Working as a business owner and kayak instructor in the summers and a ski instructor and coach in the winters, I am lucky to have some time to myself in the shoulder seasons. This fall I took a month with my best friend to visit home (Ottawa Valley), and then swung by Costa Rica on our way back to BC (hah); where we call home.
It doesn't feel like long ago I was on the Canadian Freestyle Kayak team. Now owning a kayak instruction business of my own I was unable to make time to try out for the team. It was difficult watching my old team mates and good friends reunite and compete together from the other side of the country but I did my best to stay in the know while teaching others to kayak for the first time in BC.
Three weeks after the world competition I got to the Ottawa Valley for some much needed Garb time (without the line-ups!) Below is a picture of me in the very gear that I used to slap people into when they would come to learn to kayak for the first time at OKS.
But of course I wasn't the only one there. Gary Shultz, a Deep River local (and my boyfriend) wanted to try this GLORIOUS wave that he has never been good enough to try before. (Short bio; Gary began ww kayaking in high school, paddled for 3 years then stopped after finding himself very busy in University. This summer was his first time back in a boat in 5 years...) Needless to say, he surfed that wave like a boss his very first try and even managed to pull off a couple spins. While he was surfing the wave he looked over at me in the eddy and winked (or did that actually happen?... I don't know- in my mind it did, hah) Below is a picture of Gary killing it on Garb his first attempt.
And the third person who was with us was also a Deep River local, Kain. He had paddled for 5 or 6 years, but similar to Gary he had taken a hiatus for a few years too. His confidence however was off the charts. All things were pointing to yes for Kain... Sunny day, old friends, warm water, no line-ups and a solid plan to finish the day at the Whitewater Brewery that he had not yet been to. All of this meant that he should surf Garberator. So in he paddles, and out he flushes- luckily right back into the eddy. Holding his arm I knew things probably weren't good. But he said he was just sore. So I asked, "is your left arm always 2 inches longer than your right?" Yep, his arm was dislocated so Gary and I put it back in and we got to test local beer sooner than we thought.
The next day was the last we were going to get to paddle the Ottawa river for at least a year (I can't believe I actually wrote that- it sounds bad even reading it) so we got together a crew of some of our favourite Ottawa Valley paddlers and played, challenged and chirped our way down the magical river.
Now off we go (Gary and I) to Costa Rica for some fun in the sun. Since we were on vacation leading up to our vacation- we did a piss poor job of planning our trip South... Our goal was to go surfing, kayaking, zip lining and snorkelling in 2 weeks. So once we got into the Liberia airport, we changed into some shorts and a tank top (good idea), got heckled into getting a cab (okay idea), and went to Playa Hermosa (not the best idea). Turns out there are at least 4 Playa Hermosa's in Costa Rica- only one of which is a great surfing spot, and it wasn't the one we went to. BUT, nothing can get us down, we are on vacation! So the next day we got out of there, got on a bus to San Jose, rented a car and drove to Jaco, a famous surf spot for travellers.
As neither Gary or I are true surfers, we do well with posing (fake it until you make it!) He looks like a bad as surfer doesn't he?
Well, let's say he is better at kayaking... And it wouldn't be nice to post a 'FAIL' pic of Gary if I didn't put one of myself so here you go...
But there are also those great moments in a camera's memory where you look like a champ! These are the pictures I will use for things like, Tinder profile pictures! haha kidding, I am not on there... anymore.
After surfing for 4 days we decided get on some rivers... do what we know best. Whitewater kayaking is one of those things that is pretty difficult to organize when you are in a different country for the first time. It is not like surfing where you can just walk to a beach, rent a board for a day and get out there. No, you have to find equipment to rent (which people don't like to do because it is risky), then you need to know where the put-in and take-outs are, hopefully have a couple cars to run shuttle or find a raft company that might be running the same section that day- whoa, the list goes on. Luckily, there were a couple rafting companies in the area and having been in the paddling community for over 10 years I had some names to drop which gave me credibility. From there, we had 2 sets of kayak equipment borrowed directly from company owners, 1 rental car and a rough idea of where we were headed.
So that's three kayaks (2 on roof and 1 inside), and all the equipment in a tiny rental car. We scratched that car up pretty good and despite the rumours we heard about rental companies being stingy on scratch penalties- we got away with it. Fewwww.
This is the Naranjo River. It was good fun and refreshing on a hot day. The only down side was the shuttle process...
So we kept hydrated with coconuts!
After a couple laps on the Naranjo, we returned our gear and headed inland to Turrialba. One the way we discovered signs for a waterfall and of course we had to go check it out. It was a 6km hike one way. So we layered on the sun paste and lugged in some water for the trek and went on our way... It was worth it!
After our day trip to this awesome waterfall, we continued onto Turrialba. The river of choice there is the Pacuare. This river is AMAZING, beautiful, exciting, and fun. With more time and better planning we will head back and do the Upper Pacuare where it is said to be class IV-V and very sporty! These are some pictures from the main rafting run.
After paddling here for a couple days we made our way to the Caribbean coast to see what else we could find. It definitely isn't the coast for surfing but since Gary put his back out the day before we were happy to do some sight seeing. For the remainder of our trip we went snorkelling and hiking to find the unique animals and birds that Costa Rica is known for. If the earlier photo's didn't urge you to start planning your next adventure vacation than hopefully these next photos will.
I hope you have enjoyed the photos and stories of my travels. More so, I hope that they have inspired you to get out and make adventures of your own. Enjoy life!