In Marriage Proposals, It Isn't Location

Christine and Bill Saltenberger, who started dating after an eight-year friendship, were married May 12 in a garden ceremony at Raspberry Plain in Leesburg.
Christine and Bill Saltenberger, who started dating after an eight-year friendship, were married May 12 in a garden ceremony at Raspberry Plain in Leesburg. (By Zoya Dicaprio -- Zoyaphoto.com)
By Bill Snead
Special to loudounextra.com
Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bill Saltenberger was ready to pop the question. But he wanted to ask Christine Sarnecky to marry him in a special place, a surprise place -- a place they could later pinpoint on a Google map.

The couple already had made plans to visit his parents in Los Angeles. His plan: They would fly to San Francisco, say hi to some family and then drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles. Along the way, he would whip into one of those scenic ocean overlooks and drop to a knee while ocean waves crashed against the rocky shore.

"When we left the house [in Sterling] for Dulles, I had the ring in a little bag that was pinned inside a front pocket in my jeans," he recalled.

Both Sarnecky, 38, and Saltenberger, 33, became ill on the flight to San Francisco. "We both had sinus infections, but Bill's was worse," Sarnecky said.

The next morning, they began their drive down postcard-pretty Route 1, headed for the Hearst Castle and an overnight stay in Cambria, Calif.

They passed overlooks, but none seemed just right.

"In some, the guardrails were right on the edge of a cliff and I pictured Christine being so excited she'd throw her arms in the air and the ring would fly into the ocean," he said.

They stopped at an overlook that was better situated, but a couple in their 70s was chasing birds and squirrels around the parking lot, cameras in hand.

The next overlook was empty and had a big rock to sit on and a great view of the Pacific. This was the place. But as she was about to sit next to him, she saw a huge black spider and retreated to the car.

That evening, they ate in a cozy restaurant, where the waiter dropped Saltenberger's credit card into a seam in the floor. Much later, they were in their room and Saltenberger, still on sinus medicine, immediately went to sleep, the engagement ring still safely pinned to his pocket.

The next morning, they headed for Santa Barbara. Ten miles down the road, the scenic drive stopped and a freeway began.

In Santa Barbara, they parked the car near a beach.


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