I said, "ok!"
I would imagine that most of you would have heard by now that the last week in LA was just the best ever!
I arrived on the 11th and Andrew on the 12th. I hadn't seen him since I left Sydney several weeks earlier and couldn't wait for him to walk through Customs. I had waited for him to walk through those doors so many times before over the years. This time wasn't much different - nervous excitement and a funny feeling (a good one) in my stomach at the first sight of him!
I suppose it didn't matter that it was still morning, Andrew made me drive straight to Baja Fresh for fish tacos! From the look on his face, I am pretty sure that they were as good as he had remembered. Note to the Aussies: fish tacos sound gross but are really good!
The next couple of days were spent catching up with friends and attending the wedding of the mutual friend who had introduced us more than six years ago! I hadn't been home in over a year and a half while it had been even longer for Andrew. Each time I return to home to Los Angeles, it looks a little different. I suppose I do too! I know it isn't the friendliest place on earth or the easiest place to get around but it is where I am from and part of who I am - even if, according to my American friends, my accent dictates otherwise.
Last Sunday we exchanged our rental car for one of my Dad's. The one we were allowed to drive is bigger than anything you could ever imagine seeing in Sydney! On the upside, it is as safe as a tank and would get us to the Sequoias for a few days of camping amongst the bears.
We had been to the Sequoia National Park a few years prior and knew that we would need to allow ourselves a great deal of time if we were going to hike in straight away. Well, it was not be and we spent the first night in a roadside motel with a surprisingly comfortable bed.
The road leading up to the base of Sawtooth Pass goes on for 25 miles and has 698 turns!!! When we finally arrived, we were shocked to find that the ranger had closed up shop for the season!! I tried not to panic while Andrew used the pay phone to contact the park people for information on bears, weather, etc. It turned out that the park would be closed to the public in a weeks time due to winter and that the bears should be hibernating. Now, if the bears don't even want to be out there, should we? According to Andrew, yes!
The hike in was as steep and beautiful as I remembered but a lot colder. I was grateful that my Dad had thrown a pair of gloves in the truck for me to wear if needed. Funnily enough, he also chucked in a heavy duty maglite, two bottles of sunscreen (spf 50) and two coolers (not practical for hiking up a mountain). He is the best Dad ever!
Half way up the mountain, we passed a couple that we had seen in the carpark. They were heading back due to concerns about the weather. With a look of confusion on my face, I asked the woman what was all over her jacket. It was snow!!! Yep, snow!!!
We made it to Monarch Lake just in time to have a quick snack of salami and put the tent up before dark. While I couldn't feel my hands, I managed to get my boots off and zip myself up in my sleeping bag. Thank God Andrew had spared no expense when he purchased the sleeping bag for me five years earlier. I guess he figured that if there were any chance of my sleeping outside on a regular basis, I would need the best sleeping bag that money could buy.
We ate our dehydrated dinner by the fire of our little gas stove and hoped for good weather the next morning. Throughout the entire night, I wasn't sure that nature had heard our hope as the snow fell with the determination of an early winter! I managed to sleep through most of it while Andrew tossed and turned, moved food from the tent to the bear box some ways away and planned our emergency exit just in case.
What we woke to was a complete surprise!!! While the ground was covered in snow, the lake glistened and the sun rose to provide the faintest bit of warmth if you stood in the right spot. It was absolutely beautiful!
I must admit, however, that I didn't see it straight away because I had to be coaxed out of my sleeping bag and the tent. Andrew had paved the way 10 minutes earlier and swore that the morning light was not to be missed. Begrudgingly, I pulled my gloves and boots on (I still had every bit of clothing on that I had hiked in) and joined him outside. He was right, it was absolutely breathtaking!!!
There are moments in life where one feels lucky to be a part of something special and this moment was definitely one of them in my book. There I stood with Andrew's arms around me, mostly because I was shivering, and the morning sun on my face. Just when I thought that it couldn't get any better, Andrew kneeled down on one knee and asked, "I would like to know if you would marry me?" The second I realized what was happening (it did take me a moment), I teared up and replied through gloved hands cupping my mouth - "ok."
I must admit, however, that I was a little disappointed with my response and made Andrew ask me a couple more times that day just so I could respond with an emphatic "Yes!" He dutifully obliged when I explained that he was never going to ask me again and I wanted to get the response just right!
So, there you have it, we are getting married!!! What an extraordinary highlight of my big adventure!!! I couldn't be happier!!!
Note: There is quite a funny story that goes along with Andrew having asked my father for permission. You will have to wait, however, to hear that one at the wedding
Love love Love, A xxo