- Fea­tured Ad­ven­ture: Lucky Lovers Leap Into Grav­ity Falls

The jump was per­fectly ex­e­cuted — so well that both bride and groom touched the wa­ter in per­fect syn­chronic­ity.

Howler Magazine - - Contents - by Chris­tine Lar­son

Ad­ven­tur­ous, fun-lov­ing, dar­ing and def­i­nitely in love! Larena's In­sta­gram post was all it took to in­spire a much grander prize than what she and her hus­band, Robert, were en­vi­sion­ing as con­tes­tants to star in their own ac­tion movie. Like other hope­fuls in our Lucky Valen­tine Costa Rica Chal­lenge, the pair's sights were set not only on a on­cein-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ence cour­tesy of my com­pany, De­safio Ad­ven­ture Co., but also a pro­fes­sion­ally edited video record­ing of the event.

What gave Robert and Larena the win­ning edge was their ex­pressed de­sire to cel­e­brate a mu­tu­ally pro­found pas­sion for ad­ven­ture, and for each other, on the same spec­tac­u­larly ro­man­tic oc­ca­sion. They were ex­actly the kind of lucky valen­tine cou­ple we were look­ing for when the Fe­bru­ary 2018 con­test was con­ceived.

Re­spond­ing al­most im­me­di­ately to our call for en­tries, the at­trac­tive cou­ple from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia told us they were plan­ning a trip to Costa Rica for their 20th an­niver­sary, and would love to have De­safio help com­mem­o­rate their visit on film. What they had in mind is Costa Rica's most ex­treme kind of ex­pe­ri­ence — our Grav­ity Falls wa­ter­fall jump­ing tour.

Larena's In­sta­gram feed read: “Feb

1st the month of love starts the of­fi­cial count­down for our next ad­ven­ture! 26 days and 13 hours un­til he sweeps me off my feet again and we take off to cel­e­brate 20 years of mar­riage!”

In­stantly, it dawned on us to of­fer Robert and Larena a wed­ding vow re­newal cer­e­mony as part of their Grav­ity Falls ad­ven­ture. Tui Frye of Blue But­ter­fly Events was in on the scheme right away, and it didn't take much con­vinc­ing for Robert and Larena to agree.

The day be­fore the cer­e­mony, one of our driv­ers picked up Robert and Larena at the air­port and took them to their ho­tel in the Are­nal area, the Royal Corin.

Next morn­ing at 7 o'clock, the makeup and hair artist, Vic­to­ria, was first on the scene. As she put the fin­ish­ing touches on Larena's ra­di­ant face, our guide, David Arias, showed up at the ho­tel, along with Os­car Obre­gon, the pho­tog­ra­pher, and Matt Schaefer, who would con­duct the wed­ding vow re­newal cer­e­mony.

Judg­ing from the first few pho­tos, Robert and Larena seemed to have un­der­gone some ap­pre­hen­sive mo­ments, per­haps think­ing to them­selves, “What on earth have we signed up for?”

But by the time Os­car had warmed up with pho­tos of the starry-eyed cou­ple hug­ging and kiss­ing in front of the pic­turesque Are­nal Vol­cano, the soonto-be “re­new­ly­weds” were clearly get­ting into it. Smil­ing deeply into her hus­band's eyes, Larena looked stun­ning from one Ko­dak mo­ment to the next. She had wor­ried need­lessly about be­ing un­able to find the right dress for the oc­ca­sion on short no­tice, scor­ing rose-toned per­fec­tion in an el­e­gantly flat­ter­ing style with lacy over­coat. As if co­op­er­at­ing in ev­ery sense

of luck­i­ness, the sun also beamed warmly through a cloud­less sky onto the of­ten-elu­sive vol­cano back­drop.

Mean­while, un­be­knownst to Robert and Larena, Matt had them en­gaged in an ice-break­ing rou­tine for his own pur­pose. Ask­ing spe­cific ques­tions in an on-cam­era in­ter­view for­mat, he was pick­ing up pieces of “juicy” per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to in­cor­po­rate strate­gi­cally with the wed­ding vow cer­e­mony later on. Op­por­tu­ni­ties arose dur­ing a few more stops the cou­ple made en route to the Grav­ity Falls en­trance, one to see a baby sloth and an­other to catch some amaz­ing shots from the Peñas Blan­cas sus­pen­sion bridge.

Some of the video footage re­veals that Robert and Larena were not wa­ter­fall rap­pelling novices, hav­ing en­joyed a smaller-scale ad­ven­ture in Ja­maica on their hon­ey­moon 20 years ago. In fact, get­ting ready for the Grav­ity Falls ex­cur­sion ac­tu­ally brought back many golden mem­o­ries about the ner­vous­ness and emo­tions of get­ting mar­ried two decades ear­lier.

“It is a dream come true ... that we never re­ally dreamed would ac­tu­ally hap­pen” said Larena, “and a bit of a déjà vu.”

The drive by De­safio jun­gle limo through deep for­est ter­rain was fol­lowed by a short hike to the Grav­ity Falls base site be­neath the 150-foot canyon drop. I will never for­get the big smile on Larena's face and Robert's words of ap­pre­ci­a­tion upon ar­rival at the flo­ral arched al­tar we had con­structed for the cer­e­mony, greeted by the whole team in­volved in plan­ning the event.

“I feel like we are on ‘The Bach­e­lor' show,” said Robert. “We feel like such celebri­ties!”

Matt was all set to of­fi­ci­ate with a ro­man­tic vow script pro­vided by Tui, adding sprin­klings of his own quick hu­mor. Aside from our pa­parazzi pres­ence, the cer­e­mony it­self re­mained private for the wed­ding cou­ple, with Matt's voice drowned out from an on­looker's dis­tance by the roar­ing wa­ter­fall dom­i­nat­ing other sounds of na­ture. But we were pretty sure he said some­thing like, “You may now kiss Larena...” be­cause the two sud­denly locked into a ro­man­tic smooch be­fore turning to thank ev­ery­one present for mak­ing this spe­cial mo­ment pos­si­ble. Ad­mit­tedly, we were all a bit teary-eyed.

Os­car directed the cou­ple to pose in var­i­ous parts of the canyon be­neath the wa­ter­fall and along the mossy wall. Next, we cut the tres leches cake and made a wed­ding toast with fresh co­conut wa­ter drinks.

Fi­nally, it was time for the ul­ti­mate lovers' leap, which Tui con­vinced Robert and Larena to make from the first wa­ter­fall jump while still dressed in their cer­e­mony clothes. The jump was per­fectly ex­e­cuted — so well that both bride and groom touched the wa­ter in per­fect syn­chronic­ity and Larena never let go of the nat­u­ral jun­gle flo­ral bou­quet she was hold­ing.

We were able to get amaz­ing shots and video of this tan­dem feat, not just once, but three times.

With all that adren­a­line un­corked, we gave Robert and Larena some space to change into cloth­ing bet­ter suited for the orig­i­nal pur­pose of their sec­ond hon­ey­moon trip. At last, from the top, they were ready to en­joy the whole gamut of De­safio's renowned Grav­ity Falls ad­ven­ture. The ex­cur­sion ended in style with a ro­man­tic lunch along the Peñas Blan­cas River, be­fore we took them back to their ho­tel.

Robert and Larena stayed in touch dur­ing the rest of their stay in Costa Rica, while vis­it­ing Mon­teverde and var­i­ous lo­cales along the Gua­nacaste coast.

“We are still on cloud nine!” they told us. “Our (3) chil­dren won't be­lieve what we've just done. This has been an in­cred­i­ble ad­ven­ture of a life­time!”

It seemed even more in­cred­i­ble for us, and in­spi­ra­tional, to share in the love of a truly beau­ti­ful “lucky” cou­ple who ob­vi­ously haven't lost the spark of ad­ven­ture and ro­mance af­ter 20 years of mar­riage.

Pho­tos cour­tesy of De­safio Ad­ven­ture Co.

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