Tag Archives: tourism

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

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— http://www.treasuretromp.com


Things I’m Looking Forward To

As the end of the semester approaches and i feel myself getting trapped in a never ending cycle of school work and sleep and then more school work (and some blogging). The thing that is motivating me through these dull times are the EXCITING things that I have coming up in the next few weeks and months. In no particular order here are some things that you can look forward to reading about in the near future.



I go to school in the Mountains of North Carolina so snowboarding is pretty popular, not as popular as up North or out West but popular none the less. My freshman year in college I even got to take snowboarding as a PE credit. Unreal I know. Last year I got a snowboard for my Birthday and spent the majority of my winter hitting the slopes every chance I got. The mountain opens any day now and I cannot wait to be back in action and snowboarding with my bestfriends. Another added excitement to this is to finally get to wear my early Christmas present, a new snowboarding Jacket. Having my old pink one since the 7th grade I finally decided to ask for a new one this Christmas. I found this beautiful blue Dakine jacket for 50% off at a local sale.


Getting to see my Family

Ever since I have left for college I spend very little time back at home in Wilmington. I go to school across the state and have spent my past 2 summers in Maine so my time at home is limited to holidays and extended school breaks. I haven’t even seen my brother-in-law since May so I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas with the ENTIRE family.

Getting to see my Friends

Like I said, I spend very little time at home and when I do it usually doesn’t correspond to when my friends that attend other colleges are home. Christmas break is the one-time throughout the school year that almost all my friends I grew up with are home at the same time! This year I will be hosting my 3rd annual Christmas cookie party and will get to see all of my closest friends from highschool. Which brings me to my next exciting thing…


When I was younger, okay to this day, I love to bake. I always love a good excuse to bring out the apron and my kitchenaid mixer (that was my christmas gift when i was 14) and whip up a batch of cookies. Because I am in college, have a very tiny kitchen and frankly can’t afford to buy ingredients I only get a chance to bake again around the Holidays. I can’t wait (and neither can my friends) to get back in the kitchen to whip up some of my favorite recipes. Definitely recipes and pictures to come.


Yes, I said it, COSTA RICA!! I just made my last payment so it couldn’t be more official! I am leaving on January 2nd for a 9 day trip through Costa Rica where I will be touring and learning about eco and sustainable tourism efforts in Costa Rica while having TONS of fun along the way. I am so excited not only to travel somewhere new but also to learn about an industry that I would love to work in one day!

Leave a comment and let me know what you are excited this upcoming holiday season and Winter!

Peace Out–HAYUP

The Stingray Excursion


In the January, 1989 issue of National Geographic David Doubilet wrote the article, “Ballet with Stingrays” documenting his photographs and experiences with these creatures. He reported, “I had always thought of stingrays, with their broad wings and graceful movements, as almost mythological beasts: part bird, part fish…I find them to be gentle, wondrous birds of the sea.”

This past summer,I had my first opportunity to swim and feed stingrays at Stingray City in the Cayman Islands. David Doubilet was correct, the stingrays were beautiful and alluring. I, along with the people I was with, were nervous getting into the water and having stingrays with weapons at the end of their tails swim freely around our ankles. Luckily our guides were calming and reassuring and I was successful in holding, kissing and feeding a stingray.

When i go on tours like this I am always the girl asking tons of questions ( my 4th grade teacher used the word inquisitive). In most cases the people leading these types of tours love what they do and have incredible amounts of first hand experience so I tend to take advantage of it, but i have never had any complaints.

With hundreds of visitors coming to this particular site each day (and millions annually) this makes an obvious impact on the stingrays themselves and I, along with the people I was with, were very curious to learn how the stingrays remain protected and safe. After all, we did kiss them so we felt an emotional connection to them. The tour guides were able to give us their own personal company’s efforts but were not exactly wildlife conservationist so when I returned back home I did some research on the impact we are having on these slimy creatures by “trespassing” on their habitats.

NOVA Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute did a study on this exact area, Stingray city in the Cayman Islands. They found that the actions and behaviors of this population of stingrays had drifted far away from that of their wild counterparts. Because of the large amount of traffic in this underwater city the stingrays have almost unlimited access to food and no longer have the need to hunt or scavenge. As a result the stingrays of Stingray city no longer travel large areas, usually at night, to find food nor do they abide by their usual solitary habits. These stingrays now remain more active during the day, when the visitors arrive, feed in groups and even mate year round instead of seasonally. These stingrays, that individually can bring up to $500,000 annually from tourist, have been subject to a dramatic behavioral change due to the presence of human provided food.

Even though it has been 24 years since David Doubilet wrote this article his final words in his article still stand, “ If Cayman Islands officials protect the rays, divers continue to feed them, and human visitors treat them with gentleness and respect, they will provide one of the most rewarding, experiences in the undersea world.”

I tell you this to raise awareness so that you choose to book with a respectable agency, to leave no trace and understand the needs for conservation and research to ensure that these beautiful birds of the sea remain a part of our underwater ecosystem for generations to come.

Thanks for reading,