Lauren and Colton

10346388_10202654043133171_2248393472597277003_nHow we met: How did our love story begin?  PED 144: A one credit badminton class during our freshman year of college.  I spotted Colton across the crowd during our second day of class and struck up a conversation.  I played it cool, but he loves to tell people that I came running across the gym to tell him “I KNOW YOU!” (SO untrue)

We had an instant connection and every Monday and Wednesday from 1:00 to 1:50 I enjoyed our time spent together.  Colton made me laugh, had a great smile and could even give me a challenge on the court.  It wasn’t long before we started spending time together outside of class.  Colton was driven, adventurous, thoughtful and funny.  He brought out the best in me and helped me find some of my true passions in life.

It was a chilly night in March when Colton and I went to a local park to watch stars in the bed of his truck.  We stayed warm by holding hands under blankets and talking about things like our favorite candies and movies.  As the night came to a close Colton asked me to be his girlfriend, a moment that changed my life forever.

Through the next 3 years of college we found a love for travel, adventure and companionship.  Our friends referred to us as the “ultimate adventure couple” which we happily lived up to.  Camping trips, kayak excursions, mountain bike-ventures and backpacking through 5 European countries brought us together even more.  We realized that the life we shared together was one we wanted forever.  12

At the time, we went to school in Michigan, where the winters are brutal and the lake-effect winds made me want to crawl in a hole.  I had always known that following graduation I wanted to move down south to North Carolina, where my family lived.  I scored a perfect job a month before graduation: teaching Physical Education at a middle school just outside of Raleigh.

I moved down in June with the confidence that Colton and I were going to make it work.  He had a great job in Grand Rapids and was happy living near his family.  It wasn’t easy, but we got through the months apart knowing that the countdown until the next time became smaller each day.  We met in Ohio, Kentucky and made a few trips to each other’s homes.  We cherished those short weekends together and hoped that we could keep our love strong enough to withstand the 807 miles.  After one year of living apart, Colton moved to North Carolina to be with me.  He kept his job and had the blessing of being able to work from home.  Our love adventure could continue, FINALLY we were back together; what more could I want? 

After five years of dating this amazing man, I wanted him forever, and I made sure he knew it!  

How he asked: It was our first big weekend getaway since Colton had moved down, and it was my last weekend before our school year started.  He was dying to check out Asheville’s mountains for hiking and biking.  I was still on cloud nine because my boyfriend being in the same state was AMAZING!  We hiked on Saturday, Colton biked and we went out to dinner that night in downtown Asheville.

Sunday morning we made our way to Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi.  It was a foggy morning, and the hike was pretty rigorous.  Throughout the hike our labrador puppy, Sailor, was pulling me along, as she always does.  It was slick and there were a ton of rocks, so I got a little frustrated with her.  No one wants to fall down a mountain the day before they start work!  Colton could feel my frustration, so he took over and we hiked along, enjoying the beautiful forest.  The fog and cooler weather made it impossible to see any skyline or neighboring mountains.  After two and a half miles, we decided to turn around and head back.  Colton mentioned a few times that he wanted to take a break, give Sailor some water and take a picture together.  I was on a fast track to get back to the car since we had a four hour drive ahead of us.  We arrived at a clearing and noticed that we were surrounded by clouds.  It was a perfect time for a break, so I took in nature’s beauty while Colton set up the tripod he got me a few weeks earlier.  As I was watching Sailor try to eat anything and everything she could find as we took our break, Colton prepared the camera for a self timer shot.  I positioned myself on top of a rock, nothing behind me but the wispy clouds.  The self timer started and I saw my handsome man reaching into his backpack for something.  As the beeps counted down I took a deep breath in and saw him holding a small box.  “What are you doing?” “What are you doing?” I asked as he walked my way with a boyish smile.  He jumped up onto the rock next to me and before I knew it I was getting engaged.  The moment I anticipated and imagined was finally here!  Colton opened the box and dropped to one knee, unfortunately I don’t remember a word of his speech past “Lauren…”.  I did manage to get out the word “YES!” before hugging and kissing my new fiancee with tears flowing.  There I was on top of a mountain, dirt under my nails, two miles of hiking left to go with a shiny new ring.  He proposed in the clouds and I was on cloud nine.  The first step in our biggest adventure yet.

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