You & I

“All the boats I’ve missed, all the hell I’ve caused, all the lips I’ve kissed, all the love I’ve lost, I got kicked around, I’ve been black and blue, on my way to you. “

-Cody Johnson
Ross & Mandy Shenandoah, Virginia, December 2015

Now that you know a little about what our plan is here, I wanted to dive into the story of “us”…Captain Ross and his first mate, Mandy.

Ross is originally from a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains called Shenandoah, Virginia. From a young age, Ross has had an infatuation (or what I like to call an obsession) with boats and being on the water. He got his first boat when he was 13…a 12 foot plastic Jon boat powered by Ross, his best friend Ethan, and two paddles. I imagine there were many adventures had on the Shenandoah River aboard the vessel that created Ross’ passion for boating. A few years later, he bought a ’64 Glastron Tri-hull off of Craigslist for $175. “We went back in the woods for that thing,” he said as he was describing it to me. The Glastron, named “Four Winns”, had a Johnson 60 HP Sea Horse in the back. If you haven’t already guessed, this thing was not reliable. Chuck, Ross’ dad, went along for the ride as the Four Winns made her first splash in the river. Ross recalls his Dad requesting to begin their journey up river, as the dam wasn’t too far down stream. Four Winns is still around. She sits on a piece of property by the river, in an area ironically called “Ship Wreck.” The last time I saw her, she had a tree growing out of her hull.

In his twenties, Ross decided to get his CDL and become a truck driver. He got a job with Melton Truck Lines and began his career on the road. In two years, he got to see the entire lower 48 states! Life on the road is lonely, and eventually Ross grew tired of driving so he packed a bag and drove south to join his parents in Florida. There he took a course and obtained the credentials needed to become a boat captain.

This is where I come in…

I was born in raised in Ocala, a big town with a small town feel in north-central Florida. I always loved education…not so much the going to school part, but I did love to learn and I loved my teachers. When I was young, I forced my little sister to play school with me. I was the teacher, of course, and she was always my misbehaving student! In my early twenties, I was lucky enough to get a part time job coaching the girls JV soccer team at a local high school. I fell head-over-heels in love with coaching. I was far from the best, but I loved my girls, and my girls loved me. Eventually I got a job at the school so I could be closer to my team. Best decision I ever made! You don’t make much money in public school systems, but the relationships you build and the impacts you can make are far more valuable in my opinion.

I turned 30 in August of 2015. I was proud of my independent woman status, working three jobs to take care of myself. I “didn’t need a man” and damn sure wasn’t going to waste my time on anyone unworthy of my attention! My oh my, how the good Lord will humble you when you need it most.

In early November of that same year, I was bored and decided to do some “swiping” on a dating app. I never took swiping too serious, especially after I matched with a pizza that told me how cute I was. Then one day I matched with a cute boy with a beard. A couple days later I received a message from that boy. A few days after that, we had our first date. I left him the evening of our first date knowing without a doubt that I would marry him one day. You know how they say, “when you know, you know?” Well, it’s true. Ross and I have been inseparable ever since.

In our first two months together, we both knew that Ocala wasn’t where we wanted to be. Ross wasn’t happy with his job and he wanted to fulfill his dream of being a boat captain. I had always longed to leave Ocala and start something new, so I began applying for jobs in the Treasure Coast area after Ross got an opportunity to work on a charter boat in Fort Pierce, Fl. Hanging up my coaching whistle was the hardest part, but it had to be done. I got a job in Martin County very quickly, and before I knew it, I was packing everything up and moving south with my captain.

December 12th, 2017

On a random Tuesday night in December of 2017 while enjoying a slice of pizza in our favorite place in Stuart, Ross asked me to marry him. It was easy to say yes, especially since I knew this day would come since our first date. On April 6th, 2019 in front of our closest family and friends, we said I do. Stay tuned, as our story is just beginning!

April 6th, 2019 Photo by: Amanda Smith Photography

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