I've never been reluctant to admit my age. Last week I turned 63. Just like New Years Day, birthdays are a cause for reflection. Remembering the year past, anticipating the one ahead and, more and more, realizing how little time is left to do all the things I'm going to do "someday". The closing line of my last blog post has been running through my mind all week. I'll remind you what it was."I am at a point in my life (retired) when many unique opportunities present themselves. Which am I passing by - and why?"
Not really. But for almost five years now, I am free to choose what I do with my time every day. I love our RV trips but they have become work or, at least, a "hobby that pays". When I'm not recording notes to update my boondocking guides, I'm working on the next blog, responding to emails, or dealing with tasks related to managing two web sites. Randy would tell you I work longer hours now than I did when I had a real job. He's probably right but I do it because I LOVE it. So, I am free to choose what to do with my time and I choose this.
About birthdays - my mother (now 93) loves to make a joke out of reversing the numbers. Instead of 63, I would say I'm 36. Truthfully, if I woke up with amnesia and someone asked me to guess my own age, I might guess 36 and, until I looked in a mirror, no one could convince me otherwise. That's the age I feel. Old enough to be mature, sensible (at times), responsible, and confident that I can manage whatever comes along in life. I am blessed to have good health and feel as though I can still do everything I could at 36.(Sometimes I'm proved wrong, of course.)
But I'm 63 now. I feel blessed to have reached this age with my health intact; a loving man by my side to share life's adventures; an amazing, supportive family; and many wonderful friends. What more could anyone want? I guess the answer to that is: a whole bunch more of it, please! And that's where, on a birthday, a few serious thoughts can poke in. Only 17 years from now, I'll be 80 (if I'm that lucky). In only 12 years, I'll be 75. Now, I can hope to feel 57 at age 75, but, being a realist, I don't expect to feel 36 forever.
I love my life. Especially when we're on the road and wake up every morning in beautiful natural surroundings, a new location, and a new adventure ahead. I am very content. I'm enjoying every moment. But I also have a small bucket list of things I'd like to do some day. On my 63rd birthday, I woke up and realized what day it was: It's some day!
So, after that realization, what did we do on my birthday? I woke in a pine forest. I think it's the highest elevation I've ever been at when celebrating a birthday. (Did you think I meant something else?)
We drove Arizona Hwy 191 (The Alpine Highway) straight north. Actually, it's far from straight. The road twists and winds over a high forested ridge with brilliant views and many scenic boondocking opportunities. We were camped at 8,500 feet elevation.
By the afternoon we were hiking in Petrified Forest National Park.
My birthday gift: new hiking boots
I was so sad to discover that my Asolos, a gift from my sister when we first started traveling 15 years ago, had finally worn right out. They were such good quality and have taken me to so many wonderful places. I loved those boots!
I wish I had kept track of how many miles they hiked.
The next day, we moved on to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Perhaps the most beautiful canyons in the entire southwest are in this park! There are many ruins of pueblo cliff-dwelling too. Using binoculars, we found 15 from overlooks along the south rim drive and 7 in Canyon del Muerto on the north rim drive.
Canyon de Chelly
Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly
We hiked into the canyon to White House Ruin
Then held a small goodbye ceremony for the old boots at the trailhead of their last hike.
As I kissed those boots goodbye (sniff, sniff), do you know what they whispered back to me? "Age doesn't matter. Keep hiking until you're worn right out. ...And avoid mirrors!"
Days on the road on current trip: 79
Total camping costs to date: $112.00
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