– Ben Martens

2008 Year in Review

I start off every Year in Review post by reading what I wrote last year. My first thought was, "Wow, I was busy!" For 2008, I requested more of what 2007 had brought. It turns out, something better was in store, but more on that later.

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed already, and the rate at which time seems to pass has been occupying a lot of my thoughts. At some point, I need to accept that when "time flies" that’s just normal. I don’t suspect it will ever slow down so I might as well get used to it. Besides, who’s to say it’s a bad thing?

I only stepped on a plane four times this year which must be a new record for me. The first flight sent me out to Vermont for a weekend of skiing with Andy, Lauren, Jay and Mike. It was my first extended trip to Vermont and the whole area really impressed me. I had considered moving there when I was looking to get out of Jersey, and I could easily see myself living there some day. That weekend will long be remembered for skiing off a roof.

The second trip was a surprise visit home for Mom’s birthday. Thanks to the rest of the family for helping me to pull it off. It turned out even better than I had hoped. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she pulled that door open!

Trip #3 was a weekend trip to Syracuse for no particular reason other than to catch up with the Abendroths. I met Trevor and Connor, grew an ugly mustache for the mustache party and had a great weekend.

The last trip was Thanksgiving in Indiana. It’s the first time I’ve been home for Thanksgiving in a while. We decided that I would fly home for Thanksgiving instead of Christmas since the family is flying out here soon after Christmas for Tim and Chelsea’s wedding. That spreads out the visits a little nicer. While I ended up missing my 10 year high school reunion, it was great to see David again. It’s kind of sad that I only get to see him a couple of times a year.

Notably absent from the trip list is a visit to Maine. I broke my streak of 5 consecutive years up there. I suppose it makes sense that trips are harder to come by with my new location, but I don’t think I’ve had my last drink in Robinston.

While it felt like I kept the flights to a minimum, that didn’t keep me from taking a number of fun trips locally. I missed out on the Tulip Ride last year, but I didn’t miss it this year. It really was interesting to see, but I think I enjoyed riding the huge pack of motorcycles more than the fields of tulips. Our pack of bikes stretched out for about a mile and created quite a stir as we rolled through the small towns.

The first half of the year saw me out on a lot of hiking trails. There were even weekends when I’d do a hike both Saturday and Sunday. By mid-summer, I was in pretty good shape and was clicking off very long hikes at a strong pace. It was invigorating and the hikes rarely disappointed. There are so many amazing views in this area if you’re just willing to go find them. For every hike I crossed off the list, I added two more. It would take a lifetime to explore all these mountains. Good thing I’m only 28.

We broke out the tent for trips to Kanaskat-Palmer State Park, Fort Flagler State Park, and The Gorge. We’re finally getting the hang of easy camping. There are very few dishes to wash, lots of cornhole to play, and all the camping gear is all stored in one place in preparation for a quick trip.

The end of camping at the Gorge was the start of my first overnight motorcycle trip. I still think back to that trip quite often and I hope we can do another one next year! It was very liberating to be on the bike and know that my night’s destination was not my morning’s origin.

The other local trip that springs to mind was Whistler over Labor Day with my parents. It was my first time at Whistler in the summer. While it was odd being there with no snow, we still had a great time and even got snowed on a bit. We hiked around Whistler Peak, ziplined across Fitzsimmons Creek, and enjoyed the nightlife in the village. I’m happy that I got to give my parents a little glimpse of what Whistler is all about. Hopefully they’ll see some sights that they recognize while watching the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

I already mentioned the ski trip to Vermont, but those were just a few of the 29 days I spent on skis. That’s more than double what I’ve done in any previous year. The craziest ski adventure was backcountry skiing on Rainier with MikeD in a blizzard in June. If I hadn’t missed out on March, I would have skied at least one day for 8 consecutive months!

Jay and Andy flew out in February to see what Seattle skiing is all about. The first day at Crystal was one of the best days we’ve ever had on the snow, and it was made even better by the presence of a photographer. Bernard made us look much better than we were and it was an absolute blast. The second time we headed back to Crystal produced much worse conditions, but we made the best of it. It took us over half an hour to make it down Exterminator while we played a game to see who could make the most consecutive turns without falling. Six was the high water mark for a long time until somebody strung eight turns together. Considering the unpredictable Seattle winter weather, I’m extremely thankful that it all came together so nicely for this trip.

I also joined a ski racing team from work. It’s a fairly low key league, but it was an absolute blast to cut loose and ski as fast as I could without fear of ski patrol hunting me down. I improved dramatically over the year and made a solid contribution to the team. It will be interesting to see what I can do next season now that I have some experience to build on.

Hope on the Slopes is an event to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I missed it the previous year due to surgery. I racked up over 60,000 feet in a single day and more importantly, raised a lot of money for the American Cancer Society. Thanks for your support! It was much more of a mental struggle than I thought it would be. I’d like to say that I’ll definitely do it again next year, but I’ll have to see if I can work myself up to it.

I came close to joining the ski patrol at Summit Central. I spent a couple days tagging along with them and learning what it was all about. While I’d love to get all that medical training and be able to help people out on the slopes, I couldn’t stomach the time commitment at this point in my life. Tim and I decided to take an outdoor first aid class instead and that somewhat satisfied my desire for a little medical training. I still hope to be a ski patroller at some point in my life, but it’s not a good fit for me right now.

I made a concerted effort to attend more concerts this year. Pun intended. The ticket stubs sitting on my dresser make for an impressive list: Matt Costa, Ben Folds, The Senate, American Chopper, Jack Johnson, Matt Nathanson, Jason Mraz, and Phantom of the Opera. They are all memorable for different reasons, but I would jump at the chance to go to another Ben Folds concert.

Tim moved out a couple months ago. He was a great roommate, but sorry buddy, I’ve been enjoying having the house to myself again. I’m very happy to be part of the wedding in January and wish you two nothing but the best!

I was very goal oriented when I wrote the last year in review. I set tangible goals like climbing Mt. Si, getting up to Camp Muir, tailgating, and riding along the Washington coast. While I accomplished many of my goals for the year, the ones I just mentioned haven’t happened yet. Goals like that are easy to plan for, but the thing I really wanted, I couldn’t plan for. Thankfully, around the middle of the year, I met Tyla, and the rest of my oh so important goals happily took a bit of a back seat. A few hours before she met me, she got a fortune cookie that said, "Your love life will change for the better." That cookie got half the story right, but it failed to mention how mine would improve too!

Over the last half year, we’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time together, gone on countless adventures, and she still hasn’t run away screaming. We enjoy a lot of the same activities and had some great adventures including kayaking in the San Juan’s, a couple camping trips and concerts, lots of motorcycle rides, various Christmas oriented activities and too many fun random weekends to count. You know I’ve been hesitant to blog too much about personal relationships, but I’m losing that inhibition. Tyla might have ended up at the end of this post, but she is by far the best thing that happened to me this year.

And so 2008 is in the book and 2009 is beginning. What lies ahead? I’ve never been more excited to find out! May God bless your coming year!

Previous Year In Review Posts: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007