“Bucket Lists” Range From Simple to Daunting

Spurred on by “The Bucket List,” a feel-good blockbuster movie based on a top-selling book, thousands of people across the country are trying to squeeze every drop they can out of their lives. Nowhere is that more apparent that in the South, where Boomers are doing things as exotic as biking nine miles down Hawaiian volcanoes to more civic-minded activities as volunteering to cross items off their personal bucket lists. For the uninitiated, “The Bucket List” is a sugary-sweet movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as dying cancer patients determined to complete a catalogue of activities to do before they “kick the bucket.” The inspiration for the film came from the adventure travel guide “100 Things to Do Before You Die,” written by Neil Teplica and Dave Freeman, who died in August at the age of 47 after hitting his head in a fall in his California home. In the book, the authors ponder: “This life is a short journey. How can you make sure you fill it with the most fun and that you visit all the coolest places on earth before you pack those bags for the very last time?” Here’s a look at some folks that are figuring it out, one bucket list item at a time. Helping Check Items Off at 100 MPH

Randall Shannon of Charlotte said he always enjoyed building models when he was younger. But, the 56-year old financial services executive noted, as he got older, “the models just got bigger.” As in the 2,000-pound, souped-up 1986 Ford Mustang that sits in Shannon’s perfectly manicured garage. And even though the Mustang, which Shannon remodeled to look like a championship race car from the 80s, isn’t street legal (it’s got no backseat and a specially built 525 horsepower engine), he gets plenty of opportunities to drive it at driving schools. Driving schools, which Shannon said are becoming a growing hobby for Boomers, are where would-be NASCAR racers get to fulfill their dreams of speeding more than 100 miles per hour on race-caliber courses.

Shannon and wife Sally have beennear Savannah, Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte and Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C. For five years, Shannon has been a driving school instructor, helping others check off their bucket lists’ need for speed.

“The most exciting part of it for me as an instructor is the (beginning) student,” he said. “Somebody that’s never done it before is scared to death and so nervous you can actually see their hands shaking.”

He recalled helping one student, who initially wouldn’t go faster than 60 mph on a straightaway, become confident enough to get his speedometer over the century mark. Then there was a 65-year-old woman who was hesitant to taking the corners of the track.

“She only wanted to drive (slow),” Shannon said. “That’s how she had driven all of her life.” But at the end of the weekend course, Shannon had her zooming around turns like she was Jeff Gordon.

Then again, so does Shannon, who said he normally won’t attempt to get up to NASCAR speeds, which regularly top 180 mph, for safety reasons. “I’m a pretty conservative guy,” he said. “I’ll get to 120 mph and I’ll hold it there, the reason being that if something happens to the car at 120 mph, it’s going to be pretty serious. If it happens at 150 mph, it’s going to be very serious.”

That adrenaline rush you get from pushing a car faster than you ever imagined can be scary, Shannon admitted. But once you get used to it, the velocity becomes a shared motion between man and car.

“It’s kind of like dancing,” Shannon said of racing around an asphalt track with a four-wheel partner. “Once you get into a rhythm, it all just comes together.”

Making a To-Do List Closer to Home

By the time Bostonians Michael and Bunny Weitz retired, they’d traveled almost everywhere they wanted to go. Thanks go Michael’s job in corporate America, the couple made a habit of collecting stamps on their passports, visiting Australia, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, the Northern Mariana Islands, Scotland and Sweden in 43 years of marriage. So when the two moved to Solivita by Avatar in Poinciana, Fla., almost two years ago, their “bucket list” didn’t include traveling to exotic places; it included helping make their new active adult and golf community located in the Orlando area a better place. Michael, 69, said he volunteered for the American Red Cross when he was younger but that raising a family and job responsibilities prevented him from volunteering as much as he’d like. But since moving to Solivita, he’s become a member of the local community emergency response team and the Seniors Against Crime organization. Bunny, 65, is on a Solivita advisory council that’s having a charity auction for Give Kids the World, which creates memories for seriously ill children by bringing them to an Orlando resort.

“It’s very important that we all give back something to the community,” Michael said. “This is our way of fulfilling that.”

Making A Bucket List With Friends

What’s on their bucket lists has become a hot topic of conversation at the Shenandoah at Lake Frederick, Va., community, said resident Cheryl Glowaz.

“The movie has made everybody start to think about it,” she said. “Mentally I think everybody has one, but since the movie, I started organizing it in my mind. I’ve started writing it down. We’ve been discussing it among ourselves, verbalizing it. Once you have an actual list, you want to check items off that list.”

The Shenandoah residents get ideas for their own lists from talking to each other. One of the latest items Glowaz has been able to check off her newly created bucket list was kayaking. Her 55 and better community is on a lake, so Glowaz and several of her neighbors tried their hands at paddling across it.

“Whether I’ll do it again, I’m not so sure,” she said. “But I tried it.” Glowaz’s recommendation for anyone putting together a bucket list is to not overlook doing simple things. For her 64th birthday earlier this year, Glowaz said she tried a Singapore Sling, a gin and brandy cocktail, because she had always wanted to try one.

Her to-do list also includes going crabbing at the ocean, spending a week in a beach house with her family and reading all 25 of John Steinbeck’s books.

Of course, every bucket list needs to have some major items and Glowaz’s is not devoid of them. She wants to cross the equator (“I’ve wanted to do that since I was a child”) and visit all 50 states (she’s got three to go – Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont).

Glowaz said she’s sure to get more ideas at a communitywide screening of the movie later this fall. “Hopefully,” she said, “we’ll have enough people inspired by the movie to start o ur own ‘Bucket List’ club.” From Canada to the Arkansas Congress While other kids growing up along the North Shore of O‘ahu were preoccupied with the waves, Roger Clissold was busy dreaming about riding the rails.

Now, more than 50 years and more than 4,000 miles later, it’s no surprise to find that train tracks figure prominently into his main bucket list item yet to be checked off. He and wife Loretta, who live in Hattiesburg, MS, have taken train trips along the West Coast, from Salt Lake City to Chicago and from Denmark to Sweden, and have ridden trains in Spain and Japan.

The one train trip left, he said, is the dream trip of a lifetime – a cross-country train trip in Canada. “I’d like to go when it’s colorful and the wild animals are out along the tracks,” Clissold said. “I’ve read everything about it and I knew that was where I would like to go.” Meanwhile, all Shirley Borhauer expected to do when she moved from Chicago to Bella Vista Village by Cooper Homes in Bella Vista, AR, more than 20 years ago was to improve her golf and bridge games.

The former school nurse of more than 30 years didn’t know that running for a position on the property owner’s association board soon after her move would eventually help her become an Arkansas state representative. That happened in 2000, when Borhauer, then 74, began serving her first two-year terms at the state capital in Little Rock, AR. Arkansas law limits terms of representatives to three two-year terms. So, Shirley could serve in the State House until about 80 years old.

“It’s quite an experience for a retired school nurse to become a state representative,” Borhauer said. “I was the oldest person in the House (of Representatives). I told someone I was older than the State Capitol.”

Borhauer said one of her proudest accomplishments in that role was sponsoring a bill that allowed Bella Vista – which had grown from 5,000 residents when she moved there to more than 26,000 when she took office – to become its own municipality.

So now, the 82-year-old’s bucket list is pretty slim. But, after what she’s accomplished, it doesn’t need to be extensive.

“I’d like to golf my age, although now I don’t know how realistic that is,” she said. “I’d like to have a grand slam in my bridge game. And I would like to be able to continue to be alert and healthy.”

Picture This Bucket List

Robert Garvin owns the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store in the small Newton, MS, and, in his younger days, worked 12 to 14-hour shifts seven days a week for months at a time to keep his store going.

But, in the recess of his mind, he kept an image of a Changing of the Guard ceremony he saw on the cover of a magazine when he was a young child tucked away. That singular image of the Queen’s Guard in front of Buckingham Palace sparked a love for photography in Garvin that he wouldn’t be able to pursue until his business was on solid footing and his children were grown.

That was 2000, when Garvin said he dropped other hobbies, such as golfing and making stained glass, to focus on photography.

Just how serious is he? Two years ago, he opened a photography gallery in the quaint city’s downtown Main Street in an effort to help rejuvenate the area. The gallery, Real Southern Images (www.realsouthernimages.com), is filled with hauntingly beautiful pictures Garvin has taken of Newton, Southern wildlife and flora, the Mississippi Delta and more. “I don’t want to just sit at home when I do retire,” said Garvin, 58. “My wife and I both picked one civic thing we’re going to do, one project that we can put all of our efforts into when we retire and this is mine.

“This way I can share my love of photography with other people.