When 2016 started, I decided I wanted to spend the year traveling to as many new places as I could squeeze in while still working. Work was going really well and I was at the point in my life where travel adventures with my closest and best friends were my only priorities for the year.
Looking back, starting the year off riding fresh powder in Vermont and British Columbia set the tone for the year. Vermont was the first riding I had done post-leg injury so I can't begin to describe how great it felt to make runs and feel intact. I can't say I was shredding, but just getting the board under me again felt amazing and gave me the confidence for an upcoming 20-person trip to British Columbia. I remember the mystique feeling our 20 person B.C. crew had when most of us shared a connecting flight from Denver to Vancouver. We were all grinning ear to ear as we walked through customs and replied to the border agents with the same answer: We're here to ride... and ride we did. Waking up to the sound of avalanche guns clearing the way of any risky snow accumulations was a whole different world to me. We spent 4 days riding from 8am until 4pm. Our legs were shot after every session but when we all congregated at the local bars-- we all shared in each other's stoke as we felt these were the best snow conditions any of us had been in-- we certainly toasted and drank to that. I finished the snow season making weekend trips to some local Pennsylvania mountains. It was tough to go from perfect pow to icy hills, but to me, riding is riding as long as you're having fun.
As the snow gave way to spring time and warmer weather I enjoyed the weekends spent in Shenandoah hiking with my bros and good friends. In an age where we're consumed by technology and portable devices, it's always refreshing to break away and get off grid for a bit to enjoy the simple things life has to offer. One of my favorite quotes of the year was from a legend in the snowboarding community-- Jeremy Jones. To summarize one of his quotes- a couple weeks off-grid in the mountains forms bonds between people which otherwise would take years to form in town. This was evident during a 4 day camping trip to the middle of West Virginia for a friend's bachelor party. No phones, no TVs, no internet-- just 20 guys enjoying the camaraderie, shenanigans, wilderness, and the time spent under the stars.
Shortly after the West Virginia adventure, I found myself on the west coast traveling around Oregon and Washington. This was the first trip I had taken where the only reservation I had made was my roundtrip flight. The beaches and mountains I wanted to see drove the trip. This kind of travel opened my eyes and is something I want to do on future trips. It was nice living each moment, day-by-day- without having to stick to a set agenda. To complete the west coast circuit, I took a surf trip throughout Southern California with my brothers. We had talked about surfing breaks like Ventura, Huntington Beach, Trestles, Oceanside, and Salt Creek, since we were kids watching our favorite surfers surfing those breaks. Being able to trade waves at these spots with my bros and the locals was something special. Much like the vibes in the mountains, unplugging from technology and enjoying the ocean is an amazing feeling. Between the surf, camping, and food, the west coast was as-advertised and has been probably the one area I visited throughout the year where I could see myself owning a piece of property one day for future snow and surf trips.
Two trips which were just as memorable were NYC and Chicago. I had never been to either and had a blast. Big shout out to my good friends and locals who showed me around-- easily walked 20,000-25,000 steps a day but wouldn't have wanted it any other way. All I can say about NYC is-- Old Fashions on rooftops and Meatball Shop. Experience it. Chicago's deep dish pizza was also worth the hype. Architecture tour: a must. An added bonus during the Chicago trip was seeing the Hokies beat Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana-- an hour and a half from Chicago. If you get a chance to walk the sacred grounds of Notre Dame-- play Rudy's theme song and you'll instantly be taken out of this world.
With all of this year's travel, there is still no place like Virginia Beach. I'm blessed to have called this place home my entire life. Whether I'm home for the holidays or take a long summer weekend, VB is always a place where I'm able to kick back, recharge, and remind myself of my low-key, easy-going, beach life roots.
What a year 2016 was! I'm excited to continue the travel adventures and see where 2017 takes me. Cheers & mahalo.