Lauran and I met on a school bus. She was wearing a propeller hat and fake glasses with tape on the bridge and bright suspenders to hold the outfit together. It was love at first sight. Ok, not really, but we did meet on the school bus during the Backroads California Staff Ride in 2010 and the theme was "Back to School." Although we spent only a short time together, we became fast friends, as you do at Backroads. The next summer we found ourselves working in Glacier National Park together. We both took on new roles that kept us in in the park all season, working closely with one another to run the region's trips. We ended up spending the entire time together, leading trips and playing in the mountains of Glacier during our off-time.
We spent four years working and adventuring side by side, and Glacier became our favorite place in the world. We were still "just friends" as we supported each other with tips and advice on how to succeed in the long distance relationships we were in with our non-Backroads partners (it's never easy with the Backroads lifestyle!). Then, about two years ago, we both found ourselves single and spending nearly all of our time together again. I started noticing more intently all the incredible things about her: her extraordinary compassion for others; her ability to make me (and everyone she meets) smile in any situation; and the way she somehow struck a delicate balance of being cute, goofy and fun while still being tough. I knew there was no one else for me.
Our relationship became more than just a series of bike rides, hikes and travel adventures. Our memories and experiences would go on to build a strong, loving and amazing relationship. Each hike, ride, road trip and mishap was a way to grow as a couple.
This past summer, we found ourselves back in Glacier National Park for a surprise vacation I planned for Lauran's birthday. I'd been hiding the ring for months. We set out on a 14-mile hike in the Two Medicine area and I was trying to keep some distance as I was rehearsing what I would say when I popped the question. We got to the top of Dawson Pass where, amid 50 mph wind gusts and halfway through eating our second breakfast burritos of the day, I got down on one knee and asked her to be my adventure buddy for life. She said yes (phew!) and we celebrated with a warm can (yup, they make those) of Pinot Gris and a half-eaten huckleberry bear claw from a congratulatory passerby on the trail. The next seven miles of the hike flew by as we discussed all the fun we would have on our wedding day and beyond. Lauran and I have both met and dated some incredible people outside of the Backroads community, but there's just something special that happens when two Backroads leaders get together. We're so grateful for Backroads and the experiences it's provided us--especially this one! We're truly excited to host a party next summer for all our friends and family who have helped us grow together on this journey. Oh, and we of course consulted with Backroads' scheduling department to pick our wedding date!