The drive took us winding through the old logging town of Horseshoe Bend, where the only elementary and high school stand within feet of each other. My favorite house on the main road displays an array of junk three feet deep on the front porch, but unusually, a man on horseback stood in the dirt drive looking friendly enough. ("Only in Idaho, I thought.")
Soon we found the road winding us higher into the Boise National Forest. The sky was laden with heavy morning clouds that promised to lift in the afternoon. The grey morning light and the snow of January was so quiet as I watched the mountains role by. On my right flowed the Payette River, deep green and royal blue in the cold. Where the snow met the water, it gleamed turquoise in the morning light.
We parked on the unmarked shoulder of the road. Matt and I had only been here once before almost a year earlier. I still don't know how he knows where to stop the car, but I was glad I wore hiking boots because the trail gains about 2000 ft in elevation in a ten minute climb. (I should've eaten breakfast.) You know you're getting close to the hot spring when you start seeing signs that say things like, "pack it in, pack it out, your mother doesn't live here," and "beware of the BARE (not 'bear')," and other reminders laminated and stapled to stumps along the trail.
The trail was icy from yesterday's warm skinny dippers dripping their way back down in the snow which refreezes into ice. But Matt's hand was steady and all I carried was my Minolta film camera. As we reached the crest of the mountain that takes you down into the ravine that houses the hot spring, I felt closer to my world and thankful to share these moments with Matt.
The hot spring is completely maintained by volunteers. From it's source (which is HOT HOT), the water is piped through big PVC pipes which can be controlled with spigots. Thankfully there is a hot and cold option, as no body could stand water straight from the source. Matt and I chose our favorite pool, nestled up high above the others and with a great view of the mountains opposite us. The pines were pale blue from a snow dusting. Here we turned on the water, situated some sand bags, and filled the huge pool with steaming mineral water from the mountain!
The downhill trek to the car was wobbly, as our legs were not only relaxed from the spring but also still rubbery from the climb up. We took our time and managed to stay on the trail. The drive home was serene.
Once back at the house we showered away the mineral smell of the mountains and put on city clothes. I wore my favorite brown leather fitted jacket and black boots with jeans. Matt looked handsome in a black button up shirt I picked out for him. We headed for the airport where I was given a private tour of the control tower, not unlike the one Matt will be working out of in a few short months.
I was sure we weren't going to finish our tour before the 3:15 bell when the kids were let out of school, so I called my Dad to pick them up. He seemed a bit overly eager to take that on, but I thought nothing of it at the time.
At the tower, we were ID-ed in the lobby and given passes and were then led up a narrow flight of stairs. We ascended into a round room, windows on all sides, and the city sprawled out around us. It felt like we were the rulers of the world, sky Queen and King. Looking at all of the scopes and blips on the radar, I realized quickly just how serious being an Air Traffic Controller is. There is no room for error, everyone has his position in an important chain of command that keeps planes in the sky and passengers safe. Everyone in the tower was alert, attentive to the series of green numbers and letters that blipped around the scope screens, air traffic waiting for direction from the tower. As we left, I felt impressed with Matt's resolve to call such an intense responsibility his career.
Now it was definitely way past lunch time. It's funny how you can live in a town for years and only discover the best restaurants just days before your departure. We stumbled upon an Italian gem called Cocina di Paolo (http://www.cucinadipaolo.com/. The older couple that ran the place were completely adorable, working their patrons like butter. We not only ordered lunch but just had to take home a homemade pan of lasagna ready for the oven. It was hard to pass on desert. Paul and Mary Jean were quite a pair, the husband made all of the Italian dishes while the wife made the delectables. The two could have easily starred in their own romance movie, as inseparable as they seemed. Sitting in their little Italian restaurant was quite a treat!
I assumed we were headed home to collect the kids but Matt headed back to the airport. He told me he still needed to say goodbye to a friend that owns his own flight company. (This is the only time I can forgive a lie, when it's an innocent lie to cover up an imminent surprise!!) Our entrance into the hanger was met with a pilot who led us out to where a plane awaited us!
The plane was so tiny, I don't know how we all fit inside. The cockpit was just windshield allowing for amazing views of the valley. I sat in the co-pilot seat and even got to fly! I kept looking back at Matt. He was calm, just watching my excitement, happy to share his love of aviation with me. I can't wait till he is piloting the plane.
Flying in that little plane made me overcome a major fear of flying. I was so sure that being in a plane that small would feel dangerous, risky, almost ludicrous. To my surprise, I felt only blissful calm. I didn't think the day could get any better...but still hadn't realized that things were way out of my control. Matt was flying this plane after all.
We headed back into town and Matt suggested dinner. Of course I wanted to bring the kids with us but Matt convinced me to check in on them. To my surprise, my Dad told me pizza had already been delivered per Matt's arrangements (along with candy and movies) and everything was taken care of for me to enjoy a late dinner. It's easier to allow yourself to be spoiled when your kids are being spoiled as well.
Once again, Matt tried to trick me by saying he felt like sushi for dinner, but it wasn't long before he pulled me inside the Melting Pot for fondue (one of our favorite foods to make at home, and also the restaurant Matt took me to on my birthday two years before). We ordered traditional swiss fondue, my favorite!
We've been talking about getting married for a while now, in fact I was wearing a sample ring in sterling silver from the artist, Lilly Barrack (http://lillybarrack.com/ out of New Mexico, who was designing my ring. As usual, talk turned to the ring size, etc and Matt asked to have a look. Unsuspectingly I handed it over, still overwhelmed by the day's magnificent happenings. Matt took my hand and something that felt quite different was placed where the other ring had been.
"Will you marry me," he asked?
What I was supposed to do was answer the question, but I was so overcome with emotion, and the ring was so beautiful (white gold and raw diamonds), that I didn't know what to do! I tried not to cry. I tried not to giggle. I tried to keep from blushing. The waitress came and I shooed her away, not able to think about ordering, or food, or anything at all!
After quite some time, between kisses, and tears, and smiles, I realized that I hadn't answered Matt's question...
"YES," I said!
Matt is my perfect man, not too perfect and just imperfect enough. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind when I think about us getting married. I am the luckiest woman, and I will always remember the day Matt proposed as being perfectly perfect.