The One in Which a Road Trip Turned into a Marriage Proposal

This is the one in which we went to Newport, Rhode Island, had a few touristy adventures, and dropped Charles off at the seaport for a long sail to Bermuda and St. Marten. Charles was offshore for many weeks and many miles and if we ask nicely I may get some pictures of the sea and sky far offshore to share with you, but that is not today.

As we are wont to do, every road trip turns into mini vacation. We occasionally make long and far flung errands for ourselves as an excuse to spend the night or two, drink coffee in a tiny coffee shop, dine at cafes frequented by locals, and visit the vintage shops. This, of course, is outside of sailing season because traveling by sailboat in winter’s arctic chill isn’t on my list yet. Recent details here about last month’s arctic chill.

A secret about my wanderlust: I’m a top level reviewer on one of those travel site however I never flash my badge and ask for freebies. Instead, when the travel experience was fabulous and I’m heading home I thank them and tell them to keep an eye out for my review. Also, sometimes a perfect evening alone includes a glass of wine and hours of travel planning. Real trip by land or by sea that we’re really going on? Check. Fake trip that would be cool one day? Check. Itinerary planning for a friend or a stranger? Check. By the way, if you’re planning a trip and need ideas please check in with me. I’d love to help. Seriously. Travel planning is my jam. 

Going to Newport for Charles’s offshore adventure was no exception to our road trip mini vacation habits. We had a second floor AirBnB that was so large Sylvie got the zoomies and I had to text the ground floor host to let him know we weren’t Riverdancing.

Newport Airbnb Feels Huge Compared to a Sailboat

Newport’s Cliff Walk was an excuse to take Sylvie for a long walk under gray skies and enjoy the angry sea from above. Better to be far above the sea than in a sailboat when you can accurately use words like angry to describe the sea.

Charles and Sylvie and the Newport Coastline

Note to Sylvie: The Bad Dog sign we passed wasn’t for you.

Bad Dog on the Newport Cliffwalk

When you’re visiting a touristy place and you see people posing for selfies, do you ever volunteer to take their picture because it’s nice to occasionally connect with other humans you’re sharing the same space with? When you get their shot and then take one more just in case, they often want to return the favor. I always suffer a tiny moment of panic when handing over my phone, even to senior citizens and families with strollers. Which is worse, a stranger running off with your phone or a stranger swiping through your photos? Instead, no running or swiping, they always give it back. Thank you, seniors and families!

That's a Surfer, not a Shark in the Water

The sky and the sea weren’t angry for the whole day. The setting sun usually means I want a snack, Charles wants a coffee, and Sylvie wants to tell us she’s probably starving and why are we always eating in front of her? Unfortunately, her poor command of the English language only results in breakfast, dinner, and occasional snacks. The part about the marriage proposal is coming right up because no romantic dinner is complete without tears, champagne, and innocent bystanders coming to my rescue.

Newport Sunset

We were craving seafood and there was a charming seafood bistro with excellent reviews within walking distance of our AirBnB. The restaurant was dimly lit, a side of pasta came with every meal, and the menu was written in fancy chalk because the fresh catch changed nightly with the whims of the sea.

Romantic dinner aside, I was getting emotional thinking of Charles sailing away for three weeks and how much I’d miss him. I do this occasionally. Ask me about the cinnamon bun incident in Luray. When the waitress offered dessert menus I realized I was quietly and inadvertently making a tiny little scene by blotting my eyes with my huge cloth napkin and sniffling ever so gracefully while trying to look normal. We generally decline dessert menus but Charles sensed a my wife needs chocolate vibe and we accepted the menus. I put on one of those awkward smiles for the waitress that says There’s nothing wrong here, I assure you we’re all fine, everything’s perfectly normal.

One cannot weep in public, no matter how subtly. I doubt the bistro has too many diners overcome with emotion over their fresh catch and side of pasta. A man at an adjacent table had surreptitiously been giving me the eye, the same eye as the waitress, and I didn’t want to be that woman weeping over her fish at dinner. Moments later I saw the waitress approaching. What to do, how to explain this? I leaned in close to Charles and whispered for him to remove his wedding band and I did the same in my lap. When the waitress awkwardly asked if we’d like to order dessert I looked up at her through my delicately wet lashes and said “I’m so sorry, I’m wasn’t upset. He just proposed to me.”

If she’d been able to evoke a television audience of applause it would have occurred. Huge smile, much relief, congratulations, and she wrote down our dessert order with a beautiful flourish. The man at the adjacent table immediately came over and told us he thought Charles was being mean to me and he was going to say something. Instead we received a warm and friendly congratulations from him and his wife, followed by flutes of champagne with our dessert and many admiring smiles from the bistro’s small staff.

As a married couple, Charles and I have a connection that allows a random and urgently whispered non sequitur to be followed unquestionably and immediately. If Charles were to suddenly yell goldfish in the trees, everybody run!, I’d be halfway down the street before considering a legitimate goldfish in a tree scenario.

We don’t typically need a cover story for public displays of emotion so we’ve never faked a proposal and this isn’t our M.O. We left a huge tip, exited the bistro feeling marvelous, and the couple and waitress may have a good story to tell about a romantic proposal that happened one night at dinner in a tiny bistro in a tiny bistro in Newport. I don’t advocate charades for free champagne however if you can’t explain to strangers why you’re crying in public and you happen to end up with a drink in your hand, please tip your server accordingly.

The following day was spent perusing the land of ye olde nautical treasures and lunching at the Seaman’s Church Institute.  There was probably also some coffee for us and snacks for Sylvie.

This, my friends, is the part in which I tell you that Sylvie and I said goodbye to Charles the following day as he headed out to sea toward Bermuda and St. Marten. Sylvie and I drove many hours home and spent a few weeks as two gals alone on a boat. I planned the best girl & dog road trip ever when we drove south for three days to pick Charles up in Florida, and I still regret not buying that jar of dilly beans somewhere near Fayetteville.

On road trips Sylvie rides shotgun every time.Sylvie Riding Shotgun on a Long Long Roadtrip

Coming soon and it’s a big one- Someone cool from the internet of Tiny House land found their way to my blog because of the picture below of my scarves from last month. There were many messages exchanged and many hours spent banging on the keys. Charles photographed every inch of our floating home from the best angles possible and I was finally able to articulate in over 5,000 words what brought us from land to the sea and why it works so well for us. I can’t share it for 30 days but I’m counting.

Shortly thereafter, another someone cool from the internet of the sea came along, same thing as above minus the scarves, details on that one TBD. Also, more of me banging on the keys, more hopes and dreams, more of me sharing our little floating life with the world.

Thank you for hanging out with me. I’m always glad to see your comments and questions and I‘m so happy to have you aboard my wee vessel in the great big  blogosphere.

Scarves on a Boat, Oh My!

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin

21 thoughts on “The One in Which a Road Trip Turned into a Marriage Proposal

    1. I’ve heard of reviewers doing that but I cannot imagine visiting a family business and holding them hostage with a bribe like that. Good and bad reviews can make or break a business and it seems horrible to “flash a badge.” The thing I love is the big reveal at the end when you unmask yourself, say thank you and here’s your tiny little prize for making me feel special while in your care. It’s pretty much only to make others feel good because seriously, there’s no Top Reviewer tiara that we can wear in real life.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great story. Coincidentally, my wife and dog will also be two girls alone on a boat for the next month. But my month will be spent on a business trip in Upstate New York–far from something as inspiring as an offshore adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, I just poking around your blog a bit and remembered that you write. The big reveal I mentioned at the end is a 2 part article in Tiny House Magazine. I was asked to write a little something and ended up with about 5,400 words- it just kept coming and who am I to put a cork in it? The first piece is in this month’s edition and the second half will come out next month. I’ll have it up in a few weeks when can share it without stepping on the toes of the editors. I should have said this months ago; so glad to have other writes here!

      Liked by 1 person

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