Eco-Friendly Costa Rica is Gay Friendly Too

Author: , February 9th, 2019

eco-friendly costa rica - advocate

If there’s one thing Costa Ricans value above all else, it’s community. Pura vida is more than a friendly motto written on hats or T-shirts for tourists to buy at souvenir shops. Directly translated as “pure life,” it is closer to American ideas of the “simple life.” And in Costa Rica, the concept is part of their heritage and runs deep in the soil. The phrase is a reminder to not sweat the small stuff and instead focus on things that matter: friends, family, and most importantly, love.

In a country that’s home to five million people and nearly a thousand species of birds—including two of my favorites, the keelbilled toucan and the scarlet macaw — pura vida permeates through every experience you have. Whether you’re staying at a fancy resort or hiking on a crowded trail, you’ll find pura vida is a shared human language that transcends differences and unites those who embrace it.

For many LGBTQ people living in Costa Rica, social norms have noticeably shifted in recent years, thanks to wider visibility in smaller communities. While the country is widely known for its environmental efforts (embracing eco-tourism early) and lack of an army (the nation instead chooses to invest its money in agriculture) and Catholic traditions, citizens are still hungry for social progress.

By David Artavia – Full Story at the Advocate

Costa Rica Gay Travel Resources

 

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument – Free Wheel Drive

Author: , February 8th, 2019

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument - Free Wheel Drive

The Grand Staircase Escalante is huge! It’s bigger than the Great Salt Lake. The largest lake in the U.S. that’s not a great lake.

A short 45 minute drive from Bryce Canyon is the enormous Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. It spans from the eastern boundaries of Bryce Canyon to Lake Powell Recreation Area.

To be honest we knew very little about what to do at the monument. Luckily we passed by an open visitor center on the way and a friendly staff member gave us more than enough information to keep us busy for weeks. We planned for about 4 full days including a day to sit at our campsite and rest. With our time we were only able to explore a section of the far Northwest corner and the far Northeast corner.

This vast land is made of canyons, plateaus, dessert life, rivers, waterfalls, ancient ruins, and dinosaur bones.

GSENM is apart of the Grand Staircase, duh. A vast area of land that stretches South from Bryce Canyon to Zion to The Grand Canyon forming a sort of sequence of steps. GSENM encompasses several of these “steps” aka layers of sedimentary rock. Refer to the photo below for a visual or our last post.

By Laura and Camrin – Full Story at Free Wheel Drive

Utah Gay Travel Resources

 

Zion National Park – Free Wheel Drive

Author: , December 13th, 2018

Zion National Park - Free Wheel Drive

Starting our Southern Utah tour with the famous Zion National Park. We spent three full days hiking into deep canyons and up the steepest scariest trails we have ever been on. Zion is most well known for its namesake canyon, Zion Canyon. The canyon is 15 miles long and up to 2,640 ft deep! Walls of the canyon are a beautiful reddish color from the layers of Navajo Sandstone. A shuttle system takes visitors up and down the Virgin River/Canyon to several trailheads, museums, and a hotel.

The canyon area was very busy with tourists during our visit, but we found that getting to the park early and hopping on the shuttle right away helped cut down on time spent waiting in line. Once in the heart of the canyon, we never had to wait more than five minutes for a shuttle. Shuttles were implemented in the 1970s as a way to reduce traffic, smog, and noise pollution. Because of the reduced car traffic, wildlife has been able to return to the canyon floor.

A Very Brief History

Zion has a long history of Native Americans thriving along the Virgin River and exploring the nearby slot canyons further up the river. It is estimated that people lived in the area as long as 8,000 years ago. It was the Mormons who were the first white people to settle the area. Mormons petitioned the National Park Service to change the park’s name to Zion. The Latter Day Saints refer to Zion as a utopia for the righteous. Seeing how beautiful the landscape is here, it’s easy to see why people thought it could be a utopia. President Woodrow Wilson made Zion an official national park in 1919.

By Laura and Camrin – Full Story at Free Wheel Drive

Utah Lesbian Travel Resources

 

Hiking the Vermilion Cliffs – Free Wheel Drive

Author: , November 28th, 2018

Vermilion Cliffs - Free Wheel Drive

This area of Arizona and Utah is a hot spot for Slot Canyons. What is a Slot Canyon? Slot Canyons are narrow passages formed by rivers that are now mostly dried up. Slot canyons are significantly deeper than they are wide. Hikers can follow the dried river beds that pass through the canyons. Sometimes the canyons can be very narrow, filled with debris, or can fill with water in a flash flood. Meaning they can be dangerous and hikers must be prepared and not go solo.

The tragic movie 127 Hours was about a solo hiker exploring slot canyons in this area of the country. The most famous slot canyon right now is Antelope Canyon near Page, AZ. Antelope Canyon is on the Navajo Reservation and access to this slot canyon is run by people who live on the reservation.

Unfortunately, because this canyon has become so popular on Instagram the demand to see it has skyrocketed and the reservation charges a lot of money to see it. We’re not saying we’re mad at the people who run the sight, it’s not public land and they have every right to make money off of tourists. It’s just for the moment seeing Antelope Canyon was out of our price range. So, what are we to do?

Good thing this area of the country is packed full of similar if not equally as beautiful other slot canyons. This is how we became introduced to Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. This National Monument is huge! It’s also very different from any other National Monument we have been to yet.

By Laura and Camrin – Full Story at Free Wheel Drive

Northern Arizona Gay Travel Resources

 

Udon Thani’s Red Lotus Sea – Once Upon a Journey

Author: , November 16th, 2018

Red Lotus Sea - Once Upon a Journey

YES! Thailand still has hidden gems only a few (western) tourists know about. Talay Bua Daeng – or Red Lotus Sea – in Northeast Thailand is one of those gems and it’s definitely one for the bucket list. CNN named it one of the world strangest lakes in 2014 and well, it’s not a lake you see every day – for sure.

Imagine a lake with thousands of pink flowers, spreading as far as the eye can see!

Getting on the lake by boat is one of the most romantic experiences we’ve ever done. And Valentine’s is actually the perfect time to visit: the red lotuses only bloom a couple of months each year. But that makes the experience the more special. It is quite off the famous routes through Thailand though, but no worries: we will tell you everything you need to know about visiting this magical pink lake.

The season for the pink flowers to bloom is from December to the end of February, just after the rainy season. When you visit, make sure to go early in the morning. From sunrise to noon you can see the water lilies opened up: they open when they see the first morning light and close when the midday heat comes.

By Roxanne Weijer – Full Story at Once Upon a Journey

Thailand Gay Travel Resources

 

Instagram Almost Ruined Horseshoe Bend – Free Wheel Drove

Author: , November 1st, 2018

Horseshoe Bend

Located outside Page, Arizona on the borders of Coconino and Navajo counties is the awesome landscape feature, Horseshoe Bend. Here the mighty Colorado River continues to cut through the land and has created a near perfect horseshoe shaped bend in the river.

From the parking lot it is only a .75 mile walk to the lookout area. Its a steady climb up and the bend isn’t visible until you reach the overlook’s edge. It’s free to visit and easy to access.

After spending most of the day in the Grand Canyon we didn’t arrive to Horseshoe Bend until nightfall. Laura was pumped for a chance at taking a photo with a good sunset. However, upon approaching the overlook we were met with hundreds of people. The whole area above the bend was crawling with people, wedding couples getting engagement photos, and drones. It was a nightmare. An hour before sunset the best spot for viewing the bend was already packed with people and their tripods. We had to tuck into a small spot off to the side to get a decent photo of the bend at sunset.

For those who don’t have Instagram, you may have never seen a photo or even heard of Horseshoe Bend. Well, thanks to a few popular people and social media this landscape has become a tourist hot spot galore. Several tourist buses stop through out the day and the parking lot is packed from sun up to sundown. There are scantily clad “models” posing like ballerinas on the cliff edges. We saw a wedding party complete with a bride in gown getting their photos taken here. One drone noisily buzzed above the crowd. We kind of knew it was going to be busy, we didn’t think it would be this busy. At least, we planned to stay the night and would be better prepared for sunrise.

The Lake Powell Recreation Area manages the “bend” and they are starting to put in better infrastructure to handle the crowds, including a deck with a railing near the overlook. As long as social media stays popular this place seems like it will remain popular.

By Laura – Full Story at free Wheel Drive

Northern Arizona Gay Travel Resources

 

See the Grand Canyon in Two Days! – Free Wheel Drive

Author: , October 24th, 2018

Grand Canyon - Free Wheel Drive

The Grand Canyon is in Northern Arizona just north of Flagstaff. This park is massive and beautiful and it houses one of the most amazing wonders of the world. We only had two full days to spend at the park, so we packed in as much as we could. The weather was chilly with patches of rain, but we had a blast exploring the Grand Canyon National Park!

We stuck to the South Rim area, the most popular area. The South Rim has the hotels, large visitor center, and a shuttle system to help one get around. We asked around for hiking recommendations and the two trials that had a lot of feed back were The Bright Angle and South Kaibob Trails.With the weather being a little chilly and potential for rain we figured it was a good idea to have places to hang out inside. For it being our first time at the Grand Canyon the South Rim is a great place to start.

When driving North towards the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you’ll spot Humphrey’s peak over Flagstaff. Arizona’s tallest peak. As we entered the Flagstaff area the barren landscape of shrubs and badlands turns to pine trees and snow.

We first arrived at the park late in the afternoon. This was a chance for us to find our way around, figure out our to do list, and get our first glimpse of the canyon.

By Laura Dierbeck – Full Story at Free Wheel Drive

Arizona Lesbian Travel Resources

 

Queer Family Hiking in Bend, Oregon – 2TravelDads

Author: , October 22nd, 2018

Queer Family Hiking in bend, Oregon - 2TravelDads

Bend, Oregon with kids is an ideal vacation plan. Seriously. We just returned from a week long fall trip to Bend and enjoyed the culture and outdoors of Bend so much that we’re chatting about doing a return trip to consider and research moving there. We were based out of LOGE Camps Entrada Lodge on the Cascade Lakes Highway and couldn’t have been more pleased how it added to our Bend itinerary.

Check out our really cool, perfect family accommodations at LOGE Camps Entrada as well as our family friendly Bend itinerary for taking advantage of the outdoors. It’s the perfect vacation plan to make you fall in love with Central Oregon.

Staying at LOGE Camps Entrada Lodge

We first stayed at a LOGE Camps location in Westport, Washington and we were hooked. LOGE Camps are the coolest compounds perfect for outdoor lovers and families. LOGE Entrada is the newest member to the collection of family-friendly hotels in the group. Located just outside of the main downtown area of Bend, LOGE Entrada is on the way out to Mount Bachelor and the Deschutes National Forest. The location was perfect for us and our outdoors-focused Bend itinerary.

The rooms at LOGE Entrada are super cool, as they’ve been updated to incorporate outdoor elements like rustic wood and hammocks. Some accommodations have bike racks in the rooms themselves, others have exterior storage lockers with locks/keys provided. In the event you’re not prepared for the adventures, LOGE has everything you need for purchase, from Yeti coolers to metal coffee tumblers, charging cables to hammocks.

By Rob Taylor – Full Story at 2TravelDads

Bend Gay Travel Resources

 

Petrified Forest National Park – Free Wheel Drive

Author: , August 25th, 2018

Petrified Forest National Park - Free Wheel Drive

After a brief stop in Pheonix where we were able to meet up with our friend, Kirsten, and celebrate St. Patricks day we were off to the lesser known Petrified Forest National Park. The drive to get there was lovely. Through the mountains of the Tonto National Forest, and the high plains of Arizona.

Tucked in the Eastern side of Arizona, between the Navajo and Apache reservations, is the “smallish” park, Petrified Forest NP. At an elevation of 5,000 feet, it is a dramatically different landscape compared to the tall cactus filled Southern portion of Arizona. The landscape here is short sage bushes, prairie grasses, and colorful badland like hill formations.

The two days we visited the weather was chilly and windy, but still, this park is beautiful, colorful, and we learned a ton about geology and what a petrified forest is. Also, we found the park very easy to explore. With two entrances on opposite sides of the park and a 26mile long road connecting the two sides, it is a very easy park to navigate.

Along the drive are several established hiking trails and scenic viewpoints to break up the drive. One to two days is all you really need to see everything. We saw most of everything in less than two days.

By Camrin LaFond – Full Story at Free Wheel Drive

Arizona Gay Travel Resources

Cenotes Near Cancun – 2TravelDads

Author: , August 24th, 2018

Cenotes Near Cancun - 2TravelDads

The Yucatan Peninsula is full of unique experiences from Mayan ruins and swimming with sea turtles to jumping into enormous natural swimming pools: cenotes. Cenotes are really a highlight to any Cancun vacation or road trip around the Yucatan and we’ve chosen our favorites, the best cenotes to visit in Mexico.

This handy how-to guide is also full of information about what you need to bring for a day in the cenotes, what to expect with the many types of cenotes, and our top tips for photographing cenotes and all the fun you can have.

What is a cenote and how do I visit?

Cenotes are a type of cave or sinkhole. They are typically formed in the same manner as caves with fresh water percolating through the earth and meeting up with the aquifer, or underground river. This erosion creates small and large holes in the earth’s surface and gives access to the beautiful, crystal clear waters of the aquifer.

What to expect at different cenotes

Because each cenote is different from the next, you’ll have totally different experiences. The cenotes near Cancun and Playa del Carmen are more built up around the exterior to make it easier for tourists to visit, but then as you go inland you’ll find cenotes that are much more rugged and surrounded by jungle.

One cenote near Playa del Carmen, Cenote Azul, is very open with many different fresh water pools surrounding a large one, yet Cenote Dos Ojos near Tulum are very dark caves with a slow flowing river moving you through the caverns. Some cenotes have fish in them and bats flying overhead and others are just a grand bubbling spring like you might find in Florida.