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Getting Engaged

This weekend my boyfriend of almost four years blew me away with the perfect surprise proposal. Ryan (my boyfriend), Abby (my best friend), Austin (her boyfriend), and I took a weekend trip to our favorite place; Frisco Woods Campground at the Outer Banks.

It all started a week prior when Ryan hydro-locked his engine driving through a puddle. After a motor swap his truck was supposed to be ready just in time for him to arrive late Friday night at the campground. When the test drive caused his truck to spew coolant everywhere he was forced to borrow the shop’s courtesy car to make the trip. Instead of arriving with all his clothes, fishing and camping gear, fire pit, and giant cooler, he came with the bare necessities. Friday night Abby, Austin, and I set up camp and had a late takeout out dinner from the closest restaurant before Ryan arrived. With no fire to hang out around, we walked to the sound to try and catch pin fish with our hands, and then went to bed soon after.

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and seized the opportunity to get breakfast at the local Orange Blossom Cafe to score some famous apple uglies. If you ever go to the Outer Banks make sure you wake up early enough at least one morning to treat yourself to the balls of fried dough, sugar, and baked apples that Orange Blossom is known for. With our bellies full we lounged around the campsite until we worked up enough energy to head to the beach.

It was a little cooler than we expected, and much windier, so we bundled up and drove out to The Point. Only accessible by off-road vehicle at low tide, The Point might be my favorite place at the Outer Banks. It is a strip of beach that ends in a peninsula where the opposing currents cause the waves to crash directly into each other. It is a breath taking spot, and with the added wind to churn up the tide even more, it was stunning that day. Before we parked and got out to begin exploring I mentioned to Ryan that we didn’t have any good pictures of us together recently, so he obliged to take some with me.

After a quick pitstop to watch Austin help someone bring in a shark they caught, we made our way to the tip of The Point where the sea is at its fiercest. Abby had snapped a few pictures of us smiling when Ryan turned to me and said “Guess what?”.

For a bit of backstory; not even a week prior to this trip I had gotten on Ryan’s case about not proposing to me yet. At the time I felt like my perspective and frustration was valid, but boy did I feel like a buffoon when he dropped on one knee right there in surf. All to say – I was entirely caught off guard, just as Ryan wanted.

All in one motion Ryan went down on one knee, procured the ring from his sweatshirt pocket, and said “Will you marry me?”. I was stunned, shocked, frozen in place. My jaw hit the sand. Here it was, the moment I had been waiting for. There was the love of my life, on one knee in the waves, with the ring I had custom made right there in his fingers. “Are you serious? Right now? Are you kidding me? Yes!” I said. In my disbelief I had completely forgotten I had to answer the question he posed before he would get up and fit that beautiful ring on my finger where it belonged. I wish I could place this moment in a bottle and save it forever to visit when I wanted to. Luckily Abby was on standby and captured the whole moment on video. She proceeded to capture half a dozen more perfect shots of our embrace and the joy on my face.

And thus begun the rounds of me calling my parents, my friends, and other family members, some who were in on the surprise and some who were almost as shocked as I was.

It was unreal. For days I could not stop staring at the rock on my finger. I still can’t. I told Abby later “I honestly can’t believe he even likes me like that”. No amount of planning and talking about it and readying yourself prepares you for the moment it becomes real. I have loved Ryan for a long time and have known I wanted to marry him for awhile, but for it to finally be really happening is indescribable. To hear him say “My girlfrie-I mean my fiancé” almost made me explode.

But the weekends surprises didn’t end there.

The following day was supposed to be our last on the islands, but mother nature had other plans. A tropical storm in addition to high winds and tide flooded several parts of the Outer Banks. We had no idea how bad it was until a trip to grab breakfast landed us in foot deep saltwater for a mile and a half straight. On any other occasion Ryan would have had his truck and it would have been no problem to drive through, but we were in the Ford Fiesta the shop Ryan’s truck was at had loaned him. Once we hit the water there was no turning around so we had no choice but to keep driving and pull over at the next available dry parking lot. The car’s undercarriage popped off and was dragging on the ground and the check engine light came on, but we survived.

While in the parking lot snapping the under carriage back into place a women came up to us and informed us that the Oregon Inlet bridge had flooded so bad that it had been closed down. That was our only way off the island, so we were stuck until it was cleared enough to be opened. We hopped back in our vehicles to head to the breakfast place we had picked out and hatch a game plan. Several bagels and phone calls later Abby had gotten off her shift as an EMT and Ryan had informed all the necessary people in his chain of command he would not be reporting for duty the following day.

At that point we assumed one night would be plenty for NCDOT to clear the road of sand and pump the extra water back where it belonged. Little did we know that eventually six feet of sand would blanket the road and dunes would be ravaged by high tide leaving us stranded for an extra four days.

We ran out of underwear halfway through the trip and had to buy extra jackets and blankets at the local Wings and Dollar General to combat the winds we were not prepared for. Our only source of fire was charcoal in a 12 inch grill which was also our only way to prepare food. We had a cooler big enough for a twelve pack and not much else. We ran out of money not long after we ran out of underwear. For days we lived off of leftover apple uglies and hotdogs roasted on our little grill/fire. We frequented the closest supermarket to restock our supply of chips and non-perishables. But we made the most of it.

Everyday we would wake up and check the NCDOT twitter for any updates on the road opening, each day Abby and Ryan would make more phone calls to let the appropriate people know – yes we were still stuck at the Outer Banks. We ate leftovers and chips before all four of us and the dog would pile into Abby’s Xterra which was also loaded with all our stuff. It was too cold to swim but we made up for it by collecting shells, exploring the dunes, and trying to catch fish and crabs. Each day we thought would be our last hoorah, and each day we were granted an extension. By the end of our trip we were dirty, tired, and grouchy, but grateful to be surrounded by our closest friends at our favorite place.

Finally Thursday morning the tide held out and the road was able to be cleared enough to be reopened. Honestly I’m not sure any of really believed we would get off the island that day, but we packed up and headed out and sure enough were able to get the the bridge no worse for wear.

I am thankful for Ryan, for being my greatest adventure partner. I am thankful for Abby for being my best friend no matter what. I am thankful for Austin for taking care of Abby, being a friend to my fiancé, and making us all laugh. I am thankful for the Outer Banks, and all the people who live there. I am thankful for a three day weekend turned week long survival extravaganza.

I am thankful to be home again with my sweet cat curled on my lap. But most of all I am thankful for mother nature providing the perfect conditions for an extended vacation at Frisco Woods Campground.

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