2016 – A Year in Review

What Happened

January

We started the year in a city called the Gold Coast, Australia. If you want a tour, you can have one for free here.

We took a trip up to Far North Queensland to horse ride, scuba dive, SUP and eat ice cream with some of our favorite people the Rumneys. They also make ice cream and it’s really really delicious.

We went to a billabong near Brisbane with some international friends. There we found a rope swing that we monkeyed around on.

Then we flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand. That’s a great way to start any year, right?

From Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens outside Chiang Mai

February

In Chiang Mai we met a lot of new friends. Ben showed us a secret local waterfall spot.

Justin showed us around the Night Bazaar.

We went to the Nomad Summit. Big thanks to Johnny for inviting us and organizing the event. Also for inspiring this post. Here’s his year-end wrap up post.

We drove some big motorcycles to the highest point in Thailand.

Then we took the sleeper train to Bangkok. It was fun. We made a movie about it.

Bangkok was a lot of fun. Johnny Ward showed us around his favorite spots and to a roof top bar. Thanks JW.

Then we took another train and bus to Krabi. There we rented a motorcycle from Moto Krabi and drove it to Ko Lanta where we found a place to live for a month.

March

In Ko Lanta we did a lot of CrossFit with Robert at Fit On Lanta.

We toured the Tiger Cave with Norwegian Ninjas.

We went SCUBA diving with Johnny at Hin Daeng.

Drove around the island and went to more caves with Daniella.

Drank a lot of coffee while working at KoHub.

Rented dirt bikes and drove all around the island with David, Johnny and Max.

Then we learned how to cook Thai food.

We met Chris and Sam for the first time. We became fast friends and knew we’d see them again soon.

We drove our motorcycle back to Krabi, then we went up the Coast for a 5 day Live-aboard Scuba Diving trip in the Similian Island National Park. We made a movie about that experience too.

Then we took a long tail boat to Tonsai and spent a few days there with crazy looking monkeys, paddling around the islands and jumping off cliffs.

I don’t remember how we got to China, but we did it for a visa run. You’ve got to leave Thailand every once in a while if you want to live there for more than 1-2 months.

Macau was really crazy. It’s the Las Vegas of China.

April

We flew back to Chiang Mai to kick it with Sam and Chris during the Songkran Festival. We spray painted our big guns gold

We drove a scooter from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai along the way visiting the Sticky Waterfalls. We got stuck in the biggest rainstorm of the year. We made it, but it was uncomfortable.

We toured around Chiang Rai with V’s father for 2 days and then drove the scooter back to Chiang Mai. Wow. That was a huge drive on a scooter.

We spent the rest of the month working and getting strong at Chiang Mai CrossFit. After 3 months in Thailand we flew to San Francisco, California.

May

Our good friends Kimi and Declan had an amazing wedding in wine country, Napa Valley. Seriously, they have a cool group of family and friends and it was a magical celebration.

We then enjoyed horseriding and croquet with family and friends in Reno, Nevada. Also wakeboarding at Pyramid Lake.

I don’t know how everything worked out exactly, but next we flew to St. Maarten in the Caribbean, because my friend Dane was marrying Miriam. It was great to see old friends and explore the beauty of the island.

June

The Nomad Cruise picked us up from the capital and southern part of the island, Phillipsburg. We spent the next 10 days cruising from St. Maarten to Lisbon, Portugal. On that ship we met a LOT of really, really cool people.

David, Lily, V and I had a really massive power tour around Lisbon. Miles and Melanie joined us for some of it too. That was an epic day. I haven’t even made that movie yet.

We took a massive journey from Lisbon, Portugal back to Reno, Nevada because we thought we were needed at a party that had been cancelled unbeknownst to us. That was hilarious. V didn’t think so.

Next we moved to the Bay Area to house and dog sit. I met Seth Godin in San Francisco during Udemy Live. We explored the city and flew David’s drone alot. That was really neat.


July

We spent quality time with family after my grandfather passed away.

Then we moved to San Francisco and our good friends Jel and Sam visited us from Australia. I also studied really really hard to get into App Academy in San Francisco. Software Engineering is not easy.

August

I was accepted into Hack Reactor and App Academy in San Francisco. All that work studying software engineering paid off. It was a tough choice, but I went with App Academy. Getting accepted into that program was a really proud moment.

The program wouldn’t start till November so we took a road trip down South to Los Angeles and Huntington Beach after David invited us to the Magic Castle. We had a really great time. David took V on a private plane and I went surfing with John. We did a lot of cool stuff. Thanks for being the host with the most David. You Rock!

September

After we got back from So Cal V’s twin sister Vanessa and her husband Mark came to visit us in Reno. We celebrated the twins birthday and had a really fun week.

V went riding with her sister, I went riding with my sister.

We wakeboarded at Pyramid lake and did high speed aquatic push up competitions.

Then we went rock climbing with friends, Roxy, Jake, Brian, John, Vanessa and Mark.

We decided to take another road trip to Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon and Sedona to see Miles and Melanie. We met them on the Nomad Cruise, so the next logical thing to do would be hang out in the desert in Arizona right?…. right….

October

I got back into video editing in October and finally caught up on making the movies for the year.

On the way back from Sedona we stopped at Zion National Park, Utah before chilling out at the hot springs in Austin, NV. That was a fun drive.

We began V’s citizenship process.

Then we lost a friend. 🙁

November

Things got weird in November, but I wrote about what I’m grateful for that election cycle. But a lot of cool stuff happened too. We spent alot of time with family and friends. We also went on a boat ride around the Foster City canals with the family for Thanksgiving.

December

Despite studying as hard as I could, I failed out of App Academy. That was a big bummer, but life goes on.

V and I got caught in a snow storm but managed to make it back to Reno just in time for the holiday festivities. That was the first Christmas we had with my family in a really long time. Three years to be exact.  We spent Christmas Day skiing with the family. It was a blast.

We’re back in San Francisco Bay Area for the time being.

That’s how the year went. Wow.

Happy New Year everyone!

Zion National Park

Zion National Park in Utah is my favorite of the national parks in the USA. This is a bold statement when we consider Yosemite, Yellowstone, Badlands and hundreds more. The contrasting look Zion has is the most astounding in my experience.

If you’re planning a trip to Zion, check out the video below. I tried to make it interesting for those planning their trip.

Zion National Park Camping

Finding official camping in Zion National Park is expensive and there is a very low inventory with a lot of demand. Making a reservation through the Federal Government’s reservation website is also a painfully slow process.

Zion National Park Camping

It drops queries all the time and I couldn’t find a single opening this year. Also, I think it’s kind of a bad deal to spend $30 to go camping. The good news is that this doesn’t matter.

It’s 100% legal to camp on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. The government calls it dispersed camping and you can learn about the specifics of the regulation here. The area around Zion in Utah is full of BLM land.

Camping Near Zion National Park
The Yellow Overlay Signifies BLM land, which you can camp on for free.

BLM Land SignsWhen you’re getting close to the park. You can pull off the main road and drive down a road with less traffic. From that road, you can pull off to a dirt road. Many of these dirt roads have signs like the one pictured to the right. If you find these, you’re in good shape and can camp there legally.

We did our backcountry camping about 15 minutes outside of Zion for free. It was quiet, we heard coyotes and owls and in the morning we drove into the park and were able to go to the Narrows and Angel’s Landing.

That makes for a really good trip.

Zion National Park Images

Angels Landing Hike - Zion National Park Tossing a stick in the narrows - Zion National Park Springdale just outside Zion National Park From Angels Landing Zion National Park Zion National Park Virgin River - Zion National Park On the way to Angels Landing in Zion National Park

 

Zion National Park Hikes

I’ve only done two hikes at Zion National Park, but they were both two of the best hikes of my life. Here’s my breakdown of both.

Narrows

To do the Narrows you need to go to the last stop on the shuttle. To get to Narrows you take the Riverwalk, which is a lovely walk alongside the river. Narrows is a river hike so be prepared as you will get your feet wet. You can rent shoes at the park which are specifically for trekking through water, get your own sneakers wet, or do what we did and go barefoot! It’s beautiful and it’s alot of fun. We hiked deep into the canyon, just beyond the first fork in the river.

If you watch the video above, we mention the specifics here.

Angel’s Landing

When hiking to Angel’s Landing you’ll experience a very fast change in elevation. The reports say it’s a 1,488-foot (454 m) climb. It’s a very well trodden path so there is little to no chance of getting lost or going the wrong way. Even though there are some REALLY scary spots because of how tall the cliffs are, there are no places where you need to be an expert climber.

There are chains on the last .5 miles, along all the portions that are more dangerous, but I don’t think I ever actually needed them. You can easily walk the whole thing without using the chains.

That said, it is scary, especially if you’re afraid of heights. V was a bit freaked out up at the top of the landing, being that we were standing on a ginormous rock nearly 1,500 feet high and overlooking the entire valley.

Zion National Park Shuttle

The shuttle is actually really great. There is an audio recording telling the history of the park so you get to learn while riding. The shuttles run so frequently that you never wait more than 10 minutes to get on one. It’s an excellent system and it takes away all the hard parts of driving your own car around and parking. Honestly, I would take the shuttle over driving from place to place. The shuttles are actually the only mode of transport to get to each trail during high season, so this makes things really easy.

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 - Maya

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 is a lot of fun. It’s honestly one of my favorite festivals in the world now, topped only by Burning Man.

Sonkran is a celebration of the Thai New Year. It happens in April and we went in 2016. You can learn from the organizers at the Songkran website.

During the 3 days, Chiang Mai becomes a city that is experiencing the most intense water fighting on earth. You will not be able to walk down the streets without getting very wet. Plan accordingly.

Water Fights and Songkran

Why water fights? This is a holy day right?

The traditional thing to do is to go to temples and pour water on holy statues. My guess is that a little water pouring turned into someone splashing someone a little bit for fun. That evolved into a full on water fight over the past 100 years. Inexpensive plastics and water gun entrepreneurs have created a situation that can only be explained as unbridled war.

I’m being over dramatic. The event is a blast and you don’t actually feel anything other than glee during the whole thing. It’s not really a fight. It’s just a lot of fun.

Golden Guns

Water guns are available everywhere during the festival. Most look like toys. You can purchase gold spray paint and make your guns look like they are made of blocks of gold. This will get you a lot more attention, which might not actually be good. I’m confident we became targets more often because of our golden guns. If you think it’s fun to get attacked in a water fight, then the gold guns are helpful.

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 - Family Water Fight

Party Plans

We didn’t plan anything specific for Songkran Chiang Mai 2016. All we did was get geared up and walk down the street.

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 - Girls

If you need a plan, here’s a good one:

  • Start at Maya – There is a big cool party happening out front of the mall. It’s fun.
  • Walk down main road headed towards the Old City – There are lots of cool parties happening here. The walk is crazy, but you’ll enjoy it.
  • Old City – This place is great. Feel free to wander around. If you need specific spots, you can check the map, but I suggest wandering

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 - Walking Map

Songkran Chiang Mai 2016 – Be Careful

Make sure to drink lots of water and stop to eat in a restaurant where people aren’t throwing water at you. There are a lot of people drinking so make sure you’re being defensive with where you’re walking.

Also, don’t drink too much. You’ll find beer for sale everywhere and lots of people just give beer to you as you’re walking around. So don’t go crazy. Remember you’ve got to be smart. This is a very free place. The only person who can ensure your safety is you.

Chiang Mai Songkran 2016 - Skill Barber

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Similan Islands Scuba Diving

Similan Islands SCUBA Diving is some of the best in the world. We’ve done a lot of diving in the Great Barrier Reef and in the Carribbean. The GBR is still the best in my book, but the Similian Islands is a close second.

In this video, we go for a 3 day live-aboard dive trip with Wicked Diving: http://wickeddiving.com/

Wicked Diving is a great organization. The purpose of this video is to show the style of the way they do live aboard trips. As part of the trip, we spend a bit of time cleaning up a beach in the national park. That’s great. Also they do a great job of drawing maps of the dive plans and telling the story of the sea life we will see while on the dive.
For more information about diving the Similan Islands, check out wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Similan_Islands

Be sure to subscribe to our channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/irobinson1984

Want another SCUBA diving video set in Thailand? Check out this video where we went diving off the coast of Koh Lanta =

Music By Hurley Mower. It’s a song called Gem =
https://soundcloud.com/nedmowermusic/gems

Touring the Family I’ve never met in Connecticut

Visiting Hoskins Cottage

In July of 2015 Veronica and I traveled around Connecticut to visit the family that I never knew.

My grandfather was from Connecticut, but he moved to the west coast when my mother was a young child. My entire immediate family is almost exclusively living on the west coast, either in Nevada or California. So it was very strange to be in a place that feels so foreign and talking to family. It was strange, but really great. Definitely worth the trip from New York City.

Worth it

I’m really happy that we took a few days to make this journey. We met my cousin Jason in Redding. He took us for a walk near one of the lakes near his house.

Visiting Family in Connecticut

Family

Learning more about family is a really powerful experience. The video you see above is designed to be fun to watch, but it doesn’t capture the real value of this trip.

To be honest, I don’t know if I could even make a video that expresses that feeling. Honestly, it’s probably best that I travel to meet family more often. That’s the only way I can think of to really get it.

The Hoskins Family Tree

Long Canyon Cliff Dwelling – Sedona, AZ | 2016

I didn’t even know this place existed…

We met Miles and Melanie on the Nomad Cruise, but when they asked us to come visit Sedona, AZ – we had no idea what that actually meant.

After deciding to attend App Academy in November, rather than Hack Reactor in September, it became clear that we had a few months of free time before I do the immersive coding thing.

Miles and Melanie told us a lot about how beautiful Sedona, AZ was… but I never really thought much else about it. I thought, “Ok then. I trust these guys. If they say that they live in a beautiful place, well we can just go there.”

It wasn’t until we were actually driving south of Flagstaff, AZ that I realized that this would turn out to be time spent in a very special place.

The beautiful stretch of road to Sedona, AZ

Lessons from Sedona

Appreciation for the Earth’s natural beauty is a common thread for most people I know and trust. This places exhibits that beauty like I’ve never seen before.

natural bridge of Sedona, az

Sometimes adding strange action to still frames causes them to be far more interesting. In this shot below, Miles, Melanie and V do a good job of levitating stones. As you can see, all three where able to levitate the rocks in this ancient cliff dwelling.

Girls levitate rocks in Sedona AZ

Again, Miles shows his prowess at levitating stones.

Miles Levitates Rocks, Sedona AZ

There is an abundance of beautiful flora in these canyons, this one was particularly interesting.

Flora of Sedona, AZ

Planning a Visit?

It’s quite easy to just go to Sedona and go on hikes. Our friends live here so we didn’t have to plan our accommodation. If they didn’t live here, planning accommodation would have been our only requirement. There are lots of hikes all around and if you’re confident with hiking, you don’t even know a guide.

The great thing is that the whole place is beautiful. You drive to the gas station and it’s stunning. So just go and have fun.

Update on New Vortex Video

We collaborated on a second video as well. This one is for Melanie’s channel specifically.

You can watch it on YouTube here: