Category Archives: Travel

My Past, Present and Future Travels

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

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.


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.


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

Jannell’s Hidden Gems Around Charleston, SC

Meet Jannell! She is a twenty-something wife, dog lover, champagne drinker, ice cream carton eater, recent marathon runner and most importantly MY SISTER. After many family vacations growing up, a 4 month summer internship and a year and a half living in Charleston, SC,  my sister knows her way around the Holy City. I went and spent the night with her and her husband on my way home from Boone. While I was hard at work baking cookies in the kitchen I let her commandeer my blog to talk about some of her Charleston favorites, some of which you might not find in your local visitor’s guide. Here are some of Jannell’s favorite {hidden} Gems around Charleston, South Carolina.


1. Dell’z Deli: Dell moved to Charleston from the Caribbean and when she did she brought a little piece of culinary heaven with her. When I met my friend, Robyn, the first month I lived in Charleston we decided to meet for lunch one day at this “little hole in the wall spot” she knew about. We have all heard the “little hole in the wall” expression before but this is like, FOR REAL, a hole in the wall. The entire restaurant is smaller than most people’s second bedroom and there is no seating, everything is to-go. Dell is only open for a few hours in the middle of the day for lunch and then again 10pm-2am for late night. BRILLIANT. Her fresh wraps, caribbean pizzas and healthy spin on traditional southern guilt food stole my heart. And then it stole my husband’s heart, then every single one of my friends’ hearts and now my parents are obsessed with it, too. We like to take it down to Battery Park for picnics, it is sort of our cute tradition. The price is just right, too ringing in at under $12 for pretty much everything made fresh to order. Basically, YOU’RE WELCOME!

2. The bar menu at Cypress: $4 glasses of wine during happy hour, a meatball plate for $12 and the most amazing charcuterie plate in Charleston for a good-looking $12, too. The scene is super urban… like a southern version of Buddakan (Buddakan is in NYC and where Carrie and Big had their rehearsal dinner in the movie.)  Social + Wine Bar is also on-point with their Happy Hour Specials with $3 glasses of delicious wines, champagne and Gin concoctions. Plus, they have a $3 flatbread pizza and a blue cheese/homemade chips dish that don’t hold out on the delicious.

3. This one isn’t really a “gem” per se because everyone knows about it, but Market Pavilion Rooftop Bar: It’s expensive and Ritzy BUT it’s one-of-a-kind amazing with a 360 degree rooftop view of downtown Charleston, a pool and high top tables with umbrellas to shield the hot southern sun. This isn’t a place you stay all night, but do yourself and favor and either wrap your day up or start your evening there.

4. Taco Boy: Say hello to the most delicious guacamole and you’ve ever had in a rural, garden setup. It’s not your average spot to load up on refried beans and cheesy rice. Their dishes are fresh, their bar is fun and it’s spot-on place to day drink. Just sayin’…

5. The Shrimp and Grits at 82 Queen: Just do it.


If you ever find yourself exploring the beautiful and historical city of Charleston with an empty stomach, keep us sisters in mind!

Just for fun here is an old photograph from a Christmas card photo shoot we had in Charleston circa 2003.

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Thanks for reading friends.

Peace Out–HayUp

Hosting Your Broke College Friends For A Weekend


WHOA BABY as in… Whoa Baby finals are over and I am slowly making my way home for my Christmas break. Just days away from Christmas, New Years and then Costa Rica! I am proud to report that I got straight A’s this semester (Merry Christmas Mom and Dad) and now that finals are over I will have lots of free time to devote to blogging and being present here on the blogosphere.

I had an INCREDIBLE mountain weekend with my friends! I love Boone always, but even more when I have time to enjoy it without the stress of class. We had two big sleepovers and two days that were action packed at Appalachian Ski Mountain. Even though my friends were braced with some not-so-ideal snowboarding conditions they still learned like champions and in the words of my friend Kenzie “Shaun White ain’t got nothin on us.” Here are some of my tips on how to successfully host an awesome snowboarding weekend with your broke college friends. These might be really obvious but they are my fun little way of recapping the weekend.


1. Check Out Group Rates

We couldn’t get a group rate at the mountain this time because there wasn’t quite enough of us but, we got one with a big group last time and we all saved about 10 or 15 dollars. It is definitely worth giving the resort a call to see if they offer group rates and if you qualify.


2. Make your own magic

We had all just finished exams so we were all pretty exhausted and spent out on Christmas shopping. Friday night we made our own magic in my apartment. We jammed out to Justin Bieber’s Christmas album, played games in my apartment and caught up with each other. As for Saturday night…let’s just say we all headed to bed early. We are college kids…we just need to be together to have fun!


3. Pack Your Lunch

We saved a ton of money by not buying lunch at the Ski Resort and packing our own. We made a grocery list, divided the items evenly and took a group trip to Wal-Mart…which is always an adventure. Both Saturday and Sunday we took over a little space in the ski lodge and had our own picnic, complete with Christmas cookies. We may have received some dirty looks from the employees but I am thinking they were just eyeing our goodies.


4. Get an Early Start

Ski Resort tickets can be very expensive, especially on the weekends, so get an early start and get the most out of your day! My friends loved waking up to Christmas music, coffee, my bright and shiny face, waffles and scrambled eggs. We made it to the mountain at quite an impressive hour, beat the crowd and had a FFFFFUUULLLLLLL day seizing the slopes.


5. Rent Local

This is something that I wish I would have known long ago. Many local ski or snowboarding shops offer rentals which can save you lots of money from renting them from the resort. I have my own gear but my friends were able to get a student discount, faster service and a weekend rental from, First Tracks, a snowboard and ski shop literally seconds from my apartment. I give myself a pat on the back because that was my suggestion.


For all of the things I can’t describe through my typing i have put together this fun little video that captures some of the highlights from the weekend!

I am still learning how to make videos and i dont have the best software so i apologize for all the glitches

Capturing Travel: Featuring My Dad

Meet my Dad. Jack Upton. I got my Mom’s good looks.

Since 1974 my dad, a professional photographer, has made a living behind the lens of his various cameras. When I was younger having a photographer as a father had little value to me other than having fun photoshoots with my friends and awesome Christmas cards each year. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that my Dad’s profession might have been cooler than I had originally thought. As a tourism major and a recent blogger,I  am constantly exposed to personal and professional travel photos. For class assignments  I am always researching and looking at agency’s and organization’s brochures, websites and magazines. One day it dawned on me that my Dad had been traveling and taking pictures for agencies and organizations just like the ones I look at in class. My Dad took artsy travel photographs even before social media made it a trend!  This caused me to wonder…Was my dad trendier and cooler than I was when he was my age? Probably.


Fort Fisher, NC- Jack Upton

This past Thanksgiving break I sat my dad down for a quick interview about his experiences as a photographer and how he managed to not only sell his photographs but also sell the destination itself through these photos.


Ariel Bald Head Island – Jack Upton

With inspiration from photographers such as, Richard Avedon, Jim Brandenburg, and Irving Penn my Dad got his start right out of his high school graduation (once he finally passed his math classes). When I asked him about his first camera ,he responded by placing his fingers under his chin, turning his head, pondering for a second and then responding, “ It was a twin lense Rolleiflex camera that was originally given to my sister by my Uncle. She didn’t really give to it me; I just started using it since she never used it.” I began to laugh because that sounds exactly like something my dad would have done.The Rolleiflex camera was a film camera which led him to a 25 year career as a film photographer (he later added a dark room in our garage). Having been in a generation of photographers that made the transition from film to digital, I was interested in asking about what made film such a unique element. He said,”Film,black and white is better, contains a lot more latitude and it gives you better tonal range. Film photography is definitely a craft, digital is too easy because you can manipulate anything.” None of that makes any sense to me but, I’m sure that all of you photographers out there will resonate with that statement.


St. Thomas – Jack Upton

As I asked him about some of his favorite experiences and photoshoots from his almost 40 year career, we both start to reminisce.  Many of his experiences are my favorite memories with him.  His favorite and most memorable photography trip was taken before I was born, in 1990 to the U.S Virgin Islands to take stock photographs. The incredible scenery and natural landscapes made for beautiful photographs, a great business trip and a quick break from his toddler at home ( my sister). This tropical paradise left him with images that captured the essence and atmosphere that portrayed the U.S Virgin Islands as the perfect travel destination that it is.He has had many more memorable opportunities, especially in his home state of North Carolina. Hang Gliding tournaments at Grandfather Mountain and the Outer Banks, hiking along the Appalachian Trail, taking aerial photographs of the coast and capturing skylines from the top of historical steeples, Jack Upton was in high demand across the state to capture its beauty and feature all that North Carolina has to offer. For him, it is all about capturing the atmosphere, excitement and emotion that comes along with each destination. Many of these trips  my family and I got to accompany him, but I was sometimes put to work.My sister and I were often  asked to grab our beach bags and boogie boards to capture the perfect all in one sunset/beach/family vacation photograph. We made quite a few debuts in brochures and magazines. My modeling days are long over, but growing up with Jack Upton as a father was never without excitement and surprise.


Bald Head Island Sunset – Jack Upton

I know very little about photography. Jack hooked me up with a snazzy little point and shoot lumix a few years ago, but I leave photography to my dad and photography major friends at school. But, despite who is taking these pictures, these pictures are important. Think about it. What makes you want to travel?? For me, it’s seeing pictures on pinterest, facebook or in a magazine (usually National Geographic). My freshman year in college a lot of my friends had this iconic pictures on the edge of the rock and for the longest time my close friends and I could not figure where this picture was taken. After some research ,we finally discovered the overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and we managed to snap a few photos ourselves…nothing like hopping on a bandwagon. eeekk. So ,why do i tell you this??? Well, mostly to brag about my dad because I have never given him enough credit,  Also,  I  tell you this so you will appreciate the pictures, the pictures that inspire you to travel and to encourage you to take more pictures. You never know when your newest blog post or facebook album will have friends dying to know where they were taken.


4th of July – Jack Upton

Thanks for reading friends. As always I love your comments. Have a Great day.

Peace Out, HayUp

p.s make sure you hop on over to Treasure Tromp’s blog hop—


How One Mission Trip Changed My Future


When I was going into my freshman year of highschool, a mature 13 years of age,  I was finally old enough to go on my youth group’s mission trip to Colorado. We road tripped out there in our legendary First Baptist Church charter bus. All of my mission trips were life changing but this one was my first and it introduced me to something I had never been exposed to before….the mountains.

I grew up on the coast of North Carolina and Wilmington is as flat as a pancake so seeing the mountains of Colorado was a brand new experience for me. Our bus even overheated as we navigated up the mountain. We stayed in a very beautiful cabin where you could walk outside and see the mountain peaks. Throughout the week we spent there i fell in love with Mountain life; the simplicity, the natural beauty, the fresh air and mostly the fact that it wasn’t 100 degrees outside.

Our mission work for the week included leading a vacation bible school for children, leading a sports camp in a nearby neighborhood and doing repairs on a local church. I have memories of the children I met and have articles of clothing that are covered in paint from painting the church but unfortunately much of the 9 day trip has turned foggy over time.

However, what has continuously stuck with me over the years was the hike we went on during our last day. This was probably one of the first real hikes i have ever been on in my life and as we reached the top i could hear a waterfall and when i turned the corner and when saw it my heart stopped beating. Instantly the word “yes” popped into my head. Just the word “yes”. Like this is where i’m supposed to be. All at once i was looking at a waterfall and snow at the top of the mountain, two things i had had almost no exposure to. I was in awe of the view and in awe of the Lord’s vast creation. After this trip to Colorado, i wanted more, so much more. I wanted to see it all. Many things in my life may have changed since i was 13 (i no longer have braces) but my desire to see the world has not.

It was because of this mission trip that i decided to come the college in the Mountains of North Carolina and pursue a degree that would allow me to hike and see many more waterfalls well into my future.

Where are some places that you have had that “yes” moment?

peace out