I'll just start with the picture above...
On Saturday morning, Andrea and I woke up while it was still dark out and headed over to the "point" section of Dead Horse Point State Park. We planned to snap some sunrise photos and maybe grab a good shot of the two of us. I also had a ring in my pocket, a fact that I kept to myself.
Exactly six years before (+1 day, so not exactly, but close enough) we decided to officially start "dating" while on a trip to the Grand Canyon with my family, celebrating my sister's birthday. That was the first of many adventures in the desert. We love the mountains, forests, snow, and skiing, but the red rocks of the Southwestern USA have also been the source of countless memories. Quick access to this region is a major reason that we love living in Utah.
As the sun started to creep over the La Sal Mountains and lit up the cliffs above the Colorado River, everything felt right. The symbolism of being in canyon country on the same weekend I described above and knowing the water in that river below us came from the mountains of Central Colorado (where we met) was not lost on me. We were in the midst of some self-timer photos, and I asked Andrea to go hit the button for "one more shot." While she was looking away I fumbled to get the ring out of my pocket (and fortunately didn't drop it off a 2000' cliff). I started the countdown in my head as Andrea hustled back, unaware of what was about to happen. The timing was impeccable, as the camera perfectly caught the moment when I asked Andrea to marry me. It looks staged, but I assure you the image is 100% genuine and real. Even though she knew it was coming at some point, I caught her completely off-guard in the moment. I won't forget the look on her face.
That photo was six years in the making. We waited a long time... I could have told you in September 2009 (heck, August 2009!) that I was going to marry Andrea... but I believe we did this the right way, for us. In six years we've had our shares of ups and downs (more ups than downs), and built the foundation for everything that is to come. We've already had a lifetime of memories and we're only getting started. We are both at great places in our lives... happy, excited, full of optimism.
We spent the entire weekend in classic "Andrea and Jake" fashion. Running + [insert other activity here: skiing, mountain biking, hiking] + watching sunrise / sunset + relaxing outdoors + admiring the scenery and landscapes. Doing all the things we love, together, because doing them together is what gives them meaning in the first place. We are lucky that we get to spend so much of our lives in this way. Weekends like this are the rule, not the exception. We have constant opportunities to enjoy and take advantage of what the world has to offer. After six years, we fully recognize how lucky we are to have stumbled into each other's lives. Our "normal" is actually extraordinary.
Dead Horse Point State Park exceeded our expectations. We go down to the Moab area all the time, but somehow we had never been to this park before. We stayed in the new luxurious yurts which have plenty of space, comfortable beds, wrap-around decks, propane grills, and AC/heat. They are also conveniently located at the junction of two trails within the Intrepid system. You can do a number of 3-14+ mile routes on flowy, fun singletrack right from the yurts. The Intrepid system is primarily billed as biking trails, but we quickly realized they were along the best running trails that we've covered in the Moab area. Dead Horse Park also has a small concession stand outside the visitor's center that serves soft serve ice cream. If that wasn't destiny, I don't know what is.
There are tons of great trails along Highway 313 (on the way to Dead Horse) as well. We rode our mountain bikes there (intermediate slickrock!) for a couple hours on Sunday afternoon before driving home.
We will definitely be making annual trips to Dead Horse Point. Like most of the places we travel to, we find out on the first visit that we are only scratching the surface. The "to-do" list gets five new items for every one that is checked off. Fortunately we have the rest of our lives together to keep working on it.