Giles and I had plans to visit Hocking Hills State Park, (Giles’s favorite place in Ohio), earlier this fall but it didn’t come to fruition until October 30th. The forecast was anticipated to be a bit rainy so we prepared accordingly and went on our way.
2.5 hours of driving later, we arrived at the park and it was busy! Lots of families and dogs looking to explore the easier trails. Apparently Old Man’s Cave is an extremely popular attraction in the park but there are many attractions. We ended up hiking a circuitous route from the Visitor’s Center to Ash Cave to the A Frame Bridge Over George to Cedar Falls to the Lower Falls to Old Man’s Cave to the Devil’s Bathtub finally arriving at the Upper Falls. All in all, about a 9-mile adventure.
Giles had been to Hocking Hills a couple of times previously so there was little novelty EXCEPT the plethora of fantastic mushrooms growing in the wet environment. He stopped frequently those first hours to take photos or otherwise admire these fungi.
Giles and I have gone on a handful of outdoor adventures/hikes previously. On a couple of those trips, Giles would pick up a cool-looking rock and hand it to me. Naturally, I kept it as a memento and have started a small rock collection as a sentimental hobby. Giles is not one for sentimentality so his minor annoyance about the existence of such a collection is an added bonus 🙂 So far, no cool rocks had been found.
Beautiful Autumn Hike
While there were some stairs and steep parts, the trail was easy to traverse. The park was in full autumn-mode, with lower temperatures, brisk winds, and changing leaves. Thankfully, we were able to get on a path that was significantly less crowded, and the two of us were often the only ones in the immediate vicinity. We had a grand time admiring nature’s beauty and exploring fun areas.
Admittedly, Giles and I had a wedding date prior to becoming officially engaged. We’ve been talking about getting married since August and had gone ring shopping in early September. Giles wanted to get a sense of my preferences then surprise me with an engagement ring with accompanying wedding band. This past week, we learned that while the wedding band was ready, the engagement ring would take until December to complete (Giles referred to it as a “franken-ring” since he combined a couple of elements from multiple rings). Both of us didn’t want to wait that long so I said that I wouldn’t mind if he proposed with the wedding band.
Truthfully, I had hoped that Giles would propose during this trip as I want those closest to me to know that I have found the best man for me, that he makes me deliriously happy, and that I am so excited for a future with him. But, I mentally prepared myself in case that didn’t happen.
So, after hours of walking around and discovering cool mushrooms, large rocks, and pretty waterfalls, I had forgotten about the potential proposal. We walked by another waterfall, this being the 4th or 5th one. It was the kind of waterfall that came from a protruding rock ledge and the trail was directly underneath said ledge. We had a 360 degree view of the waterfall and stopped to admire it.
As if he practiced a million times, Giles removed his small backpack while saying, “I have another rock for you as a memento of this trip”, pulled out a jewelry box. He got down on one knee, opened the box and asked, “will you marry me?”. Despite having a reeling moment of shock, I quickly recovered, said “yes!”, kissed him, and accepted the ring.
Immediately following, Giles looked at the tree closest to us, noticed some mushrooms and exuberantly exclaimed, “look at those!”.
It was truly the most perfect proposal for us. I got my “rock” and he discovered more fungi.
So When’s the Wedding?
Coming up with a wedding date was a bit tricky. He and I are both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In our faith community, we have temples where sacred promises are made between us and God in special ceremonies, and marriage is one of them. We believe that marriages can last past death, even forever, but only if that marriage is performed in one of these temples. Our ultimate desire is to be married for time and eternity within one of these temples.
However, I have a family member who is currently experiencing a challenging pregnancy and unable to travel to attend this special ceremony. It will be several months before she (and baby) will be able to travel safely. Considering I am the last of my nuclear family to be married, it is extremely important to me that all of them are there.
It doesn’t feel right to postpone getting married though, as we met virtually in December of 2020, survived 7.5 months of long-distance dating during a pandemic, and have been living in the same city since July 2021. We are ready to start our lives together.
Interruption: Dating Photos
So we decided to have a legal marriage ceremony first in January, with the spiritual ceremony in a temple to follow sometime in summer. The legal ceremony is going to be limited to parents but with an option for dear friends and loved ones to watch from afar via Zoom. We want the greater emphasis to be on temple marriage, as that is truly what we desire the most. This is the event in which we will have the reception/party and provide an in-person option for celebrating with us. Plus, summer might be an easier time to travel, and perhaps the limitations around being in a pandemic will lessen.
I had been preparing my immediate family for a potential elopement for years. This feels like a good compromise. The small, intimate legal ceremony feels as close to an elopement without actually eloping and gives opportunities for those who would want to show support (by watching virtually). And of course, we will have the in-person celebration later in summer.
Giles and I are the type of couple to focus more on the marriage and life we will have together, as opposed to planning an elaborate wedding. We desire a simple life, one full of happiness, and this is a great start.
With all that said, we’re engaged!!!! ❤️
Feb 15th Update
We are happily married. And here is the engagement ring I got for Christmas (I was wearing my wedding band initially).