There are some lessons in life you can only learn by taking a risk. Like love. Or marriage. Or bitcoin. Or what your Valentine’s Day weekend will look like when you and your wife decide to let bitcoin be your guide. Katie and I are true believers in bitcoin, from the principles of freedom, to the commitment to support the marketplace. And so when we talked about our 2014 Valentine’s Day weekend, we decided to take a risk. We would seek out only bitcoin places to do business, and try to have a romantic weekend spending as much of the currency as we possibly could.
Chapter 1 – Technical Complications
My first stop was Coinmap.org – an interactive map that has become well known as a place merchants that accept bitcoin promote their business. Because I check it frequently, I was extremely pleased to find a fairly recent addition – the Bird House Inn – a bed and breakfast located in the incredibly charming Excelsior, Minnesota. So I went to their website, and checked on the dates. DANG! They were already booked for the 14th and 15th. I decided to add my name to the waiting list. In the comments I put, “I would like to purchase using bitcoin.”
Not even 5 minutes later I get a call from the owner, Dave. He told me that he read my note about bitcoin, and they have do one room available for the 15th if I wanted it. (He ended up offering me the 14th as well after a cancellation). Even cooler, he was even willing to give me a discount if I paid in bitcoin. Sweet.
- Valentine’s Day Lesson 1: Merchants who accept bitcoin FREQUENTLY give discounts. They are passionate about the currency, and want to connect with people who spend it. This was my experience with both of the businesses Katie and I transacted with on our Valentine’s weekend. As a bitcoin investor, I have even started wondering how my overall return on investment would be calculated if I factored in these discounts. Hmm….
With one business down, I tried other merchants listed on Coinmap. However, NOTHING within an hour drive was either open, or applicable for a Valentine’s Day weekend. (Unless you enjoy a hangout of a more Gothic nature, in which case check out Crescent Tide Funerals and Cremation). So I decided to ask around. I checked both our thriving local Rochester MN Bitcoin Group, as well as the Bitcoin MN group on Facebook. No one had any real leads to give me.
- Lesson 2: Finding bitcoin merchants can be difficult. It is still in the early adopter phase, and it surprised me how difficult it was. Even if you want to spend your bitcoins, finding a place can be difficult.
One of the last places I checked for merchants was the the Everything Bitcoin group for Minnesota on Meetup.com. While it took a bit of probing, I was able to track down one more fantastic Valentine’s Day service – luxury transportation service Reli-a-Car. Katie and I were going to be driving somewhere in style with a personal driver! Now I was up to two romantic finds. This was looking to be a great weekend.
However, that’s when my luck ran out. Try as I might, I could not find another romantic place to spend my bitcoin. So I decided the third purchase of our trip would have to be paid for with cash we gained as a result of our bitcoin investments. A stretch, I know, but at this point in bitcoin’s life cycle – and in Minnesota in Feb. of 2014 – it is the absolute best I could do. Because Katie is a talented actress and loves theatre, I decided to take her to the Old Log Theatre in Excelsior. This excellent dinner theatre was playing the romantic comedy “Almost, Maine”. Perfect!
Chapter 2: The Weekend of Love
We arrived at at the Bird House Inn late at night. As per Dave’s instructions, we found our key and information inside the door and went off to explore our quarters. A full kitchen greeted us (Katie’s loves to cook!), and we found a big beautiful bedroom, and a bathroom with a claw-foot-tub. We felt right at home. The difference being that this home was a historic house built the same year Minnesota became a state, and we don’t have a claw-foot-tub.
The next morning, we walked through some amazing communal areas complete with fireplaces, antique chairs, the complimentary wine bar, and joined many other guests (there are 5 rooms total) for an incredible breakfast served by Dave and his family. As we were Dave’s first bitcoin-paying customers, the conversation at the table eventually steered that direction. Part of the fun is being bitcoin evangelists, isn’t it? So we did our best to explain with Dave’s help what bitcoin is, why we like it and use it, and why he decided to accept it.
Even so, I have to say my favorite part of the morning was Dave’s seven-year-old son serving every guest their breakfast platter of fresh fruit, cinnamon french toast with cream cheese in the middle, and sausage links. Not to mention some fantastic coffee!
We spent much of the day relaxing at the house with new friends, and exploring the shops, pubs and restaurants of downtown Excelsior – exactly 1 block away. It is genuinely hard to find another bed and breakfast with such a perfect location as this. And on the other side of the 3-block-or-so downtown lies scenic Lake Minnetonka. The combination of the location, character, and amazing owners makes this one of the rare bed and breakfasts that truly has it all.
At 5:30 our luxury car and driver from ReliaCar met us outside to drive us to the theatre. I have to admit, I questioned the value of having a car and driver until I actually tried it. After all, I have a license. I can drive. And we didn’t have to go that far. But I quickly learned why it is a valuable experience. Having someone meet us outside, open and close the doors for us, and drive us away in a luxury sedan added a bit of charm and class to our evening that made Katie feel like a princess. Just what I was going for. Aah, the good life. The owner, Chris, was also a bitcoin enthusiast who offered a discount for paying in the cryptocurrency. It was money that could not have been better spent.
We arrived at the theatre and had an incredible multi-course meal. Ahi-tuna, flank steak, champagne, dessert, and coffee tickeled our taste buds and satisfied our hunger. We entered the theatre, and the show was a fantastic addition to our Valentine’s Day. It was funny, clever, and a perfect opportunity to laugh with Katie as we snuggled, pondering life and our love. After the show our driver was waiting outside, ready to serve in front of the sedan (what a great feeling!), and ready to escort us back to Bird House.
Chapter 3 – Worth the Risk?
Every risk eventually has to be evaluated. If you choose to invest in bitcoin, you at some point need to say, “Have I made any money here?”, “Is this worth the complications?” For me the answer has been a resounding “YES!” I have both made money and saved money using bitcoin. And I have high hopes for the future. However, the greatest return on my investment I have ever made was in getting to know an adorable little actress, who only said one word to me the first time I met her. I remember exactly what she was wearing, how cute she was, and how much I wanted to know her more. When we started dating 4 years later, I realized that no investment I could ever make could pay me such incredible dividends in my life. I am so happy to have you as my wife, Katie! Happy Bitcoin Valentine’s Day!