Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bucket List

I had never heard the term "bucket list" until the movie of the same name was released. The concept of having stuff to do or see before dying was not unfamiliar to me, but the term was.

For those unfamiliar with the movie, it is basically the story of two men, one rich the other not, who are terminally ill and meet in a hospital. Through various sub-plots, they decide to cross off some of the items on their bucket lists before they become incapacitated and are not able to do so. As one of the men is incredibly wealthy, he picks up the tab for the adventures, most of which would be financially out of reach for most of us.

Some of the things on my bucket list are doable, some not. I have always dreamed of orbiting the earth, looking out of a window and gazing at the big blue marble where we reside. Honestly, that is not doable. My ophthalmologist shot down my dreams of becoming an astronaut when I was in 7th grade. The discovery of a scar somewhere in my eye, my height and my lack of scholastic aptitude further reduced my chance of traveling in space. I doubt that I will ever come up with the cash to by my way onto a Russian spacecraft or a commercial spaceflight either. I'm ok with that, not everybody can fly in space, despite what I was told as a kid in the '60s.

I always wanted to learn how to fly airplanes, that was certainly doable. I took my private pilot check ride back in the early '90s and though I don't fly any more, I don't regret spending the time, effort and money to cross that off of my list. I met some amazing people, took some great flights and learned a lot. all made it worthwhile.

There are a few things on my list that I could have done but for whatever reason did not. Watching a space shuttle launch was one of them. When the shuttle program was first started, shuttle launches were supposed to occur at Vandenberg Air Force Base, as well as at Cape Canaveral. Shuttle Missions belonging to the Air Force would launch out here, NASA and other missions would begin in Florida. I always figured that I would make the four hour drive to Vandenberg one day and see a launch.

Budgetary issues killed the Vandenberg launch plan, even after the Air Force spent bajillions of dollars to build the facility. I just never made the trip to Florida - kids, work, my business, money all contributed to my thinking that I could not make the trip. Now the shuttles will never fly again and I never saw a launch. The said thing is that I probably could have made it happen, especially the last one. That I am not OK with.

I did get to see a space shuttle land. I was doing a vacation relief cycle at station 8 where my friend John was assigned. We saw on the news that a shuttle was supposed to land at Edwards Air Force Base the next day, so as soon as we got off shift the next morning, we loaded my truck up with beer and munchies and headed out to the desert. It was well worth the trip, it should have been a signal to go to Canaveral but I still thought Vandenberg was going to be an option. Who knew.

I still want to travel to a foreign country, one that I can't drive to. Ireland, New Zealand or Austrailia would be nice. Normandy, particularly Omaha Beach, is on my list as well. That is doable, it is just a matter of priority. 

There are lots of things that I want to see and experience, I have been blessed with the ability to do many of them. My list my not be as exotic as Richard Branson's but there are plenty of exciting things to check off. Some of them I will get to, some not. I just think it's important to do what you can and enjoy the trip.

Thanks for reading,



  1. If you are only going to make one trip out of country, I suggest going somewhere that English isn't the mother tongue and is culturally different from the US. Normandy fits the first criteria, but maybe the second could be improved.

    Given that you are west coast, I recommend Japan. It's first world, so you don't have to worry about anything really difficult happening. It's not too far from where you live. You can buy a rail pass and ride the bullet trains for one fixed cost, making in-country travel affordable. And the best part, the people there are among the best of anyplace we've visited (about 15 countries at this point).

    I would highly recommend scheduling your trip so that you are in Hiroshima on the anniversary of the bomb drop for the annual peace ceremony. It's one of the most moving things you could ever do in your life.

    Much close to home, and violating your "someplace I can't drive to" criteria, I'd recommend San Miguel de Allende in the mountains of central mexico. Absolutely beautiful, friendly and affordable.

    You mention Ireland specifically. I didn't like it much. In three weeks we had only two or three evenings that were of any note. Had a great, and very late, sunday night in Sligo. Spent a lovely couple days in Galway. Had a couple pints at the Guinness brewery in Dublin (Guinness is my favorite beer and no small part of how I ended up doing this trip). Otherwise it was just hundreds of miles of driving in the drizzle and looking at pasture after pasture.

    Please feel free to drop me an email if you want more info on anything I mentioned above. Glad to share more as a thanks for the blog.

  2. Hi Capt!
    I have had a bucket list since my thirties! I didnt call it a bucket list, I referred to it as my porch swing to do list, things I had to do before I was too old and could only sit on a porch and tell my tales! Every ten years I fill a page with any number of things I have to do before the ten years is up. Over the last twenty years I have done some pretty amazing things I never would have had I not listed them! I have jumped from a plane, rafted level 5 rapids, done a triathalon, climbed mountains, etc!! This year, I will check off tweo, my first 10k race and my first Falmouth Road Race ! I just checked off my first Duoathon where I placed 4th in my (old) age group of 50-55 , out of 169!! Woot woot! I hope you enjoy yours!
    Its good to be back, Always, Gia

  3. RW2 - Very astute of you to note that the foreign countries on my list were mostly English speaking. Maybe it's the inner desire to be in control of my environment that makes the ability to easily communicate a requirement for me. It's probably something that I should just get over.

    I would definitely enjoy Japan, it appears to be a very orderly place with an emphasis on aesthetics, especially in the less urban areas. From what I've seen, the Japanese appear to accept photography and it appears to be a subject rich environment. Hiroshima would be a place to see, the memorial ceremony included. I would have to be careful, as I would not want to somehow minimize the reverence of the event by my presence as a tourist.

    Guinness and drizzle, I can live with that! Actually Ireland is a destination for a couple of reasons. First, my wife is of Irish descent and she has a desire to see the country of her ancestors. Second, one of the people that we will be traveling with really wants to spend her 50th birthday in a certain pub in Dublin. Sounds like a plan to me!.

    It's a big world out there, maybe I should see a bit more of it.

    Gia - Your term "porch swing to do list" does seem to be a bit less harsh than "bucket list" and I like the long/mid term planning aspect of your list. It appears that it has been a successful strategy in checking items off of your list.

    I had to Google the Falmouth Road Race, it sounds like a great event. Congrats!

    Good to hear from you, I wondered if the space aliens had abducted you or you had been chained to a console in a remote com center someplace. Either way, glad you are well.

    Thanks for the comments.