helped him, he also had a friend of his there who wanted to help and learn how to do this. We only ended up working on it for about 3 hours today before they decided to call it quits. We’ll schedule another time to work on it I guess!

Monday 6/19- I unexpectedly got the day off work today because of a new Federal holiday that was passed, but Ramie had his first day back at Alturas since we got back from our trip, so I had the morning to myself. Instead of working on the blog like I should have (you guys didn’t get a blog yesterday because we didn’t have one ready) I spent an hour coloring and listening to early 2000s music like a teenager 😉 (I guess going through my bedroom at my parents’ house a couple of weeks ago stirred up my old self). My colored pencils were literally moldy because it’s been over a year since I used them and the staples in my coloring book have rusted, but it felt nice to do something that was completely frivolous.
After what I thought was long enough, it was time to get to work on the blog. I have to get something ready for you guys to read on Sunday!!  
Wednesday 6/21- Remember back in April when Ramie got his crown replaced- well, tonight he encountered a slight problem! While he was eating some laffy taffy that he brought back from MN the whole crown came right off. It didn’t break or anything, just completely came off. I really hope this isn’t a “get what you pay for” situation since the cost was so much less than we would have paid back in the US!! Fortunately, he said it doesn’t hurt at all, he will just make sure not to chew on that side anymore, and he continued to eat the rest of his laffy taffy (yes, it’s the big ones, not the bite-size ones). I mean, it’s already off, he isn’t going to do any more damage to the crown! He would message the dentist in the morning & hope he could get in quickly and get this put back on. Fast forward to tomorrow, it turns out that the dentist is on vacation, and he will have to wait until Monday to get it put back on. Fortunately, it still doesn’t hurt, and he decided to use the next couple of days to eat the rest of the laffy taffy that came back to Costa Rica with us. We wouldn’t want this to happen again after he gets the crown put back on, and there’s no way he’s going to waste delicious laffy taffy!!

Thursday 6/22-
It was time to take Dusti out for her first ride after she got her new name & all of the new accessories and upgrades that Ramie added to her over the last 2 weeks. We went out in the morning, maybe around 9 or 10am.
It was beautiful, sunny, and warm when we left our house, but within about 15 minutes we went from the beautiful weather at sea level to being up the mountains, about 10 degrees cooler, and literally in the clouds.

It’s kind of amazing that once you get into these higher elevations it feels like you’re on a whole different planet. With the different climate there are different trees, flowers, and plants from what there is at sea level, some of which we had never seen before and looked to me like something out of the movie Avatar.


We started on a route we’ve done before but when we made it to the waterfall near the coffee plantation that we have been to a couple of times before, instead of turning around and going back, we just kept going. If you remember a few blog posts ago back in April we stopped at this waterfall and it was only trickling down. After the beginning of the green season started kicking in and we’ve been getting rain, there is much more water flowing now.
 
The lower pool has water again
 

Of course, since we had never been past the water fall before everything was new and interesting. We drove past a very intriguing building along the drive.
 
This was advertised as an internet cafe. Its out in the middle of nowhere and you rent the entire place. I'm kind of confused about what the true intent was.
As we continued our journey we could see a big waterfall off in the distance and we thought we knew about where we were at, so we pulled up the map and plotted a course past Nauyaca Waterfall, which is one of the public waterfalls that has tours, and then back towards Uvita.
Way off in the distance you can just make out the white vertical line. Those are the waterfalls, which were actually much closer than what appears in this picture.
Maps got us to the waterfall with no problem, but once we were past that and trying to get to the road that would bring us back to the highway things started getting very adventurous. Well, that’s what we have Dusti for, right? The “road” that it was bringing us down looked like it hadn’t seen a vehicle in a very long time.  
The road was just wide enough for Dusti
We continued to follow it until it brought us to a wire fence. At this point I thought we should turn around to find a different route, but Ramie insisted that we open the gate, go through, and keep on our way. As it turns out, we first ended up in a horse pen and then in the yard of a farm. Well, this wasn’t where we needed to go! At least there wasn’t anyone home that was wondering WTF we were doing in their fenced in yard! (Once again, I forgot to take photos- with my mind racing about the situation we're in, photos for you guys are the last thing on my mind!) At this point we backtracked for a while until we found a different road that was about 150 feet further down the road and around a corner so we didn't initially see it. This road ran perpendicular to the road less traveled (Ramie loves to take roads less traveled, sometimes there's a reason they aren't traveled much!!). Thankfully THIS is a much more well-traveled road that brought us to where we actually needed to go. That’s the thing about maps down here- it looks like it’s trying to take you where you want to go, but sometimes it gets it quite wrong! After this adventure we ended up making it home by early afternoon with plenty of time to chill by the pool for a couple of hours.

The answer to the photo of what crawled on the beach. It was a American Crocodile. They typically stay close to the rivers. For some reason this particular crocodile ventured about a mile away from the river and decided to explore more of the beach. We estimated it to be about 4-5' long. Thankfully it was long gone by the time we arrived. 
Photo courtesy of https://en.wikipedia.org
Pura Vida!

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