Friday, August 26, 2011

Honeymoon Part 2: Zipline and Kayaks

While staying at Cap Cana for our honeymoon, we went on a zipline adventure excursion in Bavaro. The destination took an hour to reach by way of an open safari-style bus, which took us into the city of Punta Cana, then up, down, and around the steepest, windiest mountain roads you can imagine!

We were both SO excited to do it, but the slightest hint of nerves began to set in when we were getting suited and strapped up. One of the instructors said to the group, "Why everyone look so scared? You did not come here to die. You came to have fun!"

You'll have to settle for the poor quality pics. It was raining on this day so we used the underwater disposable.

The view from a tower.

Off goes KK! Also known as, "the professional" :)

Seany headed into the platform. Don't judge that picture...It was way up there but the shortest line.

Coming in again.

On the last and longest line, 800 meters, (about half a mile?) the view was over the river and waterfalls and it was gorgeous! We were all standing in our line on the platform as the instructors sent each person when their turn came up. I had NO idea what was going on when the guy singled me out from the back of the line and motioned for me to come next.
"Oh, no. It's not my turn yet," I said.
"No, no no..." blah blah blah (enthusiastic and insistent words in his native tongue that I did not understand) and he pulled me up the the platform before I could protest. He used one carabiner to hook up an instructor, then hooked me up right behind him. I was looking at Sean, SO confused, as was everyone else on the platform.

I thought maybe we were going to zipline tandem, if that's possible. But before I knew it the guy who was hooked up flew off the platform and was on his way. And again, before I knew what was going on, the instructor gave me a running start and FLEW me off the edge, just seconds behind the guy in front. I then flew at lightening speed over the longest, most beautiful stretch of land you could imagine. I was going so fast, I could barely move my head to look down. My contacts were pushed all the way to each corner of my eye. The instructor had weighted the line down with the guy in front, making the ride a lightening fast rush for me. It was incredible!

We survived and loved every minute!

We tried to take a few videos of the ride, but it was quite complicated. Here's one taken by an instructor so you can get an idea of the gorgeous view!

On the first full day we were there, we also took a little mini excursion on our own, venturing to the neighboring public beach "Juanillo Beach" for some kayaking and exploration.

We played in the beach huts...

And played in the palm trees...

It was just so blue lagoon! :)

We took a paddleboat out, but soon gave that up. We traded in our semi for a sports car!

These things flew across that ocean water with little to no effort.

The getaways were so much fun. But it was always nice to get back to our "home" on the resort.

~The Grays

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jason's Kinda Party at Snowden Grove

We got to see our buddy ROCK his show at Snowden Grove in Southaven Thursday night...bus tour (for one of us), meet-n-greet, and vip style:)
After we met Jason and Jessica while on our honeymoon and he and Sean struck up their sweet little bromance, Jason offered to leave us tickets and meet and greet passes at the gate for his concert near our hometown just 2 weeks after our vacation.

I was progressively getting more sick after complaining of a sore throat while on our honeymoon. The morning of the concert, I woke up feeling near death but went to work anyway. 30 minutes later I decided I was stupid for making that decision. I headed to the doctor and waited 4 hours to hear that I have bronchitis plus sinus cold. A shot in both cheeks later and I was wiped out in the bed for 4 hours. I pulled myself together just in time for the show!

It was so funny when we first went to the ticket counter:

Sean: There should be some tickets to pick up for Sean Gray.
Ticket Lady: Ok, who left them for you?
Sean: Um...Jason.
Ticket Lady: Jason who?
Sean: Jason Aldean?
Ticket Lady: (smiles) Here ya go.

We had a gift to give his youngest daughter as a way of thanks for the tickets. Her birthday is saturday so I painted a piece to hang in their playroom. Sean texted him to find out how to get it to him and Jason said he was sending someone to meet Sean on the other side of the stage. Sean then told me to stay and grab some food. When he returned FOREVER later, I was thinking, "Glad I didn't go. That must've been a LONG walk!"
Instead, he hung his head and said "...Sorry...the guy drove me to his bus and we just kicked it and watched a game for a while."

Shut it.

We laughed at all the frantic fans in the meet and greet line, hyperventilating over their 2 second picture:)
When our turn came up, Sean walked up and said, "I'm sorry, what was your name again?" Jason replied, "Throw this guy out," then the bro-hugging commenced. He told us to wait in the corner for the stragglers to come through the line so we were able to chat a while when everyone else was gone.

When he needed to head backstage, he sent someone to walk us out. I followed without questioning where we were headed, but all of a sudden looked up to see carpeted floor, big comfy couches and candle-lit tables...and then a Central BBQ spread that was fit for a "hadn't eaten ALL day" little king.

I wasn't shy. My plate was soon full.

This is the way to do it!

We unknowingly coordinated with our crocheted tops.

Dev and Seany

Not lookin too shabby for a girl who moments earlier had NO voice. We're talking pulling up to Sonic and realizing I had no way to even order! I'm convinced it was the smoooth coating of strawberry margarita on my throat that had cured me. Minutes later I was singing like Ariel.

Dev and Niner

Definitely doesn't hurt to get seats from the artist...about 8 rows back in the center. Perfect view for these shots.

After Sean and I made our way to our seats, we enthusiastically high-fived over how excited we were just to be there. The man standing in the row in front of us turned to Sean, looked at us both and said, "Aren't yall the couple they met on the island?"
Sean gave me a look that said "Holy, sh--, did we wind up in the tabloids or something?! then said to the man, "Umm...yeah we are. How did you know that?"
The man said, "He told us about yall. Said they had a great time."
He then introduced himself as the owner of Jason's record label.

When Jason finally spotted Sean in the crowd (I would say spotted "us" but we all know he could not have found me!) the moment of excitement for both of them was so cute. I can't imagine performing like that for a crowd of strangers in an unfamiliar place and then finally seeing the only 2 familiar faces in the crowd. We felt special:)

~Katie and Sean

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Laughed Until We Cried: An unforgettable honeymoon adventure

This is gonna be a long ride folks, so grab a drink, snuggle up, and come all the way to the Dominican with me for a stroll through our once in a lifetime honeymoon!

All I needed for our honeymoon to be considered AMAZING to me was:
  1. Time to breath
  2. Three meals a day
  3. Some sleep at night
That was it! I might have been easy to please but we were definitely not expecting how truly phenomenal our honeymoon would be.

After no sleep for me and 1 hour for him the night of the wedding reception, we headed to the airport at 4 for our 6am flight to Atlanta. The next stop...Punta Cana, Dominican Republic!!!

We arrived at the Secrets Sanctuary Cap Cana Resort, located 15 minutes from the Punta Cana airport. We were a little delirious from the whirlwind 36 hours, but in awe of the beauty.

I chose this place based on the Spanish-Colonial style architecture, combined with the rave reviews on Trip Advisor. And Sean trusted me.

It was breathtakingly gorgeous. And not a typical cheesy, beachy couples resort. It felt very old-world, Mediterranean and exclusive.

The beautiful fountain and stone columns welcome you into the entry.

Our room was exotic and island-style.

For ALL the days leading up to the honeymoon, we talked about how we could not wait to arrive, drop our bags, then fall into a LONG quiet, peaceful sleep for several hours. Something that wedding planning had robbed us (or at least me) of.

But when we arrived to THIS:

Snoozing inside no longer seemed so appealing.

We suited up and made our way straight to the beautiful lagoon-style party pool.

We eventually both drifted off to sleep while floating on rafts, and slept in the sun for a few hours.

Walking to dinner in the evenings, was like strolling the promenades of Spain or Italy. The lighted cobblestone pathways were amazing in character (although killer on high-heeled feet in the wee hours!)

The Wok was located in the Fortress, a secluded area of the resort that was built like a castle.

Playing in the castle on the way to dinner.

Another draw to Cap Cana, was the selection of restaurants. All-inclusive Sushi was our first stop!!

You would never expect such sushi perfection from an all inclusive, but reviews told me otherwise. And they were so right!! It was heavenly.

Our room came with its own patio, but we spent all of our time at the beach or pool, where we would soon meet all of our awesome vacation friends!

I loved this wedding present! Denise and Danica...It made it on the blog!

The private beach was small, serene, and soothing.

And the drinks were ever-flowing! {I must say, this picture is very Canon-esque of me:) }
I made my way down the drink menu, eventually consuming at least one of everything they offered and progressing to made-up concoctions by the last 2 days. Did I mention I needed to unwind??

I was not alone in my quest, for Mr. Gray enjoyed a little unwinding as well.

Back at the pool, we were experiencing next-day feigning for the sushi we had at dinner. Who-da thought they would take your order poolside and deliver it to you all the way from the castle!? Sushi by the pool was just plain euphoric.

You could not have found a happier couple on that beach!

Tall-boy was recruited for some beach volleyball by our new friend Micky Mouse, who we would soon fall in love with and miss terribly still! I wonder why Micky didn't recruit me out of the crowd?

We cleaned up and made the moonlit walk to dinner again, this time at the Steakhouse.

Here, we dined next to a couple who shared a plane ride with us from Atlanta. We initiated conversation, beginning with the typical southern greeting, "Where yall from?" The couple who was seated to the other side of them overheard our conversation and joined in. Sean and I both already knew who the guy was. But we just listened. The six of us casually had parallel conversations and then dinner winded down.

The next day, we ventured to the castle to take in the view from the top.

It was so amazing!

How often do you find yourself atop a beachfront castle with a view like this?! We felt so blessed.

The castle swim-out was too cold for KK, but Seany took a dip.

How cool is this place!? And how brave am I for perching on top of that castle ledge with nothing behind me?

Tropical storm Emily had everyone back home worried. But here, no one seemed to think much of it.

It did bring a little rain and wind that brought that day to a close around 3, but that night at the LoveBar we had the BEST time ever!

The same six of us from the night before at dinner formally introduced ourselves to each other, in addition to a few other couples of new friends to round out our core group of 10. We hit it off with our new friends, and Louis got the party started.

Round 1...Round 2...Round 5?

Who cares...Cheers to new friends!

My new friends were soon introduced to my stanky leg.

They later joined me.

With Sarah, Jessica, and Amanda

The next day we were bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 7am. NOT! But we didn't waste too much time getting a spot at the pool. Our new friends found us and sat near.

We ordered poolside service and it was delicious!

Micky Mouse rallied us all on his team for a giant water balloon fight. I took a moment from tossing bombs to capture the moment. Sean busted so many unsuspecting people in the face, laughing, "We didn't come here to make friends!" And yet somehow, we still did:)

That day, we made plans with our new friends, Jessica and Jason, to meet for dinner at the Italian restaurant.

These guys were awesome!!

Sean and I at dinner.

The four of us after dinner. We loved them!

We met up with our big group afterwards at the bar guessed it.

And then took no pictures of all of us cuttin' it on the dance floor. We were too busy dancin'!!

The next day started a little later, with the last of Emily's clouds passing by. But we still had a fabulous time!
We had some lunch and our new friends came by to share champagne and toast with us just after their vow renewal. Then everyone got together for a volleyball tournament.

Jason, Sean, and Jessica getting set for the game.

Jacob, Sean, and Jason with Mickey.

Seany spikes!

And digs!

Jason sets!

Our team also showed some great athletic moves. Like Jessica with this:

And Sean with this:

Whatever those moves were... :)

Amanda and I, dubbed "Paparazzi Girls" by Mickey, kept the team hydrated with plenty of water.
"Paparazzi Girls, I love you!"

And our team won:)

We closed the pool bar down that afternoon with all our awesome new friends from all over the country. We didn't want the last day to end:(

The last night brought us back to The Wok for more sushi on the patio by the pond.

We were beginning to miss the place already knowing we had to leave the next day but had so much excitement to talk about. We couldn't believe who we were able to meet and spend time with on the trip and were just so happy to be there!

Our friends sat inside and joined us for a ride back to the main area for our last hurrah at the Love Bar.

I am my hubby's and he is mine.

Twin Grins!! This pic of Mickey and Sean warms my heart. We loved this guy!

I seriously wonder when we'll be able to go back to see him again.

Dos Equis!!!
We all admired "The most interesting man in the world" all week for his GQ swagger and style. He was so uber-cool, we likened him to the man in the famous commercials. This man was from Denmark and totally got a kick out of us thinking he was so cool like the Dos Equis guy. It was our mission to get a picture with him. Success!

Us with Willy Wonka, another of the one-of-a-kind entertainment staff.

We all agreed that we had to throw down for mine and Sean's last night, so it was by far the best yet.

It was even Elvis night for a hometown shout out!

Us with an awesome Elvis!

Me and Sean with Sarah and Adam, fellow newlyweds from July 30th!

Sean and Jessica

Everybody all paired up! Sarah and Adam (Wisconsin), Greg and Emily (Chicago), Jacob and Amanda (Georgia), Jason and Jessica (Tennessee) and WB and Amanda. With Usher in the middle!

Yes, for one last time...

"Tonight... I will love, love you tonight.
Give me everything tonight.
For all we know, we might not get tomorrow"

Goin out with a bang!! Absolutely on cloud nine.

The next morning was sadly our last. We had breakfast at Casa Bella...french toast for breakfast everyday? Like I said...Heaven.

Not even the pile of unopened gifts or stories to share were luring us back home. We fell in love with this place.

But we had a plane to catch...

...that was headed home sweet home.

It's taken a while to adjust to real life again. But the experience we had was unforgettable. Stay tuned for part 2, featuring our zipline adventure!

Mr. and Mrs. Gray