I know the blog silence has been killing me, but there is just so much to do the week of your wedding. I thought today would be a fun day to share our engagement story. Please enjoy and laugh!
Our Engagement Story
It had been a short break at home, what had been a week flew by in what seemed like a day. Having just finished up my third quarter of graduate school, marking the almost halfway point, I was finally home visiting. As it almost always is, the days that I dreamed would be relaxing when I went home, instead, get scheduled with appointments, lunch dates, dinner dates, errands and more. There were virtually no moments alone for us to just be with each other. Being no strangers to these busy “vacations” we had scheduled just one day just for us. We planned to go up to Payson (about a 2 hour drive) and hike, but last minute we found out the roads were closed due to the never ending Arizona season of construction. So, we decided to visit the famous painted red rocks of Sedona, AZ instead. Paul picked the White Fork trail, recommended by his parents who had stumbled on it over 25 years ago on their honeymoon.
Paul and I love to drive together, sharing music, stories, laughter, and excitement about the destination. I quickly settled into the familiarity of our beloved road trips, and mostly, knowing I would get to spend the whole day with him to myself. Among our favorite destinations are those that are part of nature, and Sedona was no exception. About two hours later we caught our first glimpse of Arizona’s famous red rock and we were immediately filled with excitement for our hike. We pulled into the last spot in the parking lot at about 930AM.
The trail was breath taking from the start. There were tall grasses, followed by an area teaming with gigantic spider webs.
My guess is they were attempting to catch the millions of butterflies fluttering around. There were so many vibrant oranges, blues, and yellows it was almost unbelievable. Brave little things, came right up next too us, their mistake because of course my silly Paul tried to catch one! The trail intertwines with Oak Creek, which had just about a foot of water in some places, less than that in others.
After about 3.5 miles the trail ends, and you have the option to continue by walking in the creek or turn around. We kept sloshing, slipping, and sliding right along with the tiny river fish for about two more miles. I can’t lie, I thought for a little while that MAYBE, just MAYBE, he was looking for somewhere to propose, so that he could do it on the way back. Then my mind drifted away as I focused on not falling with the camera into the water.
We ate lunch in a sunny, dry patch where the sound of the running creek behind us and the light flickering off the creek ahead of us. When Paul pretended he forgot to pack me a sandwich, and all my thoughts of getting engaged were replaced by my survival instinct! What would I eat???? Oh no, I couldn’t take his food; he is a man he needs it! Paul chuckled and handed me my sandwich. I can’t believe I fell for that one!
Feeling full and content we packed up and started to head back. Now, if you know anything about Paul you are aware that he is athletic, adventurous, and little ( a lot) rambunctious. So, unbenounced to me, as we approach a small clearing he begins to formulate a plan in his head. I start wobbling my way around a large log with big jagged pieces sticking out of it where its branches had been. This log was somehow leaned perfectly over another log to make a diagonal, right at the edge of clearing in knee deep water.
Paul says to me “I’m going to seesaw over the log.”
I have time only to think “No, don’t do….”
Slip, thud, CRASH!
I open my eyes, which I had shut. He is looking away from me, face one inch from a jagged piece of the log. I prepare my self for gushing blood from his face. I think, “Be ready. It could be his cheek, his eye, his lip…. Be ready….” He looks at me, “no blood, thank god.” He stands up, blood is pouring from his hands and arm, but mostly from his knee.
Then, he says, “I can’t feel my leg.”
The logical part of me deep down inside knows that if he is standing, he can probably feel his leg. The illogical side of me is screaming “THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING, WE ARE NOT THOSE PEOPLE, OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BE AIR VACED OUT OF THE CANYON!” He takes a step, and another, and another…. “oh good, he CAN feel his legs.”
But, I’m still terrified the worst isn’t over. Will I have to hike up to get help by myself? Will we have to try and call help? Will we have to be air vaced out? Air Vac Air Vac Air Vac repeats over and over and over in my brain. Then I snap to and realize he is oozing blood and we have no first aid. Why, because the hike says EASY. So, we get out a rag, still not sure why we had it. I stick a key into it and rip it into four pieces. I promptly tie it around his hand and knee, and then I chuckle a little bit and take a picture because he looks RIDICULOUS.
We start to walk, very slowly.
I hear Paul mutter to him self, “So how did I do that? Oh right, I tried to sea saw over a wet log. Great job Paul.” I laugh, and so does he.
Not even five minutes goes by when he says to me “do you want your granola bar now?”
In my head I think, “Absolutely not, I want to get the hell out of this canyon!” But, I say, “Does you leg hurt? Do you need to stop?”
“Yeah, it hurts.”
“Oh shit, air vac, air vac, air vac….”
I sit down immediately, trying to fathom how we are going to make it another five miles if he can’t go five minutes. He’s rummaging in the bag, I guess for my granola bar. I want to scream, what are you doing ??? Sit down and rest! But, I refrain.
I look down at the ground, “air vac, air vac, air vac, this can’t be happening to us.”
I look up and he is walking toward me with a huge smile and a little white box, he knows he has caught me off guard. I suddenly become in tune with my surroundings. There isn’t anyone around us, probably within a quarter of a mile. The water is shimmering in the sunlight and so is the ring as he opens the box and begins to kneel. He winces a little as he does, and then he says, “Kelli, by the Grace of God I was able to get you this ring. Would you spend the rest of your life with me?”
I sob, “yes” I barely make out.
My hands are shaking so he takes my hand and tries to slip on the ring. But I’m too swollen from the hike!!! Of course that was no matter to me, I got it on anyway. We spent a few minutes crying and laughing together. Taking serious photo’s, happy photo’s, and funny photo’s. My favorite one is the one of his hand bandaged, and my hand with the ring in the sunlight.
In case you were wondering, we did make it out of the canyon in about an hour and half. We found a ranger who only had hand sanitizer to offer Paul as first aide (so we know who wouldn’t be coming in the air vac), but kindly took our picture when we told him we were newly engaged.
To ward off infection, we promptly found a circle K with hydrogen peroxide and utilized an entire box of band aides. I was in such a good mood we had barbecue western for dinner. I got a grilled hot wing salad it may have been the best salad I’ve ever had I wish I took a picture!
Happily Ever After.