Her journey to fifty was intended to capture one woman’s trek through fifty days of travel leading up to her 50th birthday.
Instead, it’s taken a turn, as most journeys do.
While I did not embark on a long sojourn for the nearly two months of travel leading up to my 50th birthday, I have been blessed with a series of more modest, yet meaningful, journeys along the way, between my 49th and 50th years. Trips with memories that will last a lifetime.
Having anticipated the day that my son, the younger of my two children, would fly the coop and leave me with an empty nest, we packed Matt up in his 1985 BMW and headed to Denver…1,300 long miles and two hot, summer days in a vehicle with no operating air conditioning.
I’m not much of a driving fan, unless it’s fast and furious. The terrain on this trek was, for the most part, slow and laborious.
However, being with my 18 year old boy, all alone, was an opportunity that I will remember forever. We shared our love for opposing music genres, chatted endlessly about life as we knew it and contemplated things to come.
There is no journey more beautiful than an open dialogue and love shared with one’s offspring.
Upon my return from Denver, I quickly packed up my life and got the hell out of the suburbs, a place I came to loathe.
While this wasn’t a journey to a far off, exotic place, it was the “trip” of a lifetime…one for which I had been waiting 18 long years.
I moved into a great “sex it the city” type of apartment, only three blocks from the home I grew up in, with the help of two beautiful friends, Jeanine and Kathy. I have reconnected with old friends from my primary years and met many new, interesting characters.
Although I do spend quite a lot of time on the road, I will always return home to my City-by-the-Bay.
The first of my big adventures was to the small, island community of Palau, which sits just 7 degrees above the equator in Micronesia. Known as one of the scuba diving capitals of the world, I opted to spend my time on top of the water, due to my calamity a year prior (please see — https://herjourneyto50.com/2012/10/13/the-return-journey-the-most-frightful-of-all/)
I was blessed to share the adventure with two long-time Canadian buddies, Dean Nelson who was dedicated to showering Palau with his Pride flag and John Hamilton, intent on fraternizing with every blond beauty, for which there are very few in Micronesia.
While on this adventure, I have never been more saturated with torrential downpours, which sometimes happens in a tropical paradise, but at the same time showered with so much friendship. I am blessed with the thunder of love and companionship as well as an adventure for which we will all remember.
Honored that my daughter Jessie, the eldest of my two children, wanted to ring in her landmark 21st birthday with me in tow, I headed to the city of sin to celebrate the occasion.
While not very “sexy,” we started building an itinerary well in advance so that she, her fiancé, his mother and I could maximize our three days together. Shows, gun slinging, tattoos, gambling and candy cocktails were the order. And, much to my chagrin and declaration that I would “never” shoot a gun nor adorn my body with a tattoo, I beg everyone to “Never say never…” For the rest of this sordid story, check out https://herjourneyto50.com/2013/11/06/never-say-never/.
Ironically, as much as I do not care for Vegas, I returned with my Seattle buddy Julie only three short months later…that story has to be censored and posted on a different kind of site due to the mature nature of our girly weekend…
I learned to ski in Yosemite when I was a young girl, but on this trip, I enjoyed the company of several colleagues and a friend visiting from Maui, who gets cold when the temperature drops below 70 degrees.
It was fall and the foliage was beautiful, the air fresh and my sun-tanned Hawaiian friend was freezing in the glorious 50 degree weather.
We ziplined, climbed mountains, chilled in the cool air and enjoyed a brief respite from reality.
My newly rediscovered BFF, Julie, showed me a good and wet time in the Emerald City. We bar hopped, enjoyed St. Patrick’s Day, crashed a retro hippy party in her daughter’s hood and had a friggin’ good time reliving our youth.
The beginning of a new love affair surfaced. Again, there was rain, but a lot of time to explore a city rich with culture and outdoor beauty. Having come off a 2½ year relationship just months prior, I was on the quest for a fresh start with a new man.
While I was professionally familiar with my new amour from years of working for the same company, we were merely colleagues. So due to our mutual single status, we embarked on a beautiful journey of friendship, meaningful conversations and an opportunity for two single adults to get to know each other.
Two weeks in Maui. Who’s to complain? It was work and I was onboard to report romance from Lana’I and Mau’i. However, I was accompanied by a girlfriend and not a love interest, so it was a challenge to come up with fodder for my KGO Radio “On the Go” radio segment as John Hamilton’s “Romance Concierge.”
All was not lost. As a matter of fact, when challenged with a less than obvious “partner,” Julie and I found plenty to explore. Though she really isn’t my type, we were treated to romantic dinners; amazing accommodations at the Four Seasons, Andaz and Ritz Carlton; and attractions that inspire intimacy. We made it work, but I was continuously racking my brain to find the “angle” wherever we went.
Wow! I’ve never flown over any of the great lakes before, but as I headed down to greet my daughter Jessie in Cleveland, I was greeted by the majestic beauty of Lake Erie. Magnificent.
But the views were not the highlight. Instead, it was the opportunity to spend a long weekend with my beloved daughter, helping to pick out her wedding dress. Again, an honor to be blessed with my child’s interest in sharing one of the most important endeavors of her life.
She shared with me her adult life, her fiancé, her friends and an opportunity to indulge in a memory that every mother should embrace.
After many attempts to find the right dress, the moment she came out with the complete outfit sent us all into tears. I am proud, I am humbled and I am so blessed to see my daughter grace the stage as she models her nuptial wardrobe. I guarantee you, I will cry buckets of sweet tears the next time I see her adorn that beautiful gown in which she will wed her beloved, Dusty.
There is nothing more rewarding than introducing two friends/colleagues to each other and creating beautiful music together…in this case an NPR.org segment on Pacifica in which my producer Tom Wilmer embraced us both for the editing session.
Another of my new BFF’s/clients, Courtney from Pacifica, just bought her dream car…a turquoise blue T-bird. She wanted a road trip in her hot new convertible…so I invited her along for the ride to the editing studio in Morro Bay.
I have NEVER spent a night, let alone three nights in the same hotel room with a client, but Courtney is an exception and was the best example of how you combine “business with pleasure.”
We spent two days in the studio with Tom, editing an amazing segment on Pacifica (check it out here athttp://traffic.libsyn.com/kcbx/JOD_NPR_Pacifica.mp3), then enjoyed antiquing and dining together in this lovely beachside community.
After a blissful reunion in San Francisco, enjoying the city like a tourist, my amour and I headed out for a drive up highway 5. Our destination, Yachats, Oregon for the 4th of July weekend.
My sister Sally recently purchased her dream (retirement) home in this beautiful coastal destination and we were the lucky holiday guests.
In addition to the traditional pancake breakfast, rubber duck race, local parade and pie sampling, we hiked and found dramatic departures along the coastline to breath in fresh air and hope for our future. Our distance between San Francisco and Tofino was not an obstacle, simply something in which to look forward.
Upon departure from the coast, we spent the last night of our two week journey together in Portland…where we would bid each other farewell, until we meet again.
Two trips to this beautiful Vancouver Island destination had me sold. A great new man in my life, an amazing destination in which to commute for our reunions and a plethora of outdoor beauty and recreation that makes Canada one of my favorite places to visit.
The first visit was magical, a surprise and a blessing. With his home on the beach and several outings, which included the local glass blower, the Tofino Food and Wine Festival, world-class restaurants, sea kayaking, scoping out whales, walks on the beach and my best date ever to Pretty Girl Lake (check out the whole story at: https://herjourneyto50.com/2014/08/09/the-journey-to-the-best-date-in-my-life-2/).
The second trip was more about reconnecting and me figuring out how I could work remotely from this secluded hideaway. We got along just like a (happy) old couple, but found time together for journeys of our own…discovering what we love about one another. However, this trip would turn out to be the last…unbeknownst to me. I had essentially moved in my Tofino “gear” and was prepared to revisit my love for the next of many times to come.
But alas, as many great love affairs go, this was the beginning of the end. NOT because we don’t get along and were madly in love with each other, but because of outside influences that were not keen on our happiness together.
I wanted a fairy tale ending to this story and journey. But, as all memorable journeys go, you don’t always get (everything) you want. However, I had the great pleasure of celebrating my 50th birthday with my entire family. My dream was to simply wake up on August 22, 2014 and share breakfast with my parents, who are still very much alive and healthy, and my two amazing children, for whom I am very proud. Additionally, my core family of over 30 flew in from around the country to share a day filled with fun and adventure, followed by a raucous weekend with my best girlfriends in the family cabin at Fallen Leaf Lake.
I am blessed not only by the love of my endearing friends and family, but a man for whom I will always love. I remain optimistic about my future and know that, while I might be single right now, I will never be alone, just lonely sometimes.