Alek Komarnitsky Surprise Proposal & Engagement to Wendy Klausner

September 14th, 1997 at the top of Green Mountain, Colorado

Wendy and I hiked from Chautauqua to the top of Green Mountain via the Saddle Rock trail. We were doing this so we "could see my brother Kris fly over us in his Air Force jet" ... or at least that's what Wendy thought! ;-) After getting to the top, we played backgammon for a little while until shortly after 5:00 when the flyby did occur. It was not an Air Force jet, but instead a plane towing a banner saying: "Wendy: Marry Me! Alek (cakes ;-)" with a large heart on it. Wendy exclaimed "Oh my God" and replied "Of course!" when I asked her to marry me. Yes, the surprise proposal was TOTAL ... and "operation flyby" was complete success. For those interested, the "engagement ring" was the gold foil wrapper from the champagne bottle (Alek is the last of the big spenders! ;-)

Instead of hiking the ~2 hours back down to Chautauqua, we walked ~20 minutes down the West Ridge trial to the "Pagoda House" ... which is a quite cool looking place just below the summit that we had admired in the past. I had rented this for the evening ... so we had a (semi-gourmet) dinner of shrimp cocktail, smoked salmon, Nick & Willy's Thai Chicken Pizza, rasberries, and Wendy's favorite chocolates; all washed down with more champagne.

I had bought her a nice ("stunning" were her words) dress that I surprised her with ... but if the truth be known, we simply walked around naked - the house is on 35 secluded acres. We watched the sunset as we ate our dinner, and then soaked in the hot tub for over an hour as the full moon came over the top of Green Mountain. My brother Myke had dropped off the car (along with all the stuff that we needed ... except for one item ... ;-), so we headed home just after 9:00. Wendy was then on the phone for next hour calling everyone she knew about her surprise proposal and new engagement. Alek, of course, sent Email and updated his Web page! ;-)

Some misc. extra notes/tidbits (here are all of the engagement & proposal pictures in one spot) for those who want the gory details:

- Early on in our relationship, I had taken her on a Green Mountain date. For those who don't know, Green Mountain is SW of Boulder, about 8200 feet high, and has an excellent view of Boulder and the plains. To get to the West Ridge trail (which is the easy way up the mountain), you drive to the top of Flagstaff road, and have about a 1 1/2 mile rambling walk with about 600 vertical feet. Last Spring, we had left in the early evening, and after arriving on top, I surprised her by cooking dinner (I had brought a camp stove) and made Smores for dessert (a challenge with a camp stove - try this sometime! ;-) We had a GREAT time on this date, and Wendy felt it had been a special occasion and asked several times to go on another Green Mountain date ... but I had kept putting it off, wanting to save this ace-in-the-hole for when I needed it! ;-)

- Obviously, I needed some semi-decent weather to pull this off ... plus the full moon was a nice touch. So the decision to "GO" was made Wednesday; and I'd just hope for the best. Turned out the weather was perfect Sunday - it rained both Saturday and Monday (my other two choices).

- My brother Kris had called twice mentioning his cross-country trip and had done an EXCELLENT job convincing Wendy this was for real. He called Sunday morning with the flight call-sign "WYMA" (figure it out! ;-)

- I had told numerous people (in Wendy's presence) to look up toward Green Mountain around 5:00 for a flyby ... little did they know! ;-)

- When we parked at Chautauqua, we got a primo parking spot in the front row; which is very difficult to do on a weekend. I told Wendy it was our lucky day! Suffice it to say, there were NUMEROUS double entendre's throughout the week ... which was especially enjoyable for me 'cause it is VERY rare that I can get one over on Wendy; she's too sharp!

- Since we started from Chautauqua, the hike was about 4 miles/2,600 vertical. A bit of a hike (especially after playing Ultimate Frisbee earlier), but we made it. However, Wendy has grown to expect little surprises from Alek - and she was not too happy when I told her I didn't even have chocolate for her at the summit - she commented that this was a BAD Green Mountain date. I told her that I was sorry I had no surprises on this hike ... DOOPPP!! ;-)

- The airplane banner folks were supposed to call my cell phone when they took off. They didn't ... but I assumed they had just forgot and I'd see 'em flyby at 5:00. 5:00 came ... no plane ... 5:05 ... 5:10 ... Alek is sweating bullets ... no wonder Wendy crushed me three straight in backgammon! So I end up calling them; and got a recording (!) ... but I punch in my cell phone number so it goes to their pager. They call back ... "plane should be there" ... I assure him it is not (try having that conversation when Wendy is five feet away from you ... I asked where the T-38 was! ;-) ... they call back a few minutes later and said the plane was on the way ... and then I finally saw it coming straight at us. They were supposed to have looped around the North side of Boulder to behind the foothills ... and then make a left turn to the South of us (since the airplane banner faces left) ... so I was a little disappointed by this ... but fortunately Wendy didn't notice it until it was close enough to actually read the letters. BTW, I also paid 'em a few extra $$$ to make a few loops around Boulder - but I don't think they did this - pls Email me if you saw the plane.

- Myke and I had done a dry-run on Friday to the pagoda house and had dropped off everything but the Nick & Willy's pizza which needed to be picked up the same day so it could be fresh. So I snarfed the pizza early Sunday afternoon after Ultimate Frisbee and dropped it off at Myke's house. He drove the car up just after 4:00 ... got to the Pagoda house ... and realized he had left the pizza back at his house - I believe he made the extra round-trip in near record time! But we never knew ... since everything was waiting for us when we arrived. Myke also took care of picking up Wendy's car from the Chautauqua parking lot.

- We had seen the Pagoda house on earlier hikes and always admired it. Tracking down the owner was a bit of work - I drove up there and looked at mailboxes. But I got the wrong name ... and when I called 'em (after looking 'em up in the phone book and confirming they were on Flagstaff Road), they said it sounded like a great idea ... but they did not own the Pagoda house! So I made a second trip up there and left a note at the house explaining my situation. Fortunately, the owner (Vern Bunch) called me back ... and when I explained what I was up to, he graciously said go for it.

- Wendy's grandfather, upon being told of the engagement, asked "was there an item of significance to commemorate this occasion?" I let Wendy tell him the ring was gold tin-foil! ;-)

- Alek is sometimes a little "slow/forgetful" about things ... and Wendy had been "reminding" me for quite some time that we ought to get engaged. So she was "reminding" me Saturday morning ... and I bet her she could not keep "quiet" about this issue for 36 hours. If she goofed, she had to buy my plane ticket to Chile ... if she stayed quiet, I'd take her on a Las Vegas weekend getaway. We had a very romantic dinner Saturday night at the Gold Hill Inn Lodge where I "suspended" the bet for a few hours so I could reminisce about our lives together ... but she still did not mention the taboo subject! Suffice it to say, the bet was nullified at 5:00 Sunday by events! It is worth noting that right after saying "Of course" she asked "and the bet is off, right?"

- "cakes" is a nickname Wendy uses for me (short for "babycakes") Yea, I know, overly cutesy ... but we are in love! ;-)

P.S. Part 2 of the Saga, Wendy Wedding at the Grand Canyon, happened on October 6th, 1997! ;-)