The Great Adventure We Call Life

I am planning a fall adventure with a friend. We’re considering a camping trip to King’s Canyon National Park. I’m assuming there is a canyon in the park, but basically all I know is that there are trees. Giant trees! That sure will be a change from the desert, a needed change for both of us. Like me, she’s alone and needs adventure, needs to get out, needs to live larger than she is.

Actually, there are a lot of us in that situation. An east coast friend wants me to go on an adventure in Harper’s Ferry with her for those very same reasons, and perhaps I’ll be able to do it next year, but I’m not yet ready for another cross country road trip. If I go, I would like to saunter along the Shenandoah National Park section of the Appalachian Trail, and I’m not ready for that yet, either.

Despite my rhetoric about traveling alone, I am looking forward to this proposed fall trip — it’s a different sort of adventure, one that isn’t dependent on me alone. It also adds an adventure to my life without taking away from my solo adventures. Assuming I haven’t come to hate backpacking by then, I’d like to do a solo backpacking trip this fall, but there will be plenty of warm weather after the King’s Canyon adventure. And if not, if it gets cold before I can go backpacking, well, I’ve never been to Death Valley. And never backpacked in Joshua Tree National Park. Or the desert portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Adventures galore!

It might not seem as if my life is going anywhere, it might seem as if I am always talking about the same things — what I’m going to do, what I would like to do, what I’m trying to do — and yet, there are changes.

I keep working my elbow, arm, and hand, and though the arm and wrist are slightly deformed, I can do most of what I did before. Some things are difficult, such as not being able to touch my left shoulder with my left hand, but I can now use the left trekking pole with the left hand (without an inordinate amount of pain) and oh, so many things that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do.

I’ve been walking, adding distance to the saunter and weight to the pack. I don’t know if I’m actually getting stronger, but I carried twenty-five pounds today for five miles. That’s something.

And I’ve been good about not eating wheat or sugar.

Little challenges. Little changes. Will they add up to big changes? I don’t know, and at this point, I don’t suppose it matters. What does matter is that today I went sauntering. Today I ate healthy foods. Today I spent time with a friend. (A woman I met at dance class has been joining me on my Sunday saunters lately. It’s been a great way to visit, and keeps me going just a bit longer than I might have otherwise felt like trudging.)

All part of the great adventure we call life.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Desert Revelation

Ideas of an epic adventure of my own seem unreal at times, and yet, in my researches, I’ve been coming across the blogs of many older women who have undergone great losses and great grief, and are now finding solo adventures in their latter years. Living in RVs, stealth camping, kayaking in all 50 states, thru-hiking various national trails, pumping iron. It’s as if once women have been set free from all ties, we become bold and adventurous, treating the whole world as our own back yard.

desert knollsToday, out walking in the desert, I had an interesting revelation. I was thinking about these women and their great adventures, thinking about the possibility of my own adventure walking or living on the road. I was wondering which I should do first, get a van conversion or go walking, when it hit me — do both at once.

I talk about thru-walking the Pacific Crest Trail, maybe walking across the United States, or some other epic walk, but such an athletic feat is beyond my strength and knowledge, at least for now. Even if there weren’t the problem of carrying enough water to get me through long dry sections, there is the greater problem that I don’t like backpacking. I do, however, like seeing the world at a walking pace of about 3 miles per hour.

I know people who would like an adventure but don’t have the financial or physical resources for an epic journey of their own. What if I got the van or camper, let these people use it, even paid for their expenses, and all they would have to do is meet me at the end of each day with my gear and supplies. The rest of the time, they could loll on the beach, enjoy the scenery from a mountaintop, maybe find the inspiration and the time to finally write again.

Meantime, I’d be just walking along, nothing in my mind but the next step, nothing in my pockets but enough water and food to get me to the rendezvous point.

I could even go to where such a willing volunteer lived, and find somewhere to walk around that region.

And if I had extended periods between walks? Come back here and take dance classes, of course.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.