Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dominican Republic: Part 3

On Thursday we decided to do a recommended hike to El Limon, a waterfall at the end of a 3 mile hike.  And since all we had been doing was eating and sitting, we thought the hike would be a great way to get us moving again.   Tucked away in a jungle-like landscape, surrounded by lush rolling hills, is the 52m-high El Limon waterfall.  Getting to the fall was a little mucky for us, since usually people choose to ride horses in, but with my allergies and the unwanted saddle soreness, we stuck to our plan even after a posse of horses along with a man on a motorcycle chased us down to try and get us to ride in with them.
This is a small glimpse into the trail and verdant terrain that we encountered.  A couple places along the way we had to wade through freezing cold, knee high water but we got to see several smaller water falls on the way.
We hardly saw anyone on our hike in, so when we arrived at the swimming hole where a large number of tourists were swimming around and taking pictures, we were a tad bit surprised.
Did I mention that the water was FREEZING!  I did carefully slip into the water just long enough to make it over to the rock for a picture but I was not desirous enough to make the swim across the watering hole to behind the waterfall.
We never leave home without some Bai, its becoming our drink of choice.
Toward the end of our hike, John took this picture and deemed it "fishing for rocks", we both liked seeing the blue stones scattered throughout the creek bed.
Upon our arrival back at the car, we saw more of the very small town.
The rest of our trip consisted of reading books out by the pool and near the shore.  Those moments of complete calm, total relaxation and pure fun will forever be seared in my memory.
These tank top twinkies are such great spouses; Carol and I are two lucky girls!
This was the scene behind me...and in front of me.  Due to the time of year that we went, there was literally only a handful of people at the resort so the ratio of patrons to workers was about 2:1, and at times it was even higher!  To say we were spoiled would be an understatement!
Our time away was truly wonderful.  We enjoyed our time together and are grateful to my parents who, all week long, helped to get our kids to and from school and to all the soccer and basketball practices.  It's no small feat to step into our routine, but they did a great job!   What a blessing to be able to leave town and not worry about our kids because they were in such great hands.  A big thank you to our friends who took the "risk" of traveling with us and helped to make such fond memories that we'll look back on for years to come and smile about.  And when you travel with friends, they can capture moments like this when the sun is setting and the pink light is dancing just right on the gorgeous clouds and your spouse pulls you in for a kiss.  I'd say this one's a keeper, thanks Carol and John for going with us on such a fabulous get away!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dominican Republic: Part 2

I blogged about our travel and first sights of Sublime Samana yesterday. Today, I'll focus on what we tried hard to do while we were away, simply to relax. Our first full day started out with a leisure breakfast with Adam.
After a scrumptious meal we headed straight to the beach where we took a leisure walk and then found a lounge chair where we promptly fell asleep with the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.
Around the edge of the island was a large field of palm trees with a good number near the waters edge that had been cut down for some reason.  (I thought these palm roots resembled a hedgehog.)
There were some delicious drinks and several different types of ceviche served to us that we gladly partook of.  Our trip pretty much revolved around where the next meal would be eaten and when our tummies might be getting grumbly again.   My hubby, as anyone who knows him knows, was hungry often and became nicknamed by the waiters as "Cinco Huevos" since thats how he ordered his omelette and any other egg dish each morning.
Looking up at this scene was really nice.  I will insert right here, that thought the resort was perfect in almost every way, though the scenery was breath taking and truly a grand display of God's power and creativity, I will say we were reminded more then we would've liked, that this place is not our final destiny, it is not the perfect place we all long for--heaven.  Though paradise was beautiful, it had its small, but pesky, down sides.  Batonya, the woman who showed us around the resort when we first arrived, told us to use Deep Woods OFF along with some kind of homemade coconut oil paste that Adam deemed "vomit paste" because of its disgusting smell.  One encounter with those pesky small biting bugs and I was a believer in the paste, my poor legs were their main course and they came back time and time again, begging for more!  I tried very hard to keep them starving, I certainly didn't want to come home with Zika!!
Later that afternoon we decided to have a couples massage.  I always enjoy a little treatment but this was Adam's first ever, day at the spa and I'm pretty sure he enjoyed every minute of that hour.
Each day we pretty much just lounged and feasted.  Wednesday night we chose to drive into town and eat at Le Tre Caravelle, which is the #1 TripAdvisor restaurant in Las Terranes, and it did not disappoint.
Carol and I seem to usually make very similar choices when ordering our meals so several times we would order our top two choices and then each eat half then swap plates.  This was my dinner dish which was a fully headed, with the eyeballs still attached, shrimp dish---I could've done without the eyeballs but what the heads/eyeballs took from the dish the cream sauce made up for most certainly!
And just in case you were wondering, this "substantial" amount of red snapper, was my husbands main course, he definitely enjoyed the portion size, each day we were there, which is always super important to him.
The first two nights we ended our evenings in our rooftop hot tub which in theory was perfect but unfortunately the water never was hotter then tepid, which for this woman who likes to take steaming hot showers and baths, this was a real bummer.  We discussed that if the only things to complain about on our tropical vacation were the tiny mosquitos, the tepid water and the very low water pressure flowing in the shower, then life was really very good.

Having the opportunity to unplug and reconnect with Adam was truly a blessing, a wonderful gift!  We enjoyed time holding hands and walking along the shore uninterrupted and were able to pray together and thank God for His faithfulness to our marriage.  (We didn't take a trip back in August on our 13th anniversary but rather delayed celebrating it officially until this trip---it was definitely worth the wait!)  It was even better then my highly anticipated expectations hoped for, which was a real gift!  And these golden sunsets that lit the sky with pink clouds were awesome to take in.  Tomorrow I'll conclude with our hike to a beautiful waterfall and a few more lazy beach pics.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dominican Republic Trip: Part 1

For the past nine months or so, we have been planning a get away trip with some good friends of ours.  We named it trip "1981" since all of us were born in 1981 and are turning 35 this year, we texted a lot back and forth, as we anticipated our departure, after all, anticipation is half the fun.  Once the lists were made, instructions were printed and explained to our parents; after luggage was packed and the schedules were attached to the refrigerator, I finally laid down with four hours to sleep before my alarm went off at 3:10am, since our flight boarded at 4:55.   It was all certainly worth the effort, though it did feel a bit like running the gauntlet as I tried to check and re-check that all my i's were dotted and t's were crossed.

We had thankfully gotten our TSA pre-check approval just in time and we easily and quickly made it throug security and breathed a sigh of relief as we sat down waiting to board.  We didn't look excited at all, did we??!
We paid a little bit more for Delta Comfort Seats with the extra leg room and unlimited drinks which was a really nice touch on our international leg of the trip.   Even with our "extra leg room", Adam wanted to make sure and get a good stretch in before we left Atlanta, so this is how he rolled (great face huh?)
When we landed in Santo Domingo we rented a car and drove the two hours to Sublime Samana.  We discovered this location from a blog that lists luxury boutique styled resorts called Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  This was our first time using that website but we will certainly be using it again, because everything was top notch and exceeded our expectations!  The resort could have picked us up, but we chose to wing it a bit.  We had a little trouble getting our car but eventually we were packed in like sardines and off, punctuated with a torrential down pour of course, so here's our trusty captain and co-captain as they navigated a new country and unknown roads.  The rain eventually let up and we were able to pull over to a local roadside restaurant which really was pretty tasty food and totally authentic which was fun.
The road to Las Terranes had quite a few toll booths along it, and in our hurry to get out of town we neglected to do any currency exchange, and they wanted "pretty" bills at each booth (I think so that they could insure that they weren't receiving counterfeit money.) The very last booth we had to get through was the toughest and we ended up having to have a Frenchman help us break money and get us through the guarded gate.  This woman began to warm up to John's broken Spanish and eventually let us through though we felt like she took us to the bank if you know what I mean.
As we got closer to the resort there was a beautiful lookout that we stopped to take in the scenery.  We decided to climbed up on top of the large rock to get a better view.  My flip flops are quite slippery on the bottom so I had to take them off to climb up.  Adam was trying to help me get my shoes back on because there were lots of broken glass bottles, however, in this picture that Carol captured, it looks like he's trying to push me over the rail... but he loves me, I'm pretty sure he wants to keep me around.

Upon our arrival at Sublime Samana, this is what met our eyes!
What a perfect picture this sight was!
All around the property was immaculately kept grass and gardens.  It was truly remarkable how lush and verdant it all was.  There were stone walkways trailing throughout the resort and this one led to our casita which happened to overlook the aqua, pool water while also giving us a chance to see the Atlantic ocean from our roof top.
This was our home away from home.
The master bedroom was really nice, with an open air bathroom.
We unpacked our things, slipped into swimsuits then headed straight to the beach.   It was truly breathtaking to take in the unbelievable view that would be ours for the next four days!!
Leading up to our travel, we had been praying that our time away would feel multiplied.   Thankfully, it really did seem like the moments didn't rush by, which was such a welcomed treat.  We were able to enjoy moments together as couples but also had time alone, just us.  It was a nice mix of both and helped contribute to the relaxing nature of the trip that both of us were seeking.  

Lake Day With Friends

Back in March, Adam and I began setting aside weekends on our calendar to go to the lake this summer with friends and family.  It felt a lit...