Fancy talking about what I want to be when I grow up at a time like this… our daughter has just finished her university undergrad degree. She’s the one growing up, not me… right?
In many ways, my baby IS grown up. After her last exam, she decided (with a lot of persistent prodding from me, I’ll admit), to go through her room and tidy up a bit. You see, she is a hoarder and I am most definitely a purger on the spectrum… and therein lies some persistent conflict which I’ve struggled to keep in check over the years.
What this amounted to, both symbolically and realistically, was a shedding of her childhood. Artifacts from her preschool and Brownie/Girl Guide days surfaced, as did little drawings and books, along with trinkets and mementoes from our family adventures.
One of the things that she was ready to part with, but that I just couldn’t see head out that door, was the backpack she wore when she was around seven years of age. (Ok… I have some of the hoarder in me too).
It is plastered with sewn on badges of places she had been on our trips to Thailand and Malaysia, Costa Rica and here at home when she was still a young child. With the names of parks and countries stitched onto that pack, it is such a repository of memories for me. So, I lovingly washed it up and tucked it away with our gear.
Flash forward to today and imagine my surprise at the synchronicity of life!
Huffing and puffing as I worked my way up a hill on my run, I saw what looked to be a very similar backpack, covered with patches depicting countries, or the names of parks. All sewn onto the pack by hand and commemorating some pretty spectacular locales like Thailand, Malaysia, the Arctic, the Chilkoot Trail …
But this small, plastered pack was not on the back of a child: it was on the back of a spry 80-year-old man!
He and his wife were out for a hike and pulled aside to let me pass on the trail, but I asked if I could hang out with them for a bit and take a closer look at his badges. No more fitness gains today… I was now after information and inspiration! He and his wife were happy to tell me about their travels, and boy, what places they’d been! I walked with them for about 30 minutes, chatting away with them about their travels and hikes at home here and around the world.
Most recently, they were travelling independently in Iceland. They’ve hiked into Machu Picchu. They’ve walked through deserts and rainforests at home and abroad. They’ve done backcountry camping and multi day hikes in our mountains. They’ve hiked through iconic places like the Grand Canyon (as an aside, they say Bryce Canyon is even more spectacular and is their favourite Western U.S. hiking spot) and they’ve gone trekking in Malaysia.
And before I knew it, I was crossing a road and way past where I’d parked the car! Oops! What’s the phrase? Carpe diem seems to fit that lapse of attention! And they were almost at their destination: meeting up with a seniors’ group that they called The Trekkers to go on a hike (it was 5km from their house to the meeting point… so their little meet-up “walk” would add 10km to their day!). I just wish I’d snapped a photo to share with you here!
I know my hubby and I have been to many places in our lives, having travelled to over 30 countries and explored snippets of 5 continents. We are working hard on our fitness to keep in “mountain” shape. We try to seize opportunities where we find them, along with a healthy dose of working hard to make our own luck. And we strive to learn and dream and do what’s necessary to make our wanderlust and our travel vision a reality.
But these two wonderfully friendly and engaging people, with their healthy mobility, their zest for life, the decided twinkle in their eyes when they talk, passionately, about the places they’ve been, the places they’ve hiked, the things they’ve seen… that’s what I want to be when I grow up! One of a pair of well aged adventurers with a twinkles in our eyes, a remarkable set of footprints left behind in this world and a treasure trove of exotic memories… and perhaps an inspiration to others in the process.