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Costa Rica and Panama 2016

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It’s been over a YEAR since our return from one surreal adventure in Central America, and I’m still dreaming of those two weeks. There's no way I can express or retell the adventure here without overdoing it.

We flew into San Jose, entering what looked like Jurassic Park. From here, we headed to Dominical where we surfed, ran, and sweated. One day we walked up the beach, through some little village to find a mini waterfall. The families around us left after a while so we had that little oasis to ourselves, flying off the rope swing, floating in the rain.

We met a Dutch couple the next day for a hike to a much bigger waterfall. It had me facing some fears I didn't know I had of falling on rocks and getting as close as we could to its mighty sprays. That trek had me questioning my physical abilities, as I struggled my little butt up that hill. I didn't think I could keep going. It made the fresh mango that much better though.

From Dominical, we headed to the little surf town of Pavones by way of a 1970s American school bus down dirt roads with potholes galore. We met an intriguing bunch of surf characters from Sweden, Israel, Brazil, and St. Augustine.

It was quite a cozy little lifestyle we created there; walking to the market every day, cooking fresh meals in the open air kitchen, collecting mangoes, avocados and fruit I can't pronounce, sharing our cultural meals with the Dane having fiskefrikadeller one night and burgers the next, runs through the tropical Costa Rican streets while Dylan surfed, setting up on the beach in the perfect hammock-hanging trees, ditching electronics and reading every day. Eating ice cream every day to cool off and not even worrying about it with all our activity was pretty fantastic too.

After about three days enjoying this lifestyle, we decided to head on over to Panama since, you know, it was so close. Why not? Another surfer from Australia was heading that way too, so we tagged along with him. Thrill and intimidation filled my veins at the Costa Rica-Panama border patrol. The communication and directions had us wondering all over for far too long.

Panama was a nice change with mountains all around, much less bugs, and a cooooool temperature. We did two fantastic hikes here. One day we went up several different trails in search of "the three waterfalls." I don't think we ever found those three but we saw two others that were pretty great. We did get the experience of walking through crop fields, picking a blackberry or two, smelling the strong fragrance of onions along the way, and meeting several friendly pups.

The next day we decided to conquer the Quetzales trail. We started off thinking we were going to do the whole trail, hiking out and back. "It's only 6 miles," we said. We made the mistake of following the hostel worker's instructions to get off the bus a "couple kilometers from the entrance because the bus doesn't go all the way to the trail." I'm guessing we hiked up that steep road for about 3 miles just to get to the entrance of the trail.

We hiked and hiked through the greenest trail, spotting the funkiest looking fungi along the way. Panama has the biggest and prettiest plants; ferns bigger than me, white and green striped leaves with pink flowers, massive leaves with the most intricate looking veins. I even got to spot a wild orchid! 

Near the end, we saw a sign for a lookout that was maybe 1k away.  We were so tired at this point that we almost didn't even bother, but Dylan encouraged and we trekked up. We walked through a chilly burst of mist to see an overlook of the calmest valley. It was quite dreamy. You could see the cloud being sucked into a crack between the mountains. Worth the little extra hike.

I swear the trail kept lying to us about the distance, as we'd see a sign that would 3k to the end, then 30 minutes or sometimes what seemed like an hour later, we'd get to another sign saying 3k to the end. It was both discoursing as heck and perplexing. But we finally made it to the end with no food or water left for the hike back and tired legs and brains. At one point, we sat for a break and I had a conversation between two funky leaves. So we decided to hike out and find a bus back...

Not so easy. We came out to a beautiful but secluded area with wildflower fields and cows and no cars in sights or sound. I wound up running down a hill in attempt to find a resolution quicker. Maybe cars, a bus stop, people... something. But nothing. Just a cow that got too excited at the sight of a human. We kept walking and walking, trying to enjoy the serenity until finally a car came up and we sure as spitfire hitched that ride. A four hour bus ride later, we made it back to our hostel.

Our last night in Panama was complete with Sunday Mass, a fancy fish dinner on a patio overlooking the mountains, and a Boquete Brew.

Panama was absolutely worth it with the remote hiking, rare birds, cool weather, mountains, ethnic tribes in their interesting dress, and minimal tourists. They also had the best coffee in the world, (internet claimed, Abby confirmed). We actually pushed back our departure time in order to go back to Cafe Ruiz for one more cup and stuffed our backpacks with as much coffee as we could. 

Biggest mishap of the trip? Hotel Franciny. We wound up there when we'd gone from Pavones to San Jose and planned to continue on to Santa Elena. However, the busses were all done until the next morning.  So we needed a hotel. Our apparently untrustworthy taxi driver decided to take us to a "hotel" from hell. Driving down the street, it was the most homeless people I've seen in one stretch, and we showed up to a hotel with a sign made out of cardboard and sharpie. We got a tour of the grundgy, smelly place with stained mattresses in the hall, what looked like knife marks in the wall above the bed which was made up of a box spring, a two inch mattress, and a bed skirt over top. No blankets or sheets for the bed. A "room" was next door to ours that looked like a closet. The shower head had what looked like electrical wires wrapped around it and a hole in the wall that of course made us conclude "cameras..." We woke up at 5am to a cockroach crawling on Dylan's back. At that, we decided to just go to the bus station early to get outa there. A dreadful place Hotel Franciny was.  

Our last stop was Monteverde for a couple days. It was the least impressive to us, as it was very touristy and expensive, but it did provide us with one heck of a zip lining experience. I would absolutely recommend that. We went with Extremo Park, as unappealing as the name sounded, and it was such a fantastic surprise. It far exceeded our expectations in thrill and worth. Zipping on mile-high lines across gorgeously valleys through the mountains with monkeys and parrots along the way, flying on our bellies across the huge stretch, getting pushed off a platform on a huge rope, swinging us out above the falls. It was truly thrilling. 

We started our trip with an open plan of finding surf towns and good hiking. 
Our final route was 
Jacksonville-->Miami-->San Jose, CR--->Domincal, CR--->Pavones, CR--->Boquete, Panama--->San Jose--->Santa Elena--->San Jose--->Home

What an adventure that was. As our first trip out of country together, I'd say it was a success. A thrilling, challenging, hot, humid, dreamy success. 
Last day in Pavones

 Cookin up lunch in our open air kitchen at the hostel in Pavones. And scratching the bug bites on my feet. 

 Old Chambo, that kept us company while we waited out the rain on a hike 
 A retired American showed us a quetzal bird and a black guan or pavon negro which is what Pavones was named after, and this 1500 year old tree that survived a volcano. 

So. Much. Greeeeen.

                                       Our dreamy view at the end of the Quetzal Trail 
 San Jose

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South Dakota Spring Break 2015?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Welp, I went to South Dakota for spring break maybe two years ago. Here's the blog I wrote and never shared.

I finally made it up to visit the bother and family in South Dakota. Sometimes I feel like my brain and heart literally can't stand the sweetness of some moments. My March was filled with many of these moments.

Like a music-loving Adaleigh jumping on granddaddy's feet to dance while he and Chris played some of my favorite tunes.
Strumming some of those tunes and new favorites with pops. Songs dad introduces are always well-loved. I imagine it's part his good taste and part the sentiment. 

Going on an exclusive aunt-niece walk in the snow.

Getting even more mixed up about what month it is, with Christmas movies and music, fires, snowy views, and ballet dances in the living room to "I'm dreaming of a white Easter."  

Sledding in the backyard. Especially the fun-filled faces of "Big Daddy and Big Mama." 

Some other moments not quite to that sweetness level but still great were seeing Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse, tasting five unique wines at Prairie Berry, seeing the insanely impressive and surreal work of my brother, and all the fantastic meals we devoured. Liesl had me stepping up my cooking game when I returned home.

A spring break well spent to say the least. 

Today's Gratitude to the Max [Wedding Edition}

Sunday, May 28, 2017

For the last several months, Dylan and I have been utterly overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude, love, excitement, and stress... stress that we cannot even begin to express how thankful we are for everyone in our lives both present for our wedding and absent due to babies, weddings, and other wonderful reasons.
We are so beyond grateful for...
Amy for planning one heck of a bachelorette party and all my girls for coming to celebrate with me. You guys are all the best group of girls I could ever hope for. I am SO lucky. You've all been there through my best and worst and love me so fully.

Trudy and Amy for hosting the loveliest bridal shower filled with the most beautiful wildflowers, bike decor, and friends and family surrounding. And all the lovely ladies that showered me with so many sweet, personal gifts. I love you all!

ALL of our friends and family that came to celebrate with is. We've been wishing we could do it all over again so we could talk with each of you so much more! A special award for Edmond and Rachel for traveling from Australia and hanging with us all week! You all mean so much to us. Turning around after saying "I do," and seeing all your happy faces just lit up my heart. Holding back from hugging each and every one of you so we could take this picture was a struggle!
Look at that killer crew. 

All of our wonderful wedding vendors: Love Bridal Boutique for picking out a dress I wouldn't have given a chance but absolutely adored and want to wear every year.

Ashley Rodriguez for making my simple wildflower wedding dreams a reality.


Stephanie Gamble for the beautiful pictures. You captured so many amazing shots and candids. I can't stop looking at the pictures.

Tyler Sowers for being the most positive and easy going videographer we could've hoped for. The video is better than I could've imagined.

Meredith and Dixie with The Delightful Details for putting all of my scattered ideas into one beautiful wedding. I wasn't the least bit stressed about anything in the process or the day of. You guys are more of a blessing than you know!

Linda Grenville and the Punch Buggies for gracing us with the perfect tunes for our day. You exceeded our expectations with every song we requested, especially "Me and You and Sisi Laroo." :)

Uncle Kenneth for gracing us with your wonderful piano playing at the ceremony. It meant so much to have your talent to walk down the aisle to!

Cam for being our fantastic officiant. It was extra special having such a loving family member get us hitched.

All our wonderful readers, Lindsay, Aunt Karen, Amy and Jared.

Meryl, Chad, Amanda, Stephen, and The Ross crew for your sweet videos since you couldn't be physically here. What a sweet start to the celebration.

Benton for introducing me to this crazy kid. Never would've thought that silly message would lead to a marriage. We are grateful for your friendship more than you know!

Dylan's parents for getting everyone together for a fantastic rehearsal dinner. A special thanks for raising the man I always dreamed of.

And my parents for their endless love and support my entire dang life and making this day happen. You guys truly don't know how grateful I am for all you are and all you do.

We. Are. BLESSED. Holy moly. 
But really, can we do it all over again? We'll make it an all day affair, have bigger cups for your bevs, make sure you know you can dive into that keg, and party all day!
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The Skinny on our Proposal

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I realize I never shared the story of the day I said "yes" to spend forever with Mr. Kennedy. So here it is for whoever missed out. 

We had planned to go for our second round on the Appalachian Trail on Memorial Day Weekend. We'd gotten all prepared with a doggy backpack, took off an extra day from work, and psyched ourselves into the hike ahead. The rainy forecast made us change our plans; Hiking and sleeping with a soggy dog for three days seemed less than appealing. So instead, we decided to do a day hike on Cumberland Island for our first time. 

The night before, we'd biked to the store and got all the supplies for our picnic lunch. I woke up early, made our tasty sammies, and we headed out. Running a little behind with a strict schedule to catch the ferry, we were a little stressed on the drive. Then I realized I'd left the sandwiches. At this point I started to cry from annoyance with myself. I'd ruined the day and we were going to starve on the island and all things irrational and bad. 

Nearing the ferry, we stopped for gas, and I ran as fast as I could into the Subway. I stood twiddling my thumbs, worrying about everything as the workers took their time.
Finally we made it to the ferry, I hopped out for D to find parking, and ALL HAIL! We didn't miss it! So off we went to this nature-rich island! 

We hiked and hiked through beautiful, dense trails for hours, rested for sandwiches and ticks on a log, and kept on hiking. About three hours in, we bee-lined to the ocean to cool off. We crossed through one of my favorite scenes over a little wooden path with swampy water on both sides and the brightest rays shining onto lily pads. I kept wondering if and when he was going to pop the question. There were so many pretty scenes! Said lily pad dreamland spot, for example. "Maybe I ruined it with this morning's mistakes... Maybe he just forgot the ring. Or maybe he can't trust a woman that forgets important sandwiches at home..." 

Finally reaching the ocean, I ran right in with no one in sight. Dylan ran back to "put his money away" and then came out to meet me. As he was holding me up with waves crashing around us, he started to say some words that sounded like a proposal! I wasn't sure if he was going to start it there and finish on the shore or what, but then I looked over and there my ring was on his pinky! His speech was so sweet, of course, about wanting to be a great husband and live a fulfilling life together. I believe I shouted, "Of course!" and then emotions turned to fear that he was going to drop the ring in the sea.  But he successfully transferred the ring from his finger to mine. 
We walked back on the beach, hand in hand, frequently checking my hand for this new foreign object that meant so much. It's funny how I've worn so many rings on that finger but it felt like it had never felt one before in its life.

"We went into the ocean single and came out engaged!" 

It was the most perfect proposal I could've ever imagined. Spontaneous, full of adventure, on a hike, in the ocean... Can't wait to marry this guy in LESS THAN A MONTH! 

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Two February Mornings

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Yesterday morning was the loveliest of mornings
It started with staying in bed extra long and searching for Valentines Day recipes 
Then continued to a playing fetch with the neighbors kinda morning 
Taking a stroll down the street and up to the beach,  people watching along 
Kids splashing in the sea and groms surfing the waves 
a ditch your coats and jump into your swimsuit kinda morning 
Admiring the tourists reading their books 
and joggers and sunbathers enjoying the Florida winter 
a let the pup meet every dog and human she wanted kinda morning 
Chit chatting with Donna racers from Atlanta that needed their dog fix 
who's daughter name was Abby, old John and Sue
Extending the walk because Sierra just wasn't ready to leave the beach yet kinda morning. 

Today the loveliness continued in different colors
From yesterday's cerulean sky to today's dreamy gray beach 
cheering on the Donna Racers and consoling a sound-sensitive pooch kinda morn
a police lady yelling encouraging cheers to the runners 
According to a fan, it was a beer at 9am kinda morn
Almost jumped in to intercept a foreign family's football 
Another extended walk to the pier and mingling with dog padres 
Remembering strangers and tourists can add stories in an instant kinda morn.

These were just the loveliest of mornings. They reminded me to extend my walks because studying and chores can wait, and to talk to the unknowns and even the boys in blue. If someone overheard me or could read my mind on some of these walks, they'd think I'd just moved to the beach, but I'm constantly reminded of how lucky I am to have these scenes in my backyard.



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