This is part two of my year in review series. You can start with my 2019 in Review, Part 1 if you’d like.
In 2017, I turned 40. Instead of buying a sports car I couldn’t afford, I told my wife I wanted to travel more.
But 2017 was also the first year I’d gone back to full-time consulting after 7 years of full-time employment (more on that in a later post), so we didn’t really have the means for much extensive travel at first. That meant that most of our travel for ’17 and ’18 consisted of traipsing around the East coast while we saved up for a few larger trips.
Our family had some incredibly memorable moments over the last few years:
- We tented a few nights at a rustic campground in the Vermont woods and woke well before sunrise by the sounds of crows arguing with raccoons and annoyed beavers tail-slapping the lake.
- We hiked Pilot’s Knob with the entire family in December when the temperature was -12ºF and defrosted their icicle tears with hot cocoa at a nearby diner.
- We stumbled upon a Star Trek convention while visiting Fort Ticonderoga for the first time.
- Our entire hotel up in Lake George was evacuated during a fire drill.
- We saw over a hundred hot air balloons take flight (a first for us!) at the 47th Annual Adirondack Balloon Festival in Queensbury, NY.
- We visited the Intrepid with some friends but bailed early, crammed our entire family into a taxi, and explored Chelsea Market instead.
- Our van broke down in the middle of nowhere on the way home from Watertown, and we were stranded for nearly half a day.
- We crossed the border into Canada without the proper paperwork for Elliot and still made it back into the States.
Friends and Family
We also had some great adventures with friends and family:
- Cruised Lake George for my dad’s 60th birthday
- Learned to curl with the extended family
- Hiked “Snowhole” with Crabtrees
- Paintballed with the Malls at Skirmish
- Explored the farm with the Thatchers in upstate PA
- Enjoyed Lake Sacandaga with the Bibighauses
- Danced at Andy and Meghan’s wedding in PA
- Boated around Ocean City with the extended family during our annual trip to the shore (10 years this year!)
- Explored the Pacific Northwest with Drew
- Boating Sackett’s Harbor with Mat and Sarah
- Re-discovering the Martin Van Buren house with the James and D’erricos
- Hiked Watkin’s Glen with the Trops, discovered some amazing curry in Ithaca, and watched a storm roll in across one of the finger lakes
- Camped at Moreau State Park and hiked Moreau Lake Overlook with the McCalls
- Discovered a host of wonderful festivals and farmer’s markets: the Beekman Harvest Fest, the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival, and the Troy and Ithica Farmer’s Markets
- Had many friends visit our house (we love visitors!), including a big fourth of July celebration with a big fireworks show we put on!
I also had the privilege of doing some travel for work. Some highlights from my work travels:
- Visited the Harvard Innovation Lab in Cambridge, MA
- Pitched a big client in Washington DC
- Took the train down to NYC a lot, visiting contacts, clients, and potential clients from Hearst, News Corp, CPJ, The News Project (and who could forget my wild story about nearly getting stranded)
- Discovered Nashville while working with Asurion and got a taste of the rural flavor visiting my friend Marcus’s house
- Played pool with some old friends and got a tour of a distillery in ATL
- Met a group of amazing new friends at DesignHaus PDX
- Met even more amazing people at Dribbble Hangtime NYC
The Big Trips
A few larger trips in particular stand out to me in recent years and are worth spending a bit more time on: hiking Yosemite with Jessica in 2017, visiting Salt Lake City and Jackson Hole while working at 10up in 2018, exploring Ireland with Jessica in early 2019, and attending Epicurrence Grand Canyon in late 2019.
In 2017, Jessica and I finally took the trip I’d been wanting to take for my 40th birthday: hiking Yosemite Valley. Some highlights from that trip:
- Met up with my baby sister at the Presidio
- Drove through miles and miles of almond groves in the San Joaquin Valley
- Stared up at Glacier Point from the trailhead parking lot
- Hiked some significant elevation gains/losses and learned some of my own physical limits (downhill is the hardest on my bad knees)
- Hunted for water and realized that, in October, there are very few places to find water on the South Rim of Yosemite
- Watched the sun set and rise from our backcountry campsite at Dewey Point
- Wandered from the campsite after dark and saw the lights from almost two dozen climbers suspended up the face of El Cap (you might need to zoom in to see it)
- Relaxed at a gorgeous villa in the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve overlooking San Jose
Salt Lake City / Jackson Hole
While working at 10up in 2018, I had a chance to attend the annual company retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I’d been wanting to visit some friends out that way, so I extended the trip a bit to get in a bit more time with friends. Some highlights from that trip:
- Got an informal tour of Temple Square from Cameron
- Got an informal tour of downtown Salt Lake City and some of the hiking hotspots around Provo from Rogie
- Chased a storm
- Caught some incredible sunrises and sunsets
- Stopped along the side of the road for some buffalo jerky
- Paddle-boarded (for the first time) on Slide Lake while a storm rumbled on the horizon and threatened to cancel our trip (but didn’t)
- Met a moose at the foot of the Tetons
- Visited the wedding tree, a hard-to-find but incredible vantage point of the Tetons that’s a popular spot for getting married
- Ate waffles at the summit of Rendezvous Mountain
Last October, I finally got to go to an Epicurrence (sadly, the last one). Some highlights from that trip:
- Even though it was warm during the day, it got down to 15°F at night… the cold woke me up every couple of hours so I could add a log to the stove
- Took 3 sunrise hikes, one accompanied by deep conversations about phenomenology and two accompanied by my own quiet thoughts
- Hiked 9 miles to the center of the Canyon, which gave me not only an incredible new perspective of the Canyon, but also an encouraging new perspective (from my fellow travelers) on helping others
- Discovered a huge variety of plants and animals I’ve rarely seen before: prickly pear cactus, California barrel cactus, juniper, saguaro, elk, jackrabbit, lizard, and tarantula
- Rode in a helicopter (complete with a hilariously terrible soundtrack) over Dragon Corridor, the deepest and widest part of the Canyon
- Went out late for some nighttime photography in Sedona, got interrupted by 3 sneaky coyotes
- Pushed beyond my mental and physical limits
- Challenged and inspired by several talks that got me thinking more deeply about my career, my goals, and my responsibility to my fellow humans
- Met some incredible people and discovered (again) the value of talking to strangers
Last year, we celebrated our anniversary by finally taking a trip out of the country. This trip deserves its own post since it meant so much to us and since I’ve got so many incredible photos and videos, but here are some of the highlights:
- Put in the wrong kid’s name on the airline ticket, but was able to change it last minute because Elijah and Elliot were similar enough to count as a misspelling. 😂
- Ate an incredible 10 course meal at a Michelin star restaurant, but rushed the ending because baby
- Drove jet-lagged on the opposite side of the road along the coast of Bantry Bay at night during a fierce storm (no pictures of this, sadly)
- Met some sheep on the road near Molls Gap
- Discovered a rarely traveled back road through the Gap of Dunloe (thanks to some advice from our B&B hosts) and found some sumptuous fare at a pub along the way (more photos and video to come in a separate post on this trip)
- Ate fish and chips while watching the sun set over a lush valley in Esk West
- Hiked the Caves of Ailwee and watched a demonstration about birds of prey
- Explored several castles
- Boated below and hike the upper rim of the Cliffs of Moher
- Watched the sun set on the Atlantic while we enjoyed a delicious Irish dinner
Looking back on these past few years has actually been a really encouraging exercise: I set a goal to travel more, and travel more I did! I’m really thankful for the opportunities that have been afforded me, and I’m excited about some travelling adventures we’ve got planned for 2020…
Part 3: My Projects
In addition to all of these travels, I’ve been working on some projects that are near and dear to my heart: Plasticmind Design, Troy Stories, Thoughtful Gardner, Three Timezones, etc. But I’ll save those project updates for the next part of my Year In Review (coming tomorrow-ish).