The Proposal
The Ring

My proposal was almost over before it started. 6 months of planning, potentially shot. The plan was to fly out to California to my Aunt and Uncle's ranch, and propose there in the mountains. My parents smuggled the ring out of town when they left, which just happened to be prior to the 5th largest snowstorm to hit Illinois in recorded history. The day my parents left, we were hit with more than 2 feet of snow. Karen, my sister Catherine, her boyfriend Dan, and I, were scheduled to leave 2 days later. I was, not surprisingly, panicking. All flights from Midway had been canceled, and Karen didn't understand why I was being so obnoxious about the status of our flight.

Luckily, the day we were supposed to leave, flights were resumed out of Midway and we were able to reach San Diego with perfect time. Our first day in California was great and relaxing, but the real event was to begin the next day, on Friday.

My mom suggested that she wanted to have a girl's lunch, since all the guys wanted to go hiking into the mountains. Karen agreed, since for some reason she didn't want to repeat her previous trek up the mountain from last year which she was convinced she was going to die during. So, Friday around 11:30, all of us guys got ready to go hiking, and the girls left to go get food.

As soon as they did we hit the ground running. My dad and Dan ran champagne and flowers to the main house on the ranch, while I set up a scavenger hunt leading to the show barn which overlooks the entire ranch and the mountains surrounding the property. The scavenger hunt was a reminder to the first love letter I wrote her, which I hid in her apartment (I know, I'm adorable.)

Anyways, the plan was for me to hide in one of the apartments in the show barn, and the scavenger hunt would lead her to the balcony where she would find a Gerber daisy (her favorite) and a note telling her to turn around. At this point I would dashingly pop out of the apartment, ring in hand, and drop to one knee.

I waited on the balcony and after awhile everyone returned from lunch. I waited out of sight for awhile as my mom and sister took a golf cart to the main house, leaving Karen to start her scavenger hunt at the gate house where we were staying. The final clue at the gatehouse led to a stashed golf cart, which would lead her to the show barn. And it turned out the door to the apartments were locked, so I ran downstairs looking for somewhere to hide. I found a great spot in the stalls where the horses are cleaned and waited while Karen came in the front door. Honestly, it felt a bit creepy hiding in the stall, like I was the bad guy in a horror movie, but we do strange things for love.

Karen climbed the stairs to the show barn balcony, and I did my best to quietly follow. Of course, she got to the note before I even got to the stairs, so as I'm sneaking I hear ...I'm turning around...?

That's when I fell back on Plan B: Run Like Hell. I ran up the stairs and hid the ring behind me. Karen looked excited, but clearly had no idea I was going to propose (later I found out she thought I had gotten her an early anniversary present.)

As Karen stood there, I told her how much she meant to me, and I could tell she didn't realize what was happening until I bent down on one knee and opened the ring box. I told her I wanted to be with her forever, and asked her to marry me. Luckily, she said yes, and immediately began crying. I slipped the ring on her finger (which fit pretty well,) and I told her everyone was waiting back at the main house. We boarded the golf cart, and when we got there my family was waiting with champagne. My dad told her she should call her parents from the other room on the landline, and when she went to make the call, her parents were waiting for her. ...Which prompted even more crying.

End of the Trip

All in all, everything went completely according to plan.

Even if the weather was against us.

Throughout the entire thing though, the planning, the weather, the proposal, I never had any doubts. While I was nervous about the weather, or the time frames working out and her parents arriving when she was at lunch, I was never worried she would say no, or that I might be making the wrong decision.

The only thing I was absolutely sure of was that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Karen, and luckily for me, she said yes.

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