Madden Surbaugh and Megan Hancock have made a lifetime of memories in the 13 years they’ve been together.
As Surbaugh’s parents told him: “The thing you two are best at is having fun.”
The couple, who live on Orcas Island with their daughter Frankie, met in 2005 while living in Friday Harbor. They were set up by a mutual friend, who joined them for a double date in Surbaugh’s home. As a chef he often cooked meals for his dates, so he called Hancock’s boss and found out her favorite foods and that she didn’t like beer or wine.
When Surbaugh handed her a pomegranate martini and later served a mouth-watering meal with music and candles, Hancock was smitten. (That pomegranate martini later became a menu item in both of his restaurants; it was called “The First Date.”) After that initial dinner, the two were inseparable.
“I woke up the next morning and felt like a groupie and that I had gone out with a rockstar chef,” said Hancock. “And I’ve been a groupie ever since.”
Hancock was particularly impressed with Surbaugh’s alphabetized CD collection and that he included Van Morrison, one of her favorite artists, in his playlist for the night. “Into the Mystic” became one of their songs.
In turn, Surbaugh was blown away by the appreciation that Hancock demonstrated.
“She just understood me. I wasn’t doing it with any ulterior motive. It was just me,” he said. “It was the first time I had that with someone.”
The two were visiting Orcas for the weekend in August 2008 when Surbaugh proposed at Twin Lakes in Moran State Park. One of their favorite dates is a hike and picnic – for this one, they had packed French ham from Roses Bakery and a German Riesling.
Hancock was about to leave for dental hygiene school in Portland, Oregon, and Surbaugh wanted to solidify their relationship.
“We were both not ready for a wedding right away, but we were very committed,” said Hancock, who later bought Surbaugh a ring to wear as well. For the next two years, the couple maintained a long-distance relationship with visits every six weeks.
In 2010 they moved to Orcas, and in 2012, they were married on Shaw Island. Senator Kevin Ranker brought them over in his boat, and before letting them off at the beach, that fateful Van Morrison song began to play over the speakers. Ranker turned off the engine, and the two danced on the boat while their wedding guests waited on the shore.
“It’s one of my favorite moments,” said Hancock.
Right after their wedding, the two tried to get pregnant for a year.
“The key to getting through it was communication and trying to have fun,” said Hancock.
Their relationship evolved again after having Frankie, who is now 4.
“We commiserate over parenting. It’s a hard thing,” said Hancock. “We don’t always see eye to eye, but we pick each other up.”
Surbaugh is most at home hosting parties or cooking big meals, which is something that Hancock completely supports.
“Megan takes the reins on entertaining so I can cook and serve. She knows exactly what to do,” he said. “She has always let me be who I am – for better or worse. It’s hard when your husband wants to own a restaurant or have 60 people over to his house.”
Since 2014, Surbaugh has been the assistant general manager at the Orcas Food Co-op, and Hancock is a dental hygienist at Dr. Steven Bailey’s office. She says her husband still treats her with the same level of thoughtfulness that he showed on their first date. For her 30th birthday, he made oysters a different way for her every day for a month. After work, Surbaugh will often hand his wife a cocktail as she walks in the door.
“When I was in labor with Frankie, he said, ‘When this is done, I will make you a flourless chocolate cake with blue cheese frosting.’ Our midwife Melinda Milligan said it was the weirdest thing she’d ever heard during a labor,” laughed Hancock.
The first years with their daughter were focused on adjusting to parenthood and settling into their new home. Now that she is older, the two are looking at making more time for each other.
“We are both nurturing about what we need as individuals,” said Hancock.
Their favorite pastime is traveling. They have been to Spain, France, Mexico, Hawaii and “a lot” of road trips and camping excursions. This Valentine’s Day weekend, Frankie will stay with her grandparents so Hancock and Surbaugh can go to Las Vegas. In the coming year, they are set to go camping in Eastern Oregon, Shaw and Whistler. They are also planning a family trip to France for Hancock’s 40th birthday in 2019.
“We love camping with Frankie. We get to relax and really spend time together,” she said.
Hancock says she feels the most in love with her husband when they are “doing normal things” together.
“I look over at him and think, ‘This is us. This is our family,’” she said.
When asked how much she loves her parents, Frankie turned to them and said, “I love you to the moon and back!”