A couple quick administrative notes: Episode 007 of Mass for Shut-ins will be posted overnight tonight (Thursday) so be sure to subscribe and get that bad boy hot and fresh when you wake up tomorrow.

Additionally, for the next 16 days I will be galavanting around the former Hapsburg empire, visiting six countries in southern / southeastern Europe including Slovenia and Hungary. I am 39 years old and I've never been to Europe. I am likely to be fully unemployed soon. If I don't do it now, when am I ever going to do it.

Originally my plan was to ride my bike across Europe like a college kid, but decided this plan was superior. But in the course of that, I had some moments where I felt mortality pretty keenly. Not that 39 in ancient and near death, but…let's face it, if I want to do something like that I need to do it soon because before long I won't be physically able to. There are probably some 55 year old guys out there riding bikes a couple thousand miles; I think they are the distinct minority, though.

I've never had to factor that into life decisions before, you know? I've never had to think, "What if I can't do this." I'm fully able bodied, but definitely feeling my age when I have to exert myself now. Lying around on one's ass type vacations are always an option. Things that are physically difficult have an expiration date on them.

That said, when I was in Peru I saw women who looked like they were about 200 years old climbing Machu Picchu. So. Maybe the clock runs for longer than I'm assuming.

If you don't follow me on Instagram, do so. Many wonderful pictures will be shared. I'll try to keep regular updates on the easier-to-post social media sites as well.

21 thoughts on “GRAND TOUR”

  • Lois Breedlove says:

    I too was 39 when I went to Europe for the first time. Took ten weeks. Did a house exchange with a prof from Austria who was teaching at my university so I had a home base. I lived out of a backpack, used a rail pass and Rick Steeves guide books.
    I visited most of Europe, esp the former Soviet bloc to see what they were doing journalistically (this was ‘94).
    I stopped doing the backpack travel bit at 55. But I did SE Asia at 45. I find now I prefer to go somewhere, settle into a community and stay awhile. Well, ok maybe not completely: last summer, my dog & I drove the AlCan Highway 6000 miles, 8 weeks. And I’m thinking about doing a similar road trip south through Mexico next winter. I’m 62.
    That Europe trip started a lifetime of travel. I too thought I wasn’t getting any younger and I’d better do it while I could.
    I laugh at that now. My health has problems that I must work around. But I still have travel plans to do. I’d like to circle the Mediterranean…. Africa. Need to ride a camel, do a photo safari. China.
    So have fun in Europe.
    PS you didn’t post your Instagram link. Gin&tacos?

  • Getcha a recumbent bike. You can ride 70 miles a day, no problem. I'm 48, no great physical specimen. I biked the Great River Road from Minnesota to Louisiana. Biked 660 miles from Chattanooga, TN to West Virginia without even training much. You'll feel like a fool half the time, but you can do it to it. See my website for hard proof.

  • I am 49yo and flying to Europe for the first time tomorrow – and only because my employer is sending me. I'll be in Bratislava Slovakia for six weeks, flying into Vienna and venturing out to Budapest and Prague as work allows. Also planning a weekend trip to the UK to meet a bunch of people I've been working with since 2010 or so. Never too old for adventure! But I can relate to feeling your age. However, my mother is 90, and has travelled more in the last ten years than I will ever be financially able to do – Australia, Southeast Asia, Italy, Alaska and Hawaii. She is definitely an exception!

  • It's very sobering to realize that your physical abilities are no longer in sync with your perception of yourself.

    I am 51 years old. At this age, I can no longer skateboard, rollerblade, ice skate, ski, play soccer, run 2 miles, or participate in martial arts. I can't even walk up a flight of stairs without being in pain. If I can no longer enjoy the activities that once defined my personality, am I still me?

    Last year I moved permanently from Austin, TX to Berlin, DE. I won't lie. The adjustment has not been easy. I don't think the wisdom acquired through age has offset the physical abilities that I've lost. I don't regret doing it, but I do wish I still had my 25 year old body!

    Einen schönen Urlaub, Herr G.A. Taco!

  • 70 is the new 30. Tens of thousands of 'old' people are riding thousands of miles a year…

    Or as the sign in the bike shop says: 'Shut up and ride'

    That said, we're more interested in your employment 'opportunities' than your choice of travel modes…

  • I didn't make it to Europe until 31. Wife has lots of family and deep roots, in rural Sicily. My Italian is mediocre, at best, and the Sicilian dialect throws me off. To say nothing of the archaic Albanian dialect they all still speak, centuries later. That said, I enjoy the town, and everyone gets really excited when we are coming to visit.

  • I'm 56 and I've ridden over 2000 miles this year. Last month I rode roughly 200 miles from Columbus to Cleveland in two days.

    Then I met a 75-year-old guy who was riding across the United States. So just call me "slacker".

  • @ 68, I got on my bike today, for the first time since the surgical unpleasantness of 7/06/18. It was okay but I still have even LESS energy than I did B4 the latest issue came up.

    When I was 55 I was still doing a bit of hiking, going up and down ladders, smashing walls and cutting down trees. I brought virtually ever 2x, all the sheetrock, compound and other building materials, various appliances and furniture from the store or elsewhere, to my house. I then moved it around in the house while I re-framed the house from the inside replaced about a dozen windows, a couple of entry doors and their storm doors, sheetrocked everything, after wiring and plumbing.

    I'm fucking tired. I'm gonna relax, if possible, for at least a couple of weeks.

    I did europe on the USAF plan. Most of 4 years being an idiot, but knowing the day I left, I'd never really had a better life.

  • Living in the EU says:

    Damn It, Ed. I lived in Hungary for 4 years and would have lots to suggest – particularly in the bad ideas dept – and now live in Italy. Had I known, you could've come by but at this moment I'm in the States on a Visiting gig for the next 4 weeks. We could've put you up for a day or few. In any case, say yes to questionable adventures. Eastern Europe is a good place for serendipity.

  • @ Major Kong:

    Don't know if you saw the comment I left on one of the threads a couple of days ago about how "easy" somebody said it was to do what you do for a living.

    In the event, I said that 3 words should be enough of a rebuttal to that sort of idiocy:

    " 'Sully', Hudson River."

  • @demo

    Yeah, it's easy right up until it isn't.

    Even without having to deal with something like an engine failure (fortunately quite rare these days) the job is still challenging.

    Operating into JFK or LAX during peak hours is not an easy thing. Shooting an approach down to minimums at 6:00 AM when you've been working all night is not an easy thing. Picking your way through a line of 50,000' thunderstorms is not an easy thing. Neither is flying international and having to deal with foreign controllers and knowing all the different rules for each country.

    When someone tells me how easy it is I tell them "We're hiring. Send me your resume."

  • Rent a bike an ride along the Danube. We did a VBT vacation last summer-rode from Csesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic to Vienna. Most of the riding is pretty flat and it's just lovely to sight see at 15 mph. And the Danube has bike paths on both shores that are well paved and just pleasant riding.

  • I should have added that we liked it so much that next summer we are likely going to do an unsupported bike trip from Vienna to Budapest, also mostly along the Danube.

    Enjoy Europe. There's old shit there, unlike here where the oldest things you see date back to the late 17th Century.

    True story: On the last day of our trip last year we were riding along the Danube between Melk and Dürnstein and my daughter looked across the river and there was a big castle there. So I stopped and took a picture and we continued riding. When we got to a scheduled refreshment stop, I showed the picture of the castle to Hana, one of our guides. She looked at it for a second and without missing a beat said, in her Czech accented English, "Oh yeah, another castle. We have lots of castles." I just laughed. The things people take for granted.

  • @Major Kong: I'm 61, I rode almost 3400 miles last year and have about 600 in this month and will likely surpass 3K again this year. Never stop riding. It's the only thing that keeps me young. I will continue to ride until I physically can't.

  • Aging's a bitch. I'm 56 and have given up workouts for a while due to too many injuries. But I'm not done…I hope. My brother-in-law is the same age, rides his bike 40 miles to work every day, he'll be competing at the Leadville 100, one of the toughest races in the country.

    Regardless, "better do it now before it's too late" is a good philosophy, because for all we know tomorrow may be too late. Have fun in Europe.

  • I hear you, Ed. I just turned 49 and will be kayaking the Grand Canyon next month. It's a trip that I don't know if I'd be able to do in another ten years so when my wife gave me the OK back in 2017 I jumped at the opportunity.
    And on the flip side, my wife's best friend, a guy my age and who introduced me to her, is dying of cancer, basically in hospice care, and probably won't make it another week. My dad died of cancer in his 50's.
    We do these things when we can and while we can.

  • @JustRuss: No one "competes" at the Leadville 100, they just try to survive. Finishing ahead of someone is just a bonus.

  • @Major Kong:

    I thought you might have had a bit different experience than what those who do NOT pilot aircraft for a living think is the norm.

    @ JustRuss:

    We talkin'bout Leadville, CO? I couldn't WALK up a hill in that are, nevermind ride.

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