Hi, my name is Jeff. I am sure Kelli has mentioned me in her blog but I thought I’d start by introducing myself and telling you a little bit about who I am.
I have been lucky my whole life. I mean I did meet and marry Kelli so I suppose that alone settles it. I didn’t have a life plan after graduating high school but since I was pretty mechanically inclined, I decided to join the US Air Force and work on planes in the 80’s. I was a maintenance crew chief first assigned to a search and rescue group in California and then later reassigned to Special Operations in Florida. By the time my 4 year enlistment was finished I was ready to get on with my life and barely missed being deployed to Kuwait by a couple of months with the rest of my squadron.
After my Air Force years, I developed an interest in computers that would define my career for the next 30 years. I was lucky enough to get started right at the beginning of when computers were becoming widely adopted by businesses. I was in the right place (Redmond, WA) at the right time (1990’s). For whatever reason computers just made sense to me and I quickly moved away from mechanical things in favor of the digital world. I have been a professional software engineer for 27 years.
I was lucky that my stepfather was involved with a Boeing recreational group that did white water rafting every weekend. He taught me how to read a river and navigate rapids. Being able to anticipate where the flow was leading you and preparing for the unexpected were skills that would prove to be useful even off the river. I spent a couple of summers as a river guide, eventually transitioning to kayaking. I love kayaking. The river is always different on each descent and you can choose to play as hard as you want or to take it easy depending on how your day is going.
In the late 90’s and early 00’s I became interested in Jeeps. It appealed to me on a couple of levels. There is so much more to navigating a trail than just driving. 4×4 trails are a lot like rivers. With careful planning and forethought, making the difficult route seem effortless became my style. My long dormant mechanical interests were reawakened too. I learned how to weld and use metal forming machines. I’m pretty sure Kelli wasn’t thrilled when my machines took over the garage and she had to park in the driveway but I was having fun making parts for my Jeep. Just think of all the money I was saving by making and repairing parts on my own!
In 2014 I watched Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor ride their motorcycles around the world and was inspired to give riding a shot. I had not ridden motorcycles since my Air Force years but that did not stop me from signing up for a riding class in the middle of a Seattle winter. Newly licensed I bought a mid-size bike and started commuting to work everyday regardless of the weather.
Nine months later it was time to trade up and start planning a ride to Alaska. I bought a BMW R1200 GSA, just like Charley and Ewan had, and rode solo to Fairbanks, Alaska. It was a big adventure especially since it was my first multi-day trip on a motorcycle. I saw so many bears. Kelli flew up to meet me and we rode 2-up to the Arctic Circle. I will write more about it someday.
I kept riding for another year. In 2015 I rode the Desert 100 in eastern Washington. I competed in the Old Timers (50+) class. The race is an endurance test and I finished just 2nd to last. Quite an accomplishment considering that about 2/3 of the participants do not finish at all.
Later that year I had an accident that landed me in the ICU for a week. Once again, I felt pretty lucky. This time it was Kelli that forced me to go to the hospital where the doctors discovered the internal bleeding just in time. That incident slowed me down a bit and I sold the dirt bikes once I was well enough. I walked with a cane for a few months but I’m doing pretty good now.
In 2017 after Kelli walked the Camino de Santiago I suggested that we look into the possibility of moving to Spain. She had such a great time walking and I was ready for another big adventure.
I have been very fortunate to have traveled all over the world. I hope this gives you an idea of who I am and what I’m about. I’ll write about some of my adventures in the coming months in addition to sharing our house hunting experience.