Naples, Land of Old People, is surprisingly upbeat :)

Naples, FL is a weird place. Everyone I’ve seen here is over 50. It’s almost as if all the young people died… or they’re barricaded out at the airports. I’m not sure, but I do make sure enlist an elderly escort whenever I leave my hotel in order to not keep suspicion at bay. I don’t want to know what happened to the young’ns.

But the funny thing is, seeing this population of older people doesn’t make me fear being older and it doesn’t make me bored to tears. Instead, it gives me a chance to look forward to aging. Just sitting at Panera I’ve seen two cyclists, a nurse, a jogger and a burly old man with a tiny little lap dog. I’ve seen a friendship forged when one cigar smoking dude asked another for directions and I’ve seen more luxury sports cars than I knew we had in this country.

And that’s after only 15 minutes.

What I haven’t seen? Walkers, sickness, sadness or evidence of death.

Instead of the New York conversation starter “What do you do”, there’s the self admissions of what one “did”. It seems most of the people here sold a business or retired after a long, financially rewarding career. The ones still working look thrilled to be serving lattes or waiting tables. And then there are the hobbies – all the things we all put to the side while working: Bicycling, photography, art, hiking, language classes, etc. My relative told me that at his photography club alone, nearly 200 people show up during the winter months. And most of them are good.

Which makes me wonder – why is it that we fear aging? A person doesn’t lose their sense of self as they get older, they just lose a little hair and a lot of collagen. And because of that, I see a happy retirement as a gift. Hopefully a gift I’m someday given. It’s a chance to refine skills people never make time for. It’s a chance to explore the world without worrying about waking up for a meeting. It’s an opportunity to get a dog or dress in clothes that always seemed a little to “bright” for the workplace. And I love every minute of being surrounded by these “old people”. Because these old people not only have their sh*t together (pardon the expression), but they are pretty badass.

Just like the coffee shop I sat at yesterday “Badass Coffee”. Which was own, ran and visited by an exclusively 50+ bunch.

Drinking ponies and illegal rocks

Last year my sister picked up and ran away to Hawaii where the sun is always shining and the water seems to be perpetualy warm. After months of her being thousands of miles away, I decided to use some of my frequent flyer miles to visit her.

So here I am, sitting on a balcony looking at the rain fall on Waikiki. Which is one of the weirdest parts of Hawaii: the weather. It seems to have no rhyme or reason. It’s always warm but you can be standing two blocks to the east and be under rain and then 2 blocks to the west it’s blazing hot and sunny as could be. Then the clouds reverse areas, drop a little more rain and then dissapear. Other days, it seems to be San Francisco cloudy (but still warm) but not a single raindrop falls. It’s confusing…

Anyways, weather aside, we’ve had a great time so far. The second day we were here my sister took me and Daniel climbing on some rocks. Apparently every hike, climb and adventure in Hawaii starts by crossing a “do not enter” line. So that’s what we did, we parked our car and ignored several “no passing” and “no climbing” signs and hopped over a rock barrier. From there we climbed across long, layered lava rock formations that led down to the ocean.

A few slips (mostly by Daniel), and we made our way down to the water. The black rocks slopped down to several inlets where the water slammed into the shore and turned into a tourquoise froth. Up along the rock walls, caves were scattered here and there. It was absolutely beautiful.

Drinking ponies and illegal rocks

From there we took a winding drive, stopping at other random beachs and “no entry” signs where we hiked and wandered well into the afternoon. Tired and happy we headed to a sushi restaraunt as the clouds came and went, came and went.

A few miles down we saw a sign for “Animal Farm” and decided we MUST stop. So we begged my sister to pull over so we could feed some random pigs a little bit of hay. While we were busy naming animals and pushing hay through the fence, my sister called our attention to two ponies. One younger pony drinking milk from the mommy pony.

Drinking ponies and illegal rocks

And then we knew our day was complete. We’d climbed illegal rocks and we saw ponies drinking milk. Life in Hawaii is good.