Houston and Harley's Surprise Mountain-Top Marriage Proposal

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How We Met: We met through our mutual friend Hayden at his birthday party. I saw Harley immediately and made my way over to her. Shortly into our first conversation, I thought to myself, “this is one amazing girl – beautiful, talented, smart, funny.” I gave it everything to impress her. Months later, I would discover she didn’t remember me at all. So much for first impressions.

Our next meeting was at Crescent Bar in Central Washington. I had my favorite “Got Milk” hat on and, when Harley stole it from me for some photo ops, I knew my 5th grade flirting style was working. Finally, in September of 2011, I had Harley over to my house in Snohomish where we innertubed, swam, and enjoyed a delicious birthday dinner for Harley’s friend Amber. I was smitten and I thought that my flirtatious jokes and one-liners were working. Harley just thought I interrupted a lot.

The following week, Harley, Hayden, and I (the 3-H club) took an adventurous hike to the top of Lake Serene. Four miles up through some tough terrain brought us to the beautiful lake where we enjoyed dinner, swimming, and a gorgeous sunset. As we were enjoying the setting sun, we realized we didn’t bring flashlights. Or water. We are better prepared for hikes together now.

This four mile stretch descending in the dark solidified my affection for Harley. She was fearless, good-humored, and so dang cute stumbling in the dark down the treacherous path. It was also the perfect opportunity for some “let-me-take-your-hand-and-help-you-down-the-dark-trail” moments.

A few hikes later, I got the opportunity to take Harley to dinner at some not-so-great new-agey Mexican restaurant called El Camino in Fremont. Apparently, I talked about myself the whole time (in a fumbly, endearing, I-really-want-to-impress-you kind of way, I’m sure). Afterwards, we headed to Gasworks Park where we sat on Kite Hill and talked for hours. It was here we discovered how much we truly had in common: a history in student leadership, a passion for music, a dorky affection for Future Problem Solving in elementary school, a love of family, a desire for adventure and travel, a hope to do great things in the world. So many times throughout this conversation, I had perfect openings for the first kiss. I chickened out each time because I thought for sure this girl was way too cool and incredible for me.

Finally, as we were walking to the car, Harley asked me what I was thinking about. I told her, “I am thinking about kissing you.” Harley lovingly offered, “then why don’t you?”

So I did. For some reason, I was teetering on a cement ledge and was losing my balance backwards. This caused an awkward bending at the waist while I tried to maintain my center of gravity. Just as our lips met, someone in the car behind us turned on their engine and “I’m On A Boat” by the Lonely Island came blaring on their speakers. It couldn’t have been more romantic. We have been inseparable ever since.

How He Asked: Mid March of 2013, Houston (my now husband) told me that a local school was interested in interviewing us for a video they were working on called “Loving from the Mountaintop.” They wanted to film the video sometime in April and they needed to know if we were willing and available to go on a hike with them to conduct the interview at the top of Rattlesnake Ridge. Since Houston and I both love hiking (and this hike in particular) and since doing something like this for students was pretty normal in our life (Houston is a leadership trainer and keynote speaker) I immediately agreed and picked one of the three days we were given to “choose from.”

A few weeks later, around the beginning of April, I “surprised” Houston by helping to sneakily fly his mom into town! We spent the next few days hanging out and enjoying family time while prepping for our big interview! When they day finally arrived, April 13th, 2013, we woke up early and put on all of our hiking gear (fanny pack included) and headed out toward the base of the mountain. The first thing we notice is that is is FREEZING outside and raining. And while I do love hiking, I HATE being cold, so I started to try and talk my way out of doing the hike that day. I asked multiple times to reschedule the interview to a sunny day, but Houston was frustratingly persistent that today was the day it had to be done. So begrudgingly, we parked our car and started off on the hike.

At the base of the mountain, the interviewers (who were friends of ours from an organization called Change My School) asked a few questions about what it means to Love from the Mountaintop. Again, Houston talks about LOVE all the time in schools, so the questions weren’t cause for any suspicion. After we answered, we began our trek up the mountain. It was a rainy and cold 2 miles up, but we chatted and laughed and by the time we were nearing the top, I had completely forgotten that it was bad weather. Right before we reached the ridge, the camera crew hooked us up on microphones so that way we could immediately start our interview when we reached the ridge.

As we approached the clearing, I noticed a bloody woman standing in the woods walking towards us…then a few more bloody people started making their way towards us, coming out one by one from the woods. Houston yelled over to the woman asking if she was okay as I stood there in complete confusion as to what was going on. Then I started to recognize a few of the “zombies” as people I knew. Suddenly, a group of my very best friends ran out of the woods and tackled me into a hug. It was in that moment that I knew something magical was about to happen. As the “zombies” drug Houston away, someone handed me a nerf gun and told me to start shooting. I honestly don’t even remember if I held it the right way, I was so overwhelmed with happiness and emotion. Houston and I have always talked about saving the world (and we love the Walking Dead), so things were starting to click. My best friends helped me walk up the rest of the way to the clearing and that is where I saw my family and Houston’s parents and a few more of our friends waiting, including our friend Brandon who was playing “Paradise” by Coldplay on his acoustic guitar.

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There must have been at least 20 people standing up in the snow waiting for us to arrive….

When I finally reached the peak, Houston pulled out a poem that he had written for me and it was full of sweetness, inside jokes, Game of Thrones references (our cat’s name is Khaleesi), and “undying” promises.

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At the end of the poem, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Through the tears and the snot and the sweat and the snow, I said YES! and Houston put a ring on it…I think.

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I honestly couldn’t feel my hands. We hugged everyone at the top and quickly started making our way back down the mountain to get out of the cold and wintery weather. It was on the hike down that all of the clues started to come together (including the fact that my soon to be mother-in-law double head-faked me – I thought I was surprising Houston with his mom, when in reality it was Houston’s idea all along for her to come out).

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But the surprises weren’t over!

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Planted about every quarter of a mile down the mountain were more family members and friends waiting with flowers and hugs!

It was a dream come true to have everyone I loved there for one of the biggest moments of my life!

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By the time we finally made it to the bottom, there was a tunnel of over 30 of my favorite people singing “All You Need is Love,” led by my friend Bree. We hugged and cried and laughed and popped champagne and celebrated the most magical day of all time.

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Photos by Mike Monaghan // Video by Alex Miller