2010 In Retrospect
Over the holidays, I spent some time reading Christmas letters my mom sent out over the last 20 years. While reading the old letters, I realized that I really enjoyed reading about her perspective on the last 20 years and would like to do the same thing with my own record in the future. Plus, I really enjoyed the compilation of photos she occasionally collaged. Thus, I'm going to try and start such a yearly review myself, with 2010 being the first attempt.
Looking back, I'd say the theme of 2010 has really been travel, in a number of ways, not just the traditional sense of visiting foreign places. 2010 started off where it will end, in the Sierras. I rented a cabin in South Lake Tahoe with friends and experienced my first Stateline New Years Eve with thousands of other people. In addition, I continued to spend most weekends in Truckee at a ski lease I joined in on. A common practice in Norcal, a group of people gets together and rent a house for the winter making the rent super cheap. Never did I imagine that having a cabin in Truckee could be so awesome. Driving up Friday nights was often a pain with traffic, but there's nothing like getting that extra hour or two of sleep Saturday and Sunday mornings before getting on the first lift. And then, leaving the resort to go back to a cabin and lounge about for the evening is something that can't be under-appreciated. Needless to say, I've got another cabin this winter, for a whole month longer and a pass to Alpine Meadows once again.
In the first part of the year, I also moved from Palo Alto, my home for the year and a half preceding with my good friend Dean, to move in with my other good friend Joe and his brother Conor, a little ways up the San Francisco Peninsula in San Mateo. I end up cooking most of my meals and the kitchen at my new place is killer. Plus I now have a garage for my scooters, tools and camping equipment.
Back when I went to college, my parents tried to replace me with a foreign exchange student, Ines, from Venezuela. They weren't successful, and Ines had to leave the US to go back to Venezuela. Well, she eventually got married and scheduled her wedding in Caracas for the middle of March this past year, extending an invite to our family and I couldn't turn down the opportunity to visit the Socialist country. I arranged way in advance (about 5 or 6 months) to get 4 weeks off from work to travel to South America. Venezuela was quite an experience, one I really enjoyed and which I wrote about on my website in more detail and have posted a number of photos from the trip.
After a week in Venezuela, I flew to Peru, meeting up with 3 friends, Dean, Wenzhe and Shayan, who made the trip from the SF area where we spent a week and half sightseeing near Cusco, trekking the mountains near Cusco and exploring the Colca Canyon near Arequipa. Unfortunately, there was extensive flooding in January, which closed access to Machu Picchu, forcing us to reschedule our Inca Trek and causing us to do a less often traveled, but more strenuous trek to Lares. The trek took us into remote villages, extremely high mountain passes (we crossed over a pass at 15,400 feet) and stunning scenery.
Dean, Wenzhe and Shayan had to return back to the US while I continued onward into Bolivia and Northern Chile. In Bolivia I spent time along the southern shore of Lake Titicaca, time in the capital city of La Paz and finally went on a remote 3 day jeep excursion into the Salar de Uyuni. The Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world, while also being at almost 12,000 feet above sea level providing incredible views of volcanoes and high altitude flamingo populated lagoons. A trip over into Northern Chile to San Pedro de Atacama was my furthest venture south before heading back into Peru for a day trip to the just reopened Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is a place everyone has seen a picture of, but none do the place justice. Being there among the ruins was an extremely powerful experience, something that is hard for me to describe. I felt like I saw other, more stunning vistas in South America, but Machu Picchu became very real for me during my visit. Either that or I was on the edge of hallucination from being sleep deprived after traveling on two overnight bus rides, several taxi rides and a train trip spanning 36 hours to get from Chile to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. The completion of the trip to South America also completed one of my life goals: to fill up a passport. The trip left me with 3 squares total left in my passport, forcing me to get additional pages added. And I still have four more years before it expires. Here's to filling up those additional pages.
My return to the US left me with three weeks to train for my second consecutive year doing Wildflower, a difficult Olympic distance triathlon in Central California. And this year I knew people doing it with me: my sister Amy and our friend Margo. I tried to waste no time training in those three weeks, even commuting the 10 miles each way to work on my bike. It paid off, as I finished almost 15 minutes faster than 2009, even managing to beat my sister and my friend who had been training for several months.
A short while later, I decided, for a multitude of reasons, to leave my job of two years and join the ranks of the unemployed for the foreseeable future. My first adventure was to be a road trip through six Southwestern states with my sister Megan and her friend Sammy. Along the trip, we saw six National Parks, of which I had only been to one (Joshua Tree, though I have no recollection of going as I was super young). The Southwest really has some great landscapes, leading me to declare that the “Colorado Plateau is my favorite plateau”, on several occasions. I've seen so many unreal places in the world, only to finally realize how lucky we are to have so many sights of our own right here in the US. One just needs to make the time to go see them.
Unfortunately, one casualty of the trip was my left shin, where I developed painful tendonitis on one particularly long hike in Canyonlands National Park. I had a half a baseball sticking out of my shin and the only prescription was lots of Advil. The injury left me unable to do much for about a week upon my return from the trip. Then I got my second monkey wrench thrown at me. Not content with my left side getting so much attention, my right side decided it wanted painkillers as well, and developed shingles, which was way more painful than the tendonitis. Even a prescription of Vicodin was barely enough to keep me able to hold up conversations. Luckily, I could lie on the couch watching World Cup Soccer during this time.
I spent a bunch more time in my car with a road trip to Oregon for the Fourth of July, for my first visit to the beautiful state with it's plentitude of delicious breweries and abundant outdoor activities. I also managed to add a lot more miles on my car with a backpacking trip near Yosemite's Tuolumne Meadows, road trips to Sequoia National Park and the White Mountains (the mountains just East of Bishop, CA), camping in the Lost Coast and surrounding Redwoods, another trip to Yosemite, a trip to Death Valley National Park in late October, a weekend visit to Big Sur and a climbing trip in Bishop in late November.
What summer would be complete without roasting a pig? Definitely not the summer of 2010. My parents hosted a party at their house Labor Day weekend where my roommate Joe and I cooked a ginormous 110 pound pig to serve with some homebrewed beer we made. It was also the public unveiling of my first beer recipe, a root beer porter, appropriately named Root of Darkness; it turned out delicious and plenty dark.
I also took two more international trips as well. In August, a friend of mine (of Brewsci fame) got married in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I decided to spend some additional time before the wedding, flying down several days early to explore the beaches and eat the local cuisine in great abundance. In mid September I again traveled to Denver to volunteer and pour beer at the Great American Beer Festival with friends. Within 8 hours of returning home from Denver, I was back at the airport ready to embark on another month long international trip. I used some of my leftover miles from my previous job at Green Hills Software to get a round trip award ticket to Bali for $50, including a two-day stopover on the way there in Singapore, a 4-day stopover on the return in Bangkok, Thailand and a 9-hour layover in Seoul, South Korea. I've written quite a bit about this trip on my site, so check there for more detailed information. Bali is one of my favorite places to visit, and it really is amazing that the culture and environment has held up so well in the face of rampant tourism. Most places would have crumbled under the giant number of tourists that are continually flocking to its small island.
I got back to California with Fall in full swing, which meant Cal football games, trail runs and reading extended weather forecasts daily, hoping for snow in the Sierras. I completed my first 30-kilometer trail run and am again doing a ski lease in Truckee. This fall also marked an end to my extended unemployment. A good friend and I decided to start a company together, called Educreations. We're focused on software for the educational market with an idea we're currently researching and are beginning work on a prototype. I'm really excited about the next year and what it should bring for our venture and us.
So this turned out a lot longer than I had anticipated, but a lot happened with me this year with all the traveling: new states, new countries, new distances and a new company. You can keep up with me next year on my site and through my photos at Flickr or at my gallery. I'd love to hear how your 2010 went, so write back. Hope your 2010 was a good one and all the best next year.