I’ll readily admit that I’m a sucker for a good love story. You know, the kind the kind that will leave your eyes a little watery and your heart a big pile of mush at the end. LOVE ‘EM! Well, today we’re here to share a different kind of love story. An adventure love story.
Not just because it’s Valentines Day, but because 8 years ago this weekend Andrew and I met. This is our story…
It all started out with an awesome day of skiing at Snowbird. Great snow, rockin’ music, steep runs, and no one to slow me down. I jumped in the singles line ready to get back up to the top as fast as I could, and ended up sitting next to two guys. After making small talk, I learned that one was from Canada, and the other lived 3 blocks away from me. immediately, he caught my eye. We ended up taking a run together and parting ways at the bottom, like all strangers who just met on a chairlift. Lucky for me, he was waiting at the top asking for another run. His name was Andrew.
I’m still not sure if it was my down the street connection, the fact that I was good on tele’s (you know, back in the days before I had 3 kids), or the fact that I kept complimenting him on how great he skied (he seriously rips so hard), but we ended up skiing together for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, we exchanged numbers and he went off to meet another girl! ARGH!! Lucky for me, it just turned out to be a friend he grew up with and he was waiting down at the parking lot for me when I left. Thankfully I drove the only purple Explorer in the parking lot so I was easy to find!
The next week, we went caving for our first date. Andrew and several of his friends all had dates and we went on a big caving expedition. It was all going awesome until he crawled into a tiny crack where I couldn’t follow him and took off on his own for the next hour. Yes, he left me while caving, with a bunch of strangers. No, I was sure there would be no second date. After reappearing, he did his best to get back on my good side. He even told me about a trip that he was taking that year to Africa that was looking for more people to join in. It was an awesome opportunity and I knew I wanted to go. Also, I figured I would never actually date Andrew so I didn’t need to worry about things getting awkward either. Yes, quite an odd first date!
One month later, we’d been skiing several times together, climbing, hiking, and even on a road trip with some friends to Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole. Miraculously the guy who left me for another girl the first time we met, and ditched me on our first date, had redeemed himself. Honestly, it was all just a lot of fun. Dating Andrew never felt like dating other guys. Both of us loved adventure, so doing those things together was simply natural. Looking back, I cannot remember one dinner and a movie date before we were married.
That spring, we continued to adventure together. Despite the fact that Andrew was in grad school and I was teaching, we found a way to squeeze fun into every spare moment. We went mountain biking, tubing, hiking, camping, rafting, and anything else we could think of. Life was good. Things got even better when we left together for a summer in Africa. We went to Kenya with a small group, to work with AIDS orphans. We helped to set up community based programs that would generate income to support these struggling children. We taught AIDS prevention classes and taught skills to local women who needed to now support their families. It was a life changing experience. For one summer, all we did was serve. With no car, we walked 3 miles each way from our rural home into the local village. Life was slow and perspectives were changed. Somehow the 3 months that we were there, it felt like 3 years. We spent every minute together either helping other people or talking about life. By the end of that trip, we knew each other inside and out.
Yes, we went on safaris, explore jungles, and experienced all the oddities that can be found in a third world country, but those adventures paled in comparison to the experience of working together to serve the people. (yes, we have plans to do similar trips with our children as they grow up).
As the summer was drawing to a close, we said goodbye to the rest of our group as they returned to the US, and we headed south to Tanzania. To Kilimanjaro. There was no way that we were going that far and being that close to Kili without attempting a summit.
Our route was a 7 day trip. 5 days up and 2 down. By day 3, I had pretty severe altitude sickness despite our slow pace to acclimatize and the medication I was taking to prevent it. Ever supportive, Andrew stayed by me each step of the way. By day 5 when we were supposed to summit, I was in bad shape. Not wanting to give up, yet knowing my body couldn’t take much more. Step, step, step, rest. Poley, poley as the natives would say (swahili for slowly, slowly). Andrew and one of our guides practically dragged me the last 30 minutes.
Little did I know, but Andrew had a big incentive for getting me to the top – there was a ring burning a hole in his pocket. Finally, we reached the summit, and Andrew went down on one knee, asking me to marry him. I must have stared at him for at least 2 minutes before I answered (remember, I had pretty bad altitude sickness at this point and could barely breathe). Yes. Now, it’s great to think back at that moment and tease that Andrew had to drag me to the top of Africa them propose to me in my most incoherent state ever. HA!
Then, I thought of how blessed I had been to have so many adventures with him. Our courtship set the tone for our marriage and hopefully the rest of our lives. Little did I know then, but the adventure was just beginning! Yep, this one sure has a happy ending (or, err, middle?).