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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Getting Engaged In A National Park

Since reigniting my travel blog, I’ve posted a handful of photos from trips I’ve made over the last couple of years. Before going further with new stories, though, I think I should go back to where I left off. And that’s with what I had planned for 2016.

Other than a night of food poisoning, the return visit to Las Vegas was awesome. Hell, every trip to Vegas is awesome in some way or another. But there’s much that really can be said about it – what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, blah, blah, blah, after all – except that Black Sabbath rocked their final tour.

Iron Maiden in Denver

On the even of our engagement trip, she played the role of a good sport and saw Iron Maiden with me

No. This isn’t about that. I want to pick up a little further along, on a trip to see some national parks and monuments in Colorado.

Long before Vegas, that trip was planned for a specific purpose: to propose. Of course my girlfriend didn’t know about it. Somehow, amazingly, she didn’t suspect a thing, either. At least so she says. And under that guise, we hit the road from Denver with the dogs.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

The towering walls of the Black Canyon

Our first stop was the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. An awesome stop to be sure. And if you’re visiting Colorado, I highly recommend it. We only had time enough for a quick stop, though, as we were heading down to Ouray for the night, from which we’d set out the following morning for Cortez.

Hovenweep National Monument

Part of the extensive Hovenweep National Monument

Again, more national parks and monuments lay ahead with stops at Hovenweep, which spills over into Utah, and driving around the Yucca House area after a beautiful trip through the mountains.

(Disclaimer: every trip through the Rockies in Colorado is awesome, some are just more awesomer than others.)

Drive outside Telluride

The drive outside of Telluride, Colorado

When we woke the following morning, bright and early in lovely Cortez, Colorado, we boarded the dogs with the intent of spending the day in Mesa Verde National Park. Little did I suspect, at that time, that it could be my last day on this earth. Thankfully it wasn’t, but throughout the day the thought of dying with an engagement ring in my pocket lingered in my mind.

Really.

It was raining when we hit the visitor center. There we bought tickets for a ranger-led tour of Balcony House. And as luck would have it, that rain turned to an icy sleet by the time we made it to the tour location.

Mesa Verde Balcony House Ladder

Climbing crazy ladders with a big drop

I want to pause here, now, to explain the tour and why I felt I was at death’s door. Keep in mind, too, what I said of the weather: it was an icy sleet. Not good to climb a 32-foot-tall wooden ladder that has been worn smooth by so many people crawling up and down it over the years. It’s even worse to climb up a 60-foot open rock face with more ladders and little more than a chain link rope to hold onto.

Mesa Verde Balcony House railing

The chainlink far, far, FAR above the canyon

Normally I’m not one to worry about such things. I hike like a mountain goat. I’ve got great balance. But icy ladders, a fall down into a canyon, and a diamond ring in my pocket got me worked up well beyond the normal nerves a proposal, I suppose, would have someone at.

Long story short, and obviously enough, we made it through the tour. Crawling through the 12-foot-long tunnel, mainly on my side, was a bit of a tight fit, but we made it.

Mesa Verde Balcony House

Mesa Verde’s Balcony House Tunnel

And I chickened out to do the proposal there as I had planned.

So, yeah, what now? Mesa Verde National Park was the perfect location, after all, for my girlfriend and I to get engaged. There was only one other spot I could think of…

“Wanna go check out the Spruce Tree House?” I asked.

“Is it different than Balcony?”

Internally, I deflated. “Not really.”

“Then we don’t need to – unless you want to,” she said.

And I did, because it was either that or chicken out altogether.

Due to some falling rock danger, the Spruce Tree House is closed. But the overlook is awesome. And it was my last shot. Hell, at that point it was my only shot.

It worked, too!

As nervous as I was, I’m amazed I remember it all, the getting down on one knee, her saying yes before I could really ask, and me still asking anyway. Even though a ranger was there talking with other visitors, I don’t think anyone actually saw it. I’m not totally sure about that, though, since I was focused on her.

Spruce Tree House

At the Spruce Tree House just after the proposal

What I don’t remember is taking pictures after. It makes sense that we would. It’s just a blur in my mind, though, including the drive from there back to an overlook to take an engagement selfie, one of our favorite photos.

mesa verde engagement

Favorite photo!

Did we party it up that night? Well, truly, the story is a bit anticlimactic, as we couldn’t really go out because we had to pick up the dogs. So, instead, we hung out in the hotel room phoning family and eating pizza delivery. The next morning, we set out to head back home to the Denver area.

Colorado New Mexico Border

Along the Colorado – New Mexico border

We made a quick dip down into New Mexico, seeing some of the most stunning scenery of our trip there as we drove back up into Colorado heading for the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the final stop of our trip. There we got out to stretch our legs and let the dogs run around between the dunes while we laughed.

Laughed and enjoyed being all alone, just the four of us.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

 

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