|A month or two before our engagement|
I became sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Kjersti, so I started looking for a ring. I considered waiting to ask her to marry me until 2014 but, for various reasons, decided that when she flew up over Thanksgiving break: I'd propose. Ring shopping turned out not to be my favorite ever, but I found exactly what I was looking for (I knew what I wanted, and was pretty sure she'd like it too) and bought it with plenty of time to spare.
Now it was just finding a place. Neither of us are the kind of people that would think a public place is ideal for this. We didn't need a big event or something to post on youtube: but I still wanted it to be special. And a surprise. The outdoors was the sensible place, and I know lots of little spots in the area. I decided to pick "Vernon Marsh". It doesn't sound amazing, but it's a very nice spot and the location of our second date, almost two years before. Except at the last minute I realized hunting season had just started and, even though this would be after dark and technically they shouldn't be hunting: this was a very popular spot and I'd rather not be worrying about getting killed when I proposed. Sets the wrong tone for the marriage.
|Aren't we cute?|
There was another spot I knew. Here's a link to what it looks like at night. It's in a secluded spot atop a hill that overlooks a wonderful little valley, and while it was also open for hunting: no one knows about it, and there's only on access point so you can tell in glance (based on cars) if anyone else is there. The day before Kjersti flew in: I ran to Target to buy a battery-powered, under-cabinet light and drove over to the site. It was snowing, which was perfect. I placed the light on top of the hill, and pushed a thin layer of snow over it and then went home. Why? You'll find out.
I picker Kjersti up at the airport late at night: but we had the week together so it was OK. We were going to drive down to Northern Illinois to see some of her relatives, and then continue on to go to Nauvoo (a Mormon historical site and LDS temple). The first full day though, we just had to ourselves. So we had a good day together. I asked her what her favorite restaurant was and suggested we go there for dinner. But first, we could stop by Target and pick up anything she needed for the week. And maybe take a little walk at this place I knew in the area.
Turns out: she didn't need anything! So I was a bit worried that the ruse would be uncovered, especially because it's a bit of a drive out to this place and she was getting hungry. But I managed to pull it off, no questions and, according to future Kjersti, no suspicions at the time. We drove down and discovered ourselves alone. It was a short ten minute (or so) hike to the top of the hill: and there we were. The stars were out (it gets dark somewhat early in Wisconsin in November), the snow blanketed the land, and we could see the haze from the city lights come up to meet the night sky.
We enjoyed the moment together for a short while, and just as it looked like it was time to leave, I made the move. I admit I was nervous, even a little shaky. Not quite sure why. I knew I wanted to be with Kjersti for the rest of my life, and I was pretty darn sure she wanted the same. Maybe, even assured you're doing the right thing, it's just scary to do something that big. Whatever the cause, I managed all right.
"What's that?" I said, as I brushed my foot up against the light I'd planted there a day prior. I knelt down to "investigate" and turned it on: lighting up the area we were standing in. Well she was standing: I was on one knee (planning!) and while I was down there, I removed the ring from my pocket and told her that since I loved her so much, and was sure I wanted to spend the balance of eternity fighting the good fight beside her, and never be without each other: I wanted to get married. Would she marry me?
|I'd guessed right: she really likes the ring|
I put the ring on her finger and she demanded I get up so we could hug and kiss. I agreed and we did both for a while. But it was cold and we were hungry. So we journeyed down the hill and off to the restaurant. It was a pretty good night.
|From our engagement photos, a few months later|