The need to create is overwhelming!

Creative Gardening is another passion!

I just read an online article by a creative photographer named Dan Milnor who was sleeping in his truck as he traveled through mountain deserts making photographs. Someone asked him why he was doing that and what would be done with all the photos? He told them “possibly nothing” would be done with the photos but “I was doing it because the need to create is overwhelming, regardless of the end result.” Spoken like a true “starving artist.”

Well, he kind of speaks for me and why I travel all over Costa Rica photographing birds and other things in nature and the beautiful culture. THE NEED TO CREATE IS OVERWHELMING and I enjoy it more than anything else I do.

And tomorrow I leave for one of the most creative lodges I have stayed in yet in Costa Rica, Xandari Resort  (click the Costa Rica section of this resort with 3 other locations being in India), just an hour or a little more from here, north of Alajuela on a mountain. There I plan to experience (and photograph) a blend of art, birds, nature, architecture, and 5 natural waterfalls – while resting and being creative myself with my cameras. Just 4 nights this trip (a more expensive place!). Expect blog posts from there starting tomorrow night (Saturday). And I will continue to fill in the static pages on my new website, now featuring this blog and I hope improving! More fun anyway!  🙂

¡Pura Vida!

El Copal Nature & Happy Valentines Day!

A Valentine from Nature
Photographed along a road or trail in the
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Or maybe you prefer an Exotic Wild Flower for Valentines
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Reventazón River Valley 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

One of Many Tributaries 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica
My Guide Cristhian Ureña Martinez 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

More FlowersEl Copal Area, Costa Rica

More Flowers  
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

More Flowers 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

Mosses and Ferns of the Cloud Forest 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

A Horse Farm Where We Found Birds 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica

A Horse Farm Where We Found Birds 
El Copal Area, Costa Rica
Nature is the art of God.

¡Pura Vida!


This exact same set of photos in my TRIPS photo gallery:  El Copal Area Scenery


And related is the gallery El Copal BIRDS in this same TRIPS gallery below


Or see all of my Orosi Trip photos in the TRIP Gallery: 2018-February 6-10–Orosi/Tapanti



~ ~ ~ ~ ~


TINY SERENDIPITIES KEEP ME SMILING

On the bus to Alajuela Monday a Tica mother with little girl about a year to 18 months old sat down in the seat next to me. The little girl kept looking at me and finally reached out and touched my arm and smiled. (Yes I had already said “Hola” and smiled at her, but she was slow responding.)

Later after mother and child got off the bus, an older man in the seat in front of me began playing his harmonica and quietly singing a beautiful, tranquil song in Spanish.  ¡Pura vida!

The greatest self is a peaceful smile, that always sees the world smiling back. 


Bryant H. McGill


~~~~~~~
JURASSIC PARK?
ENGLISH LANGUAGE NEWS ARTICLE:
Isla del Coco, Costa Rica

This is our island in the Pacific Ocean that is similar to Galápagos Islands of Ecuador without
tourism. It is a national park and research center and many say is more significant scientifically than the Galápagos Islands. (Darwin missed it!) It is also the island that the fictitious dinosaur project was on in the movies of the Jurassic Park. See this brief YouTube video of THE REAL JURASSIC PARK for a 57 second glimpse of the real island. 


The island is 300 miles offshore and you sleep on the yacht and scuba dive around the island in the largest colony of sharks in the world! They let you on the island for brief day trips from the yacht but no nights there. Not a regular tourist spot! It costs 3 to 5 k per person for a minimum number of people on different boats for 7 days and just the shore excursion to the island costs $250 to $500 depending on which boat you are on! Cost includes bus from San Jose airport to Puntarenas dock. 

UNESCO World Heritage Site          I would love to see it, but doubt that will ever happen!

¡Pura Vida!

Chapel at Villa Blanca

Mariana Chapel  
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel    
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel   
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel   
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Chapel   
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Flowers in front of Chapel   
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica
Oxcart in front of Chapel  
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort & Nature Reserve 
 San Ramon, Costa Rica

Villa Blanca’s Mariana Wedding Chapel was the 50th anniversary-wedding gift from former President Rodrigo Carazo Odio to First Lady Estrella Carazo Zeledon. Its unique hand painted ceramic ceiling depicts the history of the Virgin Mary when first introduced into Latin America by Christian missionaries. It is located on a grassy knoll overlooking the farm village and hacienda of Villa Blanca. The Chapel’s backdrop is the 840 Ha (2000 acre) Los Angeles Cloud Forest, with over 300 listed bird species included within a variety of flora and fauna in this protected habitat and serene mountain setting. The chapel, a replica of a 17th century chapel in Rome, features a high beam ceiling composed of 840 individual ceramic plates, all of them hand drawn and painted with high temperature enamel paints. Each side of the ceiling has 15 panels of 28 plates divided in two vertical rows of 14 plates. Each one of the columns formed by the 14 plates conveys a theme allusive to a Latin-American virgin and her country of origin.

My trip gallery: 2017 Villa Blanca
My reviews of other Costa Rica Lodges & Hotels  if exploring this fun country. Note that at Drake Bay I stayed at the sister hotel of Villa Blanca, Aguila de Osa – both are Greentique Hotels.

Arrival at Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort

Stained Glass Window in my Cabin
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

The One Traffic Jam Enroute to 
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

The View in All Directions fromVilla Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

Me at the entrance gate
Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

Rufous-collared Sparrow 
 Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort
Near San Ramon, Costa Rica

I have loads of photos I would like to show, but will settle for these “just arriving” shots now. Left Atenas about 10:15 and arrive around 11:30-11:45, had lunch, explored grounds, made many photos yet to show, 6:00 to 8:00 Night Hike and late dinner with two other guys. The hike was great with more species of frogs than I’ve ever seen, a flock of parrots sleeping, 2 snakes, gobs of strange insects, and I’m sure something else. That will be one whole post! So this quick post and off to bed for an early morning birding hike before breakfast. This place is wonderful!

My Trip Gallery on this visit   and   the Hotel Website

Cloud Forest Experience This Week

The mountains north of where I live contain many small farms and large forest reserves.
I am going to experience that as well as seek out mountain birds, relax, and enjoy great food!

While at Aguila de Osa Hotel on Drake Bay I learned that they were part of a small chain of 4 nature hotels under the name of Greentique Hotels and that one was less than 2 hours from Atenas, just north of San Ramon and not too far from Arenal Volcano, one of the most beautiful in the world! It is Called Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel and Nature Reserve. (Click link or logo for their website.) I decided then to add it to my list of future trips and here it is this Monday-Friday. I have 3 guided birding/nature hikes scheduled and if at least 2 other adults there to make a group, I will take the day trip to Arenal Volcano National Park. Otherwise, more of the reserve!

Based on my experiences in their Drake Bay hotel, I will be happy just hanging out at the hotel grounds and hiking through their reserve. Plus their sister hotel had the best food of any yet in Costa Rica, so that alone may be enough!  🙂  And possibly one relaxation massage! And of course lots of photographs, especially of birds and other nature! If the internet connection is good there, I will try to post daily reports with photos. 
If anyone is paying that close attention to all my trips, this in some ways will be similar to my other cloud forest places visited, though all are unique. San Gerardo de Dota is the best place for photographing the Resplendent Quetzal bird and most lodges there are a little more rustic, catering mostly to birders in steeper mountain terrain. I’ve been there 3 times so far and will go again! I’ve been to Monteverde once and it may be more similar to Villa Blanca terrain on top of a mountain, though Monteverde has lots of small local hotels & cabinas and two national parks plus one big commercial hanging bridges park. It is harder to get to, driving up a steep mountain on a gravel road and a little more “touristy” than I prefer, but I got a lot of bird photos there and will go again! My other mountain experiences weren’t quite high enough to be considered “Cloud Forests” but were each good in their own ways. And the adventures continue! See reports of each in my gallery TRIPS.

I’m coming close to my 3-year anniversary living here (December) and have traveled the entire country, visiting many places for birds and other nature experiences, more than most of the expats I’ve met here. But I still have a long way to go and many new places to visit yet! One goal is to visit all 34 National Parks which shouldn’t be too difficult since I visited all 55 Tennessee State Parks! And I’m about 1/3 the way done now! Thanks for following my adventures! 
¡Pura Vida!

Balance of 2017 Planned!

And most of you know that means I have trips planned for the rest of the year with other serendipities like holidays and local experiences being “extra” joys! 

But for those who particularly like my trips or the birds I photograph on them, here’s my coast to coast plans for the next 4 months, leaving specific dates off for security reasons: 

SEPTEMBER is my trek back to the Caribe with 4 nights in a very popular hotel I could not get in on another trip, Hotel Banana Azul, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. It is one of the very few actually on the beach, like walk out of your cabin right onto the beach. (Most are across the highway.) I do not care for swimming in the ocean for many reasons, nor sunbathing, but absolutely love walking on the beach which I will do a lot of this trip. It is also “Adult Only,” simply meaning no children. I love kids, but they tend to dominate a resort at every point and can be quite disruptive from sleeping & meals to activities & pool. So my first time to try one of these!  I’ll let you know what I think. 

Plus I plan on two new reserves for birding and otherwise hiking in nature with local guides; one is a national park and one a private reserve which they claim is the best. And of course the beautiful forested grounds of the hotel and even the beach will have birds!

And I will experience a little caribbean culture & food in Puerto Viejo. See 
this info page and welcome video About Puerto Viejo.  There’s also links there to why visit the Caribe, difference in caribbean and pacific coasts, etc. I may come home singing reggae!  🙂  But mainly hope to relax and get more bird photos! Here’s more on Caribbean Local Activities beyond the music and food or my favorite, Caribbean Jungle, Nature & Wildlife.  And the Hotel Banana Azul Photo Gallery


It will be both similar and different from my safari tent hotel in Manzanillo last year. See that Manzanillo Trip Photo Gallery for comparison. I still don’t have a strong preference for caribbean or pacific coast yet, though I tend to favor the “underdog” or least popular which would be the Caribe. It is quieter, cheaper, more natural, smaller & locally owned hotels, and less crowded. If you like big Marriotts or Hiltons, go to the Pacific side and spend more money! I’m doing that in December but not in a big chain hotel. 



NOVEMBER is in the cloud forests not far from Atenas, just outside San Ramon where I stay in my second Greentique Hotel, associated with the Aquila de Osa Hotel I was in at Drake Bay. (One of my favorite!) But this one is only an hour or so away by bus through Palmares to San Ramon where the hotel picks me up at the bus station. It is called Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel & Nature Reserve.   

Typical birding hike.

Of course I already have birding treks scheduled with local guides and may get to see their cloud forest research center. Plus they have trails on their own property I can visit on my own and all three hotels have jacuzzis which I hope to use and who knows? Maybe even a relaxing back massage! I view retirement as an almost continuous vacation! 🙂  It’s great! And this one’s close to home!



Another tropical paradise where you have both
a pool and the beach, plus forest for birds!
And hopefully great food!  🙂

CHRISTMAS WEEK is when I decided to try the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula and Guanacaste on the Pacific Coast. And my Google search showed Tambor Bay the best area of the southern peninsula for birding, according to a local birding club on the peninsula. So we will see! I have reservations at the Tambor Tropical Hotel right on the beach AND on a river with hiking trails following it inland for lots of do-it-yourself birding. Plus there are two reserves nearby that I hope to see with a guide. And this is another “Adults Only” hotel. Wow! New for me.

Puntarenas is almost due west of Atenas, slightly southwest. To drive or go on bus includes a long ferry ride, making a long trip. Thus I have elected to fly a small plane to the little airport at Tambor Bay. Hotel picks me up at airport.


Not having family, I have found that Christmas is more enjoyable while on a trip and I always end up with new friends as well as new experiences! So I’m looking forward to this Christmas when I celebrate living in Costa Rica for three years! ¡Pura Vida!

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail

I neither saw nor photographed a single bird, though I heard many. But it was a beautiful walk in the rainforest across the road from the lodge on a trail they created for about 2-3 km. It is a similar cloud forest to what I walked through in Tenorio Park, just fewer people! Here are a dozen photos without much comment:

Rainforest Trail Seen from Lodge Dining Room
Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Tree Fern

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail, Bijagua, Costa Rica

One of Many Old Growth Trees

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail,
Bijagua, Costa Rica

Flower at Entrance to Trail

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Fern

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Unknown Berries

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Tree

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail,
Bijagua, Costa Rica

Tree

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail,
Bijagua, Costa Rica

Plant

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail,
Bijagua, Costa Rica

Much Grows on the Trees

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail,
Bijagua, Costa Rica

Air Plant

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail, Bijagua, Costa Rica

Footbridge Over Stream

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail, Bijagua, Costa Rica
Trail Welcome & Rules in Spanish, English & French

Celeste Mountain Lodge Rainforest Trail, Bijagua, Costa Rica
My real highlight was the Birds at Celeste Mountain Lodge, link to earlier post.
Or you might want to see the lodge’s website for more about their services, great food, etc.
For more photos of Costa Rica, see my gallery called Charlie Doggett’s COSTA RICA
Celeste Mountain Lodge
Another great nature place!
¡PURA VIDA!

Tenorio Park & Rio Celeste

Charlie Doggett crossing Rio Celeste 
I sure have a lot of “Jungle Fun” for an old man! Its why I’m here!
Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica 
Welcome Sign 

Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica 
They are known for Tapirs (the image) but we saw none. 
We did see 5 Peccaries (like wild hogs), probably a family.
And photos below of 3 other animals.

Merging of the Waters 
 
2 streams merge & their minerals mix & turn the water blue. Fun!

30 meters upstream from the bridge photo above. 
Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Trailhead to Waterfall I Missed 

Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Strong winds had knocked some trees over trail. Closed all 3 days there.
It was interesting to learn that Bomberos (Firemen) would clean it up. 

And yes, some people went around the yellow tape anyway. Not me.
Sendero Cerrado – Trail Closed

And Every Tree is a Work of Art! 

Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Brown Wood Turtle 

Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

White-nosed Coati 

 
Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Yellow-eared Toucanet 

Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

Yes, Much of Trail was this Muddy! 

Tenorio Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
I always take two pairs of hiking shoes & one is still drying from cleanup!
¡PURA VIDA!

You may be asking how it could be so wet when you are still in the “Dry Season.” Well, in a cloud forest like this it is always humid, misty, and sometimes raining, year-around. Maybe more so during the rainy season. Same goes for the coastal rainforests, while we in the Central Valley have two very distinct seasons. That is why the majority of the population lives in the Central Valley.

LITTLE CR EXTRAS:

History of Gallo Pinto (beans & rice in Costa Rica)

Starbucks Coffee Farm in Costa Rica

Another Reason to NOT have a Car in Costa Rica  (Besides the high cost)

Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!   (Dry Season problem around the world!)