Friday, October 31, 2014

A new MINI, Yosemite, and a diamond ring

  What do these three things have in common? One weekend. LAST weekend, in fact.
  It all started on Thursday evening, when my lovely lady picked up her brand new 2015 MINI Cooper and we took it for a spin. What an awesome ride! I was wary at first, being a tall guy, but all 6'2" of me easily fit in both the passenger AND driver seats. And yes, they ARE just as fun to drive as it looked in "The Italian Job."
  Friday, we took the new ride, which we named "Nigel," and headed north to Yosemite National Park. We left around midday, so we didn't get to our hotel, the Yosemite View Lodge, until just after dark.
  The hotel, which I had booked through a fantastic deal on Groupon, was pretty awesome. We couldn't see much of the surroundings, but everything had a very mountainy-lodgey kind of feel.
  Just after we put our things in our room, we headed out to grab dinner. We were stopped short, though, by a large furry animal just outside our door. I only caught a quick glimpse of it, and shoved my girlfriend back inside. As it came into the light, I could see that it was a very large raccoon. It was followed immediately after by a second, equally large raccoon. Not knowing their temperament, I shut the door and watched them through the peephole. They stopped right in front of our door and sat, waiting. We finally figured out that they were pretty docile, and were probably just used to being fed by tourists. We got some video of them from about four feet away, but they seemed really annoyed that we didn't have any treats for them.

  The next morning, we were finally able to see the glorious views all around us. Our balcony overlooked the river, which was surrounded on all sides by tall, steep mountains covered in pine trees. The morning sun was just breaking the treetops, bathing them in golden light. It was a beautiful way to start the day.
  After a quick breakfast, we hopped in Nigel and headed into the park proper. I will never be able to adequately explain to you, dear reader, the beauty of Yosemite. No words, no pictures can do it justice. It simply has to be experienced. Seen, smelled, felt. It's truly like no other place I've been, and I've been to a lot of places. Even though we went there in the dry season, where many of the park's glorious waterfalls had been reduced to mere trickles, the sight of those towering monoliths of stone rising out of the forest is something I'll never forget. Our necks were sore from looking up all day.
  We spent the day visiting many of the famous sites in Yosemite Valley- Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome. Many, many pictures were taken. The weather was just about perfect all day, until some clouds moved in on us about mid-afternoon. Even then, it was just windbreaker weather.
  Our last jaunt of the day was up the trail to see Vernal Falls. It was steep going, and my recent knee problems slowed us down a bit. In fact, by the time we made it to the footbridge, we decided to turn back, as we were beginning to lose the light.
  Close to the bottom of the trail, as were were crossing the Happy Isles bridge, I stopped to take a picture, and told my girlfriend that something about the bridge reminded me of Paris, where we had shared our first kiss. I elaborated, presenting her with a card that had the French phrase "A ma vie de coer entier" written on it. I asked if she knew what it meant, and gave her a minute to try to translate.
  I finally let her off the hook, and told her it meant "For all my life, my whole heart," and then I got down on one knee.
  I said a lot of things, unrehearsed, and so unfortunately, I don't remember a lot. I do know that the last thing I said was "Will you do me the honor of being my wife?" and then presented her with a ring that I had been carrying in my bag. She said she would be honored to be my wife, and just like that, we became fiancĂ©es.
  We had a wonderful dinner back at the lodge that night, and enjoyed a great hot tub soak. The next day, we got up, had an amazing breakfast, grabbed a couple of souvenirs, and headed out. The drive was much more beautiful, since we were doing it in the daytime, and even afforded us a short stop in the town of Mariposa to grab lunch and do some shopping.
  All in all, it was a HUGE weekend, packed with amazing sights, sounds, and love. It just doesn't get any better than that. Now is the beginning of our life together, and we couldn't be happier.
  All the pictures from our trip can be seen by clicking THIS LINK TO FLICKR.