1,000 KM in Costa Rica With Elephant Moto – Day 7

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January 5th, 2019 – La Fortuna, Costa Rica to Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica: ~130 miles


Did you miss Day 6? Vy and I navigate around Lake Arenal.

Before we leave on road trips, Vy has to “book out” with her agents to let them know that she’s not available for auditions. Without fail, one of the agents manages to screw the dates up, and then we’re stuck having to film an audition in a random hotel room to submit a tape online. Well…I say without fail, but this time it was Vy’s fault. She had booked out Monday-Friday, because who would have an audition on a Saturday? Apparently, Cape Cod potato chips. I omitted this from the Day 6 report, but Vy got a voicemail from her new commercial agent while we were on the road yesterday, and it’s bad form to miss an audition (especially with a new agent).

The end result was that Vy decided to move her flight back a day early, but that meant we had to head to the airport a day early, as well. Today’s highlight was supposed to be a sloth sanctuary visit – Chris had put us in touch with a location he’s recommended to several travelers. I mean, look at this picture of Chris with a sloth from said sanctuary, how could you not want to go?

Unfortunately, we no longer had the time. So I wheeled the bike out of the hotel and we headed to the airport in San Jose.

I felt lucky that we decided to see sloths instead of going surfing on Day 4, otherwise Vy would have gone home without seeing any and the trip would have been a bit of a letdown. This guy pointed us in the the direction towards the airport.

If only LA was actually this close…

Seeing as the wheelie photo yesterday didn’t work out, we made it a point to grab one while Vy was still with me to take the shot. Poás is an active volcano (last erupted in September of 2019) that I thought would make for an excellent background, even if the clouds weren’t being cooperative.

There are several route options from la Fortuna to San Jose, but Chris at Elephant Moto suggested that we take Route 126, which splits a couple of national parks and goes by a famous Starbucks coffee farm. Per usual, Chris’ suggestion was excellent – this was the best road of the trip, at least in terms of sporty pavement riding. The surface was in excellent condition, the curves had good visibility, and there were constant elevation changes as we followed a cliff’s edge surrounded by lush vegetation. We got to enjoy this view for quite a while – it was truly spectacular.

A gaggle of GS riders were also enjoying the same stretch of pavement.

Vy absolutely stuns me with some of the photos she’s able to take from the back of the bike with a camera that priorities ruggedness over image quality. I don’t even remember seeing this tree.

We pulled over at a lookout to admire a river cutting through the valley.

While I was admiring the view, Vy was “attacked” by a dog.

Chris at Elephant Moto had also suggested that we visit the nearby La Paz Waterfall Gardens Nature Park, however that wasn’t going to be feasible as we had to cut things short to get Vy to the airport. So we gave Baby Jack a quick scooter ride instead.

This magical road apparently knew that Vy and I weren’t going to be able to hike up to the waterfall park, so it provided one for us to enjoy. What a view!

Randomly parked on the street was the coolest motorcycle I saw in Costa Rica – a Yamaha TDR250!

At the other end of the trifecta was a bike I’ve never seen before – a Yamaha YT115.

Our last planned stop of the trip was at Hacienda Alsacia, the sole coffee farm owned by Starbucks. I don’t drink coffee, but it still seemed like an interesting place to check out.

Another Chinese-made “Katana” motorcycle. Did you know that Suzuki actually made a 250cc version of the original Katana for a couple of years?

I wondered what was so valuable here that would require a security guard to have a handgun.

Because of Vy’s flight, we didn’t have time for a formal tour of the grounds. Baby Jack decided to explore the lobby and shop instead.

Vy got something to drink – not a bad place to enjoy a cup of joe!

As you can imagine, some of the locals don’t care for the presence of such a large company nearby. A local bus stop advertised “the real coffee tour”.

We made our way back to Elephant Moto to grab Vy’s luggage before her flight – they were kind enough to store our non-motorcycling gear while we were on the road. Chris was on vacation but his associate Juanca was ready for us and ensured that we were in and out as quickly as possible.

While in town, we stopped at a post office so she could get stamps to mail out some postcards. It doesn’t matter where we are, she always manages to find cute dogs.

Alas, Vy’s time in Costa Rica was just about over.

Just outside of the domestic terminal is a plane called the St. Louis Robin. As explained on General Aviation News, it’s a 1929 Curtiss Robin set an endurance record by staying aloft for 17 days (or more specifically, 420 hours and 17 minutes). That record would stand until the summer of 1930. It was purchased by Carlos Macaya Ortiz approximately a decade ago, went to Barnstmr’s Random Aeronautics in 2014 to become airworthy again, and then went to Costa Rica. The Barnstormer page above has a great story explaining what happened, noting that Carlos’ father was “considered one of (if not the main forefathers of aviation in Costa Rica)” and that he had a Robin in San Jose in 1933. Carlos wanted to bring a Robin back to Costa Rica, and this was selected because of its history and the fact that it still had the original Challenger engine.

While Vy got unpacked…

…I admired some interesting bikes that were parked at the airport:

I was surprised that Suzuki actually officially named this the “Gixxer”:

I had to say bye to Vy, but I still had another day to spend in Costa Rica. Problem was, I had no idea what to do! I thought about asking Chris for a recommendation, but I felt bad bugging him as he was on vacation. I got lunch nearby at a Tex-Mex restaurant, of all places, and tried to figure out how I should enjoy the next 24 hours.

I almost never see the BMW G650X in the US, and I was very surprised to find one in Costa Rica. This gentleman seemed to enjoy seeing two members of the BMW family next to each other.

The restaurant had a few American license plates inside, including a stereotypical representation of Montana. Eventually I gave up and sent Chris a message asking for some recommendations. He gave me a couple of easy day trip options, but then shocked me (in a good way) by suggested that I join him and his family at the vacation home they were staying at in Playa Hermosa near Jaco. Part of me felt like I should leave him be, but Chris was quite insistent and I figured it’d be a good excuse for me to catch up with him and learn more about Elephant Moto.

Christian Bale with a fake beard said I should go see Chris, so it was decided.

It’s easy to take this type of landscape for granted down here.

Beachside levels of gear.

If you see this photo and don’t think “I wonder what ridiculousburgers.com is like?“, I’m not sure we can be friends. Unfortunately, the answer is a bit boring – it redirects to the restaurant’s Facebook page. They make quite a series of claims – home of Costa Rica’s biggest/cheapest/most exotic/hottest/tallest/meatiest/most expensive/best gourmet burgers. I didn’t bother to verify myself.

Welcome to Playa Hermosa (“Beautiful Beach”). The sign says “do not take more than photos, do not leave more than footprints”. Or stickers, I guess.

I figured tire tracks didn’t count as footprints, so this was as close as I got to the beach with the GS.

Meet Luna, Chris’ 13 year-old black labrador who had recently become blind. It was interesting to see how she responded to the beach that she clearly remembered and loved.

You can also meet this pup! Chris has some good dogs.

As I was getting settled in at Chris’ place, I got a text from Vy. Even though we couldn’t go to the sloth sanctuary today, she still managed to find one at the airport! Sort of.

Chris was there with his lovely wife and daughter, as well as a few other family members. While dinner was being prepped, Chris and I caught up as we watched some NFL playoffs. Dinner was already looking wonderful, when out of nowhere the doorbell rang. A local fisherman had just caught some lobster and was selling some door to door. I had no problem rubbing this new development in Vy’s face.

It was a little slice of heaven – the house was beautiful and the back doors simply opened up onto the beach! The area was so nice that a wedding was happening two doors down in someone’s backyard/on the beach. I sank into a chair and relaxed with a Corona as I watched the sun go down.

So my evening turned into a chat with a new friend and his lovely family, the freshest lobster I’ll have in a long time, and lots of rum. Chris was practicing with a new DJI drone he had just acquired – I tried to pass along some advice that Nathan had given me, but I probably wasn’t a great source considering I had lost my own DJI drone on Day 2 of the trip! Oh well.

I have a better photo of the actual sunset…but this shot more accurately sums up how excellent my evening was. I can’t thank Chris enough for allowing me to hang out with him, it really improved the end of my trip.

Tomorrow I’d wrap things up in this wonderful country…

On to Day 8!

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