When Jodi Misar showed up for her Christmas date with her boyfriend Ian Nelson on Dec. 27, she didn’t know she was embarking on a city-wide trail of clues leading her to a dramatic proposal on Sugar Loaf — complete with a special photographer.
The two started their afternoon with a hike in the woods behind Saint Mary’s University, where they had enjoyed plenty of hikes during their not-quite six years of dating.
They kept up the relationship through college in different cities and even different countries. Now they’re both first-year teachers, Nelson in Stillwater and Misar in Rochester.
After their hike in the woods, they stopped in the fieldhouse to use the bathroom. When Misar came out of the bathroom, she was surprised to find that Nelson was gone, and her brother was standing there with a wrapped gift.
Inside the gift was a pair of socks — which she insisted was all she wanted for Christmas — and a rhyme leading her to another favorite spot: her church.
She knew something was up.
“I had a feeling that my Christmas present was going to be a little bit more than socks,” she said.
From the church, she was off to more familiar places around Winona, each with a family member or friend holding a pair of socks and another clue.
For Misar, it was a walk down memory lane.
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“The whole thing was just fond memories,” she said. Levee Park. The band shell. Bluffview Montessori, where they met as kids.
Nelson was waiting with the final clue at the top of the Winona Health parking ramp, where he had asked Misar to senior prom back in high school.
Together they hiked up Sugar Loaf in the fresh snow. Nelson’s friends were waiting with camera equipment and something a bit more unusual: a drone to take aerial shots.
As the two were climbing up the rock to their favorite ledge, the drone took off noisily from the bushes, and Misar started to laugh.
“I told her not to look at it — it would ruin all the photos,” Nelson said.
Hovering drone and all, Misar said yes.
“She said, ‘I’d love to,’ and then I made her repeat it so she actually said yes,” Nelson said. “She was laughing her head off the whole time.”
“I’m a lucky, lucky girl,” Misar said.
They’re planning an August 2015 wedding.