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Falling in Love in the Outdoors

Our first date was a three-day camping trip on the backroads of Colorado

By: Kalli Hawkins + Save to a List

"Gimme a kiss to build a dream on
And my imagination
Will thrive upon that kiss
Sweetheart, I ask no more than this
A kiss to build a dream on"

We took off on the dirt road as these words came across the stereo. I turned to Jared on my left, with the biggest grin on my face and thought, "Who is this guy?". I have never encountered someone who, while off-roading on backroads during a camping trip, would choose Louis Armstrong as their music of choice and take off down the road. 

Something in my heart flipped right then and there, and I think it was the first day that I started to fall in love with him. This was our first date, a three-day camping trip in the mountains. I remember telling my parents that I had met a guy who I thought was very special and how we were planning to hop in a car and spend three straight days together, camping and exploring Colorado. They thought I was nuts. "You just met this guy and, you're going on a camping trip with no cell service - what if something happens?". All I could say was, "I trust him."
So there we were, Friday afternoon loading up his vehicle and running to Safeway together to get camping supplies. It was just so easy and natural - we spent the 4-hour car ride just cruising through conversations and researching backroads for a potential camping spot. 

We found a perfect camping spot on top of a sloped hill with views of the Elk Mountains in the distance. We cooked dinner and stayed up all night talking, sharing beers and whiskey around the campfire as we gazed up at the stars. 

In the morning, we took off down the dirt road as Louis Armstrong serenaded us. We spent the day driving backroads, checking out ghost towns, and eventually making it to our destination of Cumberland Pass. As we climbed in elevation towards the pass, we soon encountered snow and, it wasn't long after that the vehicle slid into the ditch on the side of the mountain. As panic and then recovery mode set in for me, Jared had a little different approach - to embrace our predicament of being potentially stranded on a snow-covered mountainside. He pulled out two camping chairs and two beers, and we sat in the middle of the road to cheers to our adventure while taking in the gorgeous views. 

The rest of our first date was incredible, and he even kissed me for the first time once we finally reached the top of Cumberland Pass. I knew when I met him only three weeks earlier, that there was something special between the two of us. It was just an instant feeling, the instant chemistry that we had - and was part of the reason why I felt so comfortable jumping into a car with him to spend three days in the mountains together. 

So here we are two years later, celebrating our anniversary of that first date - the three-day camping trip where we realized that we had something extraordinary. In those two years, we have spent countless more days together exploring backroads, camping, and sharing beers and whiskey around a campfire. I often think while we're on our outdoor adventures that I sure am one lucky girl to have found the love of my life on one fall day in the middle of Kansas. That initial feeling I had, was soon transformed into love, all fueled by that adventurous first date. 

I look forward to the many years ahead of adventures exploring endless backroads together, and Louis Armstrong's charismatic rich voice filling the air. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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