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My Top 10 Favorite Photos of 2016

And the stories behind them

This is a picture of John John Florence, about to paddle out at the Eddie. There was a lot of randomness and chance that led me to being at The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau. First of all, the legendary big wave surfing contest hadn’t run since 2009 due to conditions not being good enough. They only run the contest when Waimea Bay is over 20ft and perfect all day. It’s run only 8 times in the last 30 years. I had never been to Oahu or the North Shore before, but on that random Thursday in February that the Eddie ran, I happened to be there. John John Florence went on to win the event that day. He also went on to win his first World Title on the Championship Tour, and just days ago he won the Vans Triple Crown in Hawaii to cap off a year that surf fans will never forget. Any surfer would dream of just winning one of these awards, and for John to win all 3 in the same year is just unreal. I love this picture because to me, this picture tells a story about John's year. He is looking out into the rough ocean, as if ready for battle, ready for anything and everything that gets thrown his way. But I know he isn't thinking of battle, or the World Title, or anything except having a great time surfing.

This was the Year of the Road Trip for me. I drove to Escalante Utah where some friends and I almost didn't make it out of Neon Canyon. I did a loop through Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and did some of the best skiing of my life. The entire town of Jackson was raving how they haven't seen snow this good in December for 20 years. I also drove 3 hours south of the border to Punta San Jose to arrive to no waves. Sometimes you score, and sometimes you don't. This picture is on the way to Big Sur. I think this road is so beautiful. This is the California that no one really thinks about, quietly tucked far away from the big cities of SF and LA. I love that this road has no telephone poles. I love that it has no cell reception either. On the way to the quite the adventure...

...This is in Big Sur. Ashley and I woke up in the back of my car at a dispersed campsite in the woods. We made coffee and did a surf check at Sand Dollar Beach. We ended up surfing Cayucos instead. On our way to Paso Robles for wine tasting, I decided to take the skateboard and Go Pro out for a spin on the empty back roads. Next stop was the hospital. After leaving the hospital on crutches with a sprained knee, we continued onto our afternoon of wine tasting, which turned into a nighttime of live music and more wine tasting. The hike we had planned in Big Sur the next morning was ruined obviously, so we decided to go for a drive and find a nice spot to chill. That spot is pictured above. You embark on a road trip for the adventure, and the adventure only starts when things go wrong.

I had not seen Westworld at the time this photo was taken, but the picture feels like Westworld. Riding horses down into Bryce Canyon, in the snow, doesn't seem like anything normal in the year 2016, and that's why I loved the experience. It was like I was in a different world, or maybe just a different time. This was my first trip to Bryce Canyon, but I can imagine that snow covered, with the white on red, is the best way to see it. Photo cred goes to Derek Jorgensen.

I go to Baja for days like these. This was a random Tuesday in May, and I was the only surfer out. There was off shore winds, and some small but fun waves rolling through. I can just stare at this picture and mind surf without getting bored. And yes, I ate some Taco Surf after this sesh. Photo cred goes to my awesome girlfriend.

This was my most pre-meditated picture of the year. I bought Ashley a new bathing suit in anticipation for this photoshoot. I could have gone a little bit more "thongy" I think. We woke up at 6:30am and found the maids cleaning the pool area, but they lets us play around. The sun and lighting were perfect, you really couldn't take a bad picture. The planning paid off, because this picture won us some free sunglasses from Raen for their #366daysofsummer Instagram contest. The rest of the day was epic too. We ate some breakfast at the hotel and then headed into the East Cape of Cabo. I surfed Shipwrecks in the morning, and Nine Palms in the afternoon. Scored both places. All around a great summer day.

Punta San Jose is a little over 3 hours south of the border. The right point break here gets really good, though on the day I made the drive, it was flat. There was only 1 group of 3 guys camping there, and it looked like they had been posted there for at least a few days. When I drove up, they had just gotten out of the water from a surf. They said that even though there was no waves, that decided to paddle out anyways because they were bored. I could see why, as we were in the middle of nowhere on the remote desert coast of Baja. I wish I could send the 3 guys this picture that I took of them, which I feel tells the story of their trip. With surf trips, sometimes you score waves, and sometimes you get bored. But I'm sure they still got part of what they travelled this far into Mexico for, to get disconnected, to escape the crowds, their jobs, or maybe just their iPhones.

This is my sister, a few days before her seventh birthday. I told her to go dress warm because the beach was going to be cold, and she comes back dressed in a purple robe and someone's funny beanie. We let her dress however she wants usually. It was a windy and cold December evening in Seal Beach. Most of my pictures are from my travels. This is a rare one from home.

I did 4 trips to Lake Tahoe this year, the most I've ever done in a single year. In January I took some top performing employees on a snowboarding trip to Heavenly. In June, over 40 friends and I did the Tough Mudder at Northstar, stayed in a huge cabin with lake views, got to catch up with old friends, and had one of the all-time best weekends of my life. In September I was back with new executives for a company retreat, and mixed some hiking and trail running with some business. And then in December I was back for some snowboarding at Squaw Valley, first time ever riding that mountain. This picture is taken from the shores of Tahoe City, on a very cold morning in December. After taking a handful of pictures from the pier of the sunrise in center frame, I randomly decided to go take this picture from the side, with the pier going diagonal and the sun to the far right. After uploading all the pictures to my computer, this one ended up being my favorite picture I took from Tahoe all year. The lake is so massive, that it's hard to get a picture that really does it justice. I love Lake Tahoe, and for some reason, this picture of it really makes me feel it the most.

Merry Christmas from Jackson! The snow was EPIC! I was very close to spending my second consecutive Christmas Day in the hospital. Last year I took a surfboard to the face at Roaring Beach in Tasmania, and got 8 stitches between my eyes. Minutes after this picture was taken, I almost broke my collarbone. I heard a crunch, and was unable to move my arm for a few days. It's a little over 3 weeks later and it's still all messed up. But at least I didn't break it and end up in the hospital on Christmas Day. Photocred the GF.

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