Yahoo Travel profiles readers who came back from a trip with the best souvenir ever — true love. Want to share your own story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marybeth and Gary met while hiking in Nepal. (Photo: Marybeth Bond)
Who: Marybeth Bond and Gary Sheppard
Where we met: Kathmandu, Nepal
Relationship status: Married 29 years
(As told by Marybeth)
I was 29, and I decided that I wanted to spend my 30th birthday at the Mount Everest base camp.
My fantasy was to chuck the alarm clock and say farewell to predictability and stress. I was over the standard workday, commuting, cubicles, computers, and unsuccessful relationships. So I quit my job and bought an open-ended ticket from San Francisco to Bangkok. I thought it would be a one-year journey. But it turned into two.
Summit of Island Peak at 20,000 feet in Nepal right before meeting Gary (Photo: Marybeth Bond)
First, I’ll say that I went to Nepal to go trekking, not to meet a man. I walked into the Kathmandu guesthouse, which is kind of like a backpacker place. Nothing elegant about it. When I met Gary, I was coming down from trekking in the Annapurna range, and he was headed up to the Mount Everest base camp. I hadn’t had anything more than a sponge bath in more than two weeks, so I certainly wasn’t looking to make a love connection.
Gary and I talked for a few minutes, and even though we were both in relationships at the time, we had a real spark. For me to meet a lawyer from San Francisco who took six weeks off to trek and explore Burma was amazing. It intrigued me that he could have a foot in each world.
We went our separate ways, and I didn’t return to the U.S. for another year. Gary and I didn’t communicate at all during that time, but it gave us the opportunity to get out of our other relationships. Four days after I got back, I went to a dinner party hosted by one of my trekking friends, and Gary was there.
The couple bonded over their love of adventure. (Photo: Marybeth Bond)
His first line to me was, “What have you been doing since we met in Kathmandu?” The following day we went sailing. On our next date, we went driving over Mount Tam in Marin County, and we listened to Plácido Domingo before eating dinner on the beach. We talked until midnight, and after that, we were together all of the time.
Before we were married, we took a shakedown trip. This means we took a trip together that would be challenging and would test our partnership. We went to Peru and then to Machu Picchu. Our guide spoke only Spanish and we speak only English, but working through those problems showed us we were strong enough to make it.
Six months later, we took a four-mile hike through the woods and ended up on a cliff overlooking the ocean. He had a heavy backpack, and in my head I thought, “I’ll have to teach him how to pack lighter.” But then he pulled out a red tablecloth, glasses, a picnic, and an engagement ring. When he proposed, I was so overwhelmed that I dropped the ring and he leapt for it so it wouldn’t roll off of the mountain!
Six months after that, we got married. And for our honeymoon, we took two months off to travel to Africa and climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
I fell in love with Gary because we are opposites. He’s the roots, and I’m the wings. I love his intelligence, his calm, and his curiosity of everything. I love the way he treats my friends and family, his sense of humor, and his sense of adventure.
Hiking and camping with the kids in Utah (Photo: Marybeth Bond)
He believes in me and accepts me for who I am. If I come up with an idea, he says, “Do it.” And that’s been our motto as a married couple.
For our three-year anniversary, we went back to Kathmandu. We sat in the garden of the guesthouse where we met, split a bottle of champagne, toasted to the serenity of meeting and the courage we both had for taking a chance, and promised that we would always live a life of adventure. Then the next day we took off overland for Tibet and the north side of Mount Everest.
We’ve lived the challenge of raising two kids, and of saving and scrimping for their educations while still traveling. Naturally, some of our travels have been a lot closer to home, like camping trips, but they are memories we will never forget.
Kayaking in Antarctica (Photo: Marybeth Bond)
To this day, Gary and I still chase adventure. We are always looking for new ways to push ourselves, so last year we spent five days kayaking in Antarctica!
I have to say that when I learned to listen to my heart instead of my brain, everything fell into place. I did what I loved and met the love of my life 13,000 miles from home.
Let Yahoo Travel inspire you every day. Hang out with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Check out our original adventure travel series “A Broad Abroad.”