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My 2019: Day In Review

This year is going to be a little different. That’s an understatement.

For the first time since 2012, I’m breaking tradition on my annual year-in-review blog post. Instead, as I sit without internet through an overnight flight on a plane headed for Hong Kong, I’m documenting my day. With a kiddo at home, the days are long, but the years are short… 


Wrapped snug under the covers, my brain is at rest. With my wife by my side, I’m fast asleep.


Eyes pop open for a minute and I’m reminded that I forgot to send an important email. Someone will be unhappy when the sun comes up. Oh well, the urge to sleep is too powerful. There’s always tomorrow. Roll over, clear throat, close eyes, rest brain. 


There’s an echo of cries and whimpers coming over the monitor on the nightstand and through the wall that separates our bedrooms. What time is it??? I peek at the clock on top of the dresser. No… Baby… It’s too early, please don’t wake up… We’ve tried it all. Later bedtimes, earlier bedtimes, more and less milk before bed, higher and lower thermostat settings. For whatever reason, when the body wants to wake up, there’s no holding it back. 


Praise Jesus, thank you Allah, hallelujah Tom Cruise, Zeus, Captain Planet, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I’ll take whatever miracle that comes my way, for his crying has stopped and he’s fallen back asleep! At least for now, my eyes can rest a little longer.


Already? How can that be? It felt like just a moment ago. There’s no fire drill this time. The beast has awoken and he’s out for blood, err…… milk. The folklore of waking up to gentle babbling are only a fairytale it seems. Fortunately, my wife is amazing. With a smile on her face and in her heart, she gracefully climbs out of bed and walks into the other room. The crying stops abruptly and I know he’s feeding. Yawn, stretch, rub eyes, sigh, reach for iPhone. There’s a laundry list of notifications on the lock screen. Although I’ve been asleep, my colleagues in China have been hard at work. They’re about to call it a night but before they do, we message back and forth on WeChat, the popular Chinese Facebook-like messaging app. There is some important information they need to shared before they rest their heads and I have only this short window of time where my morning overlaps with their evening.


I hear a soft, pleasant voice as she greats him. Relaxed for the moment, she reads him a book. I can just about hear them through the wall. Back to my phone, I’m halfway through the messages. 


“It’s going to be bright” she says as they walk into the hallway and then turn on the bathroom light. She’s reading him another book, while he sits (or attempts to break free from sitting) on a little plastic training potty. I swipe over to another app to check the news headlines. Moments later, “You made a poopy” she exclaims and I can imagine the pride beaming from his face. “It’s time to wash our hands now.” And then, “OK, let’s go see Daddy.” 


I quickly put my phone back on the nightstand as the bedroom light flicks on. Learning again about his morning’s bowel movement, I’m greeted with big smiles from my two loves. He and I snuggle in bed for a minute while she prepares his clean diaper and clothes. The snuggles never last long. Now that he’s mobile, snuggling seems to have fallen out of favor. Keeping him entertained, I stand him up on my chest and let him Hop On Pop. Giggles and smiles. Giggles and smiles… It’s fun for all of us, but he throws his head back and promptly reminds us about what he’s really looking for. That liquid gold. 


We’ve transitioned away from bottles, except for the first land last feedings of the day. By now, he’s capable of slurping from a sippy cup. But it’s early. Mom and dad need a few minutes to wake up too. So he lounges quietly on the living room floor, chugging on a giant bottle of milk that’s been fitted with a nipple designed for premature newborns. The flow rate from its tiny hole gives us those previous few moments we need to make our own bowls of cereal, download emails, empty our bladders, and let the brains get fully warmed up. 


Triaging my emails, I flag the urgent ones and squeeze in a few last minute WeChat messages with my China team. 


BURP! Wow, that must have been a good bottle! Now with a full stomach, he has a happy heart, and he’s ready to explore the living room full of toys that Mom rearranged last night. I hop off the computer and we play together while Mom does her morning pumping. Pushing cars around the room, trying to open all the dresser drawers, carrying shoes around the house (sometimes by hand and other times by mouth), picking up lint from the floor, toppling over a stack of books and reading each of them for 3 seconds, and waddling in and out of kitchen while pulling pans out of the cupboards. I pick him up to fly him around the room as if he were an airplane, and finally coming in for an upside-down landing on the soft play mat. “He just ate!” I’m reminded by my lovely wife. I know, and maybe he’ll spit up, but it’s just too much fun flipping him head over heals. He loves it.


Work mode. I’m pumping through my emails and sending updates to my customers with the information they need to start their day a little later this morning. I’m in the zone, but can’t help glance over to see him showing off his newly acquired dancing skills. That happy feet shuffle is just so cute. 


The urgent work is done and the sun is peeking through the morning fog. We head out for a stroller cruise through the neighborhood and give Mom a moment of peace so she can get in her daily workout. When he was young, we stuck to the quiet streets so he could nap. These days he’s awake when we walk and quickly bores of the side streets. So we head to the main road. With all the commuters buzzing by in their cars, he watches Silicon Valley come to life. Meanwhile, I take in a podcast in between answering text messages from my customers who are eager to start their day. We swing by the local grocery store and pickup a few items. There’s always at least one person who smiles at the sight of him. They’ll stop for a moment to admire the cuteness and ask how old she is. “11 months,” I say without correcting the gender. I can’t blame them. The hand-me-down pink stroller doesn’t help much. 


We arrive at the house and I stop Strava. My “workouts” these days are a bit more relaxed… He likes clicking the garage door opener and shuffling his plastic moto-tricycle around the driveway. His attention changes often. This morning he loved walking around the garage, driveway, yard, sidewalk, and even into the street with a full size broom. I tried to take it from him but he protested. Ok ok ok… You do you, little man.


Fitted with a fresh diaper, I lay him down in the crib. Actually, he’s great at falling asleep and he’s long since settled back into a nap routine after returning home from our vacation in Turkey where the jet lag took a toll on us all. A few tosses and turns, a little playing with his wubanub, but within a few minutes he’s peacefully asleep. With my hands free, I have time for a quick email check-in before hopping in the shower. 



Back from her workout, I give my wife a kiss and head to the office. 


Today starts with an in-person interview. Business is going well and with that comes more work. Recruiting to build the right team takes a surprising amount of time and energy. But a little extra effort now will pay dividends later. 


Multitask. Meeting prep. Reports. Mentor. Email follow-ups. Troubleshoot. Lunch. Watch a few short video clips that my wife sent. She fed him some leftover borscht. Now he’s grinning ear to ear with his pearly white four-tooth smile surrounded by a face that is stained purplish-red. So cute. 


Back to back to back customer meetings.


In the office again, hurrying to send a clear and concise update to my team in China and follow up on a few more emails that came in while I was in meetings. 


On the phone with another interview candidate.


The once sleeping dragon is now awake! With my collages in China arriving at the office, I’m inundated with communication. Cogs are spinning in this business machine and there is plenty of oiling that needs to happen to keep it running smooth. 


A moment to smile as a few more video clips come in. She did arts and crafts with him and then visited a playground in the park this afternoon. He walked around, waving at everyone he met. He climbed up the play structure, then turned around backwards to go down the slide with his feet first, without being prompted! So cute. Time for me to head home. My head is tired.


Whenever I walk in the door after a day at the office, I’m greeted with this crazy loud squeal of excitement that he somehow learned to do while breathing in. It’s so strange. And it’s the cutest thing in the world. I drop my backpack and get Daddy hugs. Then we chase each other around the living room. Now that he can walk, he never crawls, expect when I chase him on my hands and knees. It’s so much fun for the both of us. When I catch him, we roll around on the floor and he giggles from deep inside his belly. So cute. He’s a ball of energy and it’s amazing, but exhausting. I feel so fortunate to have an amazing wife who has seemingly endless love and patience in putting up with her son and her husband!


Mom reminds us to calm down while she prepares a few bowls of leftover creamy ham and potato soup that I made over the weekend. He sits in my lap and we read a book. He helps me flip the thick cardboard pages. We all enjoy a quick dinner at the table. “Brush teeth” she says, and he walks into the bathroom and climbs up the step-stool by the sink. First it’s Dad’s turn to brush for him, then we sing the ABCs while he brushes by himself (or chews on the toothbrush). “OK, 5 more seconds…. 1… 2…” he hands me the brush early and I pick him up. 


The bath is drawn, his night time clothes are laid out and a bottle is made. Meanwhile, iMessages are zapping to and from China as we try to finalize a new contract. Mom is with him in the tub and I come in to hold the toy bag while we prompt him to help put away the foam letters and rubber duckies. I grab his towel and Mom places him on the edge of the tub. For weeks now, every time we take him out of the bath, he stands on one leg and lifts the other in the air. My baby flamingo. So strange. So cute. 


A kiss goodnight and Mom takes him into his room for a story, a bottle, and a bedtime song. It’s the routine. Back in the living room, it looks like a hurricane came through. We put the room back together and wash the dishes. Mom is on the couch pumping out some more milk and I’m at the desk, working through the never-ending incoming emails.


With my China team on their lunch break, I have a moment to get caught up on serving my other customers – our app, SnapType, continues to grow. I still love being able to service this community and build this side-hustle. Though I wish I had more time to dedicate to the ambitious future plans we have for it.


Normally I would take this time to chill out for a few minutes, watch a couple of my favorite YouTube creators, scroll through social media, and unwind before bed. However, tonight the doorbell rings to signal that my ride to the airport is here. I kiss my wife goodbye and hop in the minivan. Double checking to make sure I have my passport, I then pull out my laptop and get back to drafting the day’s final emails. 


The airport is pretty quiet this time of night so I quickly check in and head through security. “Excuse me sir, is this your bag?” Uh oh, I left a few bottles of liquid baby soap in my bag and they are larger than the TSA limit. It’s a gift for a colleague so I head back to the United counter and check a tiny box cardboard box. Back through security for a second time. Lucky there’s no one in the pre-check line.


A glass of water and a snack are consumed after a brief chit-chat with a customer who I bumped into at the Polaris lounge. 


I take my seat on the plan and answer a final few WeChat messages before the doors close. There were so many things I didn’t have time to get to today. I meant to help my mom with her online banking, have a call with my Dad to learn how his doctor’s appointment went, give my sister feedback on her 401k questions, setup an appointment to upgrade to the new “REAL” driver’s licenses, review and pay the bill from the recent emergency room visit (why do babies always get sick in the night?), send a birthday card to a good friend, and start to tackle my annual Year-In-Review blog post. There never seems to be enough time in the day.


The plane takes off 20 minutes late. Rumbles of the engines and the gentle rocking of the plane make my eyelids heavy. I’ll be here for the next 13ish hours. Might as well catch a little shuteye while I can… The days are long, but the years are short.


There’s a good chance we didn’t catch up much this year. I’m sorry for that. But if you’ve made it this far, hit reply to the email, or post a comment on the blog. I’d love to hear from you! Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year as we head down the trail of life for a few more miles.

Categories: Turkey, United States | 4 Comments

My 2018: Year In Review

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. 2017201620152014, 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?

  • We created a human! Out of all the crazy, beautiful, insane, exhausting, and wonderful adventures in life, this moment and the years to come may just be the most adventurous.
  • Despite not visiting any new countries (a first in nearly a decade), I still had the opportunity to re-visit a few old ones. China (obviously), Japan, Germany, and Ecuador.
  • After the travel adventure in 2017 followed by an exhausting year in the office, Amber and I continue to realize that we want more out of life. We both enjoy our careers and we’re happy to ride this wave for a while, but we’re certainly keen for a non-conventional life filled with more adventure in the future. Sharing this grand vision with my partner feels good.
  • Continued success with our app, SnapType. Our user base is growing and we’re making a modest but healthy revenue. Winning the AOTA pitch contest was another avenue for validation and it was marvelous to receive it. We also took some big steps this year in developing the next generation of SnapType and although we’re not ready to launch it to the world just yet, it’s great to see progress being made towards that goal. We get heartwarming emails from teachers and parents each week and we know they’re going to love the new features that we’re developing for them. I spent more hours than normal this year on SnapType so we could put together the plan for the future. And when we release a pretty big bug in the middle of the year, it was a hectic week putting in a fix, but our users really appreciated the quick improvements and customer service they received. It’s been a lot of work, but also energizing and rewarding.
  • I was able to jump back into my day job and hit the ground running, even with being away for 5 months. Throughout the year I provided a lot of value to my customers and my team. It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, but overall it was a positive experience and I’m glad that I could be of service. Although I missed out on a good amount of income while being on the road, it was well worth it to live out our dream. Business continues to be strong and it’s great to be involved in the company’s success along side my talented colleagues.
  • We continued documenting our bicycle tour with a series of more than 50 mini-episodes on YouTube. Amber does most of the hard work when it comes to editing and I come in and touch them up before they get published. We receive heaps of comments and thanks for our videos. We know we’ll be happy to look back on them later in life and we’re pleased to know that they are inspiring and educating other travelers. Even though the trip is over, we still hope to create and share videos of our future adventures. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and get notified when new videos go live. In a world where we consume so much, it feels much more fulfilling to create.

What did not go well in 2018?

  • I tried to keep up with my language learning but I quickly realized how much Russian I had forgotten. Since I travel to China for work, I thought I’d pick up my Mandarin lessons again. The education didn’t last long and after a few months I gave it a rest and have yet to pick it back up. I really like taking the time to study and learn but with such a busy year of work, my mental energy was running low.
  • Yoga… I keep saying that I’ll do it. The benefits are well known to me. But I keep putting it off… Perhaps there has been so much urgency in life life this, I didn’t spend the time to focus on the important, but less urgent items.
  • I visited New Hampshire a few times and had some great visits with family, but it always felt too fast. I miss having family down the road and hanging out with them more often.
  • My step-father has been gone for a year and a half. It’s gotten easier over time, but I still miss him. Every once in a while I’ll think of something that I’d like to share with him, but then I remember he’s gone. Rather than be sad, it makes me smile to remember him. Life goes on and he’ll always be with me.

Looking ahead

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.

Categories: Bicycle Touring, China, Ecuador, Germany, japan, Uncategorized, United States | Leave a comment

This is not the bike you’re looking for…

It all happened so fast…  Last week I put El Burro up for adoption and this week he’s roaming new pastures with his new family.

I told myself I wouldn’t cry… As I rode to the loading dock a mile away, it hit me… This is the last adventure with my trusty steed. El Burro was adopted this morning by a nice father and son planning a ride through Baja. They will give him a new lease on life. Many more adventures await. Ride like the wind!

I told the new family that the original owner of the bike still keeps in touch when I share updates on this blog. (Hi Lee!) He loves knowing that his bike lives on. I will too. I’ve asked them to send photos and stories from their journey.

Here’s the add I posted online. It was fun to write it and I received so many emails from people saying they enjoyed the post. It will be great to immortalize it here on the blog.

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Are you fed up with your KTM or Ducati attracting all the ladies? Well, if you’re looking for a bike that deters women, I have just the bike for you!

El Burro is for sale. He’s certainly no prized race horse, but rather a working donkey who is a great companion.

Once heralded for his feats of riding to the southernmost city in the world (Ushuaia, Argentina), his wounds are reminders of adventures gone by. He’s now saddened by the neglect of his owner who is too busy to take him on wild journeys.

— — — —

We’ve had a good run together. I adopted him from his 2nd owner when he was just 7k miles. He underwent a heart transplant (top end) around 40k. Today he’s somewhere around 70k with more than a few gray hairs. He farts (backfires) way more than he should and his hearing is going so he talks far too loud (loose exhaust and no packing in the muffler). For the past few years, I haven’t had the time to give him the attention he deserves – sadly day rides and the odd weekend trip are all he gets these days. I hope some budding adventurer will be able to give him a new home and a new life.

— — — —

The Details
2001 Kawasaki KLR 650
~70k+ miles (after the spedo cable fell off the 3rd time, I quit replacing it. Odometer says ~33k)
40k maintenance: New piston and rings, rebored the cylinder.
Aluminum skid plate
Heated hand warmers
Done did the doohickey
Tall windscreen
Fat off road foot pegs
Rear brake master cylinder guard
Ram mount
Corbin seat (2nd best accessory)
$5 plastic inline fuel filter (best accessory)
SW-Motech side racks (with custom 4th mounting point for extra stability).
Micatech rear rack
Micatech side cases not included…
Engine guards with highway pegs (highway pegs not included, they fell off long ago)
Hand guards with bar-end protectors
Progressive front fork springs
PROTAPER handlebar with rad foam pad that says “PROTAPER” – adds 2.7 horsepower
Pre-routed spare throttle cables. (Despite replacing 3 clutch cables, the throttle cables just won’t quit)
Spare clutch cable
Half-used spare brake pads
K&N air filter (dirt from Death Valley included at no extra charge)
Fork brace (with 2 stripped bolts, so it looks cool but doesn’t do much aside from looking cool)
Large Wolfman tank bag with map pouch and KLR specific mount (this bag has been awesome)
Aftermarket muffler. It sounded great 60k miles ago!
Stock muffler also included (but not mounted)
Oversized front brake rotor
ADV sticker
Headlight protector (protector fell off in Patagonia, dead bugs and industrial velcro squares are all that remain)
Tubes that never go flat (seriously, I’ve never had a flat tire on this bike… ever! That said, you should probably change the tubes…)
New stock rear turn signal (the original melted in Bolivia, some kind person on ADVrider sent me a new pair)
Custom rear shock flap to keep mud out (handmade from a great mechanic in Ecuador)
Center stand
Stainless steel front brake cable (then again, I forget if that comes stock…)

The Good
Running (hey, that’s pretty good!)
New battery that sits on a battery tender
Drivetrain surprisingly ain’t too shabby.

The Bad
A face that only a mother could love.
Backfires (often mistaken for a lawn mower).
Loose exhaust (I had the stock exhaust as well)
Kickstand switch sticks – need to use your hand to flick the switch
Lots of other little stuff…
50% tread left on the tires (50/50 trail/street tires)
Rear brake light doesn’t work (running light works just fine).
Speedometer doesn’t work. Don’t worry, you’ll never be riding too fast.
Odometer stuck at ~33k (it will be great for your resale value).
Headlight points to the sky (don’t ride at night…)

— — — —

Is this the bike for you? Probably not.
Is it a great bike? It once was.
Is it a gateway to adventure? Absolutely.
I hope someone out there can put it to good use!
Not looking to part it out, unless you buy everything except the mirrors.

Located near San Jose, California
Price: $2,200 cash or $2,100 and a whole bunch of beer

— — — —

And I used only the finest of photos in the add:

Ride like the wind…

Categories: United States | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

My 2016: Year In Review

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. 20152014, 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.

Looking ahead

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?

Categories: Austria, China, Mexico, Singapore, United States | Leave a comment

My 2014: Year In Review

Wow, my 2013 finished with a bang while getting engaged in Guatemala on top of a volcano on Christmas Eve. And 2014 has been incredible as well. As another years passes, it’s fun to reflect on what went down and recalibrate for the future. Here’s a summary of my adventures in 2014. January After leaving Guatemala, it was back to California to spend more time with Amber before her spring semester started. Towards the end of the month, I flew home to celebrate our engagement with our families. February February kicked off my first trip to China for the year. Shanghai Bund March With spring in full swing in California, it was off to Death Valley for some moto riding at the annual ADVrider rally. This was my first trip to the valley and I was blown away with it’s beauty, remoteness and rugged terrain. The riding was challenging and exciting with lots of soft sand, steep rocky ascents and crashes every now and then. Highlights included Goler Wash, Mengel Pass, the Race Track, Tea Kettle Junction and Lippincott Pass. March - Death Valley Pass April This was a crazy month with 2 trips to China. The best part though was a long weekend in Seoul, South Korea on the way home. I met up with a friend of a friend and had a wonderful time exploring the city with my local guide, Claire! It’s amazing how different South Korea is from China and I really enjoyed exploring a new place. The food was delicious, the language was unique and the culture was interesting. I’d love to get back some day and travel more around the country! Korea Gangnum Style May Amber and I set off for our annual visit to the the Overland Expo in Arizona where I gave several presentations about riding around the globe on a motorbike. And it was back to New Hampshire for the wedding of my friend, Chip. Wedding Group Additionally, I had been working with a developer for the past few months to build an iPad App. Born from Amber’s creativity, SnapType empowers students to keep up with thier peers, despite their difficulty with handwriting. By allowing them to take pictures of their school worksheets and then fill in the answers using the iPad keyboard they can now complete their work and feel successful. May - SnapType 2 As a final accomplishment for the month, I made my final payment to one of my two groups of student loans. Financial independence seems like a never ending battle, but this was a solid step forward and I’m really excited and proud to be paying off my debt. There’s still a lot more to pay, however with my other group of loans at only a 1.75% interest rate, there’s no big rush to pay them off quickly. June Once again, I hopped on plane and headed west for China trip #4. In order to spice things up a bit, my colleagues took me out to dinner at a unique restaurant where we feasted on giant silk worm grubs, dog meet and french fries covered in liquid sugar… June - Bugs Later in the month I spent a weekend in San Francisco to compete in the Startup Weekend challenge. Startup Weekends are 54-hour events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups. I joined a group of incredibly talented programmers to develop CrowdSync, a meeting management application to automate note taking. We didn’t win the competition, but it was a fascinating and empowering learning experience. June - Startup Weekend July Halfway through the year, China came calling again. Like April, this was a two-trip month across the Pacific Ocean. With all that air time, my body was tired and so a cupping session was in order. Yes, it was painful. The marks were said to last only 5-10 days but even several weeks later, they could still be seen. I’m not sure if it helped at all but it was a fun new experience! China Cupping In between China trips I headed to Yosemite with some friends for some camping and hiking while being unplugged. It was just what I needed to recharge! Here’s a picture overlooking Half Dome; We hiked 15 miles that day. July - Yosemite Amber also made another trip out to California and we spent time tubing with friends down the Russian River and cycling along the coast. We also took engagement photos along Baker Beach in San Francisco. Ben and Amber Engagement August In August I officially relaunched the Motorcycle Mexico website. One of my passions/goals is passive income and this was another step towards location independence. Rather than simply pitch the DVDs, I’ve structured a free eBook landing page and an automated email marketing campaign to build rapport with readers before making the sales pitch. Time will tell how well it works. But it’s already proving well with a growing email list and a (small) increase in sales. Of course, it’s a sale I’m proud to make since these DVDs are a gold mine of information where any traveler can reap lots of value. Motorcycle Mexico eBook As summer rolled on, Stephen stopped by during his visit back to the USA. He and I rode Baja together in 2010 while he was en route to South America. He made it only as far as Guatemala before falling in love with the country and deciding to live on Lago Atitlan. He’s been there ever since. While in California, we went for a hike in Pinnacles National Park. Pinnacles And no month would be complete without some bicycle riding with my friends – The J’s. August - Bike Rides September Another annual event, the Horizons Unlimited meet up, had me back on the bike and riding towards Yosemite. I gave several informative and entertaining presentations about motorcycle travel and I watched several other inspirational speakers present on riding in intriguing places like Central Asia, Africa and Cuba. It wasn’t long before China trip #7 came knocking. Here we go again. With fall coming to New England, I flew home to go on a motorcycle ride with my Dad. He’s been a motorcyclists since his college days but hasn’t owned a bike since I was born. Now equipped with a Harley, I too borrowed an HD and we spent the day riding back roads throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. Spending time together doing something we both love was really special and I look forward to more miles in the future! Moto Ride With Dad October October was a hell of a month. Action packed and a bit of a blur, I found myself on a new adventure every weekend. The month kicked off with a visit to Colorado to re-unite with friends from college, ride bicycles and drink beer… October - Colorado Biking The next weekend I flew to Utah to catch up with David and Haley. After arriving in Salt Lake City, we headed south for Capitol Reef National Park to go canyoneering through Cassidy Arch and river hiking through some of the country’s most beautiful scenery. Look closely in the photo below… I’m on rappel! Utah Canyoneering The weekend after that I hosted Montanans, Mike and Katie, on a weekend trip to explore sunny California. The trips north to San Francisco and south to Big Sur were a blast and the company was perfect. Big Sur Overlook Other notable October happenings included a visit from my buddy John, hosting my first MotoStays traveler and welcoming my college comrade, Cachaulo to join our company. November With a month full of adventures behind me, there was no stopping the excitement. Reid, Joel, Charlie and I drove 6 hours north for a 3-day 25-mile backpacking trip along the rugged Lost Coast. This was the only stretch of coast in California where it was too rough to build a road. The hike was both challenging and rewarding. Getting caught in the tide with wet feet coupled with walking through soft sand yielded many blisters. Nevertheless, the grandeur of this remote wilderness was well worth the effort. Loast Coast Hiking A weekend hiking in Tahoe and a well deserved long Thanksgiving trip home to the east coast made the month of November fly by. December The last page of the calendar also marked my final trip to China. Trip #8 was a success! And of course, to close out the year in style, Amber and I flew down to the Dominican Republic to relax in an all-incluve resort go on a bicycle tour around the north coast of Hispanolia! Dominican Republic Bicycle Touring El Choco What went well in 2014?

  • Like in 2013, I flew a bunch. I racked up more than 200,000 frequent flyer miles.
  • I visited two new countries (South Korea and the Dominican Republic) to bring the total country count to 27.
  • My career is going well and I’m providing value to my company and my clients. The work is challenging at times but also rewarding with many benefits and I enjoy the people I work with.
  • Amber and I created the SnapType iPad app to help students with dysgraphia (and the feedback we’ve received from teachers, therapists and parents has been overwhelmingly positive). We’re also working on upgrades for version 2.0 to make it even better!

What did not go well in 2014?

  • Even though I had many wonderful small adventures, I didn’t undertake a large journey. When I rode to Argentina a few years ago, people told me it was a “once in lifetime experience” and ever since I’ve hoped it would mark only the start of a life full of adventures. It’s tough to undertake large quests when burdened by the responsibilities of daily life. Nevertheless, I look forward to putting myself in the position to take advantage of more opportunities in the future.
  • Year after year I continue to struggle with back pain. As an engineer, it’s most frustrating to be unable to find a root cause of the pain and a solution to resolve it. The challenge is beyond physical and I struggle emotionally with not being able to live an energetic life filled with freedom and motion.
  • Even though it was a fun year, I didn’t take the time to write anything on the blog. I had to make a commitment to myself to write this year in review (albeit a little late). I find it important to reflect on and celebrate the past to help prepare me for the future.
  • Even though I went home to New England a few times, I still wish I spent more time with my friends and family on the east coast.

Looking Ahead There is a lot in store for 2015 and it’s already shaping up to be a busy year with my first trip to China scheduled later this January. But most of the year will be focused on this fall, when Amber and I get married. Even though we’re keeping things simple, there is so much to do. We want to put on a great event and look forward to celebrating with all of our friends and family. Chris Guillebeau writes about The Happiness of Pursuit in his new book. He talks about how taking on a quest can improve your life. I’ve had this sensation many times in my life. When I was riding to Argentina, and producing the Motorcycle Mexico DVDs, and cycling a century, and working out a new climbing route, and building a mobile app – All of these quests were not relaxing. I was engaged, in flow, and working my mind and body. That’s happiness – Not in reaching the goal, but in the challenge to reach the goal. I want to bring more of this into my life. It makes me feel alive and excited! I have a few small quests in the works for 2015 and I look forward to larger quests sometime down the road. What about you? How was your 2014? 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?

Categories: China, Dominican Republic, Korea, United States | 4 Comments

My 2012: Year In Review

I’ve looked back over 2012 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 fun to reflect on the past twelve months. Here’s a brief summary of the path my life has taken:


The new year started with lots of preparation and excitement as I set forth to film a motorcycle documentary down in South America. I also built and launched Darien Gap Info A peer review website dedicated to crossing the Darien Gap.

Late in the month, I travelled down to Colombia to meet again with my partner Mike Thomsen of Motolombia. Together with 8 riders, we rode through the heart of Colombia. Filmmaker Andreas Munksgaard and I documented the entire journey. Capturing each days events was hard work but also a great learning experience.

The New World Ride Still Shot

Filming in Colombia for The New World Ride


Upon returning to the cold New Hampshire winter, it was time to make sense of the nearly 100 hours of film. I began the pain staking process of cataloging all the footage. This was slow and arduous but laid the necessary foundation for developing the documentary. To keep sane, I played volleyball one night a week with friends.


More computer work… During the week I spent 8am – 5pm at my day job (mostly on the computer) and then came home, cooked dinner and spent 6pm – 10pm working on the film (also in front of the computer). I enjoy editing but it was tough to spend all night on the computer after spending my of my day there as well. However, I pushed on, and each day I saw progress.

At the end of the month I took a break from the film and headed to India on another business trip for my day job. I worked with my team of programmers and business analysts to develop custom web and mobile applications to better serve our customers. The work was fun and of course I enjoyed experiencing India. Best of all was renting a Royal Enfield Bullet 350 on the weekend and getting lost in Southern India!

GoPro Motorcycle Photo in India

Riding the crazy streets of Southern India

On the way home, I spent a few days in London where I met up with Andreas. We went over some of the story I had been putting together and he also showed me all around the city. The famous Ace Cafe was high on the list amongst all the numerous historical landmarks. It may be hard to believe, but the English weather was beautiful, sunny and warm!

Ace Cafe in London

Ace Cafe in London, England


Back in States once again it was time to finish building the story for the The New World Ride (the name of the soon to be released Colombian Motorcycle documentary). More countless hours spent staring at the computer screen. I also turned 29 years old…

Final Cut Pro Sequence from The New World Ride

Final Cut Pro Sequence from The New World Ride


As spring rolled into New Hampshire, I continued building the documentary day by day. By the middle of the month, I was ready for another quick getaway. Setting my compass southwest I headed to the Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona. This was my second expo and I was amazed at how much it had grown. If you want to travel the world on 2 wheels or 4, this is the place for you. With hundreds of vendors and thousands of travelers, there is no shortage of gear and stories. Motorcycle Mexico, my how-to guide for motorcycling south of the border, was on sale and I spoke at several roundtable discussions including “Borders, Bribes and Checkpoints.” It was great to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

Ben Slavin and Carla King at Overland Expo in a Ural Side Car

Riding Monkey for Carla King


June was a big month… I gave my 23rd and 24th presentations about my 6 month, 23,000 mile motorcycle ride from New Hampshire to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuia, Argentina. Moreover, I was recruited for and accepted an exciting new job opportunity on the west coast. It was a tough decision to leave my day job that I really enjoyed and to put so much distance between my family. But ultimately it would be a great experience in an exciting and growing industry with many new places to explore during weekend adventures. So, in three weeks, I gave my notice, Amber and I packed up everything we owned and with excitement and exhaustion we jumped on a plane headed for Europe.

Thanks to our friends Bob and Sue at Micatech, we rode all around Western Europe on their 1995 BMW K75 motorcycle. In three short weeks we cruised through France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. Ya… I’m still working on that blog post :). It was an incredible trip. We camped each night and lived off of fresh bread, cheeses and sausages.

Crossing the Alps from France to Italy

Crossing the Alps from France to Italy


And finally after more than 10 years of dreaming, I finally saw the Tour de France! We followed the first few stages of the tour in Belgium and France – wow, what an experience!

Tour de France - Peleton Climb

Tour de France – Peleton Climb

From Europe we scooted back to South America for Amber’s sister’s wedding in Quito, Ecuador. The ceremony was in a tranquil mountain setting just outside the busy city. After the wedding we rented a Suzuki V-Strom from Freedom Bike Rental. Mountain twisties and serene beaches were on the agenda for the quick 5-day ride at the equator. (Yup, still working on that blog post too!)

Lunch on the beach in Ecuador

Lunch on the beach in Ecuador

With Ecuador behind us we were off to California to find a place to live in Silicon Valley. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find a cute little duplex right in Cupertino (a 7 minute walk from the Apple campus) with a palm tree and lemon tree in the front yard!

Our House in Cupertino

Our House in Cupertino


I began work at AAC Technologies were we develop custom micro-speaker, microphone and vibrator solutions that integrate inside today’s smartphones, tablets and mp3 players. By the middle of the month our friend John arrived with all of our belongings. We are so thankful that he drove a 26′ moving truck 3,000 miles across the country just to help us out! For the past 2 weeks we had been “camping” in our new home waiting for all of our furniture to arrive.

House Camping

House Camping

Our motorcycles came in the same truck and we were excited to hit the ground and explore California. At the end of the month we rode through the Sierra Nevada mountains to the Lake Tahoe Adventure Motorcycle Rendezvous. Amber went on road rides with a bunch of new friends and I set out for desert dirt riding with people much more capable than me. After pushing my limits and almost dumping the bike several times we headed over Ebbets Pass on our way back to the bay area. We also hosted our first motorcycle travelers in our new place – a young couple from France.

Amber Motorcycling in Ebbets Pass in California

Amber Motorcycling over Ebbets Pass in California


Finally settled into our new life on the west coast, we continued exploring with weekend surfing trips in Santa Cruz, city excursions around San Francisco, road tripping to Fresno to see the Colorado football game and hiking in the Redwood Forests. I also have a bunch of friends from college in the area and it’s been great to reconnect with them too. Additionally, my sister came to live us with. She’s a certified elementary education teacher but there are no jobs to be had in New Hampshire. The hopes of gainful employment lead her to California instead.

September also brought my first trip to China since 2009. I got a custom fit suit in Shanghai before going west and then finally south to Shenzhen. In Changzhou, I climbed to the top of the world’s tallest pagoda. I was amazed at how much Chinese I remembered (still only a few phrases) and was able to pick up a little more along the way. The locals always get a kick out of it when I say something in their language.

Worlds Tallest Pagoda

Worlds Tallest Pagoda

Unfortunately however, a night out at every kids dream (a warehouse filled with trampolines), was the straw the broke the camels back and I was in debilitating back and neck pain.


I began physical therapy but still encountered relapses of my injured back. Not fun! I had to give up cycling, running, hiking and any other form of physical fitness. Even simple tasks like putting on my socks or sitting up in bed in the mornings were painful and demotivating.

I slowly progressed as the month went on and with the support of a kidney belt, Amber and I rode 200 miles south along the coastline on Highway 1 to attend the Horizons Unlimited motorcycle travelers meetup in Cambria. New friends like Cliff Danger reminded us of a simpler life with stories of riding Lucy, a small Minsk motorcycle, throughout Cambodia and Vietnam.

Big Sur coastline along California's Highway 1

Big Sur coastline along California’s Highway 1

Putting on my marketing hat, I revamped the Motorcycle Mexico landing page and saw a huge boost in sales conversations. It’s a gold mine of information for aspiring travelers and I get joy out of helping them ride their dreams. We also hosted more motorcycle travelers, this time a couple from Guatemala on their way back from Alaska.

Motorcycle Mexico Landing Page

Motorcycle Mexico Landing Page

And with 48 hours notice, I headed back to China for a quick business trip. At least I got to sleep in a round bed…

Round Bed in Shanghai, China

Round Bed in Shanghai, China


Remember that motorcycle documentary? In the summer I handed my work off to Andreas who put on the final touches. Over the following months we released mini-episodes from each day of the trip. The penultimate release was a feature length film – The New World Ride. It was a wild journey and it wouldn’t have been possible without everyone involved – To all of you… ¡MUCHAS GRACIAS!

Two hours a day of back stretching and strengthening exercises finally started to pay off and I slowly began seeing improvements. Amber and I had hoped to ride to Baja, Mexico during the Thanksgiving break but her work schedule and my health had us put it on hold. Nevertheless, we found some fun in hiking and camping in Marin County just north of San Francisco. Aside from an evening spent convinced that we were being stalked by a mountain lion, we had a great time.

Point Bonita Marin County Hiking

Point Bonita Marin County Hiking


My work schedule isn’t the typical 8-5. Some days are slow and others are action packed with customer meetings during the day. I’m up most nights until midnight working with my team in China. With the end of the year in sight, we headed east for a much needed vacation, exchanging our computers for the families we hadn’t seen in 6 months. It was the perfect Christmas gift.

What went well in 2012?

The past 12 months have been action packed.

  • I traveled to 12 countries (8 of them for the first time) and spoke 7 languages (granted some of them were only a few words).
  • I gave 6 speeches about my motorcycle travels around the world.
  • I did all sorts of new things like paragliding over Medellin, Colombia, motorcycling around Lake Tahoe, eating congealed pigs blood at a Chinese restaurant and shooting trap with a shotgun in California.
  • I built and released a feature length motorcycle travel documentary.

What did not go well in 2012?

Though 2012 was a good year, not everything was perfect.

For one, my Russian language learning got de-railed. A new job with a shorter commute meant no time for audio CD’s. I got through 45 lessons (the same amount of Spanish before I left on my first big trip) but it quickly faded with lack of use. I still hope to explore the now disolved Soviet Union and it will be great to use the Russian language to connect with people from many countries. I need more practice.

Also, I didn’t do a great job maintaining friendships. I spent a lot of time in front of the computer with interesting but isolating projects, and I didn’t see my family for the entire second half of the year. As I grow older, I realize how important friends and family are. I’m disappointed that I lost my way in strengthening those relationships.

Finally, I’m not happy with how things finished with my physical fitness. I reached a peak level of fitness in early May when I was playing basketball every day at lunch and running on the weekends. But then a combination of injuries, travel, and a new job with many business lunches made me a little soft. I’m carrying an extra five or ten pounds now, and my fitness levels are lower than I want them to be.

Looking Ahead

Though I didn’t set goals for 2012, I do have a few plans for the year to come. Soon, I’ll share some of my goals for the future. I have a lot in mind including travel, technology projects, friends & family, happiness, 2 wheels (without a motor), business, health and more.

What about you? How was your 2012? 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?

Categories: United States | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Weekend of Freedom World Tour

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.

Categories: Uncategorized, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Where Are They Now” Edition

New to the site? Click here to follow the blog in chronological order. Thanks for checking out the journey, enjoy!

Hey Everyone!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back in the USA for over 4 months! Spending time with friends and family has been great and the summer weather has been beautiful here in New Hampshire. So… What’s been going on? Well, 6 months without regular exercise coupled with 3 or 4 daily meals of delicious fried food plays a toll on the body. I weighed myself when I returned home – I gained 15 lbs… YIKES!!! Riding the motorcycle everyday was exhausting but it wasn’t stimulating my cardiovascular system. Now back at home I’ve been kayaking, running, biking (of the pedal variety), and hiking on a daily basis and I’ve shed that baby fat. Here’s a few shots from the absolutely stunning Acadia National Park in Maine.

Have no fear though, I’m still riding the motorcycle nearly everyday. My car has only seen a few days of use this entire summer. Being stuck inside the 4-wheeled box is near torture. The KLR, a.k.a. El Burro, has been a true workhorse. He now has roughly 35,000 miles (I say roughly, because I’ve been without a spedo/odometer cable for the past 12,000-ish miles). All that traveling has taken it’s toll and I now have piston slap. It looks like I’ll be rebuilding the engine’s top end…

This Bike Climbed Mt. Washington

I recently presented the my journey through the Americas at the New Hampshire Latino Festival. Latinos and Gringos alike came up and asked all sorts of questions. “Are you fucking crazy!?” was a popular one. I met Salvadorians, Mexicans, Colombians, and Guatemalans. Their eyes opened wide as I described riding through their countries. Many young kids who are still learning about their heritage stopped by to check out my photos. Their parents would point to a picture and say “That’s our country.” Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll inspire one of these kids to jump on a bike and ride through their country to experience it first hand. I made this highlight map to have on display.

Motorcycle Central and South America

Crucial to the success of my journey were the Micatech panniers and top case. You’ve seem then in every photo with my bike and I certainly put them to the test. With over 50 tip-overs ,they are still in excellent shape and waterproof (although a bit dirty). The boxes are made only 30 miles from my home and since returning home they’ve contracted me to do some engineering and design for new products. The projects has been fun, challenging, and engaging. Designing and building adventure motorcycling products is great. One key element in product development is field testing… Alright, so what’s next??? Ya, it’s about time for a new adventure. Well, in 3 short weeks I’ll be back on the bike, riding 3,300 miles across the country to California where I’ll be presenting my journey through the Americas at the Overland Rally. Are you interested in traveling the world by car/truck/van/motorcycle/bicycle then this is the event for you. So, if you’re in the Bay Area between September 23 and 26, sign on up and check out the rally.

Overland Rally

After the Overland Rally I’m headed south to Mexico! Wooo Hooo! I’ll be riding down the Baja Peninsula and then crossing over to the mainland where I’ll be riding for 5 weeks. While south of the border I’ll be filming for a How To Guide for Motorcycling in Mexico. I’m super excited about this project and hope to inspire others to go and ride their dream. Check out the website at www.MotorcycleMexico.com. Interested in following the new journey? Then sign-up for email updates by clicking here (because I won’t be updating this website anymore). When I make it back home at the beginning of November I’ll have put on another 10,000 miles!

Motorcycle Mexico

That’s about it… What have ya’ll been up to? Drop me a line and keep me in the loop.

Ride & Explore!


Categories: Mexico, United States | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Amber and I braved the rush hour traffic into Boston. A ride that usually takes 45 minutes took 2 hours! Obeying traffic laws and being stuck in traffic was torture – get me back on that bike! First stop: American Airlines Cargo warehouse. I grabbed my paperwork and then was told I needed to go to customs for some stamps (stamps??? I thought I left Central America). The best part is that the customs office is downtown. I paid my tolls to leave the airport, headed downtown and was greeted by a customs officer with no personality. He was a bit confused why I was shipping a US registered bike from Argentina to the States. “If you did any offroading, the bike will need to be cleaned and fumigated at your expense. Did you do any offroading?” he asked me. I answered “Nope, always on the pavement” (wink wink). 30 minutes later I got my stamps and headed back to the airport. Despite the fact that I was told I’d not have to pay anything when picking the bike up in Boston I still had to pay a $30 fee (that apparently all shipments are charged). Here’s the guys bringing the bike.

Bike Return 002

Loading the bike onto the trailer.

Bike Return 008

With the bike back home it was unloaded and reassembled hassle free.

Bike Return 016

I guess it’s time to quit moving around because I’ve run out of pages in my passport. At the end the border officials started stamping over old stamps. Here are just a few.

 Passport Stamps 002

Passport Stamps 005

Passport Stamps 008

Passport Stamps 009 

Once I had the bike back up and running I met up with my friend, photographer Sid Ceaser for a post trip portrait session. You might remember the photos that Sid took just a few days before my trip started 6 months ago. Sid is a master with light and created some wonderful images. Here are a few “Before & After” photos with a few other tossed in the mix.

(1) Before:

Portrait 6

(1) After:

Post 1

(2) Before:

Portrait 3

(2) After:

Post 4

(3) Before:

Portrait 4

(3) After:

Post 5

A Few More Photos.

Post 7

Post 2

Post 6

Post 3

And of course after five and a half months without a hair cut or a shave it was time to get cleaned up a bit. (Click here if video doesn’t work)

It’s been strange getting re-adjusted to “normal life” again. It’s great to see my friends and family but the adventure meter drops to zero. And what happened to all the Spanish? English… that’s no fun. I keep putting the TP into the waste basket and when I do remember to put it into the toilet I feel like I’m doing something naughty. I find it strange that all bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper and have toilet seats. I look at my closet full of clothes and I just want to wear the same shirt and pants I’ve been wearing for the last 6 months. I pulled up to the gas station and waited around for someone to pump my gas, sadly there was no attendant. Credit cards are now accepted everywhere (even when I paid the shipping agency to ship my bike home they made me pay in cash – to a bank down the street…). I went to a restaurant at home and they had 20 different kinds of turkey dishes – I’m used to walking in and asking what they have. They say chicken. I say “OK, I’ll have the chicken” nuff said. It’s a strange new world…

Charles and I have been keeping in touch since parting ways in Ecuador. He’s been rolling south and having a wonderful journey. Then he sends me this photo… In Quellon, Chile he got in an accident. Charles has no memory before the crash (or even for a while thereafter) but based on eyewitnesses he thinks he had a mechanical failure and lost control. Fortunately(?) for him he crashed into a fire truck. He broke 3 vertebrae, and twisted up his ankles, wrists, and knees. With a broken back he somehow managed to remove the tank bag, save only half of his camera’s memory cards, camping gear, and his passport. His other belongings, as well as the bike, were complete incinerated. His story made the front pages of both the local newspapers. Charles then spent 8 days in a Chilean hospital before returning home to Colorado. He’s doing well and studying to take the Bar exam this summer. Get well buddy!

Charles Inferno

Zoomed In… (For Sale: KTM 640 Adventure – light smoke damage)

Charles Inferno

I’ve really enjoyed sharing my story with you all. Thanks to everyone who followed along and for all the comments.

Until the next adventure…

Categories: United States | 7 Comments

The United States

Day 1: On the road! I cruised through New Hampshire and Massachusetts on route to Rhode Island where I stopped over at Twisted Throttle to pick up a some mounting hardware for the GPS. That night I camped out at a campground that happened to the closed for the season but the nice folks let me tent for free.

Day 2: The fun begins… It’s 40° and raining. Twisting my head side-to-side every 5 minutes allows the visor to be cleared of the rain. In the afternoon the rain picks up and it’s getting difficult to see the road. Small patches of visibility are available from time to time and I’m trying to stay between the lines. I make the executive decision that it’s time to call it quits for the day and I’m not to interested in finding a place to camp in the pouring rain. A motel straight out of a horror movie in the middle of nowhere has a cheap rate and I crash for the night.

Day 3: The rain is still coming down so I swing by a grocery store to pick up some Pledge wipes. Rubbing them on the helmet face shield helps to repel the water and the lemon scent is a bonus. As I hit the road and the temps dropped into the 30’s. Breaking the day into small blocks is the only way to make ground. After 10 miles of riding my fingers are cold. After 20 miles they hurt. At 30 miles I find a place to stop and warm up. After about 7 of these sessions I arrive at my friend Jamie’s house in Maryland.

Day 4: Rest day! It’s Jamie and Laura’s wedding reception and I have a great time hanging out with friends. (Oh and it’s still pouring rain…)

Jamie's Maryland Wedding Reception 012

Day 5: The rain has stopped as I head south to the Shenandoah Mountains in western Virginia. Cruising up Skyline Drive is beautiful. I gain elevation quickly and soon enough it’s snowing! I shared a campsite for the night and the temps dropped into the 20’s.

United States 007United States 010

Day 6: The road is still covered in slush and I get cold quickly. Every so often I stop and jog up and down the road to get warm. However, I make it out of the mountains and head over to Virginia Beach for some warmer weather and to catch up with my friend Jon. He’s still working when I arrive so I figure it’s a good time to install the GPS power cord.

United States 012

Day 7: I follow the coast down to North Carolina’s National Sea Shore. It’s a beautiful ride and my first day without the balaclava under the helmet. Island hopping meant I had to take two ferries. Fortunately, motorcycles get to cut right to the front of the line 🙂

United States 021

Day 8: Working my way down the coast through Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and it’s 80 degrees! I actually get a little sunburn. It’s hard to imagine that two days ago It was 20° and snowing. I also realize that I’ve never camped in alligator country… I decide to stick to the designated camping grounds, and I find a beautiful spot along the Intercoastal Waterway.

South Carolina

Day 9: Passing through southern Georgia I had to dodge a hot tub in the middle of the road – a good test of road conditions to come. Eventually I reach Florida and stay with my Cousin, Matt, in San Fernando Beach.

St. Augustine, Florida (2) Day 10: A biker I met on the ferry recommended that I take highway A1A along Florida’s Atlantic coast. It was a nice cruise and I passed through Daytona Beach and St. Augustine – America’s oldest city where I stopped to check out the Spanish fort, Castillo de San Marcos. I end the day with my Aunt, Uncle, and Nana in Port St. Lucie. A shower, laundry, and delicious dinner are just what I needed.

Day 11: It’s off to the Florida Keys and I can’t stop singing that song… I make it to Key West and to the the southern most point in the continental United States (It counts as continental because we built a dozen bridges from island to island). I share a camping spot at the Bahia Honda State Park and take a dip in the crystal clear water! Ya… this is the life.

Florida Keys (3)Florida Keys (8)

Day 12: Goodbye Florida Keys. Hello Everglades. I head to the national park and do a few short hikes. I haven’t yet seen an alligator and I’m getting anxious. I look everywhere but unfortunately none are to be seen. What’s the deal? I thought these were everywhere? On the way out of the park, I finally get on some dirt roads and I stop by a swamp. Sure enough, I see two alligators! I realized that I don’t know their actions. Will it jump out of the water at me? Will one stare at me and the other come up from behind? Later I find out that they keep to themselves and avoid human contact. Not what I expected from those crazy National Geographic videos. (or was it Jurassic Park?)

Everglades, FloridaEverglades, Florida (13) 

Day 13: Headed up the gulf coast and I’m lucky enough to spend the night at a friend’s place in Cape Coral.

Day 14: Still headed up the coast on state highways and the bike is sputtering. Hmm… The first mechanical challenge of the trip. I make it to camp and clean out the carburetor jets. It seems to do the trick. The Micatech pannier doubles as a great mechanics seat too. I see my first armadillo. Again, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I quickly found out that all they do is makes LOTS of noise rustling around the fallen leaves trying to find grubs to eat. The camp spot is under a bunch of Hazelnut (?) trees. These are HUGE and solid and it’s the time of year they fall from the tree. All night I hear them come crashing down. I narrowly escaped a few encounters – that wouldn’t have felt good to have one land on my head.

Northern Florida (5)Northern Florida 

Day 15: Up to Florida’s pan handle and I get caught in a massive downpour. It’s the most severe rain I’ve hit so far. Fortunately the weather was warm and after about 10 miles of not being able to see past my front tire I come across a general store in the middle of nowhere and ride right under their awning. After some nice conversation with the locals and an hour gone by the rain lets up and I continue west.

Day 16: I rolled through Pensacola, Florida and through Alabama’s southern coast on into Mississippi where I meet up with a fellow ADVrider, Paul, who puts me up for the night, feeds me well, takes me kayaking and on a tour of the Hurricane Katrina damage. Here’s a picture of the lot where his house once stood. The water line can be seen on the trees about 12 feet from the ground. It’s hard to fathom what that would be like

Mississippi 007

Day 17: New Orleans!

Day 18: A rest day in NOLA to hang out with friends and go out for Halloween. I’ve been living on a tight budget (a.k.a. lots of peanut butter sandwiches) so I wasn’t interested in spending money on a Halloween custom. I looked for the only prop I had with me… the inflatable sheep. Here we have Panama Jack, Quail Man, Sheep Fucker, and Twitter. If the city goes this crazy for Halloween, I can only imagine what it’s like at Mardi Gras.

New Orleans (Halloween) 034New Orleans (Halloween) 043

Day 19: Onward to Lake Charles to meet up with another ADVrider, Darrell. After hellos he tells me to take his BMW F800GS for a spin. OK! Darrell and his wife Cher also own a scuba diving shop called True Blue Watersports.

Day 20: Houston, Texas to meet up with yet another ADVrider, Dave, who rode his motorcycle from Texas to Tierra del Fuego last year. It was great to pick his brain for all kinds of information. It’s here that I started to get scared and excited all at once! Dave was even robbed at gunpoint by banditos in Guatemala… But overall he had great things to say about the journey.

Houston Texas (David G.)  (AllTheWaySouth) 003

Day 21: I decided to stay another day in Houston to get some last minute paperwork organized. I made laminated copies of all my important documents. I’ll hand these over to officials and not the originals just incase anyone tries to bribe me to get them back. A run, some frisbee with Dave’s dog, Indy, and delicious Texas BBQ wrapped up the day.

Day 22: Austin, Texas with the hopes of running into Lance Armstrong at his bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s. No lance sightings unfortunately but I did have a chance to meet up with, yup you guessed it, ADVrider Robin and hangout with the local moto crew at the pub downtown.

Austin Texas (Robin Hodson) 002Austin Texas (Robin Hodson) 004

Day 23: The butterflies are everywhere in Texas and several of them met my helmet with a loud SMACK. Eventually I made it down to a state park in Laredo, Texas. Another run in the dry heat felt great and I organized my documents for tomorrow’s border crossing. 4,500 miles have gone by since I left home. Another 16,000 or so still to come 🙂

Texas, Laredo

Day 24: MEXICO!!! I packed up early in order to get through the border quickly. Dave recommended a quiet border crossing about 25 miles north of town. (Headed to Mexico? Here’s the details). I had a nice chat with the lady on the USA side of the border then rode across the bridge to Mexico. Instantly no one spoke English and none of the signs were in English. It was fun trying to talk Spanish to officials to get my passport stamp, tourist visa, and vehicle import permit. No one seemed to be in a rush. At one window there was no one present and no one I asked seemed to know when the official would be back… After 15 minutes the official arrived. Life’s a little slower south of the border… The driving rules changed too. All of a sudden it’s accepted and expected to drive on the shoulder, pass by going into the oncoming traffic’s lane and stop wherever you please. It’s been flat for the last 3,000 miles and finally I got into the mountains! I made a straight 200 mile shot through a few towns and arrived at Hidalgo outside Monterrey at La Posada in El Potrero Chico. I rock climbed here a few years ago and decided that it would be a great place to take a few days off the bike, slow life down, get used to Latin culture, and get organized. So I’m here now and eating delicious tacos. mmmmmm.

El Potrero ChicoHasta luego!

Categories: United States | 6 Comments

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