Global pandemic. Had a new baby. That about sums it up!
Life has been wonderful and busy! We’re excited to get out on two wheels again, even if only for a few more miles… I’ll just leave this video here. May you all have a brighter 2021!
Global pandemic. Had a new baby. That about sums it up!
Life has been wonderful and busy! We’re excited to get out on two wheels again, even if only for a few more miles… I’ll just leave this video here. May you all have a brighter 2021!
An exhausting and refreshing 5 month bicycle journey in 2017, I felt rejuvenated to get back into the swing of things at the office and tackle new challenges. 2018 was a busy year with work, but it was also packed with adventures near and far.
Every year I like to reflect on the past 12 months to see where I spent my time. 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 were all memorable and I’m glad that I’ve taken the time to keep a log. It will be fun to look back in the years to come.
Now that I’m 35, it’s been decided with Charlie (my friend of the same age), that we’re “almost 40.” Wow, that’s a crazy thought and a reminder that life is short and meant for living!
After some wonderful family time back in New Hampshire it was back to California. I was all by myself for a little while longer because Amber and my sister were on a Prius road trip from the east coast to west coast. My sister was starting a new job in northern California and Amber volunteers to drive cross country with her.
We had the privilege to host our first traveler of the year, a fellow cycle tourer (albeit the 1-wheeled kind), Ed Pratt, on his 3 year tour around the world. It felt good to repay some of the hospitality that was given to us on our trip. While at our house, he edited a video series from his in New Zealand. Check it out on his YouTube channel.
Since I moved to California in 2012, I’ve been flying to China every 6 to 8 weeks. With a 6 month hiatus, I was back on a flight across the pacific for the first China trip after our bicycle trip, and for the first trip of the new year. The timing was perfect and I was able to join the company’s annual holiday party. My colleagues were stunned to learn that in the USA, its not customary to create and perform a dance on stage during the holiday party…
However, this wasn’t an ordinary trip… I flew into Shanghai and then a few days later departed Shanghai on a flight to Germany. Another few days in Germany and then a flight to San Francisco. I had just flown around the world! That’s a first for me…
After the business meetings were over in Munich, I visited The Dachau concentration camp. Walking through the camp, where so many people were forced to suffer, was an intense experience. Although hard to fathom the atrocities, the site is now a beautiful memorial, museum, and reminder. Let us never forget…
I saw it every year… My favorite holiday in Chinese New Year! Because I work for a Chinese company, there’s always work to be done, even during US holidays. But during Chinese holidays, my email is quiet and I can enjoy a little peace. To celebrate, Amber and I flew to Colorado and spent the week visiting friends in Denver and Boulder, some whom I haven’t seen since I graduated college! It was wonderful to connect with so many friends and spend time in beautiful Colorado.
Remember those crazy suits from the above holiday party photo? Well… I took a few back to the USA. Charlie and I put them to good use during a morning bicycle ride.
Amber had a bit of an adventure herself this month too as she flew to Germany just a few weeks after I returned. A friend of ours had a business trip and Amber went along to help take care of the baby. I left a “love lock” on bridge and I gave Amber the key and directions on how to find it. She loved the scavenger hunt and the feeling of connection with me, despite being a third of the way around the world.
Family time. A fun weekend of hiking with my sister, Abby.
Kazuhiro is a young Japanese guy who is super friendly, humble and hardcore. The kid cycled from New York to San Francisco, by taking a northern route in the middle of winter! We hosted him at our house and I joined him for a few miles on the last day of his trip. Here we are taking tourist photos at the Facebook head quarters.
After our Japanese traveler left, we hosted an Italian moto traveler. Of course we had to try out the unicycle (that we purchased after hosting our Unicycle traveler in January). Fortunately, he didn’t have to test his health insurance coverage during his visit to California.
A month in motion… It started off with China Trip #2 and then a flight directly to Utah to join Amber at the American Occupational Therapy Association conference. We pitched our app, SnapType, at the inventors showcase (a.k.a. Shark Tank) and were wonderfully surprised to be the winners of the contest! The judges loved what we had already done with SnapType and for its future potential. This was a great accomplishment, especially for Amber to get the recognition and support from her fellow occupational therapists.
After the conference we spent a few days in the southern Utah deserts and national parks with our friends, David and Haley. We love them and had such a great time filled with scenic hikes, delicious meals, awkward photos, and belly laughs. Here we are twisting our way through an intricate slot canyon.
We drove back to Salt Lake City and I flew out that day for China Trip #3. But rather than share a photo from my time in China, enjoy this picture from a week later when a few of my Chinese colleagues came to California. I treated them to an authentic Mexican meal. This may be the best way to unite the citizens of the world… with an enormous plate of tacos!
And we welcomed the arrival of spring by celebrating the Hindu festival of Holi.
Hey, how about another trip to China? Sure… China Trip #4. I had a custom t-shirt made with a Mandarin phrase that rolls off the tongue – 帅老外 (Shuai Lao Wai). In English, it translates to “Handsome Foreigner” and my colleagues loved it. They deserved a good laugh.
Leaving China it was a bus ride to Hong Kong, then a flight to Los Angeles, then Phoenix, then Flagstaff, followed by a 2 mile walk to meet Amber who was sleeping in our tent at the Overland Expo. Jet lag was no match for the energy of being surrounded by thousands of overland travelers. We gave several presentations about our travels by bicycle, motorcycle, and 4×4. When not presenting, we were catching up with friends and checking out all the seriously cool overland rigs on display. Ideas were planted, and we’ll be looking forward to more overland travel in the years to come.
Back in California and back on the bicycles for a weekend of bicycle touring and camping! We rode our bikes to Half Moon Bay to wish our friends, Christian and Persephone, bon voyage as they move to Boston for a new adventure. After the BBQ, we setup camp at the hike-and-bike site at the State Park. In the morning a fellow cyclist had his bike stolen! He was in the showers when someone came over to the site and rode away on his bike. No one realized what had happened until it was too late. Amber set off on her bike to try and find the thief while I broke down camp (she’s the tough one, not me). Unfortunately, he was long gone by then and the harsh reality set in that this traveler, who was on his way from Seattle to San Diego, would have to find new wheels. It’s a sad reminder that you can’t be too cautious with your gear…
Our friend Andrew and his Dad were on their way from San Diego to Maine and made a stop in with us for the night. We love hosting travelers and seeing our hometown friends!
Amber’s favorite vegetable is the artichoke, so when the annual artichoke festival in Castroville came around, we knew we had to attend. Although we enjoyed spending time with our friends, John and Betsy, it turned out to be a bit of a bust, with a fairground full of vendors selling crummy imported trinkets. We reluctantly took a farm tour though and were glad we did because it ended up being extremely interesting. We learned about the different types of artichokes and they let us cut some of our own to take home.
The tail leg of China Trip #5 was exhausting and wonderful. I managed a 20 hour layover in Japan on the way out. Rather than undertake the lengthy travel into downtown Tokyo, I stayed at a hotel just a few minutes from the airport and I spent a day walking around the small town of Narita. Wow, what a great decision that was! Narita has magnificent old temples, shrines and parks. Small ramen noodle restaurants are everywhere and the whole vibe was so pleasant. Hard to imagine that it’s just down the street from Japan’s busiest airport. The best bit? I loved this simple and inexpensive “bridge” that enables people to cross the river without stopping the flow of water. How ingenious!
After Japan, it was time to cross the international date line for a 10 hour layover in Honolulu, Hawaii. Making good use of my time, I walked from the airport to Pearl Harbor. This was a stark contrast in world history to where I was just hours ago.
Back at the airport and a short hop to the island of Kauai for a meet up with more of my family to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. We all had a wonderful time exploring the island. Congratulations Matt and Jess!
June also marked the start of high school summer vacation. Our 16 year old nephew, Justin, joined us in California for the summer. Excited to workout and make some money, he got what he asked for right away by being the hired muscle to move Amber’s gymnastics into a new building.
Since our friends Danny and Mckinsey moved to San Diego a few years back, we’ve missed hanging out with them and their family. So when they told us they were coming to Carmel, we jumped at the opportunity to have some fun with them. Here we are out on the lake in a pair of canoes.
China Trip #6 and a free Sunday. Bicycle riding with my colleagues! All was going well until the clamps on my folding bicycle let loose mid-ride and suddenly I lost all control of the steering! Oh China…
Overnight backpacking plans in the Sierra’s were shut down at the day before departure due to the California wildfires. Last minute, we changed our destination to an even more challenging route much closer to us. Justin and I hiked 18 miles of the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail in the Santa Cruz mountains. He did great. My old-man-knees eventually hobbled into the campground where we met up with Amber for a night of camping. We filmed the hike together and then later on Justin edited the footage into a video. Welcome to nature!
Another traveler to host! Issei is a classic rock loving college student from Japan, working his way down west coast of the USA. We indoctrinated him with a classic Californian meal.
Hot summer days and an offer from a colleague to go boating and tubing had us driving to the Sacramento Delta. We spent the day on the water getting whipped behind the speed boat. Simple pleasures.
With the end of the summer approaching, it was time for Justin to make his way back to New Hampshire and start his Junior year in high school. But before he left, we scheduled a tour of local colleges, Stanford and Santa Clara University. Teenagers love having their picture taken in public…
To celebrate our 3 year wedding anniversary, I had a painting commissioned by a talented artist and fellow bicycle traveler. She created the art while in Nepal and we had a friend of friend pick it up from her in New Delhi, India to hand carry it back to the USA – truly a world-gift! She makes beautiful watercolor paintings and the photos from their travels are really stunning. Take a look at their blog. We’ll cherish this painting at the memory of our Silk Road journey for years to come!
China Trip #7
A friends weekend of camping and mountain biking in Downieville, California was just what the doctor ordered after a hectic month of work!
The next weekend it was off to Mariposa, California for our annual pilgrimage to the Horizons Unlimited meetup. Time spent with fellow travelers, away from cell phone coverage, was quite refreshing. We gave several presentations and enjoyed soaking in presentations about Russia, Africa, and Alaska…
Our long time family cat (Fastball / Fatball) died this month. We were sad to see him go, but happy to have had nearly 17 years of fun memories together with him. He loved playing ruff and being spun in circles on the floor. I even taught him to reach up and give me a high five whenever he wanted to be let out of the house. He will be missed.
Celebrating my second favorite holiday of the year… Chinese Golden Week! My friend Salil and I headed back to South America for a week of motorcycle riding around Ecuador’s backroads. The guys at Freedom Bike Rental set us up with DR650s which were perfect for the remote dirt road riding we embarked on. I also had the opportunity to meet my niece for the first time! Amber’s sister lives down in Quito so it was a double-win.
Enjoy this video we created with highlights from our journey around Ecuador.
Flying (indirectly) from Quito to Shanghai for Trip #8 and a visit from Amber’s mom wrapped up October.
Forest fires were raging this month in Northern and Southern California. The devastation to those communities is hard to comprehend. Even though hundreds of miles away, the smoke created terrible air quality throughout the Bay Area. Thankfully, the day before Thanksgiving, rain fell to help tame the fires and clear the air just in time to enjoy a lovely west coast gathering with my sisters, Abby and Molly. We worked off the calories with a bicycle ride through the neighborhood.
As the end of the year rolled around, we were about to embark on our most remarkable and challenging adventure yet…
A week overdue, our son arrived happy and healthy, and we are in love! It’s been a hectic few days since. Day and night blend into one and we are seriously sleep deprived. But Amberlynn’s mother has been visiting for a few days and we are so thankful for her help. We really hit the jackpot – she’s been a labor and delivery nurse for 25+ years.
This will be a new stage of our lives, and we’re looking forward to the journey!
What went well in 2018?
What did not go well in 2018?
2018 was certainly a memorable year. Content from our twice-in-a-lifetime adventure, we didn’t undertake any grand travels, but we enjoyed the pregnancy progression. Nevertheless, we are already looking forward to the year ahead and to making memories with friends and family in 2019. I hope to put a few more miles (pun intended) onto the BMW R1150 RS motorcycle that I’m bike-sitting for a friend. The day job will be interesting as we continue to grow and diversify but hopefully engaging and rewarding as well with certainly more than a few trips to China. The future of SnapType is bright and we’re really excited to share the next generation with our users – we know they’re going to love it. Learning to be a father and spending time with my son are going to make 2019 wonderful, demanding, exhausting, and fulfilling.
I hope that one day my son will look back on these writings and see that his old man was once a cool guy (with a little hair still left on top of his head). May he be inspired to embrace curiosity, seek out adventure, do good as he goes, connect with community, and be happy in life.
How was your 2018? 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? Send me an email or leave a comment below, I’d love to hear form you.
Wait… What? 2017 is already over?!?!
Every year I like to reflect on the past 12 months to see where I spent my time. 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 were all amazing years. I am looking forward to looking back (huh?) on these reviews when I’m old and gray (ok, older and grayer).
As a child, I remember sitting in class at elementary school, looking up at the clock, watching the seconds hand tick so slow, wondering if this class would ever end. Fast forward to today, at age 34, and I wish I could slow down time. So much has happened in the past year. Incredible highs and devastating lows. It’s all going by so fast…
I use a Chrome extension that flashes my age every time I open up a new web browser tab. I use it to remind myself that it’s time to get living. I’ve watched it go from 31 to 32 to 33 and onto 34. I had plenty of fun times and satisfying accomplishments in all these years, but was always left wanting something more. 34 would be different…
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a close enough friend to know that 2017 was the year of my twice in a lifetime adventure. Although the year had a tough start, it was immensely memorable.
The first overseas flight of the year happened early (as seems to be the norm these days). China Trip #1. Considering it was the middle of winter, I crocheted a hat for my colleague’s new baby.
To celebrate Chinese New Year, and some down time at the office, my friend Salil and I flew to Colombia and went for a week long motorcycle ride around the country. After a 5 year gap, it felt great to be back in Colombia! I absolutely love this country. The people are genuinely friendly, the landscapes are gorgeous, the food is delicious, the lifestyle is inexpensive, the weather is perfect, and of course the moto riding is superb with terrific on and off road routes. It was my 5th trip to Colombia and I suspect I’ll have many more.
Just as I was returning home from Colombia, Amber was flying to Ecuador to visit her sister. The fun news is that I became an uncle (again)!
Then as Amber was returning from Ecuador, I was flying off to Asia for China Trip #2. I think we went over a month without seeing each other!
Not long after China, I flew back to NH to visit with family. My step father had been in the hospital for several months and it felt good visit with him and be in the presence of people I love.
We hosted a pair of Polish cyclists who have been pedaling around the world. Basking in their adventure, we cooked a big meal and shared travel stories. It was wonderful to spend time with travelers and remember how good it feels to be out on the road.
It was then time to rack up more frequent flyer miles and head out for China Trip #3.
El Burro, my trusty motorcycle for nearly a decade, with whom I travelled to South America, was put up for adoption. I simply wasn’t giving him the attention and adventure he deserved. Fortunately, a nice family took him in and they plan to explore Baja together. At ~70,000 miles, his bones ache a bit but he loves to get out there. I wish him and his new family all the best. Here’s a photo from our first ever overnight trip together. We were both so young…
It’s the 4th month so it must be time for China Trip #4.
I also celebrated my 34th birthday in one of the best ways possible, with a weeklong visit from my friends Ryan and Rachael! Escaping New England’s arctic climate, we explored San Francisco, rode ATVs like maniacs during a freak rain storm, ripped down Big Sur on Harleys, experienced the awesomeness of the Sea Otter Classic, and screamed our vocal cords to exhaustion with more than enough DMX karaoke. #ruffriders
We took a long ride up in the mountains to celebrate the wedding of our friends, Joel and Adela. It was a beautiful setting and a wonderful event.
Back at the airport again, for a trip to Austin, Texas for a weekend to celebrate my buddy John’s last days being a bachelor. Beer and boardgames ruled the weekend. I stayed an extra day and caught up with a few college friends I hadn’t seen in years. Good times.
Alright, alright… Time for China Trip #5.
This was a big month… It started off great with a long drive down to San Diego for a visit with our friends Danny and McKinsey (and their kids). They left the Bay Area last year and we’ve missed hanging out with them.
Sadly, on the drive back home from San Diego, we learned that my step father wasn’t going to recover. We hopped on a plane that night to arrive in Boston the next morning and said our goodbyes. It was heart breaking.
4 days later my sister got married. Everyone was a wreck, but we bit our lips as best we could and put on a smile. Hearts confused and overflowing with sadness and joy, family and friends came together to take part in the beautiful weekend planned by the couple. Congratulations Hannah and Josh.
I flew back to California for a couple of work meetings and then back to NH a few days later for the memorial service. As sad as it was, it was comforting to be with family and to hear from his friends. My sister spoke a beautiful tribute to him. We’ll always remember the good times.
Keeping strong, I left New Hampshire directly for China Trip #6.
Returning from China, it was a gift to have my mom visit us in California for a week. It’s something we planned a while back and we all agreed that it was a good decision to carry through with it. It was her first time visiting us since we moved here 5 years ago. We showed her all around and most importantly enjoyed time together.
The mountains came calling again and we headed to Lake Tahoe for the wedding of our friends John and Betsy. With an impressive backdrop, the two became husband and wife!
And now here’s where the story takes a twist… After months of planning, Amber and I took sabbaticals from our careers and set off on a grand adventure. Our plan – to bicycle the infamous Silk Road from China, through Central Asia and the Middle East. Not entirely sure what we were getting ourselves into, we turned our home over to my sister (Thanks, Abby!) and flew to Urumqi, the capital of China’s northwest Xin Jiang province.
We arrived safely in China with only one problem… Amber’s bike didn’t arrive! It took far too many phone calls, emails, and taxi rides to the airport, but eventually after 4 days, her bike arrived. Thanks to all my friends in China who helped translate and scream at the airline employees on our behalf!
The rest of the month, we cycled nearly 1,000 kilometers. Going south into the Tian Shan mountains before continuing west towards Kazakhstan, we experienced a side of China rarely seen by westerners. Even though I travel to eastern China all the time, this area had a completely different feel. We developed systems for cycling and living, learned to speak Uyghur (a local language used by the minority ethic group), ate some really delicious food and soaked in the scenery. Long days on the bike were a great time to mourn, reflect, and relax.
Leaving China behind we entered Central Asia and the former Soviet republics. The summer heat was in full force in Kazakhstan. With temperatures well over 100ºF and long distances between settlements and water sources, we tested our mental and physical strength.
Departing the Kazakh steppe, we entered Kyrgyzstan and cycled rolling hills with our new friends Pablo and Manon who helped us get comfortable with the art of stealth camping. During this time we explored, got lost, and finally relaxed into our journey. No rushing, just enjoying.
Climbing to heights over 14,000 feet, we crossed into Tajikistan and celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary. We tested our lungs and spirits as we cycled and pushed the bikes up at high altitudes. Leaving the pavement behind we entered the Bartang Valley – the most wild of the cycling routes through the Pamir Mountains. During one stretch we went 4 days and 150 kilometers without seeing any local people. It was the best mountain biking I’ve ever done on a road bike… The ~300 miles of rugged dirt roads engulfed in towering mountains and steep gorges was one of the most incredible segments of our tour.
Immediately after entering Uzbekistan we had a tough time. Amber became seriously ill with a bladder infection, kidney infection and the passing of kidney stones. The quality of medical care was not what we’re accustomed to in the USA. Luckily, the people of Uzbekistan are incredibly hospitable and they helped us out at every turn. With medication and time to rest under the supervision of “Nurse Ben,” Amber was able to slowly recover. With time away from the bikes we travelled by train and were overcome with emotion during visits to the famous Silk Road cities of Samarkand and Bukhara.
As winter approached in Central Asia, and with politics blocking our overland travel, we took to the skies and flew to the Middle East. Lovely hosts made us feel at home and we loved the opportunity to experience a new culture. We came to love the early morning call to prayer, cold drinking water provided for free at all the mosques, and the stark desert landscapes. While Amber regained her strength, I suffered from intense back pain as we rode through the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman.
Say it ain’t so! Our cycling journey came to an end. We totaled nearly 5,000 kilometers of riding during our 5 months of traveling. Amber kept the adventure alive by flying directly (ok, by way of 4 layovers and 40 hours of travel) to Ecuador for a visit with her sister. I on the other hand, returned to California and jumped right back into the working world. In less than a week I was already off on a flight to Hong Kong for China Trip #7 (not counting the trip to China for the start of our cycling).
Finally, it was time to head to New Hampshire to spend time with family during the holiday season. It was wonderful to see everyone after being away for 6 months!
What went well in 2017?
What did not go well in 2017?
2017 was certainly a memorable year for good and bad reasons. Nevertheless, I’m already looking forward to the year ahead and to making memories with friends and family in 2018. I’ll be on the look out for a new motorcycle. Work will be challenging but hopefully rewarding as well with certainly more than a few trips to China. There is also still a lot of growth opportunity for SnapType and I look forward to devoting more energy to seeing that through.
How was your 2017? 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?
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?
What did not go well in 2015?
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?
I really enjoyed writing My 2012 Year In Review so I thought I’d give it another go with 2013. This is my chance to look back on the year to see what went right, what could have gone better and what I might like to do in the year to come. It’s been a busy year…
After spending New Years Eve in a 70’s style British pub in California, 2013 began. Thankfully my good friends David and Haley put together an artistically shameless 2013 wall calendar. It really set the tone for the coming year. At the onset, their goal was to find 12 awkward photos of me. As it turns out, they had to whittle it down from more than 60! Ya, we’ve had some fun over the years…
It didn’t take long for our first moto guests of the year to stop by. Bernd and Heidi from Germany stopped in during their two year around the world journey. Opening up our home to overland travelers is incredibly rewarding. Their stories help keep the travel spirit alive.
By the end of the month, I was off to China for trip # 1 of the year.
I work daily with my colleagues in China and each morning I wake up to an inbox filled with technical emails. But during my new favorite holiday of Chinese New Year, my inbox was nearly empty each morning! It gave me time to spend a long weekend with friends up at a gigantic cabin in Lake Tahoe thanks to my buddy Charlie.
Amber and I also headed east for a visit to Yosemite. It was perfect timing with a little snowfall and only a handful of other tourists.
But by the end of the month it was time to jump on a westward plan bound for China. China Trip #2. Hungry? Eat some chicken feet…
With spring in full effect, it was time again for more exploration. Lots of day hikes around the Bay Area with friends, discovery of a local motorcycle stunt park, a trip to wine country in Napa Valley and a visit from my sister made March a fun month.
I spent some more time in front of the computer screen as I learned some basic programming skills with the help of Codecademy. I find programming both straightforward and extremely complex, but intriguingly powerful. I still can’t do anything useful, but it’s been fun to learn the foundation.
I hit the big 30 this year. I don’t feel 30… In my mind, I feel like I’m 18. My body however feels more like 65… I continue to struggle with back pain and it’s very frustrating not doing the activities that I love. On the other hand, my amazing girlfriend rounded up 30 letters from 30 of my friends. This was an incredible gift as so many of the wonderful people in my life shared stories from our past. Wow, 30 years have gone by in the blink of an eye…
Even though life moves fast, there is still so much time for adventure and good times with friends. At the start of the month we travelled south to San Diego for the wedding of our friends Danny and McKinsey.
From there I boarded a plane on another business trip. This time headed east en route to Germany. Even though my feet were only in Germany for about 48 hours, it was exciting see the city of Munich. Better yet, I stayed in a working class neighborhood and devoured several delicious Turkish Kebabs. mmmmmmm.
Over the past month, I worked with a software development team in the Ukraine to build a resource for overland travelers. The site is Border Helper. Until now, it had been very difficult to find information about border crossings. This site makes it easy to read and write reviews.
Furthermore, I went to Arizona for my 3rd consecutive Overland Expo. I gave lots of presentations with advice and stories from traveling the world on a motorcycle. And as always, it’s so fun to be in a place without cell phone service and be surrounded by people who share the passion for overland travel.
Ryan and Rachel’s wedding took us back to New Hampshire for the first time since Christmas.
Meanwhile we hosted more moto travelers. Ken and Carol Duval previously stayed with us in New Hampshire and now this time in California. This amiable couple has been on the road for years, exploring all around the world.
By the month’s end I was back on a 737 and flying over the pacific ocean. China trip #3.
For years I’ve been reading Chris Guillebeau’s blog (The Art of Non-Conformity) and I’ve wanted to attend his World Domination Summit. But Portland, Oregon was always so far from New Hampshire. However, it’s close to California! It was well worth the trip and so inspiring to be around ordinary people living extraordinary lives.
Half way through 2013. Amber packed up all she had, and along with her 11 year old nephew, drove across the country so she could start grad school and work on her masters degree in occupational therapy. While we were both sad for her departure, we agreed that it was the right move for the future. So for now we’ll have 3,000 miles between us.
Through smoke and ash from the Sierra Nevada forest fires, I rode up and over beautiful passes and settled in Nevada just south of Lake Tahoe for an Adventure Moto Rally. I gave a presentation and really enjoyed other presentations from renowned racer Jimmy Lewis and track legend Walt Fulton along with some fantastic dirt riding.
Over the past two months I had been working on another software project. This time I was building it all myself. And finally in September I launched www.RiderMix.com, an exclusive, members only club, for borrowing a motorcycle anywhere in the world.
Asia? Why not… China trip #4.
More exploration around the Bay Area. Hiking at Castle Rock State Park.
I racked up frequent flyer miles with another flight. China trip #5. At least I had some time for a hike along the Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong.
Another New Hampshire wedding had me back home. This time it was my sister’s. As always, it was great to see the family. Life flies by and it’s easy to get into routine. Even though I can’t make time for a big adventure these days, I find it crucial to celebrate life’s small adventures. With the help of the One Second Everyday app, I created this compilation of my daily mini-adventures over the course of a few months.
Motorcycle Travel nuts, like me, wait impatiently all year for the Horizons Unlimited meeting. I was back for another round in Cambria. I gave a few fun presentations, met up with old friends and made new ones like Jeffrey Polnaja from Indonesia who has been riding around the world for 6 years on a Ride For Peace.
China trip #6. But the really exciting thing about this trip was a long weekend stop over in Japan. It was my first time to Japan and I loved it! I stayed in old Tokyo at a quaint airbnb place and for a few days I walked all over the city, took a train to the south to see a giant Buddha, and even went to a Japanese Onsen (public bath). The weather was great and the food was delicious. Hey Japan… I’ll be back!
Then I left the California sunshine for a taste of the bitter New England winter weather! But it was a perfect visit with friends and family (and way too much turkey).
I easily surpassed 100,000 miles in the sky this year with the help of China trip #7.
I returned from China and two days later boarded a plan for my final trip of the year. This time for a vacation with Amber in Guatemala! I’ll do a separate post about our time spent in Guatemala, but I’ll share one piece of exciting news – On the top of Volcano Acatenango, in the freezing cold, howling wind and pouring rain, we got engaged!
Like last year, 2013 was a good year. But as always, there’s room for Kaizen.
Though I didn’t set goals for 2013 (even though I said I would), I do have a few plans for the year to come. For one, I have a wedding to plan! There are also business opportunities that I’d like to explore. Of course, I wish I had more exotic travel, but I’ll probably stick to business trips in China while I rack up the frequent flyer miles. It’s been a good year and a good 3 decades. I’m looking forward to another good year and hopefully many more healthy and happy decades to come!
What about you? How was your 2013? 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?
My wonderful girlfriend collected 30 letters from 30 of my friends and family for my 30th birthday. Here is a compilation of the memories that made me laugh, cry, cringe and smile! (click the image to see the full infographic)
I put together this info graphic. It’s a fair representation of the Americas through the eyes of a motorcycle traveler.
Some Most days I daydream about riding the world. While it’s not always possible to get away, there’s still room for adventure. In order to celebrate our freedom on the Fourth of July. Amber and I packed up the bikes and headed north. Some might think of this trip as a relaxing ride through New England’s back roads. Instead, I like to think of it as a mini world tour…
First stop, the Wright Museum which exhibits artifacts illustrating the heroic efforts of ordinary people living during extraordinary times and is dedicated to celebrating Americans’ sacrifices and achievements during WWII.
Next stop, Whitehorse gear in North Conway so amber can pick up a kidney belt for back support.
The friendly folks at Whitehorse gave us a great road recommendation that took us up through Evan’s Notch in the White Mountain National Forest. Once in Maine we said hi to our buddy Paul Bunyan who was hanging out in Rumford.
The riding was mellow and fun.
Soon afterwards we crossed into Mexico. Wait, what? I’m so confused…
The plaque threw me off a bit. Shouldn’t it be in Spanish?
Sadly, there wasn’t even a Mexican restaurant in Mexico, Maine! Maybe that’s a business opportunity… After Mexico it was off to Peru. There is no downtown – just lots rural land. Does anyone know what an ATV bottle is???
So, are we on Peruvian soil or American soil?
Having had enough of Latin America we jumped across the pond and stopped by Rome for lunch. Rome was burning so we notified the volunteer fire department.
After our civic duties were done we went east, really far east, like to the far east. Welcome to China!
Unlike mexican restaurants in Mexico, we did see plenty of chinese restaurants in China. Oddly, China looked a lot like Rome, Peru, Mexico, and Maine… Oh well. We looped back around for a quick stop in our hometown of Manchester. Well not Manchester, NH but Manchester, ME. This one goes out to our buddy Pete from Manchester, England. Last month he rode his motorcycle to every Manchester in the USA (there’s more than 30 of them). We had dinner and beers with him as he rolled through our Manchester.
With 300 miles logged we called it quits for the day and headed to Amber’s aunt’s place for some delicious homemade apple pie. mmmmmmmmm.
Awake and reenergized we set out the next morning to continue the adventure. We headed south to Lisbon,
Portugal Maine. Unfortunately we were a week early for the Moxie Festival!
Lisbon was fun so we decided to see more of Europe. Next stop, Poland. I had to pee and just as I was about to take a leak by the building I caught myself. Fearing that if a local kid saw me peeing by an elementary school I would be charged as a sex offender, I decided to postpone my whiz until I could find a proper rest room facility.
We continued with the European theme and headed north to Norway.
Only a stones throw away from Norway, we found Paris. Imagine what a mini Eiffel Tower replica would do for tourism… Unfortunately, there wasn’t much going on in Paris, Maine.
A few more miles (pun intended) down the road was Sweden. Judging by the few people we talked to, I’m willing to bet that most folks here do not know there’s a country called Sweden. The fire department had the only sign in town.
After Sweden we popped back down into mainland Europe for a quick stop in Denmark.
By that time we really started to enjoy Europe, so we shot over to see Amber’s other aunt who lives in Naples,
Italy Maine. Together we celebrated our journey with a traditional Italian pizza served in an Irish pub…
The next morning I realized I had a freeloader trying to hitch a ride around the world. He wasn’t talking much…
We wrapped up our Weekend of Freedom World Tour with a brief stop in Limerick,
Ireland Maine where they conveniently have a US Post Office.
Maine has several other worldly towns that were a bit out of our reach. We’ll leave Madrid, Moscow, Columbia (ya, they got the spelling wrong), Athens, Stockholm, Verona, Belfast, Lebanon, Vienna and Belgrade for another trip.
Editors note: We skipped all the English town names because just about every other town in New England is named after… Well… England…
As my friends at NEMO would say – Adventure Anywhere. Because memorable and meaningful adventures can happen anywhere from the backyard to Mt. Everest.
Hey Everyone. It’s been about 6 months since I’ve had an update. Since we last spoke, I’ve launched the Motorcycle Mexico DVD. It’s now being distributed by Amazon and Whitehorse Gear. If you’ve been dreaming of riding your motorcycle through Mexico, this should be your first stop for research. I’ve sold a few hundred to date and the feedback has been wonderful. It’s not a Hollywood masterpiece but the content is a gold mine of information for planning a trip south of the border.
I’ve also been busy presenting at Overland Travel and Motorcycle Rallies around the US. In April I presented at the Overland Expo in southern, Arizona. The event attracted thousands of veteran and aspiring overland travelers from around the globe. I sat on the panels for group discussion “to ride solo or not” & “borders, bribes and checkpoints” and I moderated the “safety on the road” discussion. In addition to presentations I share space in the authors and filmmakers tent alongside many of my heros. Ted Simon, Carla King, Austin Vince, Lois Pryce and Sterling Noren just to name a few. I made up a fun poster for rally goers to jump in and take a photo. All in all it was a great event. You can read the full write-up on the Motorcycle Mexico Blog.
A few weeks later I was off to the BMW Georgia Mountain Rally. I rode down with Bob and Sue of Micatech and we trailered the bikes behind. Once again it was great to escape the New England cold and head down for fun in the sun. After camping through a tornado, the weather really cleared up and the entire time was perfect. I gave a few presentations and had my bike on display for everyone to explore. After the event I ate some boiled peanuts and rode Deals Gap – 318 cuves in 11 miles! I continued north on the Blue Ride Parkway for a few days getting free moonshine from the locals until I made it back to NH. Read all about it on the Micatech blog.
Sidestand Up, the worlds only Motorcycle Radio Road Show had me on as a guest and we talked about riding down south of the the border. Here’s the link to the interview.
Back home in New Hampshire I’ve been giving several presentations about my travels through Latin America. Many of the local public libraries have contracted me to present to their patrons. I really enjoy my sharing my stories and photos and it’s great to inspire others. I added the list of presentations to the sidebar of the A Few More Miles homepage. At the time of this post, here’s the upcoming schedule. All presentations are free and open to the public. If I’m in you’re area, be sure to come on out for a night of adventure!
Drop me an email at ben AT motorcyclemexico DOT com if you would like me to present to your group.
(all events below are at the respected public libraries)
2/15 – Lee, NH 7pm
3/23 – Derry, NH 6:30pm
3/29 – Hooksett, NH 6:30pm
5/10 – Milford, NH 7pm
5/19 – Hancock, NH 7pm
6/14 – Gilford, NH 6:30pm
6/16 – Lincoln, NH 7pm
6/21 – Goffstown, NH 6:30pm
6/22 – East Kingston, NH 7pm
7/12 – Amherst, NH 7pm
7/14 – Bow, NH 6:30pm
7/17 – Freedom, NH 4pm (Sunday)
8/3 – Epsom, NH 7pm
9/16 – New Boston, NH 7pm
9/22 – Dunbarton, NH 7pm
10/19 – Sommersworth, NH 7pm
10/20 – Salem, NH 7pm
TBD – Dublin, NH
I’m actually writing this post from Casa Blanca hostel in Cali, Colombia where I’m working on a pilot episode for a new motorcycle travel documentary taking place in Colombia. But I’ll tell you more about that later…
As I announced last fall, I went back to Mexico for another round of adventuring and more importantly to film for my new project, Motorcycle Mexico. I wanted to make the DVD I wish I could have seen before I left on my trip. I hope it will help riders to get inspired, get educated, and get on their way.
Have you been dreaming of a motorcycle trip through Mexico? In this 2-disc DVD set, you will get the advice you need to help you cross the border, buy insurance, organize your documents, interact with police, find safe hotels and camping, break the language barrier, avoid Montezuma’s Revenge and much more to ensure that you have an amazing ride!
In addition to what he learned on the road, I interviewed veteran travelers and local experts who share their hard-earned knowledge with you. This DVD will get you inspired, educated, and on YOUR way! Whether you are riding in Mexico for just a few days or en route to Central and South America, This DVD will help you prepare for YOUR ride!
Here’s a short 5 minute movie trailer to show you what it’s all about.
It’s $36.99 + $4.99 Shipping = $41.98.
It’s 2-discs. 5 hours of insightful content
Available at www.MotorcycleMexico.com
Intro, People, Culture, Weather, Gear, Border Crossing, Border Towns, Accidents & Insurance, Family Reactions, News & Drug Cartels, Personal Safety, Bike Safety, Women Riders, Riding, Road Quality, Toll Roads, The Left Blinker, Topes, The Bike, Tires, Tools & Packing, Mechanicals.
Gas, Navigation, Camping, Accommodations, Secure Parking, Food, Drinks, Montezuma’s Revenge, Health & Evacuation Insurance, Health Risks, Checkpoints, Police, Money, Language, Connectivity, Get Gone, Credits, Bonus Footage.
Thanks to everyone that contributed and encouraged me along the way!
Ride & Explore!