At cliff's edge

At cliff's edge

When Jay Moore decided to propose to his girlfriend of five years, Joanna Brockel, last winter, he knew he wanted to do something both special and physical since they’re both physical therapists. She does acute therapy. He does outpatient therapy. And they share a love of sports (they play on the same co-ed football league in Richmond). So he planned a ski getaway to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, last February. Over an après-ski lunch one afternoon Jay, who just turned 28, casually asked Joanna, 27, if she’d like to rent snowmobiles and ride with a guide along the Continental Divide to the top of a nearby mountain that offered views of two states.

Jay Moore and Joanna Brockel
September 19, 2009
Photo by Sarah Cramer Shields

Jay’s plan was for Joanna to share his snowmobile as he followed the guide up the mountain because he knew that once he proposed, she’d want to ride with him on his snowmobile anyway. But Joanna, who has never been much of a passenger, wanted to ride her own, so they ended up taking two separate snowmobiles.

When they reached the top of the mountain, they stopped to bask in the glittering, snow-covered vista below (this is the part where the guide slunk off into the woods). Jay got off his snowmobile and, still wearing his helmet and ski goggles, got down on bended knee. He reached into the front pocket of his ski parka to retrieve the ring, which he’d tied to a bright pink hairband just in case he accidentally dropped the ring in the snow. Joanna gasped. Jay popped the question. Joanna said yes. Jay removed the hair band in preparation of slipping the ring on Joanna’s finger. But she accidentally bumped his hand, sending the three stone diamond ring into the air and landing in the snow right on the edge of the cliff.

The couple panicked. Jay sprawled along the edge of the cliff to retrieve the ring. Once safely in his hand, he wasted no time slipping it on his fiancée’s finger. Order was restored. The guide reappeared to snap a few photos of the extremely relieved couple. Joanna remarked, “Well, I can’t ride by myself now,” just as Jay figured, so they left her snowmobile in the middle of the forest to be retrieved later by a guide.

Jay and Joanna wed on September 19 in Deltaville, where Jay is from. For a while, Joanna tried to convince Jay to move with her to Charlottesville, where she worked for some time at UVA hospital. But Jay is a “Hokies fan at heart,” she says. “It was hard to get him to move anywhere close to the Cavaliers.” So they ended up putting down roots in Richmond, where they now both work and own a home. For now, children consist of a 130-pound Great Dane named Nolan and a 15-pound Bichon Frise named Buddy. “It’s hard for them to really play together despite Nolan’s attempts,” says Jay. “And Buddy, though little, usually doesn’t want to play.”

For their honeymoon, the couple went to Italy, a trip that combined Jay’s interest in art and history with Joanna’s interest in relaxing on the beach—and they both indulged in plenty of good food and wine. The only glitch in their plans was the decision to buy a box of olive oil and wine at the beginning of their trip: They had to schlep their bounty from one destination to another, a decision that nearly caused them to miss their train to Naples. “We had to run though the train station with four bags of luggage and this box,” says Jay. “I can only hope we gave passengers some comic relief. We were just glad to make the train and I was pretty impressed with my wife. She was a trooper that day.”