January 17, 2011
8. My days are more filled than ever with activities that keep me interested and involved
Here’s a quick run-down:
In 1978, my wife died as did our dog and my son and daughter headed off to start their careers. For the next five years, my vacations consisted of visiting friends in London and then taking off on my own for Europe with a 15-day Eurail pass and bouncing around the continent with no reservations and just a vague idea of where I wanted to go. After years of having to consult with a wife, two kids and a dog on vacation options, I loved traveling by myself.
In subsequent years, I spent much time in the UK. I had two very good friends in London, one of whom I usually stayed with and who loved to travel Scotland. Then a DC pal and I began planning trips together every year, usually to Europe but once to China.
In 2001, the pattern shifted. Two of my London pals and I planned a 3-week trip to India. My son who is both a traveler and trekker told me that if I was going to India I should go to Nepal. So we added on a side trip to Nepal. I fell in love with Nepal and its people. For the next 7 or 8 years, I made at least one and usually two trips to Nepal. Each visit usually involved a side trip to a nearby country – India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Sikkim, Tibet and Bhutan (my favorite). I also “adopted” a Nepali family and worked for 6 years or more on getting a U.S. green card for the husband. My last trip to Nepal was in December 1978 when we nailed down the green card and he arrived in the U.S. in January 2009.
After all these years filled with travels, I only took one trip in 2009 – a short trip to visit my brother and his family in Ithaca with a few days in Niagara Falls added on. My concern about my physical “aging” and my unacknowledged Parkinson’s depression made me think that my overseas travel days were over and I was resigned to spending most of my time at home base.
But with the Parkinson’s diagnosis and treatments came the travel renaissance. In 2010, I had a terrific 3-week trip with a good friend to Turkey – Istanbul, the area around Ephesus, and Cappadocia. This involved a fair about of hill climbing and trekking and I was pleased with my ability to handle it. Then in August I decided I needed a reprieve from what was to turn out to be Washington’s hottest summer ever. So I took a one-week trip on my own to the Canadian Rockies – Calgary, Banff, and Jasper (Jasper being my favorite).
In the fall, my Nepali housemate decided he had enough free time during his mid-semester break in his MBA program at American University for us to take a quick trip to California – two days in San Francisco, one very long day driving the Pacific Coast highway from SF to La Jolla, and two days in San Diego. I was pleased that I could handle long napless days during this trip that also was filled with lots of walking.
I’ve always enjoyed bridge and have several local friends with whom I’ve played over the years on a somewhat hit or miss basis. But now my bridge cup runneth over. I play every Monday afternoon at the local senior center and every other Tuesday evening at a nearby condo development, , both are just a short drive from my house. Often I also play at a Saturday afternoon bridge game that a good friend brings to an assisted living facility that is now the residence of a very nice guy who used to play with us at the other venues, And I still have regular bridge get-togethers with other pals.
The game is fun and challenging in and of itself. But it’s also a great way to meet new friends and to maintain old friendships. I wonder what the younger generations are going to do in their retirements. Playing video games doesn’t seem as satisfying or social.
Theatre and other “cultural” activities
After years of semi-drought, Washington is now second only to NYC in the number of live theatrical performances. And most of our museums are world-class AND free.
I maintain season subscriptions to the Kennedy Center’s ballet series, the Shakespeare Theatre, and the Studio Theatre, each with a different friend. I find the subscription series are a great way to ensure that I get out to the theater and maintain friendships.
Now, thanks to the BIG exercise program, I’ll be able to make more use of the mall museums since I can put the bike on the car’s bike rack and park free a short bike-able distance from the mall where the museums are centered
A variety of other activities
As mentioned earlier, gardening has become a treasured new hobby. Going to movies, reading books and magazines, working Sudoku puzzles take up any gaps in the day.
I’ve always lived my life by Mae West’s motto – “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”