How We Met
Blake and I had first officially met “in person” in Fall of 2013 at the University of Oshkosh Pub Crawl. I say “in person,” because he would comment on my Instagram photos here and there, and I would do the same thinking nothing of it other than he was just some kid that went to the high school in the town next to mine. We knew “of” each other, but never really took the time to reach out other than the occasional Instagram comments here and there (typical millennial style). Anyways, back to Oshkosh Pub Crawl. Neither of us attended that University but had mutual friends who did. After a day of extracurricular activities that involved drinking a ton of Busch Light and Jell-O Shots, our large group of friends ending up going to the well-known bar, Kelly’s, in Oshkosh. Side Note: Wisconsin Pub Crawls tend to start at the wee hours of the morning and can typically last 12+ hours if you do it right. Some of the guys started playing darts, and Blake needed a partner. Are you ready for the moment I fell for Blake? Here it is: He asked me to be his darts partner. I know, I know, it sounds almost comical, but honestly, that was when I knew I needed to get to know this guy to be more than just “that guy who was my darts partner in Oshkosh.” Maybe it was his smile, or blueish/greenish eyes, or being exhausted from a full day’s worth of activities, but whatever it was, I am forever grateful for the game of darts.
how they asked
My younger brother and his longtime girlfriend had recently moved out West to Colorado in February of this year. Near the end of June, I decided it was time to book a flight to Colorado to visit Jay and Victoria over Labor Day weekend. After a few hours of persuading Blake to say “yes,” we booked our 4-day mini-vacation to the small mining town of Fairplay, Colorado. Fast forward to Sunday, September 3. Jay and Blake had wanted to go fly fishing, and I wanted to hike. Why not pick the best of both worlds, and hike up the mountains and down the other side to get to a river where you can fly fish? So that’s what we did. Blake packed a backpack with 4 water bottles and a few beers. I had made sandwiches for everyone. Jay grabbed his Nikon camera (I had asked Jay to bring his camera along, so we could get nice pictures of all of us). The Jeep was loaded up with the fishing equipment, and we were off. It was about a 40-minute drive to our destination. After about 45 minutes of hiking, we spotted an opening with a beautiful view overlooking the town and the river thousands of feet below. We took some pictures, had our sandwiches and some water, then started to hike some more. What started as a cool morning, turned out to be a hot humid day. We finally started to reach the decline of the mountain, and the sound of the flowing river was like music to our ears.
The boys suited up in their waders and headed up the river to fish. After more than three hours later with no sign from the boys, a very irritated Victoria and I decided to pack up the empty water bottles we had drank, and all of our belongings and head up the river to find them. After finally finding them, we told them it was time to go because 1) we didn’t have any food or water left, 2) it was getting late, 3) they had been gone for three hours and we still had a 2 or more hour hike back up the mountain. They responded with “Wow! Three hours? It felt like 20 minutes. Oh, and we caught some fish, so we have to start a fire to cook them.”
Fast forward to hiking back up the mountain. Dehydrated, exhausted, and aching, we all mustered up whatever patience we had to reach the Jeep. The sun was going down, and our mouths were so dry that our lips were sticking to our teeth and our throats could barely get out what we needed to say. At one point, Blake asks, “Erica, don’t you want to take any more pictures?” I mumbled out “sure,” thinking how gross and uncomfortable we will look in these pictures after hiking 5 miles uphill. We got to a narrow (as in 2.5ft wide) pathway where one side was straight down the mountain, and the other side was straight up, when Blake said, “This looks like a good spot! Let’s take a picture here!” In my head, I’m thinking, “A good spot? Is he trying to kill me?” He told Jay to go stand further back to take the picture. Because the path was so narrow, Blake had to stand behind me. He wrapped his arms around me, which was when I could tell he was shaking.
“He is probably shaking because he is dehydrated,” was what crossed my mind. Jay took a picture. I was awkwardly standing there so another picture could be taken when a huge grin appeared on Jay’s face as he pointed my way to turn around. I turned around slowly thinking, “Oh god, there’s a bear or something behind us, and this is how I’m going to die” only to be so surprised (and relieved) to find Blake down on one knee with the biggest smile on his face.
If you asked me what happened after that, I couldn’t tell you, because my mind went blank from shock and excitement. If you ask Blake what happened, he would say, “She said ‘yeah.'” I swear I was more excited than that lousy answer I gave. If I could go back to that moment, I would say, 1) “Under one condition. You continue to make sure not a day goes by without making me laugh, and 2) “YES!!!”
And so our story continues on to the next chapter of our lives…