We asked Drive readers to send in their life lists, including achievements. Here are some of their stories.
Following a wilderness survival course in college and my first professional job within a half-day’s drive of the Rockies, I began backpacking in Colorado and Wyoming. On trips from a few days to a week long, I headed for trout-filled mountain lakes and streams.
During midcareer I curtailed my backpacking in favor of canoeing, but after retiring I once again had time for a wider variety of recreational activities and have been backpacking several times in Wyoming and Montana wilderness areas.
My early years of backpacking introduced me to the wonders of our national parks. Shortly after marriage, my wife and I spent three months car-camping around the western United States and Alaska to explore these parks. Hiking several miles each day to see the best of each park taught me that volunteers were crucial in building and maintaining many of the trails that I enjoyed.
Wishing to enable other people to experience the type of hiking I so enjoyed, I joined a trail association and began volunteer work on trails.
Late in my career, my wife and I took another three-month car-camping trip around the Western United States, on which I studied trail design. After returning from that trip, I began teaching credit and noncredit classes on trail design. Now as a retiree, I continue teaching trail design as a volunteer and consulting on trail projects.
Throughout my adult life I have hunted deer and occasionally elk with gun and bow. While I’ve hunted whitetails in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Ohio, my greatest love has been hunting mule deer in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. I’ve taken two dozen trips to Wyoming to hike the high mountains in search of mulies. Every trip has been a great success in renewing my spirit, although I don’t always get a buck.
Living in the North Country, I have had to find suitable outdoor activities for all seasons, including winter.
Ice fishing has been a natural activity for me as an avid angler, but I am not satisfied catching panfish and most enjoy fishing for lake trout and northern pike in the BWCAW.
For many years I have recruited friends to snowshoe four to five miles across frozen, snow-covered lakes for the privilege of camping in subzero temperatures and drilling through two feet of ice. Our reward is great camaraderie around a campfire while eating panfried fish and chowder. When I cannot find travel partners, I go alone and have been on several solo winter camping trips to the BWCAW.
Universities encourage their faculty to engage in lifelong learning, to collaborate with faculty at other universities, and to gain international perspectives in their fields of study. With these career drivers and a love for nature, I have been fortunate to explore 49 of our 50 states plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Germany, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. I was fortunate to lead university students on three learning-abroad trips to New Zealand, each lasting three-and-a-half weeks. Most days were spent outdoors, where students learned about New Zealand’s fabulous natural resources and its efforts to cope with environmental issues.
To stay in good physical condition for all of these adventures, I typically spend at least an hour a day walking, bicycling, snowshoeing, or skiing, and sometimes resort to exercises and weight-lifting to prepare for particularly arduous trips. I’m in considerably better shape than the vast majority of 65-year-old men.
While you might think that your life of adventure is over at 65, I truly disagree.
In the last few months I have done virtually all of the different types of activities described above and plan to continue them as long as my health remains good. My life list still includes international travel to Africa, the Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, the Amazon Rainforest, Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica. I might even try bungee jumping and skydiving on my next trip to New Zealand!
Having accumulated thousands of photos of my many adventures, I enjoy sharing these trips with armchair travelers and periodically give photographic lectures to groups. These talks, along with my volunteer trail work, help ensure that others will enjoy life’s adventures.
In 1997, I retired after 35 years of service with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. My wife (Mary Lou) and I decided to use our “spare” time to hike in Pennsylvania’s 120 state parks. Thus far, we’ve hiked in 116 of them, often traveling in our 1997 Subaru Legacy Outback or now in our 2009 Outback. We’ve never worried about being on a dirt road in the woods with our all-wheel drive vehicles.
Our grandson, now 15, was born in 1997 and has been hiking with us in a number of the state parks, as well as on the Appalachian Trail and other trails since he was 6 years old. When he was about 9 years old, he showed us a list of seven natural wonders of the United States that he wanted to visit. We’ve accompanied him on trips to six of those wonders so far, including Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Hawaii Volcanoes national parks and Niagara Falls (in our Outback).
In June, the three of us will be taking a cruise tour of Alaska to see the seventh wonder, Mount McKinley. While this will officially complete our grandson’s original list, my wife and I still plan on hiking the four remaining Pennsylvania state parks (They keep on adding new ones every few years!) and other trails (or other wonders) as long as we’re able. Hopefully, our grandson will still find some time to accompany us (if high school, girls, cars, and work don’t interfere).
We also adopted a 2-year-old rescue dog we named Brie (our cheese dog) last year, and she loves to hike as well. So, we do have a new hiking companion. She also likes to ride in the back seat of our Outback on her favorite blanket when we travel.