Category Archives: Bucket List

Stories about what we dream to do and absolutely MUST do.

Climbing Half Dome With Holes In My Socks ©

Preparing to climb Half Dome with Shinazy

Oh, would my mom disapprove of me having holes in my socks.

half domeI remember my mom hanging laundry and inspecting my clothes for anything requiring repair: a missing button, a detached hem, a hole in a sock.  Because my appearance was important to her, I always left the house wearing well cared-for clothes.

Given my upbringing, where clothes represented more than cloth covering skin, it would be inconceivable to see what I wear to go for a run or hike. This morning several of us met at my place to discuss our next adventure.  We were off to hike in the coastal mountains above the town of Pescadero.  My home is a shoe-free zone, so everyone leaves their shoes at my front door.

As we congregated in my living room, chatting about our upcoming trek, Sandy remarked, “Oh, I’m so glad someone else has holes in their socks.”

Our eyes dropped in unison to observe our assemblage of shoeless feet.  It was true – each of our feet was enveloped in what could only be described – at best – as ‘well-ventilated’ socks.  It was in that moment we realized: these weren’t mere remnants of well-worn pieces of cotton-poly and silk-wool blends.  They were the results of actions and efforts, of steps and journeys taken, of goals actualized and achieved.  These socks were the indisputable evidence attesting to the activism of their owners.  They belonged to a group of Bitchin’ Ol’ Boomer Babes who started walking together a year ago.

This year we decide, tick tock, we better attend to our Bucket Lists.

half domeItem #1: Climb Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

But alas, as it usually is when attempting feats of greatness, our spirits were willing, but our flesh … needed some help!

Between the three of us, we encompassed the full range of inactive, aging babes.  I was recovering from a back injury.  Sandy had been inactive since finishing the Gold Coast Marathon 2 years before.  And, 3 years ago, Bobbi walked 2 miles.

To accomplish our goal – without hurting ourselves in the process – we needed to “train”… the kind of put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other-over-and-over-again type of training, sustained with perseverance, determination, and an occasional massage at the local day spa.

Our plan was simple:  Go longer and longer distances, adding steps and hills to emulate the Yosemite Valley terrain.  We scheduled walks on flat ground along the bay, then the undulating path at Sawyer Camp Trail, next up and down the mountains near the coast.  We did 1 mile, then 2, 3 . . . 8, 9 . . . 14 . . . 18.

Our walking began in late fall through local neighborhoods, admiring the Christmas decorations as we trudged past, dashing through mud and laughing all the way.  We forged ahead during the record-breaking rainfall during a stormy Northern California winter.  We saw the fog lift and felt the sun shine.  Watched banana slugs mosey along on the trail and listened to the tap-tap-tap of woodpeckers on trees.

half domeWe held Half Dome Climb strategy meetings on what became Taco Tuesdays.  Searched the web for descriptions and pictures of the climb.  Read books.  Watched videos.  As the months-to-train became weeks-to-train became days-to-train, we fixed our eyes on the Half Dome webcam hoping to see the snow melt.

On the day we were to climb Half Dome the snow was still on the ground, which meant no cables.  No cables equaled no climbing.  Yet, we went to Yosemite anyway and climbed to the base of the dome.  We named this adventure our “Reconnaissance Trip.”

Returning home, we realized, during our many months of training we became physically stronger and mentally confident, embarking on each hike with holes in our socks.

I think Mom would approve.

photos courtesy  CraigSunter_Click64 and Bobbi Rankin

To Dream, Again ©

Following a dream with Shinazy

dreamI’m standing in line at Starbucks day-dreaming about ordering my current favorite.  Behind me are two young women discussing their future.  The tall one tells her friend, “Why don’t you just give up?  No one’s going to publish your poems.”  To this, the poet sighs, “But it’s my dream.”

Dreaming one thing, doing another – being a poet laureate, published author, a professional writer.

I, too, wrote poems during those brooding adolescent years.  On lined binder paper, secured in a black plastic spiral notebook, I deposited lyrical expressions, images of the torture of being misunderstood.  I had dreams of publishing my work.  But, then my focus changed.  Boys distracted me and I postponed my dream.

In my 20s, I started writing a novel, “Imprisoned Shadow, a tale of a young woman who had yet to discover her identity and her strength.  However, this time, it was the joy of raising a family that distracted me and I blissfully postponed my dream.

Then, the worst day of my life occurred, I had my 30th birthday!  Remember, we couldn’t trust anyone over 30.  With my years of parenting experience, I decided to write a child user guide – an updated version of the Dr. Spock’s Baby & Child Care™.

It was an encyclopedia, providing all my practical “know how” of what to-do and when-to-do it, such as placing a plastic wading pool under the highchair when teaching a child how to drink from a cup; or laying a full-length mirror sideways on the floor so that a playmate was always in the room.  I typed and typed, and typed, one copy for me, one copy for my publisher.  But soon my “job” became a “career”, distracted I became, postponed became my dream.

In the prehistoric days before Starbucks and Pete’s Coffee became as essential to the very function of my life, I was introduced to espresso.  As this new love affair began, a new problem presented itself:  where could I find great coffee outside my neighborhood?  Ah, ha!  I saw a need for a coffee travel book.  And, of course, I was the perfect person to write the “Latte Highway.”

But, alas, as time passed, the promise of the next best-selling travel guide became more and more faint, and then stilled altogether as the emergence of a new diversion reared its head: the birth of the Starbucks Reward Card.  The almost sinister lure of endless ounces of this steamy black elixir had tempted me away from my original purpose.  I heard it whisper, “Why write when you can simply drink and enjoy all the rewards?”  I took the bait.  For years afterward, my caffeine-infused mind occasionally would ask.  “Now, where did I put that dream?”

Fast-forward and my dreams of publishing had morphed into jotting down fragments of information.  No published poems, no great American novel, no guides, nor tales.  Instead, I composed concise memos, well-crafted business strategies, procedures, emails, texts.

Then one day I wondered, did my desire to write – really write – ever fade away?  Or, did it remain crouching behind my memories and to-do lists.  Can a dream be resurrected?  Is it ever too late?

Nay, it’s never too late.  Today is a new day and here I sit at my computer typing, writing, telling stories.  Living my dream, again!

photo by shinazy

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Hike Half Dome Alone ©

Hike to Half Dome with Shinazy

hike

Last year three of us decided to climb the Half Dome Cables.  We trained and then went online to capture our permits – first come, first get.  We watched the webcam and saw the snow slowly melt, too slow to install the cables – no cables, no climb.  But we decided to hike anyway just to see a record water flow; we wanted to experience everything … but the cables.

During that 12-hour hike, we stopped at every sight.  After catching our breath from the altitude and the beauty, we took pictures of waterfalls, rocks, rainbows, valleys.  We travelled together, encouraging each other to continue, sharing our thoughts as comrades.   All this togetherness enriched our experience.

This year, with a lighter snowfall, the cables were installed on scheduled.  Our luck held, permits from the Lottery arrived and our group swelled to five.

On hike day, as sunrise removed the evening we set boot to trail.  Within 5 minutes the group split, taller Half Dome hikers with longer strides pulled away.  Then my quicker pace had me increasing the distance from the other short-hiker.  Now, I was alone.  I was hiking the same trail as last year, but with only one set of eyes – mine, and this made it a different path.

If asked, I would say I’d never been there.  Last year, Vernal Fall was a fire-hose pounding my black-plastic-garbage-bag poncho.  I knew there were 600 steps carved into the granite cliffside, but I could only ‘see’ them with my feet as I clung to the wet stonewall.  But this year, there was only a modest spray and I could see the steepness and the uneveness and the majesty of each step.

That 2,000-foot climb is rewarded by the flat, hot, and sandy Little Yosemite Valley.  Previously the Merced River roared, drowning all sound.  Now, I could hear birds and I thought I could even hear a squirrel rolling a pinecone.

As I continued, the solitude allowed my mind to see oddities.  In a wide sandy trail why are all the pinecones resting exactly in the middle?  Why do people stay on the sandy path instead of hiking on the firmly packed game trail that runs along side?  And, on and on my mind wandered.

When alone in the forest there’s no sense of time.  One minute I’m blinking my eyes to wake-up and the next I’m blinking because Half Dome just materialized.  Five hours had passed, but no fatigue just excitement.  The goal of this hike was before me; it was time to climb the 45-degree incline of the massive granite slope called Half Dome, and not alone, I had the seed of memories . . . and my camera.

photo by glennwilliams

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Sierra Serenade ©

In the Sierra Nevada with Will Jones

sierraIf there is music at the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada it is the music of near silence.  A recent three day hike in the Eastern Sierras starting at the Pine Creek trailhead, a few miles north of Bishop, reinforced that reality for me once again.

Each summer since 2004, except 2010 when I was recovering from an unexpected “cardiac event,” my friend Frank and I have spent a few days backpacking in the Sierras.  We hike in anywhere from six to fifteen miles, establish a base camp near a peak we hope to climb, attempt to summit the next day, spend another night and then hike out.  The peaks are usually in the 13000’+ range, with suggested routes to the top rather than obvious trails.  Our highest summit was Mt. Agassiz at 13891’ in 2006.

This summer we chose Royce Peak, 13200’, as our goal.  On the first day we hiked about nine miles with an elevation gain of over 4000’.  When we reached Pine Creek Pass at 11100’, we left the trail and hiked overland to Royce Lakes at 11560’.  The hike was demanding, like being on a stair master for seven hours, the difference being the magnificent Sierra vistas that accompanied us: clear flowing water, waterfalls, aromatic pines, serene lakes, majestic granite peaks, the stark almost lunar beauty of the landscape above the tree line.

It is above tree line that the Sierras sing their sweetest silent song.  Camped on a patch of sandy ground next to the lake, only a few intermittent notes call out once we quiet our human activity:  murmur of the lake against the shore; a tailless pika’s excited squeak; the wind rustling the sides of our tents.  As night approaches and stars and constellations appear seemingly just above our heads, it is so quiet I can hear the blood surge through my body with each serene heartbeat.

We had company on this trip.  Throughout our two days by the lake, a lone seagull drifted on the water, preened on a nearby rock, soared above the rippled surface with Merriam and Royce Peaks as a backdrop.  It was like a theme in the music of this journey, one better felt than explained. 

And although it was satisfying to reach the summit of Royce Peak, and glorious to return to the trailhead the next day, it is the music of the Sierras that remains with me when I return to civilization, the ancient silence that yields a quiet heart and a peaceful mind, that keeps me right-sized as I walk through an otherwise noisy life.

photo by will jones

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Olympic Moment ©

Will Jones’s Olympic Moment

olympicWhat was your Olympic moment?  I don’t mean the day you went for the gold, although you may have had one of those, but the day you watched an Olympic event, either in person or on TV, and it changed your life?

Mine happened as a pre-teen watching the Rome Olympics on TV in 1960.  Imperial Bodyguard Abebe Bikila, a last minute addition to the Ethiopian Olympic team, won the marathon in record time…in his bare feet.  It was the first Olympic Gold Medal ever won by a Sub-Saharan athlete.  I watched the race on my parents’ newly purchased Zenith color console.

The 1960 marathon started and ended at the Arch of Constantine, next to the Colosseum.  In a spectacular and mesmerizing display of romance and artistry, the last few miles of the race were run in the dark with only occasional spotlights to illuminate the course.  Bikila, tall and graceful in red shorts and green singlet, the Ethiopian colors, out sprinted his lone challenger to the finish line and through the Arch, the lights of the Colosseum behind him.  Bikila became my hero and I vowed to someday run a marathon and win a medal of my own.

Bikila won the marathon again at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.  In 1969 he was paralyzed in an accident while driving the Volkswagen Bug given to him by Haile Selassie for his Olympic conquests.  The accident occurred when he swerved to avoid student protesters on the streets of Addis Ababa. He died of complications in 1973. He was only 41.

On December 18, 1983, I ran my first marathon, finishing in three hours and twenty-six minutes.  I dedicated my training and race to my pregnant wife, my soon-to-be-born son, and my inspiration, the great Olympian, Abebe Bikila.  A few months later I was fortunate to be in the Los Angeles Colosseum when Joan Benoit won the first women’s Olympic Marathon.  The temperature was in the 90’s but I remember getting the chills as she entered the stadium and circled the track to the finish line, tens of thousands of fans on their feet cheering as she passed.

What was your Olympic moment?  BOBB and I would love to know.

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Half Dome Reality ©

Bobbi Rankin at Half Dome

half domeHalf Dome became a reality to me this summer.  That awemanousness  (my new word) of a mountain is indescribable.  Or I could say a mastodon of a mountain.  That giant rock that sits among the clouds 8’000 feet above sea level and 4’000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, the distance I climbed.  This hike was on my bucket list and the reality is I can now cross it off.

This was nothing I had ever experienced before.  The training was necessary to make this climb and have the feel of fulfillment and not the anguish of defeat.  I say that because being prepared elevates the anxiety, fear and problems that can occur if you aren’t in shape for this “ mother of all hikes”.  And that’s the reality of this hike.

We started early and got back late.  We had plenty of energy bars and electrolytes to drink.  The energy needed for this hike is the most important ingredient along with physical training.

Nature at its best is how many describe Yosemite.  The wonder and majesty of the granite mountains are breath taking.  The trail to Half Dome is sprinkled throughout with winding tree covered trails, many stairs that are chipped into the granite and beautiful waterfalls.  The Merced River pushes it roaring waters over the cliffs at Vernal and Nevada Falls – such a sight to behold.

When I finally arrived at the base of Sub Dome I’m not sure I’m ready for this untethered climb of over 800 granite cut stairs.   As I have come to realize, not much is said about the Sub Dome.  I now know it is harder to climb than the cables of the Half Dome.  I climb the Sub and get to the base of Half Dome.  I pause to take in the enormity of this next phase of the trip and reflect on how far I have come.   As I look around, I realize that this vast wilderness is there for my pleasure, I respect that and I’m grateful for the experience so far.

What lay ahead is my goal.  Where I’ve come from, is my journey.  Along with me on this journey was Rick, or more fondly referred to as “Mr. Half Dome”. This trip was his 32 in ten years and I felt the privilege of him sharing the stories and folk lore of the trail, the mountain and giving me the grand tour.

The cables were the next adventure waiting for me to grab hold of.  And grab I did climbing almost straight up 800 feet to the top.  I felt the reality of my journey the minute my feet touched the top of the Dome.  At the top, I’d come 4’000 feet to be part of and experience something that was so much bigger than I could have imagined when I had looked up at it from the Valley floor.  There I was eye to eye with the tops of the neighboring mountains taking in that mystical, majestic and spiritual moment.  One I’ll never forget.

In my world this was a reality that was so tangible and mystical that it took my breath away.  In my world this was the hike legends are made of.   In my world I am preparing to do this again next summer.

The reality is…I can.

photo by Mr. Half Dome

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Zero To 60 In 38 Years ©

Going zero to 60 with Shinazy

zero to 60

As you know from “VW Beetle, aka, The Bug” I owned a bug for 38 years and would probably still be driving it had my sister never come to visit me.  During that visit I loaned her my VW and borrowed a brand new, just delivered, hot car.

 

Remember your first roller coaster ride – the terror you felt as you slowly inched toward the top of the first drop and the thrill as you zoomed down, hair flying, eyes wide, fingered clinched around the safety bar.  That was my feeling.  I had in my hands the steering wheel of a 200 horsepower street missile, an increase of 150 horses.  I was going to go fast.  I was going to go zero to 60 in a 7.9 second.

Now I could drive in the fast lane, pass cars, go the same speed up hill as on flat ground … I was in car heaven.  I hungered for one of these machines.

But, I wanted to own a home and there was my children’s education to consider. And, did I really want to empty my savings?  No!  However, I could start putting money away for the day when I could go zero to 60 in my own car.

And that day arrived, 25 years later.  On a cloudless, crisp fall day, with my daughter in the passengers seat, I drove off the car dealer’s sales lot in a fierce 400 horse power … Black … Convertible … Corvette!

Remember the driveway length on-ramps where the Bug played bumper-cars, well, that is no longer an issue.  When I push the gas pedal the Corvette responds and I just slide neatly into the traffic.

My first road trip was a visit to Aunt Judy.  In pre-Vette days I would watch every cow and see individual fence posts as I drove the two-lane country road.  In a car that will go from zero-to-60 in 4.3 second, most of the countryside is a kaleidoscope.

Yes, I have the need for speed. I love taking the tunnel that connects Hwy 92 with 280 as fast as my stomach will let me.  This tunnel is perfectly banked and one day I came out of it to five empty lanes, an open invitation to see just what that car could do.  But, that blank canvas was quickly filled with a red flashing light.  Another new experience – my first speeding ticket!

So, I decided Driving was more than just going fast.  The hills here have serpentine roads. In the VW I took the curves with precaution.  In my C6 I take those turns with surgical precision and “pull some G’s”.  This car is a gecko – it just hunkers down and sticks.

But I must confess, on a warm day, with the top down, my hair in a ponytail, I just gotta see, can I handle zero to 60 in under … well, the car can, but me, I think I’m still a VW babe at heart.

 photo by shinazy

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And so it begins

Bitchin’ Ol’ Boomer Babe

Why start this website?  Well, to write about all the grand experiences we have every day and to tell stories along the way.

I’ll point out a few things that you might find interesting, or fun, or . . .  and together we will remember experiences from our history, family history, life history.

I’ll give you some facts and include a website or two.

There will be tips and suggestions about how to do various things.

Mostly, I hope to return joy to our lives.

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How did I come up with the name Bitchin’ Ol’ Boomer Babe?

Well, according to:

Urban Dictionary*  Bitchin’ means: 1. Spectacularly good.  2. Awesome, great.

We all know O’l is short for Old.

Wikipedia says, a Boomer* is “is a person who was born between 1945 and 1964.”

And our ol’ standby, Merriam-Webster* defines Babe as “a young attractive woman.”  And, hey, we are all still “young and attractive.”  Right?  Right !

So, Bitchin’ Ol’ Boomer Babe is the perfect title for this blog.  Remember, this is our blog, so if you want me to write about a specific subject just let me know and I’m on it.

See y’all tomorrow.

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