Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adventures at Any Age

An article on the front page of the New York Times on Friday caught my attention as I sat at the table and ate my oatmeal. First, the city in the by line was Ocala, Fl, where my mother-in-law and grandparents-in-law live. But also, because it was all about people not only continuing to travel, but taking adventure trips, late in life. And no, I'm not talking about 70 years old, I'm talking about 90 years old!

The article by Kirk Johnson recounts adventures of a 90 year old woman who went hiking in South Africa, an 89 year old who walks on the wings of planes, and an 89 year old man who visited the South Pole. Several travel agencies have seen a steep increase in the number of older men and women taking adventure trips or traveling in general, over the last few years. Unfortunately, even the very healthy elderly people have an inherently higher risk of becoming ill or injured while traveling, so it's more expensive, difficult or impossible for them to get travel insurance. There are also other health issues that have to be taking into consideration while they travel. Even with all that in mind, it's AMAZING and inspiring that these people are traveling and following their dreams (long held or new) so late in life. They're not letting a number hold them back from enjoying life, even if their family and friends might think they're a little kooky. Isn't it better to enjoy life, even if it's a little dangerous, than just sit at home and not try something new? Especially when time isn't necessarily on your side?

I grew up visiting my grandparents, flipping through their piles of photo albums filled with pictures of all their travels. Watching their slide shows (remember those?) and staring at the huge map on the wall with hundreds (and I mean that literally) of straight pins marking all the countries they had been to. I aspire to one day, visit even a fraction of those countries (some however, don't even exist anymore). Hopefully, Woody and I will be in good health long enough to travel until well into our later years. There are so many places we want to see that it will take that long!

When you race, go for a run, or hit the gym, do you see the people in their 70's or 80's who are running right along side of you? One very early morning this fall, while I was training for the marathon, an elderly gentleman ran up beside me and started chatting. Usually I'm not a fan of this, but he seemed sweet and grandfatherly, so I figured I'd take a chance and maybe learn a thing or two. Well, along the way we met up with a former girlfriend of his (who he said was a few years younger than him, but well in her 80's) and joined her. Turns out, she has won her age group in multiple marathons but didn't start running until she was in her 40's or so. Apparently there was some sort of romantic triangle involved in their relationship, but their inside jokes proved that they continue to be good friends. It was amazing to see these 80-odd year old runners chugging along at 6am and I was having to work to keep up with THEM! I can only hope that I am one of the older runners one day.

I wonder what their secret is? How did they live their lives all those years to make sure they could climb mountains and go on safaris when their grand children could join them on the trip? I want that knowledge. They are my inspiration.


Jocelyn said...

That's all pretty cool. I always get inspired when I'm running a race and a elderly person passes me. It always makes me think "I'm going to still be running when I get that old!" That article looks really interesting, I'm going to have to read it. I think traveling when you are older is awesome. Why stop just because you aren't as young as you use to be?!

Julie said...

Hi Lisa,
You are very lucky that your grandparents were able to travel and share their experiences with you. My grandparents took one trip that I remember....Canada:) Culture is so important! I think we should all try to experience and learn more about different places, cultures and people:) I love it, 90 years old and still going strong:)

The Laminator said...

Cool post! Yeah, I'm inspired!