Monthly Archives: January 2014

Surviving Traveling in Groups

Most of my traveling experience has been with groups. From summer camp to mission trips and cruises, I would like to think I have some experience dealing with large amounts of people for long amounts of time. Some as large as 70 and others as small as 5 but, whether you are cruising, camping, touring or road tripping here are some of my survival tips to make the most of your trip. Also, please enjoy some very old photographs.

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Avoid cliques and engage yourself with others

No, I am not a middle school guidance counselor but, even as I have grown older and traveled in groups this has become a problem. Be friends with everybody, it is so much more rewarding that way. Rotate who you sit with on the bus, who you sit with at the table, who you go exploring with and so on. I have watched and experienced some of the closest friendships grow over the years. I am thankful for the friendships that have formed abroad and then continued when we returned home.

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Patience

This word speaks for itself. Just take a deep breath.

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Respect smaller groups

Raise your hand if you and your friends have ever taken over a mcdonalds. My hand is raised and if I had 12 more hands they would be raised too. As a larger group, it is important to make sure that smaller groups are enjoying their experience just as much as you are. Even if it is a McDonalds. This past trip to Costa Rica we went on a snorkeling excursion. It was my group of 15 and then 2 couples on their honeymoon. I felt bad for the 2 couples, I really did. They are just trying to have a romantic boat ride and they got stuck with 15 college kids. I think we made a pretty good effort to respect them. We let them eat first, get on and off the boat first and we gave them their space. In the end I think they had fun with us but, I could only have imagined the nightmare that excursion could have turned into for them.

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Share and Rotate

I have never experienced a more dramatic shower experience than I did while being a camp counselor. I think they all had themselves convinced that if they didn’t shower 1st they couldn’t shower at all for that day. OR, my personal favorite, if they offered to shower last they might slip by without having to take a shower. Even if you aren’t a group of 7th graders sharing cabin, sharing and rotating who goes first (or last) in the shower is important.

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You do you

This was something that took me a while to learn but, after a long day, it is important that you do what is best for you. Everybody has different needs and routines. If you need cut out on a round of card games a little bit early or you need to take some time alone to read your book, do it.

My youth group friends and I could stay up for hours playing card games. On our last night in Puerto Rico we stayed up almost all night playing games (young and wild and free, right??) That next morning we had to catch an early flight so I had absolutely no sleep and it turned into one miserable day. Even though it was years ago, I have vivid memories of laying on the airport floor with a fever and throwing up outside of a gas station. When I got home that night I was running a fever over 100 degrees. My Mom gave me medicine and put me to bed. Luckily, all I had to was sleep it off and I was fine. I am no doctor but, the only thing I can assume was that my body was so exhausted it just broke down on me. I would never take back any of those memories but, had I not been going home that next day, what would I have done if I was sick in Puerto Rico? It is important to pace ourselves and know our bodies so we can have a great trip, no matter how long the length.

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I hope that you have a great weekend friends! No matter if you are just heading out to dinner or snowboarding with a group, remember some of these tips for having the BEST experience!

Peace out–HayUp

Costa Rica Part Tres: Manuel Antonio

Well folks, here we are. Part 3 of my 3 part series from my trip to Costa Rica. Don’t worry though, I still have a trip video that will be coming out shortly. (Caitlin Nancy–if you are reading this…I am coming for your video footage) This last leg of the trip was more low-key so I have decided to format it just a tad different.

We spent our time in Manuel Antonio, mostly playing in the water, but, on our way there we stopped to tour an organic coffee farm. It is hard to think about coffee while you are sweating in Costa Rica but, as I sit here and type this post with a coffee in hand, I now appreciate the knowledge that I gained from this tour.  Not only did we tour their coffee factory (all outside) we also got to witness the making of sugar cane liquor and take a short hike through their property. Special shout out to my Mom, who just this morning, texted me regarding how much she was enjoying the coffee I brought back for her. Please email me regarding where you can send my daughter of the year award.  🙂

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Once we arrived in Manuel Antonio we went straight to the beach, where we watched the sunset. This was the first time I had ever touched the Pacific Ocean or watched the sunset over the water. I am an atlantic coast girl, we wake up at 5am to see the sunrise on the water. It was a surreal moment and luckily, the water was warm.

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The next day we came back to the beach where we entered Manuel Antonio National Park. We had fun playing in the water, eating coconuts, climbing along the rocks and shopping around the local town. Seeing mountains and rock formations along the coast was a new sight for me. In North Carolina the coast is at one in of the state and if you drive 5 hours west, you will be in the mountains. Here I was hiking and playing in the water all at the same time. Dream come true? I think yes.

That same afternoon we went on a snorkeling and boating excursion with Iguana Tours. Even though it was raining we had a great time. We took a 2 hour boat ride where we danced, ate fruit upon fruit (go figure) and even caught a cat nap. Boy do I love falling asleep to the sound of the waves. It was beautiful. As the sun was setting we were served dinner and had an opportunity to snorkel and jump/slide off the top of the boat. If you give me a water slide, I can be occupied for hours. The rain cleared just in time for the sun to set and it was picture perfect. Shout out to our friend Thomas that posed as an enthusiastic tour guide and pal for our tour.

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As I wrap up this 3 part series I have been able to reflect on this incredible trip. This Blog has given me the opportunity to share and remember all of those special moments. Rain or shine Costa Rica is a beautiful country with so much to offer. As I look out the window in the library and see nothing but snow and ice, I have enjoyed reflecting on the warmth of Costa Rica. Hopefully i have helped convince you to get your tails down to costa rica!

Thanks for reading friends! Movie coming soon!

peace out–HAYUP

Zach’s Never Ending Summer

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Meet Zach. He is one of my closest friends and one of the most selfless people I have ever met. We are an odd pair of friends. We have different lifestyles, different majors and different hobbies but, somehow our friendship is strong and timeless. He is the friend that you contemplate life with and the friend that writes you handwritten letters, even if you live in the same town. This past semester Zach was in South Africa, following his dreams and making friends with people across the globe. I asked him to write a blog post for me and gave him permission to go in any direction he wanted to. When I read it for the first time I almost cried. I can hear the passion and the beauty in his words. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did and that these words resonate in your heart.

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It is my opinion that an active but brief life is a life well spent. I haven’t always thought this, I used to be worried about where I would be in 5 years, used to think about the future so much that I refused it was coming. For a good portion of my life, I lived in the future. I wasn’t really concerned so much with where I was, but how I would get to my next destination. Eventually I got lucky, or wise, or dumb, or careless, or carefree (yes they are different). Call it what you will, but I got a different view point on life. I realized that in the end, nothing we do matters. Ultimately our selves, our children, our entire species, and eventually our planet will cease to exist. Poof. Nothing anybody has ever done, no matter how heroic or terrible, will ever be heard of or recognized again. And when you think about it that way, the little things suddenly become a whole lot more important. Because really, they’re all you’ve got. When you take your last waspy breath and your chest sinks and stays down for eternity, the only things you’ll be proud of are those small moments that are truly yours. Even the big adventures are comprised of thousands of tiny moments that are ours to treasure. And all of these new thoughts and ideas were suddenly swimming between my ears, free to fill every crevice in my brain. Fast forward 2 years almost to the day, and I was on a plane by myself to spend 3 months working on a farm in the Drakensburg mountains, South Africa, and live with a family I had never met. Forget that being a White farmer in South Africa is the country’s most dangerous profession (they’re on the genocide watch list), all of the aforementioned was enough to keep me up for the first 3 nights abroad. I got homesick, I battled to tell the difference between being alone and being lonely, and I learned more about myself than I ever have before. Life becomes real when you think you may actually die, and perhaps the biggest benefit of those moments is that you see very clearly who you are and who you want to be. Everything else around the truly pure idea of you just fades away. I was lucky enough to have a few such moments during my trip. I got chased out of the water twice by great whites while surfing. I wore a bright red shirt the first day I went into a pasture with 33 bulls (that just happened to be cousins of the Spanish fighting bull) and got demolished. I accidentally stepped on a spitting cobra, who always go for the eyes and rarely miss. The list goes on. After a certain amount of these moments, you no longer need them to see yourself. And as time went on, I grew more confident. If the trailer needed to be loaded with 15 bales of hay, I’d hop on the tractor and get it done. If the cattle needed to be herded, I was ecstatic at the thought of going on a 4 hour solo hike. I got to know the sheep, the horses, the chickens, the dogs, and most of the other animals on the farm (but not the zebra). I felt at peace with myself and with everything around me. I had time to truly think, without any restrictions or worries, and find myself totally entrenched in the moment. And it was beautiful. I don’t use that word often, but it was. I got to feel what it’s like to really not think about the future or the past and just be. And don’t call that moment the present, because by the time you name it it’s gone forever. You just have to be there and know. I found that the saying “Stop to smell the roses” goes so much deeper than those words. There’s an entire lifetime of provocative thinking hidden in them.

Throughout my time in South Africa I learned more than I could ever hope to. I learned which plants can make you better and which will kill you in less than a minute, I skinned and butchered rams in the morning so that the family could eat (no part of the animals we killed went to waste, even the scrotums can be made into coin purses), I learned how to make a sheep trust you, how to herd 100 cattle by myself, how to speak some basic Afrikaans, how to bargain and bribe, and much more. And while I was learning all of these things, I forgot about my life back home, and simply lived. I think I can honestly say that my semester abroad farming and surfing taught me more about what matters (And no, getting an A on your biggest final of your academic career really doesn’t matter) than any semester I’ve ever had at school, and that shouldn’t surprise you. In a world where the norm is to graduate high school, graduate college, and pawn your dreams for a 9-5, take the riskier path. Don’t say you’d like to travel, actually travel. Jump into something that you have no idea about, just for the sake of learning. Stop looking through your friends’ adventure albums on Facebook and go have your own adventure. Because whether you like it or not, someday you will die, and you can’t choose when. Wouldn’t you like to close your eyes one last time and know that you lived your own life, that you did what you wanted, that you took risks and came out on top, that you didn’t waste any opportunities that came your way?

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My Auto Biography—In 500 words or Less

For a recent internship application I was asked to provide an autobiography….in 500 words or less. This assignment came as a little bit of a surprise to me but, I am thankful for a chance to show their company just exactly who I am and where I come from. I wanted to share this with you.

My Autobiography 

I am from Wilmington, on the North Carolina coast, about as far east as it gets. I grew up in a brick house with a white picket fence where I lived with my parents, older sister and a blonde cocker spaniel, that I so proudly named Snuggles.  I spent my summers kayaking, swimming, tubing, surfing, traveling and spending time with my family.  From Kindergarten until the 8th grade my mom and I went to school together. I was known as “Mrs. Upton’s daughter” which was a title I wore proudly until about the 6th grade, when I realized the boys didn’t want to talk to the teacher’s daughter. She was a legendary teacher in my county’s public school system, and she even had her own television show on the local education channel. My mom, along with my Dad, a professional photographer, seemed to know everybody in Wilmington, which is not a small town. From a young age ,I have been very outgoing and friendly, and this is an attribute that I cultivated from my parents.

I give my parents and my youth group all credit for who I am and everything I have today. When I was twelve years old, I started attending my church’s youth group, which was one of the largest and most active youth groups in Wilmington. It was through my youth group and on our mission trips that I traveled to Colorado, Puerto Rico, Kentucky, Arkansas, Bimini, West Virginia, Tennessee, Florida and numerous rural places throughout North Carolina.  It was during these seven years that I became a woman of Christ, acquired my love to travel and was taught to find what made me “come alive”.

On the opposite end of North Carolina at Appalachian State University in Boone, where both the Appalachian Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway run, is where I am an early senior in college. Much of my time is spent hiking, biking, hammocking, snowboarding and exploring. Living in both the mountains and on the coast, I realize that I truly have the best of both worlds. I  am constantly in amazement of the Lord’s vast creation. When I graduated from high school and came to college, I wanted to find a major and career path that would continue to inspire me to find what made me “come alive.”  Now, I am a Recreation Management major because I want to see the world and encourage others to do the same. Jesus came so that we may have life and live it abundantly, and I feel that it is my passion to encourage people to leap outside their comfort zones, as challenging as it may be, and come alive.

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Costa Rica Part Dos: Sarapiqui

Sarapiqui, Costa Rica is the location of my 2nd leg of my trip to costa rica, and probably my favorite. It was a smaller town but offered lots of fun tours and excursions along the sarapiqui river.

La Quinta, Sarapiqui Country Inn and Eco-Lodge (no, not the franchise):

La Quinta is a Country Inn and Eco-lodge that has been nationally certified by the Costa Rican Tourism Board with its Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST).  La Quinta strives to have little, to no negative impact on its immediate environment and that is evident in every aspect of their property. The local owners have spared no expense to ensure that their quaint lodge is held to the highest sustainable standards. Complete with a butterfly garden, river bank, a pond )that serves as a home to 3 caimans), 2 swimming pools, a small farm, beautiful landscapes, a delicious restaurant and housing for both families, couples and large groups, La Quinta was my favorite Eco-Lodge that I stayed at through-out my trip.

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Activities/ Excursions/ Tours:

Finca Corsicana Pineapple Farm: According to their website, they are the largest organic pineapple farm in the world. We went on a tractor ride through their 3,000 acre pineapple farm and even got the treat of seeing a baby sloth with its mother and a family of howler monkeys (we heard them long before we saw them). Every few feet our tour guide would hop off the tractor, pick a pineapple, cut the pineapple with the machete knife he kept in his pocket and then pass it around to all of us. He did this time and time again, fresh pineapple after fresh pineapple. Coming from the girl that cannot afford fresh pineapple and buys it from the can, this pineapple was incredible. At the end of our tractor ride we were greeted with fresh pina colada, a treat so delicious and fresh it can only be further described by a picture.

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White Water Rafting on the Sarapiqui River: I cannot get enough of white water rafting. This was actually my first time and I was glad that I saved my first time for Costa Rica. Before we even got in the raft we were taken to jump off this little ledge. My friends and I had so much fun doing this while the guides took our pictures. The water was refreshing, the sun was out and the rapids were just adventurous enough. Our raft guide, Carlos, really made the experience for us. He kept things fun and adventurous. He would splash us, throw us out of the boat, let us ride on the front of the raft (he called it cowboying), pointed out the wildlife and told us all about himself. Half-way through the trip we stopped for…guess what…a fruit break. Complete with watermelon and pineapple. After our pineapple farm tour the day before I stuck to watermelon.  Even though some of these pictures make it look like I am disgusted, I was actually having a great time.

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Chocolate Tour: Costa Rica is home to the Cacao Tree which produces the beans that are used to make chocolate. This tour was located in the rainforest, where we trecked across one of the longest suspension bridges in Costa Rica. Even though it was raining on this day, there was something surreal about being in the rain forest while it was raining. The cacao beans that we tasted were bitter, bitter, bitter but it was a good feeling knowing that I was eating the kind of chocolate that was actually good for you. We sat in a small gazebo where we were taken through the start to finish process of how chocolate is made. From the cocoa plant to sipping liquid chocolate we tasted every process in between. Even though I still prefer a hershey bar, I enjoyed tasting and learning about this organic chocolate. I even met a friendly couple from Belgium.

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Thanks for reading friends! Part Tres coming soon!

Costa Rica Part Uno: La Fortuna

Hey Friends and happy tuesday! My day started bright and early this morning as i made my way to my 8am class….in the rain. As many of you know, I just got back from a 10 day journey through Costa Rica. I felt so much support while I was gone and many of my readers have expressed a lot of excitement to read all about it. I visited three primary areas and stayed in 3 different hotels/Eco-lodges so I have decided to break up my posts into 3 parts. My first stop was La Fortuna where we spent 3 nights and 2 full days.

Lodging:

I stayed at Finca Luna Nueva Lodge in La Fortuna. Finca Luna Nueva is both a sustainable rain forest ecolodge and a certified organic biodynamic farm. I had never stayed any place like this before and it was an incredible experience. Over 50% of the food we ate at every meal was from their on-site farm. The owner will even personally give any guest a tour of the farm and show them around their luscious property. My group and I went on a tour and without realizing it, 3 hours had gone by. The owner was so passionate about his farm and his career and it was evident in the way he spoke and educated us. We spend an entire afternoon sitting by the pool and enjoying the property. It was a great feeling knowing that it was in the negatives back home and all of us were in bathing suits! They have many hidden hammocks and opportunities to relax and escape your everyday life.  I would highly recommend this lodge to any traveler that wants to be surrounded by Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity and natural environment. I ate breakfast with sloths every morning and fell asleep to the sounds of the rainforest outside my window. You can’t buy a machine that makes those sounds people!

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Activities/ Excursions/ Tours:

Arenal Volcano National Park: This volcano has recently been dormant but, it still provides a beautiful back drop. We hiked through its surrounding national park and got both a view of the volcano and its neighbor, Lake Arenal. It is pretty rare to get a picture of the top of the volcano because it is almost always surrounded by clouds or steam but, it cleared out just in time for us to have the perfect view of the entire volcano.

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Baldi Hot Springs: This place is very commercialized but, we had a really fun time. The hot springs are at the base of the Arenal Volcano and the geothermally heated mineral water is provides numerous hot springs throughout the resort, all different temperatures. Baldi Hot Springs is a Resort, Hotel and Spa but, you can gain entrance, a meal and access to the bar if  you are not staying there. P.S Don’t miss out on the waterside at the top of the highest hot spring. I didn’t bring my camera into the resort because it isn’t waterproof but, i managed to grab this shot before I went inside.

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Arenal Mundo Aventura: This is a local adventure company providing many different excursions around the Arenal Volcano. Through this company we Zip Lined, got a presentation from the Maleku Tribe and rode horses. I worked on my camps climbing tower and zip line for 2 summers but, i had never been on a commercial canopy zip lining tour. I felt pretty confident zip lining…too confident. In fact I got stuck on the second zip of the 12 zip lines and the guides made me get “taxied” for another 2 zips. It was humiliating to say the least but in the end all of the tour guides started to love me. We had incredible views of the luscious canopy of the rain forest, waterfalls and of course the Arenal Volcano. It was one of those moments in life where you feel like you have to pinch yourself because you can’t believe it is real.

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Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of my Costa Rican Adventure, Hoping that you all are having a great week and staying warm.

Peace Out–  HayUp

I’m Back

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Hey Friends! Landed in America about 36 hours ago and I have made my way back to school. I’m back in Boone, back with my friends and back on the web with my blogging friends! Costa Rica was amazing and I cannot stop looking at my pictures. Stay tuned later this week for my first of three post on my 10 day trip through this central American country. As I sit on my bed and ignoring the fact that class starts today I have decided that I should establish my weekly wishes so I can have a productive week and ease back into my schedule. For this week I only have 2 goals but, they are very broad.

1. Organize My Life: My stuff is everywhere!!!! Literally in 2 rooms of my apartment, 3 different suitcases the washing machine and in the dryer. Heck! My bike is even in my room. In addition to sorting my laundry I also need to sort through my Costa Rica pictures for a guest blog post I have coming up!

2. Form a Schedule: The beginning of the semester is always hard and I often resemble a chicken with its head cut off running around campus. This week I need to find a class, workout, snowboarding and blogging schedule that works for me.

Here is a sneak peak at one of my favorite pictures from my trip

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