Tamarindo

Our current location is the town of Tamarindo on the west coast of Costa Rica. It’s a nice little place with about 1.000 inhabitants and probably nearly as many tourists. We’re staying at a hostel called Pura Vida, meaning Pure Life. Pura Vida is a widely used expression in Costa Rica, and it’s meaning is rooted in the lifestyle of taking it easy and to be happy with what you’ve got. The hostel lives up to its name with a chill and friendly atmosphere.

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Some fellows from France having a go at the balance board.

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The surf on the Tamarindo Beach has been pretty average, waves about 2-4 feet but breaking a little too close to shore, so they’re closing out for the most part. Nevertheless, it’s been some good times in the water. Furthermore, it feels so good to be able to surf in boardshorts again, the water is very nice and warm here, and the air temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius.

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My GoPro is still not working despite efforts on downloading new software etc., so the GoPro support team has told me they will replace my camera. It is what it is. I did however get a hold of a sweet rental board here. Measuring 6-2 long, 21.5 inches wide, and 2.9 inches thick with a volume of 42.7 litres it’s a little shorter and stockier than my previous board. I really like it though, the width and volume make it easy to paddle and balance on, and the shortness make it easier to catch the relatively steep waves here without nosediving, I find.

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Texas

After spending about seven weeks on the west coast, we went over to Texas. And btw, we were able to send our surfboards back to Norway with our friend Audun! 🙂 He flew with Norwegian and they only charged NOK 450 (USD 60) for taking the boards, which we fitted in one boardbag. Awesome!

Anyway, so Eivind has relatives here in Texas, and we had the pleasure of visiting them. We’ve been staying with Melissa and Randy in their home outside of San Antonio.

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They’re such good people and took really good care of us. Besides, Melissa’s mom and dad came down to visit as well. Here we are out enjoying a Mexican dinner.

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The company was great, but I can’t say the same thing about some of the weather. We’ve had some really nice and sunny days, but on Saturday a big storm hit us. It was raining cats and dogs, and we even received tornado warnings on our cell phones! That’s pretty full on, but luckily we never saw one. Nevertheless, it was an exciting experience to see such weather conditions.

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On Sunday the storm cleared, and we could spend some more time outside. With no more thunder in the skies we created some of our own, as we went out shooting some rifles. Good fun and a true Texas style activity, here with Colton (Melissa and Randy’s son).

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Cold water surfing and family reunion

Here’s a little update on some recent activities. First, we met up with my second cousin Jahn who took us surfing on his home turf: Westport on the Washington coast. Here are the boys lined up and ready to go 🙂

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Got no GoPro video to show for though… My new camera (Hero 4 silver) which you might recall I bought in Hawaii only a month and a half ago, is acting up. The screen on the back sometimes goes purple, and sometimes it goes pitch black. I’ve been in touch with the GoPro support team, and this fault appears to be happening to some of the cameras of this model. Not happy at all with it, but at least the support team promises that if the solutions for fixing it (such as downloading new software) don’t solve the problem, I’ll get a new camera. This is the only photo I got from the session.

On Westport Beach

The session was quite an experience. With water temperatures of about 12 degrees celsius (53 Fahrenheit) we had to rent gloves and booties. Still it felt cold with our wetsuits. What was really different was the feeling of paddling with gloves. I guess the ones we rented were pretty cheap models, and they filled up with water, and it felt like paddling with weights in our hands! Not very comfortable. The conditions on the day we went out were average, pretty bumpy out there. The crowd was non-existent though, and little wind also helped. It was still fun to be out there, but after about an hour and a half I was so cold I had to get back up. Think I started suffering from hypothermia actually, I found my focus slipping and I felt light headed in a weird way. However, it was all in all a very good experience as I know what cold water surfing feels like now. And I saw a seal out there! It popped up about ten meters in front of me to say hello, and then disappeared again. Very cool 🙂

Another highlight from the last week was visiting my old host family from when I went to High School in Oregon. My host mom wasn’t there unfortunately as she was over in Hawaii, but I did get to meet the rest of the family. Currently they’re living outside of Junction City.

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We had a very active and fun weekend with them. Went to a trampoline park, a water park, watched part of the High School District Championship in track & field, and hung out in their house and played video games. And enjoyed good food together. Here’s my host dad Kevin and his daughter Devin preparing pizza for us 🙂

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And here’s the whole gang gathered around the dinner table.

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Now we’re heading back down to California for a few of days. This fine piece of machinery (Ford Taurus) is our rental car. The surfboards fit perfectly inside along with all our luggage. Thinking back to the motorbikes we rented in the Phillipines makes it even more comfortable 😉

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A Norwegian, bears, and a High School reunion

The road has taken us further up the west coast, into the state of Washington. We’ve enjoyed some solid fun-packed days here now.

The first thing we did when we got here was picking up a friend of ours at Sea-Tac airport who’s come over from Norway to visit. His name’s Audun, and he’s going to be travelling with us for a couple of weeks. Then, we linked up with a friend of mine from High School (I had a year as an exchange student down in Harrisburg, Oregon). My friend from High School is named Peter. So we stayed with him and his wife Sydney for a few days, we had an awesome time.

One of the highlights was a hike we did in the area around Lake Wallace. It was a beautiful sunny day in the forest. Washington is nicknamed the Evergreen State, and the forest in the area we hiked surely lives up to the name.

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We passed by some nice waterfalls on the 21 km hike.

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Here’s the gang, catching their breath 🙂

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But the absolutely extraordinary experience of the hike came towards the end. We were hiking along a gravel road and came around a bend, when all of a sudden we spotted a black bear with two cubs! The distance was about 70 meters! They turned around and looked at us for a second, then they ran off into the woods. We were thrilled to have seen them, if only for a few seconds. Anyway, we kept on hiking down the road, and after ten minutes the bears reappeared on the road! This time a little further away but it was definitely the same mommy bear with the two cubs. We kept our distance to them and tried to be quiet despite our high level of excitement. Naturally, one needs to be careful when encountering a bear with cubs, as getting between the mother and her kids could have been catastrophic. But they didn’t seem to mind us too much, they just trotted along down the road in front of us for about a minute, then they disappeared into the woods again. This was my second bear encounter in under a week, and I can only say wow, this was something really special. To see a bear from the car was amazing, but to meet a bear with two cubs out in in the forest qualifies as magical 🙂 Here’s the evidence, although you might need to put your specs on 😉

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Up the coast

After having such a good time in San Francisco for a week, we drove further up the American west coast.

A highlight along the drive was the redwoods in northern California. These ancient giants which can grow more than one hundred meters tall and become up to 2.000 years old, are surely worth a closer look. We made a stop in Redwood National Park and did a nice little hike for about an hour and a half.

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Only 5% of the original redwoods are still intact, the rest have fallen victim to aggressive lumbering over the years. Preserving the last ones is such an important task, and the state and national parks are really doing a good job. The redwoods are after all the largest trees on the planet, so it’d be a terrible shame if they were lost. One truly feels tiny when walking among these giants. Mindblown in such a good way 🙂

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We also found this nice riverbed when hiking in the redwoods. And as you can tell by the blue skies, we picked a good day to do the hike (the redwoods don’t get that big without a lot of rain).

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Another highlight occured shortly after we drove into Oregon. We were cruising along when all of a sudden a black bear ran across the road in front of our car! We had to hit the breaks a bit to allow it free access to pass, and the encounter was over in a few seconds, but how exciting! I’ve never seen a bear in the wild before, so this was really something special. Very happy with my share of luck right there 🙂 Got no photo of the bear though as it was much too fast for that, so I’ll just wrap up this post with a photo I shot along the Oregonian coast. It’s a nice drive coming up Highway 1 and 101. Definitely qualifies as a scenic drive.

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San Francisco

The road has taken us up the Californian coast, to San Francisco. It’s my fourth time here, and there’s a reason why I keep coming back. I reckon it’s one of the nicest American cities. Love the certain style of neighbourhoods that is so prominient around the city, it’s fairly safe here (except from a few shady areas downtown), there’s heaps of things to do, and the geographical location provides fresh air from the sea on a daily basis.

Furthermore, got really lucky with the choice of accommodation this time. Found this hostel up at Fort Mason (close to Fisherman’s wharf), which is essentially an old army barrack which has been transformed into a fine shelter for wanderers and globetrotters. Great location, friendly staff, clean enough, and reasonable prices. Look for this hostel next time you’re in town!

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The hostel also offers the occasional organized trip. Such as the other day, we rented bikes and went riding across the Golden Gate. By the way, did you know that the American Army wanted to paint it black and yellow and call it Bumble Bee bridge? Wonder if this landmark would have been equally famous if that had been the outcome? 😉

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Here’s the gang from the hostel giving their spinners a break after crossing Golden Gate. We then had lunch down by the water and took the ferry back.

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On the ferry back, a funny episode occured. A fellow working on the ferry picked up that I spoke Norwegian, as he knew a little. We started chatting, and then it turns out his wife is from the same valley in Norway that my mom is from, Gausdal. This made my new friend, Karl, very excited! He had been to Gausdal several times and could name several places there I know of, such as Svingvold, and it even turned out I know some people he does. Karl’s wife had lived in Gausdal until she was twelve years old, and Karl called her up for me to talk Norwegian with her. Pretty hilarious, I found. In addition I was invited in to meet the Captain of the ferry. Quite a scene, and a most enjoyable acquaintance. We ended up taking a photo together 🙂

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I’ve also been exploring the city a bit on my own, such as yesterday when I walked over to Telegraph Hill. Went up to see the Coit Tower, pictured here:

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The walk up to the tower is rather steep, but as often, the view is worth the climb. Here overlooking downtown on this fine sunny day.

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