When I decided I wanted to ask Sara to marry me, I knew I wanted to do something very special. Something that effectively communicated how special she is to me, and how thoroughly I want to impress and delight her. Fortunately, a great idea came to me very quickly. I wanted to propose to Sara on the River, and surprise her with all of her friends.
Now that may not sound like that elaborate or grand of a gesture, but let me fill you in on a little background. First of all, rafting is very important to Sara, it’s easily her favorite summer activity, and has been for close to 20 years. It’s become much the same to me since I met Sara. We own a 16′ Cataraft (that’s a Catamaran style inflatable raft), It’s rigged both for rapids and long self sustained trips down river. Last summer we spent 9 days on the San Juan River, 7 on the Green River, and a total of 9-12 days on the Colorado River. So it’s safe to say rafting is pretty important to us. More importantly, Sara and I had talked about proposals, having watched friends go through them (literally, thanks Guests!) and agreed we wanted to be alone for the proposal, but would want to celebrate with our friends after. Making a river proposal a logistical challenge I couldn’t resist tackling.
I began of course by planning a trip (which Sara was aware of) with she and I, my Best Man Ryan, and his girlfriend Gina. Meanwhile, I modified our permit to accommodate 9, and schemed with Sara’s Maid of Honor Liz and 4 more of our friends, to arrange for them to land at our camp a few hours after us and surprise Sara. The weeks leading up to this trip taught me one very valuable and memorable lesson. Keeping a secret from your significant other is exhausting! I planned with Sara, Ryan and Gina, meals for 4, while coordinating additional portions of said meals with our friends in secret. I coordinated with my co-conspirators on getting adequate equipment to my secret stewards to get everything we needed to the river and attached to the right boat.
And so, half in plain sight, and half in secret we all set off for a river trip in Fruita CO. I snuck away whenever I could to talk to the other group and coordinate to avoid an accidental encounter.
One of the closest calls came when we were driving away from our campsite in Fruita to head for the river and launch our trip. I was being a little careless with my sneaking, and tried to squeeze in a text to the other group while sitting at a stoplight. Sara, being the helpful partner that she is, offered to finish my text for me so I could keep driving. In a panic I turned off my phone screen and barking responded: “No, its cool, I’m good.” Suddenly suspicious, Sara asked who I was texting, and why I was being so secretive with my phone (there had been a couple close calls already). In a moment of inept brilliance, I lied, and explained that I had forgotten how to get to the boat ramp, and was looking for directions on my phone, and had felt embarrassed and insecure when she offered to help. Somehow… it worked, and Sara’s suspicions were silenced.
We got on the River, and Ryan had oh so cleverly stowed the ring safely in his pack, just within reach from my captain’s seat. We got on the water, and started my favorite song playing. (Ocean, by The John Butler Trio) The song is a finger picked 12 string guitar solo, and incredibly engrossing and emotional to us both. The river, and the canyon it flows through, tend to have the same effect, and suffice it to say, the moment had come. As I stared at my beautiful girlfriend in bliss, I slowly came back to reality, and saw Ryan over Sara’s shoulder, in his kayak with Gina, gesturing like this, well, not quite like that, like 4000% less malice than that, but, gifs of that gesture are hard to come by okay. But point is, like the great friend that he is, Ryan gave me the assist I needed. He reminded me I had business to attend to on this beautiful day. So I hopped up, and discreetly fished Sara’s ring out of Ryan’s bag. I walked across the boat, leaving the current to guide the boat, and crouched down next to Sara. As I came closer, I saw a tear of Joy in Sara’s eye, and I knew that the moment of bliss I had felt just before, wasn’t one I felt alone. I wrapped my arms around Sara and held her tight for a long moment, and then let her go and withdrew just enough that we could look each other in the eye. In my hand, I held the ring, which lay in her lap. I waited a long moment, and then told Sara I had a question to ask her. Still a little gripped by the joy and bliss of the moment, and not yet suspecting my motive, she asked what it was. I broke our gaze and glanced down at her lap where my hand rest with the ring in it, she followed my eyes, saw the ring, gasped, and I asked her: “Sara, will you marry me?” Her gasp turned to the most beautiful smile I’ll ever see, and she exclaimed “Yes!” and kissed me.
Thanks to all my studious planning and conspiring, the awesome moment we shared on our boat was only the beginning of our day. The surprise I had been working so hard to orchestrate was still to come, and by all rites, I can’t imagine how it could have gone better. We got to camp, tied up the boat, unloaded our gear, and then sat down to relax and enjoy the river. The camps around us were busy, and there were enough people moving around to allow our sneaky friends to get very close to our camp without standing out. Sara hadn’t so much as glanced over at them until they were close enough to be down right obvious. She suddenly saw 4 close friends and her brother standing before her. I seriously cannot put into words how much fun I had watching her reaction. She was so happy and flabbergasted for the rest of the day, I couldn’t have felt more pleased with the results of my plan.