Re: Vista Revisited

Fun fact: It wasn’t until my second stint as an eHarmony member that I managed to line up my first actual eHarmony date. (It’s a long story.)

So when I did finally make a promising connection, spelled out in 10 days of densely packed email volleys covering all manner of conversational ground, it was with no small degree of trepidation that I made arrangements for our initial meet-up. Online dating is not for the faint of socially anxious heart.

The date was not scheduled to take place under shadowy cover of night, but under the shimmering blue sky of a weekday afternoon. The location of the date, which I would choose again in a heartbeat, was not a restaurant or a bar or a movie theater, but a trailhead.

That’s just how it’s done in Colorado.


The Boulder County trailhead in question is an access point to a sprawling web of footpaths near the base of the Flatirons, five hulking sandstone slabs that stand as sentries at the eastern border of the Rocky Mountains. The game plan was to meet my date at Flatirons Vista Trailhead, drive together in my car to Doudy Draw Trailhead, and then hike the 5 miles back to her car.

This was my first-ever ‘blind’ date, so I felt well out of my element. Verbose email exchanges are right in my wheelhouse — heck, they are my wheelhouse. But conveying my truest and best (and least nervous) self to a girl I like, face to face, has always represented a much greater challenge.

Getting ready for my date, I was so nervous that I stared at myself in the mirror just long enough to convince myself my hair looked dumb, thus prompting me to suppress the evidence with a baseball cap despite a long-and-strongly-held personal belief that my bulbous pate looks misshapen in headwear. (I’m pretty sure the words “stupid, stupid, STUPID” crossed my lips upon looking at myself in the rearview on the drive over.)

The conversations that transpire during a first date feel too personal to recount blow-by-blow in a blog post, a belief that is conveniently bolstered by the fact that my faulty memory doesn’t actually recount most of the conversations that transpired between me and my date that day.

But I will tell you that my very first icebreaker as we began ascending the Doudy Draw path was a doozy. Before I even asked my date a question about her day, her dog, her family, or her life, I started unceremoniously babbling about how the engine of my Toyota Corolla had inexplicably caught fire and melted down on the way to the airport a few years earlier.

Young fellows, take note. This, clearly, is how to woo a woman.

In the end, questionable conversation starters notwithstanding, my date and I spent two affable hours on one beautiful afternoon during which zero red flags emerged for either of us… never a foregone conclusion on a first date!


It was a lively and successful convergence all the way around, although I didn’t have the nerve to extend the meet-up to a Boulder coffee shop (or protest march). I have a seemingly infinite ability to second-guess my impression of someone’s impression of me. But with the benefit of hindsight, it was clear that we enjoyed each other’s company. Why else would she have agreed to a second date (another hike near the Flatirons) and later a third, fourth, and fifth?

How rude; I haven’t introduced you to my date that day. Her name was Dani. Short for Danielle. I came to learn that she was many things. An only child. Born in Washington. Raised in Colorado. Enjoyer of sports. Adorer of dogs. Lover of children. Possessed of a seemingly photographic memory. Cute as a button. Smart as a whip. Tender as a puppy. Tough as nails. True-blue as the sky on that cloudless May afternoon.

And as it turned out: my unmistakable soulmate.

Fast forward 8 years, almost to the day, from May 2009 to May 2017. Danielle and I, both now a little rougher around the physical edges (but more buoyant around the emotional ones), made plans to revisit Flatirons Vista Trail. This time around, we drove together to the trailhead — gotta be environmentally friendly in Boulder County! — and listened to love songs that we could sing along to in our sleep after years of practice. We parked at the very same trailhead where we first laid eyes on each other ages ago, back when our ages still started with a 2.


The other noteworthy difference this time was that we carpooled with a jovial extra passenger by the name of Greyson Francis. He had his papa’s blue eyes and goofy sense of humor, and his mama’s button nose and tenacious strength of will.

And there’s no two ways about it: That boy would simply not exist if that nervous guy had not met up with that beautiful girl at that dusty trailhead on that blue-sky afternoon on that fateful day in 2009.

In the end, Flatirons Vista was the starting point of a journey leading us to the ultimate vista: the unobstructed panorama contained in our little Greyson’s big eyes.


2 thoughts on “Re: Vista Revisited

  1. Nice job bringing us into your world of thinking that day. The rest of the family is also happy you and Dani met (and pursued each other) 8 years ago!


    • It was quite a day! I wish I could relive it as a a fly on the wall (or I guess as a fly buzzing along next to us as we hiked the trail). What I can at least do is re-read our emails leading up to our first date, and beyond. That’s always greatly satisfying.


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