This past Sunday marked one full year since John and I arrived in San Diego! April 20, 2013 was spent driving into San Diego from the last stop of our road trip, Las Vegas. I was freaking out during the entire four-hour ride – What if the apartment that we rented was gross? When were we going to find jobs? Was it feasible to keep driving right past San Diego and continue traveling? (I’m not joking, I spent a good hour trying to convince John to go all the way up the coast to Washington, drive through the Midwest to Denver, followed by Yosemite, and THEN arrive in San Diego a few weeks later.) I’m not kidding when I say that I was freaking out upon arriving in San Diego, but just one year later; look at how great everything has turned out!
Since John and I wanted to celebrate our California one-year anniversary, we did so by doing what we do best – something AWESOME! For a year end gift, John’s managers at Realty National bought him a voucher for a hot air balloon ride for two – I have to admit that a hot air balloon ride had been on my bucket list for years and I was ecstatic when I heard it was his gift – I may have even been more excited than him! (I was really, really, really happy. Like, very incredibly happy).
We immediately decided that we wanted to use the voucher to celebrate our one-year in California and quickly booked our date, (April 19), with the company. Our excitement mounted over the next few months as we waited for the date to approach, and finally, this past Saturday finally arrived!
Overall, the experience was incredibly cool – I’d highly recommend giving it a try if it’s something that’s been sitting on your bucket list for a while. Although the balloon flight can vary depending on the day, ours was seemingly perfect! The ride can last anywhere between thirty minutes to an hour and fifteen, so we were ecstatic when ours lasted over an hour- we were even able to see the sun actually set! Height is also hard to determine, as it all depends on the wind, and before taking off, our pilot said we’d probably only get to about 1,000 feet elevation – we made it up to 4,200 feet! Lastly, John and I didn’t realize that in addition to both of us being passengers, there were also eleven others, fourteen in all including the pilot. Even though we didn’t realize how many people would be on-board in our basket, they were a really fun group and made the experience even more enjoyable!
Being up high in the sky with no sort of harness, parachute, or even safety equipment was really wild. You could feel the heat on your face when our pilot let the flames billow into the balloon, and when peering over the edge of the basket, it was mind-blowing to feel how high up you were with no restraints! It was an experience that I had been excited for, yet my expectations were exceeded beyond belief!
Just being able to look at the scenery all around us, seeing the other five hot air balloons in the distance (six balloons took off from our same launch area), and watching the sun dip below the horizon from above was one of the most relaxing, yet unbelievable ways to see the views San Diego has to offer. You could see the mountains to the north, the ocean to the west, cities to the south, and the gorgeous properties of Rancho Santa Fe directly below – we even (supposedly, as per our balloon pilot) saw two of Bill Gates’ houses from above!
While enjoying the hot air balloon ride this weekend, I was reminded of something important – the value of experiences. There’s a quote that I love by Oliver Wendell Holmes that says, “A mind, once expanded by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” I read this quote just about a year ago, right after arriving in San Diego after our road trip. When reading it for the first time, I realized how much I agreed with it, having learned so much more than I could have imagined in just our seven weeks on the road. I think about its importance often, and strive to continue to broaden my mind to new experiences and ideas every day, saving the more extravagant adventures, like hot air ballooning, for special occasions.
I think it’s really important to keep your dreams and goals in mind, no matter how unachievable you may think they are. It’s great to keep a “bucket list” or “things to do” list to refer to when you feel like you need to let loose a little. You can refer to your master list and decide what you have the inkling to try next. Investing in experiences and fun is never a waste – just make sure you’re spending your money wisely and using the experience as a reward instead of an every-day occurrence. If you treat yourself to bucket list activities, AKA things you actually want to do, you’ll feel fulfilled and rewarded each time you indulge in an experience.
Although many “bucket-list” type activities tend to be expensive, there are really great resources that we have available in today’s tech age that can be useful in affording the expense of following your dreams. Similar to how John and I used sites like Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon Local to cut down on our road trip costs, these sites are also ideal mediums to browse for experience-type activities that have been reduced in cost – sometimes as much as 90% off!
The voucher that John’s company bought him was a Living Social deal. Still expensive, I’m sure, but it made the purchase a bit more reasonable so they were able to afford such an awesome, extravagant experience as a gift! I’ve purchased vouchers myself for digital-telepathy birthday surprises, event or game prizes, or even personal Christmas gifts – two years ago I purchased racetrack Lamborghini and Ferrari rides for Daniel and John for Christmas, and boy, was I the favorite gift-giver on their lists!
Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon Local offer really great deals on activities or fun things to do around your city. John and I have been making it a point to explore our city more, and the vouchers are a great way to do that, while saving money at the same time! I always see ones for hot air balloon rides – bite the bullet and buy the next one you see – you won’t be sorry!
We’re always looking for new and exciting things to do – What are some of the things on your bucket list? What are some of the experiences you’ve already checked off? Do you know of any other sites like Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon Local that can offset the cost of experience-type activities? Let us know in the comments below!