My first trip to Iowa

We had a blast celebrating our Aunt Connie over the weekend at her Hoedown Birthday party in Iowa. She has a house and a decent amount of land just west of Des Moines. For the party, she converted her existing barn into an amazing venue. You could tell that she put so much work and detail into the barn and it definitely paid off! I loved seeing everyone in her group of friends come together to put on this party for her. She is the most generous, hard working, fun loving person so she definitely deserved it. It was great visiting with cousins that we haven’t seen since our wedding and their adorable littles. We went to the Iowa State fair and saw lots of barn animals, ate weird fried foods, saw the famous butter cow and road on a couple of questionable carny rides. All in all, a short but great trip up to the Midwest!
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barn collage
inside barn
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fair food
fair exploring
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barn animals

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Costa Rica: Playa Ocotal

The second half of our trip was spent in Playa Ocotal, which is what this post will recap. Read about the first half of our trip in Costa Rica here.

Let’s see, where did I leave off?? Oh yeah, Tuesday, the drive in from Monteverde to Playa Ocotal.

We got in right around 1, which ended up being perfect timing because the rest of the wedding crew had just arrived as well. It took us a bit to settle in, but once we did, the swimsuits were on and the drinks were flowing! I’ve never really taken a big trip with a group of friends before so this was definitely one for the books! I loved vacationing with friends, not to mention both of the bride and groom’s families were very warm and welcoming too. We were in great company! Most of our time was spent at the pool, lounging and reading or on the black sands, which is pretty standard for beach vacas. I’m going to recap some of the not so obvious things we did and where we went….Starting with where we stayed.

The bride booked the wedding through the villas, which housed all of our rooms as well! It was really convenient how the resort was laid out and was unlike anywhere I’ve ever stayed. The resort kitchen cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for us everyday with snacks usually served around 2-3. We, or at least I, stayed well fed the whole time I was there. The food was really good in my opinion, but I could live off Costa Rican rice and beans! Yum. The staff was really friendly and the alcohol was not the typical bottom of the barrel like you usually get with “all inclusive” resorts, so that was a nice perk. The resort itself sat perched on a little cliff overlooking the bay, so a short 5 min walk would get you to the beach. The resort gets an A+ from me!
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  • Buena Vista – COMBO Tour

Oh man! How do I even try to begin to describe this adventure?! This action packed tour started at 9am and lasted all day! We took a drive to the Ricon de la Vieja Volcano for our first activity, zip lining! From there we went to an extreme water slide through the jungle, ate an authentic Costa Rican lunch, did some horseback riding, took a mud bath, hosed off and hopped into the hot springs… You name it, we did it! It was definitely worth the all day adventure, especially the hot springs! Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures because I didn’t have my camera on me, but you can get the idea from this website.

  • Black sand beaches

The black sand comes from volcanic rock, broken up over time which creates the softest sand! I got to spend two different days at the beach, which I loved. For being on the Pacific side, the water was pretty warm! Buuuut that’s because Costa Rican sun is no joke.
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  • Sunset cruise

The majority of the wedding guests and the bride and groom hopped aboard a sailboat for a nice sunset cruise through Playa Ocotal Bay. We had a couple of hours before the sun actually set, so we sailed over to a cove, anchored down and did some snorkeling. I didn’t see much except some coral and tropical fish, but as I was making my way back to the boat, I saw a sea snake… Swimming away from me, thankfully! Once everyone was back on the boat, we sailed out west. Rum punch, chips and guac, sandwiches, and fresh fruit were served while we waited for the main event! The sunset was BEAUTIFUL, not sure pictures do it justice. The whole experience was surreal for me…On a sailboat in Costa Rica with friends watching the sunset. Does it get better than that? Not really!
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Sunset cruise 2

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Scott’s dad hat

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  • The wedding

The wedding ceremony was down on the beach overlooking the ocean just before sunset. Beach weddings are incredibly picturesque. The ceremony was light and humorous and oh so sweet. I took way too many pictures, I just couldn’t help myself. Everything turned out lovely. Before we knew it, the couple was pronounced man and wife and were walking down the aisle. The reception was held at Villa Cascada, our resort. You could tell that Laura put so much effort and detail into creating the cutest beach themed wedding. It looked like something right out of Pinterest. I’m definitely one to appreciate detail! The rest of the night was spent dining, drinking and dancing! Now, if you will excuse the crazy amount of pictures I’m about to post….But before I do, can I mention how gorgeous the bride is!?! Stunning!
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  • Post wedding blues

Apparently, the bride isn’t the only one to experience post wedding blues, especially when the wedding is a destination wedding. Not only is the wedding over, but the vacation is over too :( Saturday, the day after the wedding, was our last full day in paradise. The day was partially spent nursing a wild hangover, which meant floating around in the pool on a lounge floatie and drinking lots of water. It really was the perfect way to spend our last day of vacation(less the hangover). I even got to visit the beach one more time and check out the beach bar Father Rooster.

Costa Rica is such a beautiful place and the people there are even more beautiful. Beautiful as in they have the friendliest and kindest personality. Thanks to Laura and Mikey for inviting us to their destination wedding and giving us the opportunity and excuse to experience this wonderful country. I definitely hope to visit Costa Rica again in the future. ….and that concludes my Costa Rica recap! If you made it this far, thank you! You’re awesome.

Costa Rica: Monteverde

I’m finally getting time to sit down and write about our trip to Costa Rica. Just two weeks ago we were packing our bags, loading up the car and taking off on a 5:30am flight.
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We had planned this trip way in advance when our good friends invited us to their destination wedding! It didn’t take long for us to confirm our attendance, considering I had never been to Costa Rica before, I love beaches and I love weddings. The original plan was for all of the guests to arrive Tuesday the 16th for the scheduled wedding on Friday. Scott and I figured take one extra day off work and leave the weekend before to get the most out of our vacation…sooo that’s exactly what we did.

Our first destination was Monteverde, a cloud forest about 3 hrs South East from Liberia. Not only were we driving in a foreign country, but most roads were dirt roads and none of the streets have street names… But driving in Costa Rica is a whole other story….

Moving on.
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We landed in Liberia on Saturday the 13th around noon, rented the car and were on the road around 1. We finally arrived in Monteverde around 4:30 to a very misty, foggy mountain village and just by chance found our hotel, Monteverde Lodge and Gardens. Now for the full recap starting with where we stayed…

A cute little hotel tucked away behind a lush jungle and what seemed like the edge of a mountain. The hotel itself was very peaceful and intimate. There are only 27 rooms, an in-house restaurant that serves traditional Costa Rican food, complementary breakfast every morning, a butterfly garden and a semi heated pool. My favorite part about the hotel was that there was no TV or AC in the rooms. It kind of forces you to disconnect and just “be.” It was just what we needed to kick off our trip!
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  • Zip lining through the cloud forest

Zip lining through the cloud forest was a tour high up on our list. We talked about a few things we wanted to do, but kept our schedule pretty open and planned most of our tours through our hotel when we got there. This was definitely the best quality zip lining we’ve ever done. Since the lines start at the top of the mountain, and it’s a dense forest, you have to ride a gondola up to the top. It was really windy and kind of chilly, but we warmed up at the top when we got complementary hot chocolate before starting our decent down.
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  • Choco Cafe Don Juan

Shortly after zip lining we ate a tasty lunch at a little coffee shop near our hotel. They had a lot of options, like sandwiches, wraps, salads, quesadillas, etc. I got the quesadilla and scott got some sort of BLT. I loved my meal!
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BS choco cafe

  • Don Juan Coffee Tour

Costa Rica is known for their amazing coffee and they’re rich chocolate. We got to learn about both on this tour! It was the perfect afternoon pick me up. At Don Juan they grow coffee, sugar cane, and chocolate. We walked around and learned so much about coffee and what all goes into making it. For us coffee lovers, it was really interesting! I had no idea the amount of work that went into producing coffee. Our guild was telling us that only 20% of the coffee bean is actually used in production, the other 80% is composted. Not too sure I would want to be in the coffee business!
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Don Juan, the man himself.
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  • Hiking Monteverde reserve

We did some light hiking on our last day in Monteverde at the Monteverde reserve. It was nice because there was a trail that connected the reserve to our hotel so it was very convenient. We hiked on the green/yellow trails, saw a huge ficus tree, a few of what we thought were capybara, some Costa Rican vultures, and a few other birds. For the most part, the wild life was kind of light, which was a bummer. I was really hoping to see some monkeys! We hiked down some red trails to check out two different waterfalls. After that, we headed back to the hotel to change into our swimsuits and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging at the pool. It was a beautiful day!
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We left Tuesday morning to meet up with the wedding crew in Playa Ocotal to kick off wedding celebrations. Part 2 coming soon!