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2008 Biennial of the International Palm Society – Members Unite in Costa Rica

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 1:11PM: While standing at the end of the Arenal View Bridge, I noticed the trail did a hairpin turn and wrapped around under the bridge. FM. Ron Kiefert (moose knuckle) spots a grouping of Geonoma cuneata growing above the trail just within reach.

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- 1:13PM: I was able to wait a few moments and use the same spot to get a portrait of Linda and Bill. It was a fact that by now, the majority of our group was far ahead as we reached the two hour mark of the trail tour.

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- 1:14PM: We took a moment to pet a small Bactris hondurensis found along the edge of the trail.

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- 1:21PM: The last bridge disappeared behind us and we began to descend slightly along the trail. We entered an area that was rich with avian life. A branch was crossing the trail just a few feet off the ground and sitting upon it was this Broad-billed Motmot, Electron platyrhynchum. It was quite content with us getting real close. I didn't believe the genus name when Jorge told me, but it is correct.

2008-05-07_13-21-49.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 1:23PM: Ever since we left the last bridge, we got the sense we were being followed. We looked out among the foliage to find this White-fronted Nunbird, Monasa morphoeus staying within a few yards of us as we walked.

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- 1:29PM: We made an effort to gain some ground in the hopes of at least not missing lunch. We were able to lose the nunbird, but began to hear this strange noise coming from all around us. It was a loud, rapid, thumping sound passing us like a fast moving car. It would be quiet, then loud, and then quiet again. On one such drive-by, we saw this yellow laser beam shoot past within feet of us. We did our best to follow it with our eyes and I got lucky when it stopped to capture this photo. It is a White-collared Manakin, Manacus candei. The noise we heard was an audible territorial marker made by the Manakin as it flies, by rapidly snapping its wings. Neat-o.

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- 1:34PM: There were a series of short iron bridges crossing a set of large culverts up ahead. We strolled across the first bridge and I happened to turn around and spotted this unbelievably attractive palm. It blew me away. I had never seen a palm like it before. I figured it was a Geonoma sp. but that is where the identification ends. It does not seem to be on the Henderson list, all the species of Geonoma were accounted for. It might have been identified as G. pinnatifrons, but that species has since become synonymous with G. interrupta.

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- Another photo shows a closer view of the palm. There are Geonoma fans out there that should be able to nail this one down. It is clumping, with stems about 2-3 cm in diameter and the entire palm measures about 10-12 feet (3-4m) in height. I could not get any closer to it, as it was down on the side of a hill below the bridge we were on. The leaves were irregularly divided and the leaflets had a curved, fine point. Each leaf had a unique terminal leaflet that was wider than any other one. Please post any more information you happen to have.

2008-05-07_13-34-41.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 1:36PM: When a Prestoea decurrens was in bloom, the entire show was unavoidable. The ivory white inflorescence seems to explode from the trunk like a fireworks display. Someone along the tour mentioned they were fragrant, but I couldn't get close enough to tell. This palm was at the other end of the steel bridge from the mystery Geonoma above.

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- 1:37PM: Zooming out, the palm had a few juveniles underneath along with a Chamaedorea tepejilote to the right and a leaf from a Astrocaryum alatum in the foreground. Palms everywhere, the way we like it.

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- Exiting the steel bridge, we found our guide Jorge spelunking through tiny wall caves looking for spiders.

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- 1:39PM: We kept the pace up where we could, but when there were items of interest stacked on top of each other it was hard to keep walking. We could hear a sub-group from behind down the trail starting to get closer, so we knew we were going slowly. This was for a good cause though. We found another colony of Geonoma deversa growing in a lighter area of thinner canopy. Those light pink emergent leaves were hard to miss.

2008-05-07_13-39-27.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 1:39PM: Hard to miss indeed. I walked back and took more photos of this new emergent leaf. There was a partial inflorescence in behind on the stem on the left.

2008-05-07_13-39-31.jpg

- 1:42PM: Of all the things that happened during this Biennial, one interaction stood out to be a little more special than the rest. On different days and at different times, there was an exchange of information between attendees and CRT staff. It was great to learn about the flora and fauna of Costa Rica, but at the same time we were able to impart our own knowledge to CRT guides and park personnel. This exchange was one of the best reasons to have a Biennial in the first place. When we came across this large clump of Bactris hondurensis, we named it very quickly right in front of our guide Jorge. He respected our affinity for palms and we told him one of the ways to identify this species was by the fuzzy leaf undersides. He was astounded by this and grabbed one of the leaves and turned it over...

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- 1:43PM: ... He took out his binoculars and flipped them around and used them as a magnifying device to examine under the leaf. He had walked this trail so many times, seen this species hundreds of times and yet had never known about this palms unique decoration. Jorge thanked us for this tidbit of info and said he would definitely use in the future to impress park patrons.

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- 1:44PM: The chatter from the sub-group catching up to us got louder and louder. We took turns photographing this small Chamaedorea deckeriana.

2008-05-07_13-44-31.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 1:45PM: During the tour, I had taken so many photos of Iriartea deltoidea, that I forgot to get one with an attendee for scale. It was hard to tell in all the photos how large the leaflets were. We ignored the rules a little and ventured off trail. Bill and I walked a few steps up a hill to a large juvenile that had a leaf with a bent petiole. He grabbed and turned the leaf around for the photo. The leaflets were really that large, it is not a trick photo.

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- 1:49PM: The trail was often being crossed by lines of leaf-cutter ants. We encountered one large caravan of ants and cut leaves as we were approaching another small bridge. Our guide Jorge, perhaps influenced by his proximity to Bus #4 attendees, asked if we wanted to watch him get bit by a leaf-cutter ant solder. We of course said "Well, sure." He perused the selection and chose a large one and took it off the ground...

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- ... He kept repositioning the solder back and forth from finger tip to finger tip. He was trying to get the ant to sink its large jaws into his skin...

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- ... Bingo! The solder clamped on and did not let go. You can see a wrinkle of skin under the ant's head, between the fingernail and the right edge of the finger. The pressure exerted was strong but not unbearable according to Jorge. He went on to mention that during the Costa Rican Civil War, a wounded combatant would use these solder ants for emergency medicine. The two edges of a bad cut would be pushed together and a collected solder ant would be allowed to bite the skin over the injury. The jaws during the biting would push the skin together and the pressure would keep the cut closed. The wounded combatant would then tear the body away, leaving the severed head acting as a stitch. Now that's quick thinking.

2008-05-07_13-49-53.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 1:50PM: We reached the next small steel bridge and we again took our time to look around, myself more than most. I was photographing this large specimen of Prestoea decurrens when I realized that I had not seen a single fruiting palm during the entire trail. The vast majorities were in bloom, but none were holding fruit at any stage, or least none that I saw. In the corner of my eye, I noticed a bit of movement heading towards the Prestoea.

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- With a short jump, this female Red-tailed Squirrel, Sciurus granatensis, landed on one of the lower Prestoea fronds and scrambled up and through the crown to a bushy area in behind the palm. She just happened to be transporting a baby in her mouth, that fluff of red fur and small paw next her head. A few seconds after disappearing into the brush, she reappeared empty and darted to the ground and went under the bridge. I guess it was moving day.

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- 1:53PM: Well, it was bound to happen eventually, another sub-group of Bus #4 attendees caught up to me at the small steel bridge. We exchanged pleasantries and stories of the day. This shot was taken back at the beginning of the bridge, off on a side path. There were plenty of palms and plants to keep FM. Larry Davis (Lefty), FMod. Dean Ouer (Dypsisdean), Ron Gates and myself busy photographing for a while.

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- 1:55PM: This very young Astrocaryum alatum was growing right on the edge of the trail. I had the feeling I was not going to be eating lunch today.

2008-05-07_13-55-43.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 1:56PM: We saw this possible Tibouchina relative all along the trail, but at this one point we saw specimens with massive, platter-sized leaves. They were like cardboard and covered with hairy tomentum. I would not mind trying to grow this plant, whatever it may be.

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- 1:58PM: The bright red inflorescence of this one and only Geonoma interrupta was like a flare to a batch of palm fanatics. We all were drawn to it uncontrollably. It did have a short trunk, but it was mostly covered by leaf litter.

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- This was a brand new inflorescence and had yet to become pendant like the one off to the right.

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- 1:59PM: The leaves were still showing some of the palms juvenile characteristics. They become more divided with age.

2008-05-07_13-59-45.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 2:02PM: Attendees began to double back somewhat when they heard about the Geonoma interrupta along the trail. As the area around it became a little crowded, I walked down from the pack and found this small species for the first time. This palm is a juvenile Bactris, but of what species I do not know. It might be a small B. gracilior, but there were none mentioned on the Henderson list. I could not get a decent photo of the palms interior, but there are spines on the leaf bases and lower petioles.

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- 2:03PM: It is very interesting, regardless of what it might be. I tried to envision what the palm might change into when mature, but I had the feeling it kept the grouped and ranked leaflets throughout its lifetime.

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- 2:05PM: Back at the Geonoma interrupta, people began to get a little excited over something. Our guide Jorge, along with Bus #4 attendee Ron Gates, found a flashy reptile sitting on a fern leaf not far from the palm above.

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- 2:06PM: Using his guide book in more ways than one, Jorge holds down the tip of a fern and shows everyone the Glass Frog which was sitting on the upper-most fern leaflet. It was well camouflaged so try to see it if you can...

2008-05-07_14-06-36.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 2:07PM: Give up? Well here is a better shot of the Glass Frog, up close and hard to miss. These nearly see-through amphibians have their entire own reptile family, Centrolenidae to house all the numerous species. Depending on the lighting, different levels of the frog's internal anatomy will be visible through its skin. This gives it a unique way to blend in to its environment and avoid predators.

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- 2:11PM: We continued on, still amazed by what we had seen during the entire tour. The canopy seemed to disappear up ahead and Jorge told us we were nearing the end of the trail. I figured the end was near, as this was the three hour mark for me walking the trail. We rounded a corner near a boulder and Jorge again took out his flashlight to see what he might find. On the ground, seemingly going in circles was this gigantic ant. He was about 2 inches (5cm) in length and had these large yellow, eye-like spots on his abdomen. Jorge was not sure which species or type of ant it was. We asked if he wanted to get bitten by it and he declined.

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- 2:15PM: Daylight was returning to us, as we enjoyed the last section of the trail. The Ginger species that I photographed at the beginning of the hanging bridges, was spotted again at the end of the trail. This time the blooms had flowers instead of ripe fruit.

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- This photo shows the entire plant and if anyone can identify it, please do so. It would make a great landscape ornamental somewhere, if it isn't already.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 2:17PM: Two minutes later, the remaining attendees and I exited the trail and began a short walk through a landscaped area of the welcoming center. Like usual, I was one of the last to finish the trail, too many photographs, so little time. In the distance, Forum member Ron Kiefert (moose knuckle) waves as he rounds the last corner of the trail. FM. Bill Olson (Bill Olson) and FMod. Dean Ouer (Dypsisdean) walk on, going past me while FMod. Angela Blakely (putu enjula) spots a loud bird in the trees.

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- 2:19PM: The flowers of this unusual climbing plant caught my attention about halfway through the landscaped section. After I photographed it, I caught up to Jorge and asked if he could identify for me. He gladly took one of his books out and quickly found the page on Columnea lepidocaulis.

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- The entire plant was covered with hairy tomentum, along with the large, colorful red bloom. This genus is a member of the Gesneriad or African Violet family, Gesneriaceae.

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- 2:32PM: By the time I made it back to the welcoming center, the majority of Group 2 had finished their box lunches and were heading back to board the buses. I grabbed one of the remaining boxes and decided to eat it on the bus and therefore made better use of my remaining time to photograph the Arenal Volcano. The cloud cover had begun to clear, so I opened up and shot away. This panoramic shot had just a little dark cloud cover at the top.

2008-05-07_14-32-13.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 2:32PM: I continued to photograph the volcano as I heard attendees clamber aboard the buses behind me. I knew time was short so I kept shooing away the clouds with my hand, but that didn't seem to work. It seemed that sunlight was reaching everywhere but the volcano itself.

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- I zoomed in, and the sunlight was slowly creeping up the side of the cone. Behind me I could hear the CRT guides calling for everyone to get on board. I took a few more shots, and then I grabbed my gear, including my box lunch, and got on board my bus.

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- 2:39PM: From my seat on Bus #4, I could see the die-hard, photographic spirit alive in FM. Robert Wilson (Rainforestt Robert) as he was snapping a photo of this clump of Heliconia chartacea cv. 'Sexy Pink'; even though the bus was about to leave.

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- 2:55PM: We waited until the buses were fully loaded and the headcounts were verified and then we departed back to the hotel. We knew it was going to be another long ride so there was no hesitation when it came to the dispensing of alcohol. By the time the first 2 six-packs had been evenly distributed, about 5 minutes into the trip, we got one of our last, close views of the Arenal Volcano. As we departed, the sun had shone down on one part of the cone and I figured that this was going to be the most sunlit the volcano was going to get, so I took this photo through the window. People began to lighten up even though they were tired. While some relaxed back in their seats, a few attendees had reminded the CRT staff about a potential stop to collect seed…

2008-05-07_14-55-53.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> [seed Stop, Mystery Resort] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 3:34PM: In the morning on the way to the hanging bridges, attendees on my side of the bus noticed several small hotels and resorts along the road landscaped with different sized clumps of Red Sealing Wax Palms, Cyrtostachys renda. They had asked if we may pull over to see them and the CRT staff said on the way back we might stop. Well on Bus #4, "might" has a strong chance to become "will". About forty minutes into our ride back to the hotel, one large grouping of mature palms was sighted near a small resort, so we stopped. Before I could even get my camera ready and get out of my seat, several attendees had sprinted off the bus and made a bee-line to the palms. Bus #3 had continued on down the road and was oblivious to what we were getting into.

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- 3:35PM: [Delay #2] Even though CRT considered this to be a delay, I classified it as an opportunistic biological material extraction. "Do we have any bags? Who has bags?" The frenzy that ensues when palm nuts go seed pillaging is a sight to see. The two clumps of Red Sealing Wax Palms were some of the largest I had ever seen and the same went for many other attendees. Minutes after arriving, the owner of the resort emerged and those first on scene asked if we may have permission to collect seed and he said "Sure, take whatever you want." With the help of an aluminum pole, FM. Robert Wilson (Rainforestt Robert) [left side] was the first to strike seed gold by getting some of the lower infructescences to give up their bounty.

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- 3:37PM: More seed on higher infructescences meant higher climbs. With assistance from FMs. Jeff Searle and Ron Kiefert (moose knuckle), Robert was able to get higher on one stem and get at a few more batches of seed.

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- 3:38PM: The higher and harder to get seed was reserved for palm simian and FM. Bill Olson (Bill Olson) to get. He climbed up that stem faster than you could blink.

2008-05-07_15-38-40.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> [seed Stop, Mystery Resort] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 3:39PM: A minute later Bill had reached the green inflorescence of the stem he was on and was within arms reach of the remaining seed. Within a few seconds, he had cut off the ripe infructescences with a pair of cutters supplied by Ron Kiefert.

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- With one hand on the prize and the other on the palm, Bill shimmied back down the Red Sealing Wax Palm trunk. When he got close to the ground, he handed the booty off to the waiting arms of Robert and Bus #4 attendee Paul Richnow.

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- Operation complete. With the new supply of seed to add to whatever everyone had already gotten, the attitude on Bus #4 went up several notches. Bill, Robert and Paul took a moment to thank and pose with the resorts owner [yellow], who was from Ft. Myers, Florida. Believe it, or not.

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- 3:43PM: A smirking Paul Craft (Licuala), past IPS President and Forum member, looks on with bewilderment as Bus #4 attendees begin to clean, separate and divvy up the spoils of the roadside stop.

2008-05-07_15-43-30.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> [seed Stop, Mystery Resort] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 3:45PM: We started to run out of time, since we still had about two hours left in the road trip. So with cutters in hand, FM. Ron Kiefert (moose knuckle) saved time by cutting the rachillae into pieces instead of cleaning the seed off of them. That was something we could do on the bus. Items were condensed into larger bags, toiletries were emptied into backpacks and as a result plastic bags had since become plentiful. Bill was able to count his seed without letting go of his beer.

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- 4:03PM: The seed and seed-covered rachillae were brought on board and off we went again. The whole bus smelled of fresh palm fruit and the familiar picking and cleaning sounds could be heard in between the ‘pop’ of opening beer cans. Good times were had by all and the stop wasn't even scheduled. FM. Jim Glock (jglock1) takes a moment to discuss the total amount of seed obtained with attendee Judy Kay, on the left. Judy is the Seed Bank coordinator for the Montgomery Botanical Center, so she knows a lot about counting seed and gauging quantities. She mentioned that since the seed were small with a thin layer of fruit, that she estimated that there could be as many as 20,000 seed on the bus.

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- 4:06PM: Some of the decisions made on Bus #4 were harder than others. When choosing which beer you wanted, you only had two kinds to choose from. This simplified things greatly for those whose time spent drinking was more important than time waiting to drink. FM. Kathryn Ostadal (Kathryn) helps out by transporting beverages from the coolers in the back to the thirsty people at the front of the bus. During the shot, I heard a loud "Woo-hoo!" coming from the back of the bus.

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- 4:13PM: "I only got one bag." Paul Richnow holds up his one and only bag of the pea-sized, Red Sealing Wax Palm seed.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 4:23PM: The following ten minutes went by as it normally does on Bus #4. Some of the jokes and comments I cannot repeat here. Many people were taking advantage of the long ride back to the hotel by cleaning seed, trying to sleep, and party religiously. It became official at this point, that the palm mascot of the bus, Chamaedorea, had since been replaced with Cyrtostachys. I took my camera and put it over the edge of the seat in front of me and shot downwards. Those net pockets behind the seats sure do make handy beverage holders. FM. Robert Wilson (Rainforestt Robert) was busy cleaning rachillae and seed while Judy Kay had gotten up to wan.....

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<BOOM!> <FLAP... Flap... Flap... Flap... Flap...>

"What da hell was that?!", "Searle, what ya do now?"... "Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have a flat tire..."

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> [blown Tire, Middle of Nowhere] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 4:26PM: [Delay #3] In the middle of the excitement, our very own Bus #4 blew a tire along the highway while heading back to the hotel. With our now injured bus, we slowly rolled along for a few minutes, before we got near a collection of road side businesses. The bus pulled off the road and came to a stop. We thought this delay was revenge for getting the Cyrtostachys seed. Our great bus driver Don Juan inspects the damaged tire, which was the inside one of the tandem pair. As to who owns those chalky white legs, I will give you three guesses and the first two don't count.

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- 4:27PM: We disembarked slowly from the bus and took note of our surroundings. Far back in the trip, before we stopped for the seed, the bus had swiped a loaded truck full of furniture. Part of the bus hit the piled stack of wooded furniture and we continued on, not knowing what damage we sustained. FM. Kathryn Ostadal (Kathryn) points out the nick in the left side mirror. Bus #4 continues to stack up its share of battle wounds.

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- The entire situation was both iconic and ironic. The story-like plot of a loaded bus full of people breaking down in the middle of nowhere, combined with yet another unscheduled stop was too much to be ignored, especially for our bus of misfits and palm maniacs. Many took the time to photograph while other attendees scattered in all directions trying to see what was around.

2008-05-07_16-27-50.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> [blown Tire, Middle of Nowhere] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 4:28PM: Well, we could have broken down in worst areas. At least we had some nice scenery to enjoy as the sun was going down.

2008-05-07_16-28-07.jpg

- 4:29PM: The process of changing the tire begins the removal of the seriously large lug nuts. There was no shortage of help or supervision. Our Driver Don Juan holds the socket wrench in place while FM. Craig Morgan (el Gato Grande) applied some elbow grease with help from a breaker bar. The CRT personnel were fairly relaxed considering the situation and the current course of the day. They had to keep warning us about the traffic, as we were crossing the road. There seems to be no speed limit in Costa Rica.

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- 4:30PM: Across the road from the bus, a small grocery store was quickly inundated with more customers than they had expected for the afternoon. Wherever we went, we of course took our appetites with us, so we benefited every establishment we encountered, planned or otherwise.

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- 4:31PM: We all took the situation in stride, as we knew that these things can happen during a Biennial. We were a little surprised though that these things seemed to continue happen to only Bus #4.

2008-05-07_16-31-32.jpg

Ryan

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Palmarum

2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> [blown Tire, Middle of Nowhere] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 4:32PM: We did have some palms to look at during the unscheduled stop. Down the road from the grocery store, we saw this grove of Peach Palms, Bactris gasipaes growing next to a construction site. It seemed that the fruit had been harvested recently. The speed limit sign said 25 kph (15mph) 'con escolares presentes', or 'with scholastics present'. I wouldn't believe it, watching the cars attempting to break the sound barrier. Then again, we didn't have any school kids around. They needed a similar sign with a silhouette of adults with cameras, standing near a bus with a flat tire. That sign would say 'con los fanáticos de la palma y los autobuses lisiados presentes ', 'with palm fanatics and crippled buses present'. When you translate the phrase back into English it says, 'With the disabled fanatics of the palm and buses present', which could also be accurate to a degree.

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- 4:33PM: The Norris's, Judy and Paul, FMs. (Queen of Bling, Palmnorris) check out the small 'Rose Winds', 'La Rosa de los Vientos' grocery store with LeAnn Holmes. The store had just about every item you would want or could think to need along a roadside stop. Off to the right, a sports competition was about to unfold.

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- 4:34PM: Bus #4 attendee André Lundkvist sits down and joins a local in a game of checkers. I wasn't able to find out later who won or lost.

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- 4:35PM: Across the street, FM. Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) stepped up to volunteer his extensive automotive knowledge to assist in changing the tire. He had loosened all the nuts and was in the process of removing them in a hurry. Bill was in a rush because he, or anyone else, didn't want to be stuck out here at night. The sun sets early in this country.

2008-05-07_16-35-57.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> [blown Tire, Middle of Nowhere] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 4:37PM: With the tires now loose from their hub, they were pulled from under the wheel well. CRT Guide Andres holds the still good outer tire on the left, while Bill pushes the busted inner tire towards Craig. They end up rolling it behind the bus where everyone couldn't wait to get a look at the damage.

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- 4:38PM: Tough day to be a tire on Bus #4. That is some seriously shredded steel.

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- 4:41PM: Attendees on our bus tend to get a little dirtier than other attendees, in more ways than one. Bill had replaced the blown tire with the spare, put the outer tire back on and started to tighten the nuts all with the speed and efficiency of a NASCAR pit crew.

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- He was just about done when Jeff Searle jumped in to help in his own way. A few seconds later, the tire change was all done. Since the time we arrived here, attendees had slowly begun to disappear. I had no idea why. When ever I would turn around, there seemed to be fewer and fewer people in sight. I had to explore the businesses on the other side of the bus to find out why.

2008-05-07_16-41-28.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> [blown Tire, Middle of Nowhere] -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 4:47PM: Of all the places Bus #4 could have broken down in front of and we do so in front of a bar... A bar! This was right out if a movie. A little exploration on my part found many of our attendees tending the bar in this local dive. The bartender seemed over whelmed at the sudden influx. When I walked in they had a very eclectic form of adult entertainment on a TV behind the bar.

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- 4:48PM: Very good friends Judy Norris, FM. (Queen of Bling) and LeAnn Holmes pose with their drinks while seated at the bar. People were having a good time considering the fact we still had over an hour to go on the bus, whenever we started down the road again.

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- 4:53PM: "Watch out!" IPS President and FM. Bo-Göran Lundkvist (bgl) enjoys a frozen treat while avoiding a speeding motorcycle that was flying past. He looks both ways before trying to cross the road again. In the background, someone ordered a "child-sized" Red Bull energy drink to take on the bus...

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- 4:54PM: Time to go, again, we hope. CRT personnel gathered everyone together and we piled on back on board the bus. Some people had to quickly down their drinks at the bar. The mood was riding quite high and so were many of the attendees. People were beyond the limit of inebriation; this was a new unexplored level of intoxication. I was one of the first to get on board the bus, followed by FM. Jon Kenaghan (Bilbo) and Judy Glock.

2008-05-07_16-54-56.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th

Arenal Hanging Bridges, Arenal Volcano -> Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

Bus #4

- 5:17PM: Time for some tunes... A good twenty minutes went by and when we all got comfortable it was time to bring the party on the bus up another notch. Bam! FM. Jim Glock (jglock1) breaks out his iPod and a compact amplifier to plug it into. He went through a few select play lists and also started taking requests. He turned the volume up loud and people began to sing along and dance in the aisle. "Woo-hoo!"

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- 5:53PM: Like usual, the mood was infectious. Within thirty-five minutes, it had started in the center of the bus and slowly spread to the front and back. There was no escape from it. Jim would go through his music selection and find everything from popular favorites to 'modern' classics that inspired some hilarious dance moves.

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- 5:55PM: If attendees were not dancing in the aisle, they were using it to walk to the back of the bus to get a drink or two. There was a line of people waiting to give song requests to Jim. Room on the bus became in short supply as more people started to dance in what space they had. During one louder, faster-paced number people got enough rhythm together to dance in sequence and our bus driver Don Juan started to flash the interior and aisle lights on and off like a night club.

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- 6:15PM: The party was steady and unwavering. You can see a glimpse of the aisle lights being turned on by Don Juan. There was no shortage of photo opportunities here. Between the flickering lights and the camera flashes it seemed like a strobe light was on the bus. Our long day was finally coming to a close. After an incredible time at the Arenal hanging bridges and our trio of unscheduled delays we were now within a few minutes of pulling into the hotel. "Yay! We've made it." People were glad to both see and feel the familiar set of turns we needed to make in order to reach the entrance. The night was still early for most of Bus #4's party elite.

2008-05-07_18-15-50.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 05: Wednesday, May 7th: Conclusion

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel [Hot Tub]

When we arrived back at the hotel, like in previous days, we scattered in all directions. It was like clockwork at this point in the Biennial. There were some that went right to bed, while others decided to fight against the dying of the night. We took care of dinner very quickly and found ourselves heading back to the hotels well used hot tub to continue the party. The bubbling pool slowly accumulated attendees from other buses and we gave them a taste of what life was like on the 'Party Barge', Bus #4. The hotel bar was just a short walk away, so there was no shortage of liquid enhancement. I was one of the first to reach the hot tub, camera at the ready, followed by the usual assortment of Bus #4 attendees.

- 7:16PM: "Cheers!" Throughout a Biennial, several of the better moments could be connected to, or inspired by, certain individuals. These people add an immeasurable amount of depth, creativity, joy and simply make a Biennial a better experience with their presence. FM. & Biennial Veteran Jim Glock (jglock1) is beyond a doubt, one of these individuals. He has attended many Biennials, traveled all over the world, collected palms for almost as long as I've been alive and will sit down and share a drink with any fellow attendee with gusto. If you happen to had or will have the opportunity to meet Jim in person, during a Biennial or otherwise, count yourself fortunate.

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- 7:52PM: "It's called a waarshrag...not a washcloth..." Remember what I said above? Well I should copy and paste it to include this Biennial action figure. FM. Paul Norris (Palmnorris) makes a Biennial the experience it should be. There is no gray area in that statement and I know others would agree. You may hear him long before you see him, but you know the situation is about to get better the closer you get. His attitude towards life is a lesson to those who would otherwise let life slip away.

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- 9:30PM: Time around the hot tub just flew by and you can see why. It was a constant show and with more and more people packing into the hot tub, the conversation and activity was endless. I could not help but to press the shutter release, it would have been a crime not to. It takes a bit of ingenuity to reuse empty plastic cups like that.

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- 9:31PM: The more time that attendees spent in the communal hot water, the more I wondered if they needed a lifeguard on duty here. It was a great time seeing attendees relax, as I did as well, even though I was busy trying to capture this view of Biennial life as it unfolded. I could never leave my camera in the room, it was inconceivable. This view changed slightly as the hours went by. Some people would leave, making room for those who would arrive a few minutes later. Life in and around the hot tub continued on, well into the evening long after I left. I had a feeling that without a camera around, it got really bizarre...

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... crossing day number 5 off the itinerary was a painful thing to do, but it was inevitable. Tomorrow, on our last scheduled day of the Biennial, we venture up into the nearby mountains to explore one large hole and play in the water...

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th: Introduction

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel

That first beam of morning sunlight pierces its way into your room and hits your eyes and suddenly... it’s the last scheduled day of the Biennial. There is a universal phrase that describes Biennials very well, "Time flies when you're having fun." I knew for a fact I was having an easier time waking up than some others did. Whether it was from the activity of the night before or the realization that there was only two days left in the Biennial, people were a little down this morning. Chatter was low and conversations were quieter than during previous mornings. Some attendees were not even seen at breakfast. People from both groups had their second day of the swapped schedule planned for today. Those in Group 1 were heading to the west coast to visit Carara National Park, while we in Group 2, were destined to visit the nearby Poáz Volcano and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This was a mirror of the fourth day of the Biennial.

Tomorrow, the last day of the week for us attendees, was a free day. It was up to each attendee to decide what they wanted to do on Friday until the farewell dinner later that evening. The choices were really endless, considering our location and the great country we were in. CRT had set up a staffed hospitality desk in the hotels lobby to assist attendees during the week. One of the desks' functions was to showcase and present different package options for attendees to do on the free day. These consisted of all sorts of destinations and activities, from city tours to white water rafting. Each package required a minimum amount of participation and an additional charge. All these activities were part of CRT's regular assortment of travel plans so the staff was very knowledgeable about them. Throughout the week, we all talked about the different choices at breakfast, lunch, etc. Some chose package options, others went to explore the country on their own, and some even decided to spend the day around the pool.

- 7:00AM: "Ahh, Breakfast..." When there was a stiff breeze moving through the hotel, I could pick up the scent of the great buffet from near my room. The travel plans for Group 2 today included a much shorted drive (barring delays) than the day before, so we had the later departure time. Does this mean we could have slept in longer? Perhaps, but the sunlight had other plans for those whose rooms had an eastern exposure, curtains or not. Forum members Alan Brickey (avb) and Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) dive into breakfast. I was about done, so I was going to spend the next hour or so killing time until the bus leaves. I played a game where I tried to guess if someone had a hangover or not.

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- 7:39AM: With an eight o'clock departure time, Group 2 slowly began to accumulate in the lobby. I need to stress the word slowly. The lobby of the Cariari Hotel is decorated with panes of stained glass, that when capturing light, illuminated the lobby to the delight of many.

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- 7:40AM: They were on both sides of the hotel entrance and were often the first things we saw while boarding buses and arriving back at the hotel.

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- 8:05AM: Our chariot awaits… We boarded the bus in quick fashion, and there was a slight change in seating order. I think the previous day’s frivolity on the bus made some want to try to either get closer to it, or further away, which was a bit impossible. As we pulled away from the hotel, a bit of artwork was unveiled. This 'still life' was the work of Paul Richnow and showed a few of the high points from the day before. The Ox Cart is a reference to the Costa Rican colloquialism "Getting on the Ox Cart", which means getting drunk again and having to be carried away. Not a bad description.

2008-05-08_08-05-37.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel -> Poáz Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 8:42AM: We began another day of the Biennial with absolutely perfect weather. This continuous streak of good luck was a common topic of conversation this morning. I was hoping it would last for as long as possible. The temperature was mild and decreased the further we went ascending the central mountain range. Attendees on Bus #4 spent the first forty minutes of the trip in usual fashion with some added attention given to sleep. The further we got from the urban areas of the valley; we began to see hillsides covered with an ever increasing amount of coffee plants.

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- 8:43AM: If it was not coffee, then it was hectare after hectare of plantations, farms and nurseries as far as the eye could see. Those gray surfaces in the distance are very large shade houses.

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- 8:44AM: The roads we were on followed every stomach-churning twist and turn the mountain sides had to offer. It was an early morning challenge to keep one's breakfast intact. We encountered little traffic except for this Costa Rican icon.

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- The Oxcart is an important symbol of tradition and economy in the country. In the mid 1800's, when coffee production first began on a large scale, an oxcart was the only way a farmer could transport the coffee from the mountains to the coast. Even today such a trip is a burden by vehicle, but back in those days a reliable, well-built cart meant the difference between financial gain or ruin. A family's entire livelihood rested on how well their cart withstood the test of wear and tear. As a result, a family would often put most, if not all of their resources into maintaining their oxcarts. These bovine-powered trailers then became status symbols, depicting a family’s wealth. To greater show off their wealth and status, families would decorate their treasured oxcarts with elaborate paint jobs and other forms of adornment.

2008-05-08_08-44-33.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel -> Poáz Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 8:44AM: Everyone on the bus broke out in simultaneous imitations, Louisianans: "Moooooooo." Californians: "Moo mo moo moo moo mo mooo." Floridians: "Moo." Texans: "MooooOOOOOOoooooo!" It was at this point I knew we reached a new level of sophistication.

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- 8:45AM: Our driver Don Juan slowed the bus down to a snails pace to give us some added camera time. The farmer seemed to be making hand gestures as we drove by.

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- 8:51AM: In some areas, the entire landscape was dominated by massive, continuous shade houses. It is hard to tell in the photo just how large they are.

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- 9:02AM: We entered a section of the road that increased in altitude at an alarming rate. Some of us could feel our ears starting to react to the change. When we got close to this farm, we drove ‘through’ a cloud bank.

2008-05-08_09-02-26.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Hilton Doubletree Cariari Hotel -> Poáz Volcano

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:08AM: Minus the apparent queasiness, the trip up into the nearby mountains was quick and uneventful. Within an hour on the road, we reached a highpoint along the way to the park entrance. With the great weather at our disposal, we could see clear into the valley below.

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- 9:11AM: Looking out across the valley was a welcomed change of view for someone from a low altitude state. It created awe to try and grasp how far we could see from here. Being at the same level as the clouds while in a bus instead of a plane, was stunning enough.

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- 9:20AM: We made it all the way to the park entrance without anyone losing their breakfast. As soon as we stepped off the bus we could feel the incredible change in temperature and humidity. Some attendees went back on board and grabbed a jacket since it was now much cooler than when we left the hotel.

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- 9:21AM: Immediately after leaving the parking lot, our 'plant sense' went into high gear. We started to notice not only the lack of palm trees, but the temperate, high-altitude plant forms. We were within a few steps of the Visitor's Center when we noticed the crater of the Poáz Volcano was no where to be seen. We had a small hike ahead of us to conquer in order to reach the actual rim of the crater.

2008-05-08_09-21-22.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:21AM: Picture time. Attendees entered the Visitor's Center only briefly, as our first destination of the day lay further up the side of the volcano. Bus #4 familiars Judy Norris, FM. (Queen of Bling), Andrea Searle, IPS Director & FM. Kathryn Ostadal (Kathryn), FM. Craig Morgan (el Gato Grande) and Paul Richnow turn and pose for a second as Jeff Searle yelled at them from behind me. After attendees would cross the pedestrian bridge we were on, they would take stairs down to the trail below to begin the hike up to the crater.

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- The area around the Visitor's Center was landscaped with several Gunnera plants. They were the dominant form of herbaceous plant life found throughout the park and could be seen everywhere...

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- 9:26AM: Downstairs, I was able to get a closer look at the landscape plants. The larger plants were in bloom, and a showy bloom it was. These plants must be prolific; when we could see them growing in such thick concentrations here around the park and further south along the mountain chain to Braulio Carrillo National Park. This is Gunnera manicata. They are identified by the spine laden petioles and the spiny leaf blade branch tissues.

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- The large, unusual leaves and primordial-looking growth habit have given this plant the common names, Dinosaur Food and Giant Rhubarb.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:26AM: It wouldn't be a worthwhile destination without a good hike attached to it. Two buses worth of attendees began the ten minute walk up to the crater viewpoint. The cool weather and "seize the moment" attitude of people made the ever-inclining trail seem easier than it was.

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- 9:30AM: I borrowed Bus #4 attendee and FM. Jerry Behan (Jerry@TreeZoo) for a moment to pose with a trail side Gunnera to show scale.

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- 9:32AM: It was a unique experience to see so many temperate plants that would otherwise never grow back home in South Florida. This bromeliad and others like it caught the attention of everyone and was found throughout the park along the ground and in trees. I was reading about the attempts at identifying it and it seemed they were still up in the air. No pun intended.

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- 9:36AM: "You are here ->" We arrived at the crater overlook as a scattered mass of attendees mixed with tourists. Our location on the map was marked by that red arrow symbol and the crater was just ahead marked by "Crater principal". The center gray line on the map was the trail we followed and the green line represented the distance we covered from the visitor's center (set of 3 symbols on the left). We noticed on the map there were two alternate footpaths. One went to the "Laguna Botos" while the second one named "Sendero Escalonia" went through part of a nearby cloud forest.

2008-05-08_09-36-45.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:38AM: "Well here's your problem..." We finished the last few yards of the trail and arrived at the crater rim overlook. We did not know it before we arrived but a cloud had settled into the crater. Our run of luck had to end at some point. We began to strain our eyes to try and seen what we could.

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- This sign had the best advice of the day.

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- 9:39AM: We were scheduled to stay here for a good part of the morning. Everyone began looking at their watches while wondering how long the cloud cover would last. A park sign at one end of the overlook held a photo of what the view was like on a clear day. This would be our only view of the crater we would see, unfortunately.

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- 9:40AM: They had a small platform constructed at the southern end of the overlook that would normally grant us a deeper view into the crater. I took my turn upon it, to absorb what I could. Now, all there was to look at was other attendees stuck looking into the pea soup.

2008-05-08_09-40-21.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:43AM: We might as well take photos while we're here, crater view or not. Andrea & Jeff Searle pose for a portrait in front of the railing with the nothingness in behind. I thought about 'photoshoping' a view of the crater in behind them, but that would be a stretch.

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- 9:44AM: Attendees and tourists waited patiently for the cloud cover to dissipate but it only seemed to stay stagnant. People would walk up to the top of the platform, look around then walk back down, and repeat. We could feel the cloud moving, dropping tiny droplets of moisture on us, but the view would stubbornly not improve. The sign on the platform stairs informed us of our current altitude which was 8,444 feet (2574m) above sea level. That is 1.6 miles straight up.

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- 9:45AM: Bus #4 attendee Cindy Andersen [on right] looks out into the unknown along with tourists and attendees.

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- 9:48AM: "I can kinda see it...maybe not." This was the clearest view of the crater I captured. Veterans of previous trips to Costa Rica and of the volcano were doing their best to describe how impressive the view is, or was, or would be.

2008-05-08_09-48-23.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:48AM: At this point it seemed that the sun was about to break through the cloud cover, but no deal. It would get bright but it was still filtered through thin clouds. FM. Jeff Searle took a moment to talk with FMs. Linda Talbott (Linda Apriletti), Bill Olson (Bill Olson), Jack Sayers (elHoagie) and Lindsey Sayers about the possibility of bugging out early and doing something else. Bill had mentioned the alternate footpaths he noticed back on the park sign. We continued to talk it over and found CRT guide Jorge and asked him about the details of leaving early. He said it was fine, as long as we met back at the visitor's center before our scheduled departure time. Now we had to poll everyone to see who would go along with the idea. I asked Jorge about the chances of the clouds leaving quickly and he mentioned he had seen it this thick one moment, then is clear seconds later.

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- 9:50AM: Doing their best to color coordinate for the day, FMs. Bill Sanford (BS Man about Palms) and Dan Ashley (KONADANTOM) wave back as I told them not to jump.

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- 9:51AM: "Smile Jon!" FM. Jon Kenaghan (Bilbo) wanted his picture taken in front of the crater. He was making a joke about if the volcano erupted at least we would not see it coming. The Poáz Volcano is an active volcano, but only on a small scale.

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- 9:54AM: Bill took his turn on the platform and quickly came on down after photographing the vast nothingness. The sign on the left told us to limit ourselves to 10 minutes on the platform for taking photos. We shattered that rule. It at least gave us something to do.

2008-05-08_09-54-03.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 9:54AM: The southern end of the overlook bordered a sheer rock wall. Biding his time at the railing, FM. Larry Davis (Lefty) took a long look at the crater and wondered if someone could make it down the sides.

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- 9:56AM: I turned around and looked up at the platform to find Bus #4 attendees and FMs. Ron Kiefert (moose knuckle), Anders Lindstrom and Larry Noblick (Noblick) looking down in the direction of the crater, so I shot away. Anders seemed to be more surprised than most.

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- 10:00AM: Those of us who were leaving early, decided to do so at around Ten in the morning. I photographed this group shot in the making just before we left. The view still had not cleared at all. From the left: FMs. Jim Glock (jglock1), Kathryn Ostadal (Kathryn), Paul Richnow, Jeff Searle, Bill Olson (Bill Olson), Linda Talbott (Linda Apriletti) and Robert Wilson (RainForestt Robert).

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- We took one more look at the sign and wished we could have seen that today. Before our small group of attendees departed for places unknown, we took note of the fact that if this was our only set back of the Biennial; we would be doing well so far.

2008-05-08_10-00-52.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park

Group 2, Mixed Sub-Group

- 10:03AM: Those of us, who decided to leave early, formed a small sub-group and departed from the overlook. We had the idea of trying one of the nearby footpaths. When we exited from the overlook we encountered an enthusiastic group of students who were on a field trip to the volcano. They were very interested in who we were and what we were doing here. Their curiosity was endless as their level of questions would attest to. FM. Craig Morgan (el Gato Grande) [yellow] took turns shaking their hands as they were polite and wanted to meet everyone.

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- They are all perfectly fluent in English, and to our astonishment spoke with no accent what so ever. This was one of the more spontaneous encounters of the Biennial and it created a special moment for our small group. The interaction held a strong impact on both groups it seemed. The cameras came out as soon as everyone started to smile. FM. Paul Norris (Palmnorris) took time to educate the school kids on Texan geography. "I am from Tex..as...do you know where Texas is?"

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- 10:04AM: Asking them to smile was redundant. As soon as they saw a camera pointed in their direction, they grouped together and posed instantly. In this one photo, they gave the peace sign while posing with FM. Judy Norris (Queen of Bling) while Paul took the shot.

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- What was first a small group of students, quickly turned into a large mob. Members of our group slowly started to move away down the trail while saying their goodbyes. At the rate in which the students were coming, there was a chance we would be stuck here if we didn't continue on.

2008-05-08_10-04-17.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park [sendero Escalonia, Escalonia Footpath]

Group 2, Mixed Sub-Group

- 10:05AM: Under dense cloud cover, we began our walk back down the trail in the direction of the visitor's center. People were still talking about their encounter with the students as we discussed which footpath we might take. There were other attendees who decided to leave early, but they were heading straight back to the visitor's center. The coffee shop at the center began to lure people away from the sightless overlook.

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- This otherwise featureless bromeliad had a very attractive bloom and everyone stopped to photograph it in turn. We began to take notice of the effect the rough exposure at this altitude had on plant life.

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- 10:08AM: We noticed a sign leading to the Escalonia footpath, so we took a sharp left turn and hit the gravel in style. The sign, being photographed along with Jeff Searle, noted the time to cover the footpath at 30 minutes. We were in no hurry, but we figured it would be faster than that.

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- 10:10AM: The first part of the footpath included a steep set of stairs that intertwined with the surrounding foliage. At least this part was at the beginning. When I got to the top, I turned to find FMs. JayAnne Crawley (La Lady) and Robert Wilson (Rainforestt Robert) quickly gaining on the last few steps.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park [sendero Escalonia, Escalonia Footpath]

Group 2, Mixed Sub-Group

- 10:11AM: The gravel and turf block footpath was rustic and had the feel of a classic hiking trail from the American northeast. With the cool weather, cloud cover, and temperate plants it was a welcomed change from the tropical rain forests we visited just days prior.

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- With this cast of characters, there was no shortage of laughs and humor, even in the middle of a cloud forest. FM. Paul Norris (Palmnorris) fondles the moss covering of a nearby tree while under the guidance of FMs. Jeff Searle and Alan Brickey (avb).

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- 10:13AM: The flora had little variation, as we saw the same species of plants throughout the trail.

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- A high-altitude species of palm, or even a cycad would have made the day but none of either were found. The trail leveled off fairly evenly, and after the initial climb, there were no steep inclines, up or down.

2008-05-08_10-13-45.jpg

Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park [sendero Escalonia, Escalonia Footpath]

Group 2, Mixed Sub-Group

- 10:14AM: Ferns, ferns everywhere a fern. Everywhere you would look along the footpath resided at least two species of fern, if not more. If there was a large enough spot in the undergrowth, a tree fern was there to take up space. The majority of the forest undergrowth consisted of small to moderate-sized ferns.

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- 10:15AM: We continued to make good time on the footpath when we made a slight right turn and came to an open area. This area was once dominated by a very large tree, now barren of foliage.

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- We took a moment to look up into the now barren tree to see its collection of epiphytes, mostly bromeliads and ferns. We could hear strange bird calls and other weird sounds not coming from attendees. The mood was eerie. With the heavy cloud cover and no wind, there was utter silence at times, like something out of a Poe novel.

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- 10:16AM: Having the lack of tropical plants to see did not mean there was nothing to photograph. There were examples of high-altitude plant life that we found more than photo worthy. Paul takes an close-up photo of this plants dark pink flower. We were guessing that this could be a Honeysuckle relative, but it was speculation based upon the floral anatomy.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park [sendero Escalonia, Escalonia Footpath]

Group 2, Mixed Sub-Group

- 10:17AM: Time for my close-up in a manner of speaking. In the time I spent here, taking a few close-up and wide angle shots of this plant, a good part of the sub-group sprinted ahead and went out of sight. I guess there was not as much to see for people as I first thought.

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- 10:18AM: Our cloud forest tour held a few levels of inspiration for the artistically minded members of our ensemble. What most of us would see, such as a normal moss covered log, was in fact a bounty of ideas that could be converted into paint on canvas by experienced artists; such as FM. Linda Talbott (Linda Apriletti). Those of us in South Florida have been seeing her work for years and knew she would often get inspired by such experiences.

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- 10:19AM: At the ten minute mark, those of us at the rear of the pack could here the voices of people way ahead starting to diminish. This created a feeling of falling behind so those in front of me began to pick up the pace a little. Someone up ahead shouted that they could swear they were smelling food.

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- 10:26AM: The footpath took on a long set of twisting turns, mostly to work around large tree trunks or other unmovable objects. At one such turn, a quick fluttering movement caught everyone's attention. It was a hummingbird, and try as I might, I could not get a photograph of it. It was too fast for me. We were able to follow its movements just slightly, as the light was dim and the brush was thick. Watching the bird make zero-point turns and straight lines never became boring. We continued to view its mastery of flight until now, when we decided to move on.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park [sendero Escalonia, Escalonia Footpath]

Group 2, Mixed Sub-Group

- 10:29AM: I grew tired of photographing people from behind, so I took a moment to get ahead of the pack. A few minutes later, I arrived at the end of the footpath. With the exit behind me, I took this last shot of our sub-group about to finish the footpath, in only 21 minutes. The tour was not long, or too over burdening of the note book, but it was an interesting change of pace. We concluded that it was better than staring into a cloud bank for a half an hour.

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- 10:33AM: "This looks familiar." After we exited the footpath and made a few turns, we were back where we started at in the morning, the parking lot. Before returning to the Visitor's Center, we noticed this particular Gunnera plant that seemed to be larger than most. A posing situation totally irrefutable by Linda and Bill of course.

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Poáz Volcano National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:35AM: We rejoined the majority at the Visitor's Center, where most of Group 2 was busy shelf diving in the gift shop. If an attendee was not in the gift shop, they were either at the coffee shop, looking over locally-made wood carvings, or just hanging around outside watching the clouds go by.

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- 10:42AM: Out in front of the gift shop, was a large lobby that held a nice view of the trail outside; the same trail that we used to get to the crater overlook. At this moment, something unusual was going on. It is hard to depict in a photo, but that cloud above the trail was moving to the right at a good speed, like tropical storm speed.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:45AM: Next to the lobby was an extensive art gallery, filled with numerous hand-carved, wooded sculptures. They varied in great detail from one to another, but there was a common theme throughout most of them. Paul Norris and I tried to figure out the meaning in some of them. That last sentence should give you inkling to what transpired.

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- 10:46AM: This large piece was hanging on the wall near the exit door leading to the pedestrian bridge. Everyone walked past it at least once. It became a favorite of a few attendees from Bus #4, for one reason or another. I will not tell you what the price was.

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- 10:48AM: Our scheduled departure time was 'roughly' eleven AM, so we still had plenty of time to wander around.

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- 10:49AM: The lobby had a selection of rocking chairs (for sale of course) for people to use to rest their weary feet. The art galley was in behind to the left, with additional items representing Costa Rican art history scattered around the lobby. The chairs were tested out by our CRT Guide Jorge and Andrea Searle while they conversed with FM. Jim Glock (jglock1) and Bus #4 attendee Cindy Andersen.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 10:51AM: These sculptures are very articulate and the faces are lifelike for being carved out of a single piece of hardwood. Contemplating the hours that must have been involved in making some of these pieces was mind boggling.

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- 10:52AM: "Yo, check out the tongue on this guy!" Paul discovered this one charming sculpture leaning in a hollow wall display. The price was in Colones, so it had a full line of zeros in it.

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- Paul points out the basis of his art appreciation.

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The clock struck eleven, and the signal was given by CRT staff for attendees to start making their way back to their buses. Our stay at the volcano was coming to an end, but it would be quickly replaced by a visit to an animal sanctuary and a deluxe set of waterfalls.

- 11:03AM: Larry had enough of waiting. When I got to the bus, FM. Larry Davis (Lefty) had taken the driver's seat and planned on taking over control of the bus. He began to practice yelling and waving his fist, just in case.

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Ryan

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2008 IPS Biennial - Costa Rica

Day 06: Thursday, May 8th

Poáz Volcano National Park -> La Paz Waterfall Gardens

Group 2, Buses #3 & #4

- 11:03AM: To keep Larry from driving away with the bus, we crowded out in front of it. When he grew tired of waving his fist he resorted to other means of communicating his feelings.

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- 11:04AM: "Don't do it Larry!" We were able to talk Larry out of the driver's seat but we knew he would have taken off if given the chance.

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- With that crisis behind us, attendees marched on board and packed the aisle of Bus #4. There was no 'seating chart' or anything like that on the bus. People sat in generally the same place on each day, but would change seats occasionally just to mix things up a bit. When everyone got comfortable and 'beer'ed' properly, CRT gave the order to move out.

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- 11:12AM: We had wheels up at ten after eleven and quickly gained altitude as our pilot Don Juan pushed the throttle down on the twin General Electric turbines…just kidding. When we looked out the windows on the opposite side of the bus, it looked as if we were flying. With the tunes playing and the ever present nature of attendees, most didn't notice it.

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Ryan

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