In my opinion, it's hard to self-proclaim something was romantic... Especially when it's a guy saying he did it... My sisters beat that into me a long time ago. But just to prove how stubborn (or dumb) I am, here goes:
I grew up camping. After college I spent 2 years working at a year-round camp for youth at risk in northern New Hampshire. It was cold. Shit cold. The kids tried to kill me on a daily basis. Best job I ever had.
Then I moved to San Francisco and met Emilie. The first time I knew I was in love with her was when we went winter camping in Yosemite. Just a short snowshoe out to Stanford Point via Badger Pass. Piece of cake.
I knew right away she hated camping... Especially WINTER camping. But she handled it like a champ. Zero frowns. Smiled even as the sun went down and the thrill of the adventure was gone. It got dark. Scary dark. But never a complaint... Except about the bears she knew were hunting us...
Cut to two years later. Emilie had just finished her first semester of grad school. I ask if she's up for a quick weekend trip to Badger Pass to unwind. Weather's gonna be great I say. She's game, but I know that's not how she pictured the weekend. Especially after grinding her ass off against a bunch of number jockeys for four months straight. We drive out to Yosemite and it is a beautiful day. Stunningly so. But before we can strap on snow-shoes and head out, I admit to a bit of a personal emergency (embarrassing sure, but hey, this is love right?). So we drive down into the Valley and park in the lot of the Ahwhanee Hotel. $500 a night, chocolate on your pillow at bedtime perfection. Down comforters, in room fireplaces, room service... But not for us, 'cause "we're going winter camping!" I announce to no one in particular. After I am done taking care of my personal emergency, I say, "mind if we take a short walk?" Just to make sure everything is "sorted out internally" before we head up to Badger? Of course, she says, but we better not take too long or we'll be setting up camp in the dark. (Good, I think to myself, she has no clue what I'm up to...). We head over to Mirror Pond and it's perfect. The pond is frozen over. The waterfalls are 2000 foot tall ice scupters. Trees covered in white. Not a soul in sight.
It's exactly as I had envisioned it would be. A day we will tell our kids about... She asks if I'm feeling better. I mumble "think so". I'm reaching into my pocket while pretending to take in the incredible view, but fumbling around and trying to act nonchalant at the same time. As I pull my hand out of my pocket, my frozen fingers can't quite grasp the intended object... Something flys through the air and disappears into the foot of snow covering the bridge. I drop down instantly on all fours, digging through the snow furiously Em sounds concerned and asks if I'm ok? "FIne" I stutter. "Just another stomach cramp." Then, out of nowhere two cross-country skiers appear and ask us for directions to the hotel. Em casually chats them up while I continue my manic episode in the snow. She points them in the direction of the Awhanee a half mile away. Meanwhile, I continue furiously digging in the snow. The skiers start heading toward the lodge. Em asks again if I'm ok? I mumble something... Not sure what. And just then, sure as shit, 30 kids from a school field trip come streaming a path in the woods. I can't believe my shitty luck... Seriously? A school field trip? Now? What are the frigging odds??? We are in the middle of nowhere! "Hey, Mr., whatcha looking for?" "Uh... nothing" I reply trying to remember if I'd taken the time to add this thing to my insurance rider... Another kid holds his hand up casually "Is it this?" Em and I both look at the ring in his hand at the same instant. She laughs. I just shrug my shoulders and half smile. The kid holding the ring shouts, "Hey check this out! This dude was gonna ask this chick to marry him!" Em smiles and says "just tell me we're not really going winter camping..."