My Wonderful, Fabulous Life, or, Why You Should (Should Not) Envy Me

Atheism is not all I do. It’s sort of my curse that most things interest me. Used to be, EVERYTHING interested me, but I’ve gotten more conservative in my old age. The uncool part of the condition is that it’s been hard to focus on any one thing, and actually make a good living at it. The cool part is, it’s been (is being) a fun ride.

One of my things is adventuring. Doing stuff for the fun of it. I would actually like to make a living at it, and have been working, at a glacial pace, to develop a website — AdventYear — of “Outdoor Adventures for Fat Old People.”

What you’ll see is you click over there is a half-completed site (or maybe it’s one-tenth completed; I just know there’s still a LOT of stuff to do, and at this point, given recent time/money pressures, I’m not sure I’ll ever finish the thing). But there are a couple of adventures up, to show to potential sponsors/advertisers.

The idea behind the site is my supposition that there are a lot of fat old people — such as ME, for instance — who either had adventures in their youth, and miss them, or never got around to it but still want to. BUT that most adventure writing is aimed at young people, which means it focuses on the balls-out crazy stuff that someone like me … well, let’s just say I don’t want to waste one minute of my time by getting injured or killed.

But the point of the whole thing is that you’re never too old to have adventures, and that even the 55 to 75 demographic (my target audience) can still do fun stuff.

My intention is/was to have one great adventure a week for an entire year and write about it in an entertaining fashion, including pictures or video. It would be aimed at seniors in this way: All the safety and access caveats would be included, and each adventure would have clear visual keys attached (glyphs I would design) to the physical and mental impacts, the degree of difficulty, how scary it is, whether it includes bathrooms (!),  handicapped access, etc. (You can see a sample of that info in the sidebar to A Midsummer Night’s Gleam.)

The kick-ass fun part of it is that I’d get to have all those adventures: Hot air ballooning! Water skiing! Wilderness camping! Parasailing! Skydiving! Whitewater rafting! Shithowdybygollydam! (Also kick-ass is that I’ve already experienced and written about many of the adventures, and would just have to do them again with an eye to this older audience.)

The hard work part is that in the midst of having these weekly adventures, I’d have to take notes, take pictures, write articles, contact advertisers, schedule future adventures, actually GET TO each coming adventure (they’d take place all over the United States), format and post adventures on the website … on and on. Whew. A lot of work for one fat, old man.

All of this in the midst of being an atheist blogger, getting into public speaking, writing another book and, oh yeah, holding down my day job in Mundania. And dammit, someday I want to have a big goofy dog again!  (See? TOLD YA I have a hard time doing one thing.)

Anyway, thought you might find it interesting.

Oh, by the way? If I never get this thing finished, the lesson it’s all wrapped around is that you can DO this stuff, at practically any age. And that you should, you MUST.

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  • Somerville

    Have you ever sailed a ‘small’ boat across an ocean? By ‘small’ I mean less than, say 20 metres LOA

    • ‘Tis Himself

      I used to race 12-20 meters/40-65 feet boats from Newport, Rhode Island to Bermuda. I had to give it up on the advice of my cardiologist.

      As I do most weekends when the weather’s decent, today I spent about six hours sailing in Long Island Sound in a boat similar to this one (Ericson 39).

      Like Hank, I’m an old, fat man.

  • Johnny Vector

    I heartily endorse this idea!

    You’ve got a lot of “[pullquote]” pseudo-tags on there; must have the syntax wrong. And of course, Needs more adventures!, but otherwise it looks like something that would get me hooked.

  • ancienttechie

    One problem: after a year’s worth of adventures, you’ll be lean and muscular. You may need to redefine your target audience, thereafter.

  • Dorothy

    Definition ‘fat old man’ does not compute. I won’t bet, but I am at least ‘near’ your age. And a darn site rounder. And I got to ride on a camel within the last two years (see dorothy grasett on facebook) and get sat on by a very small monkey. and twice rode an elephant. and . . .
    It’s fun when you are over 70, isn’t it. If you are, that is.
    Cause I am.
    Go to it. The more fun the better. We only get one whack at it.

  • Desert Son, OM

    If you haven’t done it already:

    Back in late March 2002, I spent 5 days in the Norwegian wilderness, 400 km above the Arctic Circle, dogsledding on one of this company’s husky safaris.

    Highly, highly recommended.

    Highlights include:

    - Seeing the aurora borealis (something I’ve always always always wanted to see live . . . and it did not disappoint. Stunning).

    - Learning to sled

    - Learning to care for the sled dogs, including harnessing, checking for injuries, feeding, and so forth

    - Staying in Sami lodges (including enjoying Sami saunas, cast-iron wood-burning stoves, and the obligatory naked-roll-in-the-snow)

    - Eating cloudberries with cream and sprinkled sugar

    - Reindeer herds

    - Fjords!

    - Watching a flock of ptarmigan burst into flight against the orange ball of the setting sun as we topped a snowy ridge on sled-back

    - Tea breaks midday, setting up a small campstove in the middle of a vast, snowy landscape with nothing around but silence, quietly brewing tea, enjoying a cuppa with a lovely cookie or trail bar

    - Crossing a wide-open expanse of snow-covered tundra and periodically chuckling to yourself as you mutter under your breath: “Echo Station 3-T-8. We’ve spotted Imperial walkers!”

    - Sledding across frozen rivers and lakes, and looking down to see exposed ice and the water beneath it, and the thrill that accompanied that sight

    - Long hours on sled with four companions, but no way to talk because the sleds run in a line, so you’re left with nothing but huge expanses of quiet in which to think, and reflect, and dream

    - The laughter of camaraderie shared around wood-burning stoves the night after a long days sled

    - Watching a Sami family pass by on their snowmobiles, one of which tows a small two-runner sled painted bright red, and in which are seated the family’s two little children less than 3 years old, dressed against the cold, and seeing those tiny mittened hands raised in hello as they pass

    - Standing under starkly clear night skies mesmerized by the expanse of stars unpolluted by urban light proximity

    - Raw salmon for dogs and raw salmon for people!

    - Reindeer steaks with beer that’s been chilled by setting it out in a snowbank all afternoon

    - Getting to know your dog team so well that you finally figure out the best arrangement for all four (our teams only had four dogs) to maximize their efficiency and how they get along and like to run

    - Learning to divest yourself (without losing it) of your snow suit and under-clothes sufficiently such that you can urinate on the trail . . . while the sled is in motion

    - That hilarious moment when you start a long uphill slope and the dogs feel the weight of you, your five-days-worth of gear, and the sled, and the sled suddenly slows as the dogs look back over their shoulders with an expression that I totally anthropomorphized as “Hey! 88 kilos! Get your bipedal ass off the runners and help push!”

    - Walking out of the Sami hut in the early morning at that moment that the dogs realize that it’s time to get harnessed and get on the move, and their howls of enthusiasm become so loud that you can’t actually have a conversation with your friends

    - The sudden stark silence as soon as the dogs set off and they settle in to doing what they absolutely love: work with the pack to move the sled

    - That moment when you realize you’re part of the pack

    I cannot recommend this adventure enough. If you do get to go, tell your guide that you want to learn how to do all the sled-related stuff, that you want to help cook, clean, check injuries, apply salve and snow-booties against ice-cuts, learn how to set the dogs in traces and bed them down for the night, the whole bit. Many such tours end up with the people along as “tourists” and the guide ends up doing essentially all the work, and that breaks my heart, because there’s no way that compares to actually doing all the stuff yourself, actually being invested in it.

    Still learning,


    • Hank Fox

      Well, heck, you’ve got everything you need to do an article on that! Get writing!

      Also, where are the pics? I want to see them!

      Side note: I have been on a dog sled ride, but for less than an hour. I had a friend who had a commercial sled dog operation in California, and I got to spend a lot of time with his 40 dogs in the field and at the kennel. The article I did on it at the time, where I spent the entire day with the mushers and dogs, the owner and his chief musher said I was the first writer who got it RIGHT.

  • reasoningbeing

    You should do the Grand Canyon rafting trip with the National Center for Science Education. See some glaciers in Alaska. Totally worth it.

    • Hank Fox

      A cruise to Alaska is definitely on my list, and I would dearly love to see glaciers as part of it.

      I actually knew Tim Treadwell, the guy who got eaten by a grizzly (and character-assassinated in the lame-ass documentary “Grizzly Man”). I’ve spoken to Tim’s Alaskan bush pilot, and he said he could fly me to the same spectacular grizzly country Tim used to visit. Someday …

      And damn, that NCSE Grand Canyon trip looks fantastic!

  • Markita Lynda—damn climate change!

    Maybe you could partner up with Quark Adventures and write articles for people who might want to take their expeditions, including the Antarctic. Or were you planning to offer them yourself?

  • Markita Lynda—damn climate change!

    People in North America who want the sled dog experience can get in touch with Chocpaw Expeditions. They have been breeding the perfect sled dog and running expeditions of various lengths for at least thirty years. They run mostly in Algonquin Park in Ontario but can go farther afield. They are booking now for next winter. Just don’t call in the middle of the night expecting an answering machine–they always answer if they have people out and they will have canoe trips & hikers out in the summer.

    The Duke of Edinburgh Awards trips are part of a leadership programme for young people.

  • pondoro

    I really like this idea, I know a lot of active (and some not as active) older people who aren’t slowing as they get older and it seems like it would be a good group that’s been left to languish. You might also find this interesting. I did the Ha Ling peak hike with Keith a few years ago, and he handled 800 metres of elevation without trouble.

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