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Commentary: Christmas In November

In 2019, I logged almost 100,000 miles in air-travel around the country to cover poker runs, offshore powerboat races, product unveilings and more. In 2020 I flew a little more than 12,000 miles for work travel. Pandemic year, go figure.

This year, I’m sitting pretty with about 51,000 air-miles banked, but I have till the end of March to bag enough miles to maintain “status” and get the stupid perks—bigger seats, early boarding and such— frequent business travelers live for on American Airlines.

The crazy things we chase, right?

Thanks to friends in the go-fast boating world, Key West, Fla., was the perfect place to finish a year of business travel. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Though I was more than ready to get back on the road this year, 51,000 miles in the air was enough. A little more than enough, really, as flying around the country wearing a mask, while far from torture, isn’t fun. I expected it to be a bit of a drag and I wasn’t wrong.

But what I didn’t expect this year was the sheer joy I had seeing so many of you. In March, I spent the better part of two weeks in Southwest Florida working on the inaugural Speed On The Water In The Lead documentary series, which is coming back in 2022, with colleagues Brad DiMaggio and Ryan Wenk of Scrapyard Media and longtime speedonthewater.com ace photographer Pete Boden. That translated to time with Grant and Kellie Bruggemann and Shaun and Flavia Torrente, two of my favorite couples in the boating world, and the entire Nor-Tech crew.

Early June found me in Kentucky to covering the Kuttawa Cannonball Run, where I hung with Stephen and Heather Miles of Stephen Miles Design. (When I call Steve my Kentucky brother, I mean it.)  In August, I bounced to Michigan for Skaterfest, where I stayed with organizer Ron Szolack, a cherished longtime friend, at his home on the shores of Lake St. Clair. Later that month, I headed to Vermont for the Lake Champlain Poker Run, where I made new friends—Brian and Sandy Hoar—and spent two days boating with an old one, Devin Wozencraft.  

Those are the trips I remember off the top of my head—there were lots of others—and by the time I arrived in Key West, Fla., last month I was ready to be done. But here again, the time away from home—and I do love my Napa, Calif., home—was a worthy trade-off as absurdly talented friend and business partner Jason John and I got to hang with Burton and Yvette Kirsten, Don and Amanda Gardner, Reese and Sara Elizabeth Langheim, Matt and Nic Shep and Greg Harris and Yvonne Aleman, Larry Bleil, Azam Rangoonwala, Mike and Christy Wright, Chuck and Nikki Sorenson and so many others.

For me, Key West is like New Orleans and Las Vegas, a two-night town, and I was there four. My tank was empty when I left.

But my heart was full.

Every year, my family asks me what I want for Christmas. My answer is always the same: I don’t care. Because I already have everything I want.

Merry Christmas, Speed On The Water friends. May the holidays find you surrounded by those you love, and those who love you.

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