As I have blogged about before, one of the fun parts of every adventure is the opportunities for random, often insightful, conversations with strangers. Such was the case on this trip even before I left Portland. As I waited for my flight to Seattle, where I would connect with my direct flight to Shanghai, I selected a seat in a busy boarding area next to a elderly woman sitting in a wheel chair. I didn't speak to her initially as I munched on a sandwich that I had picked up in the terminal. Soon she left -- getting up from her wheel chair and pushing it herself -- but within a few minutes she returned and asked if I'd hold her Starbucks coffee while she re-positioned her wheel chair. I offered and she agreed that I could hold her purse as well -- as she was having some difficulty setting the brakes on her wheelchair -- and she expressed appreciation.
As she settled back in her wheelchair, I inquired as to where she was headed -- my frequent start to a conversation with a fellow traveler. She responded with friendly engagement that she was returning to Sacramento from Spokane where she had attended the 4th birthday celebration of her great granddaughter. When I commented favorably on her willingness to endure the hassles of air travel for the event, she explained that she was 94 years old and would continue to travel as long as she could. When I told her my age, she laughingly commented that she had sons older than I -- ages 74 and 72. I told her she was inspiring that I may get the opportunity to travel into my 90's, she let me know that she expected to continue to travel for as long as she could -- and reminded me of my dad when she bragged that she had just passed the renewal of her California driver's license and had received a license to drive for another 5 years -- which she intended to accomplish. She also said she still lived alone, shopped and cooked for herself -- and in her lifetime had the opportunity to visit over 30 countries. When I asked her which destination of all she had been to, she would recommend that I visit, her answer was quick: Machu Picchu, Peru. When I asked her about SE Asia, she told me that most of her foreign travel was in the 70's -- and while she had been to China, she had not been to Cambodia or Indonesia.
Shortly it was my time to board, but I couldn't help but think that she was a great example of how I started this blog -- perhaps you only get old when you stop traveling!