C.J. Martin proposed to Stephanie Heinen in a “monumental” way. The couple met in Hillsboro early last year, when Heinen, 21, was working in a Portland-area hospital and living in Forest Grove, Ore.
When it came time to propose, Martin, 28, wanted something unique, and his idea he came up required a BIG canvas. He decided to write out the proposal in a volcano mud flow deposit in the Toutle Valley below the Eco Park Resort, owned by longtime family friend Mark Smith.
On the morning of Aug. 1, Martin, Smith and resort employees Riley Horton and Lacy Hoffman went down to the mud flow with nearly 600 pounds of powdered limestone to etch and color the letters of his marriage appeal into the sand.
“We mapped it out with rope, then dug three or four inches with shovels, and then filled it with limestone,” said Martin, 28, of Castle Rock. “We ended up using 450 pounds, nine bags, but I brought 12 just in case. The letters were six feet by six feet and (the finished the message) was about the size of half a football field.”
The crew was worried the task would take all day, but they finished in under three hours.
Martin had told Heinen that Smith needed his help at the park that day. After the writing was finished, he called his girlfriend to tell her Smith invited them to dinner at his resort, where a contractor offers helicopter rides around Mount St. Helens.
“When she got here, (Smith) invited us to go for a helicopter tour,” Martin said Thursday.
It was Heinen’s first helicopter ride, and it took in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Heart Lake, a small mountain tarn in the monument near Minnie Peak.
Then the helicopter veered over the mud flow.
“Is that a geographical marker?” Smith asked as Pilot Andy Paulson of Applebee Aviation maneuvered so Heinen could see the mud flow — and her boyfriend’s marriage proposal etched into it.
“As soon as the helicopter turned sideways, I couldn’t say a word,” Heinen recalled.
“She looked at me, while I was smiling, and I said ‘What does it say?” Martin said. “I nudged her with the ring, and kept asking, ‘What does it say?’ She was speechless. ‘Well what’s your answer?’ I said, and she nodded her head yes.”
“I couldn’t even say yes,” Heinen said. “I had to shake my head yes.”
“It was a really good feeling watching it happen,” Smith said. “The pilot and I were both teary-eyed.”
Martin had been planning the event for several weeks.
“I wasn’t nervous until we started getting close to the mud flow,” Martin said. “I saw Hoffstadt (Bluffs) and my heart started beating.”
Heinen said she still tears up when she retells the story to friends and co-workers.
“I have never felt that special, ever,” said added.
“It couldn’t have been more perfect,” Martin said.
Smith said he has never seen such a proposal since he opened Eco Park Resort in 1998.
“We’ve had some fun proposals, but this one takes the cake,” he said.
Heinen now works at St. John Medical Center, sterilizing surgical equipment. Martin is a manager at Star Rental in Longview.
The couple have not set a wedding date, Martin said, but they hope it will be at Eco Park Resort in the summer of 2010 or 2011.
After a day of sightseeing at Mt. St. Helens, we stumbled into the Eco Park Resort, with the intention of having a late lunch only, and wound up staying 5 nights! It was a no brainer; After meeting Dawn and Mark, (the purveyors of Eco Park Resort), after enjoying the scrumshish lunch and sitting taking in the beautiful scenery from the main lodge, we new we just had to stay. Dawn and Mark made us feel at home right from the minute we entered to the moment we left. We knew we had made new friends with whom we hope to get to visit with again.
From every meal to the most cozy of accommodations(we stayed in one of the cabins), to clean bathrooms with showers (with heat included!), to the glorious grounds Eco Park Resort is a definite must see and stay when visiting Mount St. Helens. Eco Park has lodging, horseback riding, hiking, and even helicopter rides. At night, they light a campfire for all to enjoy.
It is a great place for families and would make a wonderful place for a wedding OR family reunion. The rates are so very reasonable too. If you do go, please observe the park speed limit when driving about, there are horses, children and others walking about..what's your hurry anyway, aren't you supposed to be on vacation???
Dierdre and Richard Muller, Plainfield, NH.