Yikes, 2015 flew by! Fortunately it was action packed. Every year I like to reflect on the past 12 months to see where my life has taken me (or where I’ve taken my life). 2014, 2013, 2012 were all amazing years. Let’s dive into the highlight reel.
Amber and I rang in the new year with bass thumping music on the beach in Cabarate, Dominican Republic as we pedaled our bicycles through the North Coast of the country. We learned that no one in the DR rides a bicycle. All the locals thought we were crazy.
China trip #1 didn’t wait too long and I headed across the Pacific. Fortunately, I set my sites on the Portuguese colony of Macau and I really enjoyed exploring this special area. It’s very different from mainland China and also uniquely different from Hong Kong. Known as the Vegas of the far east, Macau has much more to offer than just casinos. Most of my time was spent walking the streets of the city – getting lost and soaking it all in.
A visit from our good friends, David and Haley, was welcomed. Whether we’re hiking, singing karaoke or making sheep jokes, it’s always a pleasure to spend time with these two.
Month #2 and China trip #2. Again, I was lucky enough to make a short stop over to explore another place I’d never been to – Taiwan. I spent a night in Taipei on my way out and as I do in every new place I visit, I walked… EVERYWHERE. Seeing the similarities and differences to mainland China was fun (the food was very different and quite delicious). Next stop, the 2nd tallest building in the world – Taipei 101 (ya, that’s the building’s name) at 509 meters stands like a goliath over all of the cities other sky scrapers. In 45 seconds the elevator raced me to the observation deck while my ears popped twice on the ride up! Scooters flooded the city streets.
During my favorite holiday (Chinese New Year), I travelled back to my hometown on the east coast. While I loved seeing my friends and family, my California blood was a bit shocked with the sub-zero temperatures (Fahrenheit). Miraculously, I didn’t freeze to death during the 10 degree snowshoe hike (-10 degree with windchill).
Let us not forget about China Trip #3. Two trips in one month.
Spring weather and cycling with the J’s.
A unique opportunity presented itself. I had a week long business trip to China scheduled that perfectly aligned with Amber’s spring break. China Trip #4… For the cost of a few frequent flyer miles, she set off on her first trip to Asia. We had a great time together exploring Shanghai, Changzhou, Yangshuo and Hong Kong. After a long New England winter, her pale white skin was blinding eyes. While not fashionable in the US, it was revered in China. Kids also loved her blonde hair and wanted pictures with the 老外.
Death Valley came knocking again and a few friends and I set our sights on the adventure motorcycling rally. Much like last year, we got in way over our heads, ran out of fuel, water and food, experienced numerous mechanical breakdowns, and got stuck in deep sand. I even managed to ride at night with a missing helmet visor and a headlight that points to the sky. It was exhausting, yet incredible and very memorable. So it was pretty much perfect.
While I do find it nice to kick back and relax on the weekends, I find it much more energizing and rewarding to take on challenges. In April I attended my second Startup Weekend, where entrepreneurs from all backgrounds come together to form a team, build a product and launch a startup, all in 54 hours. I partnered with a group of really talented engineers and together we built RedHound, a hassle-free smart alarm. Over the course of the weekend we created a prototype and pitched our startup. It went well and out of more than a dozen teams, we came in first place!
After a weekend of mental exhaustion, it was time for physical exhaustion. Over the course of a few hours, I pedaled my bicycle up the East Bay’s Mt. Diablo.
Without a visit to Asia in more than a month, I must have been getting antsy. So it was back across the ocean for China Trip #5, but first I made a stop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to visit my college fraternity brother, Austin. He and his wife were gracious hosts and it was interesting to explore a city with a unique mix of people and religion. It was my first time in a predominantly muslim country and it felt nothing like I would have expected. My only previous experience with the faith came from what I’ve seen on TV about the middle east. Touring the grand mosque was really interesting. Below we’re taking our touristy picture in front of the famous Petronas Twin Towers.
Back east for Amber’s graduation from Occupational Therapy graduate school.
A trip to Japan was a nice break from all the China travel (but for easy record keeping, let’s call this China Trip #6). These two economic giants are separated by the East China Sea but their histories have been intertwined for centuries. I find it fascinating to see how different the two cultures are though. I spent a few days touring around Kyoto, which has a very different feel from my previous trip to Tokyo. Around 2,000 temples are scattered about this ancient city. Of course, the food is always fantastic in Japan.
July started off with a bang! Amber and I celebrated our July 4th holiday with an exhilarating and exhausting day of learning and riding at SoCal Supermoto. These guys put on a fantastic session and immense fun was had by all!
Time for China Trip #7. Thankfully, a stop over in Hawaii on the return leg made the journey much more enjoyable! Spending some time catching up with my cousin, hiking, surfing, and stand up paddle boarding with giant sea turtles made this one hell of a trip! Here’s the view from the top of Diamond Head Crater, overlooking Waikiki and Honolulu.
Restless legs and good friends took me back to Yosemite for some more hiking at the end of the month. What a rad place this is…
Missoula, Montana! A celebration for a great couple, Mike and Katie, who tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony in big sky country. We partied late into the night, and I unfortunately had to wake up at 5am to catch a flight to China…
China Trip #8. BBQ anyone?
For months and months and months, Amber and I planned our wedding. The big day finally came and all of our hard work paid off! We had an incredible weekend with friends and family on a beautiful summer camp in rural Maine.
And I surprised her with a ride in a Ural sidecar. She loved it.
The weekend after our wedding, our friends, Matt and Alana also tied the knot. With all the running around that goes on at one’s own wedding, it was great to relax and enjoy our time at someone else’s wedding.
The next day we hopped on a plane and headed to Eastern Europe for a bicycle touring honeymoon! We spent just shy of 2 weeks pedaling from Ljubljana, Slovenia to Poreč, Croatia. It was fantastic, exhausting and beautiful. To top it all off we spent a few days in Venice, Italy before flying home.
Still adjusting to the jet lag, we rallied to stay awake and celebrate the wedding of more good friends, Kyle and Caitlin. It’s so great to goof off with friends that I don’t get to see often, now that I live on the other side of the country.
With so many wonderful weddings under our belt this year, I headed back to California and then made a U-turn after 2 weeks to head back to New Hampshire for one last 2015 wedding to celebrate with the incredible Byron and Sally. An H-Town selfie shows our group of childhood friends back together again.
After the wedding I went directly to Asia for China Trip #9. On the way home, I caught up with Amber in LA. She had been hard at work in her second and final fieldwork placement. Her first was in the Bay Area and for the first time in 2 years, we lived together again! Yet, for the remainder of the year, she was down in LA for an amazing opportunity to complete her fieldwork at one of the nations premier sensory integration clinics – a great step in her career. I headed down for a long weekend on my return from China and my fraternity brother, Biscuit (future Mars astronaut), took us for a sunset cruise over Los Angeles in a small prop plane. Sweet!
Amber and I split the difference in driving and met up for a weekend in Pismo Beach where we rode ATVs around miles and miles of windscaped sand dunes.
China trip #10. Double digits this year, yikes!
Later in the month, Joel and I did something we’ve been talking about for years. We went 4-wheeling in Hollister with his Jeep. His truck is very capable and he’s a great driver. Oh so much fun!
Back in LA, Amber and I attended the International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach. Seen below, we found a great bike for a loop around India! We also met up with some moto friends and attended a fantastic presentation from the Striking Viking, Glen Heggstad, about motorcycling around the world.
To wrap up the month and enjoy our Thanksgiving holiday, we hiked and hiked and hiked all throughout Joshua Tree National Park. My sister who teaches elementary school in Las Vegas also joined. I was sad not to be with all of my family, but grateful to be with some of them while exploring this beautiful place.
China trip #11 was underway, until a 5 hour delay eventually turned into a cancelled flight. I ended up scrapping my entire trip.
The real year’s end excitement came with an overland journey through Baja, Mexico! I thought that moving from NH to CA would mean more opportunity to visit Mexico since I would be much closer. Sadly, it’s been hard to find the time to jump away from work for so long. But the long holiday break worked out great and our unique trip was incredible. A month prior, our friends drove an SUV from San Francisco to Cabo at the southern tip of Baja. They parked the truck and flew home. A few weeks later, Amber and I flew down to Cabo and drove the truck back to the USA! Here’s short video edit from the trip:
What went well in 2015?
- I visited 1 new state! Traveling to Hawaii takes me up to 48 states visited (Alaska and North Dakota are still pending). I’m now tied with my Dad who has also visited 48 states (missing only Hawaii and Alaska).
- I visited new 4 new countries! With Taiwan, Malaysia, Slovenia and Croatia on the list, the total country count is now up to 32 (I think I miscounted last year – oops). I also re-visited some other amazing countries and explored new areas around Japan and Mexico. Furthermore, having Amber join me on a China trip was a real treat too.
- I didn’t even mention our educational iPad app, SnapType. After teaming up with our awesome new developer, Brendan Kirchner, we launched a new version 2.0 of the app in January. To date, there have been more than 400,000 downloads of the free version and enough sales of the paid version to keep it interesting. Each week we receive emails from ecstatic parents, teachers and therapists who share how the app is literally changing lives. It’s incredibly rewarding.
- Work continues to go well. I was promoted to director level this year and took on a new role. It’s great to know that I’m adding a lot of value to the company.
- Months upon months of preparation for our wedding was well worth it. We made memories that we’ll remember for years to come! Check out this highlight video if you’re curious.
- The year contained many small wins. I spent a good chunk of the summer rock climbing at the gym with Amber. I also made it through 15 “Learn to speak Mandarin (Chinese)” audio sessions. Fluency is still very far away, but I gained quite a bit of street credit from my colleagues in China.
What did not go well in 2015?
- As with every year, back pain continues to be my biggest challenge. Fortunately, this summer I found that yoga has helped me have fewer “bad days.” Although, it’s a struggle to keep it up every day, especially with so much travel.
- I was happy to have travelled back east many times to see friends and family, but it always feels too fast. There are some great people in my life and it stinks that they are so far away.
- After the trip to Death Valley, I didn’t ride my motorcycle for the rest of the year. The battery died (finally, after more than 70,000 miles) and I simply was too lazy to get it up and running. I’ve been eyeing a new bike, but I’ve yet to pull the trigger.
- While work is going great, it’s also quite stressful at times. My colleagues are fantastic, but it’s just the nature of the beast. More often than not, I do well with managing my stress, but at times it’s difficult and it get’s magnified when those times coincide with flare ups in back pain.
- My quest for passive, location independent income continues. SnapType has been the great surprise, but despite my best efforts with tweaking the Motorcycle Mexico sales funnel and working on related affiliate sales, it’s much more of a hobby and less of a business. I should let it go, but I like being a part of the community.
2016 brings with it new challenges and opportunities. With Amber finally done grad school, we’ll once again be living together full time and I look forward to seeing her grow into her role as an occupational therapist. Continuing the quest for passive income and spending time with friends and family are my top priorities. Amber and I both would love to take on a big quest and we’ll be discussing what that might entail.
How was your 2015? 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?