Sorry for radio silence for the last couple weeks, everyone! Between a trip to San Francisco, fires and power outages, and plotting an intricate ruse (more on that in a minute), it’s been busy. But now that I’m back, I want to introduce someone:
My magnificent, brilliant, vibrant, and beautiful fiancée, Rachel!
And now for the tale.
The only things Rach knew when I picked her up was that I had reservations SOMEWHERE at 6:00, that she shouldn’t wear heels, and that it might get chilly. Being brilliant, she deduced that we were going to the Griffith Observatory before we were even halfway there. The shuttle got us to the top just in time to watch the sunset, which was stunning. And while the sky turned red, I said, “You know, Darren and I went geocaching up here one time…”
[Begin thorough, but very necessary excursus:]
Darren and I really DO go geocaching, and Rachel knew it. I’ve told her that someday she should come, too. Geocaching is a worldwide (geo) game of hiding and finding boxes (caches). All around us, people have hidden boxes in interesting places – ranging from a magnetic hide-a-key stuck under a newspaper stand in front of a cool restaurant to a big Rubbermaid box buried in a field somewhere. By using the website and a GPS, you can hunt for them yourself. When you find a cache, you record it, and there are often other things to do there, like taking something and leaving something else, etc. One of the main rules is that you don’t want devious onlookers (“Mugglers”) to steal or wreck the cache, so you have to be sneaky in its extraction and careful in its return. But often, a cache will live somewhere for years, with hundreds of people having the joy of discovering and re-planting it.
[End of excursus]
“… and this cache was really cool, because it was filled with star charts. Wanna see if we can find it?” And Rachel, being vibrant and fun and thoroughly supportive of my adventurous whims, was eager to find the treasure. She didn’t even notice my hands shaking nervously as I called “Darren” to see if he remembered where it was hidden.
Aaron, whose name I had changed to “Darren” in my phone (just in case Rachel saw it), answered the phone. I asked if he remembered that one time we went geocaching around the Griffith Observatory. He did, barely. And I asked if he remembered where the cache was hidden. He apologized, but couldn’t recall that far back, which meant I was on my own to try and remember where it was. (It also meant that Aaron, my accomplice, had set up everything on his end, and was ready for us.)
I “remembered” that the cache was hidden near some overlook area, so we hiked the trail below the observatory and checked out every overlook on the way. I uncovered some lumber, lots of bugs, and a big black rodent trap, but no cache. Then Rachel (being brilliant) espied a very obvious overlook off the trail, with a spectacular view of the city. It would be a perfect place to hide a cache, and Rach even spotted a pile of sticks that looked suspiciously out of place. Unfortunately, several other couples thought it was also a perfect place to sit and watch the sunset. So we sat down, determined to out-wait them.
If this were a movie, this next scene would be in time-lapse, to show the passing of the next 10 minutes: us waiting, laughing, the sky growing deeper shades of red. It would show some people leaving because they were bored, and some leaving because Aaron deftly asked them to, until we were alone on the hillside.
I quickly checked the curious pile of sticks, and found nothing but tree roots and more bugs. So I poked around in the bushes some more while Rachel was either keeping guard or pretending she didn’t know me (maybe some of both.) But then… I found it. From under a log, I pulled a steel, army green ammo box.
Rachel (being vibrant and fun) was astonished that we actually found it. I played along, and we ducked to a level area where we’d be somewhat hidden from any Mugglers who may be passing by. We crouched over the box (me on one knee.) I cracked it open, and pulled out a large ziplock bag filled with photocopies of last month’s star charts, and instructions. I read them outloud.
WELCOME TO THE STARCACHE!!!
Congratulations! You found the STARCACHE! If you found this on accident, it is part of a worldwide game called Geocaching. You are welcome to look through everything, but please be respectful, follow the rules and put it back where you found it.
Here are the Instructions for the STARCACHE.
- Log your find on the Log Sheet enclosed.
- Enjoy the Star Charts. I will try to keep them updated now that the Observatory is open again. If they are all gone, email me at Moe311@aol.com and i will try to put up more soon.
- If you take a Star Chart, please leave something behind of value. A quarter, a postcard, car keys… I’m not picky!
- Hide the cache when you’re finished, so this can be enjoyable for many more people to come.
It is a lot of work to make this, so if you have enjoyed the STARCACHE, please email me and tell me about it! Moe311@aol.com.
Happy Stargazing! -Moe311
At step 3, I asked Rachel if she had anything we could leave, pulling out a smaller bag filled with odd-sized papers and coins people had left.
“Oh, how about a tea bag?” she suggested, pulling out a bag of lemon tea from her jacket pocket.
“That’ll work!” I replied, tossing it in, “Do you have a pen?”
“Mmm, no…” said Rachel, so I handed her the stack of sky maps and instructions and rummaged thru the ammo box to find one.
“Hey, look at this…” I pull out a small black box. She looks. I open it and show her the ring I’d had designed several weeks ago. At this point, I proceeded to wax lyrical of my deep feelings for her. She was too surprised to give me any affirming feedback, so I abridged my speech and skipped to the important part. “Rachel… will you marry me?”
The light from the sunset afterglow was lighting up her face warmly, and a thought briefly crossed my mind: “This would make a great photo of her, if she didn’t have such a stunned look on her face.” Finally, she caught her breath, and said a steady “yes!”
My first words to my fiancée were: “Do you need to sit down?”
The sky went from red to blue to black, and the well-charted stars came out. Los Angeles started to sparkle with lights of all different colors. Spotlights from the Greek Theater shot blue beams over the hill, and the observatory stood strong above us, bathed in warm amber light. We sat on the hill for a while before we slowly worked our way up to the telescope, and studied the craters of the moon. Like everything that night, they were stunning.
Also stowed in the cache was a compact camera (since I rarely bring a DSLR with me on dates… it’s like lugging around a toaster). And that little bag filled with odd papers? They were all things that reminded me of her: postcards, fortune cookies, aerogrammes she sent me when I lived in South Africa, the ticket from Phantom in NYC, even the card with her number in Israel – where we first met. And I had written a note on each to highlight something I love about her, which we enjoyed looking through together on the bus down.
Tonight marks one week since we got engaged. People still ask me if I’m floating, and the answer is “ohhh yes.” But as exhilarating as it is to be lovestruck, the thing I look forward to the most is spending “normal” life with her.
Rachel, it has been a fantastic journey from being your friend, to your boyfriend, to your husband-to-be. I am excited to learn how to lead you and love you and put you before myself for the rest of my life. I love you!
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