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Re: Hawaii Master Thread: General Questions And Which Island To Visit?
If were going for 10 days to Maui and Kauai, which one would you recommend staying longer in?

There is no right answer to your question. Everyone has their own personal preference as to which islands they like better.  I suggest you read some of the trip reports to figure out what appeals to you.

September 11, 2017, 11:08:02 AM
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Re: Grand Hawaiian Holiday, by PBaruch (August 2017)
Since you now stayed in both GHK and SRP can you compare the 2?

GHK

Pros:

  • Prettier grounds (not to be confused with prettier views) to walk around in than at the St. Regis (in my humble opinion);
  • More kid friendly - GHK has a slide in the pool (no slide at the St. Regis) along with activities for kids such as feeding the fish (free fish food provided) and holding exotic birds while having your picture taken (free by using your own camera to take the pictures);
  • Free access for Globalists to the Club Room where you can get kosher breakfast foods such as bagels (frozen from Oahu Kosher), lox, cream cheese, butter, jams, various cereals, fruits, drinks such as water and soda.  Also, you can get free fruits and drinks throughout the day;
  • Free laundry facilities including free laundry detergent;
  • No resort fee when using points;
  • Free self parking;
  • More convenient location to certain attractions - such as to Capt. Andy's cruises on the Na Pali, Waimea Canyon, the airport, etc.
  • Nightly entertainment;
  • Bidet toilet.

Cons:

  • They will no longer store your food in their freezer;
  • Views definitely not as nice as the St. Regis;
  • Not as attentive to your needs, wants and desires as at the St. Regis;
  • The GHK doesn't feel as private and intimate as the St. Regis;
  • When we were there in winter the water by the beach was quite rough and wasn't suitable for swimming - not sure how it is in summer;
  • Not near Chabad.

St. Regis

Pros:

  • Gorgeous views of the mountains, bay and ocean from the hotel - and in particular from our room and lanai.  I very much enjoyed spending Shabbos at the St. Regis by hanging out on the lanai.  The view of the mountains, rainbows, water, and sunsets were nothing short of incredible.
  • Roving bands of nene (endangered Hawaiian goose) that come to visit - we really enjoyed interacting with and feeding the nene;
  • We have never before experienced the level of service that we received at the St. Regis.  They are very attentive to your needs and are more than happy to oblige.
  • Beach is usable for swimming - the water was fairly calm while we were there.
  • No problem with storing our food in their freezer.
  • They did not charge me a resort fee when paying with SPG points.
  • Lappert's is located nearby in Princeville - kosher ice cream, etc (although we totally missed out on that);
  • Conveniently located close to the Kalalau trail and awesome beaches such as Tunnels;
  • The St. Regis feels more private and intimate than the GHK - definitely less crowds;
  • 2 mile walk to Chabad on sidewalks.

Cons:

  • Not as kid friendly as the GHK - no slide in the pool;
  • No laundry facilities - if you want anything washed you have to pay to send it out;
  • No free parking option and you have to pay for valet parking (for those who care about this sort of thing);
  • No Club Room as at the GHK where people with Globalist status can get free kosher breakfast;
  • No ice machine for self use - if you want ice you call the front desk and they deliver it to your room.  We were fine with a small bucket of ice each time and never asked if they would fill a cooler but they are very accommodating so I'd have to assume they would have done it for us had we asked;
  • We had to take 3 separate elevators to get to the pool and adjacent beach which was annoying.  I suppose this is dependent on where your room is located.

The general consensus is that we prefer the St. Regis over the GHK and hope to return there in the future.

September 12, 2017, 08:30:13 PM
1
Re: Maui Master Thread Thanks to everyone who offered advice.  I decided to book the Grand Wailea (380k HH for 5 nights including 5th night free) based upon the recommendations of several DDF folks.  I'm sure the Marriott is good and fine but I think the Grand Wailea is probably a nicer hotel.
November 28, 2017, 01:47:00 PM
1
Pura Vida in Costa Rica, by PBaruch (January 2018) Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet so naturally it was on my list of places to visit.  I mentioned it to DW several years ago but she wasn't interested, so it went on the back burner.  However, my friend's wife, who had dreamed of visiting Costa Rica for many years prodded us both into taking a trip together.  Neither of our families was disappointed by the decision to visit Costa Rica.  Some of you might wonder why we didn't go to Hawaii.  There were two reasons for this.  First, we were limited to only a week due to my kid's school schedule (older daughter had started high school, and they're pretty strict about taking extra time off), which I feel is not enough time to go to Hawaii from the east coast.  Second, we wanted to visit a new place.

Part I - Planning and Preparation

I used 5 x 25k UR and 4 x 26k UR through Chase Travel on UA for direct flights between EWR to SJO.  I looked into booking with miles on UA or JetBlue, but both options added hundreds of dollars in taxes and fees.  Thus, when I found availability for 25k-26k UR with no added charges and fees,  I grabbed it.  I booked in Y as there was no J lie flat availability and the flight was relatively short at about 5 hours.

For a rental car, we decided to rent a large 4x4 SUV, a Mitsubishi Montero, from Sixt.  I read good reviews about Sixt online, as opposed to some of the other car rental chains. 

We then started researching online to ascertain if we could bring in our own kosher food.  What we found was confusing.  Some folks posted that they had no issues bringing in their own food while others had some or all of their food confiscated.  One of my DDF friends put me in touch with a client of his, Levi, who lives in Costa Rica and imports kosher food into Costa Rica.  He suggested not bringing in too much food and ordering the rest from Super Kosher Costa Rica.  We received an email menu from them (containing groceries, frozen food, and prepared meals) and placed a large order, to be delivered on our arrival.  My friend's family, however, have a special diet so they brought much of their own food from home.  They also had a letter from their doctor translated into Spanish.

The proposed itinerary in Costa Rica was also a difficult decision.  There are so many nice national parks and reserves to visit and we only had one week.  Another friend, who had been to Costa Rica, suggested we visit Manuel Antonio National Park (located south of San Jose).  Although she had never been there, she met several folks that went and felt that she had missed out by not going there.  For the second part of our trip, DW wanted to visit Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve while my friend's wife wanted to go elsewhere.  We decided to split up for the second part of our trip and would meet up the night before our departure in the Sheraton near the airport.

We decided to rent a four bedroom/four bathroom villa through Airbnb for the first four nights of our stay in Quepos, a town near Manuel Antonio National Park (paid for with Barclay Arrival credits).  For the next two nights, we booked a deluxe three bedroom/three bathroom cottage at Cabanos Los Pinos in Monteverde (paid for in cash).   For the last night, we booked a room at the Sheraton near the airport in San Jose (4k SPG per night with no added charges or fees).

Part II - Flight to SJO

EWR - SJO by P Bryan, on Flickr

We took an early morning flight to SJO and arrived in the early afternoon.  By the time we packed out of the airplane, the passport control line was quite long.  Luckily for us, Ticos (native Costa Ricans) love children and  we were ushered through passport control without having to wait on the long general line.  We picked up our bags, cleared customs in no time (without them opening any of our bags), and walked to the airport exit, which was populated by a mix of locals waiting for loved ones, folks trying to sell tours, and grifters looking to take advantage of clueless gringos.  Almost immediately, a Tico approached me and asked where I was headed.  He wore a uniform of sorts and looked as if he worked at the airport in some capacity so I told him we were waiting to be picked up by Sixt.  He accompanied us to the pickup area and called Sixt to let them know we were waiting. 

Meanwhile, our friends were nowhere to be seen.  Ten minutes later they come out, explaining how the customs official went through all of their food, and was on the verge of throwing some in the trash (even with the medical letter).  Luckily, they talked him out of it.

Shortly after, the Sixt Shuttle arrived and we were taken to their location a mile from the airport.  Once we arrived, we were told that they only had one of the two Mitsubishi Montero 4x4 vehicles that we reserved because the other had been in an accident.  We were given a choice - one of us could upgrade to a BMW X5 at no added cost or get a special rate on a smaller Hyundai Tuscon 4x4.  Since we were five and our friend's family was four, they chose to save some money and took the smaller Hyundai Tuscon.  We stuck with the Mitsubishi Montero since it had high ground clearance and was a true 4x4.  Neither of us wanted the BMW X5 since it was not 4WD and, in addition, because we didn't want to attract unwanted attention by driving a fancy car in Costa Rica.

Mitsubishi Montero, San Jose, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally on our way.  Our first stop was at the Walmart near the airport.

Walmart, San Jose, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

What immediately struck us about this Walmart was that it was gated and had a guard who constantly patrolled the parking lot on a scooter.  While I waited in the Montero with our luggage and my little one, DW and my older kids went shopping.  DW says that Walmart has an entirely different feel in Costa Rica than it does in the United States.  Although we had a list of kosher products (as most products there do not have a kosher certification printed on the label), it was in Spanish and difficult for us to understand.  As a result, it was quite difficult for us to navigate what products were kosher.

We also arranged for the food that we ordered from Super Kosher Costa Rica to be delivered to us at Walmart.  While we were at the airport, I received a telephone call from Christoph at Super Kosher Costa Rica asking us what time we wanted our kosher food delivered.  When we arrived at Walmart, I tried calling Christoph but he had left and no one else at Super Kosher Costa Rica spoke English.  I messaged Levi on Whatsapp and sent him a picture of our Montero showing where it was parked in the Walmart parking lot.  Levi then communicated with the folks at Super Kosher Costa Rica and not too long after a car arrived with our food delivery.

Part III - Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park

After DW was done shopping and our food was delivered, we were off to Quepos, a town near Manuel Antonio National Park, where we would spend our first four nights. 

San Jose to Quepos by P Bryan, on Flickr

Before we left for the drive to Quepos, my friend gave me four Costa Rican 1 Mil bills and made a joke - now you're a millionaire.  I had no clue what they were worth but he said take them as you will need to pay tolls along the way to Quepos (I was planning to pay in dollars).  When we paid our first toll, I handed one of the 1 Mil bills to the toll collector and got back some coins.  DW then asked - wait, didn't that bill say it was 1 million, which we calculated to be worth about $1700 USD.  I couldn't imagine my friend gave me a bill worth $1700 USD but the doubt of potentially paying $1700 USD for a 50 cent toll gave me some concern to say the least.  To add to the confusion, the other three bills were slightly different.  DW decided to call a Costa Rican help line, and I'm sure the person on the other end was quite amused by our tale.  Of course we didn't pay with a 1 million Colones bill.  Rather, it was a 1000 Colones bill - mil is the Spanish word for thousand.

We arrived in Quepos after dark and met the proprietor of our Airbnb, Mandel, by the Marina Pez Vella.  We then followed Mandel to the villa where we would spend the next four nights.  From the outside, the villa looked like a compound from Narcos - high walls topped with barbed wire.  The inside, however, was gorgeous.   The villa was comprised of a swimming pool flanked by two buildings.  The main building, located directly behind the swimming pool contained the kitchen, dining room, living room and one bedroom and bathroom.  The second building, connected by an elevated covered walkway (you could also walk between the two buildings at ground level) had three floors, each with a bedroom and bathroom.  There was also a laundry room and gym.

Information about this Airbnb rental can be found here:

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/14804611

Photographs of the villa:

Our rented villa in Quepos, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Parking on the road outside the villa at an extreme angle:

Quepos, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After parking at this angle for the first time, my 10 year old opened the car door and promptly fell out.  Luckily she wasn't seriously hurt and we were very careful so this wouldn't happen again.  The villa itself also had multiple safety concerns including large step offs without handrails and gates.  It definitely wouldn't pass muster in the United States.

Red-crowned Woodpecker viewed from the porch:

Red -crowned Woodpecker (DSC_0213) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Agouti viewed from the porch:

Agouti, Quepos, Costa Rica (DSC_0233) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Before we left, DW had read online that Costa Rican toilets cannot accept any sort of sanitary products such as toilet paper.  That's what that little blue wastebasket next to the toilet is for:

MVIMG_20180127_213801 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Thanks to @SomethingFishy and that damn toucan picture he took in Panama (he didn't even realize he had photographed a toucan), DW insisted that we hire a guide for each Costa Rican National Park that we visit.  While looking for a guide for Manuel Antonio, Fodors Guidebook recommended Johan Chavez.  I emailed Johan but was told he was unavailable.  Johan, however, recommended Oscar Herrera and after several emails we were set.  We arranged to meet Oscar at 7:30 a.m. at the Joseth Supermarket right outside the entrance to Manuel Antonio.  The parking fee was 6-8 USD per car for the day.  After parking our cars, we purchased drinks at the supermarket and were off for a tour of Manuel Antonio. 

Information about Oscar Herrera can be found here:

www.birdingspotsmn.com

Information about Manuel Antonio National Park can be found here:

https://manuelantoniopark.com/

Oscar was clearly enthusiastic about seeing various forms of wildlife, including bats, lizards, and frogs.  He'd say - look up at that tree - there is a frog there!  I said, what frog?  He responded, you see that dot on the leaf - that is a frog!  Then he'd say, look at that lizard!  You don't often get to see that species of lizard. 

DSC_0011 by P Bryan, on Flickr

As for myself, I couldn't care less about some lizard or frog dot on a leaf.  I wanted to see monkeys, toucans, macaws and other more interesting wildlife.  Suffice it to say, we didn't see much interesting wildlife on the tour except for some howler monkeys and sloths (two-toed and three-toed), located quite high up in the trees.

Howler Monkey (DSC_0029) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The tour with Oscar ended at the beach at Manuel Antonio, and this is where the action started. 

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

We saw a family of racoons trying to steal food from tourists at the beach, including from my friend's wife.

Manuel Antonio NP, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Then came the monkeys - lots of Capuchin Monkeys who were quite successful at stealing food from the tourists.  I saw a monkey steal food from the pants pocket of one tourist and another monkey steal a bag of food from some tourists sitting on the sand.  I was also told that monkeys would steal anything they could get their hands on, including cameras since they didn't know what contained food.  However, if they got their hands on a camera and realized it wasn't food, they would then throw it to the ground from whatever tree they had climbed.

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capuchin Monkey (DSC_0053) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capuchin Monkey (DSC_0068) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capuchin Monkey (DSC_0075) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capuchin Monkey, Manuel Antonio NP, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

My little one was completely enamored with the monkeys and was chasing after them.  He ran under the tree where one particular monkey was sitting just a few feet out of reach and kept saying "come, come" with outstretched hands. 

Manuel Antonio NP, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sloth viewed from the beach:

Sloth (DSC_0089) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Playing at the beach:

Manuel Antonio NP, Costa Rica (DSC_0046) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Manuel Antonio NP, Costa Rica (DSC_0044) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Land Crab viewed on the way back from the beach:

Land Crab (DSC_0096) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After spending some time at the beach, we headed back to the villa in Quepos.  My friend's family wanted to visit the Rainmaker Conservation Project but DW didn't think the kids were up for another two hour hike.  Also, the kids wanted to go swimming in the pool.  I, however, decided to join my friend's family at Rainmaker hoping to see some wildlife.  Information about Rainmaker can be found here:

http://www.rainmakercostarica.org

The road to Rainmaker was quite bad and the entry to the parking lot was very steep:

Rainmaker Conservation Project by P Bryan, on Flickr

Unfortunately we didn't see any wildlife but hiking the jungle trails and on the elevated suspension bridges was awesome.

MVIMG_20180125_152805 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rainmaker Conservation Project, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rainmaker Conservation Project, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rainmaker Conservation Project, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Costa Rican Cows on the way back to the villa:

Costa Rican Cows by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the following day, we decided to take a Monkey Mangrove Boat Tour by Damas Island.  Information about this tour can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/Monkey-Mangrove-Tour-Chino-523572434474610/

Photographs taken during the tour:

Monkey Mangrove Boat Tour, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monkey Mangrove Tour by Damas Island, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monkey Mangrove Boat Tour (DSC_0109) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monkey Mangrove Boat Tour (DSC_0121) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monkey Mangrove Boat Tour (DSC_0136) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capuchin Monkey visiting our boat - peeking in from the roof:

Capuchin Monkey (DSC_0128) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Holding a mangrove seed:

Holding a Mangrove seed (DSC_0132) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Various birds:

DSC_0148 by P Bryan, on Flickr

King Fisher (DSC_0161) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Basilisk Lizard:

Basilisk Lizard (DSC_0183) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After the Monkey Mangrove boat tour, we returned to our villa and swam in the pool.  We then prepared for Shabbos.  About an hour before Shabbos, I drove with my 10 year old to the farmers market by the Marina Pez Vella.  Once we arrived at the marina, I found a parking spot directly across the street from the farmers market.  While attempting to park, a Tico came over and began giving me unwanted guidance to maneuver the Montero into the spot.  Once I got out of the car, he approached me and said he would watch the Montero for me.  We then went to the farmers market and were completely overwhelmed by the variety of produce being hawked there.  Since we felt rushed due to the late hour, I only bought a pineapple and some mandarins.  When we got back to the Montero, lo and behold the Tico was right there, watching our car like a hawk.  He was literally standing in front of the Montero and staring at it.  The Tico even stopped traffic by jumping into the middle of the road to let us cross the street safely (pedestrians generally do not have the right of way).  I figured these services were worth a mil so I gave the poor guy a 1 Mil Colones note.

Part IV  - Shabbos and Minyan with the Monkeys

We davened and ate together on Friday night.  After the meal, my friend and I enjoyed Costa Rican local beer, Imperial, while relaxing by the pool and gazing at the stars.  Afterwards, we all went to bed early as we were quite tired. 

On Shabbos morning, I decided to daven on one of the porches overlooking a garden of trees and the ocean in the background.  As I was finishing up davening, I heard rustling in the trees adjacent to the house.  DW had seen a troop of Capuchin monkeys jumping from tree to tree in that area the previous day, so I was on the lookout for the monkeys as well.  No sooner had I heard the rustling I spotted the monkeys.  "Monkeys, monkeys," I shouted.  Everyone came running.  My friend decided to cut up a banana and he stuck a piece of banana on a fork.  One monkey in particular began looking very intently at the banana.  Soon we had an entire troop of monkeys all over the villa.  The kids had an amazing time feeding and interacting with the monkeys.  Later that afternoon, we saw a pair of scarlet macaws flying near the villa and a multitude of other birds in the trees adjacent to the villa.  We also saw agouti foraging in the gardens below.

Part V - Monteverde

On Sunday, we parted ways with my friend's family and drove to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve north of San Jose.  My little guy thought it was called Monkeyverde. 

Quepos to Monteverde by P Bryan, on Flickr

The drive up on Route 606 was absolutely horrendous and bone jarring.  It makes any road in Hawaii including the Road to Hana on Maui and the road to Polihale Beach in Kauai look like a walk in the park (I will never complain about any roads in Hawaii again).  Route 606 was unpaved with large potholes and uneven surfaces through tight mountain passes with multiple one lane bridges.  Further, the road was closed for 8 hours during the day for construction, but luckily we arrived right before a brief window opened to allow traffic through.  It was a good thing that we had the Montero.  Although I never had to engage 4WD, another car without high ground clearance would not have been able to make it through unscathed on this road.  Also, since the Montero was diesel powered it had great low end pulling power up the mountain roads.  Although we did see regular cars navigating this road, I cannot imagine that they fared well.  Supposedly they are working to pave this road but who knows when it will be completed.

We decided to stay at Cabanos Los Pinos due to the recommendation by one of the guidebooks and from reading online reviews.  We reserved a deluxe cabin containing three bedrooms and three bathrooms.  Information about Cabanos Los Pinos can be found here:

http://www.lospinos.net/

Photographs of our cabin:

Los Pinos Cabanes, Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Los Pinos Cabanas, Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Relaxing in the hammock on the porch:

Relaxing in Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After settling into the cabin, we decided to visit the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, information about which can be found here:

http://www.monteverdebutterflygarden.com/index.html

Photographs taken at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens:

Monteverde Butterfly Gardens (DSC_0259) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Butterfly Gardens (DSC_0272) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Butterfly Gardens (DSC_0302) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Butterfly Garden, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Butterfly Garden (DSC_0332) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Leafcutter ants at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens:

Leafcutter Ants (DSC_0342) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After visiting the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, we returned to our hotel and went to bed early in anticipation of our visit to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.  That night, we heard howling winds outside, which kept us awake.  I couldn't imagine what was going on.  Back home, it would be considered a wind storm and I was afraid we would have to cancel our tour of Monteverde on the following day.  I awoke early the following morning and went to the hotel office to inquire if we had to cancel the tour due to the high winds.  I was told, however, that high winds are quite normal in Monteverde in the winter and that the reserve was well sheltered so there was no need to cancel our tour. 

While getting ready to leave the hotel, we heard a scream from my 14 year old that there was a scorpion in her bedroom.  I ran into her bedroom and lo and behold there was a large black scorpion at the foot of her bed.  I swiped the thing with my shoe, which sent yellow goo flying everywhere.  And off we went to Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Information about the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve can be found here:

http://www.reservamonteverde.com/

We arranged for a guide through the hotel for a tour beginning at 7:00 a.m., when the park opened.  For this particular park, a guide was indispensable.  We would definitely have missed out on some incredible wildlife without the guide.  We used Elberth Fuentes from Three Brothers Tours.  Information about Three Brothers Tours can be found here:

www.threebrotherstours.com

Photographs taken at Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve...

Hummingbird in a nest inside the jungle:

DSC_0356 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bromeliads growing on trees in the jungle canopy:

Bromeliads (Air Plants) (DSC_0390) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The endangered Resplendent Quetzal:

Quetzal (DSC_0440) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (DSC_0566) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After our tour, we visited the Hummingbird Garden located next to the park entrance.  The owners of the garden placed a multitude of hummingbird feeders in this area, which attracts a great many hummingbirds:

Hummingbird (DSC_0484) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Notice how the coloration changes with the light:

 Hummingbird (DSC_0516) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hummingbird (DSC_0535) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hummingbird Gallery, Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After visiting the Hummingbird Garden, we returned to the hotel while trying to decide where to visit next.  DW wasn't interested in visiting a coffee farm (which cost $30 pp!) as we have done that many times in Hawaii (the tours are free in Hawaii).  We ultimately decided to visit the Monteverde Sky Tram, information about which can be found here:

https://skyadventures.travel/skytram/

This tour takes you on a tram car to the top of a mountain through the clouds.  After reaching the top of the mountain, we were able to walk and hike around for a while. 

Photographs from the Monteverde Sky Tram tour:

Monteverde Sky Tram (DSC_0595) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Sky Tram Tour (DSC_0601) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Monteverde Sky Tram Tour (DSC_0602) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Cloud Forest, Monteverde, Costa Rica (DSC_0617) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We saw a Coati in the parking lot:

Coati, Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Coati, Monteverde, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After the Sky Tram Tour, we returned to the hotel, packed up, and went to bed early.  However, once again we couldn't sleep.  We kept hearing howling winds and pouring rain on the tin roof of the cottage.  Unused to these noises, we had difficulty sleeping.  Nevertheless, we made sure to get up early to avoid the road closures (the road was closed from 7:00 - 10:00 a.m.) and to not to waste the day.

Part VI - Carara National Park

On the following day, which was to be our last full day in Costa Rica, we decided to visit Carara National Park on the drive back to San Jose.

Monteverde to Carara by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the way to Carara, we saw a number of large black birds that appeared to be vultures sitting on the highway in the opposite direction.  As we drove closer, a number of vehicles including some large trucks approached the birds, causing them to fly over the highway and into our lane of travel.  One of these large birds struck our Montero above the windshield and left a small dent in the roof.  We were very fortunate that the bird did not crash through the windshield.  Although spooked by the collision with the bird, we continued on our way to Carara National Park.

Carara is another park where we would recommend a guide, as you are likely to miss the wildlife on your own.  We hired a guide at the entrance to the park.  Another guide approached me, saying "Shalom" and introducing himself as Yochanan.  Also at the entrance, iguanas, which would scurry into their holes when approached.  At this park, we saw scarlet macaws, spider monkeys, and toucans.

Photographs taken at Carara National Park:

Carara National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Carara National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Blue Crowned Motmot:

Blue Crowned Motmot (DSC_0622) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Costa Rican wild turkeys:

Costa Rican Wild Turkey, Carara NP, Costa Rica (DSC_0665) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Spider Monkeys, which swing through the jungle by their tail:

Spider Monkeys (DSC_0668) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Spider Monkey (DSC_0659) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Scarlet Macaws:

Scarlet Macaw (DSC_0760) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Scarlet Macaw, Carara NP, Costa Rica (DSC_0771) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Looking through the scope:

Carara National Park, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

Toucan picture taken by cellphone through a scope:

Toucan, Carara NP, Costa Rica by P Bryan, on Flickr

After visiting Carara National Park, we drove to the nearby bridge over the Tarcoles River, to view the crocodiles:

Crocodiles (DSC_0792) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crocodile (DSC_0798) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crocodile (DSC_0802) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part VII - San Jose and the Trip Home

After viewing the crocodiles, we made our way back to San Jose.

Carara National Park to San Jose by P Bryan, on Flickr

We arrived at the Sheraton in San Jose at around 3:00 p.m.  I went up to the front desk to check in and after hearing that we were a party of five, the front desk employee insisted that I take a second room at a reduced rate of $140 USD plus tax.  I tried explaining that I had two other rooms (reserved for my friend's family under my SPG account) and that we could put one of my kids in one of those rooms.  However, this particular employee either couldn't understand what I was saying or she simply didn't care.  After arguing with her for about 15 minutes, another employee came over and let me "put" one of my kids into my friend's room.  Aside from the problems with check in, the hotel was quite nice.  The rooms were decently sized, modern, and very clean.  Also, there was a full complimentary breakfast where we were able to get uncut fruit and awesome Costa Rican coffee.  The hotel had free parking and employed an armed guard to watch the perimeter of the hotel. 

The following morning we checked out of the Sheraton, drove to Sixt to return the Montero, and were shuttled to the airport for our flight home.  Despite only having 4.5 days to explore Costa Rica (not including Shabbos and the two travel days), we had a wonderful time.  We hope to return to Costa Rica in the future to visit some of the other national parks that we didn't have time to see on this trip.

Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed this trip report.

Pura Vida!
 

February 06, 2018, 10:04:40 PM
4
Alaskan Family Adventures, by PBaruch (June 2018) We had last been to Alaska years ago, when we visited Katmai National Park and Glacier Bay National Park.  Ever since, DW had been yearning to go back and as a present for her recent milestone birthday we booked a return trip.  We decided to visit Kenai Fjords National Park and Denali National Park, with visits to other areas/attractions in between.  Special thanks to Something Fishy for help in planning this trip.

Part 1 - Planning and Preparation

We booked tickets on Alaska Airlines, which made the most sense for me as opposed to booking with other points or miles. I found availability at 50k pp rt (20/30) so for 250k total Alaska miles were we set.  Other options would have required more miles and would not have been worthwhile.  50k pp isn't a great deal but it was the best I could find on rather short notice.  Also, due to my Alaska MVP Gold 75k status, we received some nice perks and upgrades, which are discussed below.

For accommodation and transportation, we rented a 32 foot 7 inch long Thor Four Winds motorhome from Great Alaskan Holidays as we wanted a larger size motorhome for this trip.  This particular motorhome has 6 separate beds, although we only needed 4.  Information about Great Alaskan Holidays can be found here:

https://www.greatalaskanholidays.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw1NzZBRCoARIsAIaMwuvcWK4dLoVODILsXmXH5kf07MyIpvlDtXjsNn8M9Kx8htEwoL6MlW4aAmu4EALw_wcB

Here is the floor plan for the Thor Four Winds 30D motorhome we rented:

https://www.greatalaskanholidays.com/alaska-rv-rentals/floorplans-photo-tours/

If anyone reading this decides to rent a motorhome from Great Alaskan Holidays, please send me a PM as they have a referral system and it would help us out quite a bit for a future planned rental.

Our itinerary was as follows:

Day 1 - Flight into Anchorage, pick up the motorhome, and drive to Seward with overnight at the Seward Waterfront Campground

Day 2 - Northwestern Fjord Cruise to Kenai Fjords National Park with second overnight at the Seward Waterfront Campground

Day 3 - Drive from Seward to Crow Creek Gold Mine outside Anchorage, Gold Panning at Crow Creek Gold Mine, then drive to Marriott near Chabad in Anchorage

Day 4 - Shabbos in Anchorage

Day 5 - Drive from Anchorage to Talkeetna, flightseeing and glacier landing flight with Talkeetna Air Taxi, then drive to Denali National Park with overnight at the Savage River Campground inside Denali NP

Day 6 - Bus trip to Wonder Lake in Denali National Park with overnight at the Wonder Lake Campground

Day 7 - Return bus trip from Wonder Lake to Denali National Park entrance with overnight at Savage River Campground inside Denali National Park

Day 8 - Drive from Denali National Park to Palmer, with a visit to the Musk Ox Farm and the Reindeer Farm, overnight at Big Bear Campground in Palmer

Day 9 - Return motorhome and flight home

Part 2 - Flight to Anchorage

At JFK, we visited the Alaska Lounge.  One of my friends gave me 4 lounge passes and even though we were 5, they let my little one in for free. 

Alaska Lounge JFK by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_0824 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Cappuccino at Alaska Lounge JFK by P Bryan, on Flickr

After relaxing in the lounge, we were off for our flight.

JFK-SEA-ANC by P Bryan, on Flickr

As we were getting ready to settle into our seats for the first flight to Seattle (there was no direct from the New York area to Alaska), a flight attendant came over and offered us 2 upgrades to first class (due to my MVP Gold 75k status).  I didn't bother booking first class seats since they aren't lie flat but we gladly accepted the 2 upgrades.  I took one upgrade and my oldest took the other.  DW couldn't take the second upgrade because someone had to stay with my little guy.  Unfortunately, we didn't score any upgrades for the second flight from Seattle to Anchorage. 

Part 3 - Anchorage to Seward

Once we arrived at Anchorage, we called Great Alaskan Holidays for pickup by their free shuttle. Our orientation was scheduled for 6:00 pm and since we were early they weren't "ready" for us.  After about 30 minutes, we were ushered into a room to view an orientation video, followed by signing the necessary paperwork.  We were then given the keys to our motorhome and began the drive to Seward, Alaska.

Anchorage to Seward by P Bryan, on Flickr

We arrived in Seward after 11:00 p.m. and found a parking spot at the Seward Waterfront Campground.  Since we arrived so late in the day, all of the choice spots adjacent to the water were taken so we took a spot a bit farther away.  Seward Waterfront does not accept reservations (except for groups) so it is first come first serve.  We extended the two slides and I connected the motorhome to shore power but was too tired to hook up to the city water connection.  After our long day of travel, we were all exhausted and went to bed.

Photographs of the Seward Waterfront Campground:

Seward Waterfront Campground (DSC_0842) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Our motorhome was parked one row away from the water:

Seward Waterfront Campground (DSC_0848) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Old school bus converted into a motorhome:

Old school bus converted into a motorhome, Seward Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 4 - Kenai Fjords Cruise

There are two large companies that offer cruises in Kenai Fjords National Park - Major Marine Tours and Kenai Fjords Tours.  There are other small boat options as well.  We chose Kenai Fjords Tours because they were slightly cheaper than Major Marine and offered a slightly longer tour.  From the reviews I read online, it appears that Major Marine has better food, which didn't matter to us anyway.  We booked online in advance and received a 10% discount on our tour.  Information about Kenai Fjords Tours can be found here:

https://www.alaskacollection.com/day-tours/kenai-fjords-tours/kenai-fjords-national-park-tour/

We booked the Northwestern Fjord Tour, which is the longest tour they offer, information about which can be found here:

https://www.alaskacollection.com/day-tours/kenai-fjords-tours/northwestern-fjord-tour/

Travel Deep Into Kenai Fjords With the Northwestern Fjord Tour by P Bryan, on Flickr

The weather was cold and rainy so taking photographs was a challenge. 

Kenai Fjords Tours Tickets, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Photographs taken during the cruise:

Sea Lions

Sea Lions in Kenai Fjords NP (DSC_0879) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sea Lions, Kenai Fjords NP (DSC_0890) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sea Lions, Kenai Fjords NP (DSC_1192) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Puffin

Puffin, Kenai Fjords NP (DSC_1146) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Seal floating on ice

Seal in Kenai Fjords NP (DSC_0939) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Glacier

Kenai Fjords NP (DSC_0953) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Kenai Fjords NP (DSC_1008) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Waterfalls

Waterfalls in Kenai NP (DSC_1051) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Waterfall in Kenai NP (DSC_1063) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Humpback Whales

Humpback Whale, Kenai Fjords NP (DSC_1262) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Humback Whale, Kenai Fjords NP (DSC_1267) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Humpback Whale, Kenai Fjords NP (DSC_1270) by P Bryan, on Flickr

During the cruise, and while we were near the glacier, I asked one of the crew members if he could scoop up a piece of glacial ice for something that I had been meaning to do since our Iceland trip - have a bit of whiskey with glacial ice.  The crew were more than happy to oblige.

Scooping up glacial ice (DSC_0992) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Whiskey with glacial ice

Whiskey with glacial ice by P Bryan, on Flickr

Nap time

Taking a nap by P Bryan, on Flickr

And now I'm ready to play

IMG_20180621_141606 by P Bryan, on Flickr

After the tour, we returned to our motorhome at the Seward Waterfront Campground.  I attempted to make an outside bbq, but it started raining soon after the fire started so that was a bust.  The fire only looked like this for a short period of time before it went out.  We ended up cooking inside the motorhome.

Seward Waterfront Campground, Seward Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 5 - Panning for Gold

The following day, we packed out of the Seward Waterfront Campground and made our way back to Anchorage, with a stop at the Crow Creek Gold Mine.  We booked a private tour which included a demonstration and instructions on how to pan for gold.  We highly recommend booking a private tour as you will not likely be able to do it on your own, at least not the first time.

Seward  to Crow Creek Mine, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the way to Crow Creek Gold Mine, we stopped off at Bear Creek Weir to view salmon jumping over a small waterfall. 

Bear Creek Weir, Seward Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Information about Crow Creek Gold Mine can be found here:

http://www.crowcreekmine.com/

Crow Creek Gold Mine, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

We learned about the history of the mine and were given a tour of several historic structures.

DSC_1315_blurred by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crow Creek Gold Mine (DSC_1314) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Water cannon at Crow Creek Gold Mine (DSC_1320) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crow Creek Gold Mine (DSC_1325) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Learning how to pan for gold:

Crow Creek Gold Mine (DSC_1344) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Panning for Gold, Crow Creek Gold Mine, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Step 1 - filling up bucket with gold bearing soil:

Crow Creek Gold Mine (DSC_1364) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Step 2 - classifying the soil  (sifting large rocks from soil we dug up):

Crow Creek Gold Mine (DSC_1370) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crow Creek Gold Mine (DSC_1374) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Step 3 - pouring watery soil into the sluice box to filter out the gold from the soil:

Crow Creek Gold Mine (DSC_1380) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Step 4 - cleaning out the sluice box and panning the remnants of soil for gold:

Panning for Gold at Crow Creek Gold Mine, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Panning for Gold at Crow Creek Gold Mine, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Panning for Gold at Crow Creek Gold Mine, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Panning for Gold at Crow Creek Gold Mine, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

After we cleaned out the sluice box into a bucket and panned the remnants of soil, we struck it rich:

Crow Creek Gold Mine, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 6 - Alaska Native Heritage Center, Capt. Cook Monument, and Shabbos in Anchorage

After visiting the gold mine, we drove to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where the most exciting thing that happened was a Code B alert (meaning bear running loose on the grounds).  Most of the folks working at the center appeared to be unhappy and/or unenthusiastic teenagers.  I'm not sure if my perception of their unhappiness was a cultural misunderstanding or if they were truly unhappy.  Either way, it certainly wasn't the most exciting part of our visit.

Afterwards, we stopped off at the Anchorage Capt. Cook Monument.  We were excited to learn that there was a Capt. Cook Monument in Anchorage, as we had visited the Capt. Cook Monument on Hawaii Island several times.

Capt Cook Monument, Anchorage Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then checked into a one bedroom suite at the Marriott near Chabad for Shabbos (booked with points) as staying in the motorhome would have been too complicated for Shabbos.  We couldn't daven and eat with Chabad on Friday night because services and the meal were at the Rabbi's house a 20 minute walk away and we didn't think my little one would be up for it.  Little did I know that while my little guy stayed up after we checked into the Marriott, I quickly passed out from exhaustion.  On Shabbos day, we davened and ate with Chabad with a mix of locals and tourists from all over the world.  Steve Bunin, who used to be a sportscaster for ESPN was the "guest speaker" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Bunin).  After the meal, we returned to the hotel to rest and relax.  Since Shabbos was over at around 2:00 am, we did go a bit stir crazy towards the end. 

We went to sleep before Shabbos was over and woke up after 3:00 a.m.  I did several loads of laundry and we packed out at about 6:00 a.m. for the drive to Talkeetna on the way to Denali National Park.

Anchorage to Talkeetna, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 7 - Flightseeing Tour and Glacier Landing with Talkeetna Air Taxi

We booked the Grand Denali with Glacier Landing Tour.  Information about Talkeetna Air Taxi can be found here:

http://www.talkeetnaair.com/

Information about the Grand Denali with Glacier Landing Tour can be found here:

http://www.talkeetnaair.com/flights/grand-denali-w-glacier-landing

We chose this particular tour because it was the best tour we were able to take our little one on, as the summit landing tour has a minimum age requirement of 12.  I called Talkeetna Air Taxi in advance and was told they have a coupon in the Northern Lights coupon book (there are other brand coupon books as well), which saved us some money on this tour.  We also used coupons in this book at three other places we visited, so it was well worth the cost of $55.00 plus shipping.  Information about the Northern Lights Coupon book can be found here:

http://www.alaska-discounts.com/

Flight route (from Talkeetna Air Taxi Website):

Grand Denali w Glacier Landing by P Bryan, on Flickr

Photographs taken during our flight:

IMG_20180624_130819 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_1427 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_1441 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_1462 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_1474 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_1502 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_1643 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Landing on Ruth Glacier:

DSC_1595 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_1604 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ruth Glacier, Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20180624_124525 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20180624_124539 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 8 - Denali National Park

After the flight, we continued on to Denali National Park, where we stayed at the Savage River Campground inside the park.

Talkeetna to Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Savage River Campground, Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

That evening, we made a BBQ at our campsite:

BBQ at Savage River Campground, Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Camp Stove Cooking, Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Camping at Savage River Campground, Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

We also roasted marshmallows:

Roasting Marshmallows at Savage River Campground by P Bryan, on Flickr

The following morning we drove back towards the entrance of Denali and parked our motorhome by the Riley Creek overflow lot, where overnight parking is permitted.  On the way, we saw a mother moose and two babies:

Moose in Denali NP (DSC_1701) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Moose in Denali NP (DSC_1714) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After we arrived at Riley Creek, we parked the motorhome and waited for the camper bus to take us to Wonder Lake Campground.   Since you are only allowed to drive your own vehicle a few miles into Denali, the only way to see the park is to take one of the Denali shuttle buses.  (You can also hike into the park or ride a bicycle along the road).  We booked tickets on the camper bus, which transports campers and their luggage to the Wonder Lake Campground.

Denali Park Entrance to Wonder Lake Campground by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wonder Lake Camper Bus, Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the camper bus, Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the camper bus, we bumped into a young Israeli tourist, Yoav G., who remembered me from Chabad.  Since we had booked two campsites at Wonder Lake for the night, we offered Yoav the use of our second campsite, which he gladly accepted.  Yoav had obtained a backcountry camping permit for two nights so he would not have otherwise been able to camp at the campground.  We booked two campsites because they officially only allow a maximum of 4 people per campsite.  However, when we arrived, the park ranger told us he doesn't enforce that rule.  Nevertheless, if Yoav hadn't used our second reserved (and prepaid) campsite, it would have been empty.

Photographs taken along the road to Wonder Lake:

Dall Sheep

Dall Sheep, Denali NP (DSC_1779) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Dall Sheep, Denali NP (DSC_1979) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Dall Sheep, Denali NP (DSC_1992) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Caribou

Caribou in Denali NP (DSC_1812) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Caribou in Denal NP (DSC_1828) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Caribou in Denali NP (DSC_1961) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Alaskan Brown Bears

Brown Bears, Denali NP (DSC_1925) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Brown Bear Cub, Denali NP (DSC_1931) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Seen along the road

Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

We arrived at Wonder Lake Campground in the early evening and set up our tent:

Wonder Lake Campground, Denali NP Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Camping at Wonder Lake Campground (DSC_1858) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wonder Lake Campground, Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

As soon as the camper bus arrived at Wonder Lake, we were inundated by mosquitoes.  Since we had experience with mosquitoes last time we were in Alaska, we bought mosquito head nets for everyone at the Riley Creek Mercantile Store.  What we didn't expect, however, was that the mosquitoes were able to bite right through our clothing.  At some point we ran out of bug spray, which just added to the misery.  We weren't even able to eat without the headnets:

 Eating at Wonder Lake Campground, Denali NP Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

The kids asked Yoav how to say the word of the day, "mosquito" in Hebrew, and got a kick out of the answer, "yatush."

We attended a ranger talk about Fannie Quigley and finding gold at Kantishna (at the end of the park road), and then walked over to Wonder Lake, a short distance away from the campground:

Wonder Lake, Denali NP by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wonder Lake, Denali NP by P Bryan, on Flickr

Wonder Lake, Denali NP (DSC_1887) by P Bryan, on Flickr

When we awoke the next morning, my oldest asked DW to take a head count.  However, since we didn't see any gaping holes in the tent and didn't hear any screams in the night, everything was ok.  It was raining that morning and our tent was all wet. 

Wonder Lake Campground, Denali NP, Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Despite the rain, the mosquitoes were still out in full force.

We packed out and took the 8:00 a.m. camper bus back towards the park entrance.  We arrived at the park entrance in the early afternoon and had time to attend a sled dog demonstration:

Sled Dogs, Denali NP (DSC_1998) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sled Dog, Denali NP (DSC_2014) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sled Dog Demonstration, Denali NP Alaska (DSC_2022) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then returned to the Savage River Campground, where we made another evening BBQ:

Savage River Campground, Denali NP Alaska (DSC_2063) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Savage River Campground, Denali NP Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

BBQ at Savage River Campground, Denali NP Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 9 - The Musk Ox Farm and The Reindeer Farm

The following morning, we packed out for our drive back towards Anchorage.  We drove towards Palmer, and first visited the Musk Ox Farm.  We used one of the coupons from the Northern Lights Coupon Book at this farm.  The Musk Ox Farm was a bit disappointing as we weren't able to touch the animals at all.  It was somewhat interesting but I wouldn't go back.

Savage River Campground to Palmer Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Photographs taken at the Musk Ox Farm:

Musk Ox Farm, Palmer Alaska (DSC_2069) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Musk Ox Farm, Palmer Alaska (DSC_2098) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Musk Ox Farm, Palmer Alaska (DSC_2111) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Musk Ox Farm, Palmer Alaska (DSC_2073) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then visited the Reindeer Farm, where we used another coupon from the Northern Lights Coupon Book.  Unlike the Musk Ox Farm, the Reindeer Farm was hands on and we all had lots of fun.  For those who have kids and like animals, it's a great place to visit.  Information about the Reindeer Farm can be found here:

https://www.reindeerfarm.com/

Reindeer Farm, Palmer Alaska (DSC_2201) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We were able to touch and feed adult and baby reindeer:

Reindeer Farm, Palmer Alaska (DSC_2144) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Reindeer Farm, Palmer Alaska (DSC_2148) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Reindeer Farm, Palmer Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

We had a chance to pet and feed a Rocky Mountain Elk, which are not native to Alaska:

Reindeer Farm, Palmer Alaska (DSC_2179) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Reindeer Farm, Palmer Alaska (DSC_2195) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Reindeer Farm, Palmer Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Reindeer Farm, Palmer Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 10 - Way Home

After the Reindeer Farm, we made our way to the nearby Big Bear RV Park and Campground.  We made our last BBQ and saved the best for last:

BBQ at Big Bear Campground, Palmer Alaska by P Bryan, on Flickr

The following day we drove from Palmer to Anchorage and returned the motorhome. 

Palmer to Anchorage by P Bryan, on Flickr

We were then shuttled back to the airport for our flight home.  For the return flight, I received one confirmed first class upgrade.  Although I tried for a second one, I was told none were available.  I took the first class seat for the flight from Anchorage to Seattle, while DW took the first class seat from Seattle to JFK. 

Since we had a four hour layover in Seattle, we relaxed at the Alaska Airlines lounge.  Again, I only had four passes but they looked the other way and let my little one in for free.  We were all quite hungry so DW called Pabla Indian Cuisine (http://www.pablaindian.com/) to see if they would deliver food to the airport.  We were told that their delivery service does not deliver to the airport (even though they are only 15 minutes away) so we placed an order over the phone and DW took a taxi to pick it up and bring it back to the airport.  We had eaten twice at Pabla last summer during out Washington State motorhome trip (https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=81754.0) and it quickly became DW's and my older kids favorite restaurant.  When DW walked back to the Alaska lounge with the food, we were told that they didn't allow outside food into the lounge.  Their solution, however, was to give us a free conference room to eat our food (due to my MVP 75k status).  The conference room is normally $50 per hour.

While my older kids kvetched quite a bit during the trip, they were all smiles when we arrived home and we all can't wait for the chance to return to Alaska.

Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed this trip report.

July 05, 2018, 12:51:42 PM
3
Re: Hawaiian Family Adventures by PBaruch (July - August 2018) Lilly Pond behind the beach:

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island (DSC_4460) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island (DSC_4475) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Since my little one loves trains, we visited the Laupahoehoe Train Museum the following day:

DSC_4536 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4530 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4526 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DSC_4538 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20180815_113512 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20180815_113702 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20180815_115342 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20180815_120317 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We considered going down to Laupahoehoe Point, but ultimately decided against it.  At the end of the day, we regretted this omission.  Instead, we headed back to Hilo, to the Farmer's Market:

Hilo Farmers Market, Hilo, Hawaii Island (DSC_4539) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hilo Farmers Market, Hilo, Hawaii Island by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hilo Farmers Market, Hilo, Hawaii Island by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then made our way to the Mokupapapa Discovery Center.  In addition to its displays on Papahanaumokuakea, it is currently used as a temporary place for park rangers displaced from VNP.  We listened in a bit to a ranger talk about the eruption, but the best thing about the place was that it was air conditioned.

IMG_20180815_135710 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20180815_142643 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DW and the kids then went to the Pacific Tsunami Museum, with plans to go up Mauna Kea for stargazing. However, cloud cover caused the cancellation of the public stargazing.

IMG_20180815_144240 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20180815_144622 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part VIII - Mauna Kea

I'd been dreaming of photographing the sunset and milky way from the summit of Mauna Kea for years.  However, it seemed to elude me on each visit to the Big Island.  I asked my buddy Bruce Omori if he had any time to go and photograph from the summit and he graciously took time from his busy schedule to take me up.  The last time I was at the summit of Mauna Kea was in January of 2010, when I drove up with my friend Alex.  We didn't properly acclimate and, when we reached the top, raced each other like wild dogs to the summit.  I felt quite miserable from altitude sickness afterwards and couldn't appreciate the sunset at all:

Mauna Kea Summit, Hawaii Island (DSC_0439) by P Bryan, on Flickr

This time, however, Bruce and I properly acclimated for an hour at the visitor center before heading up. 

Bruce's truck:

Mauna Kea Summit, Hawaii Island by P Bryan, on Flickr

We photographed the setting sun:

Mauna Kea Summit, Hawaii Island (DSC_4553) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mauna Kea Summit, Hawaii Island by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mauna Kea Summit, Hawaii Island (DSC_4791) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Although Bruce has contacts that usually let him stay at the summit after dark, we had no such luck this time and were chased off the summit.  Luckily, we hid out at a spot a bit below the summit and were able to get some awesome night shots. 

Mauna Kea, Hawaii Island (DSC_4824) by P Bryan, on Flickr

It felt almost like Star Wars up there.  We heard machine sounds and voices over loudspeakers coming from the nearby telescopes.  Notice the laser from the Keck Telescope beaming into the sky.  Bruce was upset that the lasers were ruining his milky way shots but I thought the lasers were awesome.

Mauna Kea, Hawaii Island (DSC_4814) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mauna Kea, Hawaii Island (DSC_4832) by P Bryan, on Flickr

While we were shooting the radio telescopes, we saw a pair of headlights coming down the road towards us.  I initially thought it was a park ranger coming to bust us.  Bruce, however, knew better and said no ranger would be driving with headlights at the summit after dark.  I'm not sure who the bozo was but she/he did me a great favor by illuminating the foreground on the following long exposure shot:

Mauna Kea, Hawaii Island (DSC_4845) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part IX - The Flight Home

The following day we packed out of Volcano and flew home.  We flew Hawaiian F home for the first time.  It was definitely a superior product compared to United except we were unable to obtain kosher meals.  At the present time, Hawaiian does not offer any special meals in F.  Towards the end of our flight, the flight attendants came over and thanked us individually for flying Hawaiian, which we thought was really nice.

ITO-HNL-JFK by P Bryan, on Flickr

HA bedding kit:

Bedding Kit on Hawaiian Air F from HNL - JFK by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sleeping in the lie flat seats:

Hawaiian Airlines F from HNL - JFK by P Bryan, on Flickr

After we arrived at home, I had the post-Hawaii blues for about a week, before I snapped back into reality.  As usual, we had an amazing trip and look forward to returning again next year.

Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed this trip report.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island by P Bryan, on Flickr

September 09, 2018, 11:35:07 AM
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Re: DDF DO: NYC Edition?
Some of you have reading comprehension. It was for @PBaruch.

No need for fancy. I'm a cheap date. Main thing is to see you.  :)

October 11, 2018, 10:26:42 AM
1
Desert Family Adventures, by PBaruch (January 2019) The American southwest draws travelers from around the globe with an abundance of natural wonders, some of which are found nowhere else.  Having previously explored other parts of the southwest, I very much wanted to visit Death Valley National Park.  DW, while preferring to visit other locales, agreed.  In particular, I was interested in visiting off the beaten parts of the park accessible only by 4WD vehicle.  However, unless you want to experience earths oven,  which some deliberately choose to do, winter is the time to visit.  In summer, temperatures often climb north of 110 degrees Fahrenheit (Death Valley has the lowest point on earth in the western hemisphere).  In winter, the temperatures are mild during the day but chilly at night. 

A short time before our  trip, the government shut down which led me to question whether we should go to a national park.  My concerns, however, turned out to be completely unfounded.  Although there were a few closures, the majority of the park was open and empty (I can only assume others chose to stay away).  As a result, at times, we had the park all to ourselves.  The experience was extraordinary. 

Part 1 - Planning

We booked 5 tickets on Jetblue for a total of 103k points to fly from JFK to LAS, the closest major airport to Death Valley National Park.  Had I booked a little sooner, it would have been under 100k but I procrastinated in booking, and it cost me more points in the long run.  For accommodations and transportation, we decided to rent a 30+ foot long motorhome from El Monte with a bed over the cab, two bunks, and a bed in the rear.  A few days before our trip DW checked the prices online and saw that the price dropped by half.  I called El Monte and they honored the cheaper price without me having to rebook and lose my $150 deposit.  A link to the motorhome we rented can be found here:

https://www.elmonterv.com/rv-rental/rv-details/cabover-style-fs30-slide-out-rv/

We didn't want to be without hookups (water, sewer and electric) so we reserved 6 nights at the campground by Stovepipe Wells.  A link to the campground can be found here:

https://deathvalleyhotels.com/our-hotel/rv-park-and-camping/

For our final night, we decided to stay at a campground in Las Vegas, as we needed to return the motorhome early in the morning to catch our 12:00 p.m. flight home.  We chose the Sam's Town Campground, a link to which can be found here:

https://koa.com/campgrounds/las-vegas/

Since we wanted to do a fair amount of off roading, we rented a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon for 2 days from Farabee's Jeeps.   Link to Farabee's can be found here:

http://farabeejeeps.com/

We didn't have a set schedule and, with limited exceptions, decided on what we wanted to do each morning.

Part 2 - Flight and Arrival at LAS

JFK-LAS by P Bryan, on Flickr

We arrived at LAS at approximately 11:00 a.m., took an Uber over to El Monte RV (Uber was about half the price of a taxi), and picked up our motorhome.  We then made stops at Walmart, Trader Joe's, and Smith's Supermarket.  Smith's has a kosher take out counter and sells a variety of kosher foods, so we stocked up on food for the week.  Afterwards, we drove to Stovepipe Wells, where we would be principally based for the next 6 nights.

Smith s Food and Drug to Stovepipe Wells Campground   Google Maps by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 3 - Death Valley National Park - Mesquite Sand Dunes

MVIMG_20190125_115306 by P Bryan, on Flickr

For our first full day in Death Valley, we decided to visit Mesquite Sand Dunes, located a short drive from our campground at Stovepipe Wells.  The kids had an awesome time playing in the sand and sliding down the dunes.

Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley NP (DSC_4867) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley NP (DSC_4890) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mesquite Sand Dunes,Death Valley NP (DSC_4907) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley NP (DSC_4902) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Life still exists despite the harshness of the desert.

Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley NP (DSC_4898) by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the walk back to the motorhome, my little one stuck his hands into his pockets and came out with handfuls of sand that he dropped, to "return it to its family."

Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley NP by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 4 - The Borax Museum

After the sand dunes, we visited the Borax Museum, which explains the history of borax in Death Valley and contains a large collection of pioneer-era mining and transportation equipment.  For quite a while, we had the entire grounds all to ourselves.

Borax Museum, Furnace Creek, California (DSC_4909) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Borax Museum, Furnace Creek, California (DSC_4910) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Borax Museum, Furnace Creek, California (DSC_4913) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Borax Museum, Furnace Creek, California (DSC_4914) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Borax Museum, Furnace Creek, California (DSC_4922) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Borax Museum, Furnace Creek, California (DSC_4923) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Borax Museum, Furnace Creek, California (DSC_4933) by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the way back to the campground, we hiked the really short Harmony Borax Works trail (where my little one turned on his "booster pack" and nearly gave us all heart attacks when he ran off to the end of the trail all by himself).  It's a good thing I hadn't yet known there are mountain lions in Death Valley, or I might have really had a heart attack.

Harmony Borax Works, Death Valley NP by P Bryan, on Flickr

Harmony Borax Works, Death Valley NP by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we passed by the Devil's Cornfield.

Devil's Cornfield, Death Valley NP (DSC_4950) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Of course, we all start coming down with colds due to the daytime heat and nighttime cold temperatures.  No place nearby to buy tissues but the Stovepipe Wells General Store.  A pocket sized pack of 10 tissues for $1!  We bought 12 packs over the next few days.

Part 5 - Rhyolite Ghost Town

On the following day, Friday, we decided to visit Rhyolite Ghost Town.  Rhyolite formed around 1905 as one of several mining camps that sprang up after a prospecting discovery in the surrounding hills.  However, it declined almost as rapidly after the richest ore was exhausted.  By 1920, the town was in ruins.  It is now one of the most photographed ghost towns in the west.

Stovepipe Wells  CA to rhyolite   Google Maps by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crossing the border from California to Nevada (Rhyolite is located in Nevada):

Crossing the border (DSC_5007) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Welcome to the neighborhood:

Rhyolite Ghost Town, Nevada by P Bryan, on Flickr

Photographs of Rhyolite:

Rhyolite Ghost Town, Nevada (DSC_4970) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rhyolite  Ghost Town, Nevada (DSC_4982) by P Bryan, on Flickr

An old caboose:

Rhyolite Ghost Town, Nevada (DSC_4983) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rhyolite Ghost Town, Nevada (DSC_4985) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The ruins of the Cook Bank Building:

Rhyolite Ghost Town, Nevada (DSC_4999) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ruins of HD & LD Porter Store:

Rhyolite Ghost Town, Nevada (DSC_5002) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Ruins of a jewelry store:

Rhyolite Ghost Town, Nevada (DSC_5004) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 6 - Shabbos in Death Valley

After returning from Rhyolite, we prepared the motorhome for Shabbos by covering the wheels, as is required.  DW purchased a set of wheel covers online (after being told the wheel size by El Monte), but when we fitted the covers on the wheels, we discovered they were too small:

MVIMG_20190125_153956 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then began preparations for Shabbos.  As usual, I made a fried potato kugel.  I was planning on using our camp stove for this, but the WalMart in Vegas was out of butane, and we were unable to find it anywhere else.  (Come to find out, California has special regulations regarding butane, as they do with seemingly everything under the sun).  Instead, we used part of our portable grill rack placed on the motorhome stove to hold the frying pan over the burner:

MVIMG_20190125_160533 by P Bryan, on Flickr

DW made chicken in a crockpot, which was swapped out for chollent right before Shabbos.  We set the crockpot on a timer, I davened, and we ate our meal.  Being quite exhausted, I went to bed early.  At some point during the night, I woke up and realized that the power was off in the motorhome.  I quickly grabbed the cold chollent pot off the hot plate and placed it into the refrigerator.  Since the refrigerator runs on either propane or electricity, it automatically switches between the two and never turns off (assuming you don't run out of propane).  In the morning, the power was restored but the chollent was cold in the fridge.  I went outside and asked our next door neighbor if he would place the chollent pot back on its hot plate, which he did.  By the time lunch rolled around, the chollent was hot.  I later learned that there was a scheduled power outage for Friday night but no one bothered to tell us.

On Shabbos day we rested and I played "booster packs" and tag with my little one outside the motorhome.  It was certainly nice to have freedom to roam without being confined to a hotel for Shabbos.  Middle daughter woke each morning seeing the sand dunes out her window, and was hoping to walk over there, but we were pretty sure it was outside the techum.  We were able to walk over to the ranger station, which is where we first heard that the shutdown was over.  Being in the midbar during Parshas Yisro certainly wasn't lost on us.

Part 7 - The Racetrack

I had wanted to visit the Racetrack for some time now, having seen pictures online and being prodded by my friend Alex, who has fallen in love with the place.  This was one of the reasons we decided to rent a Jeep.   Since Farabee's Jeeps is located in Furnace Creek, about 25 miles away from where we were staying in Stovepipe Wells, we decided to overnight in a campground across the street from Farabee's.  As an added bonus, due to the government shutdown, the National Park Service was not collecting fees at this campground. 

While at this campground, we met "Jake" the cat, who liked to be walked like a dog on a leash.  Jake's owner told me that she had been walking Jake on a leash since he was a kitten, so for him, walking on a leash was normal.

After shuttling our motorhome to the Sunset campground at Furnace Creek, we walked the minute or so to Farabee's and picked up our 2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.  The Jeep was lifted and equipped with large off road tires.  We were given instructions on the use of the Jeep along with additional instructions on the use of the included Spot Satellite Messenger device.  We were told to always carry the Spot device with us (even when we left the Jeep), which had a button to alert Farabee's if we were in trouble along with another button to alert 911 of an emergency.  Luckily, we didn't run into any trouble and never had to use the Spot device.  We then loaded up the Jeep with our cooler and clothes and were off to the Racetrack.

Furnace Creek  California 92328 to The Racetrack  California   Google Maps by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Racetrack is a scenic dry lake feature with "sailing stones" that leave imprints in the mud as they slide.  The stones move when ice sheets just a few millimeters thick start to melt during periods of light wind. These thin floating ice panels create an ice shove that moves the rocks along the dry lake bed.

MVIMG_20190127_102749 by P Bryan, on Flickr

On the way to the Racetrack, we saw many Joshua Trees:

MVIMG_20190127_110112 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Joshua Tree, Death Valley NP (DSC_5011) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Racetrack Road, Death Valley NP (DSC_5146) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Teakettle Junction:

Teakettle Junction, Death Valley NP by P Bryan, on Flickr

Toilet in the desert (it was disgusting and hadn't been cleaned since the shutdown began):

IMG_20190127_121046 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Racetrack:

DSC_5044 Corrected by P Bryan, on Flickr

MVIMG_20190127_133112 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Racetrack, Death Valley NP (DSC_5061) by P Bryan, on Flickr

MVIMG_20190127_125041 by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Grandstand at the Racetrack:

The Grandstand at The Racetrack (DSC_5138) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The Grandstand, Death Valley NP (DSC_5130) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 8 - Ubehebe Crater

On the way back from the Racetrack, we stopped by Ubehebe Crater,  a large volcanic crater 600 feet deep and half a mile across.

Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley NP (DSC_5171) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then returned for the night to the campground in Furnace Creek:

MVIMG_20190127_170336 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 9 - Artist's Drive

The following day, we set out to explore various parts of the park, including parts we could not drive to in the motorhome (due to its length in excess of 25 feet) or those parts requiring a 4WD vehicle.  Our first stop was Artist's Drive, with colorful rock formations.

While driving, we saw a few coyotes along the road. I was told that the coyotes are very smart and they feign being injured, sick, or starving by the side of the road in the hopes of scoring an easy meal from a passing tourist.  I suppose it works for them, as we saw them by the side of the road on the way in and out. 

Coyote seen along the road:

MVIMG_20190128_084321 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Artist's Drive:

Artist's Drive, Death Valley NP (DSC_5202) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Artist's Drive, Death Valley NP (DSC_5220) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Artist's Drive, Death Valley NP (DSC_5238) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Artist's Drive, Death Valley NP (DSC_5260) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 10 - Devil's Golf Course

Afterwards, we went to the Devil's Golf Course, a large salt pan on the floor of Death Valley:

On way to Devil's Golf Course by P Bryan, on Flickr

Devils Golf Course, Death Valley NP (DSC_5267) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Devil's Golf Course, Death Valley NP (DSC_5268) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Devil's Golf Course, Death Valley NP by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 11 - Badwater

We then visited Badwater, a basin and the lowest point on earth in the western hemisphere. 

MVIMG_20190128_105816 by P Bryan, on Flickr

MVIMG_20190128_110120 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badwater, Death Valley NP (DSC_5294) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badwater, Death Valley NP (DSC_5297) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Badwater, Death Valley NP (DSC_5332) by P Bryan, on Flickr

MVIMG_20190128_112247 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Salt had cemented the walkway at the entrance to Badwater:

Badwater, Death Valley NP by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 12 - Dante's Peak

And then made our way up to Dante's Peak,  5,476 ft above the floor of Death Valley, with views of Badwater below:

Dante's View, Death Valley NP (DSC_5354) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 13 - 20 Mule Team Canyon

Afterwards, we drove through 20 Mule Team Canyon, a beautiful unpaved road through colorful, eroded badlands.  If this place looks familiar, scenes from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, were filmed here.

20 Mule Team Canyon (DSC_5386) by P Bryan, on Flickr

20 Mule Team Canyon (DSC_5387) by P Bryan, on Flickr

20 Mule Team Canyon by P Bryan, on Flickr

20 Mule Team Canyon by P Bryan, on Flickr

20 Mule Team Canyon by P Bryan, on Flickr

20 Mule Team Canyon by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 14 - Echo Canyon

We next drove part of the way through Echo Canyon, a rough 4WD road.  Since it was late in the day and about to get dark soon, we didn't have time to drive to the end of the canyon road.  While driving to the canyon on a rough 4WD road, we passed a middle aged woman sitting beside her truck with the hood up.  Seems that her battery died.  I made a comment that it was good that we came along, to which she responded that she lived out of her truck and could have stayed there for a month.  Not wanting to pry into her business, I gave her a boost and we went along on our way. 

Exploring Echo Canyon, Death Valley NP by P Bryan, on Flickr

MVIMG_20190128_162241 by P Bryan, on Flickr

IMG_20190128_162732 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Rocks at Echo Canyon by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 15 - Zabriskie Point

We ended the day at Zabriskie Point:

Zabriskie Point (DSC_5398) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Zabriskie Point (DSC_5405) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 16 - Long Way Home

After Zabriskie Point, we returned the Jeep to Farabee's and packed out of the campground by Furnace Creek.  We then returned to our campground, with full hookups, in Stovepipe Wells.  The following day, we packed out and drove back to Las Vegas.  On the way to the campground in Las Vegas, we stopped again at Smith's to pick up food for the remainder of our trip and the flight home.  Still needing tissues, we bought a box at Smith's.  Total we spent on tissues: $13.79.  $12 for the first 120, $1.79 for the second 120.

Afterwards, we checked into Sam's Town Campground in Las Vegas.  The campground was unremarkable but located a short distance from El Monte, which made it easy to return our motorhome the following morning.  On the next and final day of our trip, we returned the motorhome early in the morning, took an Uber to the airport, and made our way home.

As usual, we had a great time and really enjoyed the freedom of a motorhome.  Also, as usual, we had our fair amount of issues with the motorhome.  At first we couldn't get the interior outlets to work, until I figured out that the outlet in the bathroom had tripped and needed to be reset (all of these outlets were interconnected).  The shower leaked into the hallway, the kitchen sink leaked if we opened the water too much, and we weren't provided with a sewer end cap, which caused the sewer hose to pop out and leak poo all over (I learned to keep it in place by placing rocks on it to wedge it in).  Nevertheless, it was a learning experience and we wouldn't hesitate to rent another motorhome in the future.

Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed this trip report.

February 08, 2019, 12:35:09 AM
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PBaruch's Trip Reports Master Thread Since I have so many trip reports, it has become difficult to keep track of them all and find them.  Taking a page from Something Fishy's book, I decided it was time to create a master list of my own trip reports. 

UNITED STATES

ALASKA
Alaskan Family Adventures (June 2018)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=93831.0

ARIZONA
Dreams of Flight - Hummingbirds and Arizona (2015)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=54632.0

ARIZONA & UTAH
Motorhome Adventures in Utah and Arizona (2016)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=64756.0

CALIFORNIA & NEVADA
Desert Family Adventures (January 2019)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=101345.0

HAWAII
The Big Island of Hawaii, PBaruch Style (2015)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=60541.0

12 Days in Paradise
Oahu, Maui and The Big Island (2016)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=60745.0

Chasing Lava in Hawaii (2016)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=66190.0

12 Days in Paradise II
Oahu, Kauai and The Big Island (2017)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=72973.0

Grand Hawaiian Holiday
Kauai, The Big Island and Oahu (August 2017)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=83248.0

Hawaiian Family Adventures (July - August 2018)
Maui, Lanai, Kaui and The Big Island
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=95603.0

WASHINGTON STATE
Motorhome Adventures in the Pacific Northwest (2017)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=81754.0

INTERNATIONAL

COSTA RICA
Pura Vida in Costa Rica (January 2018)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=90729.0

ICELAND
The Not Your Something Fishy Iceland Trip (2015)
https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=60568.0

February 17, 2019, 10:19:30 PM
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