Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Top 10 of our 10th Wedding Anniversary Trip to Mexico!

At the beginning of November, Ryan and I went to Puerto Vallarta to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary (which isn't until December 28th, but you go when the deals are good and the childcare is available!). 

It was heaven.  Can I please go back tomorrow?  Seriously a perfect trip from beginning to end, and I just love spending time with Ryan.  I am so glad I married him--best decision of my life.  Second best decision was going on this trip.  (Just kidding!  That would have to be becoming parents--or maybe buying a's a toss up!)

People were so shocked when we told them it was our tenth anniversary.  One lady asked if we got married when we were 12.  I told her, "Basically!" Ha! Even though we were young when we got married (21 and 23), it was the right decision, for sure.  And it was so fun to go away and celebrate, kid-free for a week!  We had never been on a relaxing, tropical vacation together, and I will be forever grateful to our parents for watching the kids so we could make it happen.  My dad came to Twin Falls and stayed with them for the first few days, and then my mother-in-law took over for the rest of the week.  We are truly indebted. 

So here are my Top 10 of our 10th Anniversary Trip, in no particular order:

1. The Sunsets

The sunsets over the ocean were completely incredible, and we made sure to watch them every night, whether it was from the beach near our hotel (swimming at sunset--could anything be more romantic?), the boardwalk in town (with my head on Ryan's shoulder), or the rooftop infinity pool at our hotel (with pina colada in hand--heaven!).


I have become sentimental about sunsets lately.  In the book Hands Free Mama, the author talks about "sunset moments," those simple but beautiful moments in life that are happening each and every day, but unless we are present and aware of them, we will miss them.  Did you know that the sun sets every night?  And many of those sunsets are awesome, no matter where you are in the world, and yet we are often so busy that we miss them.  I would like to make it a goal to watch more sunsets in my daily life.  Even though it's not over the ocean, we have some incredible sunsets in Idaho, with the big, open sky.  I think nature is a beautiful reminder of God's love for us.  He has given sunsets to all of us, everywhere.


This is what I thought about when I was in Mexico on vacation, with my head on Ryan's shoulder, my hand in his.  A little harder to do when I'm home at the "witching hour" of the evening when the kids are hungry and cranky and all hell is breaking loose.  But I want to remember!  Maybe I need to run outside and watch the sunset if things inside the house are getting too crazy!

The sunrises in Mexico were also awesome, and we caught a few of them (when we weren't sleeping in) and even ate room service breakfast on our balcony while watching the sun peak out through the clouds.  Nature is just so spectacular.



2. The Hotel

And speaking of spectacular, can we talk about this hotel for a second?  Oh my gosh, it was a destination in and of itself.  Truly we hardly had to leave the resort in order to have the trip of a lifetime.  A friend recommended the hotel and sent me the link to an incredible deal for it.  November is considered the "off season" in Mexico, so to stay at this five-star resort, we paid about what we would pay to stay in a La Quinta in the United States. Amazing!!


It had a lovely private beach with included snorkeling, paddle boards, and kayak tours to the nearby Los Arcos landmark.  There was also a guided hike to a waterfall in the nearby jungle, and we got to jump in and swim in the cool river water.  Ryan even did a little cliff jumping.


Our room was so beautiful that we could have just stayed in there all day and felt like we were in the lap of luxury.  Honestly, it was so chique that we felt a little awkward about it: we are not cool enough to be staying in such a hipster place with iPad controlled surround sound stereo and curtains and super modern decor. ;)  Although maybe I could get used to having a vanity fit for a Queen to get ready at each day.


And the view.  Oh the view!  We had a corner room with a panoramic view of the ocean and a huge balcony with a hammock and a hot tub.  I mean, just ridiculous.

And to top it all off (pun intended), the highest floor of the hotel was an infinity pool overlooking the ocean.   This was just a slightly beautiful and relaxing place to hang out.  Just slightly.


3. The Restaurants

In addition to the gorgeous setting and rooms, the hotel had several on-site restaurants that were truly delicious.  We had amazing steaks, seafood, fajitas, breakfast buffets, pina coladas (every single day), and desserts.  The chocolate volcano cake will linger in my dreams for months, I'm sure.




The dinners were really fancy, and it was fun to get dressed up on occasion.  And let me just say, for someone who truly detests all things cooking (from meal-planning, to grocery shopping, to actual food prep), I think one of my favorite parts of the trip was not having to give one thought to cooking for an entire week.  Three times a day, we would say, "Hmmm, we're hungry.  Let's order something delicious and have it brought to us."  Do I look happy in this photo, sitting by the pool after just finishing a romantic and delicious dinner with my hubby?  Because I was!

4. The Conversations

Our meals at the restaurants were long and leisurely, and I loved that Ryan and I found so much to talk about. He has been taking some online business classes and has been reading tons of interesting personal development books over the past few months, and I love the way that it has beefed up our date-night conversations.  He will tell me about the books he's been reading, and then we will discuss how the ideas apply to our life.  We will dream and plan together.  It is super fun--way more fun than talking about our kids' sleep schedules and behavior problems.  It's so easy to fall into the habit of only talking about our kids when we are together, but honestly, on this anniversary trip, we hardly talked about them at all. We missed them, of course (a little, and only by the last day--ha!), but we really reconnected as a couple, and it was perfect.

5. The Spa

Just when you think the hotel can't get any better, it does.  One of the top floors of the hotel was a spa with an insane view of the ocean.  When we booked a couples massage, we also got access to their hydrotherapy circuit which included the steam room, sauna, cold pressure shower, hot tub, ice plunge, and massage pool.  I've never done anything like the hydrotherapy before, and it was the coolest experience--a definite highlight of the trip for both of us, made even better by the fact that we had an open-air sweeping view of the bay the entire time.  Ridiculous.




6. The Zipline Tour

We actually did tear ourselves away from that amazing hotel for a few day trips, and a zipline tour in the Sierra Madre mountains was awesome.  The tour company drove us into the mountains in open-air trucks, and it was an experience to bounce through those bumpy, washed out back roads and watch the local people heading to school and work in their small towns.

Then we rode up the mountain on donkeys.  When the tour guide handed each of us our donkey, he said that he had chosen them for us based on our personalities, and we all laughed because clearly this man had known us for all of five minutes.  But I started to think that there was truth to the guide's joke when I saw how our burros performed on the mountain: mine crawled along at a snail's pace, literally huffing and puffing up the hill (is it normal for a donkey to huff??), and Ryan's raced to the front of the group and sped up the mountain with ease.  His got to the top of the mountain first, and mine nearly collapsed over the finish line several yards behind everyone else.  Ha! 


We started at the top of the mountain and did ten different ziplines down through the jungle canopy.  What a rush!  Even my quiet husband was hooting and hollering.


We rappelled down two waterfalls and went down a couple of water slides.  It was high-adventure for sure and super fun.




I loved being in the jungle and witnessing such astonishing beauty.  It was kind of mind-blowing and hard to take it all in, especially as we rushed from one thrill ride to the next.  It made me want to go for a nice slow hike with just Ryan and sit in the quiet and look around.  We were able to do that a few days later when we visited the Vallarta Botanical Gardens, but nothing compared to the beauty of that zipline tour through the jungle!

7. The Throwback to our Life Pre-Children

Going to the Botanical Gardens for a spur-of-the-moment daytrip made me feel like we were newlywed college students again, adventuring across Central America.  As we walked down the dirt road into the Botanical Gardens, I suddenly felt like we were walking down the dirt road leading to the orphanage in El Salvador.  The vegetation and climate seemed so similar to me, and it made me feel nostalgic and in-love with Ryan all over again. We had lunch at the museum overlooking the jungle, and then we went for a little hike.  It was just a really pleasant afternoon.

One aspect of this trip that I truly loved was reverting back to the freedom that we felt in our relationship  before we had children.  Want to throw our stuff in backpacks, hop in a cab, and go to the Botantical Gardens for lunch?  Sure, let's do it.  No diaper bag, no carseats, no nap schedules, and no whining children.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade our kiddos for anything in the world.  They have done so much to enrich our relationship and teach us about love, patience, God, and each other.  But it is a big responsibility to care for little people.  There's just a lot to think about and a lot to do, and we can't be as carefree and spontaneous in our marriage as we were before Noah and Sally entered our lives.  So it was a really refreshing break to have no responsibilities and no one to care for other than each other for a week.

8. The Boat Ride under the Stars

One evening, we went on a boat ride out to a torch lit island to have dinner and watch a Cirque-du-Solei type of show.  I love riding on boats.  The dinner by torchlight on the beach and the beautiful dancing show were awesome, but I loved the boat ride even more.  There is just something so magical and calming to me about being out in the open water, the wind in my face, the boat swaying, the stars overhead.  There were about 100 people on our catamaran boat, but on the way home, we snagged the best spot right at the front of the boat, laid back to watch the stars, and sang our hearts out to the music that was playing on the speakers.  I'll never forget jamming with Ryan to "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran on a boat in the middle of the bay: "Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars, place your head on my beating heart...Darling, we found love right where we are." Perfect.

9. The Ocean

I love being in the ocean.  I loved snorkeling with Ryan, holding hands and letting the tides just carry us along as we floated, pointing things out to each other when we spotted something interesting.  We didn't have a super beautiful spot for snorkeling, and we never saw tons of colorful fish, but being in the ocean was such a treat.  The hotel was sheltered from big waves, and it was just so calming.

And of course being on the beach is as good as being in the water.  I loved lounging in the warm sun, reading a book or listening to a podcast.  One of my favorite memories from the whole trip happened when I was reading something aloud to Ryan on the beach.  It was a serious topic, and I mispronounced one of the words and then made fun of myself for it, and we both started laughing hysterically and couldn't stop.  I don't think I've laughed with him like that for months, maybe even years.  The best.

Here we are heading down to the beach from our hotel room, looking rather matchy and loving it.  And once we made it to the beach, we always ordered our twinner pina coladas.  The waiters thought our request for no alcohol was super bizarre, until I reminded them that we were 12-year-old newlyweds, and then they understood. ;)


10. The Company

My very favorite part of the trip was enjoying the company of my husband.  Ten years later, and I love and respect him even more than I did on the day I married him.  He has been by my side through all sorts of ups and downs over the past decade, and there is no question in my mind that he will stay by my side through anything, come what may.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I often have irrational worries about health, and Ryan is so patient to just calmly talk me through it.  I had a freak-out moment on the trip where I started worrying that I have MS (don't ask--I am a nutcase), so of course I did what any logical person does when diagnosing themselves with a disease: I started looking up stuff online.  This made me even more convinced that I had MS, and then I started worrying about some of our friends and loved ones that suffer from that debilitating disease, and I genuinely felt so sad for them and so worried for me.  I knew I was being crazy, but sometimes my mind just works like this.

Ryan lovingly teased me a little and got me laughing at myself, and then he said, "Rachel, if you have MS, we will figure it out and work through it.  Please don't worry about that right now."  I said, almost tearfully, "And you will help me?  You will help me if I have MS?"  And with us both laughing, he hugged me tight and said, "Of course I will!"

In that moment, I realized just how lucky I am.  I have a man who loves me in spite of all my weird quirks.  He thinks I'm cute and knows how to make me laugh when I am being irrational. And I do know that he would stay by my side and help me with anything that I face in life, which is a true, true comfort.

For the record, I don't have MS (since I know you were all just as concerned and convinced as I was, ha!), but I'm a little bit glad that I had that paranoid moment on the trip because it reminded me of how blessed I am to have Ryan.  And how blessed I am to have my health.  And how blessed I am to have so much abundance in my life.  

I am beyond grateful to have been able to go on the trip of a lifetime with my true love, and so beyond grateful to have been able to return home to these two little urchins who had a great time with their grandparents while we were away--and who loved their Mexican souvenirs.  Truthfully, I don't think they even missed us.



It's been a beautiful ten years, and I can't wait to see what the next ten hold for us!


  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing your trip with us Rachel. Sounds amazing! So glad you had the opportunity to enjoy each other COMPLETELY! We all need those reminding times! With Love and Laughter, Rodney

  2. Whoa! I'm seriously mentally planning a trip for us there some November . . . sometime. The price of La Quinta?!?!? Amazing!! - Celeste

  3. Seriously, sounds like such an amazing trip. Glad it all worked out! I want to go ziplining!

  4. I'm so happy for you, what a wonderful trip! I love looking at all the pictures. I might copy you for my ten year ;)

  5. We went to Mexico for our tenth too! We went on a 2 day cruise to Ensenada not as exciting but we still enjoyed. That was when Katie went on her Polar Express ride with my parents who were watching the kids.


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