My #WDS2014 Adventure ~

You are never too old to indulge in a wee bit of World Domination!  That was my thinking anyway when I attended #WDS2014 aka The World Domination Summit – a multi-day gathering of 3000+ lively, creative and inspiring souls who traveled from all across the globe to connect in downtown Portland Oregon for the fourth annual iteration of this very cool event.

WDS was on my bucket list and this year I was lucky (early) enough to snag a ticket.  These babies sell out quickly so, you snooze, you lose and that’s what happened to me last year.  This time I jumped the day they went on sale.

Super Hero

Super Hero

When I told folks that I was going to the World Domination Summit, I got more than a few puzzled looks.  “World domination?”  “What the hell are you getting involved with?”  “That sounds…interesting.”  “Well, have a good time.”

And I had more than a good time.  I had a fabulous time.  My creative mojo was re-charged.  My head is swimming with new ideas and my waning resolve to cut the corporate umbilical cord sooner rather than later has been fully restored.  In short, getting out of Dodge has become priority number one (again).  And I have a new toolbox to work with.

For two very full days, Grandma Nancy listened and learned and shared with a whole pack of mostly 20 and 30-somethings and they blew my socks off!

Here’s how it went down.

The Great Namaste.  When an event that starts with the intent to set a new world record for the most people doing yoga in one place, you know it’s not going to be any ordinary rah rah weekend.  On Friday morning 800+ people gathered in Portland’s Living Room (Pioneer Courthouse Square), spread out their colorful yoga mats on the bricks in the 90 degree heat and OM’d their way into the Guinness Book of World Records.  So far so good.

WDS Great Namaste

The Great Namaste

How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?WDS keynote

This was the question that attendees were encouraged to contemplate as we listened to a well-curated line-up of inspiring, heartwarming, funny, and very thought-provoking keynote speakers with lots of time for mixing, mingling, exploring, and making connections.  Throw in a 5k run, the Portland Experience in the Park Blocks, a scavenger hunt called the Unconventional Race and the very unusual “Highly Sensitive Person Lounge” located on the mezzanine of a nearby hotel where a dimly lit room was set up with several capsule-like hammocks for napping and you have one hell of an experience.  I didn’t nap, but I did check it out.  When I peeked in, every hammock was full and a very loud buzzing noise was emanating from one in the back corner.

But it always comes down to the people.

The Poem Catcher came all the way from Scotland.

The Poem Catcher came all the way from Scotland.

This group of adventurers and inspiration seekers were absolutely delightful – full of adventurous plans, brilliant ideas and interesting stories.  I met 29 year old Kat who quit her job in 2008 to work on the first Obama campaign doing social media and has been traveling the world every since.  Kat’s doing in her late 20’s what I hope to do in my late 60’s and she had lots of great advice for me.  I sat next to Tracy from Vancouver Island who at 50+ quit her job and began a new career as a designer of edgy baby clothes and up-cycled art jewelry.

Woody & Alice

Woody & Alice

I raised a glass in the beer garden with Woody from England and Alice from Romania who were extending their WDS weekend into a two week tour of the western United States.  They loved their Airbnb stay in Cannon Beach!

And I swapped life stories and dreams for the future with twin sisters Alex and Jennifer – currently from Boston and Atlanta who were plotting their next great adventures and bought me lunch (and several glasses of vino!).

Brave Bots wearing our invisible super hero capes!

Brave Bots wearing our invisible super hero capes!

We shared our “brave bots” with our waiters and they indulged us with a photo.  We talked and laughed for so long that we totally missed the meditation in the park meet-up, so we made a quickie doughnut run to Blue Star Doughnuts and raced back to find a seat for the final session.  My young friends then partied into the night while I headed home with my mind racing and my butt dragging.

A few take-aways !

The truth is, we are ALL cousins – from the funny and brilliant A.J. Jacobs, author of My Year of Living Biblically and currently gearing up to hold the world’s largest family reunion in NYC next June.

Stop talking and listen – Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant John Francis author of Planetwalker: 17 Years of Silence, 22 Years of Walking.

Don’t be afraid to meet someone – the WDS mantra!

It’s never too late – from all the courageous folks I had the pleasure to share my story with.

You are braver than you think!  – Dee Williams, author of The Big Tiny and Gary Hirsch creater of BotJoy

What do you want to be remembered for?

What do you want to be remembered for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A huge congratulations and Thank You! to Chris Guillebeau and the entire WDS Team.  You rocked my world!

Senior Living Game-changer?

This could be a senior living game-changer.

A brilliant idea in inter-generational living has blossomed into the thriving community of Bridge Meadows.

Bridge Meadows, which opened in Portland in 2011, is home to three generations of residents: low income seniors who receive discounted rent in exchange for volunteering 10 hours a week; foster children; and the families who are in the process of adopting them.  There’s a grandma and grandpa or an auntie on every corner.

Old-fashioned family values have come back to life in a whole new way and it’s a very good thing for young and old alike.

Bridge Meadows is a unique multi-generational community located in the Portsmouth neighborhood of North Portland where adoptive parents, foster children, and elders – those over 55 – find a true home built with love and the shared vision of a better tomorrow.

I hope we see many creative inter-generational communities begin to bloom all across the country.

Cheers!

Nancy

Tales from the Columbia Gorge ~

Last weekend hubs and I met up with 600+ fellow walking enthusiasts and set out to explore some of the most gorgeous trails in the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.  As I was planning today’s blog post thought it might be fun to share few tales from the Columbia Gorge…

The weather gods were on our side.

The clouds parted, the rain stopped and just when we needed it, the sun appeared.  But not too much.  A little light cloud cover kept us from melting as we officially kicked off our walking season and our first multi-day Volksport walking adventure – the Columbia River Gorge Biennial Classic.  And what an event it was!  These folks have their planning honed to a science.  Thirteen walks, one bike ride, lots of great information, a hot dog lunch and a dinner cruise on the Sternwheeler.  There was truly something for everyone and the little town of Cascade Locks was packed to capacity.  We opted for a room at the Skamania Lodge on the Washington side of the river which added daily crossings of the Bridge of the Gods to our weekend adventure.  Hubs and I met up with other walking friends at Skamania on Friday afternoon and set out on our first walk – an easy stroll into the town of Stevenson for a close up look at the wind and kite surfers.  This area of the gorge is the windsurfing capital of the world and when you stand on the end of a pier in 25+ mile an hour winds and watch these dare devils fly across the choppy water, you see why.

There is always something interesting going on at Skamania Lodge and Friday evening we sat out on the lawn in Adirondack chairs, glasses of a tasty chilled Spanish white in hand and enjoyed a fascinating birds of prey show (so up close and personal that one flew over my head and riffled my hair).

Skamania Lodge - always something going on

Skamania Lodge – always something going on

 

Saturday morning was our big walking day and we chose to hike the Multnomah Falls to Wahkeena Falls loop.  Rated a 3B by AVA.  We had no idea what 3B meant but hubs figured it was moderate as the walks range from 1A to 5C.  Let me say right here that moderate has taken on a whole new meaning!  It started innocently enough.  A little uphill climb to the stunning bridge view just below Multnomah Falls.

Looking down on Multnomah Falls

Looking down on Multnomah Falls

Then up, and up some more for 11 marked zig-zags.  Hearts pumping, thighs screaming No! we went up a little more…and then a little more.columbiagorgewalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we’re on standing on a ledge looking down on the falls.  But wait, there’s more. We left the paved trail and then the packed dirt trail behind and continued up on a very narrow trail composed of tiny jagged granite.  One side dropped 1000 feet and the other side went straight up and I’m clutching ferns for balance.  And stopping to take photos (and catch my breath).  We walked through ancient growth forests, past cascading waterfalls, forded a few streams and were totally awe-struck at the magnificence of Mother Nature.

columbiagorgewalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we started down.  And down.  And it was just as hard as the up.  I saw my life flash in front of me for a brief moment when my feet lost traction on some slippery rocks and I started to slide, but I clutched a branch and all was saved.

columbiagorgewalk4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost back to civilization.

Almost back to civilization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We slowly wound our way back down to the Old Columbia River Highway where we had started our trek 3 1/2 hours earlier.  It was mid-day at Multnomah Falls, one of the region’s biggest natural attractions and on this beautiful first weekend of summer, the place was packed with tourists so we limped to the car as fast as our wobbly old legs would go and headed back to the hot tubs at Skamania.

Ahhhhhh.

Ahhhhhh.

 

 

 

 

That evening, we celebrated hubs’ birthday one more time with a delicious dinner and some of the tastiest cheap wine I’ve had in a long time at a hidden gem of a restaurant, Henni’s Kitchen and Bar, tucked away about 30 minutes further up the gorge in White Salmon.  We enjoyed a specatular sunset drive along the might Columbia arriving at our “home” in time for a nightcap and an early visit with our comfortable beds.

I’d like to tell you that we hiked again on Sunday, but I can’t.  My butt muscles hurt, my quads hurt, my calves were like two sticks and nothing more than a short stroll to loosen things up was going to happen on the walking front. A rousing game on the hotel’s 18 hold putting course and a leisurely drive home completed our weekend walking adventure in the Columbia Gorge.

We picked up lots of brochures for upcoming Volkswalks all over the world.  We’ll be trying a few up near Port Townsend Washington soon.  We love exploring the world at 3 miles per hour.

See you on the trail.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Aging with Attitude ~

It’s not your age.  It’s your attitude.  Isn’t that what they say?

Well, I’ve got plenty of attitude and some days its not the attitude of gratitude I’ve been striving for.  Some days I just feel old.  And tired.  And really tired of working for a living.  I’m the last of my peers to still be chained to a desk and while most of the time I am extremely grateful for the job and the paycheck, sometimes I think I’ll never get out of the retirement starting gate.  The grass looks greener where my friends are playing, and gardening, and traveling and starting happy hour at 3 o’clock instead of our usual 5:30 meet-up time back in days when we all snuck out of work a little early for attitude adjustment hour.  I’ve got short-timer’s disease for sure and the time feels very long indeed.

But here’s the thing.  While I am ready to give up the desk jockey job, I am not ready to give up some kind of meaningful work.  Whatever work might look like.  So, I’ve been trying on all kinds of hats to see what fits and what feels kinda groovy.  At least for a while.  travel writer – blogger – world explorer – pet and house sitter – walking enthusiast – photographer.  So many hats!  So little time.  And I still don’t know what I want to be when I finally get the chance for my second or third or forth acts.

It's fun trying on new hats!

It’s fun trying on new hats!

Some people seem to float from act to act with ease.  I admire these folks.  And, I love hearing their stories and learning from their adventures.

Meet Barbara Beskind ~

Barbara-Beskind-Aging-With-Attitude

photo courtesy of IDEO/Senior Planet

Barbara is somewhere around her 6th Act.  She is a role model extraordinaire.  Barbara just celebrated her 90th birthday – with her co-workers at IDEO, a Silicon Valley innovation company, where she recently started her latest gig as one of their designers.  A job she won when she competed in the firm’s design challenge for products for older adults.  Every Thursday Ms. Beskind travels by train from her retirement community in San Mateo, CA to the IDEO offices in San Jose.  She’s not an engineer, but she certainly is a real life adviser.   Read more of Barbara’s inspiring story on Senior Planet.

Rock-on older ladies, indeed!

So, my dears, here’s the question of the day. What does aging with attitude mean to you?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Bird’s Eye View ~

A bird’s eye view ~ More adventures in house sitting on a vineyard. bird's eye view golden finch

They flitted in and out claiming their time at the bird feeder hanging just outside the big kitchen window.  Some politely took their turn, others muscled their way right in, while a few hovered on the railing below waiting for a break in the action.

Early each morning and late into the evening I perched myself on a stool by the window to watch the show.  They came by the dozens.  Swirling flashes of color – bright lemon yellow, fire-ball orange against midnight black, soft dove grey and warm mottled brown – each a beauty in its own way.  These were the birds who enchanted and entertained me for ten days.

I learned a thing or two from my new feathered friends.  And of course I took a few photos.

bird's eye view morning dove bird's eye view yellow songbirds bird's eye view of a finch in the rain bird's eye view  bird on the rail bird's eye view Spending my time with the birds was a whole lot more entertaining and enlightening than any program on the television.  That I know for sure.

Cheers!

Nancy

Smitten with Chickens ~

Yep.  After a week on the farm, I am officially smitten with chickens.

chicken4

Especially the five ladies I’ve taken under my wing (so to speak) for this house sitting adventure.  I had no idea what beautiful, smart and delightfully entertaining creatures chickens are.  They are feathered comediennes and you can’t help but smile when you interact with them.

I’ve been getting to know “the girls” for several days now.  Each has a unique personality. They are very social and quite talkative.  I am totally gaga over these feathered beauties.  Last night I sat in the grass and tried my hand (with moderate success) at chicken portraiture.  chickens in the vineyard

Every evening I let them out of the chicken pen to wander freely around the lawn and into the edge of the vineyard.  They are lined up and waiting by 5:00 p.m. calling me to hop to it and open the damn gate already.  They make a break and their first stop is usually a nice dirt bath.

DSCN3884

Around dusk I head out to wrangle everyone back into the coop for the night.  My secret weapon is a big bag of Happy Hen Treats aka dried mealworms.  A few hardy shakes of the bag and the girls come running.  They are a sight to behold! DSCN3883 chickens2 chickenbutts2 Spending time with these feathered lovelies has been one of the highlights of this house sit. You never know what adventures life has in store. I am so glad I said yes to this opportunity.

Cheers from the vineyard,

Nancy

 

 

 

House Sitting in The Country ~

I am currently enjoying the best house sitting assignment ever – on a vineyard overlooking a beautiful valley right in the heart of Oregon wine (and farm) country.  On a clear day, you truly can see forever.

For ten days of chicken wrangling, bird feeding, garden watering and loving-up a grey-haired-handsome-boy-kitty named Winston, I am living la pura vida in the hills of Dundee.  I am also learning the ins and outs of rural living.  And, in case you were wondering, life is pretty good out here in the country.  And just a little bit different than this city gal is used to. Not a Starbucks in sight, but the wine is top notch!

The only downside so far?  The Green Acres theme song keeps playing in my head.

And now you are humming it too.  You’re welcome!

I don’t know if the country life is the life for me, but I am savoring every moment of my country adventure.  Here are a few snaps I took the other day.

You know you are in the country when…

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Fashion takes on a whole new meaning.

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Maybe they make shoes to go with the outfit?

Making hay while the sun shines.  You've gotta be quick in Oregon

Making hay while the sun shines. You’ve gotta be quick in Oregon

 

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard...

So, a gnome wanders into a vineyard…

Never seen this in the city.

Never seen this in the city.

farmcountry5

Call now before the sign is covered in weeds.

Yes indeed!

Yes indeed!

And my personal favorite ~

Farmer humor

Farmer humor

Stay tuned for more adventures.

Cheers!

Weird Weekend Encounter ~ Oregon Style

Keep Portland Weird!

Drive down any street in Portland and you will see these words proudly displayed on the bumpers of passing cars.  Being weird ain’t easy.  You have to work at it as hubs and I learned this weekend.

We only dress this way on the weekend.

We only dress this way on the weekend.

We weren’t in Portland, but had driven out to one of my favorite small farm country towns, McMinnville.  Nonetheless, weird was proudly on display.  Mac, as the locals call it, has the perfect mix of wine country aficionados, old school suspender wearing farmers, bright-eyed college students and wandering semi-tourists like us.  It’s a hub for tasty food, local wine, art, farmer’s markets and unique street events that bring out huge crowds.  These events have just the right mix of hipster cool and homespun tackiness.

Nothing gets to my brain

Nothing gets to my brain

When we heard that McMinnville’s ode to all things extraterrestrial – The 15th Annual U F O Festival was this weekend, you know we had to go.  This four day long event included research heavy hitters, radio hosts, a themed scavenger hunt, lots of curiously named food and drink and, of course, a parade.  Way back in May of 1950, farm wife Evelyn Trent went out back one evening to feed the rabbits when she noticed a strange object hovering in the sky.  She called her husband.  He took photos.  The rest is history.  And one more reason to throw a street party.  We went for the parade but had way more fun just people watching.

We were seriously under-dressed and believe me, we won’t make that mistake again next year.  Metal colanders are at the ready!  Aluminum foil is our Plan B.

Of course, I took LOTS of photos.  There was so much crazy fun going on that it’s hard to select just a few.  I’ll post them all on the Just a Backpack Facebook Page so click on over and check them out.  I’d love it if you gave us a LIKE while you’re there.

They drained the pasta in these last night

They drained the pasta in these last night

 

Girls gone bad and their other-worldly spawn

Girls gone bad and their other-worldly spawn

Of course there were bands

Of course there were bands!

See you on the road.

Cheers!

Nancy

Magic Moments ~ a photo essay

Good news!

We saw the sun in Oregon this week.  Several times.  And it was glorious.  I was inspired to get out and walk, walk, walk.  That is always good news.  Even better, I just started a new online photography class and although I’m still using my tiny point and shoot camera, it’s been so much fun to once again slow down and wait for the every day magic to appear.   One of our lessons this week was exploring what photographers call the “magic hour”.  That’s the hour right around sunrise and sunset, when the light practically glows and photographers capture their best shots.

So off I went, less than ten minutes from the house, to see what my camera and I could find.  We were not disappointed.

applebarn

Apple bar in the warm glow of sunset

treessunset

Sunset through the old walnut orchard

farmblue

Magic hour at the farm

farmandfield

Tranquility just three miles from my townhouse

tree

These were taken in the morning light.  The ducks put on a show.

duck2

Duck Yoga

duck

Mamma Duck

What a beautiful reminder to stop and experience the beauty of every sunset and sunrise.  And, since it’s almost Spring, take time to smell the roses that will be blooming before you know it.

Life is full of magical moments.  I’m so happy I could share a few of my favorites with you.

Cheers!

Nancy

 

Create Your Roving Retirement – Part 2: Cheap Sleeps

Retirement travel doesn’t have to mean package tours, luxury cruises or high dollar hotels.  In fact, it’s my experience that if you live more like a local and less like a tourist, you can save a lot of money and have a much richer experience.  Here are a few great ways to stretch your travel dollar that I’ve mentioned before and are worth exploring.

Live Like a Local – Sleep Here

Somewhere in Spain...Nancy Slept Here

Somewhere in Spain…Nancy Slept Here

Housing will probably be your biggest travel expense.  These unique options will not only save a lot of money, but allow you to really connect with a location:

WWOOFING –   World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  Volunteers trade farm duties for room and board. Accommodations are simple and the work can be hard at times, but if the chance to harvest grapes in Italy, learn how to make goat cheese in France, or get your hands dirty on an organic herb garden in New Zealand appeals to you, then WWOOFING is the way to go.   A surprising number of people in their 50’s, 60‘s, and beyond are signing up.  www.wwoofusa.org

Chicken wrangling...how hard can it be?

Chicken wrangling…how hard can it be?

 

Hosteling –  If you were that backpacking twenty-something, you probably remember hostels as cheap, dorm-style rooms with bunk beds and rented sheets, a bath down the hall and a party-hardy crowd.  Not a gray hair in sight.  They weren’t called youth hostels for nothing.   Much has changed.  Today more than 15% of hostelers are over 50 and the number is growing.  Now offering private rooms with baths, online booking, fresh and free linens and more, today’s hostels are catering to the mature traveler on a budget. Two things about hosteling have not changed – they are still inexpensive and a wonderful way to meet other travelers.   www.hihostels.com

Workamping –  For some folks, hitting the road in a motorhome is at the top of their retirement wish list.  But, it’s not as cheap as you might think.  When you budget for gas and campground fees, you could pay more to park you RV than you would for a moderately priced hotel room.   One unique and fun way to make your RV travel more affordable is by becoming a workamper.  Through online sites like Workamper (www.workamper.com) and Camp Host (www.camphost.org), travelers can find and apply for thousands of seasonal and year round jobs.  Many RVers work during the summer season as camp hosts, collecting  fees from campers, directing them to available sites, answering questions and watching for problems.  In return they receive a free campsite and often a small stipend.

House Sitting – Short and long time house sitting opportunities are available worldwide through online sites like House Carers (www.housecarers.com) and Trusted House Sitters (www.trustedhousesitters.com).  Most house sitting jobs involve some form of pet care and modest home maintenance like watering the plants and bringing in the mail.  Homeowners feel secure that their home is occupied and taken care of in their absence.  You get a great place to stay for free and the chance to live like a local.  Win-Win.

Remember, your first gig doesn’t have to be half way around the world.  Dip your toes into the shallow water before you make the plunge by starting closer to home.   If “Green Acres is the place for you”, why not spend a weekend getting dirt under your fingernails and sore muscles on a local farm?  If you think professional house sitting might be the way to travel, then offer your services to friends and family in the U.S.   You’ll gain valuable references and get a chance to see how comfortable you really are sleeping in a strange bed and picking up Fido’s poop.

What’s your favorite way to travel on the cheap?  We’d love to share your ideas and experiences right here on the blog. Leave us a comment.

See you on the road!

Nancy