Inspired by recent conversations with family as well as posts that I’ve read here in The Land of Blog, I’ve compiled my own Bucket List of adventures, goals and achievements to strive for before the days, weeks, months and years really start to slip away from me…

The point of creating a Bucket List, to my way of thinking, isn’t (or shouldn’t be) another means of self-flagellation for things not done or opportunities frittered away but rather as a vehicle for self-exploration, for contemplating your inner wants and needs, passions and desires and in the process of enumerating goals and perhaps unattainable ideals, learning something about what really means the most to you.

I’ve created my Bucket List – the beginnings of one anyway – fresh off the heels of a life-changing trip to Estes Park where my husband and I reveled in the joy and beauty of hiking in the Rocky Mountains.  This analysis of what I’d like to do and achieve prior to kicking the proverbial bucket, in part, reinforced (as did our hiking adventures this fall) the great satisfaction I found in participating in outdoor activities in my 20s and 30s – camping, hiking, spelunking, rappelling, exploring – gloriously fun times spent both with friends and with my son as well as solitary forays into the woods to hike or photograph or just spend time alone to think.

And so, what I’ve inscribed onto my Bucket List thus far is as follows:

  1. Master our new Canon 70D SLR
  2. Get myself published on Freshly Pressed
  3. Hike the Grand Canyon
  4. Relearn to crochet
  5. Bag me a 14er in Colorado
  6. Visit and explore New England
  7. Visit and explore Alaska
  8. Visit and explore Scotland, England and Ireland
  9. Experience Niagara Falls
  10. Drive up along Michigan’s North Shore Drive
  11. Travel to Instanbul
  12. Learn to kayak

Working towards one’s goals can serve, also, as a motivator like none other.  I know exercise and eating well is something I need to and should do for good health.  It’s a gnawing concern and one I strive to manage.  But yearning to hike to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain – and I ain’t getting any younger! – is going to require more than just sheer will and determination.  I need to prepare my body for this particular goal.  Visualizing myself standing at the top one of those magnificent peaks is more than adequate motivation to get myself in shape to accomplish my objective.

Travel and photography, well, I already know I love these pursuits so including them on my list with the goal of learning more and expanding what I already know, what I’ve already seen and done, is exciting and enticing.  I learned to crochet in my early 20s and have never returned to it.  I believe it’s time now to do so.  And what WordPress blogger doesn’t dream of being featured on Freshly Pressed?

This list may not stand, it may (and should!) change over time and hopefully, by the end of 2015, I’ll have #5 crossed off, and perhaps replaced with the goal of bagging yet another.  We’re already researching options and making plans.  For me, planning an adventure is half the fun!

So.  What’s on YOUR bucket list?

Bear with me as I have little (to no) experience shooting B&W photos but I’ve been nominated by https://crisisalive.wordpress.com/ to post a black and white photo each day for the next five days.  As part of the process, I need to nominate someone else to ‘play’.  So for my first go-round, I would like to nominate http://marthaschaefer.com/ to join me in this endeavor.

Here’s my first offering…

IMG_5343

Whether from the glow of candlelight or the shimmering gold of ornamentation or the laughter of children or simply (and most importantly) the good vibes generated from the season’s sights, sounds, scents and scenery, it is the warmth of the holidays that instills us with a sense of goodwill, peace and harmony this time of year.

IMG_5167

IMG_2655

Whenever my husband and I visit Galena, Illinois we try to climb these stairs that lead from the wonderful Main Street area – a shopper’s delight! – to the residential homes perched high above with their spectacular views of the town, homes and river below.

During one of our stays, we climbed up and down these steps (I believe we counted 192 of them) five times in one day – a fantastic workout, especially if you are coming up for air after all that shopping and need to deliver your purchases to your room at the B&B – so that you can return to shop for more!

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge: 2014 #26

On a quest to learn more about myself, I decided one day in early November to just chuck it all, to throw myself into something new, to stretch myself to see if there wasn’t something more inside me that I had not yet been made aware of and to get out there and explore my world.

Well, for the day anyway. Bill was golfing with his brother and would be gone for a few hours. I love him to the moon and back but like any sane, normal person I need and cherish my alone time, my down time, my ME time.

I ate a quick breakfast of toast and peanut butter and washed it down with my favorite juice: pineapple-orange. After making sure my cell phone and camera batteries were both charged and not an inkling of where it was exactly that I wanted to go, I jumped into the F-150. We purchased it more than ten years ago but drive it only occasionally, using it primarily for hauling things or whenever – like now, with Bill out of town – we need a second vehicle. Still, it has over 100,000 miles but runs like a champ. It has a sporty look to it (the letters STX, whatever that means, are painted on the rear side panels) and at first I was a little embarrassed by the loud, throaty rumble of the muffler. I wanted Bill to replace it with something quieter but after I drove it the first time, I kind of liked the rush of power and energy – and oomph!- that I felt behind the wheel, so I told my husband “Let’s keep it the way it is”.

Pulling out of the driveway, I still wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I toyed with visiting a gift shop not far from here that is set up in a grand old barn, filled with antiques and decorative items of interest. It’s a beautiful place and has some lovely things but I wasn’t really in the mood to shop. I just knew that I wanted to get out of the house, drive along some quiet, gravel road and perhaps stumble across something interesting, something unique, something funky, something beautiful. And to snap a few photos which is always my ultimate goal.

I headed south out of town and after a mile or two turned right onto the first virgin gravel road, that is, one I’d not been on before. The sky was overcast and it was only a little chilly. There was no breeze. It was calm and still. Fortunately, I encountered no traffic on my lonely stretch of gravel as I drove a few hundred yards, stopped and took a few photos, drove a few hundred yards further, stopped and snapped a few more. Sometimes I merely stopped, taking in the beauty of the not yet harvested corn fields or the sound of a small stream or to watch in wonder as a pheasant poked his way through the downed stalks, no doubt pecking for nuggets of corn on the ground.

I didn’t shoot any real good photographs that day – it would have been nice if the sun had been more cooperative and there was some blue sky and wispy clouds to frame and complement the shots I did take – but the peace and solitude of this brief excursion was memorable, and enjoyable, nonetheless.

IMG_4959

IMG_4963

IMG_4957

IMG_4980

IMG_0235

IMG_4975

IMG_4951

IMG_4967

IMG_4974