So now that my 4 year Blogging Blackout Period has ended, perhaps it would be good to start my first series – Filling the 4 Year Gap – with brief photo journals to give you a peek into what I’ve been up to all this time. I used my blogs from 2009-2012 to catalog my adventures and share with friends and family in all parts of the world. But it was tiring trying to keep up with three blogs about three different topics in three different languages. Not to mention, in 2011 I left my corporate job to set out on my own and that was taking more than enough of my mental energy.
So my creative writing took a back seat, even though my adventures seemed to kick into high gear. Let’s take a look back at the adventures of 2012…the year when I truly began my digital nomad/location independent journey.
January 2012: Madrid, Barcelona, Paris
Having spent my 32nd birthday and New Year’s Eve in Madrid, my girlfriend (now wife) and I began the first night of the new year traveling to Barcelona. I’d been to Barcelona a few times previously but wanted to be sure that on her first trip to Europe she got to experience three of my favorite cities – Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris.
March 2012: Central California
As we often like to do, we escaped the wet season of Northern California and chased the sun down to Central California (Paso Robles/San Luis Obispo). Each time we head to that area we make it a point to visit new wineries and this trip did not disappoint. Later in the month, we caught a break with the weather, just enough for me to spend an hour in the cockpit above the beautiful Santa Cruz coastline to maintain my 90 day currency.
April 2012: San Francisco Bay Area
April was all about flying. Back in 2008, when I studied and passed my private pilot exam, my boy, Elvis, was there with me in Chicago that summer helping make sure I was ready for my exam – including keeping me out partying in Downtown Chicago until 4am on the night before the biggest pilot exam of my life! Anyway, since that I time I’d dreamed of being able to return the favor and take him flying in the Bay Area and boy, did we have a blast! I wrapped up the month taking my friends Marc and Christianne on Bay Area sunset flight to celebrate their engagement one year earlier.
May 2012: Northern California
May was a nice prelude of many good things to come. After taking a flight to visit Castle Air Museum in Merced, CA with my pilot friend, Gary, on Cinco de Mayo…the next weekend, I surprised the love of my life with a birthday weekend to remember. Over the next three days we enjoyed some of the best things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Amazing happy hours, bike riding in the Dry Creek Valley wine country, and visiting some of the most down-to-earth and just absolutely stunningly gorgeous wineries in the area.
June 2012: San Francisco & the Midwest
Anyone that knows me well knows that I have been a fan of Natalie Merchant since my freshman year in high school (1993). I still remember asking for (and getting) her Tigerlily CD for Christmas that year. Though I’ve seen her perform a handful of times over the years, nothing may ever compare to seeing her perform at San Francisco Symphony Hall. Truly a memorable experience that still plucks at my heart strings. And while that was amazing its own way, going to a Bootsy Collins concert with my mom and cousins in Indianapolis later in the month (only a week after receiving a disturbing call that caused my mom to be hospitalized)…just warmed my heart.
July 2012: San Francisco Bay Area
My 2012 “pilotversary” was definitely one for the ages. Flying from San Carlos to Healdsburg to have a picnic lunch and then to Napa for a later afternoon dinner before ending the night with a San Francisco Bay Tour Sunset flight…it was truly one of the best days that I’ve ever had as a pilot.
August 2012: Toronto and Montreal, Canada
For whatever reason, there’s just something about being in Canada in the month of August. The weather is always perfect and there’s just some much to see and do. We spent this particular trip visiting Montreal – though not by fortune but by chance we got stuck in Toronto on a 6-hr flight delay. So what else were we supposed to do but explore the city!
September 2012: Philadelphia and Italy (Bologna, Roma, Ferrara)
For years, I’d studied Italian practically on my own. But now because I was a digital nomad and could take my “job” anywhere, I decided to take 2 weeks and study in Bologna, Italy. Yet, I couldn’t simply travel all that way and only stay in one spot – no way! Roma, Ferrara, and even Philadelphia were stops along the way on what became the first of many Italian languages explorations.
November 2012: San Francisco Bay Area
Back in 2009, I stepped in the foray of wine making by partnering with a wine collective in San Francisco. This first vintage – Wanderlust – was a delicious way to jump start my wine making journey. However, in 2010 I had the chance to buy and press my own grapes and spend the next 18 months or so making the wine in my garage. And there’s no better time to bottle a wine than on a beautiful autumn day.
December 2012: Santa Barbara, CA
So on 12/12/12 at 12:12pm – yeah, no joke (see the photo below) – I opened my first bottle of Portico 31 – inspired by the famous porticos on the walk to San Lucas Monastery that I’d done just a few months prior. And because you know I love wine and sunshine, we finished the year with yet another trip down the California Coast – this time to Santa Barbara. What a year and 2013 was even more amazing!