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After Covid it’s time to explore
Patty Leon new

One thing I’ve learned while being holed up during this pandemic is that there are still a lot of things in this world I’d like to try (except for skydiving, I don’t think I’ll ever try that).

I’ve tried some pretty crazy stuff, later in life. I was a weightlifting competitor from age 19 to 24. I played on an 8 versus 8 competitive touch (so we could block but not tackle) women’s flag football team in my late 20s early 30s. I started my roller derby career at 45 and did that for seven years. 

So, now at 55, I think it’s time to find a new athletic hobby. 

I still have my roller derby gear and they just re-opened the local skate park. Normally you’ll find skateboarders there but a huge number of roller derby retirees have taken to skating the half-pipes and pools as a natural transition sport post derby. In fact, there is a national organization called Chicks in Bowls, with a chapter in nearly every state. If you can envision all the cool tricks Tony Hawk can do with a skateboard, even now while in his 50s, picture it being done in quad roller skates by women, then you’ll get what I’m talking about.

I did try it for a brief period, before moving. It’s time to knock the rust off and try again.

My current work location has not one but three different indoor and outdoor rock-climbing wall gyms. Once this pandemic is over, I think it would be neat to give that a go and see if it helps me rebuild my health and strength, something I’ve lost completely due to lack of energy during this whole COVID poo-poo and my dad’s death.

I’d like to try some long-range hiking. I live near Lookout Mountain, Raccoon Mountain and Signal Mountain which offer lots of hiking trails to spectacular views and waterfalls. It would be cool to build up the stamina to hit the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and see how far I can go.

I have a huge fear of flying but I would like to try some hang-gliding offered at Lookout Mountain. Maybe that or an ultra-light trip will help me overcome my fear.

Except I can’t jump (pun intended) into this right now. Need to lose some weight first so I don’t drag down the glider. But it is on my bucket list for sure. 

I’m severely claustrophobic. And if I am going to conquer my fears, I’d love to go cave exploring at Cloud Canyon State Park which is 15 minutes from my house. They have a bunch of caves to explore, however, I’m SCARED TO DEATH.

There are times when I’m watching Expedition Unknown on the Discovery Channel and Josh Gates goes down into these caves that are so tight, he can barely squeeze through. Just watching that makes me anxious and makes my heart pound. Sometimes, I need to change the channel for a few minutes.

But it would be cool to go spelunking. I just need to find a professional guide who won’t mind me freaking out the deeper we venture in. Preferably a guide with a lot of grit and strength yet with a HUGE sense of humor. One who would be patient and non-judgmental as I freak out and try to run out while not knowing where to go. A guide with a video on his helmet to capture that moment for prosperity and social media laughs.

I recently found out my Mom is claustrophobic too. We were in an elevator, a much older elevator, and, just for a moment it seemed to stop. My mom was ready to climb the walls, walker, and all, in order to reach the escape hatch. Suddenly there was a strong jolt, and the door opened. Sure, we laughed about it afterward, but it was another reason, for me anyways, to place rock climbing on my list of things to do and learn.

There are several other hobbies I’m also venturing into. As I mentioned in a previous column, I bought a metal detector. So far, I’ve just used it around my neighborhood. I get the standard weird looks, but I’ve found coins and jewelry so that’s a win!

Despite the pandemic, life is an adventure. But the adventure is only experienced if you are willing to try new things and explore new places. Make a list now of places you’d like to visit, foods you’d like to try and activities you’d like to experience. Make a plan and put it in place.

Patty Leon

Senior Editor

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