This Covid self isolation has certainly put all of us into a new time warp! Nowhere to go and way too much time to keep doing nothing as it continues to stretch out in front of us. There is still, after almost 4 1/2 months, little or no work or job to return to that can be done safely for most of us. So, out of all the projects I sidelined for “Things to Do When I am Too Old For Anything Else,” I chose to pull out all my old slides and negatives and begin to transfer them onto my hard drive. A brave shelf clearing! I am essentially a hoarder and throwing things away is not a ready choice. It seemed like the perfect time for it though. And I wasn’t really throwing them away, I was transferring them!
As with all adventures, I threw my heart and soul into it and with the help from Youtube University for coaching in the scanning techniques, I got going. I am nerdy in my love to suss through information like this and am an eternal student of anything that piques my talents and interests. Yep, that’s part of the adventure!
A vague memory of a happy course of my life for the 50 years represented in these slides, has gradually become a clearer knowledge of the reality of a wondrous time in my life. The most shining reflection was in how deeply I have been influenced by the people I met and the places I stayed. It is the core treasure of all of our experiences. It is what I want to share with you if you are interesed. It is my story…The Experiences of a “Boring” Adventurer. (an adventurer, unequivocally, but with NO penchant for thrills or danger. Simply a slow-moving, enjoyable encounter with the joy and beauty here and there along the way. That is my specialty!)
In the first 25 years of life, I lived, went to school and worked in downtown Chicago and the suburbs. Perhaps it was this that made our first stop in our newly-acquired VW bus (beautifully decorated by my wife -now ex-wife- who was an interior designer by trade) a glorious first stop. The expanse of the mountains and streams made us giggle with delight. Rainy looked at me and said “Isn’t this the most beautiful place you have ever seen!” To which I responded with my boring version of joy, “And it is costing us next to nothing!” What a combo!
We moved on into Baxter State Park, Maine for our first official campsite. We registered and parked alongside our lean-too. As we settled the van into place, imagine the delight when we saw our first bear some 100 yards away! We huddled safely in the van, peeking out the window and not even thinking about opening to door to get any better look.
The next morning we met the couple in the picture below who had just come from climbing Mt Kathadin, the highest summit in Maine, named for the Penobscot Native American tribe. Translated as “Greatest Mountain” it loomed in all of its 5,000 foot regal height. We were awestruck wannabees who saw them as consummate adventurers. They kindly advised us on how to start a campfire. Another first!
From there we headed to the Florida Keys where a raging gas war was being played out in all the gas stations along the route. There were long wait-lines to fill up. Many ran out of gas completely. Eventually we were “forced” to stay for over a month in Long Key State Park. It was a time filled with the stories of these different adventures and they were filling us up with fuel for our imaginations and plans for the future trips we might take.
The people were all ages, but I was most impressed by the older travelers. From my childhood I found that the older people were, on many occasions, the most interesting. In this new camping experience I rediscovered that truth even more clearly. While they shared stories about the people and places they had seen, their consistent follow up was, “If we could live our lives over, we would have done more traveling while we were young.” I realized during this time that I was forming an internal contract with myself to travel “now.” My new mantra was “have no regrets.” I had felt the thread of sadness in continuing with a life that would result in “I wish I had…” And so to this end, now that I am actually one of those older people, I have more gratitude than I realized I could feel. Not every adventure was easy and occasionally there were dangers. But it is in these reflections that I would like to take you along on the highlights of the journey. After all…I AM an elder! And you might find the stories interesting.