I was having dinner at my friend Jill’s house in Spokane, Washington, my last in town before heading back to Denver with a car full of furniture and clay sculptures. At the table that evening was her very bright daughter Krisha, one of my favorite people, nearly forty, and her two young sons.
Krisha had accompanied Jill and Jill’s friend Paula on a trip to Cinque Terre, Italy last October, full of laughter and joy and adventures. She was recounting some of the stories. Several of her comments brought to mind issues that affect a great many of us as we head out out into the world to explore.
A Lovely Town…With Some Hills
Krisha is an athlete, and a runner. She is in tip top shape. Her mother, Jill, used to be an avid soccer player. At 68, she had let her habits slide, like so many of us do. The truth is that she hasn’t been walking or hiking or swimming or doing yoga like she used to. Her friend Paula walks regularly, and is better at taking on hills. So Jill put in some time getting ready for this trip so that she would be ready.
The trip involved doing some hikes. The town of Cinque Terre, which was one of many towns on their agenda, involved at least three kilometers of sloping hills. For Krisha it was a no-brainer. She reported nearly sprinting up the slopes, with her mother and Paula huffing up afterwards.
However Krisha had us in stitches with the story of the Texas Triangle- a couple and their older sister.
This trio, in their sixties, had barely been able to make the hike. After completing it, the next day, they were all in such agony the only thing they could do was stay in their hotel room and get tanked.
Those of you who know anything about overexertion know that the next day after that is even worse.
So they spent the next day in the hotel getting sloshed.
You Can Stay Home and Do This
I can’t speak for anyone else but you can get a cheap room in Dallas and sit around blizted. It hardly makes economic sense to fly to Italy, overtax yourself and waste two days in your hotel and get cabbaged because you had no clue what your body could or couldn’t do.
Jill and Paula were better able because neither was overweight, and they took their time.
The Texas Trio were simply out of their league. Three kilometers is barely two miles.
And here’s my point: while the folks from Texas will go home with a funny story, it’s a sad state of affairs that people can’t walk two miles. The human body is designed to be able to walk. It’s what we do. These folks didn’t do the most basic of preparation for this wonderful trip, and lost out on two whole days of being in a magical Italian coastal town, their out-of-shape bodies in agony.
Boomers and Overseas Travel
The largest number of folks heading overseas for travel is between the ages of 50–70. They have the time and the dime. They are hitting the streets and slopes and cruise decks everywhere. And they are, in all too many cases, the very people who have been sitting at their desks for several decades. All too often, they are in woeful shape for countries that don’t have an Americans with Disabilities Act. There are no escalators, elevators, slopes or ropes and pullies once you leave American shores, with rare exceptions. And learning to use a squat toilet is a whole other issue if you are heavy or disabled.
The first time I debarked in Peking and walked into a hole-in-the floor toilet at the airport, my first thought, was how in the world is someone in a wheelchair going to manage this? They can’t.
While I’m not saying get out and start running marathons, I am saying that a once-a-week tennis match, which this Texas triad had claimed was their health program, ain’t enough. We might want to be a little bit more prepared for our retirement than that.
What good is a big bank account if you can’t even walk down to the bank to take out your money?
If you do nothing more than get out and start walking regularly, this would be an enormous help. That alone would not only add years to your life, but also a spring to your step. It will also ensure that when you do get ready to start exploring the rest of the world, you won’t be spending a day or two in your hotel room suffering after a minor exertion.
Baby Boomers are heading out, and so should we all. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that for some of the most interesting places we want to visit and explore, we’re going to be powering ourselves around.
The last thing you want to have to do is tell your friends to head on without you. They’ll see the wonders while you have to wander the local coffee bar, if that. That’s no way to see the world.
And the world is most definitely waiting.
What are you waiting for?