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My boyfriend Michael suggested a bike ride in the Santa Barbara area, a fun weekend trip we had done before. I thought we were going to stay at an inexpensive hotel like a Holiday Inn or something similar, so I packed my own shampoo, conditioner and even bath towels so I wouldn't have to use the small ones from the hotel. I also packed backgammon and a deck of cards because I thought we were going away for a casual two days. We loaded up the bikes and our gear, and off we went on an overcast day. We were dressed in our biking clothes: long sleeve shirts, tight pants, biking gloves, helmets and camelback backpacks. Michael chose our bike path, a ride along State Street past the Santa Barbara mission up into the hills overlooking Santa Barbara and Montecito.
There was a long climb that winded up into the hills, and I more than once told Michael that I wasn't sure if I was going to make it! After I finally crawled up the long, windy hill into the mountains, we took a break. Though I didn't learn this until after our trip, Michael had originally intended to propose early into our bike ride, but his plans were foiled. We locked our bikes to a tree and hiked into the canyon, where there were waterfalls, streams and natural swimming pools. It was gorgeous. About 100 yards ahead of us on the trail, there was a group of teenagers who were calling out to each other in baboon noises, which forced Michael to put his proposal on hold. The bike trail ended along the beach, just south of the Santa Barbara pier, so Michael knew he was running out of time. Even though it started to drizzle, we stopped to see the beautiful view and have a snack. We sat on a rocky ledge overlooking the beach and the ocean.
While I was preoccupied eating my granola bar and babbling, Michael was conspicuously timing his proposal for when there would be no one in front of us. I didn't even notice that he wasn't listening to me. Michael interrupted me to tell me that he thought he had cut the back of his leg on the rocky ledge we were sitting on and asked me to fetch a Band-Aid from the first-aid kit in his camelback. I took out the box of Band-Aids but when I looked inside, there were no Band-Aids, just a small black velvet box resting at the bottom. Michael knelt down on one knee, as tears streamed down my face. Wiping my face on Michael's cycling shirt, I said yes over and over again, perhaps before Michael even had a chance to finish asking the question.
After we composed ourselves, we biked back to the car. Michael had put the directions to our hotel on his IPhone, so I navigated. But, as I read out the last turn, we headed up an oversized, tree-lined driveway. I told Michael I didn't think a Holiday Inn would have such a nice driveway. He just laughed as we pulled up to the valet of the Bacara, a stunning 5-star resort that Oprah had raved about. Michael was amused that I thought he would take me to a cheap hotel on our engagement weekend, but I was in too much shock to be thinking logically. Michael was even more amused when the bellman unloaded our bags into our gorgeous ocean-view suite and my own shampoo, conditioner and bath towel toppled out. I guess I had over-packed. We spent two luxurious days at the Bacara, reveling in the moment.