Turrialba 20 Years Later – Just glad to be alive

Rolling into Turrialba was like stepping back in time 20 years. This was where we (the US Kayak Team) spent the winters training. We were a bunch of young crazy boys with big dreams and no fears. We trained during the day and got shit faced at the Farro disco club at night (there was no enforced drinking age in Costa Rica back in those days). I don’t know who was supposed to be in charge of us back then, but they should have been fired. We were out of control.

The apex of our stupidity might have been when Wick and I, (see adjacent photo), went bungee jumping before bungee jumping legally existed. A local guy took us to an old abandoned bridge that hung about 400 feet above a small river. He tied a bungee off the back of his rusty little pickup truck and pulled the emergency break with a smile. Yeah, I jumped. Twice. Many would say, however, that my personal apex of stupidity occurred the following winter when I picked and ate a poisonous mushroom. We had been picking hallucinogenics for weeks so I guess it was only a matter of time before someone made a booboo. That little mistake sent me on an emergency flight home and put me in the hospital for 2 weeks.

I love this photo of me and the boys after a river workout. We’re sitting on the bridge over the Reventazon River outside of Turrialba. It’s February, 1992. From left to right, Eric ‘Wick’ Southwick, Tree, Adam ‘Rodeo’ Shandro, and Billy Brennan. (Adam, we forgive you for throwing up all over Wick after that night at the Farro. Wick never should have put you in the hammock right above his bed, and I never should have kept swinging it. I miss you man. Rest in peace my brother).

20 years later I sit on the same bridge remembering my friends and the good times we had…

July, 1992. After a winter in Costa Rica I took a silver medal at the JR World Championships in Norway. So we must have done some training?

Stevie below digging the graffiti art of the area. We’re trying to do Turrialba a little safer this time around. We’ll see how it goes. If I see a good cow pasture though, I might have to go picking…  TREE

Bringing you (ad-free) Nomadly In Love takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Love options


You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount.




  1. you almost died from eating a poisonous mushroom that you picked yourself? That is funny. How dumb are we at that age bro.
    Enough hanging inland. Get back on the road and lets go surfing in Panama. When are you crossing?

  2. is the river even flowing any more under the bridge?

  3. PS… don't forget to stop by the strip club

  4. Anonymous says:

    Uh- hum. Is this emergency flight home the same one you took when we thought you had contracted a freaky tropical disease in CR? Where you were in emergent care for weeks with no one knowing why you were sick? I sure hope someone in DC knew it was a mushroom and not the plague…. Like all of us at home in OR thought. The secrets that are reveled on the sprinterlife blog. Damn knucklehead.
    Love- Sis

  5. mamatuyaall says:

    YEAH! No wonder he didn't want me flying out to DC to be with him!!!
    But really, I gave up trying to figure out what was REALLY going on when he drove across the country at BARELY sixteen ( to "train", he said). And "train" he did, apparently!
    No, maybe it was age twelve – on Jordan drive when I kept finding all the screens taken off his bedroom windows, and he assured me "the wind did it, mom!". And that was the year of that GIRL . . . .
    Noooooooo, it was before THAT, when he had a paper route, and was gone half the night on "secret missions" across town with his friends.

    No, I actually gave up when I found him, at age 4, playing "kissing games" in the closet with little Cindy Pigeon.

    But hey Indra! Remember Andre' and THE VAN? 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    Man, you all look like a bunch of kids!

  7. Ummmm, why am I just finding out about this now? Whatever happened to full disclosure before I said 'I do'? Mixed feelings, mixed feelings!! And I'm checking the Sprinter's screens from now on. And the cow pastures! Whatever…. I love my husband even if he does think the walls are breathing and that I look like Latoya Jackson. Shit happens.

  8. Tree, you look like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Are those Vuarnet Cat sunglasses? Ohhhh no. BUSTED!

  9. Then there was the time I flew to D.C. to visit him for Mother's Day – and his MD present to me was to "let" me watch him – as he kayaked DOWN DOWN DOWN – over the INSANE waterfalls at Great Falls! That's when my hair started to go grey . . . .

  10. My recollection is that getting to Costa Rica ('92) had an element of surviving as well.

    And what about that guy who should have been fired? Select a good place down there to build him a statue 🙂

  11. Rich – I left the strip club out of this post for a reason, but thanks for exposing us. We only went 17 times by accident.

    Mom/Sis/Stevie – I wrote this post for pure entertainment. This entire thing is fictional. None of this happened. Prank call, prank call!

    Erin – Yes, those are Cats I'm wearing. I'm always just in front of the trends.

    Joe – If you're referring to the fact that you had to bail Wick and I out of jail in North Carolina the day before our flight down to Costa Rica, I just want to say that upon our return to the US we were fully exonerated.

  12. Madena Bennett says:

    Tree…between those two stories you are lucky to still have a liver!!

  13. John Rich says:

    Love this post!

  14. Eliz Portuguez says:

    i love this story! it was great!

  15. Anonymous says:

    So what exactly did you and Wick do to get arrested in North Carolina???

  16. Anonymous says:

    I have a funny story about the alleged "food poisoning". I'd heard about Tree being in a US hospital and wanted to give him a call. Got the room phone number from Adam and think I called the next day. When Tree picks up the phone, all I hear are incomprehensible moans and groans. I quickly said what I had to say, wished him a speedy recovery and hung up.
    Turns out, Tree had checked out the day before – have no idea who got my best wishes *laughs*


We want to hear from you! You may comment as 'Anonymous' to hide your identity if you don't want to leave your name. We look forward to hearing from you.

Speak Your Mind

Your comments make us happy.

Leave a comment, get a kitten!