Just as it does every year, 2016 came and went in what felt like the blink of an eye. Equally and fortunately as common, it was action packed. Every year I like to reflect on the past 12 months to see where I spent my time. 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 were all amazing years. Highlights can’t do justice, but it’s a fun reminder of what’s been going on.
Having just crossed the border from Mexico to the USA, we settled into a cozy San Diego neighborhood to celebrate the new year with our friends Cachaulo and Yola, as well as their 2 young daughters. It was a great last stop on our drive north to Cupertino from Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.
China Trip #1 came early as it seems to every year. Ganbei (bottoms up) as the locals would say!
When working for a Chinese company, there is no greater holiday than Chinese New Year. With my factory closed for a week, we took to the skies to visit our families in New Hampshire. It was cold… Our good friend Byron also helped us film and edit a short promo video for SnapType. Thanks, Byron!! And thanks to Sarah and her son for the wonderful location and acting!
Once back in sunny California, Amber and I took advantage of warmer weather to do our first fully self-supported overnight bicycle trip. 2,500 feet of climbing over 10 miles with a fully loaded touring bike was exhausting but very rewarding!
China Trip #2 was shortly thereafter and it was back across the ocean for another round of shenanigans with my friend and colleague, Charlie. We took over the children’s exoskeleton robots and terrorized the local theme park.
On the way back to America I went out of my way to make a stopover in Singapore. First new country of the year! I spent a long weekend doing what I do in every new city I visit, walking around for miles and miles and miles.
China Trip #3. This time I went to Shenzhen in the south of China and walked 8 miles along the bay with 60,000 of my closest friends.
I’m an uncle! My sister gave birth to a baby girl and I flew home to see her at just two weeks old. Amazing.
What’s becoming one of my favorite annual events is the ADVrider Noobs Rally. Surrounded by friends, we spent 2 days riding through the rugged and challenging landscape. It was as challenging, spectacular and memorable as always. Every year we say we should get smaller bikes… Maybe next year we finally will!
Weird…. A month without a China trip! It was great to have a good stretch of time without a big flight. April was a pretty relaxing month while catching up with friends, like this ride to the famous Alice’s Restaurant.
The one and only Kent Green popped in for a quick visit and we enjoyed his company while hiking through the gorgeous Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Kent is a master at classy and artsy panoramas…
Yosemite is always a special place – even when it’s swarmed with 9872394738923o7 tourists. Our good friends David and Haley came out to California during their 12 national parks in 12 months tour. Good fun and shenanigans were had by all.
China Trip #4 with visits to both Shenzhen and Changzhou. Overlanding here I come…
At the end of the month, Amber and I drove 5 hours north to Lassen Volcanic National Park to enjoy some fun in the late spring snow, hiking through beautiful landscapes.
Backpacking through Point Reyes National Seashore with Amber and Vanessa was wonderful. Our campsite was blossoming with wild blackberries that helped make our morning oatmeal on the trail that much more special.
The weekend rental of a Polaris Slingshot was thoroughly enjoyed by Amber.
Visitors from New Hampshire (Matt and Alana) came for a scenic drive through the Santa Cruz mountains and a delicious lunch at a brewery along the beach, even if the service was horrendous.
My sister Abby is a physical therapist and started her first rotation as a traveller. She stayed with us in Cupertino and over the next 3 months and we went on lots of adventures together. It was great to spend time with her (and eat all the food she cooked).
America! Freedom! Indianapolis! With travels to the heartland, we celebrated the wedding of Charlie and Jackie!
My Dad had a unique and fantastic opportunity to drive a brand new BMW X5M across the country to bring a trailer of BMW motorcycles from Maine to California. We enjoyed spending time with each other in my new backyard. With complimentary tickets to the World Superbike Weekend at the Laguna Seca Raceway, we watched an incredible race and saw riders hurl themselves through the infamous corkscrew.
I was even able to fit in a cross country drive home alongside my Dad in the sporty and comfy BMW. We averaged 800 miles per day over four days to reach Maine at the end of the week. It was fun to see the landscape change right in front of us but after 4 days and 3,200 miles, we were happy to be out of the car!
China Trip #5.
Amber’s family came for a visit and we had fun doing all the touristy things around northern California.
My sister Molly came for a quick visit and we took her rock climbing at the local gym. We climbed a lot this summer and it felt great (on my back – most days).
Amber and I then headed to Portland, Oregon for the World Domination Summit where we spoke in front of a 1,000+ person crowd and were awarded a scholarship to help fund the Android development of our app, SnapType!
The first of several mountain biking endeavors went down in August. It’s been years since I’ve been out on a mountain bike and it felt great! The new bike technology is amazing and the bikes are incredibly light and agile. I’m extremely fortunate that some incredible trails are so close to my home in California! I’ll be looking forward to many more biking days in the future…
China Trip #6 was an interesting one. I had a break in between two meetings. So along with my partner in Crime (Charlie), I made a weekend trip to Japan to hike Mount Fuji (the tallest mountain in Japan) on the last day of the hiking season. It was a mad dash and whirlwind trip but absolutely worth it. We woke up in China at 4am to catch a plane to Japan, landed in Tokyo at noon, arrived by bus to the final town at the foot of the mountain at 5pm, grabbed a quick dinner and hopped on another bus to arrive at the basecamp at 8pm, laid our heads on a park bench and began hiking at 10pm, hiked all night to reach the summit at 5am just in time for the sunrise (which we couldn’t see because it was cold, windy, cloudy, and rainy at the summit), descended and thrashed our knees to arrive back at the basecamp by 10am, caught 2 buses and arrived back in Tokyo at 4pm before passing out with exhaustion at 8pm. Wow, what a trip!!!
As if the Mt. Fuji trip wasn’t hard enough, I packed up my bicycle the next week to pedal from my home in Cupertino to Mariposa (the foothills to Yosemite) for the Horizons Unlimited gathering where I gave a few presentations about motorcycle travel. 200 miles, up and over the leg-busting Mt. Hamilton and then down through the central valley before ascending again to the edge of the Sierra mountains. I felt whole.
Skinny Pedal! YEAAHH!!! The boys and I drove the Rubicon Trail in Joel’s Toyota 4Runner. Everyone was impressed that a near stock vehicle could make it through. Joel was a great driver and with enough rock stacking we were able to make it without issue. A weekend in the wilderness with the “Js” was time well spent.
Another cross country flight to Celebrate the wedding of Samir and Ligia in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Gotta love weddings with friends from college!
China Trip #7 wasn’t actually in China (but it makes for easy record keeping). After the wedding I flew to Munich, Germany for a business trip. In between meetings, I enjoyed a day of castle hiking, a visit to the BMW factory museum and a soccer/football match with what I learned later was one of the world’s best teams! Along with copious amounts of beer and meat I survived the trip. And A short drive into Austria for lunch marked another new country!
On the way back from Germany I made a quick stopover to Amsterdam. I love the bicycle culture in the Netherlands!
China Trip #8. Something is a foot in my soup…
And then a sudden and unfortunate family emergency had me on the next flight to Boston.
Thanksgiving break was spent with several members of my family on a trip to Ajijic, Mexico along the shores of the country’s largest lake – Lake Chapala. We spent the week hiking in the dense hills that surround the lake. Our trip coincided with the annual local celebration of the San Andreas Festival. Fireworks, beer, street food, live music, carnival games and parades were all thoroughly enjoyed! One of the most interesting and rewarding parts of our trip was the visit to a local school where we volunteered for a day with both kindergarteners and 7th graders.
Go Buffs! My college alma mater had a terrific football season and made it to the PAC12 Championship which was played just down the street from me in Santa Clara – at the new 49ers stadium. It was also a great chance to reconnect with a fraternity brother I hadn’t seen since college. Hi, Weapon!
Another trip back to the east coast to be with family. My step-father is going through end-stage heart failure and underwent an emergency LVAD surgery where the left ventricle of his heart was replaced with an electro-mechanical pump. Under the best of circumstances, it’s an extremely difficult recovery. Unfortunately, he was plagued with several complications which has made his recovery extremely slow and challenging. It has been great to see family so much these past few weeks, but it’s sad that it had to be under such circumstances.
China Trip #9 – the last one of the year! Unlike 2014 and 2015 where I made 10 China trips, I slacked off this year and settled for 9. It’s rare that Charlie and I are in China the same time, but we’ve aligned several times this year and it’s been fun to explore together. On this occasion, we visited the city of Hangzhou and pedaled bicycles around the popular West Lake.
It’s been several years since I celebrated Christmas / Chanukah / New Years in New Hampshire. So this year Amber and I decided to brave the New England winter and head back to our families on the east coast. No grand year-end adventure this time, but it was just what we needed and there’s certainly lots of exploration to be found in 2017!
What went well in 2016?
- I visited 2 new countries! Singapore and Austria (even if it was just for a lunch, 15 miles from the German border), bring the country count to 34 (I think). Return trips to Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, and Mexico were fun too.
- I spent a lot of time on the east coast with family towards the end of the year. Of course, I wish it were under better circumstances, nevertheless it’s nice to be with them. I love living in California’s Silicon Valley but I sure do miss my family. I was lucky to have one sister come live with us for 3 months and to have another sister come out for a visit. Add a cross country drive with my Dad and it was time well spent with the people I love.
- SnapType, our education app that helps students keep up in class even when their penmanship holds them back, is hard to classify with milestones throughout the year, even so, it certainly had a big year too. We finagled through Apple’s intricacies to create a company and relocated the hosting of the app. It was no small task and Apple didn’t make it easy for us, and more importantly easy for our users. But everyone did great and we managed to get back on track without too much fuss. We’ve also reached 1 million downloads, which is mind boggling! Revenue for the iOS app has been strong and we kicked off development on the Android app this fall. Unfortunately, it required us to re-write the app from the ground up in a completely different programming language. We had hoped to launch the app by now but development is taking longer than expected due to unforeseen challenges with Android which make some items much more complicated than with iOS. It’s been exciting and stressful, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. We’re about to enter our second round of beta testing and it won’t be long until we launch SnapType on Android to the public!
- With Amber’s grad school complete, she passed her national boards and became a licensed and registered occupational therapist in the state of California! Early in the year she moved back to Cupertino full time and has been working in several different settings to get as much experience as she can and to explore the different opportunities within her field. She’s fantastic at what she does and has quickly become a valued and trusted supporter for many of her clients and their families. It’s beautiful to watch her pride blossom as she thrives in her new career.
- “The day job,” which has me jet setting to China all the time, continues to go well. It’s a very unique gig with lots of challenges and rewards. It has not always been easy, but it has been worth it. I continue to grow professionally and enjoy the work and people I work with.
- Back pain is usually the first thing I list each year under “what did not go well…” My back is far from healthy and it keeps me from doing many of the things I love, but this year I’ve had more good days than bad. I’m not sure exactly what to attribute it too since I haven’t been good about stretching or doing yoga, but a win is a win.
- I stayed fairly active throughout the year. Even with all the travel, I was able to get in quality walks and bike rides on a mostly regular basis. A few bigger quests also gave a great sense of accomplishment. I need to stay active (for my physical and mental wellbeing) in the upcoming year and I’d like to branch out to some new activities.
What did not go well in 2016?
- Stress. With the family emergency at the end of the year, I found (and still find) myself taking on more responsibilities in order to help out. Actually, my family has really come together to help out and it’s been really nice. I’m more than happy to help and I’m proud that I can assist. In spite of this, it still adds an extra layer of stress on top of the day job, SnapType and the rest of life’s requirements. So far, I’m managing the stress well and doing what I can to prevent any flareups in back pain. 2017 won’t be off to a smooth start, but we’re hopeful that there are many more good times with family to be had down the road.
- My motorcycle continues to stand idle. It’s the same bike I rode to South America 7 years ago (wow, time flies)! I simply haven’t had the interest to go out on day rides and I haven’t had the time to take on big trips. Or when I do find some time, I’m leaning more towards the bicycle than the motorcycle. Maybe 2017 is the year I let El Burro find a new owner while I consider a smaller bike. Several manufacturers are coming out with exciting small bore adventure bikes this year… It gets me thinking!
- Like most recent years, I had a lot of small adventures that I cherish, but I still yearn for another grand adventure. The older I get, the harder I find it to step away from daily life. I’m not really sure where this one will lead. My day job is great and I find it rewarding, but the taste of freedom out on the open road still lingers.
As it does every year, the new calendar brings with it new challenges and opportunities. I’ll continue the quest for passive income with big leaps ahead for SnapType. I also look forward to spending more time with friends and family as my top priorities. Adventure is always on the doorstep and I’m trying to set up 2017 to be a big year.
How was your 2016? Are you happier now than you were the same time last year? Have you made progress on your personal goals? What went well for you this year? What could have gone better?