Tag Archives: travel

Heading to the lunch stop

Un-Belizeable: Honeymoon Adventures Part One

19th April 2015

With wedding season around the corner (our first invite as a married couple arrived this week) and the fact that Atlanta seems to be channeling its best Portland, it seems like a good opportunity to go ahead and recap one of our best adventures yet: our Belize honeymoon. I wrote about the planning process way, way back. As we wrapped up and headed out, most of the major details stayed the same. The little details however, are always the best part.

After countless words of advice from friends, we opted not to leave the day following the wedding, saving that for rest and more celebration with friends and family. We left the next day, Monday, on an early flight direct from Atlanta to Belize City, a quick three hours.

We split our twelve day trip into two sections with three stops at four days each. As this could get a bit lengthy, I’ll be splitting this round up into three posts. To get started: the jungle.

  1. The Jungle: Caves Branch
  2. The Islands: Caye Caulker
  3. The Islands: Ambergris Caye

A recommendation from a friend and a phone call to the lodge lead us to Caves Branch and the idea of sleeping in a treehouse and daily adventure tours had us booking within minutes.

Arriving in Belize - the walk off plane arrival and entrance to the resort

Arriving in Belize – the walk off plane arrival and entrance to the resort

Upon landing, a guide from Caves Branch was waiting to pick us up at the airport and took us for the hour and half drive into the jungle. When we arrived at Caves Branch, we immediately felt at home. As we’re not ones for large resorts, choosing Belize relied heavily on the fact that we wanted to find small, locally owned places to stay, eat and explore for the duration of our trip. Caves Branch fit the bill perfectly.

room

The entrance to our treehouse and outdoor shower

The view from the lodge and our indoor shower - with a live tree running through it.

The view from the lodge and our indoor shower – with a live tree running through it.

During our time with Caves Branch, there were anywhere from 15 – 25 guests total, low season, but also designed to feel quite intimate. Each night, the chef cooked a three course meal, served family style with the other guests. On several occasions, we were even graced with the presence of Ian Anderson, the resort’s owner for a meal. During dinner, a member of the staff would roam from table to table inquiring which adventure you would like to take for the following day. This proved fantastic, as we were able to chat with other guests about their day’s adventure and gauge what to do next.

Caves Branch

Caves Branch pool

On our first night, we signed up for cave tubing, which it turned out is exactly what it sounds like. Our trip took us on a rather exciting trailer ride through Cave Branch’s citrus farms (they own upwards of 60,000 acres (!!)), to a 15 minute or so hike and into the creek on tire tubes. Picture Shoot the Hooch with fewer people, clearer water and far more beautiful surroundings, we were hooked.

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The tractor ride to the creek

From there, we floated for the better half of the day, in and out of five different cave systems, some big, some small, stopping for a picnic lunch and some cliff jumping halfway.

Entering the first cave

Entering the first cave

Heading to the lunch stop

Heading to the lunch stop

Post cliff jumping

Pre cliff jumping

A quick walking break between caves

A quick walking break between caves

Final cave

Final cave

Blurry blue, blue waters

Blurry blue, blue waters

The literal light at the end of the tunnel

The literal light at the end of the tunnel

Each day’s adventure put us back to the lodge around 3:00, where we could spend afternoons by the pool with nachos and Cokes with real sugar or rum punches until dinner. Heaven.

Day two took us on our favorite adventure of the trip (and also darkest), cliff water-falling. While our GoPro footage turned out TERRIBLE from this adventure (who knew you can’t film in the dark and expect a headlamp to suffice), the trip itself was incredible.

To begin, we headed back into a different section of the jungle, where we hiked through the jungle for a half hour. From there, we went into a single cave system and then hiked for another an hour or so. During the cave hike, water ranged anywhere from a trickle beneath our feet to waist deep. Before heading to the falls portion of the hike, we stopped to have lunch inside of the cave, only supported by our head lamps.

Pretend

Pretend you can tell what’s happening here. As a hint: it’s lunch on a giant rock

As a result, the photos here are about as good as it gets. You’ll have to use your imagination for the rest. After lunch, we climbed a series of five waterfalls. One of the five required a clip in, the rest were free climbs. Once we reached the back of the cave, it was back the way we came, but jumping and swimming on our way out.

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One and only halfway decent photo from inside the caves – and without water up to our knees!

After our final difficult rock maneuvering, I somehow managed to face plant in the sand, though luckily I was at the back of the group and only Patrick noticed. I did leave Belize with a pretty nasty hand gash and leg cut. The photo here doesn’t do it its disgusting justice. Scars from your honeymoon: check.IMG_4223

Day three took us out of the water and back onto land for a Mayan ruins tour. While the Mayan ruins run throughout Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, Belize boasts a few amazing stops. We visited two Xuantunich and Cahal Pech. I won’t attempt to try to recount the history here, but we were quite in awe by both the stories and the surroundings.

A hand cranked ferry took us across the river and up to the ruins

A hand cranked ferry took us across the river and up to the ruins

The Mayan ruins are also known as a popular cruise ship stop, but our guide timed it just right and we basically had the place to ourselves, only seeing the tourist buses as we departed. Score.

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Before heading up

 

Us at the top. Please note, guardrails are not a thing in Belize

Us at the top. Please note, guardrails are not a thing in Belize

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View from the top

The second stop

The second stop

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Inside the ruins

Next stop: island life. Stay tuned for part two later this week. It does involve a lot of this…

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Updated! Find part two, Caye Caulker, here. If you’re really looking to jump ahead, find part three, Ambergris Caye, here. 

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A Southern Tri-State Adventure

14th October 2013

A downside of this whole adulthood deal has to be moving away from the friends you also had the chance to have a three year long spend the night party with.

So this summer, when my we found out that Jack Johnson would be coming to town during the same week as our best friend was getting married, Elizabeth and I immediately began scheming for how to work out a bit of a road trip to accompany it all.

While Jack would be coming to Atlanta to play at the Fox Theatre (one of the coolest things about his From Here to Now tour is that he is only playing in small and intimate venues), we actually decided to risk our cards and vie for tickets (the tickets are running on a lottery system) to his show in Nashville at the historic Ryman Auditorium.

So here’s what our weekend looked like:  Atlanta – to Chattanooga (where Elizabeth lives) – to Nashville – to Atlanta – to Hiram (bridal brunch) – to Piedmont, AL (wedding location) – to Atlanta. In three days.

For illustrative purposes only, clearly, we took a much more direct route.

For illustrative purposes only, clearly, we took a much more direct route.

I hadn’t been to Nashville since high school, so it was quite the treat to see it in a whole new light. We were welcomed to town in rather appropriate fashion, as a Big and Rich music video was filming just as we walked up after checking into our hotel.Big and Rich

Per suggestions of multiple friends, we grabbed dinner at Merchant’s. The restaurant is separated into a dressier upstairs and slightly more casual downstairs, but rest assured, all delicious. Another perk of vacationing with your BFF? Splitting meals to try a little of everything on the menu.Merchants

From there, the Ryman and Jack certainly didn’t under deliver. Stunning. I cannot say I have EVER heard acoustics so lovely in my life. We danced, we swooned, it was definitely better together.Jack Johnson Ryman

We made a few stops the following morning, like a run through Vandy’s campus and Hatch Print Shop, before making a slight trek north to the Southern Living Idea House. I visited last year’s house in Senoia, Georgia, and we couldn’t come all this way and not stop to dream swing for a little on this front porch.Front Porch Swing - Southern Living Idea House

From Nashville, we made a quick stop in my hometown for bridal activities and from there it was onward to Alabama. The best part of a road trip is always the roadside attractions and in our book that means cheesy state line photo shoots and an antique warehouse of course.Antique Store

I nabbed quite a few goodies, including two yards of designer home fabric and three bud vases, along with a few other odds and ends for a grand total of $7.00. Don’t let anyone tell you the middle of no where isn’t any fun.

State Line

Wedding day arrived, it was beautiful and we got to stand by the side of one of our best friends as she said I Do on the shores of Terrapin Creek. We made the most of every moment of the weekend, even spending time wading in the creek on wedding morning. Just like a front porch swing, we could have stayed on a rock, with our toes in the water, chatting all day long. We may have even squeezed in a mid-day Coke float to match. I’m not sure it gets more perfectly southern than that.Jessica and Ryan

After three days, three states and nearly 14 hours in the car together, we headed back to our separate homes. While I’m certainly a fan of trips far and away, it’s nice to find a set of adventures close to home.Terrapin Creek

Dayzipping: exploring the real world one adventure at a time

11th January 2012

I’m an avid outdoors fan, and there is no way I’d rather spend my weekends than hiking, running trails, or exploring the backroads beyond 285. Finding somewhere new however, is not always the easiest of tasks, and let’s just say the people who manage the outdoors spaces I love aren’t typically whiz kids when it comes to SEO, easy to use websites or social presences.

Yesterday while reading a blog post on local Atlanta startups, I stumbled across a company I had not heard of before and within the last 24 hours, it may be my new favorite app on the market.

Dayzipping allows users to select a city and preview a selection of days trips within their area to sort by various categories such as distance, popularity, price or theme.

Let’s compare dayzipping to Scoutmob, but with deals and adventures to take you someplace to burn all of those calories you just consumed at 50% off.

Currently available as a website and Andriod app (+1 for finding something my Apple lovers can’t have just yet), dayzipping is an easy to use experience to stumble across some of your areas most well hidden treasures, all in one place.

I can’t wait to get out explore, starting with this trip this weekend.

How do you discover things to do around your area? What are your favorite Atlanta destinations on the cheap?