Age is Only a Number, Or is It?

by Nancy Bestor

I celebrated a milestone birthday earlier this year, and although most of my real friends tell me I don’t look a day over 39, every now and then I get a not so gentle reminder that I am no spring chicken. Take a trip to LA earlier this year for example. I was meeting my daughters for a long weekend, but since we were flying from separate locations, and their plane was late, I had several hours to kill, so I went to a fancy Los Angeles movie theater.  The theater was lovely, with a full bar and restaurant, a gift store, and every kind of candy you might imagine available for purchase. When I bought my ticket, the young man behind the counter hesitated a moment before asking me if I was buying an “adult” ticket. Yes, of course I was, I’m not trying to get the kids’ price, I thought. I’m sure you all know where this is going. He proceeded to ask me if I was a senior, so I could get the senior citizen discount. I was 49 years old at the time. Forty. Nine.

Then last week Bob and I were looking at trips to Patagonia, thinking that next fall we might like to travel to Argentina and see some glaciers, walk on the ice, and hike some fabulous trails. The only tour company that actually takes folks for hikes onto the Perito Moreno Glacier itself has two options; a mini-trek, and a longer “Big Ice” trek. Of course I immediately wanted to do the Big Ice trek as it goes right to the middle of the Glacier, as opposed to just on its edges, and then I found out that the age limit for the Big Ice trek is 18-50. Yep. Bob is already too old for this trek, and I will officially be too old after April 2018.

I don’t often feel old. I’m figuring that I’ve got oodles of time to take adventurous and active vacations. And that’s just what Bob and I are planning to do. At the time of this email’s release, we are on a week long walking tour of the Southern Algarve Coast of Portugal. But the truth of the matter is, life is short. Eat dessert first. Buy the shoes. Smile while you still have teeth. And hike the Perito Moreno Glacier when you’ve got the chance.

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Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

by Nancy Bestor

I’m a planner. I like to know what I’m going to be doing two hours from now, two days from now, and two weeks from now. When traveling, I like to have seen the hotels I’ll be staying at ahead of time. I like to read restaurant reviews prior to dining, and I like to know how far I’m going to be traveling to my next destination. Spontaneity is not really in my vocabulary.

But alas, travel plans don’t always go the way we expect. Hotel pictures are frequently deceiving, and a good restaurant review on Yelp doesn’t guarantee a good meal. And then there’s weather – it seems that Mother Nature often has a mind of her own. Thus, sometimes you’ve just got to make lemonade out of lemons.

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When Bob and I were in New Zealand earlier this year it was their “summer.” The weather wasn’t hot, rather it was mostly very pleasant. But when we got to Franz Josef, a town on the Western coast of the South Island of New Zealand, a place we had pre-booked for three nights, it started raining. But it wasn’t just raining, it was pouring. Our plan had been to do lots of hiking in this beautiful part of the country. Franz Josef boasts two beautiful glaciers, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, as well as many other outstanding treks with stunning vistas. But did I mention that it poured? It rained so hard that many paths and walkways were completely washed out by flooding. And in addition to the rain, the stunning vistas were often shrouded by fog.

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But Bob and I agreed that we had no control over the weather (a shocking revelation, I know) and just figured we would play the cards that nature dealt us and get outside whenever the rain let up. New Zealand is incredibly organized for tourists. Each city we visited had amazing tourist offices, boasting great maps, the ability to make reservations for any kind of activity you wanted to do, and most importantly for us, the latest news on open tracks for hiking.

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One tourist office was directly across the street from our Franz Josef hotel, and we stopped in many times to get updates on hiking paths. The national park workers were diligent and worked as fast as they could to get paths (even makeshift ones) open for hiking, and detailed, up to date news was always available at the tourist office. Information such as “this path will be open at 3pm this afternoon, or another path at 10am tomorrow,” could not have been better.

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So even though the weather was iffy, we hiked anyway.  Yes, our hikes were cold, wet and foggy, but we dressed appropriately, and every now and then the clouds would break and we’d get a stunning view of the glaciers. We may not have been able to see the perfect reflection of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman in the still waters of Lake Matheson, but we got to pose for a great kiss on a beautiful walking bridge with no one around to bother us. And perhaps we didn’t get as up close and personal to the primary viewpoint of Franz Josef Glacier, because the path had completely washed away, but we did get up close and personal to some beautiful sheep on a hike along Gillespie’s Beach. This hike had an awesome miner’s tunnel too, at the end of a jungle-like hiking trail.

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I dare say our three days in Franz Josef with inclement weather worked out just perfectly. It turns out our lemonade was really delicious.

It’s The Way You Ride the Trail That Counts

by Nancy Bestor

lake1My sister’s happy place is Lake Tahoe. Her family vacations there about once a year, mostly in the summer, but I haven’t managed to get there for almost 20 years. However, after spending a week hiking Tahoe with my girlfriends last month, I finally understand why it’s her happy place. Lake Tahoe and its surrounding lakes, peaks and trails is one of the most beautiful spots in the US. If you just visit Lake Tahoe to ski, when it’s covered with snow, let me tell you, you’re missing out (cue my sister saying I told you so).

My gal pals and I try and get together for a week every fall to complain about our husbands to enjoy each others company and catch up on our respective lives. Most often we choose a warm-weather destination, like Mexico, where we sit on the beach and drink cocktails and eat delicious and filling Mexican food most of the day. But this year, we were ready to burn calories instead of consume them, and Lake Tahoe sounded like the place to get that done in the great outdoors.

lake3The five and a half hour drive from my hometown of Ashland, OR, and the short plane ride for one of our group traveling from San Diego made it a good location to spend a week hiking, cooking and eating great food, sipping cucumber & basil infused martinis, and talk—and talk, and talk, and talk, and talk. We stayed at the Marriott Timber Lodge in South Lake Tahoe, a lovely vacation rental just a short distance from the many hiking trails we would tackle during the week. South Lake Tahoe borders Nevada and California, so if you’re a gambler, there are plenty of places you can stop in to lose your money. Lady luck is not my middle name, so when we weren’t hiking we were sitting in our hot tub, or catching up on our favorite Netflix programs. Our adventures on the trail tired us out though, and we often found ourselves in bed by 10pm (this comes as “shocking” news to my family, as it’s rare that I’m not in bed by 10pm even if I sit on the couch all day).

lake2We hiked several gorgeous trails over the week, including the Echo Lake Trail, the Rubicon Trail, and my absolute favorite, the Flume/Tahoe Rim Trail. Popular with mountain bikers, the 14 mile one-way Flume Trail offers spectacular views of both Lake Tahoe and Marlette Lake. The most scenic part of the hike is about nine miles in, so rather than try a round trip hike of 18 miles, we opted for a one way shuttle ($10 each), from Flume Trail Mountain Bikes Shuttle http://flumetrailtahoe.com/. They picked us up at Spooner Lake, the spot we would end our hike, and shuttled us to the trailhead in Incline Village. We saw at least a dozen mountain bikers that day, riding their bikes on the narrow dirt trail that often runs very close to the cliff’s edge. (I’ll stick to hiking thank you very much.) Other than the bike riders, we were all alone under a big blue sky. It was a gorgeous fall day, and the leaves were changing colors ranging from yellow to orange to brown. The lakes were a deep, clear blue and I felt grateful to be hiking in such a beautiful spot, with such great friends.

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We were tired at the end of our day, and the last couple of miles seemed to go on forever. But water never tasted better, and I swear that the homemade sandwiches we made to eat on the trail were as good or better than the delicious Mexican food we’ve eaten on the beach in Puerto Vallarta on other girls’ trips. I think I’ll call Lake Tahoe my happy place too, that is if my sister is willing to share.