Wednesday, June 5, 2013

More Costa Rica photos

Colorful sunset in San Jose, Costa Rica
My trip to Costa Rica last year was a bit of an unplanned whirlwind. I'd returned from a month in New Zealand, repacked my bags and headed out to Costa Rica for a few days en route to Ecuador. I'd hardly planned and just kind of winged it.

Rolling hills at dusk in the Arenal area
I ended up with far too much transit time and too little explore time. If I did this short trip again, I'd focus on one spot with local exploring. Next time...  I did get in some fun hikes, animal viewing and some much needed chill time by the ocean.
Waterfall hike and swim. Getting there involved a horse ride and hike down a steep ravine, which was fun
I was reviewing my photos from last year's trip, and here are some of my favorite ones from the week.
Road sign. I saw each of these species on my trip

Ocean sunset

Colorful art at my San Jose lodging. It was quirky and I loved it
Tiffany stained glass with local animals and plants

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Riding in Chicago: Bike the Drive

Riding on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive in 2013 Bike the Drive event
Last Sunday, I was pleased to join 20,000 cyclists for Chicago's 2013 Bike the Drive, an annual event that lets cyclists take over one of Chicago's most celebrated roadways.

Bike the Drive: crossing the bridge over the Chicago river.
I was in town to visit my sister, and heard about the event from Dave at Lakeshore Bikes when I rented a hybrid bike for the weekend. You should do it, he said.  I was intrigued, and a few hours later, a gifted event ticket sealed the deal. I'd rise at 5:30 am (3:30 am California time) and do the event.
Bike the Drive: passing the Buckingham fountain in Grant Park in downtown Chicago
I headed out on quiet city streets and entered the freeway at the northern terminus at about 6am. 30 miles of flat freeway riding, here I go!  There were already a lot of riders on the road, but four lanes of traffic on each side kept the crowds comfortably spread out, and I was able to wizz along and pass as needed.
Bike the Drive: heading north through downtown Chicago on Lake Shore Drive
I made good time on the flat roads, and soon the road curved and entered Chicago's downtown. The views from the Drive are excellent-- lake to the left and city to the right. It was particularly thrilling as the road rose gradually going into the city and crossing the Chicago river-- big buildings! big lake! Throngs of riders on the expressway! What a great way to see the city.
Bike the Drive: I love this sweeping view of big buildings and Lake Michigan
I made good time to the Hyde Park rest stop at the southern terminus of the event, where I snacked on an array of bars, mini-muffins and fruit treats. After refueling, I headed out again for the 15 mile return trip. The morning gloom had cleared and the sun was shining.  I stopped frequently to take photographs of the city and the riders.
Bike the Drive: refueling at the Hyde Park rest stop in front of the Museum of Science and Industry. Thanks to all of the volunteers!
What a fun and well-organized event! It's primarily a fun ride, drawing throngs of recreational riders and first-timers, but the size of the course-- four wide lanes and shoulder for 30 miles- spreads the crowds out, and I was largely able to proceed at speed and pass slower riders safely. The crowd was cheerful and the event is very well-supported. What a great day!

39 miles, 137 feet of climbing (really)