Alison and Mike

How We Met: Mike is in a well-known ska/reggae IMG_6743band called The Debonaires.  Every year, they throw an annual Thanksgiving Eve show at a bar in downtown Riverside.

I was downtown with my brother, Chris, who knew Mike from high school. Mike didn’t know Chris had a little sister, and automatically assumed we were dating (we don’t look much alike). My friend Amanda was also visiting from San Francisco for the holiday.

During the opening band’s set (which Mike is also in), Amanda pointed out the Bradley Cooper lookalike playing guitar. I (having had more than a few drinks at this point) immediately bolted outside once the set was done.

Mike was outside with some friends and I interrupted the conversation to introduce myself. I mentioned that I was “Chris’s sister” (a line that never fails to result in immediate friendship). Needless to say, Mike was happily surprised to discover that I was not in fact my brother’s girlfriend. He then asked if I wanted a drink, to which I eagerly said yes and headed straight for the bar.

The Debonaires were up next and Mike had to get on stage, so he put a friend in charge of getting the drinks. She mentioned to me that I was “Mike’s type.”  After the set, Mike found me and we talked for the rest of the night.

Eventually it was 2am and we were getting kicked out, so Mike got my number and took off in the band van. I was smitten and spent the rest of the night telling everyone how in love I was. We went on our first date 6 days later.

How He Asked: By now, we basically had our wedding planned. We had talked about it in detail and had even gone ring shopping.Valentine’s weekend was a 4 day holiday weekend, so we immediately planned a trip to San Diego. Having bought a midcentury modern house last year, this style of architecture has become a hobby. So, we started the weekend with our own little driving tour of midcentury modern homes in San Diego.

After driving around and seeing some houses, Mike mentioned there was one more he wanted to go to which was on the beach. There was a south entrance (which Mike meant to go to) and a north entrance by the Salk Institute. It was a beautiful day, but there was a sudden wall of fog pouring over us. Mike had his camera and tripod, and magically recovered his water bottle (which he claimed he had forgotten earlier).

IMG_6771We started walking and asked a passing woman if there was beach access ahead. She said yes, but failed to mention that the beach access involves a hefty hike down a flight of stairs on the side of a cliff. We couldn’t even see the beach below because of the fog!

We started our descent. We finally reached Black’s Beach below (yes, the nude beach). After a few minutes of walking and discussing our mild concern about the dense fog, I suggested we drop a pin on the iPhone map so we could find our way back. It was sunset time, but there wasn’t going to be a sunset in this fog, and it would be dark soon!

Next came the risk of high tide, which was quickly averted by a Google search. Mike kept telling me that if I felt uncomfortable about the fog, we could turn back. At this point, I was in it for the long haul, especially since there was a steep flight of stairs to climb on the way back (may as well get to the destination!)

We kept walking, and walking, still unable to see the ocean a mere 20 feet away from us. We passed a surfer who said he does surf in this fog but he’s never seen it “this bad.” Next, we passed a naked couple lounging on the beach. No biggie. Next, was a group of hippies enjoying the sand and their drum circle. There were actually a lot of people out on the beach, walking dogs, hanging out, etc. despite the fog. That made us feel more at ease.

After about a 30 minute walk and jokes about “the fog people,”IMG_6776 we reached the house. We didn’t see it at first (because of the fog), but there it was perched high above the beach and rocks. The scene looked like another planet. We were in awe.

We immediately began taking pictures and exploring the rocks and tidepools. Mike suddenly pulled out some plastic Starbucks cups and revealed that his “forgotten” water bottle was actually full of wine! He also revealed his relief that I hadn’t asked for a sip of water after that long hike down to the beach. We enjoyed the wine and then Mike suggested we explore the tidepools more.

I was walking around looking for sea creatures, when suddenly Mike yelled, “WHAT (the f) IS THIS!?” I ran over, expecting an octopus or something, and Mike was holding a ring! He asked me to marry him and I said YES! We hugged, we kissed, we drank more wine and celebrated! Neither of us are big Valentine’s people, so Mike had purposely planned the engagement for this day because I would be least expecting it!

We decided to get a move on since it would be dark soon and the fog was eerie enough. Both of us really had to pee, so we stopped in a little inlet in the cliff to do so. A jogger appeared, and we were all very surprised by each others’ presence. We all carried on, and Mike and I kept watching that moving dot to find the staircase back to the car. We passed the hippie drum circle who was now enjoying a bonfire. The largest hippie was enjoying the bonfire completely naked. That makes 3 naked people. As mentioned earlier, this was Black’s Beach, the largestnude beach in the country (unbeknownst to us)! It wasn’t until later that this discovery was made…. and turns out we were about the only people in the world who didn’t know the history of Black’s Beach.

Engagment Sunset

Eventually the GPS dots aligned and we started our ascent back up the staircase and to the car. As we came out of the fog, there was a beautiful sunset over the dense fog cloud. We stopped to take some more pictures and to call important people and let them know the great engagement news!