I’m 57, so absolutely yes. My childbearing years are over. It’s probably too late to take up a career as a gymnast. Sleeveless dresses are a bit challenging 😁
But what about other, less extreme things like camping in a tent or the back of an SUV? Well, let’s process it.
Tim and I just got back from 8 days of travel out west so he could take photos of wild horses and a few iconic landscapes. We stayed in hotels a few nights, but the goal was to be right out there with the subjects. You know: wake up in the morning, get up, and be surrounded by nature. For that reason, we either tent camped or slept in the back of our SUV. We even bought an amazing mattress for just that purpose (see my previous blog).
For this particular topic, let’s look at aging from 2 different perspectives: mental and physical.
Let’s take mental first. I think I’ve nailed this one. I LOVE adventure! I’m not afraid of trying new things. I know and enjoy the mental benefits of the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. Despite my anxiety battles, I don’t worry about what’s going to happen day to day, where we’re going to sleep, or what we’re going to eat. I don’t obsess about rattlesnakes or other critters. Except for the occasional hiccup, I'm typically relaxed and love being out in nature.
See - Nailed it!
Now let’s take the physical. This is where it gets tricky. On our previous adventures, the weather was fairly cooperative – not too hot (well, hot but we managed), not too cold. We were usually able to camp on open BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land with literally no one else around us. Why is that important? We’ll talk about bladder management in a sec.
This time was different for several reasons. First, the altitude. We were above 6,000 ft. the entire time, and it kicked my behind. Second, the temperature. The first night it got down to about 29 degrees, and the last night it was 80 when we tucked in. Finally, the wind. In Moab and Monument Valley there were wind warnings each day. So, why is that a big deal? Wind inn a rocky, dusty desert is a nightmare for your lungs. At 57, my body did not adapt to any of this as easily as it might have in my 20’s!
Let’s get back to bladder management. If this is TMI, you should probably move on now 😁Again, 57. Three children all born within 2 years of each other. You know where I’m going with this? I know getting up all night to go to the bathroom seems like a man thing, but we women battle it too! 2, 3, 4 times a night, depending on my evening water consumption.
I must admit, the first year we stayed on the open range I felt liberated to just step out of the vehicle and pee anywhere I wanted! Don’t judge, I think you know what I mean. But remember, the weather was nice – no wind and not too cold or too hot.
Not so on this trip.
So, on the first day, I made a firm decision to NOT drink anything after 5:00 pm. And it worked. No nightly trips! And thank goodness – that was the night it got into the 20’s and also the night my air mattress deflated and I wanted to destroy the world with a death ray I would create with my mind (again, former blog). The last thing I needed was to have to get out of the car in that temperature!
The next night, the air was so dry, and the wind was so gusty and dusty that I had to abandon that early water cutoff decision. My lips were cracked so bad I could barely open my mouth, and my cough was awful. But, I paid for it – 3 times in the night! Earlier that evening a fellow camper told us about bobcats and other critters in the area. I'm not gonna lie - that crossed my mind as I was "bareing" the elements out there.
Let’s move on to bone & muscle aches – those are fun. And they relate to wind, weather, and bladders.
After running on pavement for over 10 years, my knees are shot. That leads to a couple of interesting decisions on the open range. First, getting in and out of the car in the middle of the night. Getting out, not too bad. But then, I literally stared and pondered how I would get back in. Maybe I can back in, hop up, and turn around. Or, I could grab the handle, pull myself up, get on my knees and straighten out. Funny, as if I could hop or straighten after sleeping on a piece of plywood 😫 (Tim fixed it but I couldn't sleep on it for 12 hours!)
Second regarding the shot knees is squatting. No matter how you slice it, for women, peeing on the ground requires some degree of squatting. Actually, the squat isn’t the real problem, it’s the stopping myself at the right point and then getting back up!
And remember the wind I mentioned? That comes into play here. I don’t know that you need or want a mental picture, but there I was, trying to squat at the right angle and pee on the ground when what happened but a gust of wind caused a surprising (but not refreshing) spray along my lower half. At this point, my love affair with nature was in serious danger.
On top of all of this, I couldn’t breathe in the altitude, I had a snotty cold, my bones and muscles were screaming, and I didn’t sleep more than a few hours each night.
So, I ask you again: Do we get too old for certain things? It’s a tough question without a firm answer.
Tim and I were both thinking about how difficult the trip was, but neither one of us wanted to say anything. Why? For one thing, we really have enjoyed this type of thing in the past! We realize what a unique experience it is. For another, it’s kind of become who we are. We’re Tim and Tami, the couple who goes out west, camps on public lands, and photographs wild horses.
You’ve heard me talk about identity before. Be careful about getting a firm identity in anything you do. One of his friends recently told him we were the coolest couple she knew! The coolest couple at 57 and 60? Gosh, how do we give that up?
The answer is not an either or. The answer is the word choose, or decide. We can stay in a tent if we want. We can sleep in an SUV. We can stay in hotels. We can do a combo of the three – probably what we’ll do!
The fact is, our bodies are changing, and we cannot ignore that. If we aren’t enjoying it the way we used to, it’s time to reassess and figure out how much of that experience we want to keep and what we’d like to change. And that’s ok!
Be kind to yourself. Enjoy experiences. When you’re not enjoying, change things. Think deeply. Try not to say I can't or I have to in most situations - we almost always have a choice.
That’s it for now – thanks for letting me process!
Here's Tim's YouTube Channel. If you want to follow our journey, please do!
I’ll be back with more lessons from this trip. Thanks for joining!!