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,
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