26 Greatest Memories from my 26th Year

1. Backpacking through southern India, sleeping in hammocks and on rooftops of booked hostels, eating coconut curries with my fingers, and rummaging through stone temples

2. Reuniting with my mom and sister in DC after working and backpacking through the Middle East and Asia for 3 years

3. Falling in love with central heating, air conditioning, high-speed internet, hot showers, western toilets, laundry machines, a real mattress in an elevated bed frame, reliable and efficient transportation, shorts and tanktops, and individualism all over again

4. Rediscovering the ecstasy of raw fish with wasabi and soy sauce

5. Visiting my parents' new house in Utah and seeing the sun room and rock garden

6. Running in shorts and a sports bra outside without having wild dogs chase me or rocks thrown at me by Jordanian snot-nosed children

7. Getting a real haircut for the first time since high school at Supercuts and relishing straight locks and un-split ends

8. Driving Tic Tac

9. Team in Training - early weekend morning BRICK workouts, happy hour fundraisers, overly enthusiastic and addicted training partners

10. Watching the sun rise over Machu Picchu in Peru

11. Soaking my feet in thermal hot springs in the world's deepest canyon - Colca Canyon, Peru

12. Trekking through the Huayhuash Range in the Andes with 11 Israelis, a perrito blanco, and 2 Peruvian brothers as our guides. I learned a lot of Hebrew and Spanish in those 7 days in the mountains

13. The pure ecstasy of standing at 5752 meters at the summit of Pisco, turning 360* and seeing only snow-capped, jagged mountain peaks layered on a blanket of clouds

14. Becoming an REI member

15. Walking through the cheese section at Whole Foods and realizing that, in America, it really is all about choice

16. Cheering Phebe on at the Pittsburgh Marathon

17. The luxury of having my own kitchen to experiment in and friends and family to cook for

18. Road trip to Philly with Phebe and Will, 4-course meal at an open-kitchen Italian restaurant, watching Ryan Hall and Phebe Ko race, munching away at the Elite Marathoners tent

19. Nation's Triathlon - a 1.5K swim through giardia-infested Potomac waters, a 40K bike ride through roads leading back to my Bethesda stomping grounds, and a 10K run past a series of national monuments. The beginning of a wonderful addiction to triathlons.

20. Potluck dinners with my uncle's Chinese friends and DC buddies

21. Clasping near-frost-bitten hands at the summit of Kilimanjaro,
marveling at the curvature of the horizon and the iridescent
glaciers at the highest point in Africa

22. Belting lyrics at Rob Thomas concert

23. An all-you-need buffet of Under Armour clothes, compliments of my best friend (and world's greatest sister)

24. Sleeping in on weekend mornings in Arlington for no reason other than a great conversation and the law of entropy

25. A trio of Tanzanians singing "Happy Birthday" in Swahili on Jan. 5th, and sharing a charcoal-baked vanilla cake with friends in the Serengeti Reserve under a brilliant blanket of stars...while swatting at a constant swarm of flying African beetles

26. Planning future trips to jungles and summits in the Americas and Asia

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