How Many Good Years Left in the Outdoors?

9:05 a.m. on December 9, 2018 (EST)
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I used to work with a guy a little older than me.  He was a geologist and had spent much of his career in the field, and loved to go out there.  He spent long trips at Death Valley in remote parts of the Park in winter. 

He always talked about the fact "that I only have a certain number of good years left in the backcountry."  He planted the seed of urgency to get out there.  I feel the sand going through the hourglass. My new mantra is to get out there all year.  I like to camp in the shoulder season, the winter, the off season and head for the backcountry in summer when everything is crowded.  Time to get serious, because the years are limited.  Anyone else feel the pulse?

10:46 a.m. on December 9, 2018 (EST)
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Good topic! and very appropriate for me.  In my 80s now, I know darn well that most of life is behind me.  I am glad I can look back upon decades of outdoor activity, both purely recreational and professional.  I can look forward, as well, although I am not as vigorous as I was in earlier years.  I am just thankful that maintaining physical fitness was a priority when younger - it is really paying of now.

But I am definitely slower.  That isn't all bad.  A slower pace just means I can scan for objects of interest to archaeology and paleontology a bit more carefully.  But my main mission at this point in my career is to assist and inform younger workers coming on to the scene and get them up to full potential.

Life is a relay and you eventually pass on the torch.

9:26 p.m. on December 9, 2018 (EST)
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Just spent the day on a trail crew near Yosemite. At 66, I hope I have a few years left, but time waits for no man or woman.  It is always time to get out!

11:44 p.m. on December 9, 2018 (EST)
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"hikermor In my 80s now, I know darn well that most of life is behind me."
I know what you mean, my days of multi-day backpacking or snow camping at the age of 74yrs. After two strokes, I am comforted by the knowledge I provided with loveones and friends. Plus, after taking many pictures it allows me to "refresh" my memories.

An essay about my trip to Glenn Aulin, Yosemite N.P. URL;

6:12 a.m. on December 10, 2018 (EST)
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Actually my health has be plummeting over the last few years.  I know you folks on the Forum think I am chugging along, peachy keen, but I put up a good front, most likely my English roots coming through.  I am well on my way into dementia.  I am starting to not recognize familiar faces.  I no long can tell what I hold in my left hand by touch alone.  I make coffee wrong 40% of the time.  Bodily function randomly go bizerk.  I've already had a two strokes and a heart attack.  All sorts of physical things are starting to go awry, as my mental entropy advances.  I also have an immune system disorder that is eating my lungs; I've lost 35% of my lung capacity since my early 20s.  This is starting to take its toll, summiting  Mt. Langley, at a little over 14K', last August felt like Denali.  The irony is I used to be a top athlete, and always took good care of myself: I was a Division I football player and category 1 cyclist; in my late 20s I took on high altitude mountaineering.  But a serious head injury, and six week coma (not sports related) and losing the genetic lottery seemed to have conspired against my best efforts, and now the end is looming much sooner than later.  If these affairs take the usual course, I have perhaps four more years.  So yea, the sand is going through my hour glass like a sand blaster.  But I am OK with this.  I am doing more trips than ever, and enjoying them more than ever.  But I definitely have a finite time to do this.  Strange how the last drops from a well squeezed lime are the sweetest.


7:12 a.m. on December 10, 2018 (EST)
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This is absolutely terrible news, Ed. You are one of the more hilarious Internet personalities and though (many) of us have never met in person, I for one, certainly feel a bond within the Trailspace community. It sounds like you have made peace and an acceptance of what you are going through. 

The truth is, nobody really knows how much time we have left. Many older members have chimed in knowing the inevitable is coming. But I, at 33, may have less time then some of you. I have nothing wrong (that I know of) but a massive clot could end it all tomorrow with no warning. 

The point, as ppine mentioned, is to enjoy whatever time we have. Take that trip, walk your kids to school, check in on your parents (or grandparents if you are lucky enough), eat that junk food and enjoy the fine wine. 

8:36 a.m. on December 10, 2018 (EST)
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Well as the cat said to the skunk, this journey we've been on has been interesting, but I have enjoyed just about all I can stand. 

At least my daughter is out of college and on her way to a successful life, and my wife suffers my company more than needs me around.  One benefit to dementia is you experience less stress.  You can't remember your problems, and forget you are mad at people.  You can find the good side of almost anything, except perhaps a wet sleeping bag on a cold night.


11:44 a.m. on December 10, 2018 (EST)
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Now I like you even more.  Never be daunted and never give up.  It took me 4 years to recover from a broken femur enough to go backpacking again. But I am still out there. 

My problem has been physical injuries.   The reward for working hard and taking care of ourselves is time in the outdoors.  Most of my friends think a big weekend is staying in an RV park and going wine tasting and out to dinner.  As we age, the group gets smaller and smaller, but has a lot more wisdom. 

1:38 p.m. on December 10, 2018 (EST)
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Damn, Ed! If I'da known I woulda made a point of getting over to the Sierra for a tour with you last year. Hang in there and squeeze the best out of it

5:05 p.m. on December 10, 2018 (EST)
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i get outside a fair bit, always have. parents got us out early, and we all fell in love with it in our own way.  so, the hourglass doesn't get the credit, though it does influence what i can and can't do. hiking & being outside (canoing serves a similar function for me) helps me clear my head, shed stress, stay in shape, and slow down to take in the little things. or things that are enough off the beaten path that i wouldn't have seen them at all. 

running used to be a capable substitute, but a repaired and occasionally grumpy knee made it less fun. 

Ed - it makes me sad that you have such challenging health issues, but glad that you are living life to the fullest you can.  

7:01 p.m. on December 10, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks all, but don't feel sorry for me folks, feel sorry for those who suffer my company!  You guys endure me in small portions, imagine putting up with the rants and weird ass POVs blurting out from every brain fart imaginable.  I am running around the house cussing, where are my keys where are those damn keys!  My wife looks at my left hand - I can no longer tell by touch what I am holding in that hand - your keys are right there Ed...   I have an in-law cousin who won't backpack with me any more because my insights were too off the wall and make him feel like he is mentally ill.  In any case I can still get about, better than a lot of 20 somethings, and capable of piecing together a good thought now and then, so what time is short. 

Yes Andrew, I'm squeezing that lime for all its juice.  As Yogi Berra could have quipped:  I don't have much time left, so I am hurrying to get there fast as possible.  By the same token  I'm heeding the advice of the song by the 1980s band, Supertramp: Take the Long Way Home.  

And Rick, I'm your Huckleberry, still game for a hike whenever you are out west and have some free time.


10:49 a.m. on December 11, 2018 (EST)
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This fall on a solo camping trip in the cold, I did something I have never done before.  I carefully examined a handicapped campsite.  I have spent time in wheelchairs before. You have to be determined, but it is still possible.  After my last wreck in 2007.  I had my girl pack me up with 7 pillows in the back of her Jeep.  I just wanted to be up in the mountains in the fall and hear the wind and smell the ppines. 

2:56 p.m. on December 11, 2018 (EST)
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I contacte, krerpd ed about 6 months ago and he messaged me back cause I hadn't seen any posts from him in a long time..I felt trailspace was losing a great and funny contributor to this crowed of holligans...I am happy hes doing what he loves to do and I wish I could do half of what hes seen.Ed your the best keeping us on our toes

6:45 p.m. on December 11, 2018 (EST)
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Looking forward to some ski touring this winter.  New skis!  So much easier to control than the old boards.  I stopped ski trekking while raising my daughter (didn't want her to be orphaned).   But now she is out of college, and it is time for me to play.  Gotta get in better shape for this, however.  Incentive to do more hill climbs and stair flights.


6:51 p.m. on December 11, 2018 (EST)
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Actually where is Bill S (a.k.a OGBO)?  I've seen only a few posts from him, recently, and he is a few years my senior.  I thought for sure he'd chime in, here, and shame us all, sharing some trip he recently completed that few of us were ever fit enough to contemplate.  (A little bird told me he is related to the EverReady Bunny).


7:05 p.m. on December 13, 2018 (EST)
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Come on, now Ed. you have lots more years... if you stop associating with some of those folks.

Right now, I am occupied with several projects. I have moved on from associating with politicians. My big move is leaving this planet Earth and all its totally idiot occupants. I have a fine place with nice dwellings and only reasonable occupants who do not run around shooting everyone and everything or alternatively setting most of the vegetation on fire, then dowsing the fires with millions of gallons of water onto anything resembling a town.

Those of you who want to join in will have to go through a thorough grilling and provide your own transportation. If you pass the tests, I might allow you to set up one hectare of the surface. 

You have to pay your own way. The location is  Planet Mars. I am limiting the total number of humans to my closest friends. The rest of you can have Mercury.  Elon Musk is not invited.

On a more serious side, my wife awoke one morning a month ago to discover that she had lost all vision in her left eye. We have been spending a lot of time at various hospitals and other medical locations. There is no known remedy for this. She does have enough vision in her right eye, and is ok per the DMV to drive. She is hesitant to drive after dark though. We still get into the outdoors a lot.

Yes, we have several trips on line. I have been on all 7 continents plus a few islands (last night, I was watching one of the "critter" shows and reminded that I haven't been to the Galapagos, although we have been to Easter Island). Japan and Mongolia were lots of fun and we are thinking about going back to both. And, we have an open invitation to get back to Antarctica so we can get Barbara to her last continent.

As a Board member for the American Climber Science Program, I spend time in the Andes among other parts of the planet (you can find an on-line description for the ACSP on your computer - and yes, we have lots of proof that the climate of the Earth is changing - it's really annoying when a favorite mountain with extensive glaciers completely melts its beautiful glaciers, leaving just a pile of rock rubble in just a  few years - haven't yet found a pair of skis that can run nicely over large boulders). 

   ---- Bill S aka OGBO

10:56 a.m. on December 14, 2018 (EST)
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It is good to hear from Bill. 

I am tired of traveling outside North America to look for outdoor adventures.  Everything I care about is right here. 

11:05 a.m. on December 14, 2018 (EST)
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Ed, I suck at responding to news such as you've shared. That said, I do feel like I know you a little bit and want you to know how much I've enjoyed reading your posts over the years. I love your humor, your razor sharp practicality and your often unusual takes on any given topic. I hope you fight hard and hold out as long as you can. You are one of my all-time favorite on-line personalities. That sounds weird but you know I mean. :)

Also good to see Bill OGBO chiming in. Pretty sure he could still out-hike me...!!

9:21 a.m. on December 16, 2018 (EST)
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The discussion between Bill and Patman reminds me of a recent trip to the Ruby Mountains in Nevada.  Out of 6 people, I was second youngest at 68.  As we age, staying busy and staying in shape matters more and more.  I could not keep up with guys in their 70s at 10,000 feet, but they were bike racers and ex-marathon runners. Most people still backpacking in their 70s are probably some pretty good athletes that work at staying in shape. 

I was talking to my Dad recently who is 94.  "How do you feel?" I asked him.  "I feel fine" he said, "I don't hurt at all."  My Dad still wants me to take him deer hunting.  My uncle, his younger brother is 92.  Until recently he was playing tennis 3 times a week.  He came to visit for my 60th birthday when he was 84.  We went hiking all over the mountains behind the house.  My Mom used to say "it is much better to wear out than to rust out."

10:25 a.m. on December 17, 2018 (EST)
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ppine, for sure on that last point, you just never know. This is a true story: some years ago I fell in with an older gentleman hiking in the Smokies. Found out he was 76 years old, had lived in the area his entire life, and that day he was on 23 mile day hike (had been shuttled by his son), and I was on a 3 day backpack, only sharing some of his route. So we were differently equipped in terms of pack weight but even so, I could not keep up with his pace. And I really wanted to because his stories were fantastic and I was soaking them up.  I literally made myself sick trying to match his pace. I was 39. Humbling to say the least. 

3:33 p.m. on December 17, 2018 (EST)
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This next spring I am going back out backpacking and living wild in SW Utah. I plan to stay outdoors at least thru the summer and fall, but hopefully into winter as well, like I used to do all over the west and Alaska. I have not don more than weekend trips the last few years, but I want to get out an live in the wilds 24/7 all year, like ppine was saying.

I found this cave along the Parunuweap Canyon between Mt Carmel Junction and the Zion Nat Park boundary that for years now since fining it have wanted to go and use it as a base camp and in the winter if I stay that long stay in it. I am sure indians must have known and used it too.

The cave is 30 feet in diameter and about 12 foot high in the middle inside.

This is it in the evening near sunset, my friend Paul stands inside, he is about 6 feet tall. The bright image I took about 5 years before the shot of Paul, you can see how big that Moon Lily plant had grown since I first saw it.

I am going back up to SW Utah in April. 

I have been doing mainly bicycle tours the last 10 years and  cannot burn enough fat fast enough. My gut is getting larger and I want to burn it off! When I backpacked from 1977 to 2012 I never kept any weight I put on during the summer months when I was working and not getting outdoors as much. Cycling just does not do the weight loss like it used to quickly enough as all the hiking I used to do 9 months a year.

I retired and started getting SSi last February, but worked a part time job back in Jackson Hole last summer. Now I have been in Tucson since October and plan to head to Flagstaff in March and then on to southwest Utah in April.

I can live on my SSi very well when not paying rent. So my plan is to go out and live outdoors  from March/April  with my bike, then backpacking all the rest of 2019. I hope I can!

7:49 p.m. on December 17, 2018 (EST)
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The post above was one only you could make Gary.  I think it is a big deal to be out for several trips in a month and sleep outside for 10 nights. Being out there full time is totally different. 

How long do you think you can keep up the pace Gary?  Do you procure your food on long stays? Do run out of things like batteries and stove fuel?

We have talked before about the allure of going out and coming back.  It is the contrast that I have always liked the best.  Working away from home 2/3 of the time was not good for me, because I was away from home and because I was working so many hours.  Usually on rigourous trips much past I week I get reallly tired now as I approach 70.  A couple of days to rest, and I am ready to go out again. 

10:51 p.m. on December 17, 2018 (EST)
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ppine asks: 

How long do you think you can keep up the pace Gary? 

Well, I hope to still be outdoors hiking and camping when I am 70 in 7 years, guess I will find out this next year how I do.

Do you procure your food on long stays?

I usually take my food in with me, in the Parunuweap I will be about 18 miles from the closest grocery store in Orderville Utah. 12 by canyon and dirt road to Hwy 89 and 6 more on 89. I will ride my bike to within about 8 miles of the cave and walk the rest.

Or about 15 miles depending on the route over to Springdale just outside Zion NP.

Water will be available year round in the East Fork of the Virgin River about 1/4 to 1/2 mile from the cave.

Do run out of things like batteries and stove fuel?

I plan to cook on a campfire at the cave and use my MSR stove when away from it. I rarely use  my flashlight  and its rechargeable and I carry a rechargeable battery which will charge it three times and the flashlight lasts about 4 hours on a single charge. I carry five batteries for my DSLR each lasting many days of photography.  Fuel for the stove will last me about a month with one 16 oz tank, as I usually only cook one meal a day. 

Most likely I will go back to town a couple times a month or make a day hike that way when I need extra supplies.

11:04 a.m. on December 18, 2018 (EST)
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Thanks Gary.

I remember reading Colin Fletcher talk about how one's connection to civilization falls away a little at a time.  He used the concept of thresholds.  He claimed for him, there were noticeable changes in his outlook after 3 days, 10 days to 2 weeks and at around 6 weeks.  Then he would be pretty dialed in and have the patience to watch ants for an hour, or butterflies or stare at a river.

I have lived in the woods for a month, but had to work 6 days a week.  I have worked in the bush maybe around 4-5 weeks out of 6 weeks, but not 6 weeks in a row except for road trips.  I have never made it to the last threshold as defined by Fletcher.

Gary would you care to comment about how your outlook changes after you have been out there for 2 months?  How do you feel about going to town?  Do you look forward to it or dread the idea and put it off as long as possible?


3:52 p.m. on December 18, 2018 (EST)
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The last time I stayed outdoors for 2 months was in 2002 when I was still backpacking the Grand Canyon from Oct to March. But  the time I remember most about being outdoors for a long period was when in January 99 I was on a 235 mile hike in the Grand Canyon. I had gone in previously before the hike like Fltecher and left four weeks worth of food caches so I would not have to leave the canyon to go back to the rim until the hike was over 28 days later. But one of my caches which I had lowered into a copper mine haft was not there when I went to get it the beginning of the last weeks hike. So I had to hike up the Grandview trail and was going to hitchhike back to the village to resupply. But on my way out I was talking to a day hiker and he offered me a ride to the Grand Canyon Village and back so it wasn't too bad. But after being in the backcountry for the past three weeks , it was a little hard to be back so soon around the thousands of tourists on the rim.


The route above was my actual hike in the Grand Canyon, the aerial view below shows the canyon in the same perspective


In 1980 when I spent Jan-May in the high Sierra above Yosemite, I stayed on top of the north rim between the top of El Cap, top of Yosemite Falls all the way to Tenya Lake for 3 months without coming down to resupply. I made three trips with all the food and gear I would need for those three months up and down the trail to the rim. 

Going back down after not seeing hardly anyone for three months was okay at first until I got far enough down to start seeing the throngs of people. I actaully stayed near Mirror Lake overnight to hold off getting back too soon.

When I was 21-my early 50s I preferred the wild to being back in society. But since I kinda gave up hiking and started doing more bike touring I have gotten used to being around people. But now after retiring last spring I feel I want to get back in an area like the Parunuweap of southwest Utah where there are less people again, at least for a while, hopefully at least the summer.

I am not in as good shape as I once was for backpacking, but the cave where I plan to base camp is just 12 miles from US89 southwest of Mt Carmel Junction and is a long down canyon hike. Harder at first sloughing thru deep soft sand, but once in The Barracks section about 4 miles in it will be walking on slick rock and more solid narrow sandy river bottoms. Once at the cave I plan to do day hikes for 1-2 weeks getting back into walking stance. Then will go back and resupply and go other places in that Grand Staircase country.

This trailspace link below goes to the last time I hiked down the Parunuweap with my friend Paul showing the canyon hike in pictures. 

11:07 a.m. on December 19, 2018 (EST)
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"Day hikes for 1-2 weeks."

I have never heard that expression before. Nice ring to it. 

I have often thought of a long boat trip, like a few hundred miles on the Yellowstone River.  There are some small towns along the way for resupply.  I could imagine checking into a motel to rest for a day or two and get cleaned up.   For longer trips I really like the rhythm of rivers and the rhythm of horses and mules.  My riding days are over.   I am slow on the trails now, but just as good as I ever was in a boat. 

10:06 p.m. on December 29, 2018 (EST)
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At 75 I'd say likely 5 more years for backpacking and hunting.

That makes me want to cram in as many backpacks as possible before I hit the big EIGHT ZERO.

After 80 I'll likely do car and canoe/kayak camping - until my nurse tires of camping. ;o)

HIKERMOR is keerect, life is a relay and I'm passing on my knowledge and enthusiasm for the outdoors to my 3 grandsons. Gave them all a good pair of binoculars this Christmas.  hike with them every time I visit and they are becoming familiar with the California costal mountains.

Eric B.

11:25 a.m. on December 30, 2018 (EST)
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I teach kids to ride each week. 

This summer we start teaching my friends kids to run rivers.  They are 22 and 25 yo and were trained by their Dad.  They claim "we won the parent lottery."

2:29 a.m. on January 19, 2019 (EST)
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Good question that an experience this week caused me to reflect upon more deeply.

Wednesday (1/16/'19) I drove up into the Spring mountains NW of the Las Vegas valley. I parked at the Deer Creek parking lot, crossed the road with my skis, poles and 38 lb. pack for a two day camp out.

With climbing skins on my Tele skis I climbed only about 1/2 mile and decided that I would not have enough daylight to reach my goal and make camp so I stopped there and set up a tent I had modified for winter and wanted to test for snow load. I chose that time B/C I knew a storm was due on Wednesday night and all day Thursday.

But at age 75 the climb seemed a bit tougher than last year, with several 2 to 3 minute rest stops in that uphill 1/2 mile to 9.500 ft.. Keeping well hydrated was something I did knowing how important it is. I drank 5 or 6 times from my hydration bladder. As usual I carried a SPOT Gen 3 rescue beacon so my wife could track my progress. At camp I sent the "OK" signal and turned it off.

That night was not the predicted lots of snow but lots of rain instead. D@mn! Not what I wanted for tent testing. By morning snow fell with the rain and slush was the order of the day so I broke camp and skinned downhill to the parking lot.

BUT... as I descended I began to feel occasional mild pain in the area of my heart, like a mild angina. Hmmm... not something I'd ever felt except when I knew I had gas. Then Thursday at home I felt a few very mild twinges as well.

Today is Friday and no "twinges" but I'm seeing my physician on Monday about another matter (thyroid replacement pill regulation) so I'll explain things to her and ask for a full cardiac workup. Been 6 years since my last one which I passed with flying colors including a stress test with dye in my veins for before and after "pictures" of my heart. My stress test was stopped when I "limited out" on the treadmill at the top speed for the test. All was good, best for my age they had ever recorded according to the technician.

I'm hoping that was not my last ski camping trip, that my ticker is still fine and whatever twinges I felt were deep pectoral and not cardiac. I was a ski patroller for 16 years and an EMT during that time so I do understand I may have stressed myself on that climb and possibly done some damage. 

If everything checks out OK I'll gradually up my cardio workouts and see how I feel in a March ski up the same trail. If there is a problem with my heart at least I'll have lived up to my motto, "Better to wear out than rust out."

BTW, my Photo here is me with my grandson 7 years ago. I still look pretty much the same but know that after 70 one's strength does drop off faster than after 60. I may be crazy but I'm not stupid. So if I need to cut back on physically stressful play then I'll do so.

Eric B.

10:57 a.m. on January 20, 2019 (EST)
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Exertion at 9,500 feet is not as easy as it used to be.  I went over a pass at 10,500 feet in the Rubies year before last with an overnight pack.  Pace is very important to control the heart rate.  Working on the cardio fitness becomes exceedingly important. 

I do not really like to go over about 9,000 feet now for long periods.  There are some portable little oxygen tanks available now.  Sometimes I wonder about bringing one. 

8:50 a.m. on January 21, 2019 (EST)
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Nothing magic about the big eight - oh.  Good chance you will still have good times after that...

And just what are good times?  My activities are different now, compared to my twenties, but still fulfilling...

April 5, 2020
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