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Bucket Lists

There are lyrics from Kenny Chesney’s song “Bucket” that still make me laugh every time I hear them… “I made a bucket list, changed the B to an F, I gave my give a damn the finger, so it got up and left.”  One of the liberties you can give yourself when you are not sure how much time you have left (none of us do, in fact) is the freedom to go wherever you want, anywhere in the world, throwing caution to the wind and not really caring what it costs.  For most people, it’s probably never really that simple.

Either there is nothing imminent to indicate your demise, so therefore budget is still an issue.  Or there is something making you think your time is limited and if so, you likely don’t feel well enough to jet set around the world with no restrictions or practical limitations.  That’s where I find myself these days.  There are places I wish I could have gotten to that I likely never will, and that’s ok.  

I will likely never fully get the travel magazine images of thatched, over-the-water bungalows in Tahiti or Bora Bora out of my head.  I never got the chance to go visit my friend Gerry during the many years that he lived in New Zealand, which would of course have led to a side jaunt to Australia.  My friend Marco has invited us to join them on visits to South Africa, and that is not likely to happen now as well.  The Maldives, Iceland, the Canary Islands, Patagonia, Portugal, Germany, the Argentinian wine country… I could go on and on, and the truth of the matter is that it makes my back hurt to think of making an overnight, round-trip flight in an uncomfortable seat to get to any of those places.

But when I think of the places I have gone, I am just as overwhelmed.  I grew up in Latonia, Kentucky.  My parents did not have a college education, and upward mobility was a hard thing to achieve without that all-important piece of paper (there were no TikTok millionaire options back then).  My father was a blue-collar worker, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom.  Financial resources were limited and travel – a purely discretionary item - was necessarily one of the last things on the list.  And yet, it was a priority for our family and my parents somehow made it work.  We always managed to get away as a family and those are some of the greatest memories of my life (your mind somehow conveniently manages to block out the memories of the incessant squabbling amongst four kids, in the back of a station wagon on a 16-hour drive from Latonia, Kentucky to West Palm Beach, Florida).  

I could have never dreamed at the time, nor would I have dared to dream, that I would get to visit islands throughout the Caribbean, destinations in Europe, multiple visits to the Canadian Rockies, nine trips to Hawaii, Mexico, and most U.S. states.  I have been to Napa Valley almost 30 times.  We visited my friend Bruce in southern California more than 25 times.  I have been to Italy 26 times.  26 times!  Most people will be lucky to go there once in their lifetime.  So, while there are still so many places I would like to go, I am content to think back on those many adventures and focus on what is now achievable and reasonable.  Even practical considerations come to mind… what if something goes wrong while I am there?  How would I pay for health care since my insurance would not be accepted?  And can I trust that the quality of care delivered will be sufficient until I can get back home?

Despite the chaos of the past few weeks, the gods have seen fit to open up a window for me at the end of this week where I can go to Tampa, Florida to attend the wine-soaked, “Cheers for Charity” fundraiser put on by our dear friends Ron & Tami.  This is an amazing event that they host at their house each year that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for children’s charities in the Greater Tampa area.  We have never been able to go before.  While there, we will have dinner at the iconic Bern’s Steak House, a place we have never been before.  It is legendary – they have more than 500,000 bottles of wine, for God’s sake!

We will have a convertible and will then drive to Key West at our own pace.  I have never been able to make that amazing, 100+ mile drive out over the open ocean from Miami to Key West.  I have never been to Key West.  There is going to be a solar eclipse while we are there.  It is going to be an amazing trip and I feel up to doing it.   

I am hopeful that we will be able to make the 40th anniversary trip to France and Monaco in June, but I am being realistic about that and not counting on it.  I am also not ready to turn it loose because my brother and sister-in-law are planning on joining us for that trip.  Later in the summer, we are going to make a multi-day, chauffeured trip throughout Kentucky with four sets of dear friends.  It’s early, but that feels very “doable.”  It’s still very much on the list.  

There is a common denominator here.  My thoughts now turn more to making trips that allow me to see friends and spend time with people I care about rather than checking a box.  I have never had much interest in having to place a foot in all 50 U.S. states.  That feels more like a collection to me, and I am not much of a collector of anything (other than good wine!).  There are way too many amazing things still on the list to ever get to, and that would be the case even if I lived to be 100 years old.       

An occasional trip to Lexington to see my father.  A day trip to my brother’s lake house.  An overnight bourbon tasting trip with my mom to Louisville or Bardstown.  Perhaps a trip to New Orleans with Diana (she has always wanted to go but has never been there before).  Bunt singles and the occasional double rather than swinging for the fences.  And that’s ok.

Until next time, 



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