I have this hobby where I plan vacations, even though we don’t end up going on most of them. I pick a cute tourist area or small town and research everything from restaurants to activities to pet-friendly b&b’s. And holidays, like Memorial Day, tend to trigger this hobby.

So for most of April and the first couple weeks of May, I was researching plenty of cute inns where we’d spend our long weekend. A quick hop to Annapolis, or down to Williamsburg, or back to beautiful Shenandoah? But in all my “planning” to go nowhere, I didn’t realize the boy was doing some planning of his own.

On the Tuesday before he surprises me with an email confirmation to a b&b in Harrisonburg, close to Shenandoah, and a cute town on its own. It was four days before we were going, which is significant, because that’s how much notice I gave him early in our relationship, when I surprised him with Cubs tickets.

So here I was, spread-sheeting out hypothetical vacations, and he had gone and booked us a real one!

The room was booked for Saturday and Sunday nights, which gave us three full days to spend in the national park and surrounding area. Unfortunately, it looked like we were going to get caught in the rain the entire weekend. We packed for every possible weather situation, bringing multiple changes of clothes, and towels in case we got caught in a storm while hiking.

On Saturday morning, it was a little cloudy, but as we loaded up the very-overpacked car, there was no sign of rain. I had built a playlist filled with car classics leaning toward the outdoor, folksy style, and we drove to Shenandoah National Park.

We aren’t big hikers. We love it, but we aren’t great at it. I don’t like anything where I need to pack food, and I have some trouble going down or up steep hills. It’s a real struggle hiking with me, so I’m not sure how the boy does it. But he does, and he keeps me hydrated, and he makes sure I get to the waterfall or the peak or the overlook.

We picked out some easy trails, including one to the highest peak in the park. It would be the most difficult part of the trip, so we decided to hit it first. It wasn’t a long trail, but steep. We had the chihuahua with us, who kept stopping to sniff. And I kept stopping to take photos of wildflowers. It must have driven the boy crazy, with that ring in his pocket. I bet he just wanted to get to the top!

We finally did, and it was beautiful. There was a full circle view of the rest of the park, the surrounding towns, and all the smaller mountains and foothills. There were a couple other people at the top, including an intimate wedding that we caught pieces of. But the boy found a spot with a gorgeous view away from them all.

Then he tricked me!

I had given some ground rules on how not to propose (nothing you’d see posted on Youtube, no making me the center of attention at a major event, you know, that sort of thing.) I should have included tricks! He told me to take a photo of the view, and I wasn’t suspicious at all. When I turned around, there he was, on one knee, opening up the ring.

I won’t tell you about what he said, because it’s more fun to keep that to ourselves, but I said, “Yes!” and did the whole covering my face in surprise thing. I was scared he’d drop the ring off the mountain (he didn’t), and at first it didn’t fit because my hand was swollen from hiking. But it was perfect.

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