Waterville Weekender, Colleen, got a surprise for her birthday, and we got to be part of it. Here's the story:
A sudden warm front brought rain and fog to New England on Friday but nothing was going to stop Rob from taking his girlfriend Colleen on a ski weekend for her birthday. Colleen's family has had a condo in Waterville Valley since 1998 and she has been visiting with her family ever since to ski in the winter and play tennis in the summer. High school sweethearts, Rob started spending weekends with Colleen and her family in Waterville Valley and now it has become somewhat of a tradition for family and friends to congregate at the condo for Colleen's birthday each year. So in spite of the weather, Rob and Colleen set out after work on Friday from Boston, where she is an occupational therapist and he works for a software company.
"We've been together for 10 years," Colleen said. "This has been in the works for probably 8 or 9 years," says Rob, laughing. "My parents and her parents had an email chain going, secretly communicating," said Rob, beaming. "It said Waterville passes as the subject line. It worked out because it was her birthday so it wasn't hard putting something on because she wasn't over-thinking what I was doing." That's why on Saturday morning when Rob was insistent about taking a few runs from the top, despite the wintry mix coming down and wet snow, Colleen agreed. Collen on skis and Rob on his snowboard, the couple headed down Oblivion and then Valley Run. "I was just hoping the whole time that she wouldn't fall and get injured. I don't know what I would have done then," said Rob.
As they got to the bottom the clouds suddenly started to clear revealing blue skies. Rob pulled ahead, leading the way past the Valley Run lift, but stopping short before getting to the White Peaks Quad. With his back to Colleen, he unstrapped his board, pulled off his gloves, and reached a hand into his pocket, taking a quick look around. As Colleen came to a stop behind him, wondering where they were going next, Rob turned to face her, sinking to one knee, and pulled out a small, dark blue box.
Unbeknown to her, Colleen's family (and our Photographer, Mike) were waiting and watching from afar. After sharing a private moment full of laughs and smiles, Colleen removed her own glove so Rob could slip on the ring. As their family and friends cheered and made their way over to congratulate the couple, Colleen's eyes grew even wider as she was embraced by unexpected family and friends, including close friends who flew in from Chicago. "I had no idea. I kept looking around and seeing all these faces I recognized!" said Colleen, laughing. "You can really tell I wasn't expecting it because my nail polish looks awful!"
"I knew I was going to ask her to marry me for a while now," said Rob. "I actually got the ring a month ago and everyone told me once you get it you're going to want to give it to her right away and just do it. That was the hardest part [waiting]. I couldn't even look at it!" He had to hide it in a friend's safe so neither of them would find it. When asked if he knew she would say yes, Rob said, "Well, I was 99.9% sure." Rolling her eyes, Colleen jumps in with a happily exasperated, "YES!" Colleen said, smiling and reaching for her new fiance's hand, "we've been together for a long time. It's always been the plan." But popping the question when she would least expect it turned out to be a family effort and the surprise still hadn't worn off an hour later. The happy clan continued the celebrations with drinks and plenty of photos with the to-be-weds in Buckets Restaurant and Bar, overlooking the slopes, and said have a sit-down dinner in town planned for the evening.