January 23, 2018 03:52 PM

Arie Luyendyk Jr. vied for Emily Maynard‘s heart on season 8 of  The Bachelorette. Now, he’s on his own journey to find love on the latest season of  The Bachelor — and he’s blogging about it exclusively for PEOPLE! Follow Arie on Twitter at @ariejr.

Hey guys, we’re back, and this week we’re talking about South Lake Tahoe! I’d never been to Tahoe before, but it was a place I’d always wanted to visit. The beautiful crisp water, mountains of trees and endless outdoor activities available at your fingertips. Having this be the first week outside of Los Angeles was exactly what I needed, and I was excited to share this new experience with the women.

I hopped into my open red Chevy Blazer truck for the week and made my way through the winding mountain roads to the women’s house. I chose Seinne for this one-on-one because, leading up to this point, she was one of the most intriguing women. I was impressed with her travels, a little intimidated by her ivy league education, and totally mesmerized by her beauty. Seinne’s date card read, “let our love soar” and I was hoping to make a good impression.

Not going to the lake on my first day in Tahoe would be a crime, so that was a must. Not only was I excited to take Seinne with me, but I’ve never parasailed before. For those of you who haven’t been, I highly recommend it – it is wild! I’m pretty active in my personal life; other than racing, I love to cliff-jump, off-road, and rarely say no to an adventure. Having Seinne by my side made this first experience parasailing really special. And can I share a secret with you guys: I was slightly terrified (our secret, don’t tell anyone, okay? Thanks), but Seinne was fearless; she was present in the moment, which helped me let go. Seinne and I were floating hundreds of feet high above Lake Tahoe and we could see for miles. We were so small in this huge landscape, but my feelings for her felt like they were starting to match the moment.

Seinne
Craig Sjodin/ABC

Once our boat reeled us back in, we hopped out onto a remote beach for a picnic. Conversation is always easy with Seinne. I’ve found that in this world, that isn’t always the case … sometimes we can put too much pressure on ourselves or maybe nerves take over. The last one-on-one I went on was with Lauren S., and I ended up saying goodbye that evening. I had a small fear that could happen again, but it was clear from the start of our date that it wouldn’t be the case with Seinne.

Going into dinner that night I wanted to know more about her past and what she wanted for her future. When she told me about growing up not seeing happy endings with women like herself, it broke my heart a little. Seinne is a woman who has seen a lot of heartbreak and disappointment, but she is a person who deserves an amazing love story, the kind you see in big colorful Disney movies where the local wildlife help you with your dress. In that moment sitting together, I knew the future was uncertain – but I felt really strongly that we were building a foundation to lead us to that happy ending, maybe I’d be that prince holding the glass slipper at the end of this. Ending the night dancing to the band Lanco was so awesome. We fed off the energy of the crowd as we danced together – but none of that matched the excitement I had for Seinne.

Something that really broke my heart was having to say goodbye to Maquel under the terrible circumstances of the passing of her grandfather. Something you didn’t see in the episode was a talk we had before she left. She came to me privately to tell me about what had happened. We talked for a while about how much he had meant to her, and I shared my own experience of losing my grandfather, who had been so influential in my life. I’m grateful that Maquel shared what she shared with me in that private moment. It was brave. She was brave. I told Maquel that if she wanted to give us a shot, she could come back into this journey whenever she wanted, if and when she was ready.

What good is spending a week in the woods if you don’t get your hands dirty! The group date I planned was one of my favorites: a survival date! Not surprisingly, some of the girls were more excited by this date than others. Look, I love a good fancy date with white table clothes, high heels and tuxedos, but sometimes you’ve just got to get in the mud and see what you’re made of.

I invited Mykel Hawke and his wife Ruth on this date to help us navigate not only the wilderness but also how to do it with your partner. If this couple could stay strong in the elements for 13 years, I was sure the women and I could make it through the day. Something that wasn’t lost on this survivalist was humor: Mykel helped me pull a little prank on the women with the pee-drinking thing. When I noticed Jacqueline lifting her canteen to her mouth, I had to abort the prank. I couldn’t make her actually drink her own pee! But I was impressed, it takes a lot of guts (and an exceptionally strong stomach) to even consider doing that. That’s when I knew for sure that I was not the toughest person on this date.

Speaking of tough, how about Kendall! I feel like she was built for this kind of thing. Without flinching she was eating bugs and worms, totally owning this experience. Kendall is the kind of woman you want to be stuck with in a zombie movie with: sweet, charming and a low-key badass. When it started snowing, she grabbed me and took me into the woods to steal a kiss. That’s my move! Like I said, low-key badass. The wilderness trek to our oasis is so funny to watch back. In the moment it was cold, rugged, and we were all a little lost no matter how hard we studied the map. But eventually we made it to our champagne and hot tub, which made it all worth it.

Heading into the afterparty that night, I was excited to spend time with everyone in a setting a little more traditional. I felt like my conversation with Lauren was one of the best of the evening because while she said she was still taking time to get comfortable in this setting, I felt like with me she was already there. And while we still had so much to learn about one another, the spark was undeniable. My time spent with Tia that night was also really special. Over the weeks I felt like we had been building something really great, and even though we come from such different worlds, I felt like we understand one another on a level that I’m looking for in a partner. Giving Tia the rose was an easy decision, and I was excited to see where our relationship was going to go.

Krystal and Arie
Paul Hebert via Getty

Now, lets take a second and talk about Krystal. It’s already unusual to date multiple women at once, so it’s not totally crazy to think there will be disagreements and have certain women just not get along. I knew since our one-on-one it was hard for Krystal to be back on group dates. I could sense tension between her and Caroline and Tia but really didn’t feel like it would be appropriate for me to involve myself in. Watching it back, I see so much more than I did in person, and it’s hard to say now if I’d have done anything differently. It isn’t easy seeing these amazing women struggle with one another, but knowing what I know now – I’m happy that I was patient to make sure I was making the right choices. Things don’t always play out the way you expect, and I think next week you’ll understand a little more.

Watching this back, I could see that Bekah M.’s age was becoming the topic of conversation in the house. I have to admit, I knew she was probably one of the younger women, but you wouldn’t think so by speaking with her. At this point in this journey, some of my most interesting, challenging and thoughtful conversations had been had with her.  As I stood at the horse stables waiting to see Bekah for the last date of the week, I knew I needed this one-on-one to figure out if we had a future … or really if she felt ready for the future I was envisioning for myself.

I’m not much of an equestrian guy, so I have to give a big shout-out to my horse General for making me look good for my date. As we road through the trails and arrived to our sexy hot tub in the woods, I just wanted to live in the moment with her. Bekah has way of making our time together feel easy and effortless, but in the back of my mind I knew that by the end of our date I’d need answers to some of my questions. Heading into that evening, I was ready to go deeper with Bekah and see if our lives match up for what we are looking for. After finding out that Bekah was 22 years old, I have to say it was shocking. I appreciate what she said about not wanting me to see her through the lens of her age — and up to this point I truly hadn’t. So far everything about Bekah that I had gotten to know led me to believe she was wise beyond her years. I felt like it would have been wrong and I’d regret it if I didn’t give her the rose only based on age. Bekah is an incredible woman and I could see myself one day falling in love with her. I was afraid and I was hesitant but went for it because I knew she was worth the risk.

Bekah M.
Craig Sjodin/ABC

I decided to cancel the cocktail party that week in Tahoe because by that evening, I felt strongly in who I was ready to say goodbye to. I didn’t want to waste Caroline and Brittany’s time when I knew that I didn’t see a future with them.  They are two incredible women who both deserve so much happiness and love, but I knew in my heart it wouldn’t be with me. This week must have really rattled Krystal’s confidence for her to pull me before the rose ceremony. I wish I could say that we find our rhythm again next week, but our rocky pattern continues in a pretty shocking way. Next week reveals new truths, tensions and love … I can’t wait to share it with you guys. Thanks for reading!

Best, Arie

The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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