Talitha Tarro Photography
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Sandia Foothills Engagement

Travis and Jocie's engagement session with their adorable dog, Jasper, in the Manzano Open Space for their engagement session. <3

I have such a treat for you with this post! Instead of telling you how much fun I had exploring the foothills with Travis and Jocie, I have their proposal story for you!

“How I proposed…

I’d had the ring for 2 weeks and the pressure of how to surprise her was overwhelming. I mean, she is brilliant and definitely knew it was coming. I think we both knew I’d eventually pop the question, after our third date – living out of a borrowed Subaru in Alaska for a week. Now, every trip I planned or date I set-up had “proposal” written all over it. Finding the right moment was proving to be difficult.

Then, one evening at a kayaking practice, a friend invited us on a 3-day river trip on the Chama River. Game on! Neither of us had run this section of river and it’s relatively easy. It requires 2 nights of camping, cuts through the scenic red rock canyons of the southwest, and it’s one of four rivers in the U.S. that allows DOGS. On top of all that the weather forecast was perfect – It would be a very comfortable trip – and I was determined to capitalize on this opportunity.

Unfortunately, however, Jocie was having a stressful week at school (finishing her PhD in Genetics) and prepping for a raft trip is a lot of work, even for two people. As commitments piled up, she was considering bailing on the trip. I wasn’t having it –so while Jocie worked late, I loaded the raft, prepared our group meals, packed the camping gear, prepped the dog bag, and studied river maps to find the perfect hiking trail for this surprise.

After much arm twisting, we loaded up the truck on Friday morning and headed to the Chama, raft in tow. Once we arrived, we assembled the raft and frame, strapped down our waterproof cargo, loaded the cooler, and corralled the dog. To my relief, after hours of stressful preparations, our group pushed off the shore: 3 rafts, 2 kayaks, 8 people, 1 dog, and the ring.

After some rapid running, hiking, a few ‘boater libations’, and hours of floating down beautiful river canyons in the August sun, we pulled into our first camp. A small camp where the pinyon-juniper, mixed-pine forest streams down off a mesa to meet the river. Just my luck: the mesa rising over camp looked like it would provide a nice landscape view of the river, and probably a great spot for proposing. Fingers crossed.

But, Jocie was whooped after a long week at work and day of laying in the sun on the raft wrangling our 11-month-old labradoodle pup during his first day as a River Dog. As we unload our gear onto the shore, we’re assigned dinner duty the second night of the trip – perfect. Jocie gets comfy and breaks out a beer: Octoberfest by Sante Fe Brewing
“Hey Jocie, wanna go for a hike?”
“Naw, I’m good.”
“Darling, we should hike with the pup, he’s a total wiggle worm.”
“Let him run around camp, he’s fiiiiiine…”
“Love, we don’t have to cook dinner tonight, we should make the most of it.”
“Yup, here we go., How about a road beer? Let’s hike those calories off.”

Inside I’m screaming: VICTORY!!! I stash the ring box in a camera case, grab two beers, summon the wiggle machine, and we depart. The hike did not go as envisioned. First, there was no established trail and second, Teva’s are a terrible option for bush-whacking up cliff faces. Once on top of the mesa, the terrain eased and the view was amazing. I searched for the best “family portrait spot” and got Jocie to pose with the dog while I set the camera up on a rock.

“10 second timer,” I yelled, as I clicked record on a video.

I ran over and as Jocie tried to wrap her arm around me for a family photo, I got down on one knee and asked her to spend the rest of her life with me. Everything came together perfect. Just the two of us, with our pup, outside, on a hike, in the middle of our favorite type of vacation, and I got a video of it.”