Mystery of Bodega Bay proposal solved

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Following last week's storms, the clouds cleared just enough to create an artistic painting of color in the sky. This is what called Edward Kent, an amateur Sonoma County photographer, and Louise Kent, his wife of 44 years, to the Sonoma Coast on Dec. 12.

It was Edward's intention to capture the sunset with his camera at Salmon Creek in Bodega Bay that evening. But it was the image of a man on bended knee in front of his girlfriend that stopped Edward and Louise in their tracks.

"I rarely shoot images of people," Edward admitted. However, the romantic in him couldn't miss the opportunity. He quickly snapped three quick pictures of the couple.

With the moment caught on film, Edward and Louise mulled over whether to approach the couple or not. In the end, they let the couple have their moment in private, and the Kents went home.

This decision was short-lived.

As they made their way home from Salmon Creek, the Kents decided it would be fun to try and find the lovebirds. Edward posted the photo to his personal Facebook page, then shared it on a popular Facebook page called "I Love Sonoma County, CA." On his post he wrote, "Does anyone out there in Sonoma County have an idea who this young couple might be? I'd love to send them this shot. It was a beautiful night for a proposal."

The photo began spreading like wildfire as the romantics of the group shared it across Facebook to their friends in hopes of locating the mystery couple. The search even hit the radio when DJ Dano Weir of radio station Froggy 92.9 FM came across the photo and interviewed Edward on the air.

But still, the mystery couple could not be found. As a last ditch effort, Edward posted an ad on Craigslist.

On Wednesday morning, Hannah Mansfield, 23, woke up in the Placer County city of Auburn to a text from her dad.

“Check your email,” it said.

She waited until she got to work, and clicked on the Craigslist link her father had sent her.

“When I opened the link I just sort of stared at the screen for a minute. I was so stunned!” she said, saying she burst into tears at the sight of the photo. She quickly forwarded the link to her now-fiance, 30-year-old Daniel Arose.

“We were both so flabbergasted that someone had captured such a sweet moment and had gone to such great lengths to find us.”

Mansfield and Arose had only been dating for six months before the sunset proposal on Friday.

“The first time we met we knew we had something special,” Mansfield said. “Although I wouldn't say it was ‘love at first sight,’ we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other by our fourth date.”

The morning of Dec. 12, Mansfield said that her boyfriend received a mysterious package from FedEx. Arose told Mansfield it was a Christmas present for his mother, and then left the house to run some errands. When he came back, he suggested the two of them go to the beach. They packed some bags and drove for a few hours until they reached Bodega Bay.

The sun was just starting to set when they hit the coast.

“As we walked down a short cliff to the water I noticed that he was holding my hand really tightly,” Mansfield said, “I thought to myself 'maybe he just doesn't want me to fall.’”

They reached the water and took a few photos.

“Dan awkwardly kept switching positions,” Mansfield continued. “He was to my right, he was behind me. he was to my left. Next thing I knew, he was down on bent knee! I was so surprised, I didn't believe it was real and asked him ‘Is this really happening?’”

She also said, “Yes.”

The newly engaged couple collected driftwood from the beach the day after their engagement, planning to create a frame for one of their engagement photos. Now that they have this unplanned photo from Edward Kent, they can't think of a more perfect way to display it.

“We can't wait to have it on our mantle our whole lives and tell our kids this amazing story one day!”

Crissi Langwell is the author of three fiction novels, including her newest, The Road to Hope. She can be reached at crissi.langwell@pressdemocrat.com or at her website, crissilangwell.com.

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