By SARAH DOOLITTLE
Four Points News
The map on the wall of Allison and Robert D’Alfonso’s bedroom is dotted with red hearts, and it tells the story of seven years of anniversaries spent at locations around the U.S.
The couple — Allison, a stay-at-home parent and essential oils representative and Robert, a dentist and owner of Lakeway Cosmetic Dentistry — live in Steiner Ranch with their three children, Joseph 4, Tinley 3 and Caleb, 20 months.
They first met in Houston, where they attended the same church. Or as Allison said, “We met at a bar — a salad bar,” where a post-service lunch was being hosted. As a member of the group’s leadership, she was required to meet and greet new members.
Both were dating other people at the time, but they exchanged business cards and didn’t reconnect until about six months later when Allison went to Robert for a dental cleaning. After her appointment, he called to follow up, and the professional courtesy turned into a social call. Robert asked Allison if she’d like to go out sometime.
They had their first date on Oct. 10, 2007, and got engaged on Oct. 10, 2008. As Allison explains, “He waited exactly a year because he has this firm belief that you have to date every single season,” so as not to miss out on any “crazy” she said, laughing.
Hurricane Ike interfered with Robert’s proposal plans. The storm meant he was unable to pick up the engagement ring before a planned trip to Hawaii. So in the only restaurant near their Houston homes that still had power, Robert warned Allison that his proposal on Diamond Head would not happen.
At the top of the trail to the volcano, however, instead of a ring Robert pulled out a letter.
“It was a letter that my parents had written,” said Allison. “Little did I know a few weeks prior he had gone down to my hometown and asked my mom and dad for their blessing… So they had written a letter giving their blessing.”
After a nine-month engagement, the couple was married on July 25, 2009.
One their first anniversary, Allison said, “We ended up going to this amazing B&B,” in Sulphur, Okla.
“It was that B&B that we said, we should do this every year, just go to a B&B,” explained Robert, and he suggested celebrating each anniversary in a different B&B in every state. “It was just a fun 50-year goal to have. And so we thought, well, we’ll see how many we can do,” knowing they would soon have kids and the challenges of getting away with small children.
True to their prediction, the D’Alfonsos has three kids in three years, and they answer interview questions between handing out bottles and soothing crying kids. Caleb, the youngest, sprawls across their laps while Robert and Allison list their subsequent anniversary trips.
In 2010, they went to Williams, Ariz., near the Grand Canyon. The next year, the grandparents kept Joseph so the couple could visit Lake Charles, La.
A dental conference allowed Robert to combine work and pleasure the following year, and they visited a B&B in La Jolla, Calif. That was the only year the couple had to take their anniversary trip not on their actual anniversary, as Tinley was too young to be left with the grandparents until September.
Year five took them to Little Rock, Ark., year six Chicago, Ill. and this year Gulf Shores, Ala.
Instead of picking their locations for climate or luxury, “We picked some of these areas… because they were quick flights.” admitted Robert, a need every parent of small children understands.
Still, the pair love to use their trips to discover the cities they are visiting. As they explore different regions, “It’s kind of neat to learn something about that part of the country,” said Robert.
Allison’s favorite B&B so far was their first, in Oklahoma, because of the surrounding orchards and the smell of peaches that drifted in through the open doors. “And they had an on-site spa,” she added smiling.
“I liked all of them,” said Robert, “but I think the Grand Canyon (is my favorite), just because I’d never been to the Grand Canyon… It’s so breathtaking.”
Not that they need dramatic landscapes to have a great time. The highlight of their most recent trip for Allison was, “a two-hour nap in the middle of the day.”
For Robert, “It’s exciting just because we know we’re going to do this every year, and there’s 50 states.”
And even though he’s a Longhorn and she’s an Aggie, “We’re staying married for life. It’s good to have a time when you know you’re going to be getting away just the two of you, no kids… It’s nice to have something to look forward to.”
The couple doesn’t yet have plans for next year, but the map on the wall in their bedroom provides inspiration. Said Allison, “It’s really neat when we’re lying in bed. We look at this and we just think, what’s in going to look like in 10 years?”