Life Adventures

Endless Wine Growing Fields in Napa, California

My adventures span so many opportunities over a lifetime.  The number of times I’ve done something, whether once or several times over, is so far beyond my memory at this point.  Yet once in a while, a memory will float back.  And because I give so much to being present every time, it (almost) always brings joy to my heart.

  • My first experience skiing was at night. On an intermediate slope. I prepared for it by buying the gear & equipment, and watching a beginner’s guide to skiing from the US Olympic team. THAT was recommended to me by a former instructor of theirs who happened to work at the ski shop I went to for this wonderland opportunity.  I then practiced my turns, in my skis, in front of the TV in my bedroom while the video played. I wasn’t a pro from that learning. Yet I managed okay. Not bad, in fact, for a first time skier. On an intermediate slope. At night. I still love skiing to this day, however at this point, I have mild arthritis in my knees and can only do a single run on any given day.
    • Over the years I have skied in Connecticut (night skiing), New Hampshire, & at Lake Tahoe
  • Climbed the side of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, where it was so steep the only way up was to grasp the roots of tall grasses, not knowing how long it might take, if I could make it, to reach the summit road.
  • Row boated in a lake (seems trivial, yet it has its own magic
  • Camped directly on the beach, with friends, for an entire week.
  • Got one surfing lesson (at Big Sur on the PCH) and ended up fighting the current to paddle to shore a mile upwind from where I started.
  • Wore a toga (obviously) during a toga themed keg party at a strangers house (back in my using days)
  • Woke up under a pool table. In a strangers’ house. During a raging party. (definitely back in my using days)
  • Managed an up-and-coming singer for 15 months in L.A. Got to meet and collaborate with a couple of the biggest names in music production.
  • Done many professional speaking presentations to dozens, hundreds of of business people across the US.
  • Was on the path to signing contract with an investor ready to put $15 million into my internet business. Then the dot-com collapse happened.
  • Spent an entire year as the live-in daytime caretaker for a friend who had been in a massive bicycle accident and had become mostly paralyzed from the neck down. That kind of service is beyond humbling. And takes a massive toll psychologically on everyone, including the caregiver.
  • Visited the World Trade Center the night before the towers were attacked on 9/11 & had a vision of it as I stood there that night.

Concert Experiences

In spite of my ability to speak in front of hundreds of people, or put on a dinner for 150 people, I’m really an introvert within, and like my ability to come and go at my pace, where and when I want. To get away from “the world” and just be on my own.  Yet when I was younger, I loved going to concerts.  Except for one time, when, at a concert on a beach, I freaked out. Panicked. Had to get out of there. ASAP.

So other than that one time, I had a lot of fun at several concerts over the years. My most memorable experiences included:

  • Worked back stage at a ZZ Top concert. This was thrilling yet disappointing. As an MP in Germany, when ZZ Top was performing in a nearby town, I got selected to provide security back stage. Which meant I couldn’t SEE ZZ Top playing!
  • Attended the 4th Golden Summernight Concert in Nurnberg Zeppelin arena (outdoor arena). This was an all day, all night outdoor concert featuring Blue Oyster Cult, 38 Special, Foreigner, Kansas, Iron Maiden, & more (do you even know any of these bands?)
  • Queen (I was way back in the arena, yet loved every moment)
  • Eddie Money, Beach Boys & the Cars at the Yale Bowl, while on acid. (definitely back in my using days)
  • Attended a concert in Atlanta where I was the only white person in a crowd of thousands of awesome Black people going wild to the sounds of the Commodores (Lionel Richie’s old band)
  • One experience that lives with me to this day wasn’t a concert. It was attending a Bach Tage (Bach Days) orchestra performance in Germany. The sounds were beyond description.

Meditation Memories

  • Meditated in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park during a busy Sunday afternoon
  • Meditated away the pain after slicing my fingers on a table saw
  • Led a weekly meditation group with two others, then by myself for a while
  • Guided others into a deep meditation in the middle of a park in Manhattan. People who had never meditated before and had been skeptical.
  • Observed, through isolated feeling awareness, as a bee landed on my back and stung me during an outdoor meditation. Didn’t stop meditating.
  • Have trained in the process to the point where, at will, sometimes, I can go fully “under” into deep theta state, with a simple touch to my forehead.

Deep theta state is, I discovered, pure essence being. For me, the moment I become aware of a glowing light at the center of my forehead, I’m there. Under ideal conditions, I can remain in that state for upwards of 45 minutes in a single session.

Full Cross-Country Drives

  • Done this Seven Times (various routes north, south and in between)
  • Woke up once at a rest stop in Wyoming, having slept in my Mustang convertible. Stepped outside and ventured into the hills, only to be greeted by Native Americans performing ritual drum dance to the rising sun.
  • New Mexico is absolutely spectacular! From the countless plateaus rising up above the flat land, to the ever-color-changing hills and valleys, and places like Santa Fe, it’s enchanting.
  • Driving to NY through PA, in western PA, can seem like it takes forever. Take my advice though – don’t drive too much over the speed limit in western PA. I got pulled over once, doing 100. State Trooper gave me a break though, and only put down 98 because at 100, they would have impounded my car.
  • The thrill of driving at night, through endless mountains, then approaching a city all lit up, is great. Especially if you’ve been on the road for nine hours and just need to get into a warm bed.
  • The thrill of driving highways that are under heavy construction, or covered in ice, or surrounded by deep snow, is more about the need to hyper-focus and have situational awareness than anything. And the relief once you get through those scenarios, is powerful.
  • Driving through the Texas Panhandle approaching New Mexico is interesting. Endless stretches of flat land with no buildings in sight. And if you need gas, pulling up into what ends up being a deserted gas station, as night approaches, isn’t exactly fun. Though it does instantly propel you to be willing to drive on, across the state border, to find a working gas station.

If you ever do the full haul across more than once, be sure to choose different routes.  You’ll want to experience different parts of the country. The local people are all unique. Their accents, life views, attitudes and personalities shaped by where they live and the lives they lead.  It’s an awesome way to open your mind to other experiences and points of view. And to appreciate the diversity of humanity, even on this “unified” continent. And the food diversity is something to experience as well!

  • The rolling landscape of Kentucky is meditatively calming and serene. Seeing horses meandering around is the icing on the cake.

Flying/Driving Work/Play Adventures

When I was young, we didn’t get to do many out-of-town adventures. Finances, and the need for one, and sometimes both parents needing to work full time, didn’t allow it.  Though we did get to Atlantic City a few times, where we could stay at a budget motel, or at my Aunt’s house.  And once we got to go up to the mountains up-state, where my grandparents had a bungalow. Twice we even got to go down to Silver Spring Maryland for extended family events like weddings.

All of those trips were memorable though. Even on a very tight budget, and needing to time things based on family events, not being able to stay more than a few days, and where my parents (not truly adventurous people) dictated every experience, as a kid with an endless desire for adventure, excitement, and exploring, I had my share of fun and thrills.

Like the time I walked, as a young teen, by myself, the entire length of the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Once I was out on my own though, and especially once I was an Internet Marketing consultant, everything changed.  Especially once I was fully integrated into the online SEO (search engine optimization) community. And got accepted to speak at industry conferences around the country.

Work/Play Lifestyle

Over the years, I’ve spoken at many conferences. Just to be invited to speak is, itself, a huge honor.  You’re speaking to dozens or hundreds of people. Sharing your experience, insight, and knowledge.  They pay a lot of money to attend and learn.  So I put countless hours into my presentation prep.  And give the best of myself every time.

Yet going to conferences, for me, isn’t just about the speaking. It’s about the networking and socializing with friends, new and old.  It’s about the human connection.

All Work / No Play is Not In My Vocabulary

And just as important, it’s about the locale I’m at. So even though I might only have one or a  few speaking sessions, up to 45 minutes at most each, I always make sure to book at least five days, or more, for the trip. That way, I can devote the majority of my days exploring and experiencing the town or city the conference is in.

Places I’ve done this include:

  • Las Vegas (several times)
  • Miami (multiple times)
  • Ft. Lauderdale
  • L.A.
  • Tampa Bay
  • Dallas
  • Salt Lake City
  • Seattle (multiple times)
  • New Orleans

Just two of the more memorable experiences I’ve had during those week or longer adventures include:

Driving a Lamborghini on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Road Course.  Most packages through the experience provider are for up to seven laps. Except I wanted more, so I paid for eleven. Because I’m 6’ tall, I couldn’t fit in the driver seat with a required helmet. So I signed a waiver, and drove without a helmet!  And I only spun the car once!  It was thrilling! For this adventure, I went with two good industry friends. They each had a lot of fun as well!

My spiritual mentor going all the way back to 1986, who had since moved down to Florida, was someone I had not seen in many years. So one year, when I spoke at a conference in Tampa, I drove down to West Palm for a couple nights, to spend time with her. We had a great time! Except coming into town late at night, my Google map directions got me all confused. I ended up miles upon miles away from her home, completely lost!  And it took me almost two more hours to find her house. We laughed uncontrollably when I finally got to her house.

Germany – Road Trips & Wild Adventures

Wow. Germany!  This one wasn’t consciously chosen by me. Instead, I was in the Army at the time, and they said “You’re rotating to Germany!”.

  • For the year and a half I lived in Germany, I went on countless road trips. Some by scooter, many by car.
  • At the time, the Cold War was still on, so I couldn’t visit Berlin or anywhere in “East” Germany.
  • Speaking German with Germans
    • The fastest way to get welcomed by the locals in tiny little villages, is to at least attempt to speak German.
    • Personally, I was immersed in a several week conversational German course, taught by a native German. So I was able to have entire conversations.
    • To be fair, early on, I’d butcher a lot. Yet the locals appreciated my effort.
  • Riding a scooter across the countryside, into a valley where a tiny little village was, I came in on a Sunday afternoon. The villagers had just gotten out of church and were having a wonderful picnic. They invited me to join them, and it felt like I was with family.
  • There are so many things to see and experience in Germany, it can be overwhelming. While I didn’t get to see every castle, boat every river, or visit every little town that was on my list, I am forever grateful for having seen and visited so many places.
  • Driving down to Munich from Würzburg and spending time in Munich. The Glockenspiel (a multistory tall building with a life-sized Cuckoo clock) with wooden carved people spinning around the center, was captivating. Right in Marianplatz, the heart of Munich, it’s a must-see even if you only want to drink lots of beer in the big beer tents.
  • Driving down to the Alps, you’ve got to stop at Neuschwanstein Castle. It’s the castle Disneyland’s castle was loosely designed from. This castle is the height of arrogance, having been ordered built by mad King Ludwig.  Yet it’s spectacular outside and in.
  • Rothenberg ob der Tauber (740 year old walled city)
    • If you want to get a little taste of what it was like living around the year 1280, Rothenberg is a great place to visit.
  • Garmish-Partenkirchen (my idea of a true Bavarian town) (on the way to loop through northern Austria
    • The streets are narrow, yet the people are wonderful!
    • I did this with a friend. It was the heart of winter. So we did New Years in Garmish.
  • Bremerhaven (standing on the shore, I melted into the fact that whatever beach you visit along any ocean in the world means you’ve connected with every other oceanfront beach you’ve been to in the world)
  • Attended countless beer fests in massive tents
  • If you’ve ever wanted to experience the thrill of the Autobahn, I have an anecdote for you.
    • Yes, you can drive, as fast as you want, on the Autobahn. But only along some stretches. The closer you get to a town or city, the slower you will need to drive. It’s the law.
    • If you’re in an American car, and it’s not a sports car, don’t be surprised if a tiny little Volkswagen Jetta pulls up behind you and flashes their lights for you to pull over so they can pass. This happened to me. Even though I had the pedal pegged to the floor in my American Pontiac. I was going way over 125 at the time (the top speed on the speedometer).  I was embarrassed. Yet laughed hysterically.
  • From time to time, as an MP, I got to experience guard duty for military and civilian dignitaries. It was rarely boring.
    • Sung “On the Road Again”, in fluent German, out loud, to entertain myself while standing guard outside a German estate as shooting stars flew overhead
    • Performed MP Guard Duty at the Würzburg Residenz (palace) and during my breaks, got to go inside, where all the dignitaries were. The food was unbelievable! And the Residenz is quite the majestic old-world elegant in design and décor.
    • During field exercises in the heart of winter, as the head of Crime Prevention for the division, I got to accompany the Provost Marshall. And the Provost Marshall stayed in a comfortable house while most of the division were in tents in the woods. Which meant that I got to stay in that house (though it was on an Army issued cot). To be fair, we did stay, ONE NIGHT, in tents during those exercises. And I woke up in the morning with icicles on my mustache.
  • Living and working in law enforcement on an American military base meant I would sometimes need to work with the German Polizei (police) off base. Most of the time this was routine patrolling. Yet sometimes it got intense. And one reason it was always at least a little intense, was because the Polizei all carried Uzi sub-machine-guns on their sides. They didn’t mess around.
    • Most memorable event was the time I went on a joint MP/Polizei call to a bar fight at a downtown bar to break up a massive bar brawl. I’m not the biggest, strongest person, and even back then, when I could do 50 pushups on chairs, I wasn’t. Yet the Army instilled in me a lot of courage, built on lots of training. And taught me lots of techniques when in hand-to-hand combat.

So as soon as we walked in, I looked around. Found the biggest, loudest participant, and worked my way around to be directly behind him.  Put him in a headlock. And proceeded to take him to the ground. Instantly, everyone in the bar went silent. The fight froze.  And in the blink of an eye, Polizei and other MPs came to help me.  We ended up carrying him to the van, and along the way, he bit my arm as he struggled to get free.  Adrenaline pumping, discipline in top gear, I didn’t let go and we successfully got him dealt with.

  • During a big beer fest on base, I was on patrol one night with a partner. At one point, some of our off duty co-workers came up to us and said they saw a guy in civilian clothes brandishing a pistol only a handful of yards from the patrol car.  I had my partner radio it in, and along with the two MPs in the car next to ours, I headed to the scene.  When my co-workers pointed him out, I took out my pistol, and ordered everyone gathered around to clear out. When it was just him and me, I pointed my pistol at him and ordered him to get on the ground.Thankfully, he complied. I then went up to him, my partner and the other two MPs keeping gawkers away, and I proceeded to search him.  There’s a rule when doing a search. The moment you find anything even potentially dangerous, no matter how far along you are in the search, you stop, and then start the search all over. Well, not only did I get the pistol, which at that point was in his pocket, I also found a knife.

    At this point, as I was cuffing him, knee against his back, I realized there were a sea of legs and feet surrounding us. It was a solid wall of people encircling us. I had a momentary flash of concern, because the moment I had started the search, my focus was riveted on that single task. So to go from that single focus, to seeing what had to be twenty people surrounding us was a jarring experience.

    Fortunately, it turned out that we were surrounded by on-duty and off-duty MPs.

    And later, at the station, it turned out that the pistol was a starter-pistol.  Which meant the entire MP company ragged on me for weeks.