Costa Rica


Oh, Costa Rica…how we miss you so!!  What an epic family trip we had this summer!  It all starts with last Christmas…we gave up getting Christmas presents for the kids the millisecond that Santa was not real became a realization.  We did this for several reasons.  First, our kids have everything they could possibly need and we hope to teach them that the next best gadget/toy/gizmo/trendy item will not add to their happiness and in the grand scheme of life, means nothing.  Case in point, we have had family ask our kids no less than 1 week after a Christmas filled with presents, “What did you get this Christmas?” only to be answered with a “I don’t remember” or that next best gadget/toy/gizmo/trendy item lays unused in the floor of the closet two weeks after unwrapping.  Secondly and more sadly, Christmas has become a consumer holiday and no longer represents what our family believes Christmas is about: the birth of our Christ.  So out Christmas presents go and in for the win is this: in lieu of presents, the kids must collectively agree on any destination in the world (as long as it is safe, stable, etc) that they want to take a big trip to!  And what a winner this has become…the kids still talk about that time they swam with the dolphins in the Bahamas, or that time Maggie puked up pineapple after a twisty mountain caravan ride, or that time when we held a wild caiman baby pulled straight from the Amazon river!  Yes, you spend more in the long run, but the experiences and world view that this provides is priceless!


So much excitement with these kidaroos!

Without further ado…Costa Rica with kids!  After landing in San Jose, Costa Rica, we were escorted to the phenomenal hotel, Leaves and Lizards, owned by an expat American couple who are extremely knowledgeable about the area and run an impeccable inn with awesome staff!  The retreat is in the Arenal area and the grounds of the hotel are GORGEOUS, including the open air dining area, the only on the property.  On the first two nights, we stayed in the Hobbit House (one of the raddest places we have ever lodged) which looks exactly like it sounds!  A unique private cabin that is partly underground and built into the hillside with an awesome terrace overlooking beautiful views and a partially outdoor shower.  Sitting on our terrace, we saw numerous hummingbirds, insects shaded all kinds of brilliant colors, marching ants and all kinds of fauna and flowers.


An enormous picture window for views from the master bed!


Leaves as ginormous as your body!!


  Did you know Hobbits need milk???  Perfect size home for this little hobbit!


                For the remainder of our stay at Leaves and Lizards, we stayed in the Congo Cabin, which had the best views of the two.  It had a huge porch that overlooked Volcano Arenal and the jungle!


Look at this view!!  Absolute paradise!

                Other perks that made our base here amazing:  no telephones or TV (the only wifi and tele on the property was in the common dining area), loads of fun on-site activities to choose from, and the close proximity to the jungle and adventure activities.  Highly recommend Leaves and Lizards Resort!





         During our stay in the Arenal area, we packed our days with fun activities!  The resort offers horseback riding through the jungle, which we made sure to take advantage of as this is one of Emma’s favorite things to do!  The owner of Leaves and Lizards also specializes in horse therapy and was very patient with those of our group (me) that are apprehensive of the horse species.  And by apprehensive, I really mean terrified.  Horses are very large animals and I always feel like they are looking at me sideways, suspiciously if you will, that they are likely thinking how to bite a chunk out of my leg or kick me in the spleen.  But as the old adage states, “Do something every day that scares you”; I did just that!  And it was a blast!  After discussing my fears (out loud and in front of ten people) WITH the horse, my new friend neighed and shook his head and apparently all was well with the world.  So after our intimate bonding experience, we saddled up and rode out into the jungle and saw monkeys and sloths along the way to a short hike to a raging waterfall where we also had a picnic lunch before heading back.  Fantastic experience with a fantastic guide from Leaves and Lizards!


Miss Emma having the day of her life!






Conversing with my horse… my body language is hysterical in this picture!  “Please don’t kick my kiddos, please don’t bite my leg, please don’t put me through spider webs!!!”


The hike to the waterfall



While we were hiking, I just happened to spy this little guy on the floor of the jungle!  I have wanted to see one of these since I was a little girl!


I spy with my little eyes…an upside down sloth!!



Our meal times at Leaves and Lizards were in the open air dining area with these views:



Volcano Arenal with morning tea!

And there were always resident (and wild) creatures that joined us for meals!



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The resort garden is in the background of this picture!  The first pineapple garden I have seen!  I never realized that they grow on the ground!



This was at breakfast one day!  Breathtaking!


Dining area at Leaves and Lizards

Ziplining was on the agenda next!  We went through Arenal Mundo Aventura and it was a great company!  Fantastic staff, great views, good cameraman, and safe lines!









Large gringo!


The mark of a true zipliner:  mud splatter!



Several of our nights in the Arenal area, we spent enjoying the gorgeous hot springs at The Springs Resort and Spa, where we purchased day passes that allow you to enjoy the hot springs and other amenities without actually lodging at the resort.  There are numerous hot springs and pools—one hot spring even has a slide, which the kids took full advantage of—great food, a swim up bar, game room, spa, etc.  Highly recommend a stop here!




Game room shenanigans!

What looms out of the dark depths of the jungle?!?…..





After a puddle jumping tribute to the rainy jungle and a good night’s sleep, the next leg of our trip was up!


Next it was off to the coast in the Manual Antonio area!  About a 5-6 hour car ride through twisty mountainous roads will drop you off at the gorgeous Pacific coast abundant with sunny weather and plentiful beaches and a laid back surfer inspired atmosphere.   Our car ride was slightly prolonged due to Maggie hacking up all the pineapple in the land of Costa Rica all over my arm, shoe and the backseat of our van when she got carsick.  (Note to parents here: stop frequently or hit the kiddos with some Benadryl!  Just kidding.  But really.  The roads are for real.)  Our sweet, sweet elderly driver was so kind and in between Maggie apologizing in broken Spanish and my sympathy dry heaves and trying to crawl over the front seat to escape the horrendous smell of regurgitated pineapple, then tripping over the front arm rest and literally falling out of the van on my face, he hugged Maggie, shared a joke and laugh with my husband, and then helped clean up our tween’s puke.  SO SO SO kind!  Especially considering that the van was basically new and personally his and I’m sure that this experience was not the highlight of his day.  After this fiasco and brief delay, we arrived at this….



Our lodging was an entire floor of a very modern gorgeous rental apartment.  The kids were itching to swim in the pool which we were quick to oblige, ordering poolside lunch and drinks that we enjoyed while watching a sloth in the tree overhead!   Magical!










Love these wrinkly toes to pieces!


After a spectacular sunset, we turned in for the night excited for the next day of beach festivities!



We started with a delicious breakfast of fresh squeezed juices and huevos at Café Milagro.  This restaurant is fantastic, we ate here several times and every meal was terrific (and kid approved)!





With full bellies, we trekked down to the beach for some unsuccessful kayaking, rock hopping, seashell searching, and soaking in the waves and sun!  The beach we visited was quite rocky (bring water shoes for sure) with a mildly aggressive surf (not little kid appropriate), so trying to get the kayak out past the rocky bottom while being beat to death by the waves was not ideal, so we forfeited that fail and instead frolicked close to shore.  A plus about this beach however, we were the only patrons the entire day!  We didn’t see a soul and had this little slice of paradise all to ourselves!




Try getting a kayak over this hot mess of a coastline!


Annnndddd….this is where it stayed for virtually the entire day after multiple unsuccessful launchings and many bruises and stubbed toes!  Alas!


Happy as a clam!









Another beautiful sunset to wrap up another amazing day…


Breakfast the next morning came with this view….


…served with fresh juice and more tasty huevos at Emilio’s Café.  Following some pool time, we scheduled massages all around!  This was the first time the twins have had a massage and were stoked about it!  Ethan made the masseuse giggle more than a few times and Emma fell asleep.  Goofs!

A great ending to some action packed family fun!


Foreign money is always so colorful!1513681_10153171387738591_597978935421528102_n




Portland & Yachats, Oregon


Finally, this trip is making a blog post appearance!  In October, Atch and I flew out to Oregon for the main purpose of running in the Rainshadow Running Oregon Coast 30K trail race (recap on that below) that takes place in Yachats.  We spent a few days prior to the race exploring Portland and the surrounding areas prior to driving to the coast.

Portland is a fun city absolutely spoiled with fantastic food and drink!  Our flight arrived early, so after dropping off our luggage at the very well located and outstanding Mark Spencer Hotel in downtown Portland, we laced up and headed to the waterfront for a short shake out run.  And on this run, comes my only complaint about Portland: the huge homeless population!  We were not in an unsafe area by any means and the entire run along the water was passing one homeless camp after another.  Drug use was quite visible, so this particular downtown run may not be appropriate for solo runners/walkers or female runners/walkers.  A quick google search shows that Portland recognizes this problem and has implemented several shelters but it seems there is still a huge issue of displaced individuals.

Mark Spencer

After our run, we walked the streets for a bit and ducked into one of Atch’s favorite stores, Poler Stuff for a rain jacket he has been eyeballing for a while.  Then it was back to Mark Spencer for tea time complete with cookies then showers and out to dinner and drinks at Deschutes Brewery and Public House which was one of the best meals we have ever had…so delicious, we ate here twice in two days!  The elk burger was phenomenal (and I am not ashamed to say I ordered this both times we ate here), as were  the pretzels and beer cheese with local beer!  Highly recommend!


Pretzels with beer cheese

Atch Food

Fancy a flight?


Local brew at Deschutes Brewery and Public House


Camping Vibes at Poler Stuff

Our next day was the highlight of our entire trip- the Columbia River Gorge!  Just outside the city, are a few short hikes leading to absolutely gorgeous waterfalls!  We started at the falls farthest away from the city first and then stopped at the next few as we made our way closer to Portland.  There are pros and cons to doing it this way: our first stop (and my fave), we had the fall completely to ourselves however, as we creeped to the next few falls, they became increasingly more populated.

Wahclella Falls was our first stop (and farthest from the city) but a MUST!  We ran the short 1 mile moderately easy but wet trail from the parking lot to the falls and had it all to ourselves!  The waterfall was raging and the pool below is deep enough to swim if you like VERY chilly water (I was only brave enough to put my lower legs in, which was not the best idea I’ve ever had because my toes were numb for the next hour)!

Atch Trail

Katie Trail

The trail leading to Wahclella Falls

Waterfall Shot Both

And Wahclella Falls!!!

Atch Waterfall Shot

Atch Waterfall 2

Katie Waterfall

Waterfall Alone

Next up was the most challenging of the hikes to the falls that we visited.  Oneonta Gorge is definitely worth a visit but only for the adventurous: you have to climb a mass of fallen trees atop each other and will be submerged about waist deep in frigid water to make it to the falls.  Wear good shoes, bring a change of clothes, and keep the phones and non-waterproof electronics in the car!  At least two people that were hiking this when we were there got their phones very wet or dropped their cameras in the water while they were climbing the pile of logs.


Fallen Log Hike

The pile of fallen trees that block the way to the falls…you must climb this to reach the falls.

Atch Straddling Log Ouch

This pic cracks me up every time I see it!  Man cups may be on the packing list hehe!

And then, once over the pile of fallen trees, you get to this…

Atch Hike in Water

Which is anywhere from an inch deep to waist deep…and VERY VERY VERY cold!

Atch Hike in Water2

But your reward is this beauty at the end…

Atch OGorge Fall

Both OGorge Fall

The last stop off on our waterfall route was Multnomah Falls.  It was packed, very popular likely due to the ease of accessibility of the falls.  You can hear to roaring of the falls from the parking lot, even over the noise from the highway and it is a short, easy paved route to a stunner of a waterfall!  There are restrooms, snack bar and restaurant at this stop as well.

Mult Fall Both

Mult Fall Alone

Quite impressive!

The next day began with shots for Atch (the non-alcoholic ones of course) that he shot with the super sweet juice bar girl, and an acai bowl for me at Greenleaf Juicing Company (ah-mazing btw!) and then a stop at the infamous Stumptown Coffee for both of us to get us through the drizzly drive to the coast.

Juice shots


A morning shooter of ginger, lemon, and cayenne to start the day! At Greenleaf Juicing Company.

Juice shots 2

I opted for the less fiery ginger, orange, cinnamon!

Stumptown Katie

Stumptown Stop for cold brew coffee!

On the way to Yachats, we stopped for seafood at Ocean Bleu at Gino’s for ceviches nachos (incredible) and sandwiches then walked to the pier to investigate some very noisy barks which turned out to be a swaggle of seals rain-bathing!


Atch Red Fish

Katie Seals

Atch Wharf

They were everywhere!

On arrival to the Adobe Resort in Yachats, we dropped our bags in our rooms and briefly explored outside around the hotel which is where the Oregon Coast 50K/30K starts and finishes.  Our room had this view:

Yachats Coast

…and this friendly creature…


…who occasionally required chasing out of the threshold of our room.

Before turning in for the night, we took the short hike up to visit Heceta Head Lighthouse for amazing views of the coast before we started getting drenched and bee-lined back to the car and warmth of the Adobe.

Lighthouse Both

Coast Both

Coast with Bridge

Atch on Bench Coast

The next day was Rainshadow Running Oregon Coast 30K race day!  Fortunately, we were blessed with gorgeous weather and the sun finally made an appearance for our race!  Up until this point, weather was overcast, drizzly or full on rain, and foggy which seems to be typical weather for that region.  But yay for sun to light our path for the beastly 30K!  The route for the race was stunning and the trails were well groomed and soft (unlike our Smoky Mountains rocky and stumpy terrain) and the views were phenomenal!  As far as the race itself, the aid stations were well equipped with food/drink/volunteers and the volunteers themselves were great, and the trail was clearly marked.  My critiques for this race are: 1. The race was supposed to be a 30K but ended up being about 1-2 miles longer.  This does not bother some people, but this irritates me…I signed up and planned to run a 30K and I don’t want to run any longer than this.  I don’t mind tenths of a mile, but more than a half of a mile longer than advertised is annoying.  I am ready for food, beer and to plant my rear in a chair or on the grass!  2.  NO swag included in your race price.  The entry fee was $70.00 not including tax or processing fee but does not include anything else either.  Every race I have ever entered had some sort of swag, especially the longer distance races.  You do have an option to purchase a race shirt, finisher bracelet, or race pint glass at additional cost but I expected to at least get a medal when I crossed the finish line.  Instead, I got a high five from a Rainshadow guy (much appreciated though and very kind) and then had to wait in a long line for water (most lengthy races have buckets of bottles of water or gatoraid and volunteers handing these out at the finish).  Overall, it was an incredible race, particularly because of the scenery and race route!

Atch Race Ready

Race day ready!

Sunny Coast Race Day

Topping out during the race!

Sunlight and Trail Atch

This picture sums up why I run trails!  God is an amazing artist!

Atch Chelax

And this is what a mountain man finish looks like, folks!  Too much sexiness to handle!  Awesome end to an awesome trip!



About Katie

New Years

Hello and welcome to my blog!  My name is Katie and I am a fanatic about God, my family, travel, fitness, and adventures!  By trade, I am a physician assistant and absolutely adore my career but my passion has always been exploring this awesome earth.  This blog is to share my personal experiences and interests in life and travel as well as our family’s discoveries and adventures in travel.  Thank you for visiting and I hope our family can be an inspiration to you and yours to keep discovering and living like “everyday is an adventure”!

Blessings and happy travels,



About The Atchley’s

Superhero Avengers Family photos
Knoxville Family photography shoot

Introducing the Atchley family: Michael (“Atch”), Katie, Maggie, Emma, Ethan and the piglets, Zelda and Sophie!  I have been blessed by the greatest husband in the universe who is not only my best friend but the most fun and adventurous travel partner ever!  Most of this blog is chronicling our travels and crazy adventures with some kid related travel thrown in, which I suspect, will gradually crescendo as they get older and become more adept at adventure travel.  Between church, work, school, sports, and life, we try to fit in as much travel as possible to show the kiddos the incredible wonders of this world, to grow closer by sharing experiences, and to try to convey the message of living life to the fullest!

About Katie

Hello and welcome to my blog!  My name is Katie and I am a fanatic about God, my family, travel, fitness, and adventures!  By trade, I am a physician assistant and absolutely adore my career but my passion has always been exploring this awesome earth.  This blog is to share my personal experiences and interests in life and travel as well as our family’s discoveries and adventures in travel.  Thank you for visiting and I hope our family can be an inspiration to you and yours to keep discovering and living like “everyday is an adventure”!

Blessings and happy travels,