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I met her the old-fashioned way, via the Internet. Actually, I was looking for a backpacking partner with whom to explore the Sea-To-Sea Route. Instead, I found a four-star hotel maven whose interest in trails was minimal but whose tolerance for me was both unexpected and very welcome. She and I had both been hitched before and had a sense of the compromises inherent in marriage. So, forsaking thirty years of nomadism, I decided to propose to her on Valentine's Day at Walden Pond, home of my hero Henry David Thoreau.

Since a proposal is one of the few acts in life for which there is little or no guidance, I mass-E-mailed my friends for advice. The resulting hilarity showed that many people doubted that marriage was part of my vocabulary. Their suggestions ranged from the quaint (hide the ring in a snowman) to the literary (read aloud to her from Thoreau’s Journals.) My recently-divorced buddy Keith Clark wrote from Anchorage to warn, “I got married on Valentines Day. Don't do that. Hard to get dinner reservations every year, and now, it really sucks as a remembrance.”

“Bah humbug, to you, Keith,” I thought. However, on V-Day, fate intervened with the winter’s most hellacious snowstorm. Blowing every which way, the blizzard convinced Tine that travel was too dangerous. That coincided with my learning that Walden Pond was not the bucolic retreat popularized by my hero Henry D. Actually, it was a state park with 9-5 hours and zillions of recreationists who were prohibited from parking anywhere but in the $5 lot that closed at 5 PM. So Valentines Day was out. However, the next evening Mr. Romantic decided to lead an outlaw expedition in the dark to declare his love.


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