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“Ye gettin’ old cause Ye quit ridin.”

May 28, 2011

Photo of Dad

My father’s nomadically inclined, forever motivated by an eternal case of ants in the pants. His anecdote for this affliction has always been to head for foreign hills, in distant lands, in search of exotic elixirs. Next month we’re celebrating his 80 birthday. While I’m busy with preparations for his party, he’s about to cross another adventure off his bucket list. It’s a very impressive list having traveled through more than 60 countries, visited every province and territory in Canada, and 47 of the 52 United States. The greater bulk of his most far-reaching adventures (aside from immigrating to Canada at the age of 19) occurred after his 60th birthday. If you’re a like-minded soul, it gives you hope, doesn’t it?!

He got his bike license in his late forties after inheriting one of my brother’s bikes and never looked back since. He went on to travel through North America, Europe and Australia on two wheels. I dropped him off at the airport two nights ago for his next endeavor. Silently I worried about his safety as I usually do. Upon seeing me fret he said the same thing he’s said to me a thousand times before, “Dearest, darling, daughter if something happens to me just remember I was doing exactly what I wanted to do and was exactly where I wanted to be.” Where he wanted to be this time was the dizzying heights of the Peruvian mountains on an enduro bike.   He popped his altitude pills as I swallowed my fear – I’m not done collecting his stories, inheriting his wisdom, and still have an unfinished goal to fulfill.

For my sixteenth birthday, my dad gave me my own motorbike. I’ve been dreaming of getting my license ever since. I only got to ride it a few times before some unfortunate life turns and a move out west meant I had to leave the bike behind. Three decades later I’ve yet to fulfill my sentimental goal to get my license and ride along in his indomitable shadow.

My parents divorced before I was ten and I was raised by my father. The experience was emotionally painful for us both. He and I often didn’t see eye to eye: I was a moody tween with the scope of my world narrowed by puberty – an often hostile, lonely, mind field, and he was a struggling, single parent. The best anecdote he could think of for us to get on the bike and go. And he was right. I’ve always carried fond memories of our father-daughter motorbike trips during my tween years. We’ve been stopped at borders ­­– an old man with a little girl on the back of a bike raises a few eyebrows, taken refuge under bridges in torrential rainstorms, and never passed a roadside chip truck without stopping to fill our intestinal tanks with deep-fried french fries. We’d fly over bumps in the road laughing our heads off, take unplanned turns down unpaved roads, fishtailed through sand and gravel, sank in the mud, and once toppled over at stop sign when we were unable to fight the gravity of an overloaded bike. Weary from the battering elements that come with traveling on the open road, I even sometimes fell asleep. Nothing jump-starts your heart faster than waking up from a catnap to find pavement rushing 100 km an hour under your feet. Many of those trips started with me moaning at the prospect of going. Each time we made it home safe and sound with our feet firmly planted on the ground, I was 100% thankful we went. I still look back at these rides and feel the deepest sense of freedom and gratitude.

My father’s quest for adventure didn’t stop at motorbikes. At the age of 60, he quit his desk job and left for China to backpack and teach English. From there he worked and traveled his way by plane, train, automobile, bus, tuk-tuk, sailboat, dugout canoe, and even by buffalo throughout Asia. At the age of 62, he found himself standing on the edge of a platform protruding from the infamous Kawarau Bridge in Queensland, New Zealand. An hour earlier he’d been traveling on a bus with a bunch of twenty-something backpackers headed for a pit stop at AJ Hackett’s Budgy. He was wearing a t-shirt a friend gave him that read, “Over 60 and proud of it.” The kiwis couldn’t resist daring the old man to take the plunge, it would be a free ride on them. Without hesitation, he stepped up to the platform and took a breathtaking 43 meter plunge to dunk his head into the raging river below. Then he followed that up with his first solo parachute jump at the age of 65.

Dearest, darling dad, you are going to be a hard act to follow but I’m sure as heck going to try. I thank you for setting the bar so high.

If you’d like to follow along on is his latest ride, my brother is traveling with him and when wifi permits, he’ll be blogging about it here.

 

Photo of Dad

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Martha Moritz permalink
    May 28, 2011 3:45 pm

    This is great Dana, Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks!

  2. May 28, 2011 7:16 pm

    That was just great Dearest Darling Daughter Dana. It did bring back memories, many of them faded. But the greatest part of it was how you experienced them. Thanks for that. All my love Dad.

  3. Sari permalink
    May 30, 2011 9:52 pm

    Hello Stranger, well I never would have expected anything less…..Keep that bucketlist going. Glad to hear you are going for your dreams. Have fun.. Talk soon. Sari

  4. Ann permalink
    June 17, 2011 3:25 pm

    What a wonderful story! You have expressed your thoughts so well Dana.

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