Monday, September 10, 2012

Go For It

What have you always wanted to do?  Take a boat ride down the Amazon and swim with the piranhas?  Hang glide over the Grand Canyon?  Ski Denali from the top blindfolded?  If so, you are in need of psychiatric counseling.  But seriously, are you a singer who has never been able to work up the courage to do a solo?  Would you like to go on a safari in Africa?  Have you always wished you had climbed a mountain?  Would you like to try curling?  Or would you like to swing on a star, take a moonbeam home in a jar........ (you know the rest)?

Perhaps there is a long-lost friend that you have meant to re-connect with.  Or a friend or relative you haven't spoken to in years due to an argument.  Or a letter you have meant to write.  Why not stop thinking about it and go for it!  Those things we put off until tomorrow often don't happen at all.  

Those who have PD (or who are care partners) know that the future with this disease can be difficult to predict.  Since it is a progressive disease, by the time you get around to doing something, it may be too late.  It is a given that our ability to engage in various types of activities will diminish over time.

Linda and I are taking every opportunity we have to have fun.  We decided not to take our time together when I am able to do these things for granted.  This probably started last year when we visited Costa Rica shortly before my DBS surgery.  We had talked about going there for a couple years, but had never "pulled the trigger".  When old friends told us they were renting house by the sea shore and asked if we would like to join them for a week, we jumped at the chance.  While there, they expressed an interest in zip-lining and asked if I would like to join them.  Since I have no love for heights, you would normally find me running in the opposite direction at this suggestion.  Much to my surprise, after thinking about it, I decided to do it.  Once we got "harnessed up" and arrived at the first platform at the top of the mountain, I decided that I better be the first in line so that I wouldn't have time to talk myself out of it.  Everything was going swimmingly and I was enjoying the scenery flashing by me until I heard voices coming from the arrival platform exhorting me to SLOW DOWN!!  I had neglected to apply the hand brake (the padded glove on my right hand) with enough force and arrived at the platform not quite at warp speed but way too fast.  The rest is a blur, but the guys doing the "receiving" were well trained for just such a development and somehow looped a rope around my legs to stop me.  I went on to the next platform undeterred and from that point on I had a marvelous experience.  I think there were eleven lines and I handled them all like a seasoned pro.  One of them was 1/4 of a mile long and provided a breath-taking view of a forested valley as well as a ludicrous level of speed (which, at that point, I welcomed).  Linda was surprised (she had already made plans on how she was going to spend my life insurance payout) that I had not only survived, but had a great time.

Costa Rica Zip Line Tour

This year we traveled to Phoenix twice (once to speak to the Muhammad Ali PD Center support groups), the second time stopping at Moab on the way home to help man rest stations for a multi-day long-distance cycling fundraiser through Canyonlands and Arches National Park.  We had  booked a 10-day land/sea tour to Alaska for mid-May (before the "national bird" of Alaska was out in force-the mosquito).  Legend has it that there are mosquitos the size of eagles that work in packs to cull the weak tourists (the ones with cameras or binoculars handing from their neck) from the herd before descending on them with fangs dripping.  But seriously, there were only a few of the blood-thirsty (and unusually large) critters out at that time.  We were lucky to have a clear view of Mt. Denali/McKinley, enjoyed at day at Denali National Park and subsequent train ride to a port south of Anchorage to board ship.  Seven days later, after stops at Glacier Bay, Skagway (of Jack London/gold rush fame), Juneau, and Ketchikan, we debarked at Vancouver.  It was a great trip, but I really miss being able to bark (woof!).

Mt. Denali/McKinley

We leave this Wednesday for an (almost) two week car trip with my sister and brother-in-law that will take us to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National parks on the way to Canmore, Alberta (where we booked a time-share exchange for a week).  This is a town just south of Banff.  For those who have not visited the Canadian Rockies, it would be a worthy addition to anyone's bucket list, especially the stretch from Banff through Lake Louise and up to Jasper.  On the way home, we will stop at Glacier National Park.
Lake Louise
Glacier National Park

We have a trip planned for the end of October back to Linda's home town of Buffalo, NY. She grew up in a suburb called Amherst, and we lived there while I was going to grad school at SUNY.  The smarter members of her family are no longer there (just kidding).  We enjoy visiting with her aunt, cousins and families and catching up.  We always visit Niagara Falls, go by (you never go TO a place in Buffalo, you go BY it-I don't make the rules I just report them) the house she grew up in as well as the one we lived in, visit her old high school, etc.  But the REAL reason we go to Buffalo is the food.  Bocce Pizza, Ted's Hot Dogs, Duff's wings, "beef on weck" (kummelweck rolls-part of the strong German heritage of Buffalo), fish fries.......the list goes on.  Weight watchers, here we come!

Niagara Falls

Since neither of our kids (and therefore, none of our six grandkids) will be home at Thanksgiving, we booked another timeshare-related place in Scottsdale.  This will the first time in many years we have been away from home at Thanksgiving, but we intend to enjoy it.  We have been to that area a number of times over the years and enjoyed the sunshine, swimming pools, golf courses, and restaurants.  I may a turkey burrito with pumpkin salsa and chips and a cranberry margarita!

Cranberry Margarita

This is not a trip, but we will be home for Christmas with the whole family, including our younger son, Brian, and his family.  They will be returning home from Shanghai (China) where Bri and his wife, Sybil, are teaching for (at least) two years at the Shanghai American School.  The pain of their being so far away is lessened (somewhat) by our 
weekly skype sessions and the knowledge that all of them, including two of our 
grandchildren, are having the experience of a lifetime.

Shanghai American School

The last trip on our docket occurred spontaneously.  I generally try to avoid spontaneity until I have had a chance to think it over.  In this case, I did not have that luxury.  Linda and I were at a golf tournament fundraiser dinner for our church a couple weeks ago.  My team had finished in fourth place for the third year in a row (the top three finishers get prizes) so I was understandably despondent until I heard an announcement that there was a silent auction for a condo in Maui for a week.  Perhaps this is when my zip-line experience paid off as I threw caution to the wind.  For those of you who have never participated in a silent auction, you put your name on a list with a bid for the prize.  Not wanting to seem over-anxious, I strolled in the direction of the table so as not to draw attention.  I checked out the offer as well as I could since I was not wearing my reading glasses (not to mention that I had already had a couple glasses of wine).  Impulsively, I put my name on the list (I was the first one to bid!) with the minimum allowable offer.  My thinking was that, since I was the first name, someone else was sure to offer $5 more and I would lose (that's the way the day had gone so far anyway).  However, I decided to play out the charade and sauntered casually back to our table, where Linda was sitting with friends of ours from Sweden who now live in Colorado Springs.  I should mention that Linda had no idea that I was doing this and I began to worry about the trouble I would be in if, by some miracle, my bid won.  A short time later they began to announce the winners for the golf tournament (hit me again bartender!) and other prizes.  The last announcement was the winner of the silent auction.  I was shocked to hear my name announced!  As it turns out, no one else had even put in a bid!  As I started low-crawling for the nearest exit, I heard Linda shout excitedly, "We're going to Maui!".  When we went up to get the details, it turned out that it actually was a very good deal in a very desirable location!  Not only that, the condo would house four people, and our Swedish friends casually mentioned that they had NEVER been to Hawaii.  We invited them and they accepted on the spot.  We have already booked our flights for a week in March and are looking forward to it.

Maui Beach

In closing, I hope this story inspires you to man up, woman up, suck it up, or whatever you need to do to make it happen (whatever it is) and take the opportunity to create your own happy endings!

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