I love surprises. That's part of what I love about Christmas. There's nothing like the look on someone's face when you've surpised them (in a good way).
Next month, the bride turns 40. She threw a big party for me last July when I hit 40, and had the Moffitts come down for the event. I knew I had to come up with something. Not that she did my party in anticipation for me doing something for her; I just wanted to do it. So right after my party, I told Susie's cousin, Jennifer, that I would need her help in planning something. I put off planning anything for a few months.
Around the end of January, it hit me that I had less than two months to plan a party for the bride. I started thinking about where to have a party, what kind of food to have, who to invite. After a while, I started thinking about this whole idea of a party. The bride is a very quiet person. Having a party, with her being the center of attention, just isn't her. She'd much rather have something more quiet. So I began thinking about a trip. She's always wanted to do a cruise, but travel time was a big factor. I knew that we really needed to do something before April because of softball season for the girls.
I immediately thought about getting a cabin in Gatlinburg for a few days. That would have been alright, but nothing really special. I thought about trips around the area that we could drive to in 4 hours or less. Nothing jumped out at me. Then I started thinking about places she'd like to go that would require flying. I considered San Francisco and San Diego, thought about the Florida Keys and even North Myrtle Beach. I even looked at some trips to Hawaii, but again, travel time got in the way there. Then it hit me - she always talks about how much she loves the Monterey/Carmel area. I e-mailed the bride's cousin, Jennifer, to see what she thought about it, and she loved it. (She even tried to take partial credit by saying that she almost suggested that to me.....please......)
I started targeting some dates. Leaving on the weekend after her birthday was out, because Sara's birthday is the day before the bride's, and we would most likely have a party that weekend. Anytime I found a possible range of days, I checked the dates with Jennifer and the bride's mom for conflicts in their schedule since they'd be taking care of the girls (in shifts) while we were gone. I found a place just 9 miles north of Monterey in Marina call Marina Dunes that looked perfect. I started scanning airlines and rental car places for the best prices. I kept running into obstacles for the month of March. In fact, I had pretty much decided on leaving on March 12, until I found out that we were hosting about a dozen 14 & 15-year-old girls from church at our house. Time was was running out and I knew I'd have to bump the trip up in order to make it happen.
I finally decided the first week of February that we'd need to leave on Saturday, February 26. I had about three weeks left, and only a few days to pull it together. After doing more research and nailing down the costs, I planned on telling the bride about her surprise trip on Friay, February 4. However, I came home on Wednesday the 2nd and I could automatically tell that she had had one of those days. I had stayed a little later at work that afternoon and had actually put together a PowerPoint slideshow for the bride to view and find out about her trip. I brought it home to fine-tune, but ended up showing it as it was. After supper, I told both girls about the surprise and had them help me with the presentation. I called the bride up to the bonus room, and told her that I wanted her to look at something on the computer. She had no idea about any of this. She later said that she knew I'd been on the computer alot at nights during the last week, but she thought I was bidding for things on e-bay. When she finally realized that we were going, she said, "That's in just three weeks, isn't it?"
We're about 72 hours away from leaving, and we haven't started packing yet. But that should start tonight. We leave for LA at 8:00 Saturday morning, and should be in San Jose by 1:00. From there it's about 65 miles to Marina, so the drive won't be too bad. We'll be back home by 8:00 Wednesday night.
I'm really looking forward to the trip, maybe even as much as my bride. While we're out there, we plan to hit Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Big Sur and San Francisco. We've got a bungalow in the dunes overlooking the Pacific Ocean, so I'm looking forward to doing some relaxing and taking walks on the beach. But most of all, I'm looking forward to spending time with my bride. It may be another ten years before we get to do another trip like this, so I plan to enjoy it as much as possible.