Category Archives: Houston

Amazon tour with Events & Adventures

Amazon Tour with Events & Adventures

Amazing Amazon Tour with members of Events & Adventures

An Amazon tour is not something the average American gets to experience firsthand, but visiting the rainforest is something that has always been beyond my bucket list.  How awesome would it be to visit one of the most remote and spectacular places in the world?  But to actually do it…um, no thank you.  I wouldn’t say I’m a girly girl, but I really don’t like bugs.  I mean I really Don’t. Like. Bugs.  But as event manager with Events & Adventures, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel across the country and around the world with the club and its members, and I can tell you Events & Adventures does travel right.  So when I saw an Amazon tour was being planned my curiosity was immediately piqued.  We reserved the entire Amazon Clipper Premium boat, and Erik’s Adventures customized an eight day Amazon river trip just for us.  I had to ask myself, “When was I going to get this opportunity again?”

When I told my family and friends I was going on a trip to the Amazon River they either laughed or looked at me dumbfounded—but I am so glad I did it!  The Amazon Clipper was lovely. Our cabins were super clean and even had air conditioning, and the staffed visited two or three times a day to make the bed and tidy the room.  Even though I brought PB&J in case the food was weird (don’t judge), the food was amazing.  While we enjoyed all kinds of meat, fish, veggies and fruit from the area, the chefs prepared the meals with Western tastes in mind.  Sufficed to say, I never opened the peanut butter or jelly, and I ended up giving them to the head chef before we left.  I swear I’d not eaten that much the entire month before.  I definitely packed on a few pounds from the yummy and seemingly never-ending food we were so graciously served during our trip.

So now that I felt assured my creature comforts were not going to be uncomfortable, I felt safe enough to check out my surroundings. That’s when it really occurred to me—I was actually on a boat in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, and it was spectacular!  Did you know that every 100 km there is a different ecosystem?  That means there are different species of trees and plant life, as well as different inhabitants and cultures, throughout the rainforest.  We traversed the Amazon River and then explored one of its main tributaries, the Rio Negro.  We took ‘canoes’ (a 16-seat long boat with an engine) every dawn and after sunset from the boat to tour smaller tributaries and explore the shorelines.  We saw variety of birds, snakes, and reptiles (like gator relative the caiman) on every ride. We even had flying fish land in our canoes—usually after ricocheting off someone’s leg or chest!

I was thrilled that all my insect repellent purchases were rarely needed.  A little bug spray and we were fine.  Back home in Texas seemed to have more mosquitos than we encountered on our Amazon tour.  During the trip, we drank bottled water and showered in filtered river water.  We were advised to get some vaccines prior to the trip.  The hepatitis A vaccine was a good idea, but I’d probably skip the malaria, typhoid and yellow fever vaccines if I did it again.  We walked through the rainforest with a guide that carried a machete to clear the path that is covered with overgrowth in days.  The naturalists showed us how the trees release rubber, milk and sap and how the native people remove the cyanide from the plant to use the fibrous root.  They even showed us how to protect ourselves from a jaguar and how to build a fire in an area that is always wet.

One day we planned to visit the ‘ruins’.  I was very excited because I love ancient history and super old stuff in general.  Well, these ruins were from the rubber baron era of the early 1900s, so they were not quite ancient as it turns out.  But the way the jungle has consumed them you’d think these ruins were at least 500 years old.  Besides the ruins, there are national parks that are world heritage sites.  These sites have the highest level of environmental protection in the world and are rarely visited except by scientists.  Visitors on an Amazon tour must leave anything that could be hunting or fishing gear with the park rangers upon entering (which is by boat).  These rangers work a month at a time since it takes eight to nine hours by speedboat just to get there.  We kept these hard working rangers entertained by trying to make conversation, but they spoke no English and we spoke almost no Portuguese.  So we just gave them candy!

We visited areas that are almost never encountered by humans.  We couldn’t even leave our canoes in the park, it was that pristine.  The sunsets over the Rio Negro (so named because the slow moving water contained so much decomposing vegetation it is almost black) were astounding.  And the stars?  WOW. I had no idea the southern hemisphere has different constellations. They were so bright; I wish they would have come out better in our photos.  Even the occasional downpour in the rainforest was impressive.  On our first night, I watched one for a few minutes from the comfort of the partially enclosed bar.  It was just me and Mother Nature at four in the morning.  One surprising highlight was when we met the most elusive and probably ugliest water mammal ever, the fresh water pink dolphin. There is a spot they are known to frequent because they are fed fish they don’t have to hunt.  But belly rubs were out of the question—a quick touch is all they would accept. Even the amount of food and how often they are fed by humans is strictly controlled to ensure preservation.

Our Amazon tour brought us as close to a truly native people as you will ever be.  Meeting a tribe and watching some of their ceremonial dances was incredible.  They were a very private people, but they like to have visitors so they can share their heritage and customs.  If they are accepting visitors, two white flags are hung by the river bank. If not, they hang black ones. The truly live in large huts made of the trees in the area. All the furniture is handmade too; their pots and cooking tools are made of metal.  No plastic, no glass.  Our naturalists translated for us and we even got to participate in one of the dances.  We bought crafts and jewelry they hand make; the blow dart guns were a huge favorite.  They were so friendly and the kids amazed by our clothes…and our height.

For our last travel day on the Amazon tour we had one final dawn canoe ride.  We took a small tributary from the Amazon to the Rio Negro. The trees were moving—and not moving because of wind.  As we got closer we could hear a chirping, squeaking sound.  Suddenly, we saw lots of little faces!  The canoe drivers and guides opened their sacks and started pulling out dozens of overripe bananas.  A few spider monkeys make a bee line for their treats.  Once the others figure out that there really is a snack and it’s safe, they make their way onto the boats, too; over, under, across, however they can get to the fingers that are offering a sweet treat.  We were inundated with 30 or 40 friendly little monkeys sitting on our shoulders, laps, even heads where they were enjoying the snacks we had to offer.  Naturally, when the bananas were gone the spider monkeys made their way back to the trees.

I still can’t believe I went on this trip.  Going as a member instead of staff was the best decision I could’ve made!  It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience, one everyone should try and I’m so glad I left my comfort zone (or at least thought I was going to) to take the chance to do something this amazing, astounding, spectacular…words really can’t do it justice.  If anyone ever has this opportunity, take it—with both hands!  I hope Events & Adventures offers this Amazon tour again so you can take advantage of it too!  The staff and members of all the clubs from around the country will make sure it’s an experience you will never forget.

~ Jacque C., Events & Adventures Dallas

world travel to spain

World Travel with Events & Adventures

The only way to sum it up our visit to Spain is to say that Events & Adventures really does world travel well.  This wasn’t a trip where we were on a clock throughout the experience; there was a great mixture of planned tours and free time.  We started our adventure at JFK in New York, getting some quick introductions to the over 40 people who were taking part in the trip.  And believe it or not, someone was sweet enough to bring everyone homemade cookies!

world travel to spain

Events & Adventures members from around the US and Canada visited Spain!

After landing in Madrid, we got to stretch our legs with a quick tour of some of the city’s most famous sights, before taking a break to enjoy a welcome lunch that offered a staggering amount of delicious traditional Spanish cuisine.  Our first full day started with a tour for the presidential palace, which was spectacular.  We then journeyed to the ancient city of Toledo, which is thousands of years old, and got the chance to get lost in the labyrinth of tiny streets that wind around the historic town.  Dinner was a casual five-course party with several small plates (tapas) before our entrees. We learned the hard way we would have to pace ourselves with the food here because they just keep bringing it out!

We headed to towns ancient towns of Avila and Segovia. The Roman aqueducts are still soaring over the town.  How can the residents just go on about their day when they have such spectacular history all around them?!   After we returned to Madrid we refreshed ourselves and headed out to a popular bar area for a Tapas crawl.  The bars here are more like pubs, not clubs—because those open way later.  Each bar we tried different luscious small dishes, and we loved how everyone shares!

We packed up from Madrid and headed to Bunol, where the residents were preparing for the Tomatina Festival the very next day.  It was such a cute little town. We spent our afternoon and evening touring and eating in this historical city by the sea.  The next morning was the beginning of the adventure that is the world famous Tomatina Festival—probably the world’s largest annual food fight.  Security was tight.  To make sure no one got hit with anything other than tomatoes we couldn’t bring anything in.  Twenty thousand people packed the long narrow streets before the dump trucks just started unloading as they drove down the street, and at the starting pistol—it was pure madness.  Goggles were the best idea ever—as long as you kept them on!  It was so exciting, and everyone was there for the fun of it, not to kill other with these little red bombs.  As much as we laughed, it was best to keep your mouth closed though!  After the ending pistol the fire department and locals brought out hoses to wash everyone off.  There is nothing like experiencing world travel by being involved in the local culture.  Getting smashed tomatoes out of hair proved to be the most challenging part of the whole trip.  Even playing in the warm and relaxing Mediterranean Sea didn’t get it out.

world travel to spain

Barcelona was the final hotel location for our world travel to Spain.

We took a tour of what is probably one of the biggest promenades you’ll ever see, and thousands of people were out for an evening stroll.  The shopping, food, bars, and views of the Gothic neighborhood were everything you’d expect it to be.  Small lanes that are no wider than one car have little bars and restaurants around each turn, with people spilling out into the lanes.

It wasn’t long before we got to witness La Sagrada Familia, one of the most incredible cathedrals in the world—and they are still building it!  Every tiny detail has a meaning, and the colors the stained glass creates and projects into the building are breathtaking.  Designed by several architects, the most influential being Gaudi, it has different styles in throughout the construction.  Afterwards, we had an amazing tour of Park Guell.  It was the original planned neighborhood.  At the time it was too far out of town and too expensive but for a handful of the super elite. Gaudi’s influence could be felt everywhere we went, and he managed to translate beauty even in the unusual, as everything he produced appeared to be curved and wavy.  His mosaics were everywhere and they were beautiful, even the monochromatic ones.  World travel can expose you to so many wonderful things you might have otherwise never seen.

Monserrat Benedictine monastery is a historical and religious jewel. Hidden up, up, way up in the mountains, disguised by the hills, how’d they build this gorgeous place?  There are still monks there and a school for boys!  So after our tram trip to the ‘top’ of the mountain (there’s a small chapel and alter up even higher if your legs can get you there), we went to the coolest place ever for another never-ending lunch—a traditional hacienda (ranch house) that was turned into a restaurant.  We learned the traditional Spanish way to drink wine and had never ending courses of family-style food (again).  People were stuffed before they brought out the chicken, traditional sausage (which tasted like Texas BBQ!), and meats.  We HAD to get to the winery so dessert was taken to go—Biscotti-like biscuits and fresh fruit!

Speaking of wine….  We had a tour of the most amazing winery I’ve ever seen, and I live in Northern California.  This was not a regular winery; it was a huge commercial business that makes great wine.  It was simply amazing.  The tram we rode had headset options for six languages, though we didn’t use them since it was a private tour.  Stories of the wineries founding and growth were projected on walls that lifted up so we could see the barrel storage.  We got to walk down the original storage cellars below ground. They told and showed us how they produce spectacular “healthy” wines that don’t harm the environment.  Using solar power the facility is almost entirely self-sustained!  Everyone was impressed before we even started the tasting and got to try four different delicious wines.  I imagine the wine drinkers were ready to move in.

Our last day of this world travel tour was spent visiting the ancient cities of Figueras and Girona.  Girona is a medieval city with narrow streets, castles and ramparts.  Figueras is another historical city that is such for a different reason—Salvador Dali.  The museum made of his birthplace was a trip in the madness of a truly brilliant artist.  The amount of art in so many different mediums was staggering.  Our farewell dinner was a little different since it was in the Catalonian style.  Less meat, meat, meat, more little flourishes on the dishes, but still way too much food.

The trip and tours were truly awesome, but getting to see people from the other E&A Clubs was like gathering of old friends while making new ones.  There were so many people I wanted to spend more time with but the time slipped away so fast. We’ll stay friends through social media until we meet again on our next world travel trip, maybe even on an in-between trip to visit friends!  We talked about the Amazon trip next month and Cuba and China trips already scheduled for next year.  I can’t wait to join my Events & Adventures world travel friends in our next exotic destination.

world travel to spain

The Dallas Club Goes Zip-Lining

Last Weekend the Houston and Dallas Events & Adventures clubs got together and spent the weekend zip-lining and horseback riding in Nacogdoches. We stayed at the Zip Inn, and we could hear the zip liners flying from the moment we arrived. The lines were so close to our lodge that we could yell to the riders from our lawn chairs as they flew past us.

We spent the first night hanging out around the camp fire, and we learned a little about each other. Then early Saturday morning we feasted on a full breakfast that our members helped make, and then we were off.

It was a cool morning so the good people at Rose Lake Ranch let us borrow scarves. We broke up into two groups. After the first group mounted up and headed out, those of us who stayed at the ranch met the locals, who mostly consisted of llamas, foals, potbellied piglets, goats, deer, chickens and all kinds of rabbits.

When the first group got back the rest of us got our turn on the horses. We went up and down hills, through the woods and if you were lucky (or unlucky depending on your terrain preference) through the creeks. The land was gorgeous and it was a unique experience—we didn’t have to follow the trail thanks to our guides, and truly got to experience nature on horseback.

After a great barbecue lunch we headed to the zip line course. We had an awesome time zip-lining through the trees. The guides were great; they made sure we were safe and but also let us stretch our wings and get adventurous. Our group had a great time both teasing and encouraging each other. Some were daredevils and others were afraid to leave the platforms, but we all helped each other out and made sure that all of us had fun.

After dinner was over and the sun set, many of us decided to try the nighttime glow-in-the-dark zip-lining. The platforms had rope lights and everyone wore glow in the dark necklaces so the guides could catch them. It was a less intimidating option for those who were afraid of heights (since you couldn’t see the ground). We spent the rest of the night by the fire with s’mores and popcorn, enjoyed each other’s company and looked back on all the amazing memories we’d made as members of Events & Adventures Houston and Dallas!

Create Relationships with Fellow Houston Sports Fans

Opening Day Baseball isn’t just any old event to sports fans—it’s a display of hope, optimism and enthusiasm.  Every fan from every major league team has high hopes for their season and their players.  After years of rebuilding we didn’t expect too much from our rag tag group of young players and aging veterans last season.  Experts from all across baseball decided that the Astros would be great—just not for another two years. Baseball pundits predicted a deep playoff run for 2017, but expected little from the 2015 season.

From April to October this group came together and did what no one expected—they committed themselves to a goal and they achieved it.  They made the playoffs for the first time since a very different version of the same team lost the World Series in 2005.  For the first time in ten years they were playing, and winning.  Houston beat the New York Yankees in the Wild Card game only to fall to the future World Champion, the Kansas City Royals, 3-2. It was a great time to experience alongside fellow sports fans from Events & Adventures Houston.

So on April 11th, when we take our seats for the 7:10pm first pitch, we will celebrate hope, optimism and enthusiasm as a group of new friends looking to come together and continue to live the life we love.  We don’t know what the season will hold, but for this one game we will enjoy more than just an evening of great baseball at Minute Maid Park.  We’ll enjoy the experience of everything Opening Day stands for, alongside fellow sports fans, and the new friends we’ve met through Events & Adventures.

Find Adventure and Friendship with Events & Adventures

Camping is the cure for everything.

Go camping, get outdoors, set plans and make them happen. Spending your free time sleeping outside may not sound amazing on paper, but the fresh air and tranquility of our Texas State Parks is what you’ve been missing (and it’s even better in the company of new friends). Events & Adventures Houston has gone on 25 camping trips and no one has ever regret coming along. We’ve dealt with storms, unexpected cold, droughts, and floods. But the unexpected challenges are just a way for us to come together and share a real experience; so you aren’t just meeting new people, but also building relationships.

Camping with other adults is something most people don’t get to experience. The uniqueness of the experience is why we make it a point to go camping or do an overnight trip once a month for our members. Relaxing around a campfire brings out the best in us. It’s a place where we can take a deep breathe, relax and not worry about the city stress that keeps us down. It’s a place where meeting new people turns into more than just getting along with someone for the moment, but rather forming lasting relationships and really getting to know one another. When you’re camping—it’s just you, nature, and a bunch of great people, so you don’t have that stress of trying to be someone you’re not or looking a certain way. You just let yourself sink into the trees and the forest and experience freedom.

Huntsville State Park is one of our favorite spots to go camping. We go every February and this year the weather was perfect. We hiked the seven mile trail all the way around the lake. There were a lot of tired faces when we returned but the feeling of accomplishment outweighed our exhaustion. We paddle-boarded, canoed, rode horses, had campfires, celebrated birthdays, played games and took time to smell the roses.

Whatever you do this year we hope you visit as many of our wonderful State Parks as you can.  Do things that get you out of the house, and live a life you love.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Events and Adventures Houston!

Ice Bucket Challenge singles houston

We’d like to thank The Seattle E&A club for nominating us for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  We had over 15 people answer the call and we raised over $250 for ALS research.  While we are all busy getting ready for the big Labor Day Weekend Adventure it was great to see all the support for charity this week.  Our group here in Houston donates hundreds of hours of community service and donates thousands to great causes here in Houston and worldwide.  We’re very proud of our club and we’d like to especially thank all those who have come out and supported us this year.  We’re looking forward to our first ever volunteer event at Project C.U.R.E in September. 

All of our clubs took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and we raised over $2000.00 for ALS! Check out our YouTube at  www.youtube.com/user/EventsAndAdventures to see all of our ice bucket videos.

Flips, Jumps and Dives into the Cool Water here in Houston!

 

Houston Singles Party Barge

What a week…Unless you’ve been stuck in the vegetable room at Costco you know it’s hot outside here in Houston. When it’s this hot out we here at Events and Adventures love to get wet!  After a week of amazing events that included skeet shooting & a huge softball/kickball cookout; the party barge Sunday was a welcome escape from the flames.  Flips, jumps and dives into the cool water were a fun escape from the upper deck where the wild ones were gathered.  We’ve got an August loaded with fun events topped off by the big Labor Day Adventure at the end of the month.  August is an awesome month to join Events & Adventures, with so many fun events to look forward to. 

Huge 4th of July Bash with our Houston Club!


If you missed our 4th of July
 bash in Houston this year you missed a good one!  In true American fashion we enjoyed hot dogs off the grill, Budweiser, Volleyball and a slip n’ slide in the backyard and tons of fun on the patio.  When adults get the entire day off of work you know it’s time to party!  We started at noon with volleyball and some water balloon fights and capped the day off watching the amazing fireworks show.  The day flew by too fast but we’ve got some amazing pictures to remember the good times thanks to Ray!  Members can check out the E&A calendar to see all the great ones they’re in! Can’t wait to do it again next year!

2014-07-09-event-29356-45dacf3f-bc6f-b3dc-666b-ca219077799a

 

Had an AWESOME Weekend Zip Lining and Horseback Riding! 

The Dallas and Houston groups met in Nacogdoches for a weekend of fun. We had a beautiful lodge and some people chose to camp.  The ZipInn was a great space for out group. Nice amenities and 3 bathrooms!  We enjoyed the fire pit each night as well as the full kitchen for meals. ZipNac did a great job teaching us what to do on a practice run 5 feet off the ground. No nerves.  Then we set out on our first adventure. We loved zip lining above and though the trees. The guides were awesome.  Then we headed to Roselake Ranch. I thought there was something very wrong when my GPS took us behind a Wal-Mart. Surprise! They had 70 acres in almost the middle of town that was stunningly green.  The folks at Roselake Ranch made sure everyone had a horse that fit their skills; they even got me a horse that I only needed one hand to direct so I could take photos.  Sweet!
Saturday night we returned to our lodge and made dinner and snacks.  Fresh popcorn!  Our more adventurous members took advantage of the night time zip line with glow necklaces. Totally different experience.  The guides liked us so much they stayed and hung out with us for the rest of the evening.  Sunday morning we had one last zip line after breakfast.  Everyone helped pick up the lodge and we headed home to our prospective cities.  We had a great, fun, adventurous but also relaxing weekend.  The people out in Nacogdoches will definitely see us again.

Searching for Walter Mitty

Walter Mitty

Have you done anything noteworthy or mentionable? That is the question that plagues Walter Mitty in the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” First published in 1939 by James Thurber, Walter Mitty is a mild man with a vivid fantasy life. In his fantastic daydreams, he is the heroic, adventurous, romantic man he longs to be and personally triumphs. In Ben Stiller’s remake of the 1947 classic, Walter Mitty is trapped behind a desk where his biggest real-life adventure is trying to fill out an online dating profile. When asked what he has done that is noteworthy or mentionable, he has no answer.

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