We first met one day in the summer of 2017 at the Wawona Ranger Station and did not think anything of it. A couple years and many separate adventures later, Justen ended up living with Frankee's friend and prior roommate, Roberto. Justen and Roberto came to Frankee's house in Yosemite Valley multiple times for shindigs, where Frankee and Justen became good friends. In the summer of 2020 Justen decided to try his luck in swooning "the beautiful Franceska." After a Gru (from Despicable Me) pick-up line, she was caught. It would be an entire year of long distance phone calls, FaceTimes and countless trips to see each other and against all odds, we fell in love. We finally were able to move in together in August of 2021 and have spent almost everyday together since falling more and more in love with each other.
The story starts before the proposal with asking Frankee's parents for her hand in marriage. This did not go as planned with when I had initially wanted to ask them. They visited us in Yosemite during Christmas and a huge snow storm hit the park and we lost power for almost their entire trip. I thought to myself, "This is not how I want to ask them, I want don't want a natural disaster when I ask them". Six months later town is chaotic again with a wildfire barreling down on us. Frankee evacuated in a neighboring community. I realized there is not going to be a perfect time. I called her mom and dad while sitting in my patrol car and asked them for their permission to marry Frankee. I heard them say yes and I couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the day. While I am talking with them about the ring I want to get her and how I want to ask Frankee her mom made a very good point, "You know you are marrying a trained investigator who is going to be very difficult to surprise". While she is saying this I am also thinking about how I am incapable of keeping gifts I buy for Frankee a secret. We came up with the plan for me to purchase the ring but send it to the family home in El Paso, TX, so the ring is out of my hands and I will not ask Frankee in the most random place because I can't control myself. Frankee's mom and I planned the proposal while Frankee was still evacuated so she wouldn't be suspicious. We talked on the phone and looked at maps of El Paso trying to pick the perfect spot. When Frankee moved to El Paso ahead of me I spent more time looking at the map and found the park I wanted to ask her in. I let her mom know the location I liked and she helped me find a photographer and got some lanterns that spelled out, "Will you Marry Me?" I called my sister and told her the plan. I wanted her to be there so we scheduled a trip for her to be in El Paso for my birthday so it wasn't suspicious. I moved to El Paso in September and was already having trouble containing my excitement. Not long after I arrived I got the email alert that the ring had shipped. Luckily for me Frankee was working the night shift so she was asleep when the ring arrived. Her mom masterfully met the UPS guy outside the house and hid the ring in the garage. When Frankee went to work that day her mom and I were able to look at the ring. It turned out even better than I thought it would. As the day got closer Frankee's mom and I started going out to the park to see when sunset was, hoping Frankee wasn't going to call us during her lunch. We found the time I would need to get Frankee to the park so El Paso was glowing with the sunset. I called my sister and told her the plan and the time we would have to be at the park. We worked it out so that we would all be out of the house for the day. The day was finally here! We were out in Mesilla, NM walking through the park in the middle of town. I was doing my best to not show how excited and nervous I was for the proposal. I had already forgotten our leftover food in the restaurant so it wasn't going good. We started our drive back to El Paso and I needed to give her mom a call and make sure everything was going well. I told Frankee I had to use the bathroom and we stopped at a gas station. After the call I was walking out and must have had a grin from ear to ear because Frankee commented on the smile I had. We drove over the Franklin Mountains and stopped at Scenic View Overlook. While we were walking around my sister got the text that everything was ready. We went down to Tom Lea Park and I faked a phone call from work to walk away. I positioned myself in front of the lanterns and waited for Frankee to walk over. I saw her walking my way and my heart was racing. I got down on one knee and asked her "Will you make me the happiest man alive and marry me?" To my pure delight she said yes! I got the best early birthday gift in the world on October 3, 2022. I got the gift of sharing my life with an amazing woman.