Category Archives: north america

Catalina Channel

Sometimes in life, you’re fortunate enough to meet an incredible group of people who believe that all goals, no matter how difficult, are achievable. This past Friday, my friend Katy Dooley met her goal of swimming across the 21-mile Catalina Channel in 9 hours, 49 minutes and 4 seconds.

Here are some photos of Katy and crew on her adventure:

Katy, before her swim
Vegas, MVP crew member, who stayed up the entire night coordinating Katy’s feed and kayakers.
Mel, grease coater and tweeter.
Alisa, a last minute addition. We were so happy the captain let her on the boat.
David. Veteran channel crosser who came with his daughter on the boat. He knew just how and when to motivate Katy to get her in under 10 hours.
Neil. Official observer who devised a great feeding system.
Thomas, kayaker extraordinaire.
Katy with Kevin, another kayaker

Katy’s swim started off in rough waters for the first five hours, but the seas calmed down as the light came out. She was swam consistently throughout and picked up her pace towards the end. As she was coming out, the surge picked her up and pushed her onto the rocks nearly 90 feet away. She’s a bit battered and scraped, but she finished!

Catching up…

It’s been a while since I posted to this site, so I guess I should catch everyone up to date.

May, Gulf Coast Road Trip

Back in May, P and I rented a car and drove out to Panama City Beach, Florida, so I could do the Gulf Coast Triathlon and do some diving. It was a long drive out there, and we made the 12-13 hour drive in one go. We meandered our way back to Austin stopping in Pensacola and New Orleans.

We dove the Oriskany, an aircraft carrier sunk off the coast of Pensacola. The visibility wasn’t great that day, so we couldn’t see the flight deck. However, I did swim through the flight control room and through the smokestacks. In the New Orleans, we stayed in the French Quarter and just walked around during the day. Food highlights of the trip:

  • PCB: J Michael’s. Good fresh, local seafood.
  • Pensacola: Blue Dot Burger. Best burger I’ve ever had.
  • New Orleans: Couchon Butcher. Best Banh Mi I’ve ever had. I think the Head Cheese set it apart from other Banh Mi.
  • Baton Rouge: Coffee Call. Beignets and beignet fingers. Can’t really go wrong here.

June, Round the World


I’m a product manager for a global transactional tax system. If you make a purchase from the company and see taxes, the system I work on may have calculated the taxes. (I say *may* since we’re still working on the global part.) Before this summer, I’ve been able to do my job with a lot of late night/early morning calls and a yearly trip. With the onset of our India launch, all sorts of issues come up and I’m summoned to Penang, Malaysia last minute. I’m also summoned to London for another workshop, so I decide to make it all in one go.
The Penang meetings go well, we figure what we need to do, and I head off to Hong Kong for the weekend. As a coincidence, Regan’s (my college roommate) brother was vacationing in Hong Kong from DC that weekend, so it wasn’t difficult to convince Regan (who’s an expat in Taiwan) to also fly in.

It was good to hang out with him and to eat some really good food. It’s a given that food tastes amazing there. I also managed to do a morning run by Victoria Peak – nice to get back to nature and solitude, just minutes away from an urban jungle.


Before the London workshops, I took the train over to Brussels to watch Stage 2 of the Tour de France. (Cancellara was in yellow that morning.) Also stuffed myself on chocolate croissants in Brussels. The London meetings didn’t have the same urgency as the Malaysia ones, but they’re good for direction going forward. Got to run around Hyde Park a couple of times.

July, India

Nineteen days in India. The launch happened, and straightaway, there were high priority issues left and right. It was a lot of work and stress. There were some down times, and the people who could, drank. Most of my memories involve working, calls in the middle of the night to work on an issue, and more work.

August, Brazil

This globalization thing is happening faster than I thought it would, so on the heels of India (gratefully with three weeks at home), I head to Brazil to gather tax requirements. Awesome meetings – great brain dump of the taxes we charge and why. I’ve come to the conclusion that countries with federated states with taxing authority have the most challenging taxes.

Great country, good food. I got food poisoning on my first night, so I wasn’t able to pig out at the churrascaria. It was a bummer to get sick in a hotel room away from home, but when the stomach cramps were bad enough to call a doctor, the hotel got some EMT folks to come and fix me up (with an IV) in no time. I also got to see my first Brazilian football game with the local team, Gremio. The hardcore fans do an “Avalanche” (above) when their team scores a goal.

September, France

I head off this afternoon to Montpelier to support a big launch and to do some training. I’m scared of the scope of the launch, so we’ll see if it’s all work or if I get a breather and get to see some of the city/countryside.


We spent the first few days of the trip diving in Cozumel and then went over to Playa del Carmen for the cenotes.

I made an unplanned, massive system change at work right before leaving town, so I spent the first few days of the trip supporting the change. The weather and water was also colder than last time, so the diving conditions weren’t as pleasant in Cozumel. This lead to few dives in Cozumel, and a lot of time in the hotel room supporting the changes.

Mid-week, work calmed down, and we moved over to Playa del Carmen. We did two dives in the Dos Ojos cenote, and these were my favorite dives of the whole trip. Amazing clarity in the water – in the photos, you couldn’t tell we were in the water without the dive gear or bubbles. The rock formations also made for an interesting dive – I see the allure of cave diving, but there were also some claustrophobic moments. We also dove in the halocline (where salt water and fresh water meet) – it made the water seem unusually blurry/fuzzy.

Coral Garden

My favorite dive so far has been the swim between Coral Garden to the Lakes. Lots of ledges and fish. The Lake we saw (one of the four) looks like a stadium with walls of coral surrounding it. Hopefully, we get to dive the Lakes today.

Pete’s taken some great pictures with the big rig. He’s figuring out how to use it (top photo is his.) It’s my turn with it today – I’m just hoping for a shot or two in focus.

Crab inside a conch shell

Diving in Grand Turks

View from our balcony
Three Legged Hawksbill Turtle

I feel like a poser when we go diving with our “fancy” camera gear. Granted, the cameras inside are pretty old or entry level, but you can’t really tell with the massive housing and strobes. I look like I know what I’m doing with all the gear, but I don’t. I take a bunch of shots and hope for the best.The pictures from our trip can be found here.

Jellyfish – California, July 2008

Jellyfish are such alien creatures. These pictures are somewhat cheating — they’re from the jellyfish tanks in the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

We ordered the underwater housing for the Canon XSi today. Hopefully, we’ll get some good pictures with the fish looking straight towards us (instead of their tails). In Belize, I had to focus on fish that were less jumpy: angelfish, butterfly fish and squirrel fish.

Everyday is a Saturday

Wow. It’s beginning to really hit me that I am quitting my job. It’s really nice that I’m sleeping away a Sunday afternoon, and it doesn’t matter – there’s nothing that I’m rushing to do tomorrow. Once I get some pesky tasks done (scheduling appointments, expense reports) and once I plan the trips, I won’t have anything I need to do. It’s scary and liberating. Thank goodness Pete (and for 3 weeks his brother Ed) are taking time off too.

I’ll do my best to divide my blogs into travel and training, but I train enough so that it gets incorporated into travel. While my first stops in Chicago were Portillo’s and Lou Malta’s for hot dogs and pizza, my first (and only activity so far) has been a 20 mile run down the lake shore.