As people grow older they often contemplate the passage of time and what they have done or not done with that time. They think about their families and about friends they made along the way. They often think about the times when they were young and how fast those years flew by. Many think about their successes in life and some think of their failures as well. There are those who question if they have contributed enough to family and society or used their time and talents wisely and sufficiently. There are people who think of the places they have been fortunate enough to visit and often realize the enrichment it brought to their lives. I have never made a bucket list and, in fact, never heard of such an endeavor except in recent years. I don't plan to write down the things I need to do, see, or accomplish in the years remaining but occasionally certain hopes and wishes do come to mind.
In recent months, a few of my hopes of places to visit some day or things I would like to do have come true. If the wishes had not come true I would have been content and the reason for that is that I was blessed with many opportunities in life and that included some traveling first with my parents and later with my husband and family. You can't do everything and there are so many things that I have not yet accomplished in life that travel is just a bonus. At this stage of my life, I am happy that I have seen a particular place once and if I go again that is fine and, if not, that is fine too. I have felt that way about many states, including Hawaii, to countries I have seen in Europe. Of course I have had my favorite places and thought how nice it would be to go back but, for me, I feel fortunate to have at least seen them once. I love to visit new places but hardly consider myself a good traveler as I hate getting out of my comfort zone and don't like living out of a suitcase.
In recent years my husband has become much more involved with photography and I have made some special trips with him so that he can enjoy his hobby. For years I wanted to climb Enchanted Rock in Texas. Finally, I got the chance to stay in Boerne and visit some areas of the hill country I only vaguely remembered from childhood. Being raised in San Antonio I always thought that it was an area that was wonderfully located for one to visit the hill country as well as the coastal area which always included the Rockport/Fulton area for my family. Aside from traveling to see children and grand children in San Francisco and Seattle in recent years, my husband and I have made some other trips especially where he wanted to take photographs. Last year we were in the Goliad area and visited the missions and, of course, spent time in Rockport and Corpus Christi which made me very happy! Then we made some day trips to see and take pictures of the Painted Churches not far from Houston and traveled to certain areas of East Texas. We made time to go see the wildflowers in the Brenham area as well. It was going to Enchanted Rock that was very special to me. I had planned to climb it at a much younger age but I am proud that I actually made it to the top even if I was giving my husband dirty looks and telling him that I had wanted to do THIS years ago! The view was spectacular and as the old country western song goes…..I saw "miles and miles of Texas"! I truly felt like a native Texan that day to have managed to make it to the top of that huge pink granite boulder(not the scientific name!) and the reason is because of a reference J. Frank Dobie made about the people who were "out of the rock." Maybe I can say that now as my Texas roots go back many generations and I finally climbed that darn rock!
I thought that we were going to have a quiet nice Christmas with family in town this year but I was in for a big surprise. My husband announced one day that he was taking me to see the Rockettes which had been a life long dream of mine. So, off to New York City we went for a few days before Christmas. The Rockettes Christmas show exceeded my expectations and the visit to the World Trade Center memorial and to the Statue of Liberty were very meaningful and important excursions while we were there. Though it was a wonderful experience, I was glad to get home. There were some last minute Christmas details to take care of and we needed to plan a dinner for the family. It turned out that everyone pitched in so it was not a big chore for me and we had a nice Christmas. However, I was not prepared to hear my husband say that I was "welcome" to go with him to New Mexico and Arizona so he could take pictures! I had thought he had planned that for January! Because of an upcoming business trip and considering he had some time off this, in his estimation, was a good time to go…so, I went too! Road trips can be very tiring but a good way to see the country…some back roads are even better if you have the time. We did and saw much in one week...from the White Sands of New Mexico (which reminded me of snow) to the Chiricahua National Monument (where I found much peacefulness) and on to Monument Valley and the Flagstaff/Sedona area…to dragging into Van Horn at 2:00am New Years Day to finally driving all day the next day to get back to Houston! Probably the most meaningful part of the trip was that we hired a Navajo guide in Monument Valley who could share with us much about the beliefs and culture of his people and who could take us to special places for photographs. As every place I have ever visited in my entire life, I have taken back with me some visual memory or some special thought about someone I have met along the way. It has all been a wonderful education and experience and I don't think I need that bucket list…I have been blessed with surprise trips and experiences beyond my imagination. What I need to do now is try to write a book or, in some special way, leave my mark for when I am gone and I also need to stop contemplating age and wondering if it is all downhill from here. Maybe it is and maybe it is not.
by Sherrill Pool Elizondo