Names, Planes, Automobiles, and the Element of Surprise

Kelly Lindau and Leksy Wolk engagement

Well-kept secrets, like my son, Kelly’s, engagement to Leksy, (above) are like walking a tightrope in ballet slippers. One slipup and its a face plant of epic proportions.

My second secret was much harder to keep.

I had known about my daughter, Courtney’s, impending engagement since July. That was a long time to teeter on a high wire. Her boyfriend, Dan, planned to ask her to marry him in Crested Butte and wanted both families to surprise her.

Family dinner with the future in-laws

There were a lot of extenuating factors. His parents and sister, Annie, would arrive at the airport from New Jersey and would rent a car. My husband, Danny, planned to pick up my son, Kelly, and his fiancé, Leksy, from their flight from Los Angeles. If all went well, we would caravan early the next morning to Crested Butte and hide until Dan and Courtney arrived.

Family get together before the surprise

The Caveat:

Dan planned to take Courtney on a ten-mile hike and propose at the summit near Maroon Bells. He wouldn’t have any cell service until they made it to town hours later, so their arrival would be a crapshoot — anywhere between 3:00 and 4:00.

So this was happening….

Dan proposes to Courtney

Our caravan split up right away. Kelly and Leksy left first. The Lee family followed behind them minutes later. Danny and I took up the rear at 9:30. We planned to grab something to eat in Fairplay or Buena Vista. If all went well, we would make it to Crested Butte by 2:00 with plenty of time to spare.

Anything could happen in four hours.

My clammy hands clutched the steering wheel while my imagination whirred. Everyone would roll in before us, so why worry?

When we arrived in Buena Vista, I called Dan’s sister, Annie — Yes, our combined families include a Danny, an Annie, and a Dan. I figured they were at least twenty minutes ahead of us. “We stopped in Fairplay for lunch.” That was around forty minutes behind us. They had just sat down and ordered. OMG.

“Okay,” I said, “but you might miss the surprise.”

Danny and I picked up sandwiches at City Market and started the last leg of the journey. Hopefully, the Lindau family would be in attendance.

Google maps sent us on a route we hadn’t driven during previous trips to CB. Would we hit a dead end? We took a chance. Switchbacks and tight corners wove upward to Cottonwood Pass and a grand vista. When we missed a turn on the way down and had to backtrack, my hope for Dan’s family arriving on time ebbed away.

With a few miles left, we wound along the foothills of southern Crested Butte into an aspen forest. The private road dead-ended at a massive log cabin. Kelly and Leksy waited on the deck lined with adirondack chairs and rockers. They made it!

Our phones didn’t have service until we logged into the Wifi. Not good. If Dan waited to text me after driving through town, he wouldn’t have service. They could drive up here at any minute!

Danny stood watch at the window.

At 3:00, the Lees arrived, thank the Lord.

decorating for the engagement

Kelly, Dan’s dad, Charles, and Danny shlepped the cars down the hill since Courtney would recognize two of them. The rest of us decorated.

Getting ready to hide

At 4:15, Dan finally texted me:

4:30 ETA


Hiding before the surprise engagement

We hid behind the counter and the stone fireplace, phones in our hands. Then Danny called out, “They’re here!”

filming the surprise

The rest was priceless.

Courtney is so surprised

We raised our glasses and toasted the newly engaged couple, Courtney and Dan.

Dan and Courtney
Dan and Courtney Kiss

Did I mention that Dan’s Mom’s name is Hyong Sue? Yep. Even Kelly and Leksy sound alike.

That only leaves Charles.

But wait a minute — Kelly’s DJ name is Chuck Shadow. LOL!

It’s all in the family.

Have you been surprised lately? Have you been swept up in post-COVID engagements? Do you see a baby boom in our future?

43 thoughts on “Names, Planes, Automobiles, and the Element of Surprise

Add yours

  1. Wow–many congrats to you all! I do think COVID was a good make-it or break-it period for couples. I learned way more about my husband than I ever wanted to–ha! I love a good surprise though I don’t often try to pull them off. If I’m surprised by a gift I didn’t explicitly ask for on Xmas or my Bday, I’m thrilled.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your family loves surprises, Susie. I almost can’t believe it worked, but I’m sure it would have been a wonderful day no matter any glitches. The photos are wonderful. Congrats on the engagement(s).


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