Last year was the year I turned fifty. Just saying that is both liberating and a bit scary. I come from a long line of women who didn’t EVER discuss their age. So, neither did I for most of my adult life.
There was a time when I was so incredibly ill with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that is incurable, that I was very certain I wouldn’t live past 40. And then 40 came and went and 41, 42, 43 and so on and I was still here. Huh. Imagine that.
A Bit of History
The Internet didn’t exist when I was at my sickest ever with acute flares and constant surgeries and hospitalizations. When I wrote about Crohn’s Disease and my journey it was in a hard copy newsprint feature, unlike today when life is digital first. That personal feature ran in the Kitchener Record and I was nominated for a newspaper award and it helped drive me towards the London Free Press and the city I call home.
My 40s were a decade of personal and professional success, unlike my twenties and part of my 30s when I was extremely unwell and in hospital a lot. In my 30s, we adopted our kids and started to raise a family. I still had chronic pain and some hospitalizations, but not on the same brutal level that overshadowed high school, university and most of my twenties.
Truth – most years on my birthday I wake and think wow I am still here.
The year I turned 50, I realized it may be time to stop anticipating that the sky might fall. I work extremely hard to be as well as possible living with Crohn’s Disease and chronic pain. And guess what? I am still here.
Fifty Things From the Year I Turned Fifty
In the spirit of Sandy Allen’s 50 Things Before 50 post, I am tracking 50 at 50 and challenging myself to learn new things, and try new things. Whether that’s new flavours of food, or zip lining, surfing or skydiving, I am embracing 50 New Experiences at 50. I kept this log all year long the year I turned fifty, so that I would remember all the wonderful things!
Here’s what I accomplished the year I turned fifty.
50 New Things at Fifty Years Old
This was the first trip I took right after turning 50 and Philly is such a fun filled, exciting, and educational trip to take. I went with my youngest daughter and we visited pretty much everything we could squeeze into four days of sightseeing. Philly made for a great family trip and it was ideal for her as a 14-year-old because she could keep up with all the sightseeing and walking and she truly appreciated the adventure, the history, the company and the food. We also did a Hop on and Hop Off Sightseeing Tour of Philadelphia on the last day there.
First Ferris Wheel
Up until I was in my mid 40s I was terrified of heights. Then we learned to ski at Mont Tremblant which was amazing and freeing. Now skiing is one of my favourite activities in winter months and the numerous times I have been up and down a chairlift has conditioned me to not be as afraid of heights as I was in my 30s. However, I had not ever been in a ferris wheel as a result of my childhood fear of heights. So, I took the chance and enjoyed my first ever ferris wheel ride at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia with Ainsley and Mary Suazo when we visited Summerfest.
One of my fellow travel writers ordered octopus as an appetizer during a meal in Philadelphia, so I tried it. Tastes a lot like squid to me.
See Something New in Bruce County – Bruce Power Plant
We just did a visit there to learn about where 30 % of Ontario’s power comes from. I’ve been visiting the Bruce Peninsula every summer for most of my life and yet I’d never ever toured the power plant. Very educational.
Take an RV Trip!
I have been wanting to do this forever with my family. Here’s how that went this September when we started out on an Ontario Parks travel opportunity and family trip. Our first ever RV trip was such a gift and I hope to be able to do that again.
Do a New Fitness Class
Tried Group Blast last August 1st. SO MUCH CARDIO and coordination. Actually I took one of the teens with me and here’s how that went. About 10 minutes into it she threw up her hands and quietly advised me she was leaving to go to the library. I stuck it out and enjoyed it and sweated more than ever. So, will I return? Maybe. Now that I know what to expect and I know I can push my body further at 50 than I did at 30. That’s got to be a silver lining.
Move More Often
Move more often. I made that my mission all year for the year I turned 50. I worked out more often, skied more, walked more and generally just made sure to move more frequently. Sitting is the new smoking and I am all about being well, or the best me that I can be.
Axe throwing – we tried this at Long Point Eco Adventures in Norfolk County in August 2018. It was a great way to cap off the end of the summer and we had a lot of fun aiming at the board. What a kick!
Stay in a Safari Tent
The girls and I did this at Long Point Eco Adventures. It was peaceful and kind of fun to fall asleep to the sounds of coyotes, and crickets. Plus there’s so much to do in Norfolk County. I am still hoping to stay in a yurt again and a treehouse. Those are high on my list of fun accommodations to stay in as a travel writer.
Start Hiking More
Done. On the Ontario Parks trip we took many hikes and I realized I love them and that being out immersed in natural surroundings is healing and energizing. Yesterday I returned from a family trip to Vermont in the summer. We did some enjoyable hikes there too at Smugglers’ Notch.
Take the Chee Chee Mon ferry across the Bruce from Manitoulin Island.
Also accomplished on our RV trip. Did I mention how much we loved this camping trip? Here’s a bit more about that adventure Five Parks in Five Days.
Visit Wyoming – I mean why not? I embrace the chance to visit new states always. A highlight was Vee Bar Guest Ranch.
Spot Moose in Their Natural Habitat
Go on an adventure, or a drive, and spot moose in their natural habitat. I know that sounds like a weird one, but we have been all throughout Northern Canada and Vermont many times over and I have seen the signs that say Moose Crossing. I always think – I want to see that actually from a safe distance. And never have I ever seen them until Wyoming!! We saw a family of moose as we drove through Laramie.
Stay Overnight at a Working Ranch
We stayed at Vee Bar Guest Ranch and it was so relaxing. I’d return any day. In fact, this is my goal right now. Return and stay at a working ranch. It was so zen there, it’s hard to explain.
Kayak with Ainsley
We did a great Kayak tour with Big Creek Paddle in Norfolk County. Ainsley has always been a bit nervous about doing this but once she got in the groove I knew she’s be amazing and she was. I took photos while she paddled and so on. It was a great 4-hour morning tandem kayak trip.
Hiking in Wyoming on my Longest Adventure Ever
8 K!! Many people turned back, but I kept going, because I knew I could do it. Bring it on. Even at a high altitude I pushed through and made it. I often feel like I need to compensate for my age by working harder, so that’s just what I did and whether that’s your philosophy or not I believe in trying all the things on the itinerary.
Visit Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
So many firsts accomplished here!! Highly recommend and we really enjoyed our stay at Old Kinderhook.
Return to New York City
I did it, for IMMNYC, but that said I also need to go back and do some shopping.
Stay in Hôtel de Glace, ice hotel in Quebec City and try to make it through the night.
We made it through the night and I was ridiculously proud of my family for accomplishing this.
Rent a Car and Just Drive in St. Louis
I’m not the world’s most confident driver in new cities and on busy highways, but I can do it. We drove all over central Missouri easily.
Go ice fishing
Did this with my daughter Ainsley in Georgina and it was a fun change of pace even though we didn’t catch anything. Not even a bite.
Get a Massage or Spa Treatment Just for Me
We did this at The Briars in Georgina in the winter just before our huge road trip to Okemo, Sugarbush, Sunday River Maine and finally Quebec’s Hotel de Glace.
Go Snow Shoeing
I love snow shoeing. It’s such a Canadian thing to do in the winter months and it’s fun to try with family too.
Try a Fishing Charter with My Daughter
This past month, we went fishing in Lake of the Ozarks. Together, we caught five fish!
Catch a Fish
When I was a kid my Mom took us fishing a few times, but I don’t recall ever catching a fish. My brother did, but I didn’t. In Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri I caught a fish when fishing with Big Ed’s Guide Service. He was fantastic with my daughter and he helped us with casting lessons. And I caught my first fish – a bass.
Get Published Somewhere New
Done. I’ve started a role as content coordinator at Neighbours of Oakridge and Hunt Club. So, I have a monthly letter to residents and feature published there. This year I have also been in CBC.ca, trivago.ca and Food, Wine and Travel magazine. I am pitching other outlets right now so stay tuned.
Still working hard at that. This year I have worked on my affiliate game, and my ad revenue and am collecting new clips and bylines while also trying new types of writing. I have written all of the content for two full web sites this year.
Try Fried Green Tomatoes
Tastier than I ever imagined. I had this for lunch in Rocheport, Missouri. So good!
Get Back on a Bike
Done. The minute we arrived in Missouri, we checked in and went cycling in Rocheport near the Katy Trail.
Take a Helicopter Ride!
I’d been dreaming about this one for months. It was so smooth and not at all what I expected. Loved every second of it and would hop back into a helicopter in a heartbeat. Together Ainsley and I did this in Lake of the Ozarks.
Learn How to Golf
DONE! We did our first ever golf lessons with golf pro Shane Blankenship at Old Kinderhook in Lake of the Ozarks. It is harder than it looks and a worthy challenge for me. I think I might give this a try again soon so I don’t forget what he taught us.
Drive a Golf Cart
I drove a golf cart with my daughter at Old Kinderhook. While I have driven in one before, I have never been the driver. So much fun!
Ski Okemo. I have been wanting to get to this family friendly ski resort in Vermont for years and it just worked out this March! Stellar skiing at Okemo. Okemo is a genuinely pretty ski resort area and Ludlow is quaint and cute. But be warned if you go to Okemo, Ludlow is crazy busy many nights of the week. If you want to dine at a restaurant plan ahead and you might even need to order ahead there too. As my daughter would say, 10 out of 10 would do again.
Ride the Slide Brook Express Quad over to Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush
Slide Brook Express Quad is the longest detachable quad lift in thew world. It took about 15 minutes and seats four relatively comfortably. In -13C weather, it is a REAL commitment, let’s just say. LOL.
Ski Mount Ellen
While we have skied many places and been to Sugarbush before, we had not made it to Mount Ellen, up until March. We took the Slidebrook Express over to Mt. Ellen and skied some steep and challenging terrain. It was our highest elevation yet.
And try the food and the skiing too. We visited Sunday River ski resort in Maine and truly loved the weather, the drive from Vermont and the terrain Such a great option for Canadians.
Have a Lobster Roll in Maine at Sunday River.
Best lobster I have had ever. Buttery, rich and authentic. Nothing beats this. That is all.
Take an Epic Road Trip
Together, with my family, we took a 12-day adventure this year starting in March from London then heading to Okemo in Vermont, Sugarbush Resort again and up through New Hampshire then on over to Maine and finally up through Quebec before heading home. My favourite road trip yet and we did it happily with no glitches. Oh, to be sure we have had many great adventures before on the roads but this was our longest travel commitment yet and I hope to do something similar again before the kids leave home.
Visit Vermont in the Summer
Visit Vermont in the summer. We have been to Vermont many times over and love this state. But we had never made it to Vermont in the summer months. Seeing the green mountains when they are truly green is worth it.
Go for a Wike
This is a kind of walking educational hike and you can do these at Smugglers’ Notch.
Try Mountain Biking
I think that my glutes have finally recovered from mountain biking – a week after the fact. Also did this at Smugglers’ Notch last week with Ainsley and Jim. Payton doesn’t enjoy biking or cycling, so she opted out. We had no idea what to expect, but it was a great workout.
Swim in a Reservoir at Smugglers’ Notch
Did this at Bootlegger’s Basin. Done. Just pure fun sliding down an inflatable slide and landing in the water. Also there’s a trampoline!
Ride More Water Slides
Actually, I think we found most of them in Vermont and that was my goal. Riding water slides with family is just plain fun and it’s good for your outlook .
Just take an afternoon and play. There’s something so therapeutic about playing. When you are an adult you rarely have time for that. But it’s important to connect with the child inside too and this will keep you young.
We wanted to visit Ellicottville and Holiday Valley, because we had not skied there ever and it’s not that far from home. While it was a rainy kind of winter weekend we skied it anyways and had a blast. Also we did that affordably and got some great exercise in before the snow melted.
See a play in Stratford. I love the theatre and can’t wait to return. For my birthday last year my family bought me tickets to see The Music Man on stage in Stratford. It was extremely entertaining.
Go Tubing at Valcartier in Quebec
Everest is spectacular. Do it and don’t miss the family rafts too.
Have Crêpes in Quebec again
You know those scrumptious maple crêpes? If you are not familiar, then get yourself to Quebec stat!!
Okay, so technically this one happened just before I turned fifty. Nonetheless, it was a bucket list goal and I achieved it. The trip began at WITS, Women in Travel Summit, and then we added on to that adventure by driving through part of the north coast and Tadoussac and Saguenay. I told my friends I was not leaving until I saw whales and eventually we spied so many belugas that we were able to con tin the trip. LOL.
Art, Architecture and Food Tours in Quebec City
Have you ever been to Quebec City? It is stunning and feels so very European. It’s rich with culture and genuinely something you should experience. The food tour we did here was fantastic and the art and architecture tour was educational.
What’s Left To Do?
Life doesn’t stop at FIFTY Years old. In fact, quite the opposite. I have a lot of changes and goals planned for this year and next. And frankly, I plan to keep challenging myself to do all the things I couldn’t do in my 20s. Look out, because I am on a roll.
Here’s to another 50 new things at 51, and 52, and so on.
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