It’s been an interesting year. As I look back on it in the last couple of hours of my 51st year, I’m generally pleased with where I’ve been, what I’ve seen and who I’ve spent my time with. My 51st trip around the sun brought me to new places near and far, allowed me to meet new people, catch up with old friends and spend quality time with family.
I greatly appreciate my previous company funding my travel lust, even if they fell short in just about every other way. Trips to Portugal, Phoenix, Arizona, Vail, Colorado, Halifax, Nova Scotia, St. John’s, Newfoundland each offered checks off that bucket list. Looking East from the Easternmost point in North America and a month later looking West from the Westernmost point in continental Europe were each memorable moments. Hiking up Camelback Mountain was an interesting contrast to hiking the White Mountains. Visiting Halifax four times during 51 gave me an opportunity to immerse myself in the city.
White water rafting down the Colorado River in Colorado was a lot different from white water rafting on the same river through the Grand Canyon. Jumping off a raft into the Colorado 19 years after the last time I’d done it certainly crossed my mind as I bobbed down the river in 2017. But that’s how I think anyway. Life is about milestones, smelling the roses, making the most of your opportunities. Make the toast, give big hugs, take the long way home, play music too loud, make an ass of yourself, dance with life. I tried to do that during 51. I think I’ve mastered at least one or two of those.
I followed in the footsteps of Mark Twain – literally walking up the stairs to his study in Hartford, and figuratively in a visit to his relocated octagonal study in Elmira, New York. Twain wasn’t the only literary giant I checked in with. I also had a chance to spend time in the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire. I like to listen for the whispers of history in my travels and a visit to an old stone wall in the woods speaks as loudly as seeing the island that Hannah Dustin escaped from or the desk that Mark Twain wrote at.
I hunted down waterfalls in Ithaca, New York, sunrises in St. John’s and sunsets in Sagres. I saw a few, but never enough of each in Pocasset. I visited lighthouses in Portland, York, Falmouth, Sagres, St. John’s and Peggy’s Cove. I chased down beer in Greensboro, Vermont and Port in Lisbon. Hiked Tecumseh, Hale, Camelback, Mahoosuc Notch, and the Roto Vicentina on the coast of Portugal. Spent time on beaches in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Portugal, Shorter but no less memorable walks on Signal Hill, at Dogtown and in an old monastery turned resort near Lisbon.
Time spent with family is more important than ever as the nest emptied in my 51st year. Graduation parties, reunions and holidays brought the extended family together. Trips to New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island offered a few more images to the Instagram account and a few more minutes of family time to the coffer. But the shared suffering of hiking Mahoosuc was the largest deposit to the bank of family lore.
51 was a heck of a ride. Here’s to tomorrow being another step forward. Life offers no guarantees, but I know this; I’m not finished sucking the marrow out of life. Let’s keep this party going 52.