And then it happened…

We realized something transformational happened…

The week on our first cruise was eye opening. We didn’t realize how much we loved it until we were off the boat and back home. Debarkation comes before dawn on the last day of your cruise. Your luggage has been taken the night before, and you generally have just a few small carry on bags with basic toiletries and clothing. You wake up early, run to the buffet for your last breakfast onboard, turn on your cell phone for the first time in a week (us at the time!), and start slowly assimilating back into the “real” world. In the week we were gone, we didn’t watch TV once, we had no idea what was going on around the world. Guess what!?! It kept spinning! We did get emails from our pet sitter to make sure our animals were still doing well, we do have priorities. Sitting down at a window seat on the ship along the buffet line for breakfast, starring out the window at the glimmering lights flickering in the blue hour of dawn we were completely torn. We were excited to go home to see our animals, but also dreading getting off the ship. The rest of the family wasn’t up yet, and we had a few moments to reflect on things in the relative hum and quiet of early morning on a cruise ship normally filled to the gills with music and people. We talked about what we enjoyed on the trip, what we wanted to do next time (yes! we had decided already there would be a next time!), where we wanted to go, and what experiences we wanted to try on this next trip. Then we started thinking about the costs involved. We lived on an island, other than going to Alaska next summer again we would be flying to get to another port, that could get pricey. There would be pet care again, a hotel the night before the trip because our flight wouldn’t get into the east coast early enough to get onto the ship, and of course the costs for the excursions we wanted to do. It started to see impossible to do another one before we even left this one, we were a little disappointed but kept dreaming. For a few months that is what it was…a dream.

We were home about a week when we first noticed a different way of thinking. We were both back into our normal routine of working, grocery shopping, eagerly awaiting word on when we would be leaving “the island”, and taking care of the dogs. (Side note, while we were gone on our cruise somehow about half a dozen baby bunnies made our yard home, none of them afraid of people or dogs! Our big dog thought they would make a lovely snack, our tiny chihuahuas were perplexed at first and ultimately loved their new pals!) The first weekend home popped up, and we both longed for something new. Last weekend we were heading towards Alaska, in a day or two we would be zipping down a mountain! It is hard to come back from that and find sitting on the futon watching reruns of your favorite shows fulfilling. Since it was “summer” on “the island”, we decided we needed to get out of the house and do something new. (Side note again, as a Floridian stuck in Washington state, there is no such thing as summer to a Floridian in Washington state.) After a quick internet search we decided on a picnic lunch and sightseeing trip out to an area called Mount Baker on the mainland. It would take about two hours to get there and two hours back, maybe a few hours looking around and taking photos and having lunch taking in the fantastic views. It was doable, cheap, and most importantly new! We packed up the small SUV we drove at the time, headed out for a new adventure!

My spouse is from the midwest, probably only slightly more hilly than the great state of Florida that sports a few places below sea level, and the highest point above sea level is only 345 feet, Britton Hill. Mount Baker, on the other hand, is just over 10,000 feet above sea level at the peak! In addition, snow is still a very novel concept to me as someone born and raised in the deep south, and the fact this place still had snow in the middle of the summer made my entire day! There were some small kids sliding down the small snow banks on plastic discs, and guess what I had to do at least once while there! That’s right! I can assure you that was not in the plan when we left the house, so it was a delightful surprise! (Third side note: I’m basically a small child trapped in an adult’s body and if there is something to be played with, I’m usually game to give it a try!) After a few hours looking around and playing with snow, we had lunch and headed back to the island we came from earlier that day. When we pulled up in the driveway we were tired but smiling, exhausted but happy. We had a great day! Later that evening we were balancing our digital checkbook and we decided to look up how much our little excursion was that day. The drive out there was almost a tank of gas in our small SUV, about $30 at the time. Picnic lunch was groceries we already bought and would have eaten at the house anyway at some point that week, and entry fees to the park were nonexistent! Basically the entire day had cost us a tank of gas, or dining out at a moderate restaurant, or some stupid trinket at a local store that we would just store in the house and have to wrap carefully to move the next time we got orders. This day cost us $30! We saw amazing views, learned some cool new things about geology, slid down on snow in the middle of the summer, and finally got some level of appreciation for the state we had spent two years hating!

And this sentiment hit us like a ton of bricks!

Before this day, we would have very easily gone to a movie, gotten snacks while there, then maybe had a quick bite to eat on the way home, easily spending $30 if not more in the same length of time we were out exploring the area. Yet, right now, I cannot tell you one movie I saw while living on the island, nor the name of any of the non-chain restaurants I ate at, much less what I had to eat. Yet, ten years later I remember this trip distinctly. We still talk about the views from Artist Point to this day! For anyone we know that gets stationed in the area, we make sure to let them know this gem is up there. We we realized on this day is that what made us happy were new experiences, being together, and trying new things. We may not have had the exhilaration of sliding down a mountain in a canvas sling, but we still were happy, learned something new, and had created memories. On this day we started looking at things differently. It wasn’t so much the monetary cost we evaluated, but the opportunity cost also. For those that didn’t have Economics 101 in school, basically this is the cost of what you missed out doing when you chose one path over the other. In our example, the opportunity cost of going to Artist Point was missing out on a movie, snacks and dinner. We were totally okay with this cost! This line of thinking started us down a journey we are still on today! Welcome to the birth of The 104 Project!

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