Total Eclipse of the Heart: Our Engagement Story
Back about June as people were starting to get really excited about the Great American Solar Eclipse, I connected the dots that the eclipse happened to be on the same day as Isaac and mine’s two-year anniversary. I quickly started dropping subtle and then not-so-subtle hints that it would be a great idea to celebrate our two year anniversary in Charleston, SC, a city located right in the path of totality.
Weeks went by and we didn’t book anything and I wasn’t even sure if Isaac was going to get the Monday off from the hospital. And then around late July Isaac brought the topic back up. Before I knew it we had a hotel booked in Savannah. Everything in Charleston was booked so we figured we’d get up really early Monday and drive the two hours into Charleston.
A couple of weeks before our little road trip I decided to add a stop in St. Augustine since in all the years living in Florida I’d never been there. Saturday, August 19th rolled around and we hit the road. Me being the planner that I am, I planned stops for us along the way, mostly because Isaac needs to stretch his legs and I like to see things along the way.
First Stop Melbourne, FL Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
We stopped at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge by Cape Canaveral to check out some of the local wildlife. They have this breathtaking driving trail that gives you a safe off-roading experience while letting you see all the various birds and critters that call Florida home. Called the Black Point Wildlife Drive it curves and bends for 7 miles across the refuge and has plenty of stopping points along the way to learn about the animals, take pictures, or just take a break.
Next Stop St. Augustine, FL Ice Plant at the St. Augustine Distillery & Castillo de San Marcos
I had added St. Augustine to our travel itinerary sort of last minute. I figured it was on the way so why not spend the night there. The Oldest City in the United States did not disappoint. The town itself is really adorable, with old Southern charm mixed in with Spanish flair and a little witchcraft. We were able to book a hotel right on San Marco Avenue, right in the heart of the Historic District.
The evening we arrived we went and checked out the local distillery at Ice Plant Bar. I had the Florida Mule and it had quite the kick! The bar located within the St. Augustine Distillery has a turn of the century industrial vibe and was packed when we arrived. While they do serve food which I hear is great we were starving and didn’t give it a try. I highly recommend if you ever find yourself in St. Augustine that you get at least one drink here.
Since we’d gotten into St. Augustine a little later than we had hoped we didn’t go see Castillo de San Marcos until the following morning just before heading out to Savannah. It’s a pretty impressive defensive structure that just kind of seems to float with the land. Spaniards knew a thing or two about building.
We really enjoyed St. Augustine and how nice everyone was and really hope we have an opportunity to go back and explore it some more because it’s chock full of history!
Next Stop Savannah, GA Midway Congregational Church & Bonaventure Cemetery
From St. Augustine we decided to take the long way to Savannah. In researching points of interest for our little roadtrip I’d run into forum after forum where people talked about this pretty highway called US-17 that went through some of the most historic places in Georgia. I figured we weren’t in any rush and why not see some things, Isaac thankfully agreed. He’s always so good about indulging my history nerdiness.
So we hit the road and man was the road pretty! I highly recommend it. It was along US 17 that we arrived at Midway and got to see the historic Midway Congregational Church. Though the museum is closed on Sundays (the day we were there) just seeing the buildings from the outside was amazing. The current building was built in 1792 after the original church was destroyed during the Revolutionary War. The Congregation boasts of having two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Lyman Hall and Button Gwinnett.
Yes I make Isaac go to a cemetery in every new place we visit. No I don’t have an obsession with death. I’m obsessed with history and sometimes the best history can be found in cemeteries. Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, GA is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. With row after row of beautiful statues and mausoleums dedicated to those who helped make Savannah the cool town that it is. Boasting a huge Jewish section I learned while at this cemetery that Savannah is actually home to one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the country. Established in 1735 Congregation Mickve Israel was also the first Jewish Congregation in the country to ever receive a letter from a sitting US President as they received a letter from George Washington. I bring this bit of history up to illustrate that not every place is what it may seem like on television.
Savannah was beautiful but not a whole lot to do on a Sunday. So make sure you visit on a Friday or Saturday if you want to enjoy all the culinary treats they have to offer. We were happy that we got to see the various historic sites.
One More Stop! Charleston, SC Hampton Park
Now there had been rumors swirling around that maybe Isaac was going to propose. Maybe his Mom brought it up. Maybe my Dad spilled the beans about him asking for my hand. I wasn’t very convinced though. Not that I didn’t want to get engaged. I may have instituted a timeline (deadline). Still I wasn’t sure he was going to get around to it because Isaac can at times procrastinate. So on the morning of eclipse day as we were leaving Savannah I didn’t have proposals on my mind at all. All I wanted to do was get to Charleston early so we could get a good spot to watch the eclipse.
Isaac suggested we see the eclipse at this park near the Citadel called Hampton Park. It’s this big beautiful park with all sorts of ducks and birds, big open fields and tree lined paths. We set up our hammock on a couple of trees and waited. Other groups set up close it us. Groups of friends, and families, a nice older couple, everyone together in this one park to witness this unique cosmic event. We waited and ate all of our snacks. Isaac played a little frisbee with one of the nearby groups. I looked at my eclipse app and got our eclipse glasses ready. Just as the time was nearing for the Great American Solar Eclipse to get underway, the clouds rolled in. While we were worried we wouldn’t see anything it was actually kind of magnificent how the clouds acted as nature’s eclipse glasses.
My eclipse app chimed in with prompts everytime something was happening. It told us when to put on our glasses and look up. Isaac thought it was kind of ridiculous but I didn’t want to miss anything. While I was paying attention to the eclipse app prompts Isaac was off setting up his camera. I thought he was setting it up to get film or pictures of the eclipse. And then totality happened. We witnessed as the birds all flew away, it became eerily dark in the park, and the park lights came on. I was mesmerized. It seemed to last forever though I know thanks to my app it only lasted about a minute and half but when the sun came back all I heard was Isaac yelling “Grace Ruiz you are my totality…” huh? Isaac grabbed my hand and got on one knee and in front of all of those people in that great park he confessed his love for me. I was so surprised! And happy and ummm yessss but wait he hadn’t actually asked me to marry him even though he’d already slipped the engagement ring on my finger. So when he got up and embraced me I said “you haven’t actually asked me the question” like a good lawyer I needed a true offer and acceptance. He asked I said yes…on August 21, 2017 following the Total Solar Eclipse I said yes to spending the rest of my life with my best friend, who often drives me crazy but I couldn’t imagine living without him.
The actual photos of the proposal were snapped by a very kind neighbor who saw what was happening and thought she should document the moment. The hospitality we felt in Charleston was unforgettable. We’re really excited that it’s a contender for Isaac’s medical residency and would be happy to call it home.
So it’s finally our turn and we’ve started planning the wedding. As we plan that Isaac is also in the midst of his residency interview season so there will be several upcoming trips, some of which I’ll be going on. The rest of our lives just got a little more exciting. We’re getting married!!!