Top Ten Memories of 2006

Rather than post a lengthy summary of the year that was 2006 or repost links to articles I've already written about some key things, I thought I would try and list the top 10 memories I have from the past year. No, I'm not really sure why I'm doing this, other than because it was a really good year and when I look back at my posts in the future, this will serve as a nice Cliff Notes overview to the year.

10 - The Power Failure
The power went out for 5 days in December and the temperature inside the house plummetted to 44 degrees. The first few days weren't too bad, as we were able to occupy ourselves at the movie theatre and by going Christmas shopping, but coming home to a dark, cold house day after day was pretty annoying. Could have been a lot worse, I know, but this was still pretty memorable.

9 - Mountains to Sound Adventure Race
The the two bike legs and the kayak leg of the race aren't too memorable. But the run? That's a different story. For a few years now I had been looking for an event that would completely test my inability to not give up and put me in a position to overcome a bad habit of quitting. This was it. After pulling/straining just about every muscle in my upper body getting out of the kayak after a 2.5 hour paddle, I set out onto the 20 mile run course without spending the needed time hydrating and eating. I was in a lot of pain, the temperature was well into the upper 90's, and there were almost zero aid stations on the racecourse. I had to walk at least 80% of the run course, but I did finish the 104 mile course in a hair over 11 hours and even though most people had gone home, I was pretty damn glad to have finished and to hear Kristin say how proud she was of me. I missed nearly a month of training leading up to this race in June, but survived nonetheless.

8 - Authoring the Gears of War Guidebook
I know I have a job that most every gamer covets, but it's still a job. Even when it's going great, it's still work. You may not believe me, but I speak the truth. That said, I really enjoyed the time I spent writing the guidebook for Gears of War. It was the perfect storm of developer cooperation, an excellent work environment, a total lack of distractions, and complete control over the product that Type-A people like me look for. I write 8 to 10 books a year and although I prefer to work from home and not on-site at a developer's office, my job would be a lot less frustrating and more enjoyable if every guidebook went as smoothly as this one did. Not to mention, I got paid a lot of money for doing it too. *wink*

7 - Budapest & Vienna
The trip to Europe with Kristin and her grandmother generated a lot of great memories, but because nobody wants to read a Top Eleven list, I'll group these two together. Budapest was stunning thanks to its occasionally bullet-riddled architecture, it's numerous bridges over the Danube River (which we were cruising), and in my opinion especially thanks to its enormous market. Vienna, on the other hand, was outrageous. The palaces and gardens and cathedrals were beyond my imagination -- the city is every bit as fanciful and elegant as you would expect. And having Kristin's grandmotherr, a Vienna native, show us around made it all even better. The best site in the city, however, was watching Kristin turn heads at the concert we went to. She looked marvelous.

6 - Cleveland Baseball
Each year in August I fly to some distant city to meet ten to twelve of my friends (many of whom I've known since we were 13) and we spend three of four days going to baseball games, causing mayhem, and getting ridiculously drunk. It's a great time. We've hit a half dozen or so cities now, but as odd as it sounds the time we spent in Cleveland was the best. Maybe it was because the city was a ghost town and we felt at home to be even more obnoxious than ever or maybe it was because we didn't need to use a single car for four days and were able to walk everywhere we went. I don't know, but whether it was at the stadium, at the dive-bars we frequented, or even on the sidewalks to and from, the Cleveland 2006 trip will be hard to top.

5 - NFC Championship
Yes, I know they lost the Super Bowl two weeks later (thanks for the reminder) but being at the NFC Championship game when the Seahawks clinched their first Super Bowl birth was amazing. The entire game was an experience I won't soon forget, as the Seahawks dominated the Panthers from the very start, holding them to just a handful of total yards and no points in the first half. We've only been attending games for 5 seasons, but it was still an emotional experience just knowing that many of the people around us had been waiting 30 years to see this happen. I still have some of the confetti that was dropped at the stadium that day, and I hope that somehow the Seahawks can make a run in 2007 like they did in 2006. This time maybe they'll finish the job.

4 - World Cup at Nuremberg
Our 7 day cruise on the Danube River ended in Nuremberg, Germany the day the USA and Italy soccer teams would tie one another in the first round of play in the World Cup. That particular game wasn't played in Nuremberg, but the city was one of the host cities nonetheless. Although the day started off on a sad note, with visiting Hitler's Zeppelin Fields and visiting the courthouse of the city's famous Nazi war trials, but it got better as it went on. That night, Kristin and I went back to the city center to watch USA vs Italy on television with about 200,000 other visitors. It was incredible. Everywhere you looked you saw people from another country. The beer was flowing, the pretzels were enormous, and there were plasma televisions everywhere you turned. We weren't at the game, but it was awesome anyway.

3 - Cerro Chirripo
The trip to Costa Rica was a lot of fun, but I especially enjoyed the week in which I was alone, free to travel and do what I wanted to at a moment's notice. One of the things I did was drive 8 hours to the tiny village of San Gerardo de Rivas and acquire a climbing permit to hike up Central America's tallest mountain. The trailhead started at 4,987 feet above sea level and the summit, just 12 miles away, stood at 12, 538 feet. Staying a night at the "lodge" at 11,000 feet is essentially mandatory unless you're attempting to speed-climb the mountain, but I wasn't there long. I left for the summit at 2:30 in the morning and watched the sun come up over the distant Atlantic Ocean alone atop the mountain. Hiking by moonlight above treeline in a faraway country was something I won't soon forget.

2 - Witch's Rock & Ollie's Point
I had surfed Costa Rica before, but not only was I alone back in 2003 when I went previously, but I hadn't surfed these two famous breaks. This time I had a group of high school friends with me and, on my friend Dan's wedding day, we chartered a boat and headed up the coast to surf the breaks we had been reading about since we first started surfing in 1992, back in New Jersey. The waves weren't huge (a bonus for me who only surfs once every 18 months or so), but they were clean and pretty consistent. And best of all, we were the only ones in the water. I still can't believe it. We surfed Witch's and Ollie's in chest to head-high conditions and were the only ones there. Some memories never die.

1 - A New Year with Kristin
2006 began with a champagne toast and a kiss at a fun party at the EMP music museum in Seattle. It ended 365 days later with us both lying on the couch, sleeping in one another's arms. We slept right through the ball dropping and couldn't care less. We had a great year together. We traveled a lot, we both got back into racing, and we got some things done around the house. Not to mention Kristin received a promotion and we got our finances in order. But best of all, we made it through together with both our health and our love fully in tact. It doesn't get better than that.

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