My Bucket List
I have had a “Bucket List” in my mind for many, many years. For one reason or another, my list was never actually written out. I guess the main reason is because my list is very, very personal. What might be my zeal and passion, may mean nothing to someone else. If I share it, will it change the way people think of me?
Oxford Dictionaries describe “Bucket List” as “a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime”. Putting a “Bucket List” page on my website was inspired by my carefree, photographer friend named Trablogger. He describes a Bucket List as “the list of things that you would like to do before a certain point in life, either before 30, 50 or before you die”. This definition really hit home, because in fact, I am very much into that last category.
My list would be much different than it would have been 35 years ago, and if I am still around this earth in 35 years, it would be far different than what I will be writing out over the next few months. Aging does change perspective. You become more aware of your physical limitations and mortality.
I am using a “Page” on the website, because it will change, with updates and new items being added as time allows, also updates as items are crossed off the list. But something different from any other Bucket List I have encountered, is that I will try and explain why the items are here, and why this is important to me.
1: Complete a Full Marathon COMPLETED OCTOBER 19, 2014
Why is this important to me? I 1st started running when I was 20, after my mom had her mental breakdown, that left her in hospital for over 2 months. With no one that I was really comfortable to talk to, running helped me cope. It was a release. I would dream of being an Olympic marathoner, and finishing before thousands of cheering fans. Even though I was only running 5 miles (8k’s) at that point, it was coping mechanism, to take me away from reality. A few months later I injured the meniscus in my right knee playing baseball. The knee did heal, but as a side affect, I had a knee that would “lock” during physical activity. If it locked while running, it would cause major damage. So simply put, I never ran, and for over 25 years, it was like that. Over the past 10 or so years, I have cycled more and greater distances, and started to notice that “locking knee” issue was becoming less of an issue.
Last year my work became involved in a “half marathon” in Toronto. After 35 years of not running, I thought to myself, “What are the chances?” Before I said anything of commitment, I tried the knee out in some “test runs”, and it was fine. No locking or hint of locking whatsoever. Yes, there was a knee issue, but not to do with the locking. When I completed that Half Marathon in front of literally thousands of cheering fans last year, I was hooked. My goal in 2015 was to be that “Olympic Marathoner” and complete my 1st full marathon. Training went flawlessly, until 19 days before the event, when an ankle injury took me out. Did no more running for those 19 days and made a last-minute decision the morning of the marathon to at least try. The story about it is found on the post Running from the Sidelines.
Since that momentous day I ran the same marathon the following year (and came 10 minutes shy of qualifying for the Boston marathon). In 2016, I shifted more in trail running and since then I have completed 14 official ultras. This includes a 50 mile distance and a 150 kilometer stage race. In 2019 I ran several unofficial 50k Ultras with the Monarch Ultra. This has given me a new inspiration to use my ultrarunning to bring awareness for the environment. This focus remains to this day.
2: Climb a Mountain Over 6,100 Meters or 20,000 Feet
Why is this important to me? Having taken a 3-month instructor training course in mountain climbing in 1984, my life became a series of climbing dreams and ambitions of what would lie ahead. But sometimes love takes a precedence. This happened when I met my Lynne. Although she greatly tried to have me continue to climb, I no longer saw it as important. She was! 🙂
Six years after the course, I get a letter from Ross Cloutier, the lead instructor on my course. Ross was organizing a Canadian climbing expedition on the North Ridge of Mt. Everest that came in from the Tibet side, and he was inviting me to be a part of that historic expedition in 1991. I would not be summiting, due to my limited high altitude experience, but would be there more as a support person, and the highest I would reach would have been Camp 1, 6,100 metres or 20,000. It would have been an incredible experience, Lynne was really trying to encourage me to do it. But it meant 2 things….I would miss out on the birth of my 1st child, and it would take all the money we had saved for the down payment of our 1st (and only so far) home. You can’t put a price on stuff like that. Over the years, I have read mountaineering books, and now with the internet I continue to read 1st hand expeditions right as they are happening. One day I would like to get back into climbing, but on a much smaller scale of my original dreams and ambitions. My bucket list item is to do a climb over 6,100 meters, or 20,000 feet. Camp 1 of Everest does not hold as much interest anymore, as it has gotten way too commercialized over the past 25 years. There are 121 peaks in the world over that 20,000 feet mark. Lots of research before I settle on which one! 🙂
3: Cycle Across Canada
Why is this important to me? I have always loved bicycling, and next to walking it is the most energy efficient form of transportation in the world, but much quicker. Have followed several cyclists who travel the world for months, and sometimes years at a time. My one and only experience with bicycle touring was 10 years ago. My wife surprised me with an airline credit worth around $500 that would take me anywhere this Canadian airline named “WestJet” would fly. She did it as a Thank You for all the sacrifices I have done for the family over the years. What a sweet, caring wife! I am SO blessed! I thought it over, and my destination of choice ended up being the Hawaiian Islands of Maui and Molokai. (a great way to break up a Canadian winter) :
I spent 7 days on Maui living in a hostel. Lounging on the beach did not interest me, spent my time doing stuff like hiking into the crater of Haleakala, hiking in nature preserves, caving etc. Molokai was where I tried out bicycle touring, using my tent as my home, and I absolutely loved it. I am sure anyone in shape could cycle the island in one day, but I spent 10 days exploring all the nooks and crannies, as well as taking hiking side trips. Molokai is very laid back, there was not even a traffic light on the island. And getting to meet the local people was absolutely amazing.
At 7,200 kilometers from coast to coast, a bicycle tour across my home country of Canada would by far be my most grueling adventure. I know it has been accomplished in as little as 27 days, but that is not my intention. To take my time, explore, take lots of photographs, meet the local everyday people, represent an important charity, and then write about my adventure journey. It would be a commitment that would have to wait until retirement, because of the time commitment.
4: Learn to Swim
Why is This Important to Me? Having grown up a farm, as a child, I had very little exposure to water and swimming. My time around water was limited to a short afternoon at the beach once a year. Growing up into early adulthood, I had the opportunity to go on some canoe trips, which went well. As time went on, I was doing whitewater canoeing on the Upper Clearwater River in British Columbia, (way beyond my experience) when on one occasion our canoe capsized, I got caught in a souse hole for what seemed like an eternity. It would have been just several seconds, but really frightened me.
Since then I have had a milder form of the Psychology term “AQUAPHOBIA“, The Fear Of Drowning”. A bathtub, a whirlpool, even the lap pool at my gym are all fine, I am not bothered by it. But if the water level rises close to my neck, I get very panicky, and have to get to shallower water. In trying to overcome this fear over the years, I have actually jumped into the deep ends of pools, but as soon as I surface, I am scrambling for the sides.
It is important for me to overcome this, I would love to learn how to swim, to relax in the water, to jump in, and not be all panicky. If I ever decide I want to do a triathlon, I’m going to have to know how to swim. It is as simple as that.
5: Complete a Winter Half Marathon COMPLETED MARCH 1ST, 2015
Why is this important to me? Running is winter in Canada poses it’s vey own challenges not found in any other season of the year. It is unpredictable and a person is very much at the mercy off the elements. For me, running a half marathon in the winter is also very mental. The day my dad died, which was the day of Winter’s First Snowfall in 1973, I tried to run away as far as I could from those memories…but was defeated by the snow.
Completed a winter Half Marathon on March 1st, 2015. Full story found HERE!
PLACES I WOULD LIKE TO RETURN TO
1: The Farmhouse Where I Grew Up
Why is this important to me? Strangely enough, the farmhouse where I grew up is only 12 miles from where I live now. I had so many wonderful memories growing up there. But when my dad suddenly passed away when I was 15, it meant having to move off the farm. The farm changed hands several times over the years. The house was never cared for like when my dad looked after it, each new owner it seemed the house would become more and more dilapidated, until it got to the point where it was ready to be bulldozed. It was so hard to see, that I no longer drove past the farm of my childhood, and chose a different route. The last couple of years, there has been a wonderful change….new owners who care. They have put a lot of time, money and love into restoring the old farmhouse. I want to go back and visit so badly, to walk through the rooms of my childhood, and relive the memories. I don’t like imposing on others. If I were to knock on the door, and ask for a walk through, I might be thought as someone casing the place out for robbery. Not sure how to go about it! 🙂
2: Stewart Island New Zealand
My wife is a “kiwi”, we got married in New Zealand, and we spent the 1st 9 months of our married lives down under. It is a beautiful country, with wonderful people, but at the time the economy in New Zealand was very low. Interest rates were over 20%, and jobs were non existent, so sadly we packed up and returned to Canada, where I had a job waiting for me.
We had an extended 7 week honeymoon backpacking the south island for 4 weeks, and then Stewart Island for 3 weeks. Stewart Island is very much a secret paradise. When we were there, there was about 400 people on the island, the rest was all bush, with incredibly challenging backpacking trails. Every beach you encounter is completely secluded. This island left a very special place on my heart.
My wife has returned to New Zealand 4 times to visit and reconnect with family, which is SO important. I returned to New Zealand for the 1st time in 28 years in December 2016 attended my daughter’s graduation from teachers college. I tried to work Stewart Island into my schedule, but it just did not happen. A great reason to get back to New Zealand sometime soon (and not take me another 28 years). 🙂
I Will Not Be Around for This Bucket List Item
My favorite band is Switchfoot. Their music has inspired me and made me a better person. One of top life highlights was seeing them in concert. During the concert lead singer Jon Foreman worked his way through the standing crowds while walking on the empty seats. He ended up stopping at the chair right beside where he sung for several minutes. It was SO amazing, I could not believe this was happening.
Yes, I would love to see Switchfoot again. It is on my list. But this Bucket List item I won’t be around for. I will be in a better place. This is my favorite Swithfoot song, and I would love to have it played at my funeral. Whenever that day comes! 🙂