We began and ended 2017 in a similar fashion: on a hiking/biking trip on the California coast. Are we in a rut? Maybe—but it’s cold in Minnesota at the beginning and ending of the year, and in California, it’s… Not.
Granted, the two trips were a bit different. 2017 started in Montecito, with more hiking and hills than biking and ocean. And, of course, the tiny prancing dogs that populate the streets of Montecito (with accompanying owners) are a bit more pretentious, with a tad more Botox.
2017 ended in Carmel, with more biking and ocean than hiking. The Carmel dogs are more laid back, relaxed, friendly and comfortable in their skin—eschewing the Botox and the covering of grays.
(Yes, it’s true that dogs do look like their owners.)
And then there was everything in between the prancer parades bookending the year:
Eating our way through Miami, walking the sunny little town of Zihuatanejo, exploring and eating through San Juan, Puerto Rico (pre-hurricane). Bicycling the wine region in Chile, bicycling, eating and drinking in Yountville. Bicycling from Kotor to Budva in Montenegro, where we had one of the best hotel experiences. Spending almost every weekend at the lake cabin, hunting for the best bagels in Montreal, summer sunshine in Kennebunkport, hiking and biking from French Basque through Spanish Basque to Rioja. Eating at all the best San Sebastián pintxo bars, listening to live jazz at Bangkok’s Bamboo Bar. Spending two weeks in Bhutan, spending two weeks in Bhutan, spending two weeks in Bhutan (it warrants three mentions). Bar-and-restaurant-hopping in New Orleans. Not to mention weekends away in NYC, LA, Nashville, and San Francisco as extensions of business trips.
To our credit, we savor every experience. We capture it in words, photos and sketches. We spend time reminiscing and remembering. And every year, we put together photos of our adventures, grab the wine (big surprise) and look back on our good fortune and worldly experiences.
For this year’s highlight reel, we’re trying a he said/she said:
He: Unexpected world-class architecture hidden away in the mountains.
She: Empanadas and Dr. Diarrhea (our newfound friend, an infectious diseases doctor spouting eating advice while bicycling uphill).
He: Small assortment of other batshit crazy, intrepid travelers, bicycling our way through wine country.
She: The introduction to real Chilean wine.
(Chile deserves two, and we always mention wine)
He: The George (see here for reference)
She: The first view of Aman Sveti Stefan. Getting to Aman Sveti Stefan. Staying at Aman Sveti Stefan. How often do you bicycle over a mountain pass to see your hotel parked on an island in the ocean?
(Runner up for both: The view back at Kotor bicycling up and over the pass)
He: Yak cheese. Yes, after the most awe-inspiring trip to one of the most remote places on earth, I say the tasteless, odorless yak cheese.
She: Taking a conference call sitting outside in the middle of the country. The Gangtey Lodge. The three-hour hike to the Tiger’s Nest at over 10,000 feet. The little tiny boy mimicking those praying at the Golden Buddha. Flying in fighter jet style…..
He: You’re only supposed to get one per category.