A road trip that ended in love

When they left Denver for San Diego in April 2016, Kate Googins and Tyler Tetreault were not a couple, just two people who had met briefly six weeks earlier and have continued to keep in touch afterward. Just over half of their road trip outside of Sedona, Arizona, they admitted that at some point in their driving hours, they fell in love.

Despite their discovery, the rest of the trip was tinged with melancholy. “I just remember feeling like, oh my god, I’m so in love with this person, but our paths are so different,” said Ms. Googins, a third-year law student at the University of Denver. At the time, she was living in San Diego and was considering moving to the Bay Area, and Mr. Tetreault was about to begin a residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Watching from their insect-splattered windshields into a largely desolate landscape, they realized that once they arrived at their destination and Mr. Tetreault was on his way home, the distance of kilometers they had happily covered. could separate them.

It turns out that those fears were unfounded. The momentum that Ms. Googins and Mr. Tétreault established during their trip has only grown stronger. This carried them through a year of geographic separation, months of adjusting to living together in Denver, their commitment to Ice Lake in the San Juan Mountains, and Mr. Tetreault’s exit as transgender, to a small town on the northeast coast of Maui. , where they were married on February 15.

“I felt like I was watching my life unfold, in a really nice way,” said Ms. Googins, 29, of how her relationship with Mr. Tétreault developed. “As if the wheels were moving and I was moving with them.”

This route was less surprising for Mr. Tetreault, 30, who described himself as “quite ill” after leaving San Diego to complete medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine. He was the one who suggested Ms Googins travel together when he learned he would be moving to Colorado for his residence. It is also he who raised the subject of the formalization of their relationship after their road trip.

“I told him I was talking about her as my girlfriend to all my friends because that’s how I felt,” he said. “That’s how this conversation between us was born – she found out that she was already in a relationship with me.

The couple’s progress has only encountered one obstacle that they have seriously struggled to overcome: the pandemic. Their decision to get married in Hawaii without guests or family members came after they were forced to get rid of three other arrangements. A big seaside wedding in San Diego in August 2020 was the first idea they had to give up; then a deferred version of their original plan; and finally, an intimate ceremony reserved for the immediate family.

“At that point, we were exhausted from planning our wedding and the thought of our wedding was emotionally draining,” Ms. Googins said. But when Mr. Tetreault asked plaintively, “What are we going to do?” one day in January, she found out she had an answer, “Let’s get married in Hawaii and be done.”

With the help of Elope Maui, a company run by photographer and event coordinator Ajja DeShayne, their plans were made within weeks. Kahu Kale Kaalekahi, who is a minister of universal life, officiated on an expanse of lava rocks near the ocean.

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