February is almost over, and I’m headed for California to see my two sons, Robert and Tom. We’re in the middle of a blizzard, so I couldn’t have picked a better time.
I’ve been receiving a lot of e-mails from people of all ages, who have read my book and want to relate their adventures to me and their hopes for future journeys. I urge all of you to write in the “Comment” section of this blog, so my readers can enjoy your insights as well. You will be doing us all a favor.
I do want to share, briefly, the stories of two such adventurers I met recently. A dynamic lady and kindred spirit, Jean Kellogg began traveling at age 52 and is still going strong at 80. In 2004 she went back to college and earned a BA (Phi Beta Kappa) from Drew University, after which she organized a writing class for retired people and was able to persuade Edna Doll, a retired professor of poetry and English at Union County College, to teach it. The emphasis was on memoir and poetry and she was a gentle, but strict taskmaster. Edna had started traveling, extensively, at 70 and continued into her 90’s. Jean traveled more conservatively, but Edna, who died yesterday at age 94, went the backpack route like me. What an inspiration both these women are!
I like to remember Edna’s words after she went whitewater rafting down the Colorado in her late 80’s. “Get out and look at the world around you. There is so much to do and see. You don’t have a choice of how and when you die, but you do get a choice in how you live.” And she added for good measure. “I take my life with a grain of salt, a squeeze of lime, and a good shot of tequila.”
A newspaper headline, in honoring her life stated: After nine decades it never occurred to her to stop.
I’ve added another link to my latest facebook album. The other four links are in the Jan. 15th blog.
Last Wednesday the taping of my interview for Seeking Solutions With Suzanne, presented by Suzanne Roberts, went well. I urge you to watch the program. It airs every Sunday night at 6 on CN8 here in NJ, and three times a day on CNN Headline News. It’s a very informative program aimed at people over 60, but inspirational to all ages. She has an incredibly varied range of subjects and interviewees. I shall announce the time of my interview as soon as it’s scheduled.
Here’s the latest report from Lee Compton and Yana Viniko in Myanmar.
“Mingalaba (greetings)! We head out of Yangon for the bus to Bago. Hope to stay at Dr. Tin’s place near the village in Taungoo [where he trains elephants] tonight if we can make the bus connection on the main road to Mandalay. So far we’ve had no problems. Last night we took a walk over to Shwedagon Paya and noticed that the big monastery next door to the complex was completely dark and ostensibly deserted. There were even a couple of somber soldiers stationed at the entrance. It was creepy, to say the least. We probably won’t know the full extent of what happened here, but it’s safe to say that the remaining monks seem to be keeping their heads down low as far as the authorities are concerned. Let’s keep them in our prayers.
Well, we made it back to Kalaw and have been enjoying ourselves here for
almost a week now—it’s one of the easiest places to hang out in the whole country, I’m convinced! Weather is wonderful—warm, not too hot with a nice breeze to tie it all together. We’ve been doing short day treks around the area from our home base at the Golden Kalaw and here, as elsewhere, there is a dearth of tourists. We practically have the run of the place. Made it up to a cool spot called Viewpoint, a day hike to a fabulous overlook, and then stayed the night at a farm cum homestay run by a Nepalese family. Probably we’ll go to Bagan day after tomorrow, deciding that we’ve had enough interesting trekking around here, and will spend a few days there before flying back to Yangon.”
You may remember that I took a trek from Kalaw to Naungschwe at Inle Lake last year, staying at a monastery along the way. I’m sure there will be much more information from Yana and Lee once they return to Thailand. You have to be very circumspect when writing from Burma. But it’s wonderful to think of their seeing our old friends and getting a chance to find out, first hand, what the Burmese people are thinking and feeling. I can only imagine.
The highlight of the opera season for me was a performance last night of The Barber of Seville at the Metropolitan Opera. I have the overture on my cell phone, so you know I love Rossini’s music. But this was one great production with the best Figaro I’ve ever heard, Franco Vassallo, and the best Rosina, Elina Garanca. Jose Zapata, as Count Almaviva, and the entire cast were superb. It was sheer fun, something we need to counteract the news of the day.
I mustn’t forget that I also enjoyed Otello last week, with an outstanding performance by Renee Fleming.
In closing, I’d like to recommend a book I’m enjoying and that really speaks to me: Touching My Father’s Soul, by Jamling Tenzing Norgay, the son of Tenzing Norgay, who summitted Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary on the famous 1953 expedition. The author’s climb up Everest in 1996 as the climbing leader in David Breashear’s expedition to make the IMAX film, Everest, was, first of all, a quest to understand his father. But it was also a gripping story that gave voice to the life of the indigenous Sherpa people of the Khumba region, revealing a world that few, even those who made it to the top, have ever seen.