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Saturday, December 31, 2016

R.I.P. 2016 - Year in Review

Here's my attempt at 'understatement of the year'... 2016 was interesting. A number of astounding things unfolded. Some good, some bad, some horrid. All making my personal achievements for the past 365 seem insignificant, and absolutely trivial. 

In January, North Korea announced that it had successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test. On February 1, World Health Org declared Zika a Public Health Emergency. Later in the month Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary and gave hope to those of us who someday wish for climate change awareness, equal rights, accessible healthcare, quality education, and substantial change in the United States. 

In March, Obama became the first US president in 88 years to travel to Cuba, lifting the travel embargo. On March 22, attacks in Brussels killed more than 30. On Easter Sunday, a suicide blast in a park in Pakistan killed 69.  

On April 3, The Int'l Consortium of Investigative Journalists published the 'Panama Papers', which outlines how a Panamanian law firm established secret shell companies and offshore accounts for elite global power players. On April 16, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Ecuador, killing 663 people.  

In May, Eric Fanning became secretary of the Army, making him the first openly gay secretary in the US military. On June 23, the United Kingdom surprisingly voted to leave the European Union, effectively making England the butt of many a 'Brexit' joke. Unfortunately, later in November the world stage would have a new clown to mock.  

On July 19, sadly my birthday, Donald Trump officially became the Republican Party nominee for president. On July 26, Hillary Clinton became the Democratic Party nominee for president, and the first woman in the history of the United States to lead the presidential ticket of a major political party. On July 3, a suicide car bomb detonated in Baghdad, Iraq, killing at least 292. On July 14, a truck plowed into crowds on the Promenade in Nice, France, killing 85 and injuring 200.  

On September 9, North Korea claimed to have successfully detonated a nuclear warhead. In early October, Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti, tearing through the Caribbean nation killing more than 500.  

On November 8 (after substantially losing the popular vote) Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. On November 22, the Dow Jones Industrial closed at over 19k for the first time ever, signaling that while humanity is lost, at least our economy continues to steadily grow. On November 28, a plane ran out of fuel and crashed near Medellin, Colombia killing more than 70 people, including the majority of the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense.  

On December 10, 44 people are killed and 155 injured in bombings in Istanbul, Turkey. On the 11th, a bomb killed 25 during morning mass in Cairo, and another car bomb killed 20 in Mogadishu, Somalia. On the 19th, a truck ran into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring 48.

Marking a very somber year, there were too many notable deaths to mention throughout. David Bowie, Harper Lee, Nancy Reagan, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Fidel Castro, John Glenn, and many many more. Finally, there were far too many shootings in the United States to highlight. A sad fact about the state of our union in 2016.


From a personal perspective, again an understatement, 2016 was interesting. I was able to accomplish some lofty goals, and also travel to several far flung locations.

In early January I founded a group called the NYC Adventure Cycling Club. It now has a wonderful leadership team, over 1k members, and continues to provide unique group rides and 'overnighters' throughout the northeast. Most importantly, it allowed me to meet amazing, lifelong friends. Really, it was more of a social club on two wheels. Some have even said it's a "drinking group with a cycling problem". Regardless, big shout out to Colin and Chris. Keep up the amazing work running the show!  

A bit later in January, I was able to explore the amazing areas of Tulum and Akumal in Mexico. This was part of my family's annual 'Destination Christmas' idea, which has removed all gifts and replaced them with quality time together in an exotic environment.

In early February, my sister ordered and received a copy of 'Someday Never Maybe', a blog-to-book recounting my one-year, 24k mile motorcycle journey to/through Central and South America. This marked one of the first 'paid' copies to be shipped. Although it's family, and my sales will most likely remain in single digits, it feels nice to have a published physical book that I can look back on someday.  

In early March the NYC Adventure Cycling Club completed the first of many organized overnight rides. Although cold, we had a solid group of amazing individuals show. Thanks Chris, Anna, Bert, Colin, and George. We'll look back on that long weekend up to Harriman with fond memories of smiles, laughter, and good friendship.  

In April I traveled all over the United States for work on a whirlwind tour. Miami, LA, Seattle, Vegas, you name it. I was also invited on a fun trip to explore New Orleans with Jen. Later that month I joined my good friends Peter and Sam in Austin for a MotoGP boys weekend. Foggy memories of that one, but I'm certain we had an amazing time. Finally, I popped down to Nicaragua to revisit a few places I'd uncovered on my moto trip, and explore a couple of business opportunities.  

In May I continued to explore my incredible home, New York City. It takes awhile to feel 'at home' in NY, but I'd made friends, knew where my favorite bagel and pizza shops were, and was able to navigate the subway with eyes closed. I don't know if I'll ever be a New Yorker, but the city in Spring was beginning to unfold and present itself to me in a way that's hard to explain for those who haven't lived there.  

On June 11th, I quit yet another fantastic job, and my father and I set off from Brooklyn to ride bicycles for 100 days across the country. On September 18th, 4,519mi later, we dipped our wheels into the Pacific. Following the adventure, I was able to sample the #vanlife by renting a ridiculous minivan and road tripping through the PNW, into Canada, then back 'home' to Denver. It was a lovely way to end the bike journey, and nice to explore and spend more time with Jen.  

In October, I found myself in Mexico yet again. This round to explore the beautiful city of Guadalajara. I sampled wonderful tequila, met rad people, and ate fantastic street food. Later that month I made way down to the Caribbean. Jen accepted a one-year contract in St Lucia with the Ministry of Education, so I figured I'd spend time getting her settled in, and do a bit of 'exploring' myself. My first stop was the lovely fishing village of Castara, Tobago. 

Then from Nov 4th - Dec 28th I was 'living' in St Lucia alongside Jen. During my time there we explored the island together. I also checked another item off ye olde bucket list by spending a month learning and becoming officially certified to sail. I now hold Competent Crew, Flotilla Skipper, and Bareboat Captain IYT certifications, and can fully charter my own boat with confidence. I even captained an overnight trip to Martinique to explore St Anne's French bread and croissants. Happy to report, they're both amazing.

So now I find myself back in Castara, Tobago. I've been contracted to assist a small, boutique hotel to build their website and help with sales/marketing efforts. I'll be here for five weeks, then it's off to Panama to explore several land/business opportunities. Finally, at the end of Feb I'll make way to Cali, Colombia to spend some time dancing salsa, practicing Spanish, and looking at a business there. After that? Honestly I have no idea. An idea that's terrifying, but apparently just the way I want it. Some say life begins at the end of the comfort zone. Sure, we'll go with that, this year was slightly uncomfortable. 

What a fucking year...  Let's put 2016 to bed. See you soon 2017.