If I told you that my husband and I fell in love at Granite Sports, I would be telling the truth.
Sure, there were a few other places involved too...we both volunteered for the same non-profit, we attended the same church, and we had several mutual friends. But, a good deal of our romance grew while folding t-shirts at the register in your friendly local gear shop during the fall of 2013 (as romance does). We were engaged the following August (a week after I returned from my solo-jaunt-of-singleness-and-self-discovery...perfect timing, really) and set about planning a wedding, and a honeymoon. In 90 days.
What started as plans for a little honeymoon jaunt to a cozy cabin in the Big Horns turned into plans for a slightly more involved trip to Costa Rica, after a friend gifted us some frequent flyer miles. Of course I was pumped to be going to Costa Rica, but, I was not about to spend a week there just sitting on a beach sipping Pina Coladas. I'd heard enough about that country to know that there was adventure to be had, and I'll be darned if I wasn't going to have it.
After a whole lot of hours on the Google, and a few more hours convincing my husband-to-be, we booked a tree house at a place called Finca Bellavista. Now before you go on imagining a jungle spa resort with japanese mineral baths and boutique dining experiences, let me be clear. The website for the Finca states that you should bring galoshes, luggage without wheels, and definitely flashlights (as there is no electricity in the tree houses). Oh, it also mentions that guests are responsible for finding their own 4-wheel drive transportation for the two-hour drive from the airport into the jungle. This was sounding better and better.
And it was! Our tree house stay at the Finca was incredible, and included waterfall treks, eyelash vipers, and an encounter with a rogue peccary on a day hike. Pretty much all the things every girl dreams of for her honeymoon. I could write and write about the property and the people and the natural beauty of the place, but I'll save that for a different blog post
For now, I just want to highlight some of the Granite Sports gear we packed and used on our trip. There's a lot of travel gear and gadgets on the market, and honestly, some of it is superfluous for most adventures. But there are a few things that are truly worth the investment:
#1) OSPREY PACKS: Like I said, the website for Finca Bella Vista dissuades guests from packing in rolling luggage. This is because you might have to hike up to a mile through the jungle to get from base camp to your tree house. So even though we weren't on a "backpacking" trip, it was really convenient to be able to stuff everything into a big bag and throw it on your back when it was time to go. Since then, I've started using my pack more and my suitcase less on trips for the grab-and-go portability of it.
#2) OSPREY'S AIRPORTER TRAVEL COVERS: A pack cover like the Airporter is important if you plan on checking your pack with the airlines. It keeps all your zippers and straps contained and safely protected from conveyor belts and runway luggage carts, is outfitted with sturdy haul straps for lugging in and out of taxis, and serves as an additional piece of bag should you over-shop at the local handcrafts market.
#3) CHACOS: I pretty much consider these a necessity for life, not just Central American travel. Seriously. They are the Macgyver of footwear. You can hike in them, wade in them, run in them (if you need to, you know, from a rogue peccary...not necessarily your morning jog...), sleep in them, and dance in them. Which I did. At my wedding.
#4) PETZL HEAD LAMPS: Our head lamps were indispensable on this trip. Sure, a standard flashlight will do the trick in a pinch, but when you're trying to cook in the dark it's pretty nice to have both hands free for the important things...like slicing mangos, lighting burners, and grinding coffee.
#5) PATAGONIA TORRENTSHELL RAIN JACKETS: The surprising thing about the rainforest is...it rains. And rains. And rains. We pretty much lived in these jackets for a good portion of the trip. And since it's also hot and humid while it's raining, we were pretty grateful for the pit zips. (Really...don't buy a rain jacket without pit zips. They're brilliant.)
The best way to learn how to pack for a big trip is to go on one and find out what you really wish you had brought, and which things you never even take out of your bag. Regardless, if you head for the jungle with the love of your life you'll probably have a pretty good time either way.
by Marci King
P.S. All the above items are available in-store at Granite Sports in Hill City, or can be special ordered at Granite Sports Online.