Tag Archives: road trip

2017 Bucket List Subset + 2016 Review


As part of my New Year tradition, I make a list of the list items I accomplished in the previous year, and I pick a subset of items to work on for the current year. This past year was especially fun because in one road trip I did 5 things on my list. I’m also happy that although it wasn’t an official list goal, I had a personal goal to post something at least once a week on this blog for the whole year – and I did!

In 2016, I accomplished these 8 things from my bucket list (I’ll add links as I write the posts):

  • Learn to surf
  • Live in a mansion (I stayed one night each in two separate mansions during the road trip, so not really “living there” but given the likelihood of it actually happening, I’m counting it)
  • Go on a road trip with friends
  • Go skydiving
  • Visit Hollywood
  • Have coffee with a stranger
  • Learn a magic trick
  • Make a Youtube video

This is still in progress:

  • Learn Japanese and visit Japan (started learning in preparation for Hokkaido trip, but actually went before I was functional in the language)

I also did many more things that were bucket-list worthy but not actually on my bucket list (added to the retrospective list).

And I added 5 new items to my bucket list this year (and one’s already done!):

  • Learn to fence/sword fight
  • Make a YouTube video – Accomplished! See link above
  • Learn to do the splits
  • Stay in an ice hotel
  • Complete a photo project

The 2017 Bucket List Subset

Every year I make a subset list of 10 items for goals I want to give myself a little extra pressure to finish before the year’s over. The purpose is to move me closer to the chosen goals, even if I don’t complete them that year. These aren’t the only goals I work on during the year, and they may not even be the most important goals to me. They also don’t include any goal I know for sure will happen this year (that’s almost like writing a to-do list with things you’ve already finished!)

So, here’s the subset list for 2017 (as with my full list, some are hidden until I complete them, and this is in no particular order):

  • Ride in a train (travel by train)
  • Act in at least one movie
  • (hidden)
  • (hidden)
  • Eat rabbit
  • Ride a motorcycle
  • (hidden)
  • (hidden)
  • Get a sponsor for at least one thing on my list (click here for general inquiries)
  • Learn to do the scorpion pose

What’s on your list this year?
If you have a list or bucket list blog of your own, please let me know in the comments!

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Surfing USA! Learning to surf on the California coast 🏄


Learning to surf has been on my bucket list even before I had an official bucket list. I remember growing up and seeing my uncle’s surfboards standing up against the wall in my grandma’s house. I watched the surfers whenever we went to the beach, and felt the still-fresh exhilaration when they’d come in for a break. It seemed that they enjoyed the ocean in a way I could not by only swimming near the beach.

I’d always assumed that eventually, I’d learn to surf from family members teaching me on one of our family visits to Hawaii, but as time went on, I realized that those who knew how were getting older and putting away their boards, and it looked less likely to happen. I knew that I’d have to learn from someone else, but as with many bucket list adventures, cost and location were barriers and this sat dormant for many years.

Then my friend C. and I started planning our road trip. This was going to be the perfect chance to get something off both our bucket lists and experience another part of the “California vacation” dream fed to us by Hollywood and the Beach Boys.

When I asked my friends living in California if they knew how to surf, the answer was a regretful “no,” so it looked like we’d have to find someone on Meetup or Couchsurfing, or resign ourselves to paying to learn from an instructor.

I’d almost given up on this goal happening during the road trip, when my friend who went with me on the trip got a text from her friend who lived in Los Angeles, who knew another friend who had an agreement with a surf rental shop on Muscle Beach. He could get us board rentals and teach us how to surf – for free!

The boards are very large, longer and wider than I remember them being in my childhood memories, and are made of a dense foam, not wood or fiberglass. The first thing I notice is that the board is way too big for me to carry. My arm can’t go around the width of it to carry next to my side like everyone else (and until just now, as I write this, it didn’t occur to me to carry it on my head with hands on either side of the board like I remember the smaller surfers from my childhood doing).

No one else in my group is having trouble with this, but they’re also all taller than me with longer arms. I quickly fall behind, struggling to hold the board horizontally across the front of my body, which causes a lot of wind resistance. I fumble with it, the gentle ocean breeze feeling like a full storm as it pushes and pulls the edges of the board away from me. Finally, as everyone else is already setting down their boards on the sand (about 30 seconds from where I’m standing), I give up, put one end down in the sand and drag the board and my already tired self over to where they are.

[It would have been really helpful to watch this video first – How to Surf for Girls : How to Carry a Surfboard. I highly recommend it if you’re shorter or smaller and going surfing for the first time.]

Everyone is nice enough not to mention my struggle or tardiness, but they’re also eager to get going, so there’s no chance to rest before S., our instructor/new friend, is leading us through a warm up: running in the sand while waving/flapping our arms around and jumping up and down  – all in front of random beach goers sitting around staring at the water. We all feel ridiculous, but it turns out that this is a common occurrence so people barely seem to notice.

Maybe I should make this into some kind of parable about being yourself and not caring so much about what other people think – but that would be cliche, so let’s not go there… 😉

After our warm up, we return to where we left the boards lined up in the sand, and S. tells us to stand at the back end of the board looking straight ahead. Then he comes behind us and gives us each a quick shove! Of course, we take a step forward to keep from falling over, and that’s how he determines the foot that should go in the front for the most stability.

I recommend this method if you’re not sure which foot to put forward when skateboarding, snowboarding, or surfing. It takes only a few seconds to figure it out this way.

We lie down on the boards, and from there we practice jumping to stand up. I feel a little slow, and I’m very unsure if I’ll be able to do this while balancing on a board floating on the water as a wave is coming, but before I can think about it, S. is already shouting: “Let’s go!”

We tread water next to our boards, and despite a brief thought that the board might flip over when I try to get on, it somehow doesn’t, and I manage to get on the board correctly and consistently.

It’s about the only thing I can do correctly for the first few tries, but I’ve wanted this for as long as I can remember so I just keep trying.

I know how to paddle with my arms because I’ve watched so many people do it and it’s basically just swimming with a surfboard. It’s not hard to move the board, but it is hard to move it exactly where you want it to go. And fighting a current headed toward a pile of rocks is hard (and dangerous), and S. keeps telling us to move over, but we don’t have good control over our boards so we continue to drift.

He makes us leave the water, walk on the beach and reenter the ocean farther away from the rocks, but since the current’s still strong and we’re not drastically improving, we have to do this SO MANY TIMES. It’s already tiring to be getting on the board, paddling, and trying to stand up (read: falling off). It’s taking a lot of energy to move the board around and I’m worried I’ll be exhausted or injured before I actually learn how to surf.

One time, because I’m tired, I don’t even get all the way out of the ocean to move the board, I just float it along and push it over to the new spot – that’s the plan anyway. A wave comes, and the board is shoved right into my rib cage, leaving a big bruise. Most of the time after this, S. takes my board and carries it for me – super nice!

Another time, I fall off the board and then the wave comes on top of me, which makes the board hit me in the head as I tumble in the water. I’m fine, but I’m definitely grateful that the board’s made of foam instead of something harder.

The more we practice (again, read: fall off) the more confident we’re getting, and we’re just a little bit faster at standing up when the waves come. S. yells at us at the right time in the wave to stand up, but so far I’ve been too slow to stand up all the way, only getting to one foot and one knee before falling off or running out of water and onto the beach.

It seems like no time has passed when he lets us know our hour-long rental is almost over, and we have time to try one more wave. This is it! I think, and he echoes that thought aloud, shouting encouragements and then his usual: “Stand-up-stand-up-stand-up!”

I try, but only get to the halfway point I’ve been stuck in so many times before.

But this time, I realize – I’m not all the way to the beach yet! I still have ocean left!

So I push up one more time from my halfway position and…


And it is just as exciting as I thought it would feel. The board glides over the water, I don’t feel wobbly or afraid, and there’s even a couple of people watching from the beach as I float all the way to the sand in a perfect moment.

I’m elated and tired (but thankfully I have help carrying my board to the showers and then back to the rental shop). We lie on the beach after returning the boards, hanging out and accidentally sunburning the backs of our legs. I don’t care, though. I can’t stop smiling. This was truly one of the best moments of the trip and one of my all-time favorite list items. I can’t wait to do it again!

Do you prefer fast or slow travel?


I just got back from a whirlwind bus tour of Hokkaido, Japan. It was called “in depth” but what they meant by it and what I thought that meant were two different things. It got me thinking about the different approaches people have toward travel.

This bus tour was fun, and we got to see a lot (their version of “in depth”) but each place was rushed and there wasn’t time to really let anything soak in (my version of “in depth”). In some ways this was similar to parts of the road trip I went on. We had three weeks but we still rushed through many things because our time in each place was limited.

Spending a limited amount of time in each place isn’t guaranteed to cause fast travel though. I’ve done family trips where we only stay one or two nights in each place, but we don’t try to do as many things in each place. This means we get to spend more time at each museum, national park, and other interesting features (petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, etc), but can’t see as much during the trip overall.

That’s different from some of my other family trips where we basically live with our grandparents for a month or so, doing daily life and seeing a few things here and there. It’s more relaxing and we get to really go deep into the museums, take our time watching a sunset, or spend all day at the beach or pool. I feel like I have a better appreciation for the places where we’ve done this, but I also recognize that there isn’t the urgency to try to see everything because we know we’re going to come back soon. It’s more like the approach I use where I actually live, spending time doing interesting things on a weekend.

While the whirlwind trips were fun and I saw more in that time than I thought was possible, they left me a little burned out and a bit frustrated that I couldn’t spend the time that I wanted when at the museums or cultural/historic areas. We got to see many things but it was at the expense of really knowing them. At some places, I learned more after I left because there was no time to read the signs or brochures, just enough to run through and take any photos or collect stamps (US national parks stamps and Japan tourist stamps).

Fast travel like this is good for letting me know what I want to come back and see again, so I know where I want to go in-depth the next time. Slower travel is better for feeling like I know a place and its culture. It lets me relax and enjoy the trip as I experience it rather than only in retrospect as my brain and emotions catch up with the rapid itinerary.

Someday, I think it might be fun to experience travelling very slowly, living in a place and working remotely, exploring for several weeks to a few months, and then moving again. If you’ve done this, or know someone who has, I’d be interested to know what your/their experience has been.

Also, I want to know what you think about fast and slow travel. Which do you prefer, and for what kind of trip?

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