Login | July 15, 2018

Relearning relaxation

Pete’s World

Published: August 14, 2017

I’m currently up in Quebec, Canada enjoying what my friends refer to as a sane man’s vacation.

You know, the kind of vacation that most sensible people take, a vacation where you can stop long enough to taste the coffee, smell the roses and sip the wine.

That’s in direct opposition to my near decade’s worth of wacko man’s vacations, where I was always up each morning way too early and hitting the hay way too soon.

Where I was fueling my body each day with umpteen packets of oozing carbo gel and bottles of warm, gut gagging Gatorade and where I was either hammering across gravel mountain passes and high plains deserts on my mountain bike, or hiking across miles of mosquito infested muskeg bogs and barren mountainscapes in far-flung places like Greenland and Iceland.

Nope, none of that not on this trip.

This trip is my first attempt in a long time at vacationing with a capital V.

First, it’s a gift to my girlfriend for her years of patience, understanding and her restraint from not having strangled me for what seemed like a never-ending menu of my madcap adventures.

And second, well, it’s a gift to me as well.

It’s a dialed down vacation that I’m hoping will register high on the relaxation scale, something I haven’t done for a long, long time.

So over the past few days I’ve really had a chance to kick back and ponder this crazy predilection I’ve had for breakneck adventure vacations and I’ve come to the conclusion that my go-big-or-go-home attitude likely developed over 30 years ago when a very accomplished rock climber buddy of mine, Dave, related a personal incident to me.

His short narrative entailed how after he’d just free-soled (ascended without rope) an 867-foot vertical route at Devils Tower, Wyoming, he was scolded by a tourist about his cavalier attitude towards life.

Dave’s response was as introspective as it was jaw-dropping. “Lady,” he replied matter-of-factly, “I just lived more in three hours than you’ll live in an entire lifetime.”

That statement was immediately imprinted on my brain, living more in a few hours, days or months than most people live in a lifetime.


And it turned out to be somewhat of a catalyst for my adventures (aka vacations) ramping up to higher and higher levels of difficulty each and every year.

Yup, Dave’s simple, concise tenet about living life is still as alive in my mind today as it was the moment he uttered it several decades ago.

So why suddenly dial it back while up here in Canada?

Well, my “come to Jesus” moment occurred last summer when I encountered a serious health issue and during a never-ending two-month recovery I had ample time to ponder the remainder of my life.

Those 60-plus days of quiet contemplation guided me to the conclusion that I needed to create a bit more balance in my life, to take a step back every now and then with respect to how I enjoyed my free time and, more importantly, how to better share that free time with others.

Now that’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the crazy adventures I’ve taken over the years, many of which were so far north of epic and so ridiculously difficult that I could only truly cherish them when they were over.

Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

But that’s how off kilter my teeter totter had gradually gotten.

Anyway the medical incident provided me cause to fancy the idea of traveling south of epic every now and then, much to the delight of my girlfriend.

Which brings me back to the here and now, taking in Quebec’s stunning Gaspe’ Peninsula.

We’re eating those late and lazy cafe brekkies I never took the time to enjoy. We’re riding just two to three hours a day instead of my fanatical six to eight. And we're having long, relaxing dinners on the patio rather than the glutinous all-you-can-eat buffets and Subway belly bombs I needed for max caloric replenishment.

Yup, this balance thing is kinda fun…I guess I don’t have to expend a life’s worth of adrenaline on each and every vacation.