One guiding principle of this blog is that Agile Aging is neither automatic nor accidental. It requires awareness and creative imagination, knowhow and sustained commitment. Our final phase of life can be joyful, full of learning, growing and sharing. But dividends demand investments.

One reason Peer Profiles are so inspirational is that they introduce fellow seniors who have figured out how to do things the rest of us aspire to but haven’t yet made happen. Shirley Buccieri has developed innovative solutions to not one but two common senior travel challenges:

  • What if you like to travel but don’t have anyone to travel with? Maybe you live alone or your partner isn’t interested or available.
  • What if you’d like to linger and get to know a single destination, but hotel rates are prohibitive for extended stays and group tours too fast-paced, with rigid itineraries?

Imagine traveling where you most want, when and how you want. Custom-tailoring your trips to suit your personal passions, energy and budget. An impossible dream? Read on!

Richard, in response to the post, “Agile Aging: An Introduction & an Invitation”
In my getting-older world, caretaking aside, I enjoy immensely watching my continuing family.

David, on the post, “Retirement as Our Admission Ticket to Satisfying Seniority”
The elephant in the room, of course, is the notion of mortality. It seems to accompany retirement in a major way and occupies many of our thoughts, even if we are loath to share them. Yes, there are those who, for religious, spiritual or other reasons, are little bothered by the upcoming end of life. One friend is counselled by a woman in Colorado who has written extensively on the afterlife which she is convinced is available, not from religious teachings, but because of the study she has made of persons who have reported out-of-body experiences where their “soul” has floated above their bodies in an operating room before being brought back to life. I have one relative who cheerfully announced, when his father fell ill, “We all stroke out in our seventies in my family.” Another has noted that she doesn’t really want to live much beyond eighty as, by that time, “I will have had the whole enchilada” and sees no reason to keep on trucking.

It’s the first morning of my Amtrak ride from Emeryville to Denver. I’m so absorbed in my Sunday newspaper that I don’t detect the Observation Car tables and chairs filling up around me. The fact that my new neighbors are almost totally silent contributes to the surprise. I look up to discover a distinctive party of two adult couples and six kids, ranging from teens to a toddler. Full beards and a bouquet of bonnets catch my eye. I’m about to meet the Millers of Orwell, Ohio.

In my roomette and ready to roll. I love my Amtrak sleeping compartment — snug, comfortable and private. I’ve never traveled in a single compartment before. Nancy and I usually book a larger double. This one reminds me of a shipboard cabin — no wasted space, everything in its place. Eight feet long, five wide, two facing benches, a shelf for my hand luggage, wall hooks for robe and pajamas and a giant window. All this on the upper level of my sleeper car, with great visibility. At night the attendant will work his magic and convert the benches into a surprisingly wide bed. The common bathroom is five paces along the corridor. My suitcase is safely stowed on the car’s lower level. I’m purring in my solo space, all set for the next two days and a night. Nine-fifteen a.m. — the first surge of movement. Right on time. Away we go!

There are no two ways about it: Nancy and I have always been suckers for trains. She recalls the thrill of feeling very grown up traveling alone at age 12, en route to Washington D.C. to visit her Aunt Anne and Uncle Bill. I’ve a fading childhood memory of a family rail excursion from L.A.’s historic Union Station, bound for San Diego’s enchanting Balboa Park Zoo.

Decades later, our shared infatuation for rail travel intensified during 15 years living in Italy. From the modest railhead 20 minutes down the hill from our Umbrian olive farm, we scooted by train all across the European continent. Throughout Italy to be sure, but also to Vienna, Prague and Budapest, Zurich and Geneva, Munich and Frankfurt, Paris and even London through the submarine Chunnel.

In your most private moments, what do you think about aging? Does advancing seniority fill you with distaste, or with relief? Apprehension or contentment? Are you grinning or grimacing?

What image of aging first pops into your mind’s eye? More memory-making with the grandkids? More midnight shuffles to the bathroom? A lengthening shelf of unpronounceable pills? A closet-full of business attire dry-cleaned for schlepping to Goodwill?

Have you dreams deferred or nagging irritations? A Danube cruise? Elusive words on the tip of your tongue? Performing with the Community Players? Being nibbled to death by ducks?

Like most of my peers, I’m aware the aging glass is both half-empty and half-full. We have to take the sour with the sweet. But it’s my impression that we tend to over-emphasize seniority’s downsides. If that’s correct, this reflexive pessimism exacts a high price. Not only can it impair our mental and emotional health. It can also neglect and undervalue seniority’s rich offsetting opportunities, passions and pleasures. This blog is dedicated to helping rebalance the scales. I want to make the case for a positive approach to growing old.

Officer, where can we see the best redwoods?” The State Parks Ranger and I had a half-mile to walk together from Point Cabrillo Light Station back to the parking lot, so I thought I wouldn’t waste his expertise.

“Around here? No Contest. Hendy Woods.”

“Sounds like a blues band.”

“In a way. But it’s the best kept secret on this section of the North Coast. One hundred acres of original-growth Coast Redwoods hiding right off the highway.”

“US 1?”

“No. California 128. Do you know it?”

I told him we did. Nancy and I had driven to the coast through this marvelous canyon, climbing up the Coast Range from Cloverdale, easing down past Anderson Valley’s vineyards and apple orchards, and emerging onto the Pacific shore at the mouth of the Navarro River.

“Reverse your tracks,” the Ranger instructed. “Head inland and look sharp eight miles above Booneville, or you’ll miss the turnoff. That’s why I like it. No one stops. I have the place almost all to myself. That’s where I’m based.”

The boy standing below him seemed to personify the layered failures of Monterey County’s juvenile-justice system. Barely 17, this street-scarred veteran was already a gang leader, a violent bully, a convicted felon and utterly without remorse. The boy’s family had brought his grandmother 200 miles from Visalia to Salinas to witness his sentencing. The old woman sat in the front row of Judge John Phillips’s courtroom, dressed all in black. In truth there was no suspense. California’s criminal law left the judge virtually no sentencing discretion, mandating that juveniles be treated as adults for serious felonies. He pronounced long-term incarceration, and the grandmother collapsed. The macho hood burst into tears. John vividly remembers telling himself, “There’s got to be a better way to protect society than warehousing no-hope kids for life.” That gut-wrenching protest germinated his driving passion.

On our Riverside/Tejon Pass excursion, Nancy and I learned and reaffirmed some prudent rules-of-the-road for seniors. Here’s our daily checklist. How does it compare with your own guidelines? Minimize contact with trucks and traffic by maximizing use of secondary roads, in the process enjoying superior air quality and scenery. Keep the gas tank at least …