Aug 29, 2012

Honeymoon to Costa Rica (Guanacaste)

Finally, the last part to the overview of our honeymoon to Costa Rica! After so many adventures in both Arenal and Monteverde, we ended the trip at an all-inclusive resort in Guanacaste - by the beach!) On the drive there from Monteverde, we got a little treat - our driver pulled over to let us stretch our legs and grab something to eat, and there was a group of macaws in the trees! It was crazy seeing such big (and LOUD) birds living in the wild!

When we did finally arrive at the resort, we soon learned that we had been automatically upgraded to the Royal Beach Club. We weren't super sure what that meant at first, but finally did learn that it was the most amazing thing EVER! We got to stay in a special part of the hotel where no children were allowed (I love kids, but it was nice to have the adults-only pool!), we got all-inclusive wrist-bands, and we had our own concierge. It truly felt like paradise there!

We didn't do a whole lot while we were there -- mainly just relaxed, ate and drank! Haha! I learned that my non-drinking hubs LOVES pina coladas (virgin ones, that is), and the unlimited amount that we were allowed to have was a good thing! Not sure how we would have paid for all of them without that! Hah. We spent our days laying by the pool, reading and going for an occasional dip to cool off. It was great - and there was a swim-up bar!

there were tons of lizards all over the property - and they were HUGE!
At night, we would pick one of the many restaurants on the property and make a reservation to eat there. It was fun to get dressed up and go out on dates together every night, and it was so romantic!

One day, we decided to do a coffee tasting at the hotel's coffee shop. We ended up being the only people who showed up, so we got a personal lesson on Costa Rica's coffee industry, got to taste some samples of local coffee, and even got some free drinks too! Our teachers, Angel and Esteven (not sure how to spell either's name...) were so fun, and it was literally one of the most fun things we got to do! Here's a picture of the four of us:

On one of the last days, we decided to get out of the resort for a day on a catamaran. We were expecting it to be about 20 people, and were surprised to get on the biggest boat in the ocean, with about 100 other people! At first, John and I were a little unhappy about the trip, but after we landed in a small cove and went snorkeling, we ended up having a fantastic time!

Once the day on the water was over, we got to watch the most beautiful sunset. It truly took my breath away, as did our entire trip! I would go back in a heartbeat, and am so glad that we chose to celebrate our first days as man and wife like we did! Hope you guys enjoyed the pictures!

Aug 28, 2012

Honeymoon to Costa Rica (Monteverde, Part 2)

After our four-hour hike in the cloud forest, John and I scarfed down some lunch and headed to our next adventure: zip-lining! I was thrilled terrified, but knew John really wanted to do it, so I sucked it up and went. And even though it was really scary, I had a great time! It was neat to see the forest from above for once, and fun to do something I've never done before with my new hubs! Here are some pictures to PROVE that it happened! (pardon the image quality on these, they were all taken with a P&S)

After we finished with that, we decided to squeeze one more adventure into our day: the butterfly garden. The butterflies there were pretty, but also nothing to freak about...but the flowers? Oh myLanta! They were out of this world!

The garden finds cocoons and protects them from the occasional predator until they hatch. It was neat to see the rows and rows of cocoons, and we even got to see a butterfly come out right in front of us. It was pretty neat.

The coolest butterfly there was called the Owl Butterfly (see image below). It uses its wing pattern to scare away predators because it looks like an owl when the wings are opened. But it has another defense too. Notice the right corner of the wing on the image below....does it look like a snake to you? That is its defense when its wings are closed. Neat, huh?

Stay tuned for the wrap up of our honeymoon: Guanacaste! AKA the beach!

Aug 27, 2012

Honeymoon to Costa Rica (Monteverde, Part 1)

We got up early Wednesday morning to head to Monteverde from Arenal (read about Arenal here). What we didn't realize is that we would be traveling a bit unconventionally, though. See, we figured we'd take a van there, just like we had from San Jose to Arenal. So when a van showed up to pick us up at our hotel, we had no hesitations. Twenty minutes later, though, when it stopped on the side of the road, we realized how we were really getting there. By boat. We later learned that this shaved about three hours off of the normal route, since we went through Lake Arenal (the largest man-made lake in the world, apparently) instead of around it.

After the boat ride, we drove for about 2.5 more hours to Monteverde. Why so long? Because we maybe went about 15 miles per hour the entire way there -- the roads were SO bumpy, and unpaved, that you couldn't go any faster. It was long, but not too bad. John and I were happy to finally arrive and get settled. The first night there, we decided to take a night walk. It was pretty amazing, and we saw so many different animals that night. It did end up raining most of the time (July is the rainy season in Costa Rica), so that was a bummer, but we saw snakes, frogs, toads, leaf-cutter ants, tarantulas, scorpions, and more. It was pretty amazing!

The next morning, we went on another nature walk, this time in the cloud forest. When we first met up, our guide decided to take us to the hummingbird section. There, tons of hummingbirds were buzzing around waiting for breakfast. Because John and I were wearing our red rain-jackets (again, it was rainy season), the hummingbirds were instantly attracted to us. One even landed on John's hands! It was amazing to see all the variety of species they have there!

After we left the hummingbird gardens, we headed into the forest. It's amazing to see the ancient trees inside the darkness, and we were fortunate to see some amazing animals. One interesting thing we saw was a wasp who had fungus growing out of its brain. The fungus attaches itself to the insect, and grows in their skulls -- it even controls them for a while. Then, the wasp gets paralyzed and ultimately dies. There's a picture below.

While we hiked, we saw some amazing things. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to grab SUPER pictures of anything, so I tried to just capture our surroundings instead.

not sure why this won't size right....oh well.
Finally we made it to our destination - a gorgeous waterfall in the middle of nowhere. Of course, we stopped to get a few pics before heading back.

On the hike back, we got word that there were some monkeys in the trees. We were so excited, as we hadn't been able to see any yet! Once we finally found the pack, I decided to just enjoy watching them instead of trying to get some pictures. They were amazing to watch - you could see them jumping from tree to tree, and knowing that they were wild animals made it that much better! I think everyone was pretty amazing, and we watched them until they all roamed away.

It was definitely an exciting day! But it wasn't over yet! Stay tuned for Part 2 of Monteverde!

Aug 26, 2012

Honeymoon to Costa Rica (Arenal)

John and I left for our honeymoon on Monday - a day and a half after tying the knot. It was definitely one of the best decisions we made, because we were able to have all day Sunday to just unwind and pack. We saw our parents and told funny stories from the day before, and it was really good. I would highly recommend this to other people!

So Monday morning, we were supposed to leave around 6:00 AM to depart Little Rock. At 4:30, when we woke up, we got news that our plane had some mechanical problems, and would be delayed until 10:00 AM, meaning we would definitely have missed our connecting flight. So we chose to leave Little Rock at 1:30 PM instead, so that we wouldn't have such a long layover in Atlanta.

Since we got to Costa Rica so much later that day than we had originally planned, we had to stay in San Jose one night, and give up our hotel reservation in Arenal, Costa Rica. Our stay in San Jose was pretty uneventful, so let's just go ahead and skip on to Tuesday morning, when our driver picked us up to drive us the three hours to Arenal.

As we drove along, I started to dose in the car. About two hours in, though, our driver suddenly woke me (and John) up to tell us to grab the camera. As he pulled off the highway, we were both a bit confused, but eager to see what he was so excited about. Up above our heads, not 10 feet off the side of the road, was a mama sloth (3-toed) and a little baby. What a delight! Especially since it was the only one we got to see the entire trip!

When we finally did get to Arenal we were to amazed at our luck with our villa. It was yellow (my favorite!) and adorable, with a big bedroom and our own patio. That afternoon, we went to the nearby town and ordered local food - I got fish tacos (one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life!) and John got authentic "tipicol" food (the "tipicol"is referring how we saw "typical" spelled many times while we were there).

While in Arenal, we signed up to do an evening at the local Tabacon Thermal Springs Resort. It was our first real night out of our honeymoon! We got a nice dinner there, and afterwards, got to explore their natural hot pools that are hot due to the proximity to the active Arenal Volcano. It was so neat to see, and was super romantic! I'm pretty sure it was even on ABC's The Bachelor one season!

The next day we woke up bright and early to go to Monteverde. Check back tomorrow for a post on that!

Aug 14, 2012

If I Could Write a Letter to Me

I planned my wedding for years. Before I met John. Before I even liked boys. My best friend says she remembers the first time I came to her house and casually asked her what she thought her wedding dress would look like. We were in sixth grade.

Needless to say, I thought I was prepared.

But I was wrong. Looking back, it's actually kind of funny. Kind of.

So if I could go back, I'd tell myself these 10 things so things would go a little...smoother.

1. Don't stuff your face with gourmet foods that you've steered clear of for months at the rehearsal dinner. Don't drink any wine cause it will sneak up on you. Pace yourself, hun. Resist the urge and eat light.

2. Remember to bring your shampoo and retainer to Mom & Dad's house so you don't have to go home at 5:30 on the morning of your wedding, trying to make sure John doesn't see you.

3. Take your anxiety pill even though you think it will make you nauseous. Cause, honestly, you're gonna be nauseous anyway without it, so you might as well try it.

4. Stand up for yourself if you think your makeup is overdone. Otherwise, you'll be paranoid about it for the next month while you wait to see if your pictures turn out okay. 

5. Even though your vows are finished, go ahead and put pen to paper a few days before the wedding so you're not running around like a chicken without her head trying to find a damn pen Saturday afternoon.

6. Put your keys in your purse. This is KEY (haha) to making sure the getaway vehicle is at the reception for you in it? Also, having the getaway vehicle at the reception will allow your entire wedding party to be at the party, instead of running around the parking lot for an hour trying to find a car that isn't there.

7. Let everyone in the wedding party know the exact plans and what their roles should be. DO NOT follow people's advice and just "let it happen." Be your normal control-freak self and get it done right the first time.

8. Eat more cake. Can't stress it enough.

9. Have tossing bouquet near the dance floor. Or a bridesmaid bouquet. Or anything?

10. Pack a bag for Sunday morning. Bring make-up. Bring pants. Bring a bra. Bring a bag to put your dress in so when you leave the nicest hotel in Little Rock, you don't look like a freaking hobo.

And Kati, just remember. Even if none of this happens, it's going to be okay. Because at the end of the evening, you'll leave your amazing, perfect wedding with your HUSBAND. And even if you happen to get a little sick on the way to the hotel (huh?) he still loves you very, very much. You're a lucky girl.And you never have to do this again. You'll be happy about that, surprisingly. Believe me.

Aug 13, 2012

Bridal Portraits

Hello! The new Mrs. Mallory here :) John and I had the most wonderful wedding and I can't wait to share details and photos! Our honeymoon to Costa Rica was to die for and I have tons of pictures from that for all of you too! Just have to sort a few things at home first (where do I put all my new plates?) and get settled into this new normal first.

Anyway, I thought I'd share some of my bridal portraits in the mean-time. My wonderful, talented friend Garrett Houston took these photos for me and he was amazing! So down-to-earth and fun to be around. We edited them together and I love them all! Hope you enjoy.

More things to come in the next few weeks. Bear with me as I get my life back on track!