Bucket List

This is a list to help me build the kind of life I want to live, full of new experiences, a broader and deeper understanding of the world, and an active imagination. I’ve included some bucket list cliches, with the hope that collective desire means the experience is valuable (or makes it so), but I’ve also tried to throw in a few unique items.This list will evolve as I learn more about what I value in life. Sometimes I will remove things that no longer inspire me, or I will add things I’ve already done because they belong there.Feel free to steal inspiration from this page or use it as a portal to explore my journal entries.

Checked entries indicate “completed”.

Bold entries indicate “must-dos”.

Click individual entries for increasing detail on progress and stories.

Travel the world

<< Places to explore >>

  • Africa
    • Morocco
    • South Africa
    • Tanzania
  • Antarctica
  • Asia
    • View all Asia posts
    • China
      • Summary: April 2015 and October 2015. View all China posts.
        I had the privilege to go to China’s Guangdong Province twice for business trips, and I would love to spend more time in this vast, confusing, and fascinating land.
      • Hong Kong
        • Hong Kong Bucket List Victorvertical ia Peak

          Summary: April 2015Hong Kong Wanderings and the Mysterious Sneeze.
          The first thing I did after arriving in Hong Kong was head alone into the jungle to explore an abandoned village. Hong Kong hasn’t gotten out from under my skin since. It’s a wild place where city abuts with nature, and I feel like I could return there a hundred times and still find new things to eat, shop, and explore.

      • Macau
        • Summary: April 2015. Overwhelmed in Macau.
          My experience in Macau can be summed up in one word: overwhelming. This Special Administrative Region, once governed by Portugal, is the most densely populated territory in the world. Over the weekend I was there, the influx of tourists from mainland China and Hong Kong made the streets nearly impassable. Still, I’m glad I got to learn about the history of this place, even if I’m not a fan of its gaudy casinos.
      • Zhangjiajie
    • Japan
    • Mongolia
    • South Korea
    • Sri Lanka
  • Europe
    • Croatia (or any Balkans country)
    • France
      • Paris
        • Summary: June 2007.
          I was only in Paris for a few days on a whirlwind European trip in high school. I did all those touristy things like squint at the tiny Mona Lisa over a sea of heads at the Louvre and clap for people’s proposals atop the Eiffel Tower, so it wasn’t the most enchanting visit. My main memories are of watching accordion players fight on the metro and of dancing under the sparkling Eiffel Tower with a Frenchman at midnight, fearful that he might be grabbing my butt to try to pickpocket me.
    • Greece
    • Iceland
    • Ireland
    • Italy
      • Cinque Terre
      • The Dolomites
      • Florence
      • Rome
    • Netherlands
    • Norway
      • Lofoten Islands
    • Spain
      • Andalucía
      • Asturias
    • Turkey
      • Cappadocia
      • Istanbul
    • The United Kingdom
    • Wales
      • Hay-on-Wye
  • North/Central America
    • Bahamas
      • Summary: May 2012. View all Bahamas posts.
        I spent a week on a Wildquest retreat on the tiny island of North Bimini, just 50 miles off the coast of Florida. The island is so skinny that it has a single street flanked on both sides by houses and then beaches with clear blue waters teeming with tropical fish, rays, sharks, and (best of all) dolphins.
    • Canada
      • Summary: June 2004. View all Canada posts.
        My first visit to Canada was a family vacation to visit friends who owned a gelato shop on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. I didn’t return again until after I’d moved to Seattle, when I stayed with friends in a hostel in Vancouver. Living only three hours away means frequent trips to our friendly northern neighbor, and I can’t get enough of it!
      • Banff National Park

        • Summary: July 2015. Build-up in Banff.
          This is the most famous of Canada’s national parks for a good reason. It’s often crowded, but if you time it right you can find solitude by blue lakes, a tea house overlooking glaciers, and even on Johnston Canyon’s boardwalks. I want to return to drive the Icefields Parkway to neighboring Jasper National Park.
      • Garibaldi Provincial Park

        • Summary: August 2014. 5 Incredible Hikes Along the Sea to Sky Highway.
          A childhood friend and I hiked to Panorama Ridge in 2014 and were blown away by this park – it became my favorite place in southwestern British Columbia. Whether lounging by the lake, spotting wildlife in the meadows, or making the climb up Black Tusk, a visit here is sure to be spectacular.
      • Vancouver Island
        • Technically, I’ve been there (to Victoria). But it will not count until I go there with a tent and a kayak.
      • Whistler
        • Summary: April 2014, August 2014, April 2015…. The Great Whistler Egg Hunt.
          Back when I was desperate to enjoy skiing despite all the discomfort it caused me, Whistler was a mixed bag of fun and fear. Now it’s a place to relax, take in the outdoors at my own pace, and enjoy this upscale resort town.
    • Guatemala
      • Summary: November-December 2016. View all Guatemala posts.
        Guatemala is one of those places I can imagine living for an extended period of time, especially since it’s only a $200 flight away from family. While we never left the highlands on our first two-month trip to Guatemala (where the climate is mild and there are few bugs), there’s also the hotter, junglier side of the country still to be explored, so I bet I’ll be back.
      • Acatenango Volcano
        • Summary: December 21, 2016. Climbing Acatenango Volcano.
          An awesome group of deported migrants led up the side of this 13,000-foot volcano, where we spent the night watching the next door neighbor, Fuego, continuously spew lava.
      • Antigua
        Antigua Bucket List Bumblepoppy
        • Summary: December 2016.
          This charming colonial town with cobbled streets and earthquake-levelled ruins is a popular spot for tourists, just a short drive from Guatemala City.
      • Lake Atitlan
        Lake Atitlan Sunset View from WindowNariz Del Indio View
        • Summary: November-December 2016. A Non-Partier’s Guide to San Pedro La Laguna.
          This picturesque lake in the Guatemalan Highlands is surrounded by three volcanoes and over thirteen Mayan villages. We spent over a month on its shores, learning Spanish and enjoying the inexpensive, friendly, and safe environment in the spring-like weather.
      • Semuc Champey
      • Tikal
    • Mexico
    • United States
      • Fifty States progress: 31/50
      • National Parks progress: 17/59
      • Alabama
      • Alaska
        • Denali NP
        • Gates of the Arctic NP
        • Glacier Bay NP
        • Katmai NP
        • Kenai Fjords NP
          Kenai Fjords Exit Glacier Bucket List
          • Summary: June 30, 2013.
            When we reached the end of the Harding Icefield Trail, we didn’t stop. Instead, we pressed on to the edge of the ice. I thought sticking my head through a hole in the glacier and scrambling around waterfalls would be the most dangerous the day would get, but I was wrong. We ran into another group of hikers just as a thundering roar and shouts of “Rocks!” filled the air. We assumed a video-game-like ready position in the snow and dodged left and right as boulders caromed downhill like bouncy balls. Even the smallest of these rocks could have taken off a limb, but we all survived the rockslide unscathed.
        • Kobuk Valley NP
        • Lake Clark NP
        • Wrangell-St. Elias NP
      • American Samoa NP
      • Arizona
        • Antelope Canyon
          Antelope Canyon Bucket List PortraitAntelope Canyon Light Beam Bucket List
          • Summary: April 2012. The Paparazzi of Antelope Canyon.
            Upper Antelope Canyon was packed with photographers, all jostling for position to capture the light beams winking into the narrow slot canyon. Our Navajo guide tried to forge a path through the tripods. He ended up in an altercation with another guide that led to a complaint being filed with the Navajo government, which goes to show just how much passion a split in a rock can inspire.
        • Grand Canyon NP
          • Summary: December 1999.
            After a twelve-hour drive from Sacramento, the four of us walked up to the rim of the Grand Canyon just as the setting sun lit the walls in a golden-orange glow. My parents’ jaws dropped. A chill ran up my spine. But my 5-year-old brother was less impressed. He planted his fists on his hips and huffed: “We drove all the way here for this?!”
        • Petrified Forest NP
        • Saguaro NP
      • Arkansas
        • Hot Springs NP
      • California
        • Summary: 1990-2011. View all California posts.
          I was born and raised in Northern California, as were my parents. Even after living there for 21 years, there’s still more to see!
        • Big Sur
          Big Sur Bucket List Bixby Creek BridgeBig Sur Bucket List McWay Falls
          • Summary: October 9, 2016. Geocaching on Big Sur’s Beaten Path.
            My mom and I only spent a couple hours driving up along this famous stretch of California’s coastline, but it’s the kind of road trip you could easily stretch out over a week.
        • Channel Islands NP
        • Death Valley NP
          Death Valley Bucket List Bumblepoppy
          • Summary: October 2016.
        • Disneyland
          Disneyland Bucket List Bumblepoppy
        • Joshua Tree NP
        • Kings Canyon NP
        • Lassen Volcanic NP
        • Lava Beds National Monument
        • Pinnacles NP
        • Redwood NP
        • San Diego
        • San Francisco
        • Sequoia NP
        • Six Flags Magic Mountain
        • Yosemite NP
          • Hike Half Dome
      • Colorado
        • Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP
        • Great Sand Dunes NP
        • Mesa Verde NP
        • Rocky Mountain NP
      • Connecticut
      • Delaware
      • Florida
        • Biscayne NP
        • Disney World
        • Dry Tortugas NP
        • Everglades NP
        • Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
          Universal Studios Harry Potter World Bucket List
      • Hawaii
        • Summary: 1998, 2002, …. View all Hawaii posts.
          Since I grew up on the West Coast, Hawaii was the preferred big-ticket getaway for my family.   On my first visit, when I was 8, we stayed at an orchard in the wet interior of the Big Island. The next three visits were all to Maui during humpback whale season.  And on the last two visits, we stayed on Kauai, where my parents’ friends run a gelato shop.  Though all touristy, each of these islands has a sort of magic around them and I understand how my parents were drawn back over and over.
        • Haleakala NP
        • Hawaii Volcanos NP
      • Idaho
      • Illinois
        • Chicago
      • Indiana
      • Iowa
      • Kansas
      • Kentucky
        • Mammoth Cave NP
      • Louisiana
      • Maine
        • Acadia NP
      • Maryland
      • Massachusetts
      • Michigan
        • Isle Royale NP
      • Minnesota
        • Voyageurs NP
      • Mississippi
      • Missouri
      • Montana
      • Nebraska
      • Nevada
        • Great Basin NP
      • New Hampshire
      • New Jersey
      • New Mexico
        • Carlsbad Caverns NP
      • New York
      • North Carolina
      • North Dakota
        • Theodore Roosevelt NP
      • Ohio
        • Cedar Point
        • Cuyahoga Valley NP
      • Oklahoma
      • Oregon
        • Crater Lake NP
          Crater Lake National Park Bumblepoppy
          • Summary: June 2, 2017.
            Snow was still thick on the ground, and they had only plowed the road up to the crowded south rim. We walked for a while to our own private observation spot of the lake. In the end, there wasn’t much more to do than look, but the view was unparalleled.
        • Multnomah Falls and other Columbia River Gorge waterfalls
          • Summary: June 2015. Waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge.
            In one weekend, we hiked to over 15 waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge. Multnomah is the Disneyland of these falls, with swarms of families making a quick stop at the parking lot at its base. If you have the time and fitness, take on the Oneonta Gorge river walk and Eagle Creek trail to Tunnel Falls nearby.
        • Painted Hills
        • Portland
      • Rhode Island
      • South Carolina
        • Congaree NP
      • South Dakota
        • Badlands NP
        • Wind Cave NP
      • Tennessee
        • Great Smoky Mountains NP
      • Texas
        • Big Bend NP
        • Guadalupe Mountains NP
      • Utah
        • Arches NP
        • Bryce Canyon NP
        • Canyonlands NP
        • Capitol Reef NP
        • Monument Valley
        • Zion NP
      • Vermont
      • Virgin Islands NP
      • Virginia
        • Shenandoah NP
      • Washington
        • Summary: July 2012-?. View all Washington posts.
          I moved to Redmond, WA after college and still haven’t left. The Pacific Northwest has planted trees in my soul.
        • Mount Rainier NP
        • North Cascades NP
        • Olympic NP
        • Palouse Falls
          • Palouse Falls ViewpointLooking Over Palouse Falls
            Summary: October 2016.
            We went on a jog through the canyon to the top of this spectacular desert waterfall. We then camped nearby, listening to the roaring water and the yips of coyotes.
      • West Virginia
      • Wisconsin
      • Wyoming
        • Grand Teton NP
        • Yellowstone NP
  • Oceania
    • Australia
      • The Great Barrier Reef
      • The Outback
      • The Great Ocean Road
    • New Zealand
      • Summary: March 2012. View all New Zealand posts
        After graduating college, I took my mom on a fast-paced, three-week road trip down the length of New Zealand. It wasn’t nearly enough time to experience all these two islands have to offer, but it only took a matter of days to fall in love.
      • Abel Tasman
      • Hobbiton
      • Milford Sound
      • Milford Track
      • Tongariro Crossing
  • South America
    • Argentina
      • Iguazu Falls
      • Patagonia
    • Chile
    • Peru
    • Venezuela
      • Angel Falls

Experience the occasional Adrenaline Rush / Adventure

<< One-off experiences with room for diving deep into new hobbies >>

  • Bungy Jumping
    • Summary: March 2012. Rolling and Getting High in New Zealand.
      Stepping off the bridge was surprisingly easy – far less scary than jumping off a swing, even. After all, I didn’t have Kawarau Bungy Center’s perfect safety record with swings. After an all-too-brief fall, I bounced around and giggled before being pulled ashore on a boat. My verdict: fun but too short and overpriced.
  • Caving
    • Summary: May 30, 2015. Birthday Caving Adventure.
      On the Moaning Caverns Adventure Tour, you climb down a narrow hole in the bottom of a cavern and don’t stand up again for several hours. My brother had to exit early (and then threw up) after fighting a panic attack, but I felt at home wriggling on my stomach with rock pressing in on all sides. I’ve also done less intense self-guided explorations of lava tubes and talus caves, and I hope to join a speleological society for non-commercial caving in the future!
  • Cliff Jumping
  • Climb a via ferrata
    • Climb a Via Ferrata Mount NimbusClimb a Via Ferrata Mount Nimbus
      Summary: July 18, 2015. CMH High Flying Adventures.
      These pre-built vertical “roads” through the mountains are a great way for those without technical skills to experience the thrills of dangling from a cliff. On an all-inclusive vacation with Canadian Mountain Holidays, a helicopter dropped us off at the start of North America’s longest via ferrata in Canada’s remote Purcell Mountains. After hours climbing up rungs and wobbling over suspension bridges, we made it to the peak of Mount Nimbus. If that weren’t enough, the next day featured a second via ferrata, this one with ziplines and cable walks over raging rivers leading to the foot of the Conrad Glacier.
  • Climb a volcano
    • Mount St Helens Crater OvrelookMount St Helens Ash
      Summary: September 21, 2015. Summiting Mount St Helens.
      The bottom of the hike is like most other treks up a mountain, but it’s when your feet are struggling to gain purchase in the ash near the top that it really sinks in that you’re on a mother-flipping volcano. At the summit of Mount St Helens, I looked out over a crater from which an estimated 520 million tons of that ash was ejected in 1980. Terrifying and awesome.
  • Downhill Skiing
    • Summary: January 2010, December 2012-April 2015.
      I was late in learning to ski – oh, how I envy those little bundled up toddlers scooting around on the slopes!  On my first time skiing at the age of 19, I upgraded myself from the bunny hill even though I still had no idea how to control my speed.  The result was careening down one of those long, winding cat tracks and barely making the turns.  I was too afraid to force myself to fall, so instead I skidded to a stop with my ski tips two inches away from a dropoff into the tops of trees.  I didn’t ski again until it seemed like the only way to get outside during Seattle winters, and then I only went twice a year. The expense, the cold, and the sharp pain in my knees made me decide pursuing the sport wasn’t worth it.
  • Explore an abandoned mine
    • Summary: August 25, 2013, May 16, 2015.
      I found my first abandoned mine by accident. I was off-trail on a solo hike in the North Cascades, following the sound of a hidden waterfall. And there, next to the waterfall, was a man-made hole in the cliff.  I waded in through icy orange water until I could no longer see the entrance, then turned back. The next abandoned mine was a planned trip to Damion and Python Mine, and this time I brought a friend and some headlamps.  We explored every branch of that mine and inspected the abandoned mine equipment.  Even after visiting, I can hardly imagine what it would be like to spend long days toiling beneath the earth.
  • Flyboarding
  • Go backpacking alone
  • Go on a multi-day horseback ride
  • Go trekking with a pack animal
  • Hang Gliding
  • Help set a Guinness World Record
    • Summary: January 12, 2013. World’s Largest Snowball Fight.
      I have no desire to set an individual world record, but I jumped at the chance to help with a group one by doing something really silly! The World’s Largest Snowball Fight was a success, if you overlook all the ice shard injuries.
  • Paragliding
    • Summary: April 2016.
      I’ve been tandem paragliding a couple times from Poo Poo Point near Seattle. On my very first time, we spiraled up alongside bald eagles and stayed aloft for an hour, with my pilot’s variometer singing a cheerful tune as we caught thermal after thermal. But on my last flight, we hit sinking air and had to head for home immediately. I steered us in for a fast landing on our butts and almost hit a hiker! It was a disappointment after the long hike up the mountain, but that’s how it goes when you’re at the mercy of the air.
  • Parasailing
    • Summary: March 2012. Rolling and Getting High in New Zealand.
      I convinced my fearful mom to go with me on Flying Kiwi Parasail above the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, and it became her favorite activity on the trip.  This is probably the most peaceful item on this section of the list, and it’s the closest I’ve come to imitating a seabird soaring over the ocean (I’m so jealous of them ahhh!).
  • Pilot a Plane
  • Rock Climbing
    • Summary: July 2009..
      My first climbing experience was in the Tahoe area in California, sport climbing simple 5.7 and 5.8 routes with my uncle leading and my aunt belaying. The dizzying heights were addicting and I knew this was something I wanted to do more of, despite the fact that our neighbor on the wall was recovering after getting his calf torn off by a falling rock. Even though I don’t climb right now, I am a huge proponent of rock climbing as a workout. It builds your strength, flexibility, motor control, endurance, and mental game.
    • Learn to belay
      • Summary: January 2014.
        A friend and I spontaneously signed up for the next morning’s belay class at Stone Gardens climbing gym in Bellevue. It was fun, so we took our test and joined the gym! Whereas he became obsessed and now climbs six hours a day, I whined about how much a couple tendons hurt and stopped after a few months. Hopefully, I can toughen up and get back on the wall.
    • Bouldering
      • Summary: June 2014.
        This subset of rock climbing involves a few powerful and/or highly technical moves to get the top of a boulder. I discovered I would rather train to get to new and lofty places, which meant our Leavenworth bouldering trips would often devolve to me simply spotting and cheering on my stronger and more skilled companions.
    • Lead climb a sport route
      • Summary: May 2014. Lead climbing is where climbing starts to feel more real. Even the simplest sport route requires extra concentration and courage, since slipping off the wall could mean a longer fall. My strength and confidence in my abilities did not reach the point where I wanted to do this regularly, but I did successfully lead an outdoor climb after practicing in the gym.
    • Lead climb a trad route
  • Scuba Diving
  • See an Aurora
  • Skydiving
    • Summary: May 2010.
      I finished my last final exam of sophomore year in college and hours later jumped out of a plane with Lodi Parachute Center. At $99 for 13,000 feet, it’s the cheapest price I’ve ever seen for skydiving but it comes with a less than stellar reputation (that hadn’t come to light at that time). Nevertheless, I had an awesome time. Surprisingly, my favorite part wasn’t the skin-warping windy freefall but instead drifting and spiraling under the parachute. Afterward, we headed to the beach and were driving up to a lookout for stargazing when we get into a car accident. Everyone was fine, but suddenly all our jokes about how skydiving once was safer than driving every day felt very real.
    • Solo Skydive
      • Summary: February 2013.
        It was the pilot’s first time flying skydivers, and it was my first solo jump. My job was simple: all I had to do was climb out of the itty bitty plane (the four of use inside were sitting on the floor in each others’ laps) and hang from the strut of the wing until the instructor told me to let go. But the pilot was going too fast and my grip strength was weak and fwoop I slipped off the plane. On the slow-motion GoPro footage, my instructor turns to the other student who shouts, “Did she just fall? Holy shiiiiiiiiit!” I felt like a balloon that had suddenly had the air let out of it and was farting and fluttering all over the place, but I leveled out in time and the chute opened like normal. The ground instructor guided me toward the landing site through the radio on my chest and I landed without further incident. Oh, and floating all alone in the sky over the sun setting behind the Cascades was worth almost dying for.
  • Surfing
  • Swim under a waterfall
  • Touch a Glacier
  • Watch a Volcano Erupt
    • Summary: December 21, 2016. Climbing Acatenango Volcano.
      After a strenuous hike, our 12,000-foot vantage point from the side of Acatenango Volcano let us watch the neighboring volcano Fuego explode all night long. Our visit happened to collide with one of the volcano’s violent “paroxyms”, and it put on quite a show. Really, what’s more epic than a rumbling mountain shooting lava into the air?
  • Wingwalking
  • Witness a Total Solar Eclipse
  • White Water Rafting
    • Summary: July 2009.
      This is a fun group activity on a hot summer’s day, and under an experienced guide’s eye it’s a piece of cake (at least for up to class IV rapids). My first time was with family in Tahoe and the next two times were near Seattle with friends. You just paddle when the guide says paddle and stop when they say stop. I’ve never fallen out of the raft before, but once my friend and I flipped an inflatable white water kayak in the first rapid we hit, which was the most thrilling moment of the expedition.
  • Ziplining
  • Zorbing

Observe and learn about Animals

<< Interactions with the other species that share our planet >>

  • Kayak with humpback whales
  • Freedive with wild dolphins
    • Summary: May 2012. Swimming with Wild Dolphins at Wildquest
      At the age of 8, I swam with my cliche favorite animal at the Hilton Waikaloa Resort on Hawaii’s Big Island. It was a dream come true, however, the dolphins being confined in a tiny pool at a hotel made me sad and cast a bitter tone over the whole memory. So it was with great enthusiasm that 14 years later I headed to WildQuest in the Bahamas, where I swam with pods of wild spotted and bottlenose dolphins on their own terms. Watching them feed and play in freedom left me even more opposed to captivity.
  • Hold a koala
    • Summary: May 2011.
      I held my breath in anticipation as the zookeeper placed the koala in my arms. The marsupial scrambled for half a second before settling in, resting on my hip like a furry sharp-clawed baby. I could have pretended to be a eucalyptus tree all day, but after snapping a few pictures it was time to hand him back over. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary near Brisbane offers hands-on encounters and education on native Australian wildlife. I still have mixed feelings about zoo-sanctuaries that allow these encounters, but my inner child couldn’t be quieted that day as I went around feeding kangaroos and feeling the weight of a sea eagle on my arm.
  • Raise livestock
  • See my favorite aquatic animals in the wild
    • Beluga
    • Blue Whale
    • Bottlenose Dolphin
    • Hector’s Dolphin
    • Humpback Whale
    • Manatee
    • Narwhal
    • Orca
    • River Dolphin
    • Seal
    • Sea Lion
    • Sea Otter
    • Sperm Whale
    • Walrus
    • Whale Shark
  • See my favorite African animals in the wild
    • African Elephant
    • African Wild Dog
    • Baboon
    • Cheetah
    • Dik-Dik
    • Giraffe
    • Hartebeest
    • Hippopotamus
    • Hyena
    • Kudu
    • Leopard
    • Lion
    • Meerkat
    • Rhinoceros Beetle
    • Warthog
    • Wildebeest
    • Zebra
  • See my favorite Eurasian animals in the wild
    • Asian Elephant
    • Hedgehog
    • Raccoon Dog
    • Pangolin
  • See my favorite North/South American animals in the wild
    • Armadillo
    • American Bison
    • Bald Eagle
    • Bighorn Sheep
    • Black Bear
    • Bobcat
    • Brown Bear
    • Capybara
    • Condor
    • Coyote
    • Elk
    • Gray wolf
    • Guanaco
    • Marmot
    • Moose
    • Muskox
    • Mountain Goat
    • Mountain Lion
    • Pika
    • Polar Bear
    • Pronghorn
    • Porcupine
    • River Otter
    • Rhea
    • Sloth
    • Vicuña
  • See my favorite Oceanic animals in the wild
    • Cassowary
    • Dingo
    • Echidna
    • Emu
    • Flying Fox
    • Glowworm
    • Kakapo
    • Kangaroo
    • Kiwi
    • Koala
    • Kookaburra
    • Longfin Eel
    • Platypus
    • Saltwater Crocodile
  • Rescue any bugs/creatures that get inside
  • See a salmon run
  • Snorkel with sea turtles
  • Swim with manatees
  • Swim with penguins
  • Swim with sea lions
  • Swim with sharks
  • Take a beekeeping class
  • Take a falconry class
  • Track my “life list” of North American bird sightings
  • Visit an elephant sanctuary
  • Visit a penguin colony
  • Long-term: Satisfy my curiosity about the planet while also treating it with respect.

Sample different Methods of Transportation

<< Ways of moving over land, water, and air >>

  • Airboat
  • Bus to random destination
  • Cable car
  • Camel through desert
  • Canoe
  • Convertible
  • Cruise ship
  • Dirtbike
  • Dune buggy
  • Dog sled
  • Gondola
  • Helicopter
    • Summary: September 7, 2013.
      “Ok, you’re in control,” the pilot said. I gripped the joystick on the t-bar and gently nudged it forward. The helicopter immediately went into a nosedive then did a crazy swooping motion as I overcorrected. “Woah,” I said, laughing. The cyclic stick is so sensitive that you need only think about the direction you want to go in. I soon got the hang of it. I never thought that my first time in a helicopter I’d be the one flying it (sort of – I didn’t even touch the pedals). My instructor showed off by landing in a tiny clearing in the forest before rocketing off again. “Can’t do that in a plane,” he said, grinning. It gave me an appreciation for this mode of transport that carried on to my first scenic helicopter tour over Kauai and “heli-hiking” in Canada’s Purcell mountains.
  • High-speed rail
  • Hike
  • Horseback
    • Summary: 2004.
      I fell in love with Romeo. He was my first lesson horse, a sweet little gelding who followed every cue I gave him. My mom, who was once a country girl with her own horse, took me to a dude ranch for a week’s riding to celebrate my elementary knowledge. We now include a trail ride on almost every vacation, even though it can’t replace forming a bond with a horse. I’ve since swam bareback in a river in Mexico, handled a spooked mustang, and rode through Lord of the Rings film locations.
    • Canter on the beach
      • Summary: May 2011.
        We rode out of the Australian rainforest and onto the beach and the guide said we could let our horses go. But these were trail horses, used to walking nose-to-tail, and they weren’t eager to race. With an excessive amount of kicking, we urged the horses into a canter. They dissolved into a fast trot in ten seconds. I’ve had similar experiences on other beach tourist rides. If you prefer a more responsive mount, I suggest renting working ranch horses, like those in Patagonia or Montana.
    • Own or lease my own horse
    • Ride a gaited horse
      • Summary: April 2017.
        We’d left the crowded part of the beach outside of Lima, where children ran alongside shouting “Caballitos! Caballitos!” My horse was in high spirits so I let him pick up his pace. Instead of moving into the typical bouncy trot, he surged forward with high steps, his forelegs kicking the air in the special way he was bred to walk. I felt like I was gliding over the sand, much like the millions of seabirds that rose wheeling around us. So this is why Peru’s so proud of their Peruvian Paso horses!
    • Ride at a full gallop
  • Horse drawn carriage
  • Hot air balloon
  • Jetboat
  • Jet-ski
  • Kayak
  • Limousine
  • Motorcycle
    • I kicked the motorcycle into second gear and leaned into the curve. For a moment, I felt like a genuine badass, even though I was just riding around some cones in a hot community college parking lot. The only ding on my motorcycle test was that I took the laps too fast, but that made me even more terrified to ride amongst other vehicles. What if I turned into a speed demon and someone changed lanes into me? I decided not to turn my endorsement into an official license. My other female coworker and I took the two-day course at the bidding of our motorcyle-obsessed coworkers, who have since all been in accidents ranging from broken bones to a I-can’t-believe-you-survived dragged-under-a-bus crash that went viral.
  • Motor scooter
  • Nordic skiing
  • Road bike
  • Rollerblade
  • Sailboat
  • Seaplane
  • Segway
  • Snow mobile
  • Snowshoe
  • Stand-up paddle board
  • Subway
  • Taxi
  • Tandem bicycle
  • Toboggan
  • Train overnight
  • Tuk-tuk
  • Long-term: Just keep moving!

Find ways to Give Back

<< Acts of kindness and small ways to help out >>

  • Advocate for women in technology
  • Be a camp counselor
  • Be a designated driver
  • Clean up litter around the neighborhood
  • Donate blood
  • Donate money to a cause I believe in
  • Donate something I’ve made to an auction
  • Foster an animal
  • Get CPR and First Aid certified
  • Give a hitch-hiker a ride
  • Give up my seat on public transportation
  • Help build a house
  • Help build a park
  • Help maintain a hiking trail
  • Host a couch surfer or foreign exchange student
  • March in a protest
  • Pay for another table’s meal
  • Perform music at a nursing home / retirement center
  • Register to be a bone marrow donor
  • Teach a child to read
  • Teach an after school program
  • Treat a homeless person to their favorite meal
  • Volunteer at a food bank/soup kitchen
  • Volunteer at a library
  • Volunteer at a therapeutic horseback riding organization
  • Long-term: Be kind and help out wherever I see an opportunity

Experiment with Food

<< Gastronomical challenges and delights  >>

  • Cook all my own meals for a month
  • Create a collection of 20 simple vegetarian recipes
  • Eat a vegetarian chef’s table
  • Eat nothing but pizza for a week
    • Summary: February 2014.
      In middle school, my best friend and I asked our parents if we could live off of pizza for a month. They said no, but being on my own now means I can bring childhood dreams to life! I reduced the time to a week and my rules were pretty flexible – in addition to standard cheese and veggies on flatbread, I made a breakfast pizza with egg and a dessert pizza with nutella and strawberries. By the end, I was grateful for other foods, but it was far easier than one of my other food experiments, when I ate only salad for a week.
  • Go completely vegetarian for at least six months
    • Summary: 2011.
      Going vegetarian while living in Berkeley was almost too easy. I never enjoyed the taste of meat, anyway (I used to call burgers “boogers”). I prefer to eat vegetarian to this day, but won’t pass up a home-cooked meal or new cultural dish just because it has meat in it. I don’t want to turn the whole world into vegetarians, but I do harbor a secret wish that everyone could reduce their meat consumption enough to make the ethical treatment of livestock the norm.
  • Go sugar-free for 30 days
  • Learn to forage
  • Try unusual foods and cultural cuisines
    • Crickets
    • Durian
    • Escargot
    • Frog’s legs
    • Guinea pig
    • Kangaroo
    • Kimchi
    • Li hing mui (“sweet dried plums”)
    • Massaman curry
    • Mole
    • Octopus
    • Rattlesnake
    • Rocky mountain oysters
    • Sushi/sashimi
    • Stinky tofu
    • Vegemite
  • Long-term: Make a conscious effort to taste and savor my food

…but Stay Fit

<< Sculpt a balanced body and mind  >>

  • Complete a home fitness program
    • Summary: May 2015. Sixty Days on a Hero’s Journey.
      Home fitness role-playing routines are my best motivation to work out regularly. They’re a lot less expensive than a gym and allow me to keep up a foundation of strength that I can use out in the real world or at the occasional fitness class. Hero’s Journey by Darebee is simple and free and kept me busy for sixty days of bodyweight exercises, all depicted by drawings on PDFs.
  • Do a pull-up
  • Earn a belt in a martial art
  • Hold a handstand for 30 seconds
  • Hold my breath for over three minutes
  • Play on a co-ed sports team
    • Summary: 2013 – 2016.
      I joined a group of friends to create the Breaking Balls team in the Microsoft recreational softball league. I might not have been very good at the sport, but I was nevertheless a vital player. Due to the… unique nature of the software company, each team only requires one girl at every game. It’s a requirement that is sometimes not met by other teams, and oftentimes I was the only one to fulfill it.
  • Practice yoga every day for a year
  • Perfect my forward fold
  • Run a race
      • Summary: October 2013. I ran my first 5k through the Microsoft Give campaign in 28 minutes 52 seconds with zero training. I don’t think I’d ever run more than a mile before, but I set an ambitious goal to jog the entire thing without walking. Near the end, on the verge of collapsing, I took a couple steps before sprinting through the finish line. Happy to say that I have since been able to achieve this goal with ease, since, like most things, it just takes practice.
    Run an obstacle race
      • Summary: August 2014. The Zombie Run: Black Ops.
        This race had nothing to do with getting the best time. It was about surviving. There were some walls and rope climbs and crawls, but the main obstacles were the zombies shambling through the darkened forest, hungry for the lives that dangled from your belt.
  • Take a fitness class
    • Capoeira
    • Parkour
    • Pole Dancing
    • Self-defense
    • Trapeze
  • Long-term: Take an active role in my own health every day

Dream Big

<< Fantasies to achieve through lucid dreaming  >>

  • Attend Hogwarts
  • Be companion to the Doctor on an adventure
  • Bend the elements a la Avatar
  • Fly, fly, and fly some more
  • Have a lightsaber battle
  • Journey through space
  • Question dream characters
  • Ride a dragon
  • Shapeshift
  • Teleport
  • Time travel
  • Long-term: Keep a dream journal and explore my consciousness

Appreciate Art and Entertainment

<< Forms of media to delight the brain >>

  • Attend a music festival
    • Camping Festival
    • City Festival
    • Dance Festival
  • Attend a comic convention
  • Finish a video game
    • Summary: These are my favorite video games that I have finished or plan to finish. I prefer games that are pretty, cooperative, and/or and tell an emotional story.
    • Beat every video game in a Humble Bundle pack
    • Bastion
    • Braid
    • Brothers
    • Final Fantasy series (IV, V, VI)
    • Firewatch
    • Grim Fandango
    • Journey
    • The Last Guardian
    • The Legend of Zelda series (Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, Skyward Sword, Breath of the Wild)
    • Portal (1 & 2)
    • Psychonauts
    • Okami
    • Ori and the Blind Forest
    • Shadow of the Colossus
    • Talos Principle
    • Tetris
    • To the Moon
    • Transistor
  • Finish a TV series
    • Summary: These are my favorite TV shows that I have finished or plan to finish eventually, with the bolded ones being my absolute favorites.
    • Arrested Development
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Battlestar Galactica
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Chef’s Table
    • Coffee Prince
    • Community
    • Death Note
    • Firefly
    • Freaks and Geeks
    • Friends
    • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
    • Game of Thrones
    • Making a Murderer
    • Parks and Recreation
    • Planet Earth
    • Pushing Daisies
    • Sherlock
    • Stranger Things
  • Go to a ballet
  • Go to a cirque du soleil show
  • Go to the opera
  • Go to the symphony
  • Meet my favorite author
  • Play a tabletop game with friends
    • Cards Against Humanity
    • Fiasco
    • Settlers of Catan
    • Space Alert
    • T’zolkin
  • Read 1000+ books
    • Summary: 662/1000 as of June 2017. TheRovingReader on Goodreads.
    • Complete a “Top 100 Books” list
    • Complete a year-long reading challenge
    • Read a book in its original non-English language
    • Read every book by my favorite authors
      • Terry Pratchett
      • Brandon Sanderson
  • See a musical live on stage
    • Avenue Q
    • Beauty and the Beast
    • The Book of Mormon
    • Kinky Boots
    • The Lion King
    • Monty Python’s Spamalot
    • Once
    • Phantom of the Opera
    • Wicked
  • See my favorite artist in concert
    • Arcade Fire
    • Emancipator
    • John Williams
    • Jukebox the Ghost
    • Kishi Bashi
    • M83
    • Sigur Ros
    • Styx
    • Sufjan Stevens
    • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
    • Twenty One Pilots
  • Long-term goal: Enjoy and find inspiration in others’ creations

Practice Skills and Cultivate Creativity

<< Hobbies and artistic endeavors >>

  • Compose and record a song
  • Create a fitness program/game
  • Design my own cosplay
    • Summary: July 20, 2007.
      For the final Harry Potter book launch, my friend hosted a themed costume party before the midnight celebration at Borders. I transformed myself into a messenger owl with fabric wings and a messenger bag containing a fake quill and some aged paper. The anonymity of my feathered mask gave me the courage to flap over and deliver messages to complete strangers. During the official costume contest at the bookstore, my friend wrote out a message for me to deliver to the judges, which was so charming that I won. I received my copy of Deathly Hallows for free.
  • Keep a list of all my ideas
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Learn a computer programming language
  • Learn and perform a musical instrument
  • Learn photography
  • Record myself singing 100 songs
  • Write and publish a book
  • Write a short story in an hour

Embrace the Unexpected

<< Unplanned opportunities that made me think “I can’t believe I just did that!” >>

  • Attend a porn film festival
    • Summary: November 18, 2015. Watching Porn in Public.
      Dan Savage’s HUMP! film festival showcases a wide variety of pornography, from the dark to the hilarious. It’s “art”, but that doesn’t completely remove the weirdness of watching porn with your friend and a hundred other people.
  • Be a balloon handler in a parade
    • Summary: December 2010.
      It was just another one of those volunteer events offered by one of the college clubs I was in. They needed people for the Oakland Holiday Parade, and I was seeking some stress relief from final projects. I had no idea that my job would be steering a giant inflatable Paddington Bear through the streets. Between holding the tether in one arm and waving with the other, it was a great upper body workout, but the biggest stress relief was jumping on Paddington Bear at the end to deflate him.
  • Be humiliated on the Jumbotron at a sports game
    • Summary: May 30, 2001.
      It was my eleventh birthday, though I don’t think the man knew that when he selected me to do one of those between-inning contests during the baseball game. He also didn’t know how horribly clumsy and shy I am, which is not a good combination when you’re expected to race backward between second and third base in front of a stadium full of people. I tripped and fell, landing heavily on the same wrist I’d broken twice before. The best thing I can say for myself is that I did get back up and continue running, only to go sprawling on my butt again. (Cue second “Ohhhh!” from the crowd.) I walked off the field in tears.
  • Fly first class on an international flight
    • Summary: April 11, 2015.
      On my flights to Hong Kong for work, I flew in Delta’s business class with a bed that lies completely flat.
      I had no idea a 14-hour flight could actually be enjoyable, but when you get a full night’s sleep after eating way too much gourmet food, it goes by pretty quickly.
  • Have my picture in a major newspaper
    • Summary: 2014.
      When I was 14, I started a photography business to highlight local nature even though I knew nothing about photography (as you can probably tell by looking at this website). Nevertheless, adults like enterprising children and so The Sacramento Bee ran a tiny feature about me, complete with an awkward teenager headshot.
  • Help out on a factory floor in China
    • Summary: April 2014. Inside a Chinese Factory.
      Working on a consumer electronics product led me to see a side of life that I’d only heard tell of through news articles. It was an eye-opening lesson on how today’s products get made.
  • Ride the ferry dressed as a french maid
    • Summary: August 3, 2014. Elopus, French Maids, and GISHWHES.
      It was an item in the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, to set the world record for Largest Gathering of People Dressed as French Maids. That should clear things up a lot. Also, I was wearing a “still life” hat with a bunch of fake produce on it.
  • “Ring” the opening bell at Nasdaq
    • Summary: January 2, 2015. Ringing in the New Year at Nasdaq.
      I’m still not sure how it happened, but one month I got a work email inviting me to ring the opening bell at Nasdaq. Next thing I knew, I was actually standing on a sound stage in Times Square on the first market day of the year, watching a bunch of screens showing me clapping enthusiastically on all the major news stations.
  • Walk with snow leopards in the snow
    • Summary: November 29, 2014. Walking With Snow Leopards.
      For a brief time, an animal sanctuary in Oregon offered the opportunity for a few outsiders to help socialize a pair of snow leopard cubs. It began to snow during our stroll through the forest, making the snow leopards frisky. A young lynx, binturong, and fishing cat joined in the fun, but kept a safe distance from the budding apex predators. All were part of captive breeding programs in an attempt to preserve their species.
  • Watch a horror movie underground in an abandoned train tunnel at midnight
    • Summary: October 30, 2014. This Is Halloween.
      The movie was The Descent and the location was the 2.3 mile long Snoqualmie Tunnel. Also, it was the night before they close the tunnel for the winter, so we had the extra fear of being locked inside. The most incredible part is that I got three other people to go along with this idea.

Enjoy the Simple Things

<< Everyday adventures >>

  • Bathe in Jubes
  • Be comfortable doing things alone
    • Concert
    • Movie theater
    • Restaurant
    • International travel
  • Build a snowman
  • Climb a tree
  • Complete a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle
  • Fall in love with a pet
  • Fire a gun
  • Fly a kite off a mountain
  • Frolic in a storm
  • Get a henna tattoo
  • Get my fortune told
  • Go geocaching
    • Find 1000 geocaches
  • Go ice skating
  • Go LARPing
  • Go paintballing
  • Go to a midnight movie release
  • Go to a Renaissance Faire
  • Go to a sports game where you don’t know the rules
  • Go skinny dipping in the ocean
  • Have an international pen-pal
  • Hire a musician to follow you around and play a soundtrack of your life
  • Join a drum circle
  • Jump off a swing
  • Keep an inventory of all my possessions
    • Summary: September 2016.
      I created an inventory in the process of selling the majority of my possessions. I photographed everything and entered the items into the Sortly web/iPhone app. It allowed me to virtually sort my “Keep, Sell, Donate” piles. Now, I have photographs to remember all the things I no longer have and I also have to consider buying new things more carefully, since it will mean entering it into the inventory.
  • Make the only footsteps on a beach
    • Summary: May 30, 2011.
      It was my twenty-first birthday, and I paddled alone in a kayak just offshore from the Daintree Rainforest Wilderness in Australia. As I headed north, I couldn’t resist an untouched sliver of sand. I surfed the kayak in, beached it, and strolled along the beach.  Mission accomplished!
  • Play holi
  • Play laser tag
  • Ride a mechanical bull
  • Participate in a spontaneous running-jump high-five
  • Send a message in a bottle
  • Sing a solo in a karaoke bar
    • Summary: September 3, 2014.
      The local dive bar Palmer’s serves up karaoke every night. During my first song, “Somebody to Love”, I shook with nerves. I thought I knew the song, but without Freddie Mercury’s help, I barely stumbled through. But it gets easier once you’ve done it once and realize nobody’s going to boo you off the stage. My courage peaked when I made the discovery that they had “Itsy Bitsy Spider” on the song menu. The host rolled his eyes but let me sing it, and half the drunken mob performed the hand movements with me.
  • Slay a dragon in Dungeons & Dragons
    • Summary: 2010.
      My little brother is a DM, so it wasn’t too hard to get a dragon thrown into the middle of the campaign. I don’t have anything recordings from that day, but many years later I did come across a written summary of a different session. I’m sure our fight with the dragon was pretty similar, meaning bloodthirsty and mildly NSFW.
  • Sleep in a treehouse
  • Sleep in a yurt
    • Summary: October 2016.
      When I imagined sleeping in a yurt, I did not imagine it would contain a TV, couch, microwave, and giant stuffed bear, but the Caribou Yurt in Pocatello contained all that and more. The fabric walls magnified the sound of wind and rain, and we had to open the windows after accidentally putting too much wood in the stove. We lay awake all night, wide-eyed over the contrast between our indoor comforts and the fury of the storm outside.
  • Sleep out in the open under the stars
    • Summary: July 4, 2015. The Pee Guzzling Goats of Robin Lakes.
      It was a beautiful evening to roll our sleeping mats under a meteor-streaked sky. The only problem is that the area was overrun by mountain goats, who got curious and invaded our unprotected camp. At least they weren’t bears!  As long as the weather is good and you have appropriate bug spray, sleeping without a shelter is a surprisingly pleasant way to spend the night.
  • Soak in a natural hot spring
  • Solve a Rubik’s cube
  • Spend the entire summer solstice outdoors, from sunrise to sunset
  • Spend the night in a hammock
    • Summary: June 2014.
      If I don’t have someone to share a tent with, I am a huge fan of hammock camping. It all started when I was sleeping tentless on the ground after a rafting trip, and a friend pointed out that he wasn’t using his hammock. I had a great night’s sleep and went out and bought my own ENO Doublenest the next day. I love the gentle swaying and feeling like a little cocoon and how every time I open my eyes I see trees overhead. For sleeping purposes, I recommend getting a double hammock and lying diagonally across it. Use a pad or underquilt for insulation, otherwise your butt can get pretty cold.
  • Start a dance party in a public space
  • Wander all night and watch the sun rise
  • Watch a meteor shower
    • Summary: August 2012.
      Research the peak hours of a meteor shower (I prefer the Perseids). Go far from the city lights and lie down in a clearing. Count the meteors as they streak overhead. Exclaim at the brightest ones. Watch until you lose count. Go home sleepy and satisfied by nature’s show.
  • Work in a haunted house (and survive the pummelings)
    • Summary: October 2007.
      I love going to haunted houses, whether that “house” be a mile-long walk through a forest or an abandoned boys’ corrective facility. Working in haunted houses is even more fun. During my first year, I learned that when some people are scared they instinctively lash out with the lightsaber or pillowcase full of candy in their hand. Pro tip: Position yourself so that you can find cover, such as in a prison cell or behind a wall.
  • Long-term: Let my inner child out to play and never go a day without laughter

… but don’t lose sight of the Big Picture

<< The big milestones >>

  • Graduate high school
    • Summary: May 30, 2008.
      I graduated from Folsom High School on my eighteenth birthday, which was like being punched in the face by someone screaming “WELCOME TO ADULTHOOD!”  The blow softened when I won $500 in the raffle at my sober grad night.  I don’t know whether this was due to birthday luck or a scheming parent, but it gave me the impression that being an adult means people throw free money at you.
  • Get a college degree
    • Summary: December 2011. Reflecting on College.
      I graduated early with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) from the University of California Berkeley.  This was significantly harder than my earlier education, and like many other students in my major I had problems with stress management and mental health, but my degree has turned out to be a valuable piece of paper.
  • Start a fulfilling career
    • Summary: October 30, 2014. This Is What I Work On.
      The launch of our first product was that day I felt like I’d finally “made it”. I’d contributed to something that was now out in the real world! During the four years of my first job at Microsoft, I unwittingly climbed the ranks from entry-level programmer to Senior Software Developer.
  • Love and be loved in return
    • Summary: Continuing.
      I was the painfully shy little girl who didn’t “get” romance in books and never cried at movies and thought no one would ever ever love me. Now I’m a still-shy young adult who loves fiercely and cries at the drop of a hat. That’s the power of falling in love and going through heartbreak and all the related experiences that help you empathize with everyone else.
  • Learn to love myself
  • Start a family
  • Become financially independent
  • Long-term: Live life to the fullest