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 local coffee in a tiny coffee shop, dine at cafes frequented by locals only, 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 ice, snow, and cold, cold winds. 

A secret about me and my wanderlust: I’m a top level reviewer on one of those travel site however I absolutely never flash my badge and ask for freebies. Instead, when it 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 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. 

Getting to Newport for an offshore adventurewas 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 the previous sentence contains words like angry.

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 who, by chance, are sharing the same space as you? 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 snacks here and there. 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 for dinner, and there was a charming little 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 changes nightly with the whims of the sea.

Imagine, if you will, that you’re the older couple watching us from the table next door: a couple holds hands, gazes into each other’s eyes, speaking quietly, heads together. The woman tears up, blots her eyes carefully with a napkin, looks away, blots again, looks at the man. The man leans in closer, and they both look up at the waitress who offers dessert menus and quickly leaves. The woman blots her eyes again, more looking away, more blotting. The waitress returns and the woman says to her I’m so sorry, I’m not upset. He just proposed to me. Then the couple orders dessert.

Okay, you’re not the couple at the next table anymore and here’s what really happened. I was tearing up 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 sometime. I  quickly realized I was quietly and inadvertently making a little tiny scene. The optimist in me turned that frown upside down in a quick minute, and as soon as the waitress left, the man behind us came over to our table and said he thought Charles was being mean to me and he was going to get up and say something. Instead, we got a hearty congratulations from him and his wife. The waitress brought flutes of champagne with our dessert, and it was smiles all around from the bistro’s tiny open kitchen.

We don’t typically need a cover story, so we’ve never faked a proposal. We left a huge tip, exited the bistro feeling marvelous, and the couple and waitress may have an excellent story to tell about a romantic proposal that happened right in front of them. I don’t advocate charades like this 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.

My friends, this is the part in which I tell you that Sylvie and I said goodbye to Charles the following day, 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 to pick Charles up, 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 in internet land found their way to my blog because of the picture 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 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.

Scarves on a Boat, Oh My!


27 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

  2. Wow! Can’t wait to follow your blog. My brother is a sailor on Vancouver Island and built his catamaran close to 50 years ago and it is still seaworthy. His name is Tom Faue and he is also a sculptor. My cat, Callie sailed with me and my husband last summer and loved it. Looking forward to reading about your adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

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