We just got back from our summer travels, and it’s been amazing. I haven’t been posting lately, because I was working on writing a post on school reflections, but I revised it so many times I forgot about publishing it… And that was all I was writing about. Anyways, why talk about school now, when I can talk about all our travels?
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been in many states, including Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, (Regular) Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas. It’s been a rush, and we’ve packed so much into the time since we left Breck that I’m having trouble remembering everything that we’ve done.
After school ended (I passed all my final exams with almost straight 4’s, ending up with a cumulative GPA of 4.15, with a 4.14 from first semester, and a 4.16 from second semester), we stayed another week in Breck to pack up and get ready for our summer travels. In an unexpected move, we decided to go snowboarding for one last day (in JUNE!) on the hill, so we unpacked all our snowboarding gear (I had packed up and taken apart all our boards), and went out to Arapahoe Basin to snowboard. After a fun day of shredding in the spring slush (and a bit of rain), we headed home and repacked all of our snowboarding gear.
Not much happened between then and when we left, but we did go and visit our friends the Burdick’s (who we know from Team Summit) for a day after Isaac’s final lacrosse tournament. We had a ton of fun with our friend JR, and took his longboards out on the streets and bombed down the streets around his neighborhood.
Well, that was one of the last days before we took off, and when we took off, we were gone. We drove fifteen hours spread over two days on our way down to Austin, TX to see our friends, passing through New Mexico and spending a night in Amarillo. After getting to Austin, we met up with some of our friends at Dick Nichols Park, and then I proceeded to go and hang out with my friend Sage for the rest of the night.
The next day, we went to a trampoline park with all of our friends from Austin, and basically jumped around for a while, before going out to eat with all of them and returning to our old neighborhood for a few minutes before our departure to Dallas.
We stayed at our grandparent’s house in Dallas for a few days, seeing our cousins again for the first time in a while, and, on our last day in Dallas, went to watch Cars 3 on opening night.
One of my favorite parts of our trip was our stay with our best friends the Halls in Flint, TX, and I had a ton of fun with my friend Noah, building a wooden pinball machine and jumping into their pond at midnight. We stayed for two nights, then left to see our other grandparents in Louisiana.
After we left Louisiana, our trip really began. We decided to change our Florida plans and go to Nashville, TN instead to see our relatives and surprise our cousin Oz for his birthday. It was great being back in Nashville again, and it was awesome to see our cousins after not having seen them for a while. We traveled through Kentucky to Virginia after that, and stayed with a lot of our parent’s college friends, who were all hospitable and fun to be around. Isaac even did a Nike Lacrosse camp in Roanoke, VA!
We made a decision to stay in Washington, DC for a while, and it is definitely one of my favorite cities. All the museums, works of art, and government buildings are so close together, it’s easy to just walk, run, or bike around anywhere! We saw some amazing places and things around the city, such as the Declaration of Independence, the Lincoln Memorial, and even got to watch the 4th of July fireworks over the Washington Monument. On the 4th of July, we rented bikes and rode down the streets of DC (the streets being closed for Independence Day), and then watched the fireworks from the Mall.
After DC, we headed to Chicago, IL, but not before passing through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. We saw a couple of friends in Pittsburgh, and played chess in a city square. Once we got to Chicago, we only stayed two days, but in that time, we walked alongside the river, biked around the city, visited the huge LEGO and Nike stores, and did the typical tourist thing, going to see Cloud Gate/The Bean.
After our short time in Chicago, we left to Champaign, IL for a Nike Tennis Camp. The camp was a week long, and we got in a lot of match play against many different players. It was a fun diversion from our trip, and awesome to just play tennis all day. When we left Champaign after the tennis camp, I realized that our trip was coming to an end. We passed through Kansas City, MO, and Mom and Dad went to see Steve Martin do a comedy show.
From there, we drove through Kansas, where we drove through a huge storm and saw some tornado-looking clouds (luckily, tornadoes didn’t touch down in the part where we were).
And now we’re back in Summit County, where we’re enjoying a month of fun before school starts. I’ve been running every day to prep for Cross Country season, so hopefully I’ll be ready by the time that starts. I’ve been procrastinating publishing this blog post for so long (exactly one month to the day), but it’s finally done! So, thanks for reading!
Though many people may disagree, I considered 2016 to be a good year. It had its ups and downs, and I really got to reflect on that over this winter break. Spinning 360’s off of 50-foot jumps, speeding down a snow-covered mountain on a board at speeds topping the speed limit in most areas, and studying all day long with endless mountains of homework can really make a person forget about the best moments of the past, and in this post I wanted to relieve those moments.
2016 started with a bang. Full on in snowboard season, we were blasting jumps and racing boardercross with the intention of qualifying for nationals. So many things happened, and I’m going to just list the biggest events and things that happened to me in 2016, trying my best to keep chronological order from the beginning of the year till now.
Debate – Joining the speech and debate team at Summit Middle School in January 2016 was a very interesting experience. I got the chance to experience firsthand how debate works, arguing back and forth on points from a topic chosen by a speech and debate association. I had some good debating and especially speaking skills, but I just wasn’t into the whole “arguing over something I don’t care about” thing. It was a generally positive experience, to sum it all up in an extremely generalized statement. My debate partner was good, so that definitely contributed to the experience, and the fact that it was something new really helped me to want to try more things in the future.
First competitions – I started my competition season in late January, competing against some of the toughest competition in the US at Ski Cooper. The course was sketchy and poorly made, but racing is racing, and that’s all that matters to me. My love for the event was spurred by these first events, and my desire to place higher kept growing. My ranking, however, didn’t follow suit. Taking second to last in almost all four comps, I realized that my chance at qualifying for nationals was slim. I decided to take a trip to Crested Butte in the neighboring Southwest Colorado Series in order to place higher in contest, giving me more points to qualify. Unfortunately, I didn’t count on competitors from our Rocky Mountain Series to also have the same idea. I ended up placing decently, and on the last day, barely missing the top 2 spots to qualify for the finals, I raced what was probably the best race of my life (so far…) in the consolation final (to determine 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th), and aggressively passed all the competitors to take the win and rank 5th that day. As a result of my placing, I qualified for the 2016 USASA National Championships, placing 94th in the country to get an invite.
National Championships – Seeing my name pop up on the list as qualified for the National Championships just made my day, week, month and year. I knew that when I qualified, our time, effort and money weren’t for nothing. I mean, how cool is it to tell someone that you competed for the title of National Champion, even if you didn’t place that well? Nationals was a crazy fun time, and I ended up placing 42nd out of 74, which was decent for my first time. Watching the nation’s best amateur competitors duel it out in 6 events, each competing for the top spot, was just amazing. I enjoyed the entire experience, and I hope to qualify again this year. It’s only 3 months away…
Track – I almost forgot to include my experience participating in my favorite sport! Last spring, I ran track for Summit Middle School in what was my second season doing track and field, and it went pretty well. I made some new friends, including my friend Calvin, who basically dominated track and field the whole season. I broke my PR in the 100m dash by nearly a second, running 12.46 at the championship meet at the end of the season, which was great. The season started off with a few mini-meets, where there were only a couple events and was a great intro to the real season. My first “real” meet, I ran the 200m, High Jump, Discus and 4×100. I placed second in the 200m, narrowly getting beat out in the last 40 meters. High Jump went well, placing second once again, and clearing 4’10”, which I thought to be a good start to the season. I’d never tried discus before, and ended up only throwing 75′, which was pretty mediocre seeing as I threw over 90′ in practice, taking 5th place. In the 4×100, I believe we took second or third, but I’m not sure… (it was a while ago!). The rest of the season went relatively well, with me placing top 5 in every meet.
At the end of the season, I decided to run the 100m dash, the 200m dash, the 4×100 and the High Jump. Actually, let’s not talk about high jump. I basically fell victim to pressure after tripping at the 100m finish line before the event started and hurting my leg, and couldn’t overcome the pain, much to my disappointment and embarrassment, and only cleared 4’6″. I gave it my all in the 100m and 200m, and qualified for finals, running a 12.8 in the 100m qualifiers and a 26.4 in the 200m qualifiers, qualifying 5th in the 100m and 6th in the 200m (Top 8 times qualified). On the second day of the meet, I ran 12.46 in the 100m dash to take 6th out of 8, which was disappointing but still good for me considering I ran my fastest time ever, and 26.9 in the 200m to take 5th out of 8. Overall, the season went well, and I can’t wait till this season so I can see how I place ranked up against other high schoolers. Here’s a video of me clearing 4’10” at my first meet of the season:
Summer Travels – Travelling around the country again this past summer just felt…. relieving. It was an action-packed, fun-filled, and exciting experience, seeing many new places and revisiting old ones. Starting off in Ouray, CO, we hiked to many places, saw endless beautiful waterfalls and played tons of frisbee in the park. Traveling to Sedona, AZ, we ran, hiked, and drove our way around Petrified Forest National Park, seeing the deep valleys and amazing sunsets. After arriving in Sedona, although I didn’t initially realize it, life somehow seemed to become two times better than before. It just kept getting better and better. First, we arrived at a house that I wouldn’t mind living in for a while, with an amazing location, tons of space, and most importantly, my own room. The day after, we entered a Nike Tennis Camp at Enchantment Resort, where we greatly improved our tennis game thanks to our amazing coaches. Even after the tennis camp had ended, we continued to play every night at lighted outdoor tennis courts near our house. Then, in what possibly was my luckiest find of the summer, I discovered a high school with an open high jump pit. I probably went there 3 times a week, repeatedly jumping over the bar until at last I injured my leg (Still not sure what I did, but I could barely walk for a few days and the pain stayed for another few months), but not before I cleared a new PR of 5’2″ (twice!).
While visiting Sedona, we took a trip to the YoYoFactory Headquarters, and met the co-owner and various employees of the company. It was insane how many YoYos there were at the HQ. Everywhere we looked, there were YoYos. On the floor, all over the building, hung up on walls, placed in glass cases, and sitting on desks. It was an overall unique experience, and I was glad to meet everyone.
After leaving Sedona, we travelled to Las Vegas, where we gambled took Dad out for a birthday dinner and saw many artificially created wonders of the city. To sum it all up, we created a video slideshow of all our travels over the summer, and you can see it below.
The Narrows – After leaving Vegas, we weren’t done yet. Before we returned to Colorado, we had one last big adventure, and that was trekking 10 miles in the water through The Narrows in Zion National Park. This was a big hike, and I don’t think I’ll ever do another one like it. Rather than narrate our entire hike, I put together a video a while ago from the footage I took on my GoPro while hiking. You can view it on our Freejourners YouTube Channel, or through this link.
Returning to Colorado – Finished with our summer adventures, we headed back to Summit County, CO, where we moved from house to house while we waited for our main house that we’re currently living in to be ready. Isaac and I would go down the street to YoYoLoco to perform and work, teaching kids how to YoYo and getting friends into it. As I still worked for LaTiendaDelYoYo at that time, I would translate some stuff for them and in return periodically receive $300 in YoYos every month. I got some pretty cool YoYos, but nothing can last forever, and last month I stopped working for them. It was an amazing job, getting all those YoYos from Spain, learning more Spanish, and all for only a few hours of work per week. Continuing on our exercise spree that really kicked off this summer, I ran three times a week with Mom and Dad, running on various trails around the area, and around the town of Breckenridge. Below is a video of Isaac performing outside YoYoLoco in September, which gathered quite a crowd of people.
Entering School – Back in Sedona, I had a talk with my parents about my education, and the result was that I agreed to attend Summit High School back in Breckenridge, so I could experience not just high school, but public school in general, and agreed that it would be the best strategical move for my education, at least for this school year. When we returned to Summit County, after break had ended, my life completely changed, at least comparatively to the past 3 years. The first few days were a bit of a struggle, with me waking up at times that I’d never woken up at in my life, at least not consistently. I pushed myself through the first quarter of the school year with decent grades and (hopefully) a good reputation. The first semester just came to a close, and the final days before, well, finals, were a bit… hectic. I stayed up past midnight on multiple occasions, studying for a single class, and then not studying at all for another. I just received my grades back, and I discovered I finished the semester with 5 4.0’s (equivalent to an A+ in letter grades) and 2 3.5’s (equivalent to a A/A- in letter grades), and since my AP Computer Science class is weighted, and all 3.5’s round to 4’s, I finished with a GPA above a 4.0.
Making the soccer team – In an unexpected plot twist occurring in my life, I made the decision to try out for the school soccer team, and made the team with only a single hour of practice before tryouts. I hadn’t played since fall 2015 (in Nashville), and I hadn’t played competitively since fall 2014 (in Austin). You could say I was a bit rusty. When I finished the fall 2014 season, I honestly thought that would be where my soccer life ended, having played around 8 years of soccer. Nashville was kind of a bonus thing for me, where I was the only decently good player on the team (well, there were two others, but they were injured and for most of the season seemed to only play at 60% of their potential) and scored 6 goals a game. So, you can imagine, making a high school JV soccer team with having not progressed my skills in two years was a bit of a surprise to me. The season started out slow, with me only getting a few minutes of playing time per game, but sped up in the sense that I got more playing time later in the season, and I ended up playing around 90% of the game for the last few games. I never scored, but if I decide to try out again next year, I plan on changing that.
Snowboarding Season – Getting back on the mountain was a pleasant experience, and it helped take my mind off school for at least a few hours per day and relax (well, as relaxed as you can be while spinning off 30+ foot jumps and speeding down the mountain at speeds topping local speed limits). Uncle Mike and Grandma and Grandpa Cortez came into town to see us and that added some excitement to my stereotypical days at school. I enjoyed seeing Uncle Mike and shredding the slopes with him once again, and it’s always an amazing time when Grandma and Grandpa are here. On the mountain, I’ve already progressed so much, further supporting my belief that this year is my “big year” where I can finally take off in competition, place high in races, and take my tricks to bigger rotations and off bigger jumps.
Finishing off the year with a bang, Isaac and Jadyn competed in the New Years Eve rail jam, which was basically a big party. Loud music, fireworks, food and friends all came together to create a truly memorable experience.
Overall (I need a replacement word for this…. I use it way too much), 2016 was a memorable year (well, every year is memorable to me in some way, as I’ve only had 15 of them…), with many new experiences, traveling to new places, acquiring new skills, and many fun-filled days. I’ll look back on 2016 and see a year filled with growth, learning, fun, and traveling. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for always being the adventurous parents you are and exposing us to so many unique places. I really appreciate it.
That’s right, it’s only four more days of being 14 for me, and then I’ll officially be 15 (and able to get my learners permit too…). Unfortunately, my birthday falls on a Monday this year, and since I’m not homeschooled anymore… That means I’ll have to escape from school celebrate either late at night, on a different day, or even better, both!
It’s crazy to think that one year ago, I was in Nashville, TN, high jumping with not a care in the world (well, mostly). I really have to say, those months that we were in Nashville were amazing. Playing tennis almost every day, getting to high jump and get coached on it twice a week, scoring a ton playing on a rec soccer team, and most importantly, celebrating my birthday on my birthday, having gotten ahead in schoolwork previously.
Well, snowboarding starts soon, since Arapahoe Basin is scheduled to open in the next few weeks, so hopefully I’ll be able to get out there and shred some. Soccer’s been going well, and our last game I finally felt like I played great, even though we lost 3-1. My next game is today, followed by one on Saturday. Without going into too much detail, school’s been going fine. Grades in a few of my classes have gone down, while a few have gone up.
Steering away from that topic, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 favorite places we traveled to or stayed in the past year – Nashville, Sedona, Atlanta, Austin, Keystone, Vegas, New Orleans, Ouray
Sedona, AZ – June/July 2016 – Definitely at the top of the list. Although the temperature was sweltering hot, I had access to a high school track with a high jump pit, got to play tennis every day we were there, hiked to some pretty incredible places, and went to YoYoFactory. To top it all off, we got to participate in a 5-day Nike Tennis Camp, which I consider to be one of the most fun weeks of my life this past year.
Austin, TX – November 2015, May 2016 – For me, going back to Austin is always an enjoyable experience (unless it’s in the dead of summer and it’s over 110 degrees). Staying for a few weeks last November definitely was a great decision, since we got to see all our friends down south once again. In May, we took a plane down to Austin, and even though it was only for a few days, I packed lots of memories into them. There’s something about Austin that just makes me want to always keep revisiting.
Nashville, TN – August-November2016 – Staying in Nashville was awesome, for a few reasons. We got to see our relatives, play tennis a TON, and most importantly (for me), I got a high jump coach, and got to high jump around two to three times a week! Celebrating my birthday here was fun, because I had a lot of family there, as my aunts and uncles that weren’t already there flew in from Texas. I had the crazy opportunity to attend a few weeks of a philosophy college course taught by my parent’s good friend, who is a professor at Belmont. I’d say I learned a substantial amount, and I still think about Descartes, Plato, and all the other philosophers and their ideas today.
Atlanta, GA – November 2015 – We only stayed in Atlanta for a few days, but it honestly seemed like longer. We got to do and see many things, once even hitting the Georgia Aquarium, the Coca-Cola Museum, and the CNN Center all in one day. I have a lot of memories here, and I hope to return in the future.
New Orleans, LA – November 2015 – On our way back to Austin last year, we passed through New Orleans. I got the chance to try my first beignet, not to mention a variety of amazing foods. We were only here for a few days, but it was an experience I want to repeat in the future.
Keystone, CO – December 2015-June 2016 – We’ve been to and stayed in Keystone so many times it’s hard not to include it on this list. I have so many memories snowboarding on the mountain here, running snow-covered paths in the winter, and exploring the surrounding county. Although we’re not staying there this year, I know we’ll visit a lot this winter season.
Ouray, CO – June 2016 – Staying here earlier this summer to kick off our summer travels was amazing. The views were amazing, the hikes were amazing, and the town was amazing. Almost every day we’d visit the park, whether it was to play Frisbee, go swimming in the hot spring pool, hang out in our hammocks, or offstring YoYo in the grass.
Flint, TX – May 2016 – Earlier this year, after staying in Austin for around a week, we got the (rare) opportunity to see our best friends, the Halls, at their home in Flint. Just like every other time we see them, we packed a ton into just a few days, and had a crazy fun time. We played tennis, ultimate Frisbee, went for a run in the Texas heat, played some YoYo, and least importantly of all, played some Minecraft 😛
Park City, UT – March 2016 – During the spring season, we took a trip out to Park City, UT with our friends the Burdiks. Although the snow wasn’t great, we had a great time shredding up the mountain with our boards, and in my case, my snowskate. Our friends had just gotten snowskates, and there was a snowboard run all the way down to the parking lot, so we decided to race some snowskatecross (it’s a thing). Naturally, I won. Most of the time. Well, the only time I would lose was when I gave them over a 20 second head start. Anyways, it was a great trip, and I definitely want to return.
Las Vegas, NV – July 2016 – After leaving Sedona, we took a trip out to Las Vegas, Nevada, and before I start summarizing our time there, let me just say it was hot. Very, very hot. And that probably affected my experience there. Well, that and all the smoke coming from various casinos. We stayed at an awesome hotel, and every day we’d go out and explore the city. At night, the city was so bright and colorful it was a bit disorienting. We explored all over, walking all over downtown and on the Strip. I even went for a run in 115 degree weather (wrong idea), and that was… a unique experience. Dad celebrated his birthday here, and we went out for an awesome dinner at Therapy.
So those are my top ten favorite places I’ve been to in the last year! If I have time, I’ll try to write another blog post tomorrow or on the weekend, and I’ll hopefully include some pictures.
Well, school is right around the corner, and it certainly feels like it, with orientation, tryouts, a final track meet, and the constant personal reminder that I’ll be waking up super early, and getting to sleep late after soccer. But there’s always the thought of winter, and more importantly, snowboarding. Let’s see, back to the past now. What have I done recently? Well, continuing from where the last post left off, I did get to go to the Boulder Road Runners Summer Track Meet with my friend Calvin, and although I was too late to run the 100m, and it started raining, I had a great time.
I jumped 5’2 in the High Jump, as you can see above, and jumped 17’6″ in the Long Jump, a new PR. Unfortunately, I got put in lane 1 in the 200, and ran the worst race of my life (28 seconds, compared to 26.6 (still mediocre) from earlier this year). Discus was pretty difficult, mostly because it was raining, my discus was slippery, and the discus ring (is that what you call it?) was partially filled with water.
I did get to read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which I finished in about 3 hours. On my mom’s birthday, we went to Denver and had a great time, as it was raining and we couldn’t hike a fourteener on the day of her birthday.
YoYo Night was extremely fun to go to again, Isaac performed again (inside this time, because of rain), and we had some friends show up. Here’s a few short clips from that edited together by me, and published on Isaac’s YouTube Channel.
We didn’t really do much for the next week, so I’ll skip over that. The next notable event to take place in our life was backpacking up to Wheeler Lakes up near Copper Mountain with some friends, and staying overnight. It was a great time, although we didn’t get to see the meteor shower, and it was pretty cold during the night.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Actually I didn’t, I just wanted to start the paragraph like that. But anyways… I made the Summit High School Junior Varsity soccer team! Tryouts wore me out, especially with my knee hurting a ton (from not using the right muscles, according to Axis Sport Medicine), but I got through all three days of it, and made it on the team. I wish I had a picture of that, but they don’t want any parents watching the practices, period. The best I have is this:
Now that I’m on the team, it’s not an easy ride the whole season. I have practice every day, and a game every Tuesday and Thursday, plus a few on Saturdays. My first game is a scrimmage on Saturday against Eagle Valley near Vail. This team seems solid, and my hope is that I can do my part and score some goals.
Yesterday I got to meet my school counselor, Ms Finley, who not only read my blog, but noticed that I mentioned that I was not particularly excited to be attending school. Not that my position on that has changed, but with the addition of soccer I have something to look forward too in the fall (and also something to somewhat dread, as I notice myself constantly thinking about the suicides I’ll have to run…). Well, Ms Finley helped me sort out which classes to take, and for that I’m grateful. Today I went to orientation, which was a bit pointless as Ms Finley had already summed up pretty much what they told me today…. 😛 On the bright side, I got to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a while, and that was cool to say hi and tell them that I’m going to school.
That about sums up everything that’s happened since last post, and since I want to finish Algebra II soon, I’ll be getting back to that.