Merry Christmas from the Oleson Family

The year started with a once in a life time opportunity and ended up including loads of them.  My family was invited to the Olympics by a wonderful company who I’ve had opportunity to work with on occasion, Colligo.  The bobsled event was a blast, sure it was cold up at Whistler at the Vancouver Canada 2010 Olympics games. Dean spend the event inside my coat.

  

In the spring we went back to Canada to Tofino a costal surfing city on Vancouver Island.  Virginia, Jared and Joel went Kayaking.  The area is famous for it’s bears and whale watching.  In the Summer we met up with our cousins in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.  Afterwards we drove down to Belize city and Tikal Guatemala.  Despite Google and Bing Maps refusing to tell us that it was possible, we had faith in Joel our fearless leader on an incredible quest across the Mexican Peninsula and into the jungle of howler monkeys and toucans.

 

 

Dean (19 Months) went from walking to traveling the world.  He nearly travelled the extent of both east coast and west coast.  New Years was Salem & Boston Mass to as far south as Savannah Georgia. On the West across California and into Canada.  He’s already been to 26 states 6 countries and in specific he spent his birthday hiking the cliffs of Machu Picchu, the summer in the jungles of Tikal, Guatemala and beaches of Cancun.  He’s such a joy.  We love him so much.  Dean is now in Nursery! (18 month requirement) He loves to jump and loves his bottle, he doesn’t like naps… too much, but does like spending time with his dad and is one of the happiest and easy going kids you’ll ever meet.  He has a very, very pleasant disposition.

Jared (11) is active in scouting.  He picked the clarinet to play this year and we really enjoyed his Christmas concert.  This last year he spent his evenings in Tae Kwon Do and Cub Scouts.  Webelos paid off as he earned both his Webelos badge and Arrow of Light award which was presented by the Order of the Arrow.  Something we haven’t seen in years!  Later this year he went on a father son bonding trip with dad to Florida and took a little Cruise to Grand Bahamas complete with bon fire, limbo, and fire dancing. That’s not the only stamp on his passport from this year.  He also went to the capital of the Mayan empire, Tikal and climbed the pyramids in Belize.  He loves airplanes, Geography and loves to impress his teachers with his travel knowledge.

 

 

Scott (13) has made good use of his Christmas present from last year.  He spends his free time playing his electric guitar and making songs.  This after he mastered the guitar hero guitar to the point where he refuses to play anything but expert even on new games.  Scott this summer had his first week long campout earning lots of badges including Wilderness survival which included a night with no tent, fire, blankets, or sleeping bag.  Impressively he made his own bed and shelter out of weeds and wood.  This year for school he has been in the Parade education program where he’s been spending more time learning at home and programming lego robotics, writing stories and making stop motion and animated movies.  This summer he swam with dolphins and snorkeling in caves and hiked Bryce Canyon.

 

Virginia brought Dean on a trip to Peru joining Joel for the first SharePoint Conference in Peru.  After the conference we flew to Cuzco, and hiked Machu Picchu in the heat.  Never underestimate Virginia.  She ate Guinea pig like the best of ‘em, and bussed across Peru to the Bolivian border to the shores of lake Titicaca where we visited the Uros floating islands.  That makes 6 continents on family trips. 

I think it’s patience with Joel as well.  Going half way around the world with a baby and finding out the bus you’ll be riding for 18 hours doesn’t have air conditioning and the rest of the people on the bus are cold and don’t speak English… they also think your baby is cold even though he’s totally ok, just needs a change and some fresh air.  You might not expect it, but all of a sudden she’s like “sure kayaking sounds like something I’d like to try.”  Then she’s out there doing it and not looking back.  She’s awesome.  We celebrated 15 years this August, amazing stuff.

Joel the Explorer.  This year he started his goal to visit 100 countries by age 40 (according to the TCC list,) and he’s ended his year at 84.  Next year’s line up already looks promising.  Before this year he hadn’t been south of Mexico city or visited the Caribbean.  He ended the year driving across Central America across the peninsula through the jungle and has visited top sites in South America including Iguaçu falls, Machu Pichu, and Nazca lines. Bolivia escaped due to passport fees and need for a shot. He’s jumping off mountains and paragliding in Rio on his birthday and chasing the ash cloud across Southern Europe and winning… Joel feeds off Culture shock.  A sampling of where Joel went this year…Jordan, Lebanon, Croatia, Qatar, Serbia, Bosnia, Italy, Spain, Mallorca, Palestine’s West Bank, Oman, UAE, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Iceland, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Romania, Monte Negro, Lichtenstein, Puerto Rico, Mexican Peninsula, Belize, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain and Canada.  We won’t even mention the unmentionable Tehran deportation story with Dubai security (you’ll have to get that first hand).  Joel leads an adventuresome life and loves every minute of it.  Kudos to Quest software for employing him and sponsoring him as he speaks at events all over the globe. 

SharePoint 2010 launch this year has been a huge wave of activity for him, in fact with a couple of friends he threw a massive party with over 300 people with a spin off of over 60 launch party events he inspired all over the globe.  In his quest for interesting food this year he ate horse, bear, reindeer, fresh fish heart straight out of a gutted fish, mealworms, beef eye, beef face, fresh raw conch, squid in it’s ink, and street chupacabra tacos.  He’s loving social media and sharing.  This year he launched a new site with some friends http://www.nothingbutsharepoint.com which is poised to become the largest SharePoint publishing site.  While it seems like he’s gone all the time, he says he just posts more on facebook when he’s gone than when he’s home.  I guess that makes sense.

 

We know the economy hasn’t been kind to everyone.  We feel very blessed and hope our friends and family have a great 2011.  This year Joel went to Bethlehem which was a really powerful experience, and really the experience really struck him.  It’s this time of year we celebrate the birth of Christ and all the gifts we’ve received. We are so thankful for all our friends and our family.  Joel says… “I’ve been able to share my life with so many this year, I know it’s been a big sacrifice for my family.  For their patience and sacrifice I am extremely grateful.  I love travel and I have a strong desire to help and serve others, and help my family enjoy a global perspective on life and to serve others.”

May you and yours have a happy holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Olesons!

Published by

Joel Oleson

I LOVE traveling our little planet. In my quest to visit every country in the world I've got about 35 UN countries left! I'm not just country hopping, but looking for the most immersive cultural experiences and capturing them as photos and videos. Yes, I'm also a geek. I've been recognized as a Microsoft Regional Director, a community leadership award. When not traveling, I'm in paradise in sunny southern California as I'm a Senior IT Manager at Blizzard Entertainment.

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