Everyone has their own idea of a fairytale. You grow up hearing the traditional ones – the prince, and the princess, and the happy-ever-after ending. I can’t claim royalty, and I can’t claim happy ever after (just yet). But it was the happiest and most beautiful beginning I could ever ask for, and it’s something I’ll never forget.
Justin and I went to Colorado for a backpacking trip with some of his family. We got to the mountain later than planned, and ended up sleeping in the car (it was quite cold). The next morning was a long hike up the mountain with our packs (my first time with 40 or so pounds strapped to my back). I have to admit – there were a few moments when I thought we might be lost (sorry, love!). However, we made it to the campsite, and the view was breathtaking. After a quick nap, and realizing I didn’t have altitude sickness, I literally felt like I was on top of the world. On the second day, we headed up to a lake at higher elevation to do some fishing. We were going to catch dinner! I was so excited – I could literally live off fish. When it’s fresh from a lake in the Rocky Mountains? I call that perfection.
I caught the first fish of the day if memory serves me correctly, and you better believe I was excited. But Justin was the one that really cleaned up. When he has a fly rod in his hand, you better watch out. Fish don’t stand a chance.
At this point, I’m in the best of moods. I just felt so energized, so happy, so relaxed. It was the most perfect day – sparkling green lake, incredible blue skies, a gentle breeze. And I didn’t have altitude sickness! If you can’t tell, I was a bit nervous about that. I was so scared I’d get sick and we’d have to go back down the mountain. So, to be up there, with family, catching fish and soaking up the beautiful mountains with the love of my life….I believe Webster would define that as “bliss”.
Towards the end of the day, Justin asked if I wanted to take a walk. As mentioned, I’m just bubbly and bouncing around without a care in the world. I should have noticed at this point that he’d put his fishing pole down and had gotten a bit serious. I just thought he wanted to spend some quality time together.
We start walking around the lake, and I ask where we are going. He just tells me we are going to keep going for a bit. After some walking, we reach the opposite side from where we were fishing. There were rocks all over the ground, so I decided to climb up on one to soak in the view. I remember turning to him and saying “Man, I am so happy we are here!”
“I know”, Justin said. “It’s a trip we are going to remember for a long time….For the rest of my life if you will have me that long”.
I’m not grasping what’s happening at this point, so while looking out at the lake I say “Oh babes, you know I will.”
This is about the time I realize he’s no longer standing next to me. When I turn around, I see he’s on one knee, fumbling a bit with his camera bag. And this is the time I just froze. Despite imagining it so many times, and secretly hoping it would happen in the mountains, the reality of it was more than I’d ever dreamt up in my head. He asked me to marry him, and I’m not sure if I nodded, or just cried, or smiled like a silly kid. It’s a bit blurry. But as some point I said yes and just hugged him hard.
Being so wrapped up in the moment (literally), it completely escaped me that a lovely little box came with the question just asked. So, once he gets me to breathe for a second, he takes the ring out and puts it on my hand. And well, friends- that was my fairy tale beginning. It was the most beautiful and pure moment – something I will never ever forget, or ever get tired of reliving in my head. I consider myself the luckiest girl in the world.
I guess our story was a bit like climbing a mountain. It wasn’t always easy, and it wasn’t a quick climb. There were ups, and there were downs. Moments we both felt lost. But I can say with all my heart – it was all completely worth it, and with a full heart I welcome the rest of my journey with Justin Daniel Lange.
And you thought that was it...
If you aren’t already convinced I’m engaged to the most amazing man in the world, let me keep going. The story actually continues. After the proposal, getting to rejoice with his family, finally getting reception to call my family and share the exciting news, after a pretty serious car issue (watch for large rocks in the road), hitching a ride with a nice couple to track down family in a no-reception zone, and a tow ride back up the mountain across questionable bridges and bumpy roads, we finally make it back to Texas. Whew.
Right as we pay the parking guy and are ready to exit the airport, we see a couple with car trouble. Justin’s a noble guy, and pretty much knows how to fix anything. I think it was a flat, but whatever the case was, we pull over. It takes some time, and I notice he keeps asking to make calls and keeps worrying about the battery life of his phone. Weird, I think. I guess he misses his roommates?
The tire gets fixed, we find the sweet woman’s husband at the front (after giving me a good description and his name, I drove back through the line to see if I could find him. Luckily he was quite friendly and receptive to a stranger telling him his wife was having car trouble). So now we really are on our way home.
I’m pretty beat at this point, but Justin asks if I’d like to stop by his house before heading home – just to say hi to the roomies, and mostly to see Riley (the most amazing dog in the world). He tells me that he’s sure Riley misses us a great deal. That’s a pretty convincing story, as I certainly missed Riley too. So, I agree.
We get to the house, and all seems normal. It’s clean (maybe a little bit of a warning flag – haha), and I see Kam sprawled across the couch watching TV. Just as I get inside far enough to set down my purse, people literally come pouring out of the hallway yelling “Congratulations!!”. I can’t even explain how shocked and surprised I was. I mean, it really was a stampede of happy, shouting people.
Justin had arranged for some of our closest friends to be waiting at the house for us when we got back from Colorado. Lucky for us we have patient friends who were understanding when they got the news our arrival would be delayed on account of being good Samaritans :)
We toasted, laughed, hugged, shared stories from Colorado, and I just really can’t tell you how amazing it was to get to share all my joy with our friends. But most of all, it meant the world to know my fiancé put this together for us – and so sneakily!!
So, that was a lot. I know. Thank you for sticking with me as I try to recount such a joyous time in a way that does it justice without going on for days. Here are some pictures from our time in Colorado and the surprise engagement party that put a bow on the proposal :)