We arrived around 9:30 in the morning and had never seen the parking lot this empty. The sky was overcast and it was raining. I had been raining for at least the last twenty minutes of our drive up. Based on the forecast, if anything, we were expecting snowfall, but instead: rain. This was not ideal for the planned cross country skiing outing.
The mood in the car was a little gloomy. “I am really not excited to do this in the rain,” she said. “Yeah, I get it.” It did not sound that exciting to me either.
I opened the door and made my way across the mostly empty lot to one of the portable toilets. It was a decent downpour.
On the way back to the car, I chanced on a couple. They must have arrived just after us — and they looked concerned. He struck up a conversation.
“Have you already been out there today?”
“No, we just got here ourselves.”
“Yeah, I am wondering myself what the conditions are like …”
To this, neither of them had a response. I wished them a great day out there and continued on to the car.
A flexible stop
I sat back down behind the wheel and closed the door. The rain was steady. My wife and our daughter were talking.
“… we’ll be drenched within minutes … well, I would hate to have come all this way for nothing … the snow is not going to be great … it is raining pretty steadily … don’t want to be one of those people … wish I had brought a rain coat …”
I noticed movement in the rear-view mirror, then turned to look. A white Tesla was driving by, making for the exit. In the front seats? The couple I had been talking to just a few minutes earlier. They were leaving.
Okay. “Let’s give this a shot! If it is not awesome, we’ll figure out something else.”
My wife responded: “Perhaps we’ll try for fifteen minutes, then check in?”
“We’ll probably need a little longer, but yeah.”
With satisfying clicks, I secured the skis to my boots. Everyone got ready quickly. After just a few steps and easy gliding, I could not help but smile. The snow was good. This felt great! We got going. To our surprise and delight, the rain lightened after just a few minutes; no more than ten minutes later it stopped entirely.
At some point, I turned to my wife and said: “The snow is a lot better than you thought it would be!”
She smiled. “I am happy to be wrong about this!”
We ended up staying out for hours that day. At some point the clouds opened up and the sun shone through. There seemed to be barely anyone else out on the trails that day. The people we did meet were friendly and talkative. As a family, we were able to enjoy a wonderful time out on the trails, skiing, experimenting with new moves, taking on steeper hills and curves, playing games, talking and joking.
We returned to the car happy and tired. This had been a great outing!
I hope the concerned couple I encountered that morning in the parking lot ended up having a wonderful day of their own. When we make our decisions about how to spend our time, those choices are generally not falsifiable. We often do not know how the alternative paths would have turned out. I can of course only guess as to the story that this couple told themselves about their decision that day.
Did they make the right choice? I obviously cannot tell. I do know: Right or wrong, they missed out on the experience here.
Things often don’t look ideal at the outset. It is helpful to have examples of (similar) situations where the initial hurdles or beliefs were not predictive of future success. This anecdote is an example of one of mine.