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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

The Ghosts of Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014 Front

Merry Christmas, friends!

When it comes to travel, I’ll be honest, this past year was rather slow, all things considered. I didn’t jet away to some far off foreign land, as I’ve done in years past. I didn’t set foot outside my own country, actually. I didn’t even explore a new destination, really, opting instead to stay around home or retrace my steps to other favorite places. But, despite the lack of adventure, the past year was still one of the most amazing of my life to date.

I started out the year in San Diego, California, celebrating a late Christmas with the family. We enjoyed a great many things together – whale watching, for instance – but, most of all, time together. We had a great week in the warm weather, unconcerned even for a moment about a single snowflake flying back home in either Minnesota or Colorado. This taste of California excited me for my return trip, which would come only a few months later.

Two gray whales and San Diego

Two gray whales and San Diego

Before returning to California, though, I headed back to my birthplace – Minnesota. I traveled to see the outdoor hockey game between the University of Minnesota, my alma mater, and the Ohio State University. The experience was unlike any other, but one I wish not to repeat; would you want to sit outside at night in Minnesota for three hours in the winter? I think not. And as magnificent as it was to see the game – Minnesota winning, 1-0 – I can’t say I ever wish again to see an outdoor hockey game in person. As much as I truly do like winter, I’ll stick to watching any future outdoor hockey games on television.

The gang dressed and ready for the Hockey City Classic

The gang dressed and ready for the Hockey City Classic

In March I landed in Monterey, California, for the Big Sur Writing Workshop. I’m working on several children’s novels, and wanted additional feedback on one that is close to publication. Heck, it might be there if I’d get off my laurels and do the edits my agent suggested. But, here I am getting ahead of myself. Back to Monterey first…

Checking out the wharf wildlife

Checking out the wharf wildlife

The area is downright stunning, especially with the wildlife. I’d been through there before, but had never really stopped. So seeing it, the land where Steinbeck roamed, was really inspirational when it came to both my spirit and my writing. I’d love to get back to see more, and maybe will this year. That’s all for another post, though, talking about what 2015 will hold.

After two trips to California early in the year, and one back home to Minnesota, I was ready to see something new. But I didn’t. Not really. Sure, I went to places in Colorado I hadn’t been – Steamboat Springs, Rifle Falls State Park, and Aspen’s Maroon Bells – but didn’t venture out of my state’s borders until the fall, when I made two more trips.

The Maroon Bells

The Maroon Bells

While I waited for both of those trips to roll around, I rambled around my own home. Quite literally, considering my puppy Anna and I hiked more than one a week through the summer. I’ll share more on that once the 2015 hiking season gets going, since this past one is long since gone.

Our hiking adventures inspired me to lose nearly 60 pounds. Over the past two years, while working on my master’s degree, I put on quite a bit of weight, since I really didn’t take the time to focus on exercising. All of that hiking helped shed those extra pounds, though – a whole child, when you come to think of it – and get in much better shape. That kicked me off on my next adventure – running.

Fish Creek Falls in Steamboat Springs

Fish Creek Falls in Steamboat Springs

The woman who I have since fallen madly in love with, my girlfriend Maria, was training for a Tough Mudder race. I wanted to help her, so I put my past training for judo into play to help her out. Once she completed her eleven-mile-long obstacle course with flying colors, she turned the tables on me and got me running 5k races with her. I can’t say I much enjoy the activity of running, but it is quite simply the best physical exercise I’ve found to date. And not only has it gotten me in the best shape of my adult life, it’s brought us closer together. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

So, with Maria running right along with me, I ran my first three races of my life. Heck, I think each is the farthest I’ve ever run continuously at any one time. Sure, I’ve played sports – basketball, baseball, football, and so forth – but there’s a lot of running and stopping going on there. With running you simply keep running, and that I’ve done a lot of this last year – putting more than 60 miles behind me in the past two months.

The guys in Las Vegas

The guys in Las Vegas

Over the course of my training, as I mentioned, I had two trips planned: returns to Las Vegas and Minnesota. The first was a father-son trip with a buddy of mine and our dads. The second was a return home to celebrate my grandfather’s 100th birthday. Both trips were amazing, but all too short with only a few extra days added to the weekends.

With those two trips, my year of travel came to a close. But that’s not without having a little more fun, playing host to friends who came over from London, England. (I met them through judo, which, along with running, goes to show you that exercise and sports are some of the greatest ways to form and maintain relationships!) They enjoyed – sometimes extremely coldly, due to the weather – two stints in Denver, jetting off to Las Vegas and Hawaii in between. It was great to have them here, and I’m excited to try to play catch up with them in the next year or so and make it back across the pond.

Christmas 2015 Back

The message on the back of our annual Christmas card.

Now that Christmas is here, my year of travel is at an end. I’m now looking ahead to 2015 and all of the adventures it will bring, many of them with Maria. But, that’s all another post for another time. For now, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and more blessings than we all think we probably deserve because, well, we do deserve them. Take care, my friends!

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6 Comments on “The Ghosts of Christmas 2014”

  1. krkilmer December 24, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    Sounds like a successful year to me- If you ever find yourself going through the Valley of the Sun, let me know. I would love to share a beer or two, catch up, and talk about writing!

  2. Traveling Ted (@travelingted) December 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Merry Christmas Jason. Despite the lack of overseas travel, it seems you have had a fantastic year. Congrats on getting into better shape. That is more important than travel because if you are not in good physical condition, especially as you get older, it really limits what you can do.

    • Jason's Travels December 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

      Merry Christmas, my friend! I hope you have an amazing holiday.

  3. Gray Cargill December 27, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

    I’d say you had a great year, even if you didn’t travel as far afield as you normally do, Jason. The fact that you took up running, fell in love, and almost finished a book are not small life events. Congrats to you! Now finish that book, mister. 😉

    • Jason's Travels December 28, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      Too funny – Gray. I’ll finish it soon enough. The thing is, though, I have another one Maria just gave back to me that I need to edit with her suggestions. So, really, there are two books, just one a tick closer to being done than the other. The second with her suggestions is a paranormal travel book. 🙂

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