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Month: September 2016

Taiwan Recap

Taiwan Recap

Taiwan, you have won our hearts.


We spent a total of 19 nights in Taiwan to kick-off our RTW trip! Our initial plan was to spend 4 nights in Taipei before heading around the country starting with the east coast and working our way clockwise around the island by train until we made it back to Taipei. We made it to Hualien, a city about 3 hours by train southeast of Taipei. We were supposed to spend 3 nights here before continuing our tour around the island. We stayed here for 4 nights and then decided our time was best spent in and around Taipei for the remainder of our time in Taiwan. We are not totally sure what made us decide to ditch our plan to see the whole country and head back to Taipei, but this is exactly what we did. We are a big fan of Taiwan and know we will be back one day to explore the rest of the country that we missed this time around. We do regret not seeing more of the country, but we are also happy that we took it slow and got to explore every inch of Taipei.




Cities Visited

Taipei (15 nights), Hualien (4 nights), Keelung (day trip)



Things We Liked

FOOD, friendly people, street food, non-street food, night markets, cleanliness, bubble tea, Taipei 101, mango snowflake ice, ease of transportation, sense of safety, and a lack of tourists (it felt authentic and not just another stop on the “backpacker trail”).




Things We Disliked

Lack of public trash cans, no napkins at restaurants, stinky tofu, and unbearable humidity/heat (we knew it would be hot but we downplayed how oppressive it would really be). We also could have skipped the toilet themed restaurant, The Modern Toilet, and been completely content.

It is way more stinky than it looks.
Tofu with a hint of…dirty gym socks.



We will end up writing about all of our highlights in their own blog posts (we just have so much to say)!

1. Night Markets

The night markets of Taiwan are out of this world. In fact, they’re so incredible that there’s no way a few paragraphs in a ‘hightlights’ reel could ever hope to do them justice. Which is why a full post will be coming in the near future – fully dedicated to breaking down our night market experience, market by market, delectable street eat by street eat.

Street dumplings

For now, know that Taiwan is home to dozens if not hundreds of night markets. Vendors wheel in booths, closing down entire blocks of the street. They serve everything from live seafood, to fried insects, to the stinkiest of tofus and these markets happen every night of the week, rain or shine, all throughout the cities. Locals and tourists alike stroll the streets, filling up on $2 portions of some of the strangest and most delicious foods imaginable.

Various chicken parts

There are very few experiences in life that compare to the beautiful chaos that is a Taiwanese night market. Whatever fears we had about clean kitchens or food safety standards before setting out on our journey were certainly concurred on the streets of Taiwan. These night markets are worth the trip to Taiwan alone and we will most definitely be back.

2. Muyumugi Gorge

Everyone goes to Hualien to go to Taroko Gorge, the biggest tourist draw in Taiwan. We were no exception. When asked what else there is to do in Hualien there was not much else people recommended. Scott’s Taiwan research led us to Muyumugi, just one bus ride and a few miles of walking later, to the best swimming hole I have ever seen. The water was crystal clear and it was the perfect relief for the oppressive heat and humidity. Scott wrote more on our on our time at Muyumugi in another post.


3. Food Courts

When someone recommended we try a food court in Taiwan we almost laughed. We both immediately thought of the mall food courts from back home with crappy food and Cinnabon on every corner. Fortunately for us, our food court experience in Taiwan was not like this. Their food courts had sections for just about every type of food (beef noodle section, Indian food, Japanese food…) and you could wander around for an hour before looking at all the menus. These food courts were impressively big and always packed. They are scattered around Taipei and we had the best and biggest one just 10 minutes from our apartment making it easy to get some good, cheap eats quick. Scott has more on this topic in another post!

Beef noodle


1. Taroko Gorge Tour

We signed up for a tour of Taroko Gorge, one of the most popular places to see in Taiwan. Our hostel set us up on a tour and told us it would pick us up in our hostel lobby between 8:10-8:40 am the next morning. We woke up early and went down to the lobby around 8 or so…ready to go adventuring! As time went on we realized they might have forgotten to pick us up, but we had no idea who to call or how to get in touch with the tour operator. At about 9:15 am the hostel receptionists showed up and realized what had happened, called their boss (who knew English), and tried to figure out something for us. They offered us a half-day private tour for just a little more money than the full-day tour we were supposed to be on. At this point we were frustrated and felt as we were being cheated out of our full day of adventures so we declined. Instead we decided to stay an extra night in Hualien and try to take the full-day tour we had originally signed up for. We wish we had done the half-day tour and been done with it!

The next morning the tour guide did in fact pick us up. We were on a tour with 5 others and nobody knew English (including our guide). Our guide would tell the car a bunch of interesting facts (I assume the facts were interesting at least) for 20 minutes and then say to us “to the left there are mountains” before continuing on in Chinese with more facts. It left a little something to be desired. A lunch break was taken in the middle of the day to an expensive and really terrible buffet. We were done and ready to head home before lunchtime and could not believe we had another 5 hours to go! As mentioned in a previous post, we learned maybe all day tours are not our favorite thing. Exploring Taroko Gorge was amazing and beautiful, but we never seemed to escape the feeling of being prisoners on this tour.

IMG_3121 (1)


2. National Palace Museum

With 700,000 pieces on exhibit some people call the National Palace Museum “The Louvre” of Asia. It is on every list as a must see place in Taiwan. We made the semi-long journey (a long metro ride and long walk) to the museum, paid our admission and were ready to see all of the things. Turns out that we just weren’t that interested (most of the explanations were in Chinese) and I got a migraine while at the museum. We were most excited about locating the “meat-shaped stone” which is a piece of jasper that has an uncanny resemblance to a piece of braised pork belly. We saw this work of art on Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover: Taipei and knew we had to find the prized piece. After walking through the entire museum and not finding it we did a quick google search before we learned that this piece is on a rare loan to the Asian Art Museum in San Fransisco. What a let down!

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit: Art Net News

The Stats

Total Number of Nights: 19

Languages: Chinese and Taiwanese

Currency: $1 USD = 31.34 New Taiwan Dollar (NTD)

Number of Miles Traveled: 9,392 miles (including our flights from the US)

Number of Miles Walked: 156.9 miles (average of 8.26 miles per day)

Steps Taken: 337,605 steps (average of about 17,769 per day)

Transportation Used: bus, train, plane, metro/subway, and 9-passenger van

Type of Accommodations: apartment (2) and hostel (1)

Number of Beds: 3

Number of Items Lost/Ruined: 2 (Scott left his fancy collapsible water bottle on the train and I ended up with a ripped skirt beyond repair)

No seats on the train for those who don't buy tickets in advance...
No seats on the train for those who don’t buy tickets in advance…


The Supreme Taipei Food Court

The Supreme Taipei Food Court

In America, the term ‘food court’ is synonymous with shitty fast food, Orange Julius, and middle schoolers. How far from the truth this is when it comes to Taipei. We quickly found out that food courts in Taipei are nothing like what we think of back home. They’re filled with a dizzying array of every Asian cuisine imaginable, and all of it very high quality. To the uninitiated, it may be hard to believe, but the food courts of Taipei are not to be missed.

We spent our first few days in Taipei sampling various dumpling and noodle spots we’d picked out from an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover, but it wasn’t long before we’d exhausted his list and found ourselves wandering the streets, looking for a quick food fix. Since we were only a few days into our trip, our guard was still up when it came to food and we were probably a bit overly cautions when it came to sampling the various street foods or anything that didn’t come from a TV show or TripAdvisor. Since then, that fear has fallen by the wayside, but, at the time, our reluctance actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, leading us straight to the glorious Taiwanese food court.

The first time we entered one of these food courts was out of sheer desperation – we were starving, sweaty, and tired. We saw a mall, noticed a sign for a food court, and our bellies collectively said ‘fuck it, lets go’. Our jaws dropped when found row after row of shops hawking ramen, dumplings, pho, sushi, tempura, bibimbap, hotpot – you name it, it was all there.

For our first Taiwanese food court experience, we did a few laps around the halls and decided on a shop selling bibimbap. Bibimbap is a Korean rice dish served in a large, piping hot, iron bowl with various toppings mixed in like egg, kimchi, fermented veggies and meats. Typically, you get to pick out a few side dishes to accompany the bowl such as pickled seaweeds, fish cakes or more kimchi. At the time, this was my first experience with bibimbap and I had nothing to compare it to. But as someone with a deep love for food, I knew this place killed it. It was fantastic. Were all food courts in Taipei this good? We needed to find out. And we certainly tried to over the course of the next few weeks.

We found a food court in the base of Taipei 101 – once that tallest building in the world – that made the first food court look like child’s play. This one was three times as large with even more variety of food. Every Asian cuisine was represented, many times over in some cases. They had bakeries serving frosting topped waffles, stands serving exotic teas and sushi conveyer belts. We had another sampling of Korean food here. This time a Korean kimchi soup. Fantastic, once again.

During our final week in Taipei, we found what we would come to realize as the mother of all food courts: The Breeze Food Court at the Taipei Main Station. Now this place quite possibly the greatest food court in the entire world and that’s no exaggeration. This food court takes up the entire top floor of the main train station in Taipei. Each section of this food court is divided up based on cuisine. There’s an entire section devoted to beef noodle, a section for Indian food, a Chinese food section with Sichuan, Cantonese, or Hunan shops, a ramen isle, a hotpot row – the options go on and on. The hallways between the pods of regionally centric shops are filled with sit-down restaurants – everything from German food to coffee shops to hibachi. Incredibly, many of these sit-down restaurants have lines, out the door, of locals waiting to eat. The size of this place and the number of options is truly overwhelming. Deciding on a place to eat here is a time consuming task in it of itself.

We ate there twice over our last week in Taipei, having a Thai noodle soup one time and an Indian curry the next. The Indian curry, served with some sort of milk soup and miscellaneous fried chicken parts, was nothing special. With that many options there’s bound to be a few disappointments. On the other hand, the Thai soup that I’ve since come to recognize as Khao Soi was phenomenal. Khao Soi is a coconut curry-like broth with a mixture of soft egg noodles, some sort of protein (often times pork) and a garnish of fried, crispy egg noodles. The flavors are vibrant with strong hints of chili oil, lime and pepper. This particular soup substituted the fried egg noodle garnish for fried Japanese Enoki mushrooms. I ordered mine with fried pork while Shelby had the one with a chicken drumstick. Seeing Shelby make quick work of a drumstick with only a spoon and chopsticks made me realize how far our chopstick skills had come over the past few weeks.

Chopstick master
Chopstick master


The quality and variety of food we found in these mass collectives of fast-casual styled, culinary talent is truly remarkable from the perspective of an American. The only General Tao’s chicken we saw being served here was at a fine-dining, sit-down restaurant with white linen table cloths – an establishment that I once would have thought to be entirely out of place in a food court, serving a dish that seemed to be as equally out of place in it’s current environment. No McDonalds. No Panda Express. No Orange Julius.

A+ presentation. No greasy McDonalds bags at this food court

If you had asked me for my thoughts on food courts before Taiwan, I wouldn’t have had much to say that was positive. But we’ve now seen the light. What once evoked images of adolescence, greasy fried food and scenes from Fast Times At Ridgemont High now holds a special place in our hearts and bellies. If you ever find yourself in Taiwan, do yourself a favor and find the Breeze Food Court.

Off the Beaten Path in Hualien

Off the Beaten Path in Hualien

I first came across Taiwan’s Muyumugi Gorge last spring in a short article that was linked to in a Reddit post. The author described an off-the-beaten-path swimming hole, just a short bus ride outside of Hualien, with water so clear you could see straight through to the rocks on the river bed. The pictures looked awesome and it sounded like not many tourists made it there so I promptly clipped the article to Evernote. Like most of the random tidbits that wind up in my notebooks, this article was on it’s way to being forgotten about until long after we left Taiwan, had it not been for a former coworker who overheard me talking about our upcoming trip. As it turned out, he had just come back from Taiwan a few days earlier and one of his highlights was the Muyumugi Gorge. Sure enough, the short article I had nearly forgotten about and his Taiwan highlight were one and the same, instantly bumping the Muyumugi Gorge up to the top of my list of things to see in Taiwan.

The big draw of Hualien for most people is undoubtably the Taroko Gorge, making it overrun with tourist year-round. And while the Taroko Gorge certainly factored into our decision to visit Hualien, the Muyumugi Gorge was the spot that I’d been talking about nonstop. So, on our first full day in Hualien, we set off via bus to find the lesser-known gorge.  The bus we boarded zigzagged back and forth through Hualien’s busy streets before heading off, into the hills just west of the city.

The little research we’d done prior to our excursion made it sound like you needed a permit in order to hike into the hills of the aboriginal village where the gorge was, and that the local police limited the number of permits to 600 a day. When the bus let us off at the final stop, we headed across the street to the police station, hoping that we hadn’t arrived too late to make the days allotment of visitors. To our surprise, we found that the ‘permit’ was just a sign-in sheet with only a few dozen signatures. On our way to the police station, we’d befriended another traveler, a Polish girl volunteering in Taiwan, and after few signatures, the three of us were on our way, hiking up the dirt road toward the gorge.

An old bridge alongside the trial
An old bridge, alongside the trial


A few vendors setup shot along the trail leading to the gorge
A few vendors setup shop along the trail leading to the gorge


Tunnels on the trail cut through the hills leading up to the gorge
Tunnels on the trail cut through the hills leading up to the gorge

For the first time on our trip, we’d left the large city and found ourselves in a lush, jungle-like setting. About three miles in, we started to see smaller trails leading down toward crystal clear waters that snaked through the hills. Even from fifty feet above you could tell how incredibly clear the water was. We headed a bit further down the main trail, leaving the small crowds of Taiwanese locals and tourists behind, and found a nice secluded area.

We spent the next few hours swimming and jumping off the surrounding rocks into the chilly water. You could see groups of small fish swim right up to the edge of the rocks that dotted the bank. The marble walls that surrounded the gorge, at points rising high into the hills, were lined with incredibly intricate patterns that seemed to have been polished smooth by the flowing water.


Crystal clear water
Crystal clear water

The entire scene was perfect – exactly what we needed after a solid week of trekking through city streets in ninety degree weather. It was also an unexpected and welcome surprise to find another Westerner. We’d been on the road for a little over a week at this point and it was refreshing to hear from someone else also navigating their way through Taiwan.

Crystal clear water
Crystal clear water


Cutting right through the hills
Cutting right through the hills

With only a few buses making the trip back into the main town, we made our way back down the trail, stopping along the way for a passion fruit popsicle from one of the local aboriginal vendors. We waited at the village’s one bus stop, an old tree in a parking lot behind the police station, feeling refreshed and totally relaxed.

Often times it’s a crap shoot when you hear about a ‘must see’ attraction. If the spot lives up to the hype then it’s often overrun with tourists. If the endorsement is the product of circumstances beyond the destination itself, then you’ll scratch your head and wonder what the person who made the suggestion saw in the place to begin with. The Muyumugi Gorge is one of the rare gems that exists in the magical grey area between tourist hotspot and disappointing dud. The natural beauty of the marble walls, the refreshing pools and the hike out of the aboriginal village and into the hills, combined with very few tourists make our day at the Muyumugi Gorge a clear favorite so far.

One Day We Should…

One Day We Should…

“One day we should…” – this little phrase seems to follow me around every where I go. Or maybe I’m the one following, collecting little bits of inspiration scattered along the trail of not enough time. In a sense, our entire upcoming trip is all about the ‘one day we shoulds’ and trying to ensure that the pages off our story are filled with what we’ve done and few regrets. And what better way to start off this chapter than with some much overdue family time? After spending a week in Cleveland with Shelby’s parents it was off to Connecticut to see my family, have some fun and cross a few of these ‘one day we should’ items off of our Connecticut list.

DSC_0101Trips back East since Shelby has come into my life have always taken place under the guise of a holiday or quick weekend trip. Each trip routinely includes me ranting about some sweet hiking spot or adventure that I wished we had time for. This trip would be different. For the first time together, we drove through the scenic back roads of southern Massachusetts, arriving in Connecticut with no real commitments. Ready to take advantage ample chill time and the hot, humid summer weather that’s never around over the holidays.

Pulling into my parent’s driveway, it struck me that this was the first time in nearly a decade that I had driven ‘home’. Almost ten years have passed since I left 52 Blue Ridge Drive as a shaggy haired, naive, twenty-two year old. I was headed west, ready to explore the United States and ready to find a new home. Now, having found that new home and the love of my life, it felt oddly fitting to return – just days away from setting off once again, from this same driveway, on a new adventure.

Aside from our unorthodox means of arrival, our stop at my parent’s house started just as every trip to my parent’s house starts – with food. Very little in life can compare to a hot pizza and a cold beer – especially after a solid nine hours in the car – and that’s exactly what my Mom had waiting for us. Food usually takes center stage when we visit our families and this trip already looked to be no exception (all you can eat crab legs with Shelby’s parents had set the bar pretty high).

Our love for Colorado runs deep but one draw back that comes with living in a land locked state is that fresh seafood, specifically shellfish, is hard to come by. We’ve done a good job at keeping an annual lobster boil on the list of traditions back in Denver but the lobsters we scrounge for at the Chinese market can’t compete with what you find in Connecticut.

Day two started off strong with my Mom’s suggestion that we find some lobsters for dinner. An idea so brilliant that it could only be met with a resounding ‘hell yea’ from everyone. Shelby, in particularly, had been looking forward to a good ol’ New England lobster ever since missing out on the last lobster feast I had with my parents a few years back. No way would we be leaving Connecticut this time without cracking a few claws.

An added bonuses of being in a place with an abundance of lobster is that you can usually find a market that will let you pick up your lobsters, already steamed and ready to go. Much easier than dealing with the fifteen gallon pot of boiling water. So my Dad and I headed over to a local market to pick up dinner. That night we feasted on lobster and enough melted butter to float a small boat. I can feel my arteries thanking me already.

Fukashima monsta lobsta
Monsta lobsta

Every time we make it back East I always have the best intentions of seeing old friends but more often than not, this never happens. Our third day in Connecticut allowed us to cross off a ‘one day we should’ item that had been lingering for years.

Old friends, good times

Hayes and Michelle are two of my best friends from college and as crazy as it seems to me – or anyone that knows them from college – they now have a real, live child. After a few years of saying we’d carve out the time to see them and meet their son, Evan, we finally did. We headed down to a Mexican restaurant on the Long Island Sound for a few beers. It was awesome to finally meet Evan and to spend some quality time catching up.

We high tailed it back to my parents house for a barbecue that my Mom was putting together. Marcie and Randy – some of my parents oldest friends who I consider to be like family – were also coming over to see us and get down on the steaks my Mom was grilling up.

Of all of the elder folk we have in our life, Randy has been particular supportive of our plans to go travel. He’s made it a point to hammer on the fact that life is short and the ‘path’ that most people blindly follow should be questioned more often. He’s told us a number of times that, in retrospect, he wished he had done what we’re doing. Words of encouragement are always welcome when you’re about to stray from the heard and head half way across the world. It was awesome to see them and the steaks were also top notch.

Talcott Mountain Trail Head
Talcott Mountain Trail Head

Connecticut at this time of year is usually pretty hot and steamy. This week was no exception with temperatures well into the nineties. Regardless, there was one hike around my childhood hometown that needed to be crushed. After telling Shelby about the Hublien Tower and the Talcott Mountain trail for years, it was finally time to take her there.

As a kid, Talcott Mountain was the closest thing I knew to a mountain and one of the first hikes I remember doing. The mountain itself – which is more of a large hill relative to what we have back in Colorado – overlooks most of my home town and is one of the first things you see heading east out of my parents driveway.

The trail leading up to the top is pretty short but once you reach the ‘summit’ theres an old tower built in the early 1900’s. The Heublein Tower as it’s known, was once owned by food tycoon Gilbert Heublein who we can thank for introducing America to A1 Steak Sauce and Smirnoff Vodka. The living room on the ground floor of the tower is also where Dwight Eisenhower was asked to run for president. The tower itself is nothing special but you can see it from nearly everywhere in town which makes the experience quintessential to any hiker that’s spent even just a few days in Simsbury.

We tried rounding up some company for our hike but both my Mom and Sister seemed more focused on the possiblity of melting in the heat as opposed the prospect of going on a sweet hike with us. Slightly disappointed that we were on on own – and to discover that in nearly thirty years of living in Simsbury my Mom had never actually done the hike – we set off for the trail head. The heat wasn’t much of factor since the dense foliage of the Connecticut woods acted as shade. We saw a few frogs on the way up and made pretty good time getting to the tower.

The Hublein Tower
The Hublein Tower

The tower was open so we were able to take the stairs up to the top where there’s a sweet observation station. You can see for at least a hundred miles in any direction on a clear day. On that day it was slightly overcast but the view was still awesome.

While we certainly love sampling local restaurants whenever we’re traveling, nothing quite beats a home cooked meal from your Mom. When we got back from our hike, my Mom cooked up some salmon filets and a few side dishes that could certainly rival any local eatery. Considering that our next quality home cooked meal might be a year away, this meal was much appreciated.

In between all of the food and small daytime adventures, our time in Connecticut was mainly spent running around taking care of last minute errands. Random odds and ends that needed to be wrapped up kept us on the move so it was really awesome to find out that my Aunt Amy and Uncle Rich, along with my Cousin Lauren and her Boyfriend Alex, were headed up from New Jersey to spend the weekend with us.

When they arrived Friday evening, my Mom put together some hors d’oeuvre for everyone to snack on including my favorite – her clam dip. After we polished off the appetizers and a few drinks, we all headed over to a local restaurant for an epic late night happy hour. Everything on the menu was half priced. Get at me lobster mac n’ cheese. This dish was loaded with full on lobster claws. You’re doing alright any time you have lobster twice in one week.

No trip to my parents house would be complete without a typical Berke style brunch. I’m pretty sure it was at one of these brunches that Shelby was first introduced to the glorious combination of lox, bagels and cream cheese. Now, I doubt that she loves lox – the bacon of the sea – quite as much as I do, but there’s no escaping it when you get my family together.

To add to the momentous occasion of brunch, my Grandmother – despite not having much of a clue who any of us were – was able to make an appearance. It was awesome to have her there, but damn, Alzheimers is one hell of a disease.

Before leaving Colorado, Shelby and I had gotten back into the swing of things and started making an appearance on the tennis court. Our tennis racquets came along on the road trip and we had been on the look out for a tennis court since arriving in Cleveland. No such luck so far. Imagine our surprise when we found out that Lauren and Alex also like a good volley from time to time. On top of that, Alex also happens to drive around with a tennis racquet in his trunk. Game on.

The top-seeded Berke’s took home court advantage at my old high school trying to complete a dominating week against the soon-to-be Lieberman’s in straight sets. Shelby came out strong, chasing down shots and placing her own with pinpoint accuracy. We took an early 3-0 lead but the visiting team rallied, breaking back to go up 6-5 eventually winning the set 7-6. They’re from Jersey so I’m just going to assume there had to be some cheating going on.

My sister, Emalie, showed up while we were playing but by the end of our first set everyone was about ready to melt into puddles on the court. Running low on water and high on perspiration, I called an audible and herded everyone into the car with promises of a sweet swimming hole.

We drove about fifteen minutes to a spot that had become a favorite of mine as a teenage – Enders Falls. I had told Shelby about this spot many times in the past but it had always been too cold to go. I would have been excited to finally show it to just her but now I had a real crew along for the ride. I’m not saying that I had planned to get everyone to the point of near heat exhaustion and follow it up with swimming under a waterfall but if I had, the plan was working.

Waterfall rock slide
Waterfall rock slide

My guess is that everyone was a little skeptical when we pulled off the side of the road and into a small dirt parking lot that looked a lot like a trail head and very little like a place to go swimming. I could tell that people were starting to get a little grumbly – the combination of heat and hunger was starting to take it’s toll – but I insisted and we took off into the woods. Barely twenty feet in and we started to see people in bathing suites emerge from just beyond the tree line. We were close.

Another fifty feet down the trail and there it was – water fall after glorious water fall, cascading into deep swimming pools. Even though it looked sweet, no one decided to take the plunge down the natural rock slide that emerged from one of the falls. For Shelby and I, having no health insurance makes hurling yourself off a twenty foot waterfall slide seem a bit risky but we all enjoyed a good swim. Leaving Enders Falls feeling refreshed, we headed home for some pizza. There’s no such thing as too much pizza.

After grabbing some brunch with one of my best friends, Kevin, and his girlfriend Eileen, we spent the following day paring down our gear into it’s final configuration. Deciding what goes in a forty liter bag for the next year of your life certainly sparks a twinge of anxiety. But, after months of searching and far too many hours spent at REI, we were feeling semi confident that we had all our bases covered gear wise.

All the things for the next year
All the things for the next year

When Monday morning came around we said our goodbyes’ to my family and headed down to New Jersey. Our flight to Taiwan left first thing the next morning out of Newark airport so it made sense to meet up with my Aunt and Uncle once again and spend the night at their house. As we tried to fall asleep and get a few hours of rest that night, I all I could think was that this leg of the trip seemed to fly by.

All to often, spending quality time with family remains on the ‘one day we should’ list. Holidays are always awesome but they usually include a strong element of chaos and never enough time to relax and really enjoy just being together. If anything, these stops to see Shelby’s parents and my family reinforce the notion that the moments we’ll look back at and really remember will be these moments. Not the forty plus hours a week spent at the office or the hours watching tv each night. Sure, prioritizing these moments in life means making the time and often that comes at the sacrifice of the all mighty dollar or the seemingly important responsibilities we’ve burned ourselves with. But it’s moments like these that you would trade all of the money in the world for as you take your last breath. If I can take anything away from the start of this journey, it’s that each breath should be treated like currency and one should spend them wisely.