Year in Review: 2015

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2015 was a great year, and I think 2016 will be even better.  Before I move on, one final glimpse in the rear-view mirror is in order.


As we started 2015, I was just back from the Galapagos Islands, meaning I had to stay home and rebuild my vacation time and savings accounts!  This taste of international travel (my first in almost 10 years) really stoked my wanderlust and made me vow to get at least 1 passport stamp every year from here on out.

I also decided to go with a fun New Year’s Resolution – try 1 new restaurant every week – I’m happy to say, thanks to a healthy dose of business travel, I met the challenge and since I pretty much stopped counting after 52, it’s probably fair to say I exceeded it.  And I didn’t end the year any heavier than when I started! (or lighter, but trying to stay positive!)

January was also the month I kicked off a big pro bono project with the Taproot Foundation.  The project lasted well into the summer, as we designed an Annual Report for North Lawndale Employment Network.


February was a pretty quiet, uneventful month – again, staying home to replenish the travel savings account for the year to come!


March was the start of a busy business travel quarter – for me, at least since my job normally involves zero travel.  I was asked to participate in a panel discussion for one of our vendors, so on St Patrick’s Day, I was off to San Francisco for 2 1/2 days.  I made sure to fly in as early as possible so I’d have some free time to wander the city and, of course, indulge in fish tacos, my West Coast go-to cuisine.

A week later, I was off to the East Coast version of the same conference, in New York.  I’d also planned an early flight to allow me to explore New York, but with snowstorms in Chicago, I was lucky to even make it out!  I arrived just in time to get ready for a business dinner, and flew out immediately after the conference the next day.  I think New York and I just aren’t meant to be!


April marks the 1 annual vendor trip that I’ve attend for the last 4 years.  This year, we were off to Orlando and Universal Studios. While it’s technically a working weekend, they do build a lot of fun in, including dinner at Emeril’s and tickets to Blue Man Group.  And I made sure to get some pool time in!


In May, a last minute opportunity came up to attend a conference in San Diego.  I jumped at the chance, and flew out early to have some free time, during which I fell in love with the laid back vibe of this coastal city.

May also marked 1 whole year since this little guy (my nephew) entered the world!

Emmett's First Birthday


June marks the official start of summer.  Summers in Chicago are super short, and we earn them with months of cold, dark weather, so I like to stay home and take advantage of them!  This means not much travel, but plenty of hometown fun, like taking the water taxi to do some lunch hour shopping on Michigan Avenue!


In July, I discovered Airbnb hosting (more on that later) and spent a few weekends out camping while I made a bundle renting out my apartment.  Fall is my favorite travel season, so it was a good way to pad that vacation account a little bit more!


The first week of August found me heading out to Colorado for a backpacking trip in the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness, north of Silverthorne.  Unfortunately, I woke up in Nebraska with the start of a head cold that only got worse, so the backpacking was not what I had hoped, and I even hiked out a day early.  But, hey, a bad day in the woods is still better than a day in the cube farm!  Despite being in a DayQuil haze the entire time, it was nice to catch up with some old friends and breathe the fresh (though very thin) Rocky Mountain Air.

Surprise Lake Camp

And any trip that includes my puppy is always a bonus!

Surprise Lake Camp

Since I bailed early on the backpacking, I had some extra time to explore some new areas I hadn’t previously visited, like Buena Vista and St Elmo Ghost Town, and my old favorite, Leadville.  And then I got to end the trip with some family time with my aunt in Evergreen!

Family pedicure in Evergreen - Donovan, me and Norie


September was big.  Huge!  For my 40th birthday, I had been planning (for almost two years) my big bucket list trip.  I spent 11 days whitewater rafting the Grand Canyon.  Somehow, it even exceeded two years’ of hyped up expectations.  It was truly magical!

Tuesday, 9/8Camp 3 - Lower Saddle

Wednesday 9/9Hike at Tanner

After a quick flight to Vegas, I was off to Zion National Park for a few days.  I fell in love with this area in 2008 and had been itching to get back here ever since.  The highlight of this was finally reaching the top of Angel’s Landing after I chickened out the previous time! The spa day at Flanigan’s was pretty good, too!

Flanigan’s Inn and the town of Springdale is seriously the kind of place I could visit every year, and I don’t say that about many places!

After a redeye flight from Vegas, I had just enough time for a nap before heading to FarmAid30 on the shore of Lake Michigan.  Who says you have to slow down at 40?!  Not me!


Once again, after a big bucket list trip, it’s time to stay home and replenish my vacation hours and money.  I stuck close to home this month, but did spend some time exploring Chicago – visiting Pullman one weekend, and Chicago Open House another.


In November, my niece arrived!

Then, at Thanksgiving, my mom and I spent a long weekend in Panama!  This was a great “warm up” for my spring trip to Asia – the heat and humidity were brutal, but it was still a fun trip!

Barefoot Panama City and Canal TourCasco Viejo


December was just the usual craziness of holiday parties, Christmas shopping and baking!  This was the first Christmas in several years that I spent at home instead of someplace tropical.  It was nice to spend it with family, but my wheels are already turning with next year’s destination!

All told, I had 14 flights in 2015- 6 R/T’s plus one helicopter and one Cessna (those were my favorite!)  I spent 20 nights in hotels.  I didn’t count nights in my tent, but other than the Grand Canyon, it wasn’t enough.

And with that, it’s on to 2016!  Happy New Year!



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3 thoughts on “Year in Review: 2015

  1. What a year! Looks like you had a great one and I love your travels. I especially appreciate having a special 40th birthday that you dreamed about for years. Mine was the Northern Lights and like you, it was magical (even if cloud cover meant we missed most of the action, what I saw was unforgettable!).

    Here’s to a very happy 2016 and more adventures ahead!

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