A Mini Haute Route – Day One

Eric invited us to join him on a Mini Haute Route (or High Route) in Switzerland. The full route takes you from Chamonix to Zermatt. Eric planned a three-day route from Lake Mauvoison to Cabin de Chanrion on day one, day two we hike to d’Otemma Glacier and up to Cabin de Vignettes, and on day three we summit Pigne d’Arolla and then descend to the village of Arolla. Brent and I had never been mountaineering before and this trip required crampons, icepicks, and harnesses.

We were excited to depart Verbier for the trip…Eric is more confident than Brent and I. We set out on foot to the cable car to descend into the village below Verbier where we would meet our guide Paul and begin the drive to the lake.

Brent and I had been to this lake before when we visited Laura and Eric for their wedding six years ago. It’s the same place Laura twisted her ankle and had to be carried out by a friends. We hoped for a safer journey today.

And from above…

The photos are all courtesy of Eric who’s a fantastic photographer. We wondered through meadows like this on our hike. The first day was warm and sunny – it’s incredibly beautiful.

We met some friendly cows on our way and stopped for a picnic lunch along the way.

You can see the waterfalls that surrounded us as we traveled. They’re all from the melting glaciers high above.

We passed several small lakes along the way and crossed through several scree fields.

The first day was essentially all uphill as we ascended in altitude.

The scale isn’t clear in the photos. The landscape is vast and the scenery is breathtaking.

The first day’s hike was about 5 hours. Below is a photo of the hut we stayed in called Cabin de Chanrion. There are 100’s of huts throughout the Alps. The huts we stayed in are all owned by the Swiss Alpine Club and are staffed but the hut guardian’s who’s job is to maintain, clean, and cook for alpinists.

After arriving at the hut, above, we decided to head off to explore the surrounding lakes and vistas.

Brent found a quiet spot for a good think…

As the clouds rolled in we headed back to the hut for games, dinner, and sleep. Tomorrow were heading up a glacier.

Off to the land of mountains, lakes, and cheese

Not a bad view from our room. We began our trip In the little town of Vitznau on Lake Lucerne. Brent found the Park Hotel and it’s truly an incredible place to stay.

We spent time on the lake paddle boarding and swimming. Enjoying the sun and relaxing after hiking in the alps.

We had to make a quick detour to Lucerne to visit an eye doctor. Turns out my eye is fine just needed a little TLC. On the way back we discovered the oldest covered footbridge in Switzerland.

I’m smiling after learning my eye is okay. It’s not clear in the photo but one eyelid was very red and swollen.

Tomorrow we depart the Park Hotel for Verbier and time with Laura, Eric, and Jo. While we will be sad to leave this remarkable establishment we are looking forward to seeing friends!

Beaches, Sailing, and Trekking

We hiked to remote beaches and soaked in the sun. This is us at Seashell beach – very excited.

The trail also took us up Goga Peak. A cliff with an incredible view of the bay and Amanoi.

The wind was so strong at the top we had to hold on and I felt a little like a sailor. Brent said I looked like a Captain Jack Sparrow and I’m taking it as a compliment.

We also enjoyed more beach and sailing on the South China Sea time. Heil, the sailor who took us out, was so talented and we skipped across the waves in the Hobie Cat. Brent and I did our best to hike way out so Heil could get the boat up vertically on one hull. We don’t have photos for the obvious reason that we were totally drenched and couldn’t responsibly take any of our cameras aboard the Hobie Cat.

South of Cam Ran for New Years Eve

We arrived in Vinh Hy in what is called by some the lost kingdom on the edge of Nui Chua National Park. What an incredible place! The view from our villa is breathtaking.

We’ve enjoyed some beach time and soaked in the sun.

We celebrated New Years watching traditional Vietnamese dancing including the fan dance, the lion dance, and the dragon dance. The lion dance was our favorite (see video) and it’s a traditional way to ward off evil and protect yourself in the new year.

Followed by dinner…yum!

Christmas in Vietnam

Christmas Eve we strolled through Hoi An admiring the lanterns. After my class I have tremendous respect for the skill involved in making each one.

Christmas morning greeting Brent with an Egg Coffee made specially for him by Thi Phan . The hotel doesn’t officially have them on the menu but it’s Thi Phan’s speciality and Brent was thrilled!

We were also greeted by a visit from Santa in a sleigh drawn by water buffalo.

After visiting Santa and enjoying egg coffee we went for a beach stroll. Brent and I came across a fisherman and his family setting out his nets.

We spoke with his father who was clearly proud of his son’s skill as a fisherman. While we couldn’t understand almost anything he said parental pride and joy transcend language barriers.

The rest of the day we read by the pool enjoying the sunshine.

Vietnam Beaches in the Rain, Hoi An,

While it’s not typically rainy here this time of year we have had a bit of a Forest Gump experience with the rain. Soft rain, small drops, giant drops, sideways rain, etc… while we’re not having the beach vacation we planned we’re enjoying our time. For example, I joined a lantern making class and made this beauty

We’ve been swimming in the rain and watching the ocean swells. We’ve enjoyed 1 – 2 hours of yoga and meditation each day.

Nearby is the ancient city of Hoi An originally a Cham trading port. We crossed the Japanese covered bridge (below) and toured the historic family homes open to the public.

Back at the hotel we enjoy a nightly ritual called Goodnight Kiss to the Earth. As the staff sings and the crystal singing bowls ring we write wishes and letters, place them into paper lantern boats (a Hoi An tradition), and float them out into the pond.

Cycling and Sunsets in Siem Reap

Cycling through the countryside highlights the beauty of village life in Cambodia. Bun, our guide, told us that typically the rice harvest is in late January. This region, however, experienced early rains and the rice was ready for harvest early. Instead of seeing farmers at work we saw villagers pursuing other means of income like basket weaving.

Our morning began with a stroll through Banteay Srei a 10th century temple dedicated to Shiva. Bun explained this temple’s carvings were in impressive condition because the stones used are harder stones allowing the carvings to last 1000’s of years despite the harsh rainy seasons and destruction brought with the invading armies.

On our drive home we had a pleasure of meeting Oun Sophea Pheach who runs Golden Silk Pheach and touring the facility. Oun started the NGO in 2002 to support Cambodian silk making techniques and the golden silk worms native to Cambodia. The process is incredible and the artists who create the pieces are incredibly talented. Each artist trains for ten years before she chooses her specialty. Golden Silk Pheach is one of the only remaining facilities that fully integrates the entirely manual process of traditional Cambodian Golden Silk weaving. An average piece takes about a year to make from start to finish – and that doesn’t include the worm care or silk thread making process – just the design, dye, and weaving process.

Our last day ended with a sunset cruise on the largest lake in Southeast Asia Tonle Sap. More than half of Cambodia’s population depends on this lake for food and water. As you can see in the photos, it’s gorgeous!

We loved our time in Cambodia and were sad to say goodbye to our Amansara family. We truly can’t speak highly enough about our experience at Amansara. Now off to Vietnam.

Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, and Ta Prohm

And a 1/2 day in Singapore…

Brent has become somewhat of a cloud garden expert. After our brief stay in Singapore we headed for Siem Reap. Brent and I agree Siem Reap airport is perfect. Its small, easy to navigate, and quick to help travelers move through the system.

Our first evening was spent trying to keep ourselves awake until 8 pm – a goal we successfully met! And after 10 hours of sleep we started our first full day in Cambodia with our guide Bun. He took us through Angkor Tom and Bayon Temple. The Angkor area is incredible. In the 12th century the city supported 1 million people. And many people could read at that time. Every temple had multiple libraries that people would visit when they came to pray. We closed out our day with time by the pool and massages. A wonderful start to our time in Cambodia.

On day two, we watched the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Bun took us in the back entrance and we walked to the temple by the light of his iPhone.

Angkor Wat is, or was, the tomb for the king who built it. It’s the only temple that faces West because it’s the only temple designed as a tomb and West is the direction of the dead.

Like the other temples the Naga (snake with 7 heads) frame the structure and the Apsara dancers fill the carvings in the walls.

The temples in the Angkor area where destroyed when the Thai people invaded the Siem Reap area around 1400. Angkor Wat has restoration assistance from Germany, Japan, and France. And it was already in better condition than many of the surrounding temples.

Other temples were not. Like Ta Prohm, the temple used in the Tomb Raider movie, where huge trees have aided in the destruction or transformation of the temple. Ta Prohm was built by the same king who built the Bayon temple. It was built for his mother who was elderly and that’s there are no stairs to climb.

2017 – A Year of Faith and Choice

When I reflect on the year, there’s one day I can’t escape.  May 10, 2017.  I was leaving a meeting around 11 AM when a text came through.  My mom, Elise Young, was in a serious car accident.  Few details were available.

Over the next few hours we started to learn what serious car accident meant.  The roller-coaster of emotions is hard to explain, but if you’ve had your own experience with trauma you understand.  It’s an outer-body experience.  Like a dream.  While I tossed some clothes into a suitcase, I remember thinking maybe it’s not as bad as it sounds.  The next minute, I saw Brent’s face as he spoke to my family and I knew it was worse than we had thought.  The doctors thought she wasn’t going to make it.

While walked through SFO, I kept my sunglasses on.  I wanted to hide, and didn’t want to talk about it.  I watched people laughing.  Mothers holding children.  People rushing through daily business.  I’m typically a very independent person, and yet I could barely get one foot in front of the other as we traveled through security to our gate.  All I could do was stare at everyone around me thinking about the ordinary day they could be having.  I was happy for them, envious of them.

Even though it was only a little over five hours, it was the longest flight of my life.  Brent held me while I cried and prayed.  I prayed to reduce her suffering.  I was tempted to pray that she live, but instead I prayed that God honor her wishes and that she live if she wanted to live.

We reached Norwalk Hospital around midnight.  And there she was.  She had received 39 units of blood, had 12+ hours of surgery repairing every major organ (aside from her heart), and endured countless broken bones (including 11 out of 12 ribs on her left side).  I held her hand.  I sang to her. I told her stories. And we waited, and we prayed.

The next day, the first nursing team that had worked on her came back for their shift.  Steve, one of her nurses, was shocked to be assigned to her.  He thought it was a mistake.  He didn’t think it was possible for her to have lived.  He called my mom’s survival the miracle of his career.

I could continue, for pages, because we are still on this journey.  She is still on her journey of recovery.  Her broken bones have healed, and her organs are working again.  She can breathe on her own, and she regained consciousness.  She has some words back.   She’s getting therapy everyday with the goal that she’ll be able to live an independent life.  We don’t know where this journey ends, but we’re all grateful for the time we have with her.  I am awed by her strength.


Traumas come in all shapes and sizes.  So do their repercussions, and what you take away from them.  For us, I’m walking away with two themes: the power of faith, and the power of choice.

Faith: firm belief in something for which there is no proof  

Looking back, I realize how bleak things were. But in the moment, my faith was unshakable.  Brent said watching me showed him that there can be power in faith.

Faith in people.  I have so much gratitude for the family, friends, and supporters who stepped up to support my parents.  Calls from our friends, emails, Facebook messages, cards, each piece helped more than you can imagine.  Brent’s and my colleagues supporting us being gone for weeks.  To everyone on the Facebook group cheering my mom on in her recovery.

Faith in doctors and nurses and the many people who make our health system work.  While not every moment has been a highlight, the nurses, doctors, nurse’s aids, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, techs, ambulance drives, administrative staff, and janitors we have met through this journey have been incredible.  The care they provide, the passion they have for their work, and their overall attitude helped us stay focused and stay hopeful on each step of the journey.

Faith in symbols.  My mom’s blood wasn’t coagulating, and so my sister Kelly made red Jell-O.  My mom’s good friend Sue brought my parent’s church community together.  Collectively the congregation made a healing scarf for my mom, and it’s stayed by her side. We will never know if those actions helped, but we do know she coagulated and survived the night.

Choice: care (and power) in selecting

There’s a saying, “Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.”

It all starts with choice.  The choice to be aware, and the power of selecting your thoughts.  While you can’t control when — or, if — tragedy strikes, you can make choices about your own behavior and actions.

Choice of actions. My mom was struck by an elderly man driving on a suspended license.  He was speeding, running a red light, and driving in the wrong lane.  In a word, he was reckless.  He chose to drive even though he had been told by the state he was not a safe driver.  His choices bore catastrophic consequences.

Choice of orientation.  Dave Young, my dad by marriage, has been a role model.  He leads with love.  It comes pouring out of him.  And you can see it when they’re together.  It’s in everything he does with her every day.

Choice of thoughts.  My mom and I had had a strained relationship the past few years.  When she started to talk again, she brought up our disagreements. She apologized.  I told her that no apology was necessary.  I told her I wanted to live toward the future, and not the past.  We haven’t looked back.


There’s been more to this year than one event. Brent gained a new mother-in-law and I gained a new step-mother in Lisa daCosta Price. We love seeing her light up my dad, Stephen’s, life!  We were honored to be part of their wedding and look forward to future adventures and more laughter.

We were thrilled to welcome many little people into our lives this year as friends and family members had new babies.  We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first nephew in early 2018.

I’m continuing my work in Executive Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Business leading the Stanford Executive Program.  I learn every day, and it’s an honor to be in the Stanford community. Brent continued to work on energy and technology policy at Redstone. While much of his prior work on climate has been threatened under the Trump administration, he counted a quiet victory when the new White House chose to support the HFC amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Next year, he’s taking a leave from Redstone to join Facebook’s public policy team.

We had some incredible trips this year.  Our adventures in India included wildlife safari’s looking for tigers, Indian cooking lessons, treks temples, and much, much more.  Brent and I enjoyed time with friends and family in Wyoming, New York, Amherst, and Connecticut. And we took a weekend away in Brent’s favorite city: LA.

We are leaving on our yearly adventure tonight. This year, we’re headed to Cambodia and Vietnam.  We’re excited for the trip, and look forward to sharing our photos and stories with you.

We send you love.  Cheers to 2018!